Phii Tai Hong
Phii Tai Hong are souls of those who died violent deaths. In turn, they become violent ghosts. The Phii Tai Hong aren’t just wailers or chain-rattlers. These ghosts actually attack, harm, and kill the living.
Phii Tai Hong can possess a living person in similar manner to a Dybbuk. However, possession by Phii Tai Hong is not always negative nor suffered long-term. Murder victims may simply wish to identify their killers or the location of their body so that they can receive burial or be returned to loved ones. Once justice is done, the Phii Tai Hong leaves, never to return. Alternatively, they maintain relations with family members who request that spirit mediums summon and channel the ghost. (Phii Tai Hong are also sometimes requested to enter the bodies of loved ones and to speak through them.)
Those perceived as likely to become Phii Tai Hong are usually buried as opposed to being given a traditional Thai Buddhist cremation, which is perceived as liberating the soul. Interment in Earth attempts to contain the soul or at least delay ghost transformation.
Phii Tai Hong are dangerous but vulnerable, too. They are susceptible to capture by skilled sorcerers who know how to control and direct the Phii Tai Hong’s attacks: they become the sorcerer’s supernatural slaves. Sorcerers dig up corpses of murder victims, especially anonymous young women. Their graves tend to be unprotected or placed in remote and thus private corners because, in a vicious cycle, people expect them to become ghosts and so fear and shun them.
Not all Phii Tai Hong possess equal amounts of power. Some are more dangerous than others. Among other factors, manner of death determines power as a ghost.
• Those who died suddenly accompanied by tremendous pain and suffering are most feared.
• In general, depending upon the individual, those who died via scheduled execution, suicide, or lingering illness are less powerful because they were able to prepare themselves, make peace with death or because a different kind of energy is produced and expended.
• Thai folklore considers the most powerful ghost to be a woman who died in childbirth with her dead baby still in the womb. (
Phii Tai Tang Klom.)
• Exceptions include souls of notorious, dangerous criminals, thugs, and gangsters. It’s no surprise if their destructive, antisocial behavior continues after death, regardless how they die.
In general, Phii Tai Hong attack victims in the same way they were killed. It’s possible that this is an attempt at attaining justice by exposing the way they died. They tend to linger where they died in the process making war zones and bad traffic intersections even worse by their presence. They also like places where people die or where corpses are stored, such as hospitals or morgues.
Dybbuk; Ghosts; Goryo; Mae Nak; Malandros; Oiwa; Okiku; Onryo; Phii Tai Tang Klom; White Lady; and the Glossary entry for Possession
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.