August is when the “gates of hell” open to unleash legions of hungry ghosts in this world, if one were to heed the Chinese belief system. August, the ghost month, comes with warnings of gloomy uncertainties and tragedies.
But if you play your cards right, good luck might just flow into your life the rest of the year.
Young geomancer Hanz Cua said dodging bad luck is quite simple: Just make the hungry ghosts happy.
But to make them happy you must first know who, or what, you’re dealing with.
The “hungry ghost month” starts on the seventh month of the lunar calendar—from July 27 to Aug. 24 this year. It is believed that hungry ghosts will be on full rampage on the 15th day of the ghost month, or on Aug. 10.
The wrath of hungry ghosts is not known to the rest of the world, but the Chinese steeped in tradition remember it as the day of Princess Diana’s fatal car crash (Aug. 31, 1997) and the collapse of the World Trade Center towers (Sept. 11, 2001).
Closer to home, Cua said the Payatas dumpsite tragedy (July 10, 2000), Cherry Hill Subdivision landslide (Aug. 3, 1999), Typhoon “Ondoy” (Sept. 23, 2009) and Manila hostage crisis (Aug. 23, 2010) happened during the Hungry Ghost Month.
Cua said hungry ghosts are restless, evil and mischievous souls that the elder Chinese blame for just about anything bad happening during this period, including deaths. As they take on many forms—from spirits to animals and humans—the hungry ghosts will often coax people to do harm to others.
In Chinese Buddhism and folk religion, hungry ghosts are the souls of people who met violent deaths such as accidents, suicide, murder or rape.
They are also spirits of ancestors no longer venerated or, for the non-Chinese, loved ones whose graves are no longer visited.
“There will be a rise in the incidence of accidents and crimes, unexplained paranormal events and ghost sightings, and an increase chance of business failure especially for startups,” Cua said.
He said that in this period there must be no weddings, new businesses, moving to a new office or home, surgery, adventurous sports, swimming, driving home at night, or going to yin places such as funerals and hospitals. The start of building construction must wait until after the Hungry Ghost Month.
To usher in health and happiness, Cua encourages people to offer food to the spirits on Aug. 10. Set up a table outside your house, or near a window if you live in a condo. Hungry ghosts prefer cooked pork, chicken and rice, fruits, and beer and cigarettes, he said.
“Remember, you’re not making offerings to saints. These are lost souls. Turn your home into a yang, a place that’s happy and bright. Don’t turn off all lights at night,” he said.
You can also visit your loved ones in the cemetery, go to church or temples, offer prayers, light candles and burn paper money. Any church or temple will do, he said, since the ritual is about spirituality, not religion.
Burning of paper money, it’s believed, will render the currency valid in the underworld, turning them into “hell money.” Some Chinese go as far as burning paper houses, cars, gold, and clothes.
“The more you burn, the happier the hungry ghosts will become,” Cua said.
He added that hungry ghosts are more likely to hound people who don’t pray or go to church, those who are sad, and those who are just plain “nega.”
Cleanse your home using incense to drive away hungry ghosts, or place rock salts by the windows and doors to cleanse the negative air and prevent them from going inside your home. Wear happy, bright colors like red, and never wear black.
You can also opt to get amulets, such as the god of the underworld Chung Kwei for your home, or a more jack-of-all-trades god, Kwan Kong, for your office. Kwan Kong, said Cua, is believed to drive away hungry ghosts. Wear black onyx, Turkish evil eye pendant or black tourmaline for protection.
Cua has a diploma, from Singapore, as feng shui master practitioner—thus he is called Master—specializing in feng shui, bazi (Chinese destiny reading) and I-Ching. He finished his master practitioner course at the Lillian Too Consultant Institute, and is a certified tarot reader. He is a graduate of the Inner Mind Institute of Inquirer columnist Jaime Licauco.
Visit Hanz Cua’s website www.masterhanzcua.com, and charm kiosk 8 Treasures at 1/L Hallway Edsa in Edsa Shangri-La Plaza.