James Duvalier

author, spiritual counselor & paranormal researcher

Chung Yeung Festival

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108_Image06The month of November is now halfway over and we are heading towards Thanksgiving and the Holiday season, one of the most magical and fun times of the year.  In the past I have written about the many important holy days that occur towards the end of November and into December leading up to Christmas and the New Year.  This is a truly wonderful period with deep spiritual significance.  I would like to discuss an Asian holiday that shares many of the principles of gratitude and family unity with the American observance of Thanksgiving.  This is Chung Yeung or Double Ninth Festival which is celebrated throughout China, Japan, Vietnam and Asian communities throughout the world. Chung Yeung is a holiday that encourages people to take a day out of their busy schedules to honor their ancestors and spend quality time with family, especially the elderly, and otherwise stop for a moment and enjoy themselves and give thanks for the many blessings in life.

Chung-Yeung-Festival-Candles-HD-WallpapersChung Yeung or the Double Ninth Festival takes its name from the fact that it falls on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month which roughly corresponds to late October on the western calendar.  The number nine is considered highly auspicious in Chinese numerology and many weddings and other important events are planned on the 9th of the month.  Chung Yeung is considered highly auspicious since it falls both on the 9th day and during the 9th month.  This festival dates back to at least the 1st century AD and has its roots in a story involving a man named Huang Jing who believed that a monster was causing hardship to the land.  He told his fellow villagers to hide on a mountain while he defeated the monster.  Once the creature was subdued, the villagers returned and celebrated Huang Jing’s victory over the beast which happened to fall on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month, a feat and date which are commemorated to this day in the festival of Chung Yeung.

Presently, Chung Yeung is celebrated throughout China, Japan and Vietnam and in Asian communities around the world.  In Chinese folklore, it is believed that the world is filled with both Yang which is male energy and Yin which is feminine energy and Chung Yeung is considered a date that is highly Yang, so activities such as eating sweet cakes and drinking chrysanthemum tea are common since they bring Yin energy to achieve balance.  In fact, the chrysanthemum is such an iconic image of Chung Yeung that the holiday is known commonly in Japan as the Chrysanthemum Festival where it is often celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar on September 9th and not on the traditional Chinese date.  Mountain climbing is also a popular activity on Chung Yeung in commemoration of Huang Jing’s defeat of the monster during which the villagers took refuge on a mountain.  As is common with many Chinese observances, ancestor veneration is widely practiced especially in Hong Kong and Southern China and large quantities of spirit money are burned at ancestral graves and food offerings are made.  It is also important to spend quality time with family and loved ones on this date.  In Taiwan, Chung Yeung has been celebrated as Senior Citizens’ Day since the 1960’s.  The longing for closeness with one’s family at Chung Yeung is expressed beautifully in the following poem:

 

獨在異鄉為異客,

每逢佳節倍思親。

遙知兄弟登高處,

遍插茱萸少一人。

As a lonely stranger in a foreign land,
At every holiday my homesickness increases.
Far away, I know my brothers have reached the peak;
They are wearing the zhuyu, but one is not present.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this post and in the future we can all make a point of spending time with living relatives and friends and honoring our ancestors on Chung Yeung and always.  I thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and as always I wish you peace, happiness and abundant blessings!

Saint Martin’s Day

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Moreau_SaintMartinAs I publish this blogpost, I am happy to say that Halloween has officially arrived!  The air is permeated with magic and the veil between the worlds is so thin that I can see and feel spirits around every corner!  This is truly the most amazing time of year.  The topic of today’s post is Saint Martin’s Day, a holiday that we have not yet discussed on this blog yet one that has strong spiritual elements and is a celebration of the late harvest much like Halloween and the American Thanksgiving.  Saint Martin’s Day, which falls of the 11th of November is also known as Old Halloween due to the fact that it had been celebrated on October 31st in the British Isles prior to 1752 when the Gregorian calendar was adopted thus shifting the date 11 days forward.  This would account for why many of the traditions commonly associated with Halloween such as the wearing of costumes, bonfires and activities similar to trick-or-treat were carried over to St. Martin’s Day and still continue to be observed in various countries throughout Europe.  I would like to explore some of the customs associated with this special day.

st-martins-dayNovember 11th is the Feast of Saint Martin of Tours who was a 4th century Roman soldier originally from what is today Hungary who converted to Christianity as an adult and was baptized by a monk and later consecrated as a bishop in the Roman province of Gaul, which is today France.  St. Martin was known for his humility and acts of charity, but also for his strength and power.  A popular legend claims that Martin was so humble that he did not want to be proclaimed a bishop, so he hid in a barn surrounded by geese who gave him away by making noise.  He was thus found and declared bishop of Tours, France.  Due to this legend, roast goose is a popular food served on Saint Martin’s Day in Scandinavian countries.  During the Middle Ages, the cult of Saint Martin of Tours spread throughout Europe and due to his examples of kindness, humility and charity he became known as a powerful intercessor and benefactor to those in need.

DSCN3365The modern day celebration of Saint Martin’s Day has much in common with Halloween and even the American observance of Thanksgiving.  This is perhaps due to the fact that when the Julian calendar was in use, the feast fell on the 31st of October and then moved to the 11th of November with the adoption on the Gregorian calendar.  For this reason the day is often known as Old Halloween or Old Hallowmas.  Many of the traditions associated with Halloween such as bonfires, costume parties and parades and the carrying of lanterns, even sometimes jack-o-lanterns, have become commonplace on the feast of Saint Martin.  It is also common for villages and towns throughout Europe to host St. Martin Day parades where a costumed person on horseback representing St. Martin is followed by groups of costumed children.  Begging for candy door to door in a ritual similar to trick or treat is also common.  St. Martin’s Day is also seen as a festival of the late harvest and a time to enjoy and give thanks for the abundance of produce received from the earth.  In Spain, Saint Martin’s day is a traditional day for slaughtering farm animals and preparing meat for the winter ahead as can be seen in the popular refrain, A todo cerdo le toca su San Martín, “every pig has his Saint Martin’s Day.”  In the United Kingdom there is a particular folk belief surrounding the weather on Saint Martin’s Day. It is believed that if it is cold of Saint Martin’s Day, then the winter will be mild but it is warm, then an icy cold winter will follow.  There is often a snap of warmer weather around Saint Martin’s Day that is called Martin’s Summer, similar to the concept of an Indian summer in North America.  In short, the Feast of Saint Martin is a day filled with magic, tradition and lore and one that celebrates a beautiful and powerful saint who is an example of kindness, charity and love.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and I thank you for taking the time to visit my blog.  As always, I wish you peace, happiness and abundant blessings!

Halloween Resolutions

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Bizarre Vintage Halloween Postcards (1)The month of October is half gone and we are fast approaching Halloween, my absolute favorite holiday.  Fall is the season were the Earth give us the abundance of her gifts before sleeping during the long winter months.  It is only fitting therefore that spiritual traditions that pay attention to the Earth’s cycle would see the end of fall as the end of one year and the start of another.  In Wicca and many Pagan traditions, Halloween is seen as the New Year and as a night to honor the dead.  This is also the case in Haitian Vodou where the period between October 30th and November 2 is known as Fete Ghede and is a time to remember and honor the dead and also is considered the start of a New Year.  As a practitioner of New Orleans Voodoo, I consider November 1st to be the start of a spiritual new year and I observe the proper rituals to ensure the cleansing away of any negativity from the previous year and the inviting in of good luck and prosperity for the year to come.  In recent years, I have been giving a lot of thought to making New Year’s resolutions on Halloween instead of on the calendar New Year, January 1st, and I can say from my own experience that the resolutions made on Halloween are easier to keep and manifest better than those I’ve made at the end of December which I’m certain is because of the intense magic that abounds on that night.  Today, I would like to discuss the topic of Halloween resolutions as well as a share a magical ritual that can greatly increase your probability of keeping them.

The main difference between resolutions made on January 1st and those made at Halloween is that the ones made during Halloween tend to be kept and actually manifest during the coming year whereas all the ones I’ve made for the calendar New Year are broken no later than the 3rd of January!  I attribute this to the fact that for me Halloween and Fete Ghede are the spiritual New Year and the energy on that night is so incredible that our goals and resolutions are charged with so much magic that it gives us a tremendous edge when it comes to doing the practical work to fulfill them.  Last year at my annual Halloween gathering, my group of friends and I wrote our goals for the coming year out on paper and then placed them in an envelope only to be opened on the 30th of October of this year, the night before Halloween.  I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but the parts that I do remember have been pretty much fulfilled and I am looking forward to making new goals for the coming year at this year’s Halloween gathering.  I have designed the following ritual to help spiritually charge our Halloween goals and I definitely recommend giving it a try this October 31st.  If you prefer to make resolutions on January 1st, this ritual could be used as well on that date, but I seriously recommend making them on Halloween since the energy that night is so superb and the veil between the worlds is so thin that it just makes sense to take advantage all the magic that abounds.

For those interested in making Halloween resolutions, I would recommend taking a few minutes to meditate on what you would like to accomplish in the coming year.  This can be done individually or in a group and it can even be done the night before Halloween on October 30th which is when the spiritual veil starts to lift in the event that you have some fun plans for Halloween.  Write down your goals for the coming year and place them inside a sealed envelope marked with the date October 30th of the following year.  Then light an orange or white candle over it and say, “May the powerful energies and benevolent spirits afoot on this night bring me success and help me achieve my goals.  So be it!”  Allow the candle to burn out and then tuck the envelope away in a discrete location until the day before Halloween of the follow year.  When you open it, you will be surprised by how much you have accomplished!

I hope you have enjoyed this post and that you are enjoying this most amazing of seasons.  If you decide to give the Halloween resolution ritual a try, please share your experience with me.  As always I thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and I wish you peace, happiness and abundant blessings!

 

 

 

 

Spell for Weight Loss

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D1130-Angle-1024x835Several people who have tried the potato doll spell for weight loss that I posted here several weeks ago and have written to me saying that they have had success with the spell and are looking for others that they might try to aid in their ongoing weight loss efforts.  So, today I have decided to share a weight loss spell involving a bathroom scale that has proven highly successful for me and others.

Oftentimes when we are involved in an ongoing effort to lose weight, we feel like slaves to the scale and we give it and the number it generates the power to make us feel fabulous or miserable.  I don’t agree with this at all and I have designed this spell to use the scale as sort of a weight loss altar and channel all the power that we give it into being used for our benefit.

 

You will need:

The bathroom scale on which you normally weigh yourself

 

A yellow taper candle

 

A small piece of paper (a post-it will do) and a pen

 

First take the paper and write on it your desired weight goal.  It can be the final goal you want to weigh or it can be a smaller goal along the way.

 

Place the paper over the part of the scale where your weight is visible when you weigh yourself.

 

Take the yellow taper candle and scratch your name and goal weight into the wax.

 

Place the candle on the scale in a candle holder and light it.

 

Meditate for a few minutes and envision yourself weighing your ideal weight and seeing that number appear on the scale.

 

Allow the candle to burn itself out.

 

Put the scale away until your next scheduled weigh-in day but leave the paper with your ideal weight on the scale and change it only when you are ready to set a new goal for yourself or leave it indefinitely if the number you’ve chosen is your healthy and ideal final goal weight.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this spells and if you decide to give it a try, please share your experience with me.  I thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and as always I wish you peace, happiness and abundant blessings.

 

 

 

Chuseok: An Autumn Festival of Remembrance and Thanksgiving

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52We are well into September and fast approaching the autumnal equinox and the Harvest Festival of Mabon.  As I have mentioned many times before, this is my absolute favorite time of year!  September and October have always been months of pure beauty and magic for me.  It is a time to enjoy all the gifts the earth has given us and to offer thanks in return.  For this reason many autumn harvest festivals exist throughout the world.  We have discussed several of these in the past on the blog, most notably Mabon, the Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival and of course Halloween which is a celebration of the late harvest among its other attributes.  Today, I would like a take a look at Chuseok, a Korean harvest festival that is also a time to honor ancestors and shares many characteristics with the American celebration of Thanksgiving.  Chuseok, like the Chinese Mid Autumn Moon Festival, falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, which this year coincides with October 4th on the western calendar.

Chuseok-SongpyunChuseok occurs on the same date as the Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, although curiously the beautiful harvest moon is not really a focal point of Chuseok celebrations.  It is much more about celebrating the harvest and venerating ancestors and also spending time with family.  All schools and businesses close down for at least three days during Chuseok and people travel to their native cities and villages to spend time with family and enjoy lavish meals.  In this regard, Chuseok bears a sticking resemblance to the American Thanksgiving. It is common in many homes for the younger generations to wear traditional costumes and kowtow to elderly family members as a sign of respect while making their annual Chuseok visit. In addition to paying respects to living relatives, it is also a time to honor the dead.  It is a common practice to visit cemeteries in the days leading up to Chuseok and clean and decorate the family tombs in preparation for the holiday.  In addition to visiting familial graves, it is a common practice to prepare a table at home called a Charye on which food offerings are placed for the ancestors.  Soup and rice are placed on the north sides of the table, on the south freshly harvested fruits and vegetables, on the west meat and on the east rice cakes and drinks.  Also, a small plate of food is placed outside the home for wandering spirits who may not have families to prepare an altar for them.  There are also regional customs throughout Korea and different local ways of honoring ancestors and making offerings, but the custom of remembering one’s family both living and departed remains a constant theme of Chuseok wherever it is celebrated.

There are also many secular aspects to the celebration of Chuseok in modern times.  Starting in the 1960’s it became customary to give gifts to family members and friends.  At first the typical gifts were household items that people would commonly need such as soap, shampoo, socks etc. but as Korea became more prosperous the gifts became more elaborate and today they can be as expensive and extravagant as one’s personal finances will permit.  Playing games and engaging in folk dances are traditional activities and it is customary to indulge in a variety of sticky rice cakes called songpyeon filled with syrups and other sweet fillings.  Chuseok is celebrated in both North and South Korea but in the north it tends to be a much more subdued affair as freedom of religion and movement are highly restricted in North Korea making it difficult to perform ancestor veneration rituals and travel to different parts of the country to see family.  In fact, from the 1950’s until the 1980’s the celebration of Chuseok was forbidden all together.  Today most people in the north make a simple visit to their family graves and may indulge in a more elaborate meal than usual during Chuseok if supplies and money permit.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief discussion of Chuseok which I feel is a beautiful way of honoring family both living and departed and celebrating the bounty of the Earth.  I hope that you are enjoying the fall season and as always I wish you peace, happiness and abundant blessings!