The Seventh Lunar Month (August 7 to September 4 this year, 2013) is known throughout Asia as the “Hungry Ghost Month” or “Zhong Yuan Jie” is a time to appease Hungry Ghosts and wandering spirits
During this time it’s believed that some ancestor spirits (who never received a proper ritual send-off) are trapped between the realms are free to roam the earth where they seek food and entertainment during the 30 day moon cycle.
During this month you might notice an increase of ghosts or paranormal activity with the heightened yin energies; accidents; crime; deaths or inexplicable medical problems; business failures and bankruptcy; tragedies (for example, 9/11 happened during this time).
Hungry ghosts are so desperate to be “fed” that if left unappeased can bring misfortune to those whose chi energy levels are depleted or whose luck is low. So here are some easy practices to protect yourself and your loved ones during this time…
1.Traditionally, it’s believed to be taboo to do any of the following activities during this lunar month:
- Opening a business
- Getting married to avoid their envy
- Moving house (if unavoidable, move during daylight hours only)
- Performing major home renovations with knocking and banging disturbing spirits (if unavoidable, offer incense each morning before the work begins and have workers leave and finish all work before the sun begins to set and lock up all equipment carefully)
- Signing contracts
- Buying real estate
- Making a major life decision
- Starting a huge project
- Swimming in ponds, pools, rivers, lakes or waterfalls (especially at night) because Hungry Ghosts are desperately thirsty
- Travelling abroad, taking long road trips, flying on an airplane or staying in hotels
- Having medical procedures (unless an emergency, of course)
- Looking into reflective surfaces (mirrors, bodies of water) at night time
- Hanging out clothes to dry at night time (which look like a body) or leaving out toys or dolls all night (bless with holy water before giving back to children)
- Engaging in romantic or intimate activities as the ghosts might be jealous
- Staying out or travelling late at night; loitering in dark places at night, especially at walls or in corners
- Having “happiness occasions” parties or celebrations (such as weddings or birthdays) that may cause jealousy or dissatisfaction
- Saying “ghost”–instead say “good brethren” or “good friend”
- Picking up any coins you find in the streets during this Hungry Ghost Month as they could be offerings.
2. Be vigilant and avoid Yin Spirit Formation:
- Keep the lights bright, especially in corners
- No dust
- No clutter
- Play happy, uplifting music
- “Squeaky doors bring hungry ghosts” –oil hinges of your doors!
- If you meet a ghost, say aloud: “You don’t exist. You can’t hurt me. You’re not real. You have no influence over me.”
- Rest if you’re tired and don’t let yourself become exhausted or ill
- Carry a mirror (that can deflect and absorb negative energies at the same time) near your body or in your purse or pocket
- Watch out for mischief, accidents, theft and losing your possessions.
- If you feel yourself in danger, just chant under your breath “Hum, hum, hum, hum, hum” as it’s a seed syllable representing heaven, earth and humankind and a foundation of all prayers and mantras.
- Wear a lucky red envelope with a piece of round fresh orange peel in a red envelope or an amulet for personal protection
- Wear bright yang colors, especially the color red symbolizing happiness, luck and protection. This could be an outfit, tie, purse or cinnabar bracelet. Yellow is also a very powerful color this month. You could also wear white, orange or gold to avoid attracting yin chi.
- You can wear jewelry with protective mantras on it
- Refresh or install Feng Shui driving cures in your car
- Use your intuition and pay attention to your dreams to help protect yourself and your loved ones.
- Avoid walking in the dark alone, especially after 10pm nor respond to an unfamiliar voice calling out your name—don’t turn around to look
3. Make incense and candle offerings OUTSIDE your home:
- Don’t be afraid of Hungry Ghosts—give them incense. Tell them “I’m better alive then dead. Alive, I can give you incense!”
- Every night of this lunar month, make incense offerings in front of the door to your home (incenses from my boutique include a special offering ritual). ALWAYS burn incense and joss papers for Hungry Ghosts outside your house—otherwise you’re inviting them inside home!
- Incense Ritual: Light incense (and take refuge, if you wish). Then recite “I’m making this incense offering to remove all obstacles and to appease all the hungry ghosts of the world this month. Om Ah Hum. Om Ah Hum. Om Ah Hum.” Then repeat this mantra 21 times “Nama Sarva Tathagata Avalokite Om Sambhara Sambhara Hum” Then think “I’m offering this delicious smoke offering to all of the deities and protectors and landlords of this house, this street, this suburb, this city and all the billions of hungry ghosts and wandering spirits in the world. Please accept this smoke offering. Please grant me all my wishes and my family long life and all my wishes as I envision them”. Then say “Om Mani Padme Hum” 108 times.
- Light red lanterns (or candles) outside of your home for the entire month. If you live in a condo or apartment, you can put them at a window or out on the balcony.
- On August 20th, put paper lotus candle lanterns outside your home as well as float them rivers, lakes or oceans to help the ghosts find their way back home. You could also light tea lights in lotus-shaped holders.
4. Sprinkle sea or rock salt on your doorstep/threshold; at each window; and in every corner of the house to continually cleanse the excess yin energies. Sprinkle holy water (from a temple or church; or filtered water with added saffron; genuine gold flakes; or mantras) along the main entrances of your home.
5. Make your home a clean, brightly-lit sanctuary filled with sacred music playing all day long. Display holy objects and images.
6. Protect your front entrance by:
- Checking to see if your locks or handles need any repair
- Keeping your front (AND back) entrances brightly lit throughout the night
- Place a pair of guardian Fu dogs for protection
- Painting your front door a bright, beautiful red
- Placing the “Five Buddha Firecrackers” over the inside of your front door or whichever deity you love inside facing your front door
7. Attend performances of the Chinese Opera (the front row left empty, reserved for the Ghosts!) or play recordings of it or turn to a happy program on the tv or radio
8. The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts falls on the Full Moon (August 20th) and they are given a sumptuous feast to please them and bring good luck to your own family. Taoists and Buddhists perform ceremonies on this day to ease the sufferings of the deceased such as throwing rice in the air in all directions called “feeding the hungry ghosts” as well as burning paper effigies of worldly goods (houses, cars, cell phones, televisions, money etc.) to provide comfort in the afterlife.
Don’t complain or make any disparaging remarks about the scent of all the burning incense or joss paper as the Ghosts might take offense.
Don’t mention your own name when doing ritual offerings.
Make offerings to keep the Hungry Ghosts “happy” (ideally every day) and place outside your main door of your home and office. Replace any food if it starts to rot or spoil. The philosophy behind this is that you’re preventing the Hungry Ghosts to enter your house too look for “food” which could be your own life-force.
Traditionally, the offerings would include:
- Hell Money joss papers (yin chi) with real coins (yang chi)
- A bowl of cooked rice
- A small cup of wine or any hard liquor
- Three bowls of beans
- A slab of bean curd or tofu
- Cooked peanuts
- Small piece of meat
- Two red candles and two sticks of incense
Don’t eat any food that was made as an offering or risk getting ill with stomach ache.
If you pass by anyone else’s offerings, it’s traditional to put some coins or bills here. Do NOT step on or disturb any offerings that you come across.
At the end of Hungry Ghost Month, throw away the all the food and burn the Hell Money. Donate the coins to a temple or church.
9. During the first week of this lunar month, visit your ancestors’ graves making offerings of food and incense. Visit a Taoist or Buddhist temple and pray for protection after offering flowers, fruits and/or incense.