Trấn Yểm: Sorcery of ‘Down & Out’

Taobabe Dictionary

A note to my readers: Before I get into the next posting, I need to define a term for you that you may not be familiar with. It will be a quick post (I hope), so hang on for just a few…

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I’m not one to belabor definitions. This is because I tend to ramble a bit and talk in a circular pattern around a difficult subject so that even if you aren’t quite able to grasp the actual short and succinct definition, you can at least come to some understanding from all the context that I lay out all around the subject matter.

This is, after all, how I develop my understanding of very complex subjects, so I tend to present these subjects in the manner that makes the most sense (to me).

This word however, needs to be defined so that everything begins to make sense. The word I am going to delve deeply into is Trấn Yểm.

Don’t bother doing a Google translation. You won’t get anything that makes any sense because there is no such word in the English dictionary. This is why I have to dedicate an entire post to define it in a way that makes sense to the average western reader. Bear up with me for just a little bit.

Trấn Yểm

Trấn Yểm is a verb that means to push down or press down in order to cancel out. Hence my ‘down-&-out’ definition on my title.

This verb however, only applies to that which has to do with ancient, powerful sorcery. This is because the word Trấn means to push or press down with something heavy

It is an ancient word––that I know for certain. However, since Vietnam is home to an ancient civilization.

How ancient, you might ask? Well, our calendar extends back 4721 years, but that didn’t mean 4722 years ago, we didn’t exist.

All it meant was that we hadn’t quite perfected the calendric system yet and had been using a less-than-useful system which we promptly discarded once we got the lunisolar calendar.

Being super old, everybody and their grandma in Vietnam knows what Trấn Yểm means in the literal sense, but few can ascertain what it does, or even how it does what it does. There are some who don’t even bother to figure it out. To them, it’s a figment of the imagination and doesn’t even exist on this plane of existence.

I am here to nail down the reality of Trấn Yểm. I am stating emphatically that it actually does what it states that it does––please don’t get it confused with what people say that it CAN do.

Allow me to explain.


When we build a dyke, or a sea wall, or a retaining wall, we are performing a Trấn on the ground, the soil, the sand, and the water.

Basically, we are placing something heavy that presses down upon the very ground in order to hold something back due to the physical mass of the thing with which we are using.

The ancient people knew about this, which was why they built so many structures made from super heavy materials like andesite and diorite. They were laying them over ley lines, which are known as dragon’s arteries.

Trấn, when used in the manner having to do with sorcery, uses a heavy object such as a boulder or a stone epitaph to push down upon the pressure points of the Earth. This suppresses or stops entirely the physical feng shui movements of the Chi within the earth.

Since a boulder or stone epitaph is in the physical realm, you can see it and touch it and it will last for as long as the granite lasts.

Now, let’s talk about Yểm.


Yểm means cancel out, but this is not just any ordinary cancel out process. This sort of cancel out is ONLY of the spiritual nature.

Unlike Trấn, which uses a heavy object that has mass and takes up space within the yang world (that’s our realm), Yểm can be a very light object (a spell written on a piece of paper or fabric) or it can be a small item such as a knife or a straw doll or effigy.

It could also be a human skull. I wrote about the Maiden Bùa Thiên Linh Cái in which I detailed the process and how it is done.

In short, it is not a heavy object meant to be seen. Rather, it is usually carefully wrapped and place within a vault or tomb or box and placed under the heavy Trấn object.

The Yểm does the exact same thing as the Trấn, except that it uses yin powers to subvert, divert, or squash entirely, that which it has been instructed to affect.

The reason that the Yểm was necessary is because historically, in Vietnam, war has never been fought within the yang world alone. We always had to deal with the very real spiritual warfare which engaged numerous battalions of spirit beings and fought in unseen mystical ways.

Tip of the Iceberg

When we step into this quasi-reality of Trấn Yểm, it becomes a multi-dimensional Down & Out structure that encompasses many levels, both within our sunlit solid world, as well as the misty yin world.

Keep this in mind so that when people deny the existence of Trấn Yểm and consider it a fabrication, understand that, like the tip of a glacier, quite often, it is not that which we can see, but rather that which we cannot see that we must suppress and expel.

FYI: Here’s a handy dandy calendar converter for your conversion pleasure.


One thought on “Trấn Yểm: Sorcery of ‘Down & Out’

Add yours

  1. That was fascinating to learn about. Your description of Trấn had me trying to think of American equivalents, and like you said, there really aren’t any. The closest equivalent to Trấn that I could come up with is the funny word “smackdown,” which comes from the world of professional wrestling.

    And as for Yểm, when I tried to picture a professional wrestler using a small, ritualistic object to ensure that his opponent is rendered powerless on the yin side of things as well as the yang side of things, I laughed. If they were to do that, it would be just for comedic effect, because professional wrestling is staged for entertainment purposes. It isn’t real combat between forces of good and forces of evil. Some would say it isn’t even a real sport, even though the wrestlers have to have a fair amount of physical prowess in order to do what they do in the ring.

    On a serious note, I really do like the idea of setting a boundary against somebody in a tangible yang way, but also in a symbolic yin way. And you are right, English doesn’t have a succinct word or phrase for that. I wish we did.


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