HOUSE OF SPIRITS In Burmese folklore, nats are restless and vengeful spirits, the souls of historical personages who died violently, victims of unjust crimes. If ignored or abused, they can cause serious mishap, but if correctly propitiated they can be persuaded to grant great favors. The place to appease them is an extinct volcano called Mount Popa, at the foot of which a stone sentinel stands guard. A massive pillar of rock riddled with meditation cells and capped with pale green and gold temples, the 737-m-high Popa Daung Kalat, or Popa Crest, shelters 37 of Burma's most powerful nats.

The reigning nat...

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