Updated: Jan 22
Thailand is described as the land of smiles, and after three beautiful months visiting the location on business, I understood why. Never have I experienced a place so welcoming. I arrived not knowing many key words in their language, and learned pronunciation and tone day by day. No on ever got frustrated with me while trying to perfect the Thai language, and I was always met with warmth and love. Embracing the land and culture of Thailand was an experience I can't fully put into words, but I plan to do my best, as the end of my trip resulted in my Sak Yant journey. The experience, the meaning, the peace I felt while receiving my blessing was everything I never knew I wanted or even needed.
Before we get started, let's break down the basics and meanings of สักยันต์ | Sak Yant:
Sak means "to tap" or "to tattoo"
Yant means "Yantra." Locals call these tattoos, "Yantra Tats" because they are believed to give protection and good luck.
A yant is a sacred geometry design incorporating Buddhists psalms and magical formulas that invoke various elements and powers of protection and various blessings.
The text itself are magical incantations, mantras or prayers called “Kata.” These katas come from the Pali language, but are written in a Khmer form of Sanskrit.
Having a huge appreciation for this country as well as Buddhism, I made a decision to finally accept my eternal marking. Researching the perfect location to get my Sak Yant done all led to the popular Wat Bang Phra Temple, where the most famous Sak Yant practicing Monk in Thailand, Master Luang Pi Nunn resides. Living in On Nut, my trip took a little over an hour to arrive at the Temple, so I had some time to really think about what I was getting ready to do. Upon arrival, there was a major wait to get inside the appropriate area. Plus, once inside, even though this was THE place to receive such a beautiful gift, I wasn't sure this was the place for me. I won't get too into it, but I felt as though this was more of a business and not the spiritual journey I knew I needed, which didn't sit too well with me. On top of that, the same needle was being used on every single person. While there has never been any reports on someone obtaining a sickness from this particular practice, I knew that I wouldn't have full peace of mind while being here. Not having peace defeats the purpose, right? You're either all in or out, as there is no in between with this. So, making the decision to leave, I paid my respects to the temple, offered up the appropriate offerings and left this sanctuary.
It was back to the drawing board for me, as I needed to locate the perfect place to embark on this spiritual journey. Oddly enough, I never found such a location. The location found me! Thai Tattoo Cafe had like a few of my photos on Instagram, which caused me to look into what services they offered. I thought, if I wasn't able to get my Sak Yant, I was definitely going to get something that allowed me to pay my respects to the land and my experience in a different way. They say that if something is meant to be, it'll be, and that was the case in this situation! The Thai Tattoo Cafe not only found me, but offered the services I was longing for. I reached out to them via email and they got back to me within the hour! The CEO, Paeng, responded to me wanting a little more detail in what I was looking for. I explained I wanted two Sak Yant tattoos, and this was due to wanting to go the traditional route. I'll explain what I mean by that a little later!
Paeng was beyond sweet and even though I was reaching out last minute, she made it a point to squeeze me into the shop's schedule the very next day. It was now Sunday, and I was on my way to pure bliss! I could feel that this was the best call I had made in my search for the perfect location. Arriving to the shop at noon, this cute little spot was nestled in between some great food locations! Stepping up on their stoop, I pushed the door to TTC open and was welcomed with numerous warm smiles! Paeng, Jason, Ajarn Keng and the rest of the family seemed so happy to see me, that I felt I had walked into a mini family reunion! Before we sat down to discuss why I wanted to go the Sak Yant route, I noticed a few things that set my mind and soul at ease. One, the shop had a calmness about it. You can feel a sense of peace as you walk in, which you would expect to feel at a temple. The decor was simple, yet bold, which provided a balance to the ambiance here. This was it. This was the place I had in mind when I thought of my journey. This was the environment I was yearning for when I thought of my yant experience. I was home!
Sitting down on their custom made chairs, Paeng, Jason and I discussed what I was looking for in life so that we could match up the blessings I desired. Earlier, I mentioned the traditional route when it came to getting these tattoos, and this is because typically, the first yant one receives is the Gao Yord. My heart was always set on the Hah Taew, but I knew in order to get that, I should get the Nine Peaks Yant first, respectfully.
Gao Yord - Nine Peaks Yant: This is known as the master yant and is typically the first yant you should receive. It's to be placed at the top of your back, along the spine. This beautiful yant is said to give a wide range of protections, such as protection from violent attacks, other people's bad thoughts and from harm in general. Some say it also represents kindness, which I think is beautiful!
Gao means nine in Thai. Some say the nine peaks of the gao yord are meant to represent the nine mythological peaks of Mount Neru – a sacred mountain in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, which is considered to be the center of all of the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes. Others say the nine peaks the rise to enlightenment and the direct path to Nirvana. All in all, it's truly up to you what you feel this yant will mean to you.
Hah Taew - The 5 Lines Yant: This seems to be the most popular yant among foreigners. Each line you see in the hah taew gives a different blessing. The traditional rows of blessings are:
The first row prevents unjust punishment in court cases and provides protection in the place you live.
The second row reverses and protects against bad horoscope constellations and bad fortune or karma.
The third row protects you from the use of black magic and curses.
The fourth row provides you with good luck, fortune and success.
The fifth row is to bestows charisma and makes you attractive in finding a lover. It additionally boosts your good luck and fortune from row 4 and strengthens the protection from curses given in row 3.
The Magical Powers of Sak Yants
For those that believe in the magic of sak yants, here are some of the alleged benefits:
Animal Powers: The powers and characteristics of the animal yant are passed on to you. This also is the case for the mythological Himapant animals.
Good Luck and Fortune: Known as “choke lap,” this is a selfish form of black or gray magic intended to bring higher social standing and more money to the wearer.
Warrior’s or Gangster’s Protection: Protection from knives, guns and other weapons of battle.
Warrior’s Paralysis: It may sound like Pokémon, but this stunning spell is said to paralyze someone’s target and make them unable to react in time to the wearer’s strike.
Popularity and Earned Compassion: People will notice you, take interest in you and desire to help you.
Power and Influence: Wear this yant if you wish to command respect and obedience.
Black Magic: Known as “tam kwaam,” this sorcerer’s spell has an infinite amount of uses. It is meant to be used when you want to achieve a specific outcome.
Protection From Danger and Fatal Accidents
Charm and Sexual Attraction
Once the three of us came to an agreement that these two Yantras were the perfect combination, I met the amazing Ajarn Keng. This gentle giant was as sweet as could be, which made this experience all the more comfortable. Plus, we now know that Wat Bang Phra seems to be THE tourist hot spot to get your Sak Yant, which means the level of skill the Monks have there had to be outstanding. With this in mind, it was great to hear that Ajarn Keng actually trained there! So, thanks to Thai Tattoo Cafe, I was still getting that Temple experience without that odd feeling I initially had. Plus, the level of cleanliness at this shop was insane! Seeing that they took pride in how well the shop was kept was a huge plus. Paeng has been in the game for more than 7 years, and it shows by her level of customer service, cleanliness and ambiance in her shop.
Now, it was time to position my tattoos. I had already had a tattoo on the back of my neck in the center of my spine, so Ajarn Keng put my Yant Gao Yord right below it, making it look like one whole tat. I loved that idea so much! Since the Yant Hah Taew is not allowed to be higher that the Yant Gao Yord, we decided to place it right next to it, on the left side of my shoulder. Ten minutes went by, and it was time to get this show on the road! Paeng helped me change into an appropriate top that her shop provides (so, if you're worried about what top to wear, don't. This shop make sure you're all set in that department) and we all walked upstairs to the ceremony station. The open floor plan of the shop was nice, as it overlooked the entire store while I was being blessed. While relaxing spa music played in the background, Ajarn Keng went to work as I sat relaxed in front of him.
Nam, the man sitting next to Ajarn Keng in the photo above, was there to stretch and hold my skin steady. This makes it easier for the ink to settle. If you decide to do this at a temple, you will see the same buddy system there as well. Jason and I chatted a bit about Bangkok and our hometowns, and after an hour or so, we were done! The level of pain I felt was very little, but I also have a pretty high tolerance. So, please keep this in mind. Now, most of the time, when you're done getting a tattoo, that's it! You just pay and leave, but being that I was receiving two Sak Yants, there was so much more that goes into this journey. Next up was the blessing ceremony. I didn't know what to expect, as this was all very new to me, but knew I had to come prepared! Before arriving at the shop, I made sure to bring two wreaths of Marigold flowers to leave blessings within the shop, as it is believed that this flower stands for good fortune and happiness.
After having the most peace I've ever had in my life, I stood up, thanked Ajarn Keng and got bandaged up by the Thai Tattoo Cafe staff. Jason took some photos of my new yants, as he does with every customer that comes through. It's a nice bonus to get great photos of your new tattoos!
This experience was everything I imagined it and so much more, and this couldn't have been as special as it was if it weren't for TTC. This tattoo shop goes above and beyond in more ways than one, and I can honestly say that every time I am in Bangkok, this will be the place I go for my tattoo and piercing needs. Paeng was born for being a business owner, as her grace really shows when interacting with customers. The Thai Tattoo Cafe really make sure you leave feeling like family.
Are you in Bangkok and have the desire to really make it memorable? Head over to TTC! They're currently offering 15% off on their services!