THOUGH an ancient Chinese folk ceremony, the Hungry Ghost Month has nonetheless kept its foothold in the modern consciousness. From the simple day-to-day to major events and decisions, its impact is far-reaching as believers reconfigure their lives just for this special month. This year it spans from Aug. 1 to Aug. 29, for those who wish to mark it on their calendars. But—what exactly is the Hungry Ghost Month, and how should it be observed?
According to its founding belief, on the seventh month of the lunar calendar or the Hungry Ghost Month, the Gates of Hell will open and spirits from the lower planes will be free to roam the living world. These otherworldly visitors are said to wreak mischief and misfortune if left unattended, thus the Hungry Ghost Month becomes dedicated to their appeasement. Good food is offered, events are held for their entertainment, prayers seek forgiveness and peace for these restless souls, and a slew of warnings must be heeded if you wish to avoid their malicious attentions. It can be a demanding tradition, but a necessary toll for safety and security.
Despite having some roots in the faith, the Hungry Ghost Month doesn’t actually exist from the Taoist perspective. Rather, Taoism believes that wandering spirits are constantly present in our realm. They exist neutrally during this month as they do in any other, unless purposefully provoked. There is therefore no greater danger to fear from this period. There’s nothing wrong with remaining vigilant against spirits and one is free to follow the Hungry Ghost Month tradition to no losses. But, alternatively—it can be celebrated as a joyous festival of respect and remembrance, still maintaining its core value of honoring ancestors and those who have passed. Adding to the legend, it’s believed that Di Guan Da Di, the official Lord of the earthly realm will descend from Heaven on the 15th of this month to inspect mortals and passed on and grant forgiveness and merits for past deeds. This makes the Hungry Ghost Month or Zhong Yuan Festival Holiday the best time for self-reflection on how to lead a more virtuous, filial to our ancestors and fulfilling life before death.
Readings begin with Landform Feng Shui as we first look at location. Using Google Earth and Maps, we home in on a given address then look outward to its environment. As qi resolves in natural formations, it’s necessary to pinpoint mountains and bodies of water around the location. Closeness to mountains affects relationships and health, while rivers determine wealth and opportunities that will come. The quality of these formations is also important: clean waters and fertile earth yield the best qi. Thus, locations within the right distance of healthy natural formations are in a favorable position to receive out flowing qi and its attending good luck. Beware, however. What lays between these formations and your location can affect qi. Crossing areas such as factories and landfills will degrade it and instead bring bad tidings to your doorstep.
Turning indoors, San He Feng Shui is employed next to assess the flow of qi within a home. It must be first noted that needn’t buy “cures” like accessories or ornaments to encourage qi inside. Instead, pay attention to these three important features: the main door, stove and bedroom. In the right places, they’ll successfully gather and store qi, promoting good health, relationships and wealth for residents. But bear in mind that the most crucial piece is the main door, as qi only enters through this entrance. Make sure to position it in the sector of your home that conforms to the external landform, going with the flow rather than against it. This ensures that wealth and opportunities brought by nearby natural formations will make it inside. (Master Judith Eugenio/Contributor)