In Chiang Mai’s neighborhoods, a model of Northern Thai sacred urbanity plays out in miniature: shrines to Buddhist/animist guardian spirits that promise prosperity and peace to their local communities via the idioms of khwam charoen, progress, and barami, charismatic power. These act as a counterweight to fears about the decline of progress and spread of malevolent spirits. Spirit mediums themselves perform an impressive variety of modes of mediumship, from traditional neighborhood-based spirits to nationalist-inspired warrior-kings, each one adapting to a certain conception of power and its workings.
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