This article investigates the adoption of Daoist ritual among the Yao peoples in South China and mainland Southeast Asia. The Song Dynasty imperial court patronized new Daoist ritual traditions that harnessed martial deities such as the Thunder Gods. Although these traditions were mostly southern in origin, it is not until the Qing dynasty that we find evidence for their circulation among the Yao. After discussing historical representations of Yao religion from the Song to the Qing dynasty and the specific historical contexts that gave rise to each representation, I conclude by examining how beliefs and practices derived from these same Daoist ritual traditions were active among the Iu Mien in Laos during the Second Indochina War. What is needed is an analysis that links a specific ethnographic or historiographic representation with a broader understanding of local, regional, and even transnational ritual practices in the borderlands of China and Southeast Asia.