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Leang Neak Ta Ceremony of Spirit Mediums in Cambodia

January 26, 2013


Last week my friend Paul Christensen invited me to attend a ceremony of spirit mediums with him.  The day was fascinating – full of sounds, smells and sights and whole new part of Cambodia I had not yet experienced.  I spent the day taking photos (as usual), the full gallery of which can be seen on my flickr page here.  I’ve also added a few below.

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People in Cambodia mostly don’t visit spirit mediums to negotiate and understand the past; they visit them to deal with the present and plan the future.  Between the pair of us (Paul and I), and many other researchers besides, we were expecting spirit mediums to be one of the avenues people used to negotiate the terrible period of civil war and conflict in the 1960s and 70s, and in particular the horrific violence wrought by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 – 1979.  But this appears not to be the case.  That period of history is not approached through ghosts and spirits; it is experienced and integrated into today’s life in a million different ways, some of which I am exploring in my research on mass graves.  But the mediums are an important part of Cambodian life for a whole host of other fascinating reasons, and if you want to know more I’d drop Paul a line!

One Comment

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  1. December 3, 2013

    Hi Caroline,

    I also love to visit the ceremony during my next trip to Siem Riep in January 2014. I read about the ceremony somewhere in internet. It is said that the ceremony will be held annually 3 days after new moon of “Buddhis calendar”?!?! I have no idea which day should it be in the “normal-used-calendar” (solar calendar). Therefore i would like to ask you? Maybe you from your friend know when is the ceremony.

    I am looking forward to your feedback. Pls write me an email to

    Nice to meet you and thank you in advance


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