Peace be with you, my friends! Today I would like to share with you a little about an Asian tradition that has striking similarities with Voodoo is regards to honoring the dead. This is the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts which takes place on the 14th day of the seventh lunar month of the traditional Chinese calendar, sometime from mid to late August according to the western calendar. It is a time to honor the ancestors and especially ghosts who have nobody to pray from them.
14th day of the seventh lunar month of the traditional Chinese calendar
In fact, the term “Hungry Ghost,” refers to this particular class of spirits who are in most need of prayers, food offerings, incense and spirit money, about which I have blogged extensively in previous posts. Throughout China, Taiwan and Singapore people gather at temples and adorn private altars at home with such offerings to ensure that the dead are happy in the afterlife and so that they in turn will bless the living with good fortune.
Yesterday, inspired by this traditional Chinese practice, I made a service to my spirit guides and ancestors in observance of the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts. This day is not observed in New Orleans or Haiti, but the veneration of ancestors and spirits guides is an extremely important aspect of both Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Voodoo. The traditional day to honor the dead is November 2nd, the Feast of all Souls. On this day, Voodooists place a variety of offerings on their home altars and offer prayers and candles both at home and in church for their ancestors to ensure their happiness in the next world and seek blessings for those still on Earth.
November 2nd is by no means the only time of year that you can and should make offerings to your ancestors. There is a service in Voodoo called an ancestor feast that you may perform at any time to seek a special favor from your spirit guides or to thank them for the blessings that they have given you. I personally perform the service once a month.
Performing an ancestor feast is simple. Lay out a white table cloth and place as many food offerings ad you’d like. Traditional offerings consist of white, bland foods such as popcorn, steamed white rice, bread and flour dumplings. You can also offer black coffee, beer and clear water. Be careful never to include any salt in foods presented to the dead, as it weakens spirits and is even used in many rituals of purification and exorcism. After laying out the food offerings simply talk to your ancestors and spirits and ask for their help and blessings and thank them for all they have done for you. Leave the food overnight and the following day dispose of it either in a cemetery or outside in nature.
I hope you have enjoyed learning about how to serve your ancestors and spirit guides. If you have any questions or would like me to perform an ancestor feast on your behalf, please do not hesitate to contact me. Until next time, may the Ancestors and all the Saints bless you abundantly!