Saturday, May 3, 2014

Ngai Magic And Vietnamese Folk Medicine

Frankly, I am in no position to touch these topics as I have only skimmed the very surface of them. Just thought to get the ball rolling and share what I have learnt so far from my kind Vietnamese masters and in the hope to intrigue your curiosity to do further research on Ngai and Vietnamese folk medicine topics.


I think Vietnamese folk medicine must be heavily influenced by the Hmong (), Yao (), Chinese and some local practices. As I skimmed over the basic 500 types of medicinal plants and animals that are frequently used (there are more I am sure); I noticed that in Vietnamese folk medicine use more animals and insects compared to other systems. For example animals such as snakes, dog, pig, cow and etc. are also part of the manual. Having said so… the ‘hot dog’ may mean real ‘hot dog’ if you get what I meant. According to folk medicine, dog meat can produce heat and best to be consumed during the cold sessions.


Another interesting part in Vietnamese folk medicine is the use of poison to fight poison. For example: the aroids are used to treat snake bites and injuries. We know that ‘Ngai’ is special to Vietnamese magical circles and most of the Ngai plants are from aroids, lilies and ginger families. At present, the Ngai types that I have come across and frequently used are (but not limited to):


·         Tiger and white tiger ngai (Black ginger)

·         Snake ngai (White ginger)

·         Malai ngai (Blood lily)

·         Black ngai (Black turmeric)

·         Cobra ngai (Cobra lily)

·         Fire ngai (Vietnamese Reiki if I may call it.)


Now, if you have followed the Thai magic and herbal practices in my blog, you will notice that spirits of herbs are called upon before actual consumption. The ideas are: first to supercharge the medicinal plants so that the intended effects are maximised; and to thank the spirits for allowing us to use the herbs for our purposes.


Likewise in Vietnamese folk medicine and magic, Ngai plants are plants that are charged with spiritual power mainly for curing… and to achieve certain supernatural power if I may say so.


As with all herbs must be cooked before consumption, the Fire Ngai is the practice to control and turn all Ngai spirits into 'chi' () so that they move faster. I would take it that the Fire Ngai is some kind of Reiki practices and I was told that the practitioner of this special Ngai can make his/her palms glow in dark. I have some reservations but let’s see how things go…


Interestingly, the Ngai is not popular in Thai magic but I believe the formidable Phi Phop in Thailand originated from the Hmong and Yao tribe; the Chinese call Phi Phop as ‘the ghost of phi phop’ (琵琶鬼) or 'gu' ().


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