Friday, April 24, 2015

Sending Hell Fire (送阴火)

So called “sending hell fire” is a Taoist Lu Shan (闾山) ritual to curse a family or a tribe in that members of the family would die slowly one after another. In this ritual a package of items is normally sent to an opponent and when the opponent opens the seemingly ordinary package, the curse is released at the same time.

An unwary person would just throw away the bundle and brush aside it as a prank, but little has he/she known that this would be his/her biggest mistake of his/her life! If the person has known earlier that the package is a curse then he/she would have taken the appropriate action. The correct way to treat a package of this sort is to seal back the package and then bring it to a secluded place and then bury the package in a 3 ~ 5 feet hole. This would deter the curse from taking effect.

If you think I am just telling you another ghost story, then let me assure you that this is a real case that I have came across just a few days ago…

I just returned from Singapore visiting a lady known as Ms Wong. This lady married a Hong Kong businessman and the couple stayed in Hong Kong for about 20 years until Mr Wong died in a car accident about 7 years ago. Life were pretty smooth before Mr. Wong’s departure and now Ms Wong who is supposed to inherit a hefty sum of Mr. Wong’s property lawfully, has met with hostility from her in-laws. Since Ms Wong thought that she has law on her side and that she has done nothing wrong, after going through some legal process; she got her fortune and returned to Singapore.

Soon after Ms Wong returned home, she received a package sent by her mother in law. When she opened the package there weren't too many things in the bundle, only a pair of torn jeans, a half burnt skirt, some sweets, some ash and that was about it… Ms Wong shrugged and threw the package into a dustbin. And about a month later, members of her immediate family and relatives started to fall sick and started to pass away one by one… or at a rate of one or two a year.

Apparently Ms Wong has consulted many masters before I was somehow involved. After I walked around Ms Wong’s premise, she told me about her story but her condition was bad as the cursed package cannot be retrieved and that it would take a few more years before the curse is expired; I supposed by then there would not be anyone left in Ms Wong’s family.

I couldn't stay at Ms Wong’s place forever so I asked her to mix some raw rice with coarse salt and spread them all over her place and that she would need to leave the rice and salt undisturbed for 3 full days or Ms Wong would need to perform the purification ritual again.

Frankly speaking, I don’t know if Ms Wong would come out alive at the end of the day… Maybe you would ask why would someone cast a death curse to a person? Well, we only have Ms Wong’s story and we would never know her in-laws’ story to be fair.

“Sending hell fire” is a pretty cruel curse to be cast. Frankly speaking,  I have never hate a person until I would want to cast this sort of  spell. There is a saying about this spell:


(A man would receive mishap after 7 days of receiving fire, a lady would die in 3 days.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Empowering Thai Magic For Next Step

I was asked on what can one do to empower oneself after taking the initial practice.

Well, there are many choices one can follow depending on one’s guru: a person can engage in deep meditation, opens up practices, learn tattoo, learn herbs etc.

Whatever path one chooses to follow, he/she must ensure that his/her magic power is not exhausted. There are many methods but I would just to list down a few standard ways in order to answer the above query:

1.      Since the power of an arjan comes from his/her gurus and ancestors, so it is very important for him/her to perform Wai Kru ritual periodically to ‘re-establish’ the oaths and to strengthen the spiritual bonds.
2.      According to individual traditions, a disciple should also is required to perform a short supplication ritual to call upon all gurus and spirits of the past. I call this the ‘golden tongue’ ritual.
3.      If one is following Arjan Chum’s tradition, then he should also perform the Kong Grapan (invulnerability) ritual as step 2 of the ‘golden tongue’.
4.      After the Kong Grapan ritual, the person needs to stand bare foot on ground to absorb earth energy and this shall increase the practitioner’s power many folds.
5.      While a practitioner would try every effort to keep vigilant, it is impossible for him/her to keep alert 100%; so an arjan should keep some familiar spirits. The most common ones are Phi Phop for medicine men, Phra Ngan for those who like to flirt around, Kumanthong or other spirits. These spirits would lessen a master’s burden when dealing with magical works; or these spirits can serve as very good property watcher.
6.      Being able to meditate is a good thing as this would sharpen an arjan’s magical power considerably.
7.      Traditionally, an arjan would need to consume betel leaves at least once a month on full moon night to maintain his/her magical powers.
8.      An arjan would also need to go to the field on a full moon night to make offerings to spirits and asks for their help.
9.      It is also good idea for an arjan to worship Brahmaraja, Kali, Hanuman etc. to request for blessings and magical powers too.
10.  Old arjan also learnt up shadow play so as to call upon spiritual helps. Shadow play puppets are just as if Taoist’s 5 legionnaire armies.
11.  Traditional herbs such as oils, lime, gingers, honey etc. are consumed after they are empowered by mantras to maintain health and also magic powers.

Of course, I am just skimming on the surface of the available methods that had emerged in my mind. I could write a book on the above methods… for now, perhaps it is suffice for a short introduction to answer a question.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Golden Silk Worm (金蚕蛊)

A rare talisman put in an urn together with other insects to form golden silk worm. The lower part of the talisman looks like a cobra.

The practice of golden silk worms was once very popular amongst Chinese and minorities in Southwestern China and Indochina. There are many people talking about these golden silk worms but there are very less actual accounts of how to make these golden silk worms.

According to a Hmong lady shaman, a golden silk worm is normally invisible but it can appear as a golden or a rainbow colour thread at night under candle lights.

While I was at her altar, I could see colourful threads appeared at night in her altar but not sure if that was indeed a so called golden silk worm. In some instances, a golden silk worm is said to take the form of a small snake, a frog or a 1 foot tall kid wearing a pair of red pants.

These golden silk worms are elites amongst the Indochinese worms () and it is said that they can perform many duties, for example if one wishes to plant rice; the owner only needs to show the golden silk worm how to do it and his/her padi field would be planted correctly.

Problems with these golden silk worms are that they like to eat people and it is said that a golden silk worm would eat one people in 3 years’ time. This situation is the same with concepts of ‘hantu raya’ (wandering spirit) and ‘santau’ (poisons) in Malay magical practices.

A golden silk worm cannot be destroyed but it can be ‘married off’. The method of doing it is that it is inherited by another person, or the silk worm is wrapped with a piece of cloth together with some money and this package is put beside a road. Anyone who accidentally picks up this parcel and takes the money would mean that he/she is the new golden thread worm owner.

There are many methods to create a golden silk worm and I would disclose the method I obtained from the Hmong shaman after she had a cup too many:

First one need to catch about 12 types of poisonous insects and snakes into a big earth urn together with a piece of metal usually copper and a piece of talisman; then the urn is sealed with another piece of talismanic cloth. During noon or midnight, this urn is buried beside a cross road and it is left there for about 100 days.

When it is time, the urn is recovered and secretly brought back to the house for worship. There should be only one insect or snake left and this is the so called golden thread worm. Whatever is left is then dried and made into powder and this powder is mixed with ashes in an incense burner for worship. Other residuals in the urn can be used as a type of poisons and it is normally being used to feed the unwary persons. If a person consumes some of this poisonous substance, his/her stomach would be bulging with pain. If the person is not treated and he/she subsequently died, his/her soul shall be the slave of the shaman.

There are many methods to cast golden silk poison into other’s food, the commonest way is to hide the poison in one’s finger and then it is sent through a golden silk worm. If poison is sent with one finger only, then the victim can still be cured, but if the poison is sent using 4 fingers; then there is no cure possible. Likewise, a golden silk worm can be stored under one’s finger nail and when it is released; people around him/her can see a flash of golden light. It was said that old shaman can half a piece of granite by just pointing at it.

Of course there are still many types of ‘worms’ () and it is a taboo for the locals to describe this type of practice in detail as the ones who know the secrets would not talk or give out details.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Invocation Of 7 Fairies (菜花神)

Brassica Napus is one type of 'oily vegetables' (油菜).

I was lucky enough to see a rare cultural activity during my last visit to Hmong village in Guangxi, China. According to my tour guide, the ritual is known as the invocation of 7 fairies (七仙女) of Hmong tribe; which is also known as the invocation of ‘vegetable flower spirits’. This ritual is normally done for fun and it is performed during blossoming of Brassica Napus (油菜). I supposed this ritual has something to do with Chinese influence.

This ritual should be held at a large room with ample space. The Hmong shaman would put a bowl of rice in the center of the room and 7 pieces of incense sticks are lit. After that 7 cups of rice wine and 2 bowls of water and a vegetable oil lamp is also lit in the center. A long wooden stool should also be placed at the door brim representing a ‘horse’. During the ritual, incense and lamp should be kept burning.

When everything is ready, a medium should be seated on the wooden stool and his/her face should be covered with a piece of black cloth. After that, the shaman would start recite mantra beside the water bowl and at the same time, some talismans are burnt. After the chanting is through, the shaman would take a sip of water and blow the water onto the body of the medium. At the same time, the shaman would start drawing circles on his/her chest and start another round of chanting.

About 15 minutes or so, the medium’s feet would start to shake and about 10 minutes later, the medium would jump up while panting. This shows that the 7 fairies have possessed the medium. At this point, the 7 fairies would start to walk in the house while singing unnamed songs. He/she would borrow keys from the shaman in order to open up ‘heavenly gate’. The tunes of the songs are called the ‘vegetable tunes’ as they are very different from ordinary Hmong tunes.

The 7 fairies would ‘pass’ through one heavenly gate after another. After the 7 fairies have entered a heavenly gate, the shaman would ask them about the conditions of the place and the 7 fairies would answer accordingly. When the fairies have reached the 12th gate, the shaman would refuse her the access in the fear that the 7 fairies would be trapped there. At this point, the fairies would start to argue until the shaman is convinced and grant them the access.

Once the 7 fairies have entered the 12th heavenly gate, they would either cry or laugh as if mad and crazy. The shaman would at time sing, at time laugh and when he/she has met with his/her dead relatives, the shaman would cry and reveals what he/she would not normally say out openly.

It the ritual is prolonged, then the shaman shall recall the 7 fairies by hook or by crook as it would not be too good for the medium to be possessed by spirits for too long.

My tour guide wanted to try if the 7 fairies are true or it was just a prank. So he crossed his legs purposely… At the same time, the 7 fairies asked for a cane as they said that there is a ‘dog’ blocking their way. Lucky for my pal, the shaman did not honor the request or my pal would suffer for nothing.

When the medium is possessed by the 7 fairies, he/she would feel thirsty. The shaman would then burn a few pieces of joss papers that were dipped into vegetable oil into a bowl of water. Surprisingly speaking, the medium was not harmed. At times the medium would possess certain kind of magical power which is known as ‘ku’ in Hmong. If this happens, then spectators would proceed to ask for divination or blessing from the 7 fairies.

On the surface, the invocation of 7 fairies are quite similar to ‘underworld travel’ (观落阴) but there are differences too. In Taoist ‘underworld travel’, it is the person who travels to the underworld; the 7 fairies however, are invoked into a medium. Since the medium is possessed, he/she would be able to perform many magical tricks such as invulnerability to sharp objects and also dance on fire. 

About Taoist Cults (传承启教)

Not only many foreigners are confused with Taoist religious cults, even the Chinese themselves are unclear about what Taoist cults are about. Many people just walked into a temple and thought it is a pure Taoist temple. Little had they aware that many temples in Southeast Asia has nothing to do with any of the Taoist cults as these temples are only run by mediums or otherwise known as “tangki” (童乩).

There are many Taoist cults around and it does not mean when one goes to a Taoist temple in mainland China and become a Taoist that he/she has learnt everything about Taoist magic. What one can learn now a day in a Taoist temple is perhaps ceremonial rituals with a fee of course.

Naturally, Taoist ceremonial rituals are only meant for the worship of standard Taoist deities, the constellations, the mother earth and ceremony of the death. There is no magic element in traditional Taoist practices sorry to say so and this can be a little boring and the more advance Taoist practice would be meditation and breathing exercises.

Perhaps if one ventures away from standard Taoist religion and enters into the realm of folk religions, then can one learnt about various magical rituals. There are many folk religions still prevalent in mainland China but each of these religious sects is set up with its own aims.

For example, lower Mao Shan sect (茅山) deals mainly with ghost magic, if you do not like to deal with ghosts; then you should not touch this magical system. Lupan (鲁班) cult is meant mainly for the artisans (工匠) and half of the teachings is on how to build a house and only half that are relevant to magic rituals. Likewise the Mei Shan (梅山) cult is mainly meant for hunting and gaming purpose. While the Raft cult (排教) that is getting extinct mainly deals with transporting of timber logs through rivers.

Other more popular Taoist cults that have spread overseas are the Liu Ren (六壬), Jin Ying (金英), Yin Shan (阴山) and Lu Shan (闾山). Also over the years some of the cults have merged and forms new cults under different names. This trend is especially obvious in Taiwan as many variants of the above Taoists emerged under different names and according to different regions.

Now that it is a little clear of what a standard Taoist practice and a Taoist cult looks like, perhaps it is clear at this point what your part of Taoism belongs to; or it is still as clear as mud still?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Secret Of White Candle (白蜡烛)

In Chinese culture, white candles are normally used in memorial service or as offering to the deaths and ghosts. There is one occasion that care must be taken as not to extinguish a burning white candle: that is when a white candle is lit outside of a house to guide a lost soul back home. This soul calling ritual is normally for those people who died of violent causes outside of their houses. A normal situation is an automobile victim who died on the road.

I always wonder: would a ‘gui lou’ (westerner) communicate well with a ‘gui’ (Chinese ghost)? Perhaps the below story would give us a telltale sign…

Elma is a German expatriate working in a MNC in Penang. Though he was only 3 years here, he already had an encounter with a Chinese ghost.

Elma and I met in a few occasions but we weren’t very close. One day he gave me a call and asked if we could meet somewhere. So we fixed the appointment in a local German restaurant:

Elma: “Hey, I feel funny lately… seems that I got a feeling I am being watched and someone is stalking at me…”

Me: “I thought you German are not so superstitious?”

Elma: “No. I don’t believe in that sort of things… but a few times in the middle of the night, my TV in the living was switched on; so was my computer!”

Me: “Have you visited a psychologist to check out?”

Elma: “Yes. But the psychologist said I was too tired and needed rest.”

Me: “Have you done anything spiritual such as attending a séance or visited a funeral parlor or something like that?”

Elma: “Why did you ask that?”

Me: “Well… I am seeing a young ‘man’ covered with blood, with broken limbs and bulging eyes… and he is just standing behind you…”

Elma pondered for a while and finally said:

“Hmm… I don’t know if this related… but a few weeks ago, when I returned from work at night; I saw someone has left a white candle burning outside of his gate. I am very careful about unattended flames, so I sort of extinguish the candle to prevent fire mishap…”

Me: “In case you are not aware, the white candle left outside is meant to guide a lost soul back… since you have extinguished the candle flame, the spirit has nowhere to go but stick with you!”

Elma: “What should I do?”

Me: “Beats me! I thought a ‘gui lou’ can communicate with a gui?”

(Of course, I eventually sent the lost soul back… apparently a ‘gui lou’ cannot communicate with a ‘gui’.)

Ghosts Eat Candles (鬼食烛)

If I would ask anyone a question:

“Why do we offer candles to spirits?”

Perhaps the answers are many and vary. For old Chinese however, the candles are for ghosts to consume! Not only candles, Chinese spooks also like incense and joss papers too. So if one burns joss papers in his/her house, then spirits would congregate there. What about other food stuffs that we offer to spirits? Well, people believe that foods are good while they are hot and steamy; but when they become cold, the spirits cannot eat them. An alternative source is the incense and candle lights.

So if you have the habit to burn candles during your prayer sessions and that the candle light suddenly turns blue or become elongated, then it is perhaps that a ghost is sucking its energy.

An old retired police know by his nickname Paul told me a story when he was posted to KL in early 70’s:

It was during of the weekends during the Chinese 7th lunar month or better known as ‘ghost month’, Paul and a colleague was patrolling Petaling Street. As they were walking and chatting along the street, suddenly Paul heard a lady shouting:

“Help! Someone has snatched my handbag!”

Paul immediately turned to the direction from where the sound came from and he saw a man was heading towards his direction with a lady’s handbag in his hand. So, Paul’s police instinct sets in and he immediately gave chase. Paul’s partner was a little slow to react but as Paul gave chase to the suspect, he too followed behind Paul.

After some chase, the suspect ran into an abandon building and Paul was close behind him. After Paul entered the building, the suspect was nowhere in sight and finally Paul nail down a toilet as there was some chewing sound coming out from within. So Paul shouted: “Come out! Police!”

After some rounds of charge, the toilet door remains shut still. Without hesitation, Paul kicked at the toilet door and it gave way with a bang. And… Paul saw a grey figure squatting beside toilet bowl eating a piece of white candle! He was stunned and when the grey figure saw Paul, it too passed the half eaten candle to Paul…

Paul was nearly passed out due to fright, but before Paul really fainted; someone tapped his shoulder. Paul turned his head and there he saw his partner panting at his back and said:

“I don’t know why you suddenly ran away madly down in the street… I had to follow you and …”

Before his partner officer could finish his sentence, Paul asked:

“Didn’t you hear a lady shouting?”

“What lady? The only lady I could see was a lady manikin burnt as offering to the hungry ghosts!” His partner answered with surprised.

This is one secret that Paul and his partner kept until they retired. Now days Paul would stay away from ghost month street offerings for the fear that history would repeat.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A House Full Of Ghosts (一屋子的鬼)

Many people think that they are cursed by other unscrupulous people because people are jealous about them. But these people do not aware that many times they themselves are at fault and they will become agitated when I pointed out no one but they are to be blamed.

A lady in KL came to me complaining that she had been the victim of ‘Kong Tau’ (Thai black magic) for 20 years or so because her neighbour is jealous about her. So I dropped in her house curious about her claims as it is virtually impossible for someone to be hit by black magic and survive for 20 years!

One Sunday afternoon, I found myself standing in front of the lady’s house and to my surprised, there were many protective talismans hanging above the main door: there is a trident, a ‘bagua’ (八卦), a big Taoist talisman and another plate inscribed with ‘om mani padme hum’. Just a few steps in front of her main door were a ‘datuk’ shrine and opposite the shrine is another shrine for worshipping Phra Phrom.

To say it honestly, I already had severe migraine before I even venture into the house. As I was a little dumbfounded in front of the house, the lady came out to greet me and we went into the house for further investigation.

The scene in the house is even more interesting: there is an altar with ancestor tablet and not less than 6 Taoist deities sitting on the altar. Just on a wall next to the Taoist altar was another altar for worshipping Hindu and Thai deities.

After a round of walking, we finally returned to the living room and as I was about to draw some conclusion of my findings; the lady suddenly pulled out a stack of Mao Shan (茅山) Taoist talismans from her bra

Before I start to suspect that this lady is a wacko, she suddenly started to behave as if a kid… Her mother said that it was a kid spirit that has possessed her. So I asked for a cup of icy cold water and splashed the water at her face. The lady regained consciousness and we begun to chat again. After 10 minutes or so, this lady switched into another character again and said that she is the green ‘datuk’ spirit sitting outside. So, I asked for another cup of cold water and splashed onto her face, and she was okay again.

At this point, I decided to take a hike as this lady in front of me wasn’t really being cursed! Her problems can only be solved when she throw all her unwanted statues away! So I tell the lady and her mother straight and then flee the scene. Well, I can catch a vengeful ghost but I cannot treat a wacko!

The above is but one case amongst many that I have come across in Singapore and Malaysia. If you have many statues of various religious beliefs stored in your house, your luck shall not be better than the lady in the story above. Chances are that you have a house full of ghosts! No kidding.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Magic Duel Of Hmong Masters (苗师斗法记)

Unlike us the modern folks, it is not easy for a hill tribe shaman to survive without proper magical training and knowledge. Shamans in Indochina mountain ranges need to defend their honors and that they are constantly engaging in magical duels to fight for influence. The more masters a shaman defeats, the better his/her social status is; hence the power and money.

I was lucky enough to see a magic duel between two Hmong shamans in Northern Thailand. You know that I have a hobby to collect magical items from old shamans, so this is just one of the visits to a Hmong lady whose parents were shamans. As we were discussing about the price, suddenly the Hmong lady stood up and said: “Someone is looking for me!”

After that, she proceeded to her altar and then prayed in silence for a while and then turned her face towards me said: “There is another shaman of this village who wanted to have a magic duel with me, whoever wins shall take over the rituals business in this area. I have agreed. If you want to watch the show, then come at night.”

So I agreed and returned to her place after night.

The Hmong lady has changed into her full traditional costume bare footed. In front of her altar was a piece of black cloth, a cock, a Hmong knife, a bowl of water, a plate of rice, a piece of weed, a piece of stone and one piece of iron. She first lighted the incense and candles and then she offered rice wine and meat to her patron gods and goddesses. After that the lady shaman kneeled in front of her altar and started to recite mantra slow at first but the tone turned fast and fierce.

A few minutes later, the lady shivered, jumped up and then pulled out the ritual knife and started to slash towards all four corners. I could only stand at far fearing for my safety… The assistant told me that it was the ‘ghost of war’ that has possessed the lady shaman.

As such after quite a while, the Hmong shaman uses a scissors to cut the black cloth into the shape of a person; and then she lifted the cock and drew some blood from its crown. Later she anointed the blood onto the head, neck, shoulders, heart, stomach, hands and legs of the cloth manikin. When this is done, the manikin is folded and then it is tugged into her hair bun. It was revealed by the lady that that was her method of protection.

Now the lady shaman kneeled before the plate of rice and covered it with a piece of cloth. After some rounds of chanting, she lifted the cloth and there were some kind of patterns on the rice. She said that this is to predict what types of ghosts her opponent sent and what direction the spirits would come from.

Common ghost employed by Hmong shaman are no other than the grass ghost, wind ghost, fire ghost, water ghost, earth ghost, metal ghost etc. When the type of ghost is determined, an appropriate countermeasure can be prescribed. For example if it is predicted a fire ghost is sent then a shaman would light a candle. If the candle flame crackles, then it would be 100% sure that it is a fire ghost. If it is a water ghost, then a bowl of water would turn milky.

In this case the lady’s opponent sent a fire ghost, so she put a cup of water under the candle and then starts to dance and dance vigorously. I could see clearly the candle flame flickers while the environment is filled with still air. At this point, the lady shaman started to start a bon fire and then she kneeled down in front of the fire and she used her ritual knife to point at the fire while started another round of cursing.

It was after quite a while and the fire started to crackle and slowly died down. On seeing the situation, the lady shaman jumped into the fire and started to dance. And finally she stabbed her knife into the ash and collapsed onto the floor.

I was later told by the Hmong lady that her opponent has died a few days later when I returned to collect my items. The lady also said that when two Hmong shamans engage in magic duel, one of the parties shall die. Luckily, we don’t see this type of fatal magic duel these days…

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Curse Of Demon Hunter (猎神的咒术)

Gods or goddesses of hunter are worshipped across the world by hunters of the old. In Malaysia, he is known as ‘hantu pemburu’ or ‘ghost hunter’. It is believe that this spirits is in the hopeless search of a pregnant buck until it sent his dogs to the heavens to get one. As this poor ghost hunter keeps its watch over his dogs in the sky until its head permanently fixed in upward facing position. Gradually trees grow in its mouth and gradually formed a forest. People believe that this ghost hunter still hunts in Malaysian forest.

In Mei Shan religion sect, people would worship Mei Shan goddess (梅山神) before they start hunting. Perhaps this is same as the Greece goddess Diana as both of them are from very old folk cultures.

The belief of Mei Shan goddess has many variants, some tribes think that Mei Shan goddess refers to three sister spirits; while others think that they are in fact spirits of 7 sisters. Any yet some tribes think Mei Shan goddess is actually male hunting god.

Whatever case this may be, people worship Mei Shan goddess not because they revere her. The motive behind calling upon Mei Shan goddess prior to hunting is to secure their animals so that no other hunters can get these animals.

Of course, the hunting of animals can be converted to the hunting of human in another ways as hunting people physically is against the law now and before. So some Mei Shan magicians would call upon Mei Shan goddess to do their biddings…

When a Mei Shan magician wanted to curse a person, he/she would first go to a river bank far away from human habitation with some offerings such as five types of beans, a bowl of bean soups, some grass, and 7 pieces of joss sticks, some joss papers and an egg.

At the location and when all of the items are set up. The magician would call upon the 7 sisters for help and then he/she would light the 7 pieces of incense sticks and use them to draw ‘’ with the egg in the centre.

After the magician is done with cursing and swearing, the egg is crushed with a stone hence indicating the head of the target is smashed. It is believed that by doing so, the target will die in due time.

Another method to secure a game or a person in the forest is to call upon the Mei Shan goddess and then plug a weed. The hunter only needs to tie a knot near the tip of the weed while calling the name and after that a piece of rock is put onto the weed before the hunter enters the forest.

Hmong Ghost Of Grass (草鬼)

Generally speaking, Miao or Hmong magic are influenced by animism. A Miao magician is known as ‘master of ghosts’ (鬼师). Casting Miao/Hmong magic is simple and only ordinary materials are used. For example can you imagine that a piece of weed can be used to harm a person?

I have seen when I was at my master’s place in Chiang Mai, a person came to my master’s place to seek help as he complaint that he was bullied by his landlord. Initially the visitor wanted to seek help from my master, but coincidently the master was not in. So happened that a Hmong lady was also there waiting for my master, she volunteered herself to mediate.

Since the person only stays across the street, I followed the Hmong lady who was perhaps in her early 20’s to the landlord’s place. The landlord saw that the incomer was a young pretty lady, so he tried to take advantage of the Hmong lady and also threatened to take over the person’s land.

The Hmong lady told the landlord seriously that he should apologize and retracted all his vulgar words that he has thrown on her within 3 days or very bad things would happen to the macho landlord.

After the not so pleasant encounter, the Hmong lady returned to my master’s place to wait for him. Before she entered the house, she plugged a piece of weed and cut it into a few sections while reciting some mantra that I couldn't understand. Just before we went into the master’s house, this Hmong lady buried the weed pieces in a hole just in front of the master's house.

My master finally returned from his herb collection trip and after some chat, the Hmong lady left and she told me where to find her in case of emergency. I couldn't catch her meaning then.

I was supposed to leave for Bangkok the next day, but my master asked me to stay for two more days as he said he want to show me some magic. So I obliged…

On the second day, the landlord was carried to my master’s place with a stretcher. As the landlord’s wife recalled, her hubby accidentally missed a flight and fell down from their main stairs and suffered multiple fractured on his legs. The landlord looked paralysed in the stretcher and apparently he was in great pain as he moans and groans continuously.

My master called the Hmong lady and she soon arrived. After some scolding and that the landlord repented with apologizes; the Hmong lady went out and plucked another piece of weed. After murmuring some mantra, she plugged the weed into the ground. To our surprised, the landlord recovered within half a day’s time.

According to Hmong lady, her incantation was to drive the spirit of weeds to possess a person’s body. After that, if she burns the weed with fire, then the person shall feel as if being burnt. If she folds the weed, then the person shall felt as if his body is folded by an external force. The best thing is that the magician doesn't need the target’s name or birth date; he/she only needs to memorize the person’s face will do.

Likewise, this Hmong magic can also be applied using wood, rock, paper or any other mediums. You know that I am a collector of magic ritual, so by hook and by crook; I managed to coax some secret from the lady.

The Hmong lady said that a ‘master of ghosts’ should first learnt how conjure ghosts. The master needs to use weeds, wood, iron, rock, water, water, lamps etc to represent all sorts of ghosts. He/she needs to continuously chant some mantras until the weed sticks onto the wood, and then the wood attaches itself to iron, the iron presses onto the rock, and the rock presses onto the paper, the water shall mysteriously be gone and the lamp flame became brighter. Only when one achieves this stage the magic is initially done… but this magic can only be taught to her future husband.

I haven’t the time to stay put with the Hmong lady for the ritual, but my master said that there is a similar ritual that calls upon ghost kings with weeds in Thai magic. Many people have overlooked this small detail… I had tried the methods a few times and instead of getting the weeds to attach onto other items, my lersi statue and other stuffs fell down instead. Perhaps a quicker way is to marry the lady?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Strikes Of Gods (神打)

A 5 thunder palm manuscript of Raft Religion Sect. (排教).

Strikes of god may mean different things to different Taoist traditions. Basically strikes of gods may mean a sort of invulnerability practised by Mao Shan (茅山) sect. In this practice, spirits are invited to possess a practitioner and the person shall be able to play certain type of martial arts and he/she may also possess certain degree of invulnerability to sharp objects. A parallel comparison is with the Indonesian Tenaga Dalam practice and their variants.

Another form of strikes of gods are talismans drawn onto one’s palm and after some mantra recitations, this talismans become sort of very destructive energy and when this energy is released from one’s palm towards a target, it can kill within a period of days. Well, that’s what proponent believes.

Although these types of strikes of gods are mainly forgotten, traces of them can be seen in some folk cults such as Liu Ren (六壬), Jin Yin(金英), Mao Shan(茅山), Lu Shan (闾山) etc.

There are many types of strikes of gods:

·         The five thunders palm (五雷掌)
·         The plum flower palm (梅花掌)
·         The flying sand palm (飞沙掌)
·         The 5 elemental swords (五行剑)
·         The yin palm (阴掌)
·         Etc.

Those people practising Taoist magic would have heard of the five thunders palm as this is the all famous Taoist combat magic that can cause severe pain in the body that may cause fatality if untreated in long run.

Foreigner would be confused with the ‘strikes of gods’ with actual Shao Lin (少林) kung fu using the same name such as plum flower palm (梅花掌). The plum flower in magic uses the energy of spirits to cause damage, but the plum flower in martial art uses physical strength to cause damage to an opponent. Both of spiritual and physical plum flowers will cause the skin of an opponent to show red mark of a palm.

I am not sure if anyone has mastered these form of ‘deadly’ arts these days, but this would be an interesting topic to talk about if you are interested in Taoist magic of the minorities though.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Five Ghost Cabalash (五鬼葫芦法)

This cabalash is used for warding off evil.

A cabalash (葫芦) is used in Taoist magic for many purposes with the most common use of a cabalash is to ward off evil. In many Chinese folklores, Taoists use cabalash to catch and store evil spirits. However, there is another darker use of a cabalash.

In this ritual, one can actually conjure not one, but 5 ghosts to do one’s bidding…

First, you will need a human skull… if you cannot find a real skull; a replica will do as this shall serve as the king of ghost (鬼王). Whatever case that may be, please get the skull on a ‘ghost day’ (癸日).

Now, you may purchase a cabalash in a shop and bring back to your altar for empowerment. Three days after you have set up the skull, you must go out of your house early in the morning before sun rise and collect soils from 5 directions: center, east, south, west and north. After you have collected the soils, bring them back and fill them into the cabalash.

At your altar, you should take breathe of all 5 directions and then blow into the cabalash. Perform the breaths blowing ritual for 49 days and then keep the cabalash in your ritual until the time is right.

When you have found a new grave and if the target is right, bring the cabalash to the grave with a piece of black cloth and some offerings such as flowers and foods to the grave. You must perform the ritual quietly and secretly and you must not disclose your purpose to anyone.

You must stand in front of the tomb stone and draw two ‘+’ signs and then you should step onto the signs for your safety. After that you must stare at the picture until you hear someone is whispering at your ear. When you did, ask it to enter the cabalash together with any other 4 companions if you prefer. Or you may perform the same ritual on another occasion.

After you have successfully captured a spirit, you should go straight home and put the cabalash beside the human skull. You must make food offerings to the spirits daily together with incense and candles.

The spirits will make their presence know very soon if you have done things correctly. Try this ritual if you are a sceptic of ghosts!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Small People (毛神仔)

Perhaps so called ‘small people’ exist in all parts of the world.

In Taiwan, they are known as ‘mo-sin-a’ (魔神仔) or 'small devil kids', in Southern China, they are known as 'small mountain' (小山).

Sichuan (四川) folks think that these small people not only they can cause disasters to ordinary folks, they can also help them to do their magical biddings. However, these 'small mountain' people are very narrow minded for even when the human beings are not talking about them, they may be offended and decided to punish unwary  folks even though these small people are only about 1 foot tall.

Taiwanese folks believe that small people don’t normally harm people but they will play pranks on the unwary folks especially the old and the children. Their most favourite trick is to make a person lost his/her ways and that this person keeps on walking round and round in an area. Even though rescue teams passing through this person for several times, no one would discover him/her not until the small people had enough with him/her; or the small people’s spell is broken by a magician etc.

Unlike ghosts, these Taiwanese small people are not afraid of the sunlight. Although these small creatures do not cause harm, they would push mud and cow dung into the mouth of the lost ones which may cause the person to suffocate.

As with the counterpart in Sichuan, China, the Taiwanese small people are normally small, look like kids but their movements are extremely fast. But in some places, people would think small people are actually very tall lady with extremely fair complexion.

The Hakka (客家) calls these small people ‘small hairy gods’ (毛神仔).

Punung folks (布农) think these small people are actually a type of small black ghost.

The Amei tribe (阿美族) who stay near sea believe the small people can walk on sea, while the Amei tribe that stay in hillside say that the small people can fly on tree tops. Both of Amei tribes pointed out that these small people are indeed small black people with powerful magical power.

Minnan (闽南) folks call these small people mountain gods (芒神) and they believe that these mountain gods looks like monkeys with only few hairs.

Yet there are other folks believe that small people are in fact spirits of kids who wears red hats.

In other part of the world, they are otherwise known as leprechauns. Otherwise they sound like ‘tomte’ in Scandinavian countries:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Are They Ghosts? (谁是鬼?)

This is a bizarre story that I have heard from a customer, Albert during a Feng Shui audit.

Albert purchased a service apartment in Damansara Utama a few years ago but only learnt that a small fire broke out on the 10th floor and that fire damaged about 5 floors upwards a year earlier. Albert was lucky that his apartment is situated on the 8th floor hence he wasn't really affected financially; though his emotion was a little affected because there were many casualties.

Since Albert has paid almost half a million dollar for that apartment excluding further investments in renovating it, he decided to move in the apartment with his family and crossed his fingers that everything would be okay.

Well it seems Albert’s worry was a little unfounded at first, but before he could forget the whole incident…

One evening after dinner, Albert’s wife Jess was watching TV in the living room with their children and they saw many white figures dropping from upstairs through the balcony. So they rushed out to the balcony to investigate but found nothing wrong and they went back to the living room brushing aside that was some unscrupulous folks have thrown rubbish over their balcony. That wasn't too strange for those people who dwelled in high rise.

At around 8pm, Albert received an emergency call and he was wanted in hospital to identify a hit and run victim. So, Albert and Jess went out together and before the couple went out, they cautioned their children: Henry and May to watch over the house as they went out for a while. So out the couple went leaving both of their children securely locked.

About half an hour after their parents left, the main door bell rang and both of the children went to open the door and found it was their maid at the door. Though the children felt strange as their made was supposed to be on leave, they were quite happy to see her.

According to the maid, she has forgotten to fetch her travelling document so Henry and May let the maid in and then mind their own business. A few minutes later, the maid emerged from her room and she approached the children and then cautioned them:

“Both of you should know that there were some fatalities during upstairs fire last year. The white shadows you saw dropping from upstairs were those ghosts of people jumping down from upstairs escaping the heat of the fire. However, there is another pregnant lady died during the fire on the 11th floor due to suffocation and this restless ghost may come to disturb you… so please don’t open the door unless you are sure that it is your mom and dad…”

After hearing the seemingly strange reminder, the children grumbled yeah, what next? They bid the maid a bon voyage and continue to watch the TV.

A few minutes lapsed, another door bell rang, and the children thought that was their parents; so they rushed to get the door. Before they opened the door, somehow the maid’s words stroke their instinct and they decided look through the viewer glass and found a half burnt pregnant lady was standing in front of their door!

Both of them gave out a shriek and rushed into their bedroom and covered themselves with blankets. When Albert and Jess finally went back and their found Henry and May curling in the bed shivering badly. Only after much comforting that the children told their parents what had happened.

To everyone’s horror, the telephone call was made by a police officer investigating a hit and run accident and the victim was their own maid. Apparently the maid was hit and killed by a drunk driver earlier when she was trying to cross the road to take a bus.

So, was it that the ghost of the maid returned to warn Henry and May about their potential danger? Or were those ‘fallen objects’ were indeed restless souls of the victims of fire? Perhaps only God has the answer.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mei Shan Religious Sect 1 (梅山教1)

Mei Shan religion is one of the religions followed by Chinese minorities in Southern China which is heavily influenced by Taoism. As the name implies, Mei Shan religion originated from Mei Shan (梅山). Mei Shan is also the origin place of Yao ancestors or they were known as the Mei Shan tribes.

A Guangxi (广西) Yao chant known as ‘opening altar book’ (开坛书) says:


(One soul steps into the realm of Mei Shan, two soul steps on the Bride of No Return. I step both of my feet on Mei Shan and deeply felt complacent. I would be contented even I have not seen my master.)

When a Yao old man dies, his soul would be sent back to 10 Mei Shan Caves (梅山十洞). The Yao people believe that there are 10 kings in charge of these 10 caves and they have powers to bestow fortune and also to create disasters.

The Yao tribe also believes in the existence of 10 halls (十殿) and 36 caves (三十六洞). The 36 caves are meant for deliverance services and they belonged to the realms of underworld. It is in accordance with the Guangxi Yao tribe that when a person dies, his/her soul should be immediately sent to these caves for good.

A Yao deliverance book “又到游梅山三十六洞梅山念” (Again I Visited Mei Shan 36 Caves Chant):


(The master is carrying 3 canopies, sending to Mei Shan to learn magic; we deliver the master to the other side of the mountain where he would stay there for millions of years. We perform the Mei Shan Master Departure Congregation; he will stay comfortably in the main hall of Mei Shan.)

So, as we can see, while in other religions; people would send the dead to heavens. In Yao tribe however, the practice is to send the dead back to Mei Shan which is the origin place of their ancestors. It is believe that by reuniting the spirits of the ancestors, the spirits of the dead can rest in place and hence protecting their descendants.

The 7th cave of 36 caves is the “Plum Origin” (梅源洞) which is said to be the dwelling place of gods and immortals. Of course, by first look the Yao Mei Shan 10 halls and 36 caves closely resemble the Chinese Taoist 10 major heavenly caves and 36 minor heavenly caves.

Some Malaysian Fishermen Lores (大马渔民禁忌)

I have a few friends living in Sepatang, Taiping. Sepatang is a fishing village in the state of Perak which is also famous of its seafood restraints.

There are some taboos that old Chinese fishermen would not break in the past, may be these taboos are a thing of the past, but it is fun just to run over some of them before they are forgotten in time.

Once I was having lunch with a friend in his kelong (fish farm) when he served me fresh Barramundi (siakap) fish. You know that having fresh steamed fish harvested and cook there and then is an unforgettable experience as the fish meat is so tender with a little hardness; which is unlike the texture of fish in the market…

Okay, let’s go back to the story proper. Just as we were finishing one side of the siakap fish, I tried to flip the fish sideway. But I was stopped by my friend as he said that it would be a very bad omen to a fisherman as this may indicate the turning of a ship sideways. So, the correct way is to flip the fish from head to tail lengthwise. According to my pal, it is quite unlikely to have a ship taking a somersault at sea.

Fishing at sea at night is adventurous business as not only the weather condition can at times be unpredictable, hazards such as accidents, ship collisions and pirates are also frequently taking place at high sea. Also at times one may also met with ghosts at sea. My pal said that he had several times that when he was fishing at the aft of the boat; he saw a black shadow sitting at the bow of his ship. He told me that that was the ghost of someone who has drowned in the region and that the only resting place for these lost souls of the sea are fishing boats. So, it is best just to leave these spirits alone as they shall be gone when the day breaks. Some of his friends even sworn that they have seen flying head hovering on their boats and even fish farms.

Many times when my pal sees a black shadow on his fishing boat, he knows that there may be someone drowning in the vicinity. Because normally a day after the sighting, my pal would pick up a floating body. When a dead body is found, no fisherman should ignore this poor body as this is the request of the deceased to the living that he wanted to go home. So, this fisherman should stop all his fishing activity and bring the body home. If it is not for humanitarian, ignoring the dead body would also cause no fish to be harvested for that day.

I have also learnt that fishermen at certain place would not consume some type of fish. For example some Hong Kong fishermen do not eat carps due to their religious belief. Also some fishermen in Vietnam don’t eat fish caught in their area because they believe that those fishes are the reincarnation of their ancestors. I have not ventured to find out if the above are true or otherwise, or perhaps the stories are true in old days; not now.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Some Scandinavian Nautical Lore (北欧海事信仰)

By Mr. Bjerstedt

Paying For Good Wind

To get good wind for sailing, you should throw a coin over the mast so that it falls in the water, and at the same time shout "Blow Kajsa!" This Kajsa is a deity and was formerly called Kåre. The old Vikings would during doldrums bribe this ocean god with some amber jewellery, that they threw over the mast and shouted "Blow
Kåre!" and immediately the wind would come. However, over the years Kåre changed gender and became Kari, which in turn became Kajsa.

["Kåre" is a Nordic male name that means "Curly haired one". "Kåra" is a nautical term that means that the water becomes frizzy, from a "kåre", which is a weak wind. The word is also used in the Swedish form of the phrase "gives the creeps", where it is "Cold kårar goes along the back".]

The Sea Rå

Like the hunters tell of a forest rå, a gorgeous guise of a woman who fools men and leads them astray and later shapeshifts into a rotten tree stump, the old sailors talk about the sea rå, this too a darling woman with seaweed braided into the long hair. The sea rå is the ocean's avenging spirit that punishes without mercy. Many a sailor, who refused to believe in her, has during a dark stormy night or during a lonely guarding session suddenly disappeared without anyone knowing, where he has gone or who was behind his disappearance. The old sailors only nod secretively, they know that it is the sea rå, who once again has been out and punished her deniers.

When Ships Were Built

Notetaker: Levi Johansson
Messenger: J Hassel-Larsson
Year: 1912
Parish/Town: Njurunda

When ships were built, in old times, they necessarily had to put coins in certain parts of the ship.

[I can't translate the rest of the text due to the nautical knowledge required.]

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

She Said She Was Murdered (冤魂报案记)

This story was told by an old police officer who once served in Ipoh town police station. Again, the story happened some time ago and since the gentleman just said that once; but since it is quite bizarre, I would just share it with you here as far as I can remember it.

Sergeant Hassan was on a night shift at main counter in Ipoh police station one night and a lady came to lodge a report.

Lady: “I would like to lodge a report, sir.”

Hassan: “On what matter madam?”

Lady: “I was murdered by Mr. A and my body is now being tied in a semi-detached house in Ipoh East.”

Hassan: “What? You are murdered by someone?”

Lady: “You hear me right, sir.”

(Hassan was doubtful and though he has suspected that the lady was a wacko; but since she could furnish some details of the murder case, he felt that he is obliged to take action to investigate…)

Hassan: “Tell me more about the incident…”

Lady: “I was robbed, raped and murdered in an abundance house 3 days ago…”

(The lady kept talking and after she has finished her narration, she suddenly dropped onto the floor and became unconscious.)

The other lady policewoman immediately propped up the unconscious lady and carried her to a bench. After some first aid, the lady finally regained consciousness but to everyone’s surprise; she couldn't remember why she was in the police station!

A man was arrested a few days later according to the lady’s description and he finally admitted that he murdered the victim due to extreme jealousy.

This is the first time I heard of a deceased victim return from limbo to lodge a police report.