Eileen McCormick, 29, came to Cambodia from New York in 2010 with the US Peace Corps. A year ago, she rented a stall in the Boueng Keng Kang market and started offering to tell people’s fortunes. This week she gave Brent Crane a rundown of her favourite spiritual places in Phnom Penh.
When I need answers, when I need to cool off, I go to Wat Phnom. The spirit of Wat Phnom, she’s very interesting and she generally seems to like me being here. I feel like I have an energy flow when I go to that wat. When things are stagnating and I make an offering there, things get unstuck. I like to go around sunset, when tourists aren’t there. Mountains have spirits here, some are male, some are female. At Wat Phnom, they worship her as a female. When you go there, make offerings. There’s a small offering wat next to the bigger wat. You can also get your fortune read, using the Chinese sticks. They can read it to you in Khmer, sometimes English.
The Waterlily Wat
It takes about 20 minutes by tuk-tuk from Phnom Penh to get to the Waterlily Wat. There’s a specific Kru Khmer, a middle-aged woman, who works with the water dragon spirit of Cambodia. It goes in her and can communicate and tell you some cool magic or things about your life. The energy there is really nice. There are all these small shrines that have been erected in her honour. Cambodians know of her but not everyone knows where to find her. What she’s able to do is quite interesting. She seems to be very aware. I really like the feel of her magic, the energy. Because she’s very powerful; she’s not just a normal fortune teller. It’s a higher end thing. In Cambodia, there are various types of fortune teller. Someone like that, you don’t just want to call on them whenever.
There’s this shaman, Adrian. His company name is Tohi Living. He does healing sessions and things to do with [South American psychedelic drug] ayahuasca. I also like to spend time learning from him. He goes to different places, sets up retreats. Sometimes he’ll go to Kep or his house. Sometimes I’ll work at the retreat and do tarot card readings. We’ll have someone who likes to do fitness, yoga sessions, energy healing and things like that. The ayahuasca he uses is a Southeast Asian form. It’s a long magic process that lasts the whole day. I do believe that it has healing properties. I look at it like a medicine that can help humanity. We don’t usually like to get more then 12 people. It’s not recreational, it’s for a very spiritual purpose.
Eileen’s House of Tarot
For me, this place has a lot of good energy. I try to put flowers and things like that around. I try to put good energy and magic into this place. I specifically work with two spirit guides, two spirit entities that support me in reading cards. One is for emotional healing: Huangyin, the goddess of mercy and compassion. The other, Yabana, is a very unknown entity. He’s an aboriginal Australian dude and he gives people protection and strength. It doesn’t get to be overly masculine or feminine in this space. It’s quite neutral. It gives people the ability to ask the card questions and receive the help they need. They’re the ones that came to me.
You can go and meditate with your friends at Wat Lanka Mondays and Thursdays at 6am. It’s silent for about an hour and and a half. Everyone sits down silently, meditating. The monks there believe this random wat cat is a reincarnated monk that used to be there. He’ll come up and sit next to you. I usually go to the one on Thursday. It’s quite big and anyone can drop by and it’s free. That’s kind of nice. There are a lot of people. Both expats and Cambodians go. That’s the only thing that’s kind of bummer in Phnom Penh: things get really segregated without people meaning for it to, between Khmer and expat. So it is nice that a lot of different people go, that the interwoven fabric of Phnom Penh shows up to Wat Langka for meditation.