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Thursday, June 13, 2013
Taoist Communication Tablet (神簡)
The above is a spirit communication tablet about 75 years old from a Yao priest in NW of Vietnam. The inscriptions roughly mean "may gods and goddesses protect me".
The Taoist communication
tablet is an important ritual implement. It is a ‘must have’ to summon any spiritual
generals (神將). This communication tablet is as if our car keys; without them the car
engines cannot be started.
This tablet is generally wrapped
with a piece of red cloth and placed on the Taoist’s altar for worship with
incense, flower and tea. During the summoning of spirits, the tablet is struck
three times with fingers and in doing so; Taoists believe any spirits will
hurry to the Taoists’ service.
communication tablet is made of peach wood. It is about 1 foot in length and 1
inch wide. It must be empowered for 49 days before put into actual ritual use.
Anyone who wants to invoke
the presence of spirits with this tablet must first perform a ritual bath. Then
he or she should stand facing north. After that the communication tablet is
picked up with ‘double Tai Shan’ hand seal and inhaling the Chi of North Stars.
The Taoist should hold his or her breathe and then blow onto the tablet and say “sha, sha,
sha”. Finally the Taoist strikes the tablet three times with his finger and say
(I summon all spirits, I give notice to the heavenly master of dragon
and tiger to present and cast out evil. Make haste once you heed my summon. And
follow my order. As my will, so mote it be!)
It is believed that only
through this standard Taoist practice will the armies of gods and goddesses
willing to follow our orders. Having said so… I seldom see this type of ritual
implements in many modern Taoist blessing ceremonies now a day.