A funny thing happens in the Philippines every August. The malls are somehow less crowded. The stock market slows down. All the shops seem to go on sale even though there’s no major retail holiday. Heck, restaurants and beauty salons that are often booked full miraculously free up.
This sorcery, my friends, is largely due to ghost month. Interestingly, it’s not even a Filipino concept.
According to Chinese tradition, the gates of hell open on the seventh month of the lunar calendar. This generally corresponds to the month of August, and the Chinese believe that hell’s hungry ghosts prowl the world at this time. Some are said to torment human beings, bringing with them pain, suffering, and death.
Thus, this is why the country’s substantial Chinese-Filipino population generally go into seclusion at this time of year. To minimize their exposure to these so-called hungry ghosts, they avoid activities like swimming, travel, medical surgery, and investing, among other things.
But let’s say this is the only time you can buy that house or condo you’ve been eyeing for some time. Or, say, your flighty friend finally agreed to invest in your business idea, but is due to go on a long trip next month. Do you let the opportunity pass, out of fear that its inauspicious timeline might doom the results?
Fortunately, you don’t have to. The following are some precautions that feng shui experts recommend for staying lucky this month:
- Make food offerings.
- Don’t wear red.
- Spread rock salt on your doorstep or outside the window.
- Display an image or figurine of the right deity.
- Keep the lights on.
- Burn incense indoors.
- Consult with feng shui experts before signing contracts or starting a business.
These may include chicken, pork, fruits, sweets, beer, and even cigarettes. Just place them outside your door or window, lest they entice hungry ghosts into your home.
I know, I know. Red’s usually a lucky color, but ghost month upends this assumption.
You can still wear happy colors like yellow or orange, but putting on red clothing is akin to fixing a target on your back at this time. Save those red shirts and dresses for the holiday season instead. In the Philippines, it starts in September anyway.
Salt apparently counters negative energy. Thus, when you move into a new condo unit or are overseeing renovations, sprinkle some on your doorstep and window. Don’t forget your house’s corners as well.
You can also keep a glass of salt water on your bedside table to shoo away any unfriendly spirits lurking about.
There’s Chung Kwei, the Chinese god of the underworld who controls and drives away hungry ghosts. Kwan Kong, on the other hand, is a warrior god believed to protect homes and businesses from evil forces.
Lastly, feng shui experts recommend putting up a likeness of the Monkey King, who is said to drive hungry ghosts away.
Bright lights and colorful fabrics create a lively atmosphere at home. This, in turn, counters any negativity that the ghosts might bring in.
The smoke won’t just sweeten the ambience inside your home, but it will also cleanse the negative energy away from all living spaces.
If you really need to sign a contract or start a new business during ghost month, a feng shui expert can assist with selecting the right date. All they need is your date of birth.
Conversely, ghost month isn’t without a silver lining. If you’re brave or, well, not Chinese (or both), it actually presents a lot of opportunities. Since a good chunk of Filipino consumers are treading carefully, expect to encounter a lot of great deals, even for big-ticket purchases like cars or houses.
Plane tickets and boat trips are also all yours for the taking. Ditto for party destinations, wedding services, and event venues.
See? Sometimes, luck is all about a change in perspective.