A Taoist temple that receives very little worshippers is termed as ‘cold stove’ (冷爐). Other than blaming it to bad Feng Shui, there are two things a caretaker can do:
· Buy a soul (買靈)
· Rob a soul (搶靈)
Buying a new soul is a standard practice to many new temples now days. The idea of buying a soul is that one must go to a renowned temple such as that of the ‘dragon tiger mountain’ (龍虎山) to donate some money to get a split spirit form the mother temple. Folks believe that it is only after going through this ritual that this new spirit will be able to attract more worshippers and it is more authentic than the ordinary empowerment rituals.
The opposite side of buying a soul is to rob a soul. As the name implies, this practice is more towards the grey/black magic practices. The only thing is that you don’t need to pay a fee with this practice though it has a darker side.
The procedure is pretty simple, as before one must choose an auspicious timing. This ritual is normally performed at midnight. After preparing fruits and food offerings for welcoming the new soul, the eyes of the statue must be blind folded with a piece of yellow or red cloth.
After this is done, the person must go out of the main gate either by boat or by a car carrying with him/her with a bunch of firecrackers and a trumpet. Now, one need only walks or paddles straight blindly towards any direction until he/she hears the sound of animals or birds. On hearing the first sound, this person must fire up the firecrackers and blow the trumpet immediately.
At this point, return immediately to the temple and unfolds the blind on the face of the statue. It is said the statue is now empowered with a new soul; whatever the soul is and it will bring in more worshippers and hence income to the temple.
If I have not mentioned to you, there is a taboo to this ritual: one should not blow the trumpet and burn firecrackers if he/she hears the sound of human. Or, the person who made the sound will die. No joking. This will bring very bad karmic consequences to the person who did the ritual.
I have not done such a ritual, but according to my master; one of his disciples wanted to end the ritual early and on hearing a lady singing at night he blew the trumpet and firecrackers. Consequently, the lady dropped dead and this disciple was subsequently beaten up by folks around and he became crippled as his wounds never recovered since. Needless to say, his new temple had to be closed down due to his immobility.