Phi Krasu (ผีกระสือ)
This spirit appears as a hag or and old ugly woman like the European witches. Though living in the midst of the people like an ordinary human being, it avoids all contact with them if possible. Its eyes have a lowering look, which is characteristic of phi in human for, not only of phi krasu but also other kinds of phi. The phi krasu has a liking for rawish and fishy things as its food. It devours also human excrements. In the dead of night it will go on prowl to seek its food. It never goes out with its whole body, but with its head and entrails only. Do not ask how this can be done for the way of the phi is always mysterious and irrational. If one sees in pitch darkness during the dead of night a glimmer of light, it is the phi krasu itself; for while prowling at night with its head and entrails, it emits such a glow of light. By analogy we call a glow-worm in Thai, a "nawn krasu" or the krasu worm. A bull's eye lantern is called "khoam krasu or the krasu lantern.
During childbirth the phi krasu being attracted by as smell of blood or other offensive smell, will come to enjoy its preferred food. If precaution is not taken to prevent its coming by keeping the place clean and clear from such evil smells and keeping the opening to the lower part of the house blocked with thorns, or the room where the childbirth has taken place, unguarded by a sacred cord (สายสิน) and mystic characters and drawings (ยันต์), the phi krasu will readily get into the room when everybody is fast asleep. It will stealthily enter into the body of the newborn babe and eat the entrails until the baby dies. Unsatisfied with such a small morsel of food, for the phi krasu is very voracious; it will get inside the mother's body and feast gradually on her entrails also. The mother will then become ill. She will grow thinner and thinner and lose her appetite for ordinary food but will be habitually greedy to devour anything, which is rawish and fishy. The phi krasu will not come out of the body until the victim wastes away and dies. This characteristic of the phi krasu gives a few similes to the Thai language. A person who is voracious is said to be "voracious as a phi krasu" or "to eat like a phi krasu. If a person becomes thinner and thinner through illness of a certain disease of the stomach or intestines, he is said to be lean like a person sucked by a phi krasu. A cluster of abnormally thin bananas is said to have been sucked by a krasu. A root stock of a certain kind of plant called in Thai "plai" (zingiber casumnar) which has a yellow colour is called wan krasu or krasu plant. It owes its name to the fact that some rootstalks of this plant emit a glow of phosphorescent light at nighttime
Failing to get its rawish and fishy things inside a human body, the phi krasu will confine itself to devouring human excrements. It will wipe its mouth with any cloth, which it finds left hanging. Hence people are careful, when drying any cloth in the sun, not to leave it overnight. A practical thing to do. If in the morning any cloth left hanging is found to have ocher coloured stains, it is a sign that the phi krasu has polluted the cloth. The appearance of such stains on the cloth ususlly occurred during the rainy season. It is due no doubt to mildew. If you want to know who is a phi krasu, boil the cloth. By boiling it, the phi krasu will fell a smart burning pain around its mouth. The longer the cloth is boiled, the more pain it will suffr. It forces the phi to appear in its human form before the person boiling the cloth and to offer to buy the cloth. Then the person can be identified as phi krasu. When any person is known to be a phi krasu the people, instead of burning the person like a European witch, will avoid all contact for fear the phi krasu will harm them them during sleep. If an old woman who is supposed to be a phi krasu bargains for anything, which she wants to buy in a shop, and the shop keeper knows that she is a phi krasu, he will accept her price readily. He fears that a refusal will make the old woman angry and she will harbour malice
There is a popular belief that an old woman who is a phi krasu when dying of old age, will not be able to die easily. She will suffer a long drawn-out illness unless she succeeds in spitting her saliva into the mouth of anyone who is to be her directs descendent. She will then die in peace and her descendent will succeed her as a phi krasu. If the woman has no descendent, or no one consents to receive the legacy, the way out is to transfer some of her saliva to a cat, and the woman will then die in peace. Nothing is said as to whether the cat becomes a phi kraus or not.
The phi krasu is perhaps not an indigenous phi of the Thai. The word krasu appears to me probably not to Thai origin, for it makes no sense. The Mon people here also believe in phi krasu and I in my younger day knew one old woman of Mon extraction who was supposed to be a phi krasu, She was much feared by the neigh bours. Naturally I as a young boy feared she would get into my body and eat up my entrails; every time I saw her from afar, I always got out of her way as fast as my legs could carry me. After a lapse of more than half a century. I can still recall the old woman's face. I have asked a Burmese friend about the phi krasu, and after describing its characteristics to him, he replied that the phi krasu is identical with the Burmese nat or phi called "soang". What it means he does not know. Perhaps phi Krasu and soang are primitive spirits whose names have now lost their meaning. In Vietnam such a being is called "ma-lai" and it may be compared also with witches believed by in the Indonesians and the Malays.