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Saturday, August 16, 2014
Soul Returning (回魂)
According to Chinese belief, when a person dies; his/her
soul shall return to his/her house for the last time to visit his/her love
ones. This returning of dead soul is also known as ‘turning of sha’ (转煞). It is believed that the
dead soul will be accompanied by a messenger from hell which is known as ‘god
of sha’ (煞神). This god of sha looks
pretty awful and it is said that it has hands and feet that resembles chicken
If a household forgotten to prepare food offerings to treat the
dead soul and especially the messenger from hell; then this messenger will
torture this poor dead soul.
Taoists believe that a living person has 3 hun (三魂) and 7 po (七魄). When a person dies, his/her 3 'hun' ascend to
heaven and 7 'po' descend in to the earth immediately for a minimum of 9 feet
and a maximum of 18 feet depending on calculation. As soon as the po has
descended to its maximum depth, it will start to come up at a pace of 1 foot
per day. So, if the po has gone 18 feet down, then it will take 18 days to come
back to the surface of the earth.
According to Taoist practice, proper preparation should be
done to receive the returning of soul. This preparation is called ‘receiving
sha’ (接煞). If the duration of soul
returning is short, we call it ‘fierce sha’ (凶煞)
otherwise we call it ‘kind sha’ (善煞).
The night before the soul returning, in the deceased’s
bedroom, the deceased’s clothing should be laid flat on his bed and his head is
substituted by a vase. A table should be placed beside the bed and deceased’s
favourite dishes should be served on this table together with some joss paper
and hell notes. When all of the preparations are done, ashes are spread in the
room periphery to check if the soul and messenger have visited the room. Finally
the bedroom door is shut and no one should be allowed to enter.
For the house that has a chimney, food offerings are also
made beside the fire place as people believe that the messenger of hell will
enter from the chimney. Again, ashes are spread around the foods to check if
there will be any chicken craw prints the next day. However, if the house has
no chimney, then window should be opened for the spirits to enter; otherwise
the room door should be opened instead.
There is also a formula to calculate from which direction
the spirits will come and go too, but I will not disclose it for now for
All of the setups should be left for a day before re-entrance.
If the food stuffs or joss papers or even foot steps are found on ashes; then
it is presumed that the souls have returned for a visit.
There are many true accounts of strange happenings on the
returning of dead souls. I will list some of what I have heard from my pals:
·Albert said he saw half of a burnt down Mercedes
stopped in front of his house the soul returning night of his late grandpa.
·My mom said she saw my late dad returned the
soul returning night but she was so scared and hide behind the main door.
·Simon said he heard sounds of iron chains being
dragged outside of his house and he found signs of things dragging on ashes he
spread on the floor around the food offerings.
Well, I am sure you too have similar experiences; kind to