Dressing for the New Year: Chiang Mai's Guardian Spirit Trees

I LOVE that in the days leading towards New Year I saw the guardian spirit trees in our new-old Saraphi neighbourhood - the Yang Noeng trees - getting bright new orange sashes. Because Thai people believe them to be actual guardian spirits, and worthy of the same new "robes" that are ritually offered to monks at major festivals.

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The Old Chiang Mai - Lamphun Road was the original highway from Bangkok on the gulf of Thailand to the "Rose of the North" Royal Lanna city of Chiang Mai. As such, the way was lined with guardian sentinels, who protected the energy flowing towards the "new" city (720 years old and built on top of other, unexcavated, old ruins). After all, this was the route the Thai King and Queen would take.

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Many people (including the Thai people) believe Thailand to be Buddhist but in practice it is still largely an animist culture. Trees, animals and objects continue hold a great deal of spiritual power here.

When the recent move of our home and office was started by our disrespectful old Thai landlady decimating the beautiful trees in our Mae Rim garden without consultation with a chainsaw (something which ultimately karmically drove the termites from the jackfruit tree into her precious teak wooden house) I KNEW that I needed to live in a place where trees and nature are respected. While our business transition is not quite ready for me to move to the wilds of the Burmese border (coming!) my immediate thought was of the stately Yang Noeng trees. And so here we are back in old Saraphi.

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Some of the trees are huge. Yes, that's me at the local Saraphi Sunday market this afternoon.

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The trees are numbered, registered and yes, on "Buddha days" (the 4 phase of the moon days every month celebrated in Thai culture) you WILL see old Thai ladies and young monks leaving fresh fruit, rice, flowers and fragrant burning incense at the base of each tree. In honour.

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The uneven tree roots and constraints on the road width can make the Old Chiang Mai - Lamphun Rod frustrating traffic-wise at times. But it's MORE than made up for by the towering beauties in all their glory.

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The Yang Noeng trees are actually mature rubber trees - NOT commercially tapped for their sap but prized and honoured for their protective spiritual energy.

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BlissednBlessed. Protected. Happy to see the ancient traditions continue.



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