By Diana McLeod

There are many interesting old items that we sell at Tradewinds, but phurbas are the most unusual of them all. They are old mystical spirit daggers from Tibet. I do not sell them lightly. Not after one incident that occurred about ten years ago.

WHAT PHURBAS LOOK LIKE: Tibetan Phurbas are dagger-shaped objects made out of metal or wood. The metal ones were often the property of a monastery, and they are used by the important lamas. Wooden ones were usually the property of individual monks. They are never intended to be used as real daggers. Their use is strictly spiritual, shamanistic or occult. On top of the handle are three faces of the demon Mahakala, who is the guardian of the Wheel of Life. He is a dispenser of justice. Entwined snakes crawl down their blades. Metal phurbas often have parts that are made of meteorite. The chunks of iron from outer space are considered to have special powers.

USES: Tibetan spirit daggers have many uses. They are shamanistic devices dating back into prehistory, long before Buddhism took root in the Himalayan regions of Asia. Their early use involved very simple and basic transference magic. A shaman would stab the phurba into the ground. Illness would flow from a sick person through the phurba into the ground, and healing energy would flow out of the earth to heal the sick person. They were used to summon demonic influences, or to drive demonic influences away or to capture them. They were used to set the limits of magic circles. They were used as places in which to store all of one’s negative emotions. They were even used in an obscure and bizarre ritual called Chöd, in which a monk or a nun would visit a graveyard at midnight and invite demons to partake of his or her flesh. This was done to rid oneself of the last vestiges of ego.

The important thing to remember about phurbas is that they can retain something from what they have been previously used for, including energies from their former owners. And not all of those energies are benign...

TIBETAN BUDDHIST MONKS HAVE VISITED US AT TRADEWINDS to see what we have brought back from Nepal. Several times, they have brought serious students of Tibetan Buddhism with them. I remember one such visit very well. The high lama held the first phurba in his hands for a long period. Then, he turned to a student, and said “"You need this in your practice."” He grabbed the second one, turned to another student, and said "“You need this one.”" Some, he urged his students to buy. Some, he put back on the shelf. There was one that he paused over. "“Do not ever sell this one,”" he cautioned me. “"It should be burned.”"

He never told me why, but I followed his advice.

ONE CUSTOMER’'S ENCOUNTER WITH THE PARANORMAL: A shopper bought a phurba from me once, and he said he was going to use it to enhance his dreams. I cautioned him that that was not what they were supposed to be used for, but he said he was going to do it anyway. I sold him the phurba, and didn'’t expect him to show up again.

About two weeks later, he was back in the store, and he wanted to show me something. He claimed that he put his phurba under his pillow, and he went to sleep. He dreamed about monks, heading up a steep Himalayan trail. The monks were bringing supplies up to a mountain monastery, leading a group of heavily laden pack animals, . They were probably Yaks or Dzo (a yak/cow hybrid). In his dream, he scurried after the monks, following them up the trail. The monk in front of him gave him disdainful looks. It was obvious that he didn'’t like the young man following him. After more angry looks, the monk said something to the pack animal beside him. The animal lashed out and kicked the dreamer, knocking him right off the cliff! He claimed that he woke up on the floor of his room, some distance from his bed.

After telling me the story, he pulled back his long hair. On the side of his neck was an ugly, painful looking bruise that was about five inches long. It was curved just like an animal'’s hoof, and it was turning an impressive shade of purple. I saw it myself. I can'’t imagine how else it could have happened, or how he ever could have faked such a thing.

Two weeks after that, I was introduced to his wife. She told me that she had been present when it happened, and she'’d had her own experience. She said that she woke up in the middle of the night and saw a black shadow figure standing at the foot of her bed. She thought that they had an intruder in the house. She felt like she needed to “get a gun, or call 911.” Then the figure disappeared. A minute later, her husband went flying across the room. She only then realized that she'’d had a paranormal experience. I felt that she was a highly credible person. She didn'’t ask for this to happen to her, it just happened. His experience could have been generated by “wishful thinking.” But not hers. She had no advance knowledge of what he was up to.

WHAT DID IT MEAN? The guy and I discussed his experience at length. We came to the conclusion that the dream was really a message. The line of monks going up the mountains represented the lineage of Buddhist teachings, being passed down from generation to generation. Getting in the line was a privilege attained only after years of spiritual work and study. The message was clear: he was not ready to get in that line. My advice was for him to get in touch with a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who could educate him spiritually enough to be admitted to join the lineage of the phurba. Its previous owner would not tolerate his presence until he was worthy. He should put it away until he was ready to try again. Until then, he would get kicked off the mountain.

He and I both agreed on this interpretation. But I don’'t know what happened after that. He said he was determined to put the dagger back under his pillow when he thought he was ready. Did he, or didn'’t he? He never came back to tell me.

YOU DECIDE: I’'m not without some sensitivity to certain things, but I confess that I personally can'’t feel the energies in phurbas. I might have felt something once, at an antique shop in Bangkok, but it could have been my imagination. Come on in, if you’'re interested, and see how sensitive you are when you hold one. They are really interesting! They are certainly the most unusual item we have at our store.

TO READ MORE: Check out this book: “Magic and Mystery in Tibet” by Alexandra David-Neel. She was one of the first Westerners to ever make it to Lhasa. Her first visit to Tibet was in 1924. This book may be out of print, but it was recently reprinted in paperback, and I bet there are used copies on Amazon. She tells of her own very exciting encounter with a phurba.

For less serious reading, I have written a novel that features phurbas, available on Amazon. This adventure-thriller explores paranormal experiences in a variety of cultures. The plot is based on the supposed end of the Mayan calendar, Dec 21st, 2012. The plot idea was inspired by this story and by my fascination with many cultures around the world. The title is: “Cracks in the Earth: The Mayan Legacy ” by Diana McLeod.

Thanks for reading! Diana

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