Sunday, March 20, 2016
Family That Keeps Ghost (养鬼人家)
In Japanese Onmyodo (阴阳道) a ghost servant is known as ‘Shikigami’ (式神). There are many types of shikigami and a shikigami powerful shikigami can be inherited in a family. In Omyodo, a shikigami is normally summoned using talismans or some kind of oath bound object that the spirit is bound to. In other traditions a spirit is otherwise known as jinn in Middle East, ‘gui’ (鬼) in Chinese, ‘hantu’ in Malaysia or a ‘pee’ in Thailand.
There are many ways to keep a ghost and almost all cultures having one method or two to deal with ghosts. Ghost keeping is most popular in Malaysia between 60’s to early 80’s. Of course, the ghost keeping I refer to is different from keeping a ‘kumanthong’ or Thai kid spirit. In the eyes of experts, kid spirits can be of little service and they tend to be trouble makers. In the eyes of serious, the most useful type of ghosts are those ghosts of youths died in freak accidents or suicide; best if the person is still single. A married ghost, a sick ghost or an old ghost is of no use as they are too week.
Today, it is very difficult to find anyone actually ‘keeping’ a ghost. Other more common types of ghost keeping is through the Taoist ‘yin 5 legionnaires army’ (阴五营兵) ritual. On the other hand, this type of ghost keeping ritual is the weakest through experience because they are the easiest to be exorcised. Anyone can yell: “Hallelujah!” and these ghostly pets will move out from a premise.
I had one to one encounter with a ‘family ghost’ before my involvement into Taoist magical world many years ago. Once I had to stay with a Chinese family in Singapore for one week due to some errant. The family was normal enough to me but they had this very odd altar situated beside the normal main altar. This altar was just a small table with a tablet inscribed with inscriptions: “Miss Law” (罗小姐位). Behind the tablet was a small coffin wrapped by some yellow talismans. There is a glass of plain water and some flowers in a vase. And an incense burner is placed in front of the said tablet.
Since my temporary landlord didn’t mentioned about this special altar, I dare not ask since I only temporally stayed with the family. All went well until one night when I woke up to pee. As I passed through the living room, I saw the landlord; Jason inclined his head sideway over a bucket of water as if listening to something. At that instance, Jason saw me but he continued to lean over the bucket and then utter something softly. I didn’t want to be a busybody so I went on with my business.
Another incident that I felt odd was that most of the time I went into the lift, as the lift door was about to shut; the lift door would suddenly jammed and then reopened as if someone wished to enter. At first I thought it was the lift malfunction, but after complained to the building management; the problem persisted.
The last night I put up with Jason and the family, I woke up in the middle of the night by a presence. It was the silhouette of a long hair lady standing in front of my bed. It had this Jasmine smell that reminded me of the Jasmine on the special altar. The figure stood there for a few seconds and then vanished into thin air.
The next morning, I told Jason about my strange encounters during my occupancy. Jason explained to me that my strange encounters have something to do with his special family member, Miss Law. Jason kept this spirit to watch over his family and business; and Miss Law was said to be a helpful ones too.
I had not visited Jason for about 20 years now. Perhaps Miss Law was too lonely and she wanted to talk; or perhaps she didn’t like to be ‘locked up’ and rather to be liberated… I could only imagine.