Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Facts About the Hungry Ghost Festival

Hungry Ghost Festival Facts
The Hungry Ghost Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. This day falls in July or August in our Western calendar. In southern China, the Hungry Ghost Festival is celebrated by some on the 14th day of the seventh lunar month. The people there are said to have begun celebrating the festival a day earlier during a time of long warfare to avoid being attacked by enemies during the inauspicious day.

The Hungry Ghost Festival is one of several traditional festivals in China to worship ancestors. Others include the Spring Festival, the Qingming Festival, and the Double Ninth Festival. In Jiangxi Province and Hunan Province, the Hungry Ghost Festival is considered to be more important than the Qingming Festival and the Double Ninth Festival. The Taoist name for the Hungry Ghost Festival is the Zhongyuan Festival (中元节), and Buddhists call it the Yulanpen Festival.

They perform special ceremonies to avoid the wrath of the ghosts such as putting the family’s ancestral tablets on a table, burning incense, and preparing food three times that day. The main ceremony is usually held at dusk. People put the family’s ancestral tablets and old paintings and photographs on a table and then burn incense near them. Plates of food are put out for the ghosts on the table, and the people may kowtow in front of the memorial tablets and report their behavior to their ancestors to receive a blessing or punishment. People also feast on this night, and they might leave a place open at the table for a lost ancestor.

They want to feed the hungry ghosts who have been wandering the land since the beginning of Hungry Ghost Month. It is thought that after two weeks of activity, they must be very hungry.

Hungry Ghost Month
The Hungry Ghost Festival is one of several important festival days of Ghost Month (鬼月) — the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar. 

It is thought that the ghosts of Chinese ancestors are let out of hell on the first day of the month. It has been the scariest month of the year for thousands of years. They roam around looking for peculiar entertainment, and many fearful Chinese try to avoid swimming or being alone at night lest an enemy ghost comes after them. 

The ghosts attack their enemies, and they might be angry or malicious in general. So the Chinese have certain traditions about what to do about the situation on the first day, the 14th or 15th for the Hungry Ghost Festival, and the last day of the special month.

The First Day of Hungry Ghost Month

One the first day of the month, people burn make-believe paper money outside their homes or businesses, along the sides of roads, or in fields. Sometimes, they go to temples for this task. On a trip to China during this time, you'll probably see people occupied with this activity or find the ghost money on the ground with ashes and remains. They want to give the ghosts the money they need during their special month. 
People also light incense and may make sacrifices of food to worship the hungry unhappy ghosts. People trust that the ghosts won't do something terrible to them or curse them after eating their sacrifices and while holding their money. They put up red painted paper lanterns everywhere including business and residential areas. 
There are street ceremonies, market ceremonies, and temple ceremonies. During street and market ceremonies, people gather at the streets and markets to celebrate the festival. At temple ceremonies, monks in temples organize festive activities. Many believe it is important to appease the ghosts to avoid spiritual attack.

The Last Day of Hungry Ghost Month
The last day of the seventh lunar month is marked with a special festival too. This is the day that the gates of hell are closed up again. People celebrate and observe this day in various ways. Many burn more paper money and clothing so that the ghosts can use these things in their hell society. The pictures and tablets of ancestors may be put away back on the shelves or hung back on the walls where they were before. 

In order to drive the ghosts away, Taoist monks chant to make them leave. The ghosts are thought to hate the sound, and therefore scream and wail.

Many families float river lanterns on little boats in the evening. People make colorful lanterns out of wood and paper, and families write their ancestors’ name on the lanterns. The ghosts are believed to follow the floating river lanterns away.

History of the Hungry Ghost Festival

The origin of the Hungry Ghost Festival and the Ghost Month (鬼月) in China is uncertain. Cultures in Asia from India to Cambodia to Japan share similar beliefs about the month, and these traditions seem to date from before Buddha. More ancient folk religions covered the entire area.

Some of the ancient folk religion is incorporated in Taoism, the indigenous religion of China. The gates of hell are opened on the first day of the seventh month, and hungry ghosts are released to find food or to take revenge on those who have behaved badly according to Taoist records. The Taoists chant together to free the ghosts.

Another story says King Yama (the king of hell) opens the gates of hell and allows a few wild ghosts to enjoy the sacrifices on the first day of the seventh lunar month. The gates are closed on the last day of that month, and the wild, hungry ghosts return to hell. Some Chinese think that the gates of heaven are also opened during this month, and they worship their ancestors from heaven too.

Comparison of the Hungry Ghost Festival to Western Halloween

The Hungry Ghost Festival comes at a time of year when the moon is full near the end of summer. In many ways, this festival is reminiscent of Halloween or the Night of the Dead in Western countries. 

Cultures from Europe to China have traditional days of the dead or ghost days that are thousands of years old that were part of the tribal folk religions before the advent of Christianity in Europe and Buddhism in Asia. In Britain, Halloween originated from the traditional holiday of Celts in Great Britain who believed that the last day of October was “the day of the dead” or “the ghost day” when ghosts crossed over the boundary between the living and the dead. The Chinese belief is similar.

Chinese believe that on the days of Ghost Month and especially on the night of the full moon there is more of a bridge between the dead and the living, so they must take precautions or honor the dead. They perform ceremonies or traditions to protect themselves from attacks or pranks by the ghosts and to honor and worship their ancestors or famous people of the past. It is believed that the ghosts of dead people can help and protect them.


4 Movies You Shouldn't Miss During the Hungry Ghost Month

1. The Hungry Ghost

The Hungry Ghosts VideoCover.jpeg

Matthew (Emory Cohen) is a teenage boy in New York who has therapy together with his father Frank (Steve Schirripa), because of their troubled communication. The boy runs away during their session. Angela (Sharon Angela), his mother, is worried but Frank is more concerned with his radio show, and whether his techs got his vodka. He proceeds to use a great deal of cocaine as well before the show begins. Matthew goes to a park where a lot of homeless people are congregated, where he is picked up by a couple. They give him alcohol and drugs, after which the woman has sex with Matthew while the man watches.
Nadia (Aunjanue Ellis) abandons her room because she's a month behind on her rent. She reconnects with an old friend from a yoga school, has sex with an old boyfriend, then leaves her yoga center friend's house when her friend becomes upset by her story of her relationship with Gus, her most recent lover. She has a meal on the stairs of a house. The woman living there comes home and tells her to leave, but Nadia refuses. The woman throws a bucket of water over her, and Nadia puts the bucket on the woman's head and beats on it.
Gus (Nick Sandow) is just getting out of a ninety-day rehab stint. He immediately goes out and gets drunk with an old man he meets in a restaurant. He calls Nadia again and again, but she won't answer his calls. He meets a woman named Lisette (Bess Rous), who it develops has been in the same meditation class which he and Nadia attended. He succeeds in unnerving, and then seducing her, but instead of following through on that, he tells her to go home by herself.
Matthew calls his father, who refuses to pick him up because he's in the middle of his show. He is picked up by his uncle Joey (Joe Caniano). Once home, he won't say what happened, even though Angela tells him she won't get angry. He tries to kill himself, then Angela and Joey head up to the mountains with him to help him work out his distress.
Frank, once he finds out what has happened, heads up to the mountains on a train, where he meets Nadia, who is fleeing the city. He begins to suffer chest pains, and Nadia calls for help; he's then gotten off the train. She is waiting for him when he comes out of the ER, and during a meal together, she encourages him to come to a meditation class with her. Lissette is in the class, but she and Nadia don't know each other, and don't speak. Frank begins to relax as the teacher leads them through guided breathing exercises. Gus, having first taken an overdose of pills, arrives, causing distress to Nadia and Lisette by his presence. He sits next to Nadia, who obviously doesn't want him there, but with a blissful smile, he lies down on the floor and closes his eyes.

2. They Wait

They Wait is a 2007 Canadian horror film. It stars Jaime King as a mother attempting to find the truth and save her son, Regan Oey, when threatened by spirits during the Chinese tradition of Ghost Month. The other leading star is Chinese Canadian actor Terry Chen, who plays her husband. It was both filmed, and set, in the city of Vancouver, in British Columbia in Canada, and was featured at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival.

Married couple Sarah (King) and Jason (Chen), and son Sammy (Oey), travel to Vancouver for the funeral of Uncle Raymond (Foo). During this time, Sammy begins to see ghosts and falls gravely ill, his illness coinciding with the Chinese festival of Ghost Month. After traditional western medicine fails to help Sammy, Sarah turns to a mysterious pharmacist who tells her that her son is held in a death grip by a living corpse. Sarah now must find what the spirits want before the last day of Ghost Month, or Sammy will be lost forever.

3. A Month of Hungry Ghost

A Month of Hungry Ghosts is a 2008 film about the seventh-lunar-month Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore. A Month of Hungry Ghosts is directed by Singapore-based American film director Tony Kern and co-produced by Genevieve Woo, a Singaporean television news anchor and producer with Channel NewsAsia, and Tony Kern. The film was released locally in Singapore on 7 August 2008. The film is distributed by Golden Village Pictures, and premiered at Golden Village VivoCity, Golden Village Plaza and Sinema Old School.

In parts of Asia each year, during the seventh lunar month, it is believed that the gates of Hell are opened and all the souls are set free to wander the Earth. At this time, many spirits roam around trying to fulfill their past needs, wants and desires. These are the "hungry ghosts". Numerous religious rituals and folk performances, like street operas, take place during the seventh lunar month to try to appease the spirits.
This film captures the seventh-lunar-month rituals in Singapore, a world-class centre of business and culture inhabited by many different immigrants from other Asian countries. While the hungry-ghost rituals originated in China and are still practised throughoutSouth-east Asia in various forms, they are slowly dying out in many countries or may only be performed for several days of the month.
Singapore is unique in that the rituals are brought to life throughout the entire seventh lunar month. At the same time, the immigrants in Singapore have brought their own native rituals to the small island nation where the hungry-ghost month still thrives. A Month of Hungry Ghosts captures these rituals and performances throughout an entire seventh lunar month in Singapore.

4. Hungry Ghost Ritual

Hungry Ghost Rituals poster.jpg

After incurring debts from his failed business venture in China, Zong Hua (Cheung) returns to Malaysia after a decade's hiatus. The demoralised Zong Hua faces problems finding a job and tries hard to get used to things at home, including his estranged relationship with his step-father, Xiaotian, who runs a Cantonese opera troupe, and half-sister, Jing Jing (Cathryn Lee). Jing Jing is hostile towards Zong Hua as she always has the impression that the death of their mother was caused by the excessive fights between Zong Hua and his step-father.


Friday, July 1, 2016

The Enfield Poltergeist

The rasping male voice sent a chill through the room. Hauntingly, it delivered a message from beyond the grave, describing in graphic detail the moment of death.
‘Just before I died, I went blind, and then I had an ’aemorrhage and I fell asleep and I died in the chair in the corner downstairs.’
The eerie voice — which can still be heard on audio tapes today — is purportedly that of Bill Wilkins. The recording was made in Enfield, North London, in the Seventies, several years after his death. 

Most horrifying of all, however, was that the voice was coming from the body of an 11-year-old girl, Janet Hodgson. She appeared to be possessed. It could have been a scene from the film The Exorcist — but it was real.
What was going on? This was the case of the Enfield Poltergeist, which held the nation spellbound 30 years ago, puzzling policemen, psychics, experts in the occult and hardened reporters alike.
It involved levitation, furniture being moved through the air, and flying objects swirling towards witnesses. There were cold breezes, physical assaults, graffiti, water appearing on the floor, and even claims of matches spontaneously bursting into flame.

A policewoman even signed an affidavit that she had seen a chair move. There were more than 30 witnesses to the strange incidents. Most inexplicably, the young girl at the centre of the events seemingly acted as the mouthpiece for Bill Wilkins, a foul-mouthed, grumpy old man who had died in the house many years before. His son contacted investigators to confirm the details of his story. The events unfolded for more than a year behind the door of an ordinary-looking semi-detached council house, on a suburban street filled with similar houses, and left those they touched permanently scarred. Naturally, many questioned whether it was all a hoax — but no explanation other than the paranormal has ever been convincingly put forward.

Now, the episode is to be revisited in a film, planned for release at Halloween next year.
Just what happened in Enfield, then, all those years ago? Where are the Hodgsons now, and have they escaped their ghosts? Could they have made the whole episode up? And who lives at 284 Green Street now?
The story, as the Hodgson family told it, begins in 1977. Peggy Hodgson was unusual, at the time, in that she was a single mother to four children — Margaret, 12, Janet, 11, Johnny, ten, and Billy, seven — having split from their father.
It was the evening of August 30, 1977, and Mrs Hodgson was keen to get her children into bed. She heard Janet complaining from upstairs that her and her brothers’ beds were wobbling.
Mrs Hodgson told her daughter to stop mucking around. The following evening, however, there was an altogether more bizarre disturbance. Mrs Hodgson heard a crash from upstairs. Cross, she went to tell her children to settle down.
Entering their bedroom, with Janet’s Starsky & Hutch posters on the wall, Mrs Hodgson saw the chest of drawers move. She pushed it back, but found that it was being propelled towards the door by an invisible force.
It seemed as if some supernatural presence was trying to trap the family in the room with the heavy oak chest.
Many years later, Janet would tell a Channel 4 documentary: ‘It started in a back bedroom, the chest of drawers moved, and you could hear shuffling. Mum said: “I want you to pack it in.”
‘We told her what was going on, and she came to see it for herself. She saw the chest of drawers moving. When she tried to push it back, she couldn’t.’ Janet’s sister Margaret explained how the activity increased.
‘There were strange little noises in the house, you couldn’t make out what was going on. None of us got slept.
‘We put on our dressing gowns and slippers and went next door.’ The family appealed for help from their neighbours, Vic and Peggy Nottingham. Vic, a burly builder, went to investigate. He says: ‘I went in there and I couldn’t make out these noises — there was a knocking on the wall, in the bedroom, on the ceiling. I was beginning to get a bit frightened.’

Margaret adds: ‘He said: “I don’t know what to do.” I’d never seen a big man like that looking scared.’ 

The Hodgsons called the police, who proved to be similarly mystified. WPC  Carolyn Heeps saw a chair move.
She said at the time: ‘A large armchair moved, unassisted, 4 ft across the floor.’
She inspected the chair for hidden wires, but could find no explanation for what she had seen.

Eventually, the officers left, telling the family that the incidents were not a police matter, as they couldn’t find anyone breaking the law.
Next, the Hodgsons contacted the Press. Daily Mirror photographer Graham Morris, who visited the house, says: ‘It was chaos, things started flying around, people were screaming.’
Some of the events were captured on camera, and the images are disturbing. One shows Janet’s elfin form apparently being thrown across the room.
In others, her face is distorted in pain.
The BBC went to the house, but the crew found the metal components in their tape equipment had been twisted, and recordings erased.
Next, the family sought help from the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). It sent investigators Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair, a poltergeist expert who subsequently wrote a book, This House Is Haunted, about the affair.
The author Will Storr spoke to Grosse, who has since died, when researching his own book Will Storr vs The Supernatural, which also features the case. Grosse told him: ‘As soon as I got there, I realised that the case was real because the family was in a bad state. Everybody was in chaos.
‘When I first got there, nothing happened for a while. Then I experienced Lego pieces flying across the room, and marbles, and the extraordinary thing was, when you picked them up they were hot.
‘I was standing in the kitchen and a T-shirt leapt off the table and flew into the other side of the room while I was standing by it.’
The investigators found themselves caught in a maelstrom of apparently psychic activity, with every poltergeist trick thrown at them. Sofas levitated, furniture spun round and was flung across the room, and the family would be hurled out of their beds at night.

One day, Maurice and a visiting neighbour found one of the children shouting: ‘I can’t move! It’s holding my leg!’ They had to wrestle the child from what all involved insisted was the grip of invisible hands. The ongoing knocking was one of the most chilling aspects of the case. It would run down the wall, fading in and out as it apparently played an unnerving game with the family — who became so scared that they slept in the same room, with the light on.
Most of the activity centred on 11-year-old Janet. She went into violent trances, which were awful to behold. On one occasion, the iron fireplace in her bedroom was wrenched from the wall by unseen forces. Family members also claim to have seen her levitating — floating clean across the room.
She told Channel 4: ‘I felt used by a force that nobody understands. I really don’t like to think about it too much. I’m not sure the poltergeist was truly “evil”. It was almost as if it wanted to be part of our family. 'It didn’t want to hurt us. It had died there and wanted to be at rest. The only way it could communicate was through me and my sister.’
Some cast doubt on the events, however. Two SPR experts caught the children bending spoons themselves, and questioned why no one was allowed in the same room as Janet when she was using her gruff voice, apparently that of Bill Wilkins.
Indeed, Janet admitted that they fabricated some of the occurrences.
She told ITV News in 1980: ‘Oh yeah, once or twice (we faked phenomena), just to see if Mr Grosse and Mr Playfair would catch us. They always did.’
Now aged 45, Janet lives in Essex with her husband, a retired milkman.
She told me: ‘I wasn’t very happy to hear about the film, I didn’t know anything about it. My dad has just died, and it really upset me to think of all this being raked over again.’
She describes the poltergeist activity as traumatic.
‘It was an extraordinary case. It’s one of the most recognised cases of paranormal activity in the world. But, for me, it was quite daunting. I think it really left its mark, the activities, the newspaper attention, the different people in and out of the house. It wasn’t a normal childhood.’ Asked how much of the phenomena at Green Street was faked, she says: ‘I’d say 2 per cent.’ She also admitted playing with an Ouija board with her sister, just before the activity flared up at the house. She says she was unaware that she went into trances, until she was shown pictures.
‘I recall being very distressed by the photos when I was a child, I was very upset.
‘I knew when the voices were happening, of course, it felt like something was behind me all of the time. They did all sorts of tests, filling my mouth with water and so on, but the voices still came out.’ She says: ‘It was hard, I had a short spell in the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital in London, where they stuck electrodes on my head, but the tests proved normal.
‘The levitation was scary, because you didn’t know where you were going to land. I remember a curtain being wound around my neck, I was screaming, I thought I was going to die. 'My mum had to use all her strength to rip it away. The man who spoke through me, Bill, seemed angry, because we were in his house.’
The situation had a huge effect on the family.
Janet says: ‘I was bullied at school. They called me Ghost Girl and put crane flies down my back.‘I’d dread going home. The front door would be open, there’d be people in and out, you didn’t know what to expect and I used to worry a lot about Mum. She had a nervous breakdown, in the end.
‘I’m not one for living in the past. I want to move on. But it does come to me now and again. I dream about it, and then it affects me. I think why did it happen to us?’
Her brother was called ‘freak boy from the Ghost House’ and people would spit at him in the street. Janet herself was on the front page of the Daily Star with a headline: ‘Possessed by the Devil.’ She left home at 16, and married young.
‘I lost touch with everything, all the coverage of the case in paranormal books. My mum felt people walked over her at that time. She felt exploited.’
Shortly after the Press attention drifted away, Janet’s younger brother Johnny died of cancer, aged just 14. Janet’s mother then developed breast cancer, dying in 2003, and Janet suffered the loss of her own son, in his sleep, when he was 18.
She rejects any suggestion that the whole story was faked in pursuit of fame or money.
‘I didn’t want to bring it up again while my mum was alive, but now I want to tell my story. I don’t care whether people believe me or not, I went through this, and it was true.’
Asked whether she believes the house is still haunted, she says: ‘Years later, when Mum was alive, there was always a presence there — something watching over you.

'As long as people don’t meddle the way we did with Ouija boards, it is quite settled. It is a lot calmer than when I was a child. It is at rest, but will always be there.’
Janet reports that it was a priest’s visit to Green Street that resulted in the incidents ‘quietening down’ in autumn 1978, although the occurrences did not stop entirely, she says, with her mother continuing to hear noises in the house.
Janet says: ‘Even my brother, until the day he left that place after Mum died, would say: “There’s still something there.” You’d feel like you were being watched.’
Janet said she continues to believe in the poltergeist, saying: ‘It lived off me, off my energy. Call me mad if you like. Those events did happen. The poltergeist was with me and I feel that in a sense he always will be.’

Who lives at 284 Green Street now?
After Peggy Hodgson died, Clare Bennett and her four sons moved into the house.
Last week, she said: ‘I didn’t see anything, but I felt uncomfortable. There was definitely some kind of presence in the house, I always felt like someone was looking at me.’
Her sons would wake in the night, hearing people talking downstairs. Clare then found out about the house’s history. ‘Suddenly, it all made sense,’ she says. They moved out after just two months.

One of her sons, Shaka, 15, says: ‘The night before we moved out, I woke up and saw a man come into the room. I ran into Mum’s room and said: “We’ve got to move,” and we did the next day.’

The house is currently occupied by another family, who do not wish to be identified. The mother says simply: ‘I’ve got children, they don’t know about it. I don’t want to scare them.’
Though cynics may scoff, the story of the Enfield Poltergeist has clearly lost none of its frightening power.

The Enfield Poltergeist is featured in the film "The Conjuring 2" (2016) by James Wan.


Friday, January 15, 2016

General Meanings of Lucky and Unlucky Numbers in Chinese Culture

Lucky Numbers

Zero 0 

The Number 0 (零) is a whole number and it is also an even number for the money ends with 0.

Two 2 

The number 2 (二) is most often considered a good number in Chinese culture. There is a Chinese saying: "good things come in pairs". It is common to repeat characters in product brand names, such as double happiness, which even has its own character 囍, a combination of two 喜. In Cantonese, two (jyutping: ji6) is homophone of the characters for "easy" (易) and "bright" (亮). In Northern China, the number, when used as an adjective, can also mean "stupid".

Three 3 

The number 3 (三) sounds similar to the character for "birth" (生, Pinyin: shēng, jyutping: saang1), and is considered a lucky number. The number 3 is significant since there are three important stages in a man’s life (birth, marriage and death).

Five 5 

The number 5 (五) is associated with the five elements (Water, Fire, Earth, Wood, and Metal) in Chinese philosophy, and in turn was historically associated with the Emperor of China. For example, the Tiananmen gate, being the main thoroughfare to the Forbidden City, has five arches. It is also referred to as the pronoun "I", as the pronunciations of "I" (我, Pinyin: wŏ, and 吾, Pinyin: wú) and 5 are similar in Mandarin. In Cantonese, this word has the same pronunciation as the character 唔 and means "not", pronounces (m̀h). This word has the same meaning and use as the word 不 an therefore is usually negative.

Seven 7 

The number 7 (七) "chut" (Cantonese) symbolizes "togetherness". It is a lucky number for relationships. It is also recognized as the luckiest number in the West, and is one of the rare numbers that is great in both Chinese and many Western cultures. It is a lucky number in Chinese culture, because it sounds alike to the Chinese word 起 (Pinyin: qǐ) in Mandarin meaning arise, and also 气 (Pinyin: qì) meaning life essence. In Cantonese it sounds like the verb "to leave" which adds emphasis. For example, three and seven together in Cantonese emphasizes that you not only are able to grow, but you can also grow out of any situation you might be trying to have. It is for this reason it is auspicious. If it was combined with the numbers 4 and 5, i.e. 457, this would be extremely inauspicious as it would translate literally to "Death does not allow you to leave" or interpreted "Even in death you cannot escape."

Eight 8 

The word for "eight" (八) sounds similar to the word which means "prosper" or "wealth" (發 – often paired with "發財" during Chinese New Years, but is used alone or paired with numerous other "compound words" that have a meaning of luck or success,Pinyin: fā). In regional dialects the words for "eight" and "fortune" are also similar, e.g., Cantonese "baat3" and "faat3". Note as well, this particular symbol matches the mathematical symbol of infinity. While Chinese does have other words for luck, this full understanding of luck that includes the infinity concept marries into a Chinese understanding of this particular word.

There is also a visual resemblance between two digits, "88", and 囍, the "shuāng xĭ" ("double joy"), a popular decorative design composed of two stylized characters 喜 ("xĭ" meaning "joy" or "happiness").

The number 8 is viewed as such an auspicious number that even being assigned a number with several eights is considered very lucky.
In 2003, A telephone number with all digits being eights was sold for CN¥2.33 million (approximately US$280,000) to Sichuan Airlines in Chengdu, China.

The opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing began on 8/8/08 at 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8 pm local time (UTC+08).

A man in Hangzhou offered to sell his license plate reading A88888 for ¥1.12 million (roughly $164,000).

A Chinese man in Las Vegas purchased bulb #8 and #88 from the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on 8/8/2008.

The Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia each have 88 floors.

The minivan that GM makes for the Chinese market is called the Buick GL8, but the minivans it sold in other countries didn't have that name.

The Air Canada route from Shanghai to Toronto is Flight AC88.
The KLM route from Hong Kong to Amsterdam is Flight KL888.

The Etihad Airways route from Abu Dhabi to Beijing then onwards to Nagoya is Flight EY888.

The United Airlines route from Beijing to San Francisco is Flight UA888, the route from Beijing to Newark is Flight UA88, and the route from Chengdu to San Francisco is Flight UA8.

The Air Astana route from Beijing to Almaty is Flight KC888.

The British Airways route from Chengdu to London is Flight BA88.

One of Cathay Pacific's flight numbers from Hong Kong to Vancouver and New York is CX888.

Singapore Airlines reserves flight numbers beginning with the number 8 to routes in China.

SriLankan Airlines reserves flight numbers beginning with the number 8 to routes in China.

The US Treasury has sold 70,000 dollar bills with serial numbers that contain 4 eights.

In Singapore, a breeder of rare Dragon fish (Asian Arowana) (which are "lucky fish" and being a rare species, are required to be microchipped), makes sure to use numbers with plenty of eights in their microchip tag numbers, and appears to reserve particular numbers especially rich in eights and sixes (e.g., 702088880006688) for particularly valuable specimens.
As part of grand opening promotions, a Commerce Bank branch in New York's Chinatown raffled off safety deposit box No. 888.

An "auspicious" numbering system was adopted by the developers of 39 Conduit Road Hong Kong, where the top floor was "88" – Chinese for double fortune. It is already common in Hong Kong for ~4th floors not to exist; there is no requirement by the Buildings Department for numbering other than that it being "made in a logical order."[8] A total of 43 intermediate floor numbers are omitted from 39 Conduit Road: those missing include 14, 24, 34, 54, 64, all floors between 40 and 49; the floor number which follows 68 is 88.
Similar to the common Western practice of using "9" for price points, it is common to see "8" being used in its place to achieve the same psychological effect. So for example menu prices like $58, $88 are frequently seen.

Nine 9 

The number 9 (九), was historically associated with the Emperor of China, and the number was frequently used in matters relating to the Emperor, before the establishment of the imperial examinations officials were organized in the nine-rank system, the nine bestowments were rewards the Emperor made for officials of extraordinary capacity and loyalty, while the nine familial exterminations was one of the harshest punishments the Emperor sentenced; the Emperor's robes often had nine dragons, and Chinese mythology held that the dragon has nine children. It also symbolizes harmony.

Moreover, the number 9 is a homophone of the word for "long lasting" (久), and as such is often used in weddings. It is also a homophone for the words "to have enough", "to save". Hence, when you put it with other words that are lucky, it emphasizes the benefit of that number 89 (To have enough luck), 29 (to easily have enough), 39 (grow enough). Here the word enough means more "to have that which you need to achieve your goals" vs. "just enough." When combined with the number 4, it's still not necessarily auspicious.

Unlucky Numbers

Four 4 

Number 4 (四) is considered an unlucky number in Chinese because it is nearly homophonous to the word "death" (死 pinyin sǐ). Due to that, many numbered product lines skip the "4": e.g., Nokia cell phones (before the Lumia 640, there is no series containing a 4 in the name), Palm[citation needed] PDAs, Canon PowerShot G's series (after G3 goes G5), etc. In East Asia, some buildings do not have a 4th floor. (Compare with the Western practice of some buildings not having a 13th floor because 13 is considered unlucky.) In Hong Kong, some high-rise residential buildings omit all floor numbers with "4", e.g., 4, 14, 24, 34 and all 40–49 floors, in addition to not having a 13th floor. As a result, a building whose highest floor is number 50 may actually have only 35 physical floors. Singaporean public transport operator SBS Transit has omitted the number plates for some of its buses whose numbers end with '4' due to this, so if a bus is registered as SBS***3*, SBS***4* will be omitted and the next bus to be registered will be SBS***5*. Note that this only applies to certain buses and not others and that the final asterisk is a checksum letter and not a number. Another Singaporean public transport operator SMRT has omitted the '4' as the first digit of the serial number of the train cars as well as the SMRT BusesNightRider services.

Five 5 

Five (五) is associated with "not" (Mandarin 無, pinyin wú, and Cantonese 唔 m4). If used for the negative connotation it can become good by using it with a negative. Thus, 54 means "no death". 53 ("ng5 saam1" in Cantonese) sounds like "m4 sang1 (唔生)" – "not grow" or alternatively in specific context "not live".

Six 6 六

Six in Cantonese which has a similar pronunciation to that of "lok6" (落, meaning "to drop, fall, or decline") may form unlucky combinations.

Seven 7 

A variant of Seven(七) in Cantonese is a swearing word pronounced "chat9"(柒, meaning fool), as well, its pronunciation is similar to "痴"(means mad) in Mandarin. Seven is the second single digit unlucky number with less of a bad connotation than 4 in Cantonese society.


28, 38: As eight means prosperity, twenty eight equates to 'double prosperity', though most Chinese people will typically just read this as "easy to have luck", 38 being one of the luckiest, often referred to as 'triple prosperity' though most Chinese people might just read this as "you will grow to success." 

167, 169, 1679
: In Hong Kong, seven (七) and nine (九) both have similar pronunciations to and, respectively, two of "the five most insulting words" in Cantonese – the male genital. Six in Cantonese also has a similar pronunciation to an impolite word which is used to count the number of cylindrical objects. Therefore, 167, 169, 1679 and other creative combinations (such as the infamous taboo "on-9-9") are dirty jokes in Hong Kong culture. 

: In Mandarin, 250 can mean "imbecile" if read in a certain way. 二百五 (èr bǎi wǔ), while literally being a correct way of reading 250 in informal speaking, is usually used to insult someone the speaker considers extremely foolish. Alternative ways such as 兩百五 (lǐang bǎi wǔ) and 二百五十 (èr bǎi wǔ shí) do not have this meaning. There are several different versions of the origin of the use of 250 as an insult, and it is unclear which one is correct. 

: "唔生唔死" (m4 saang1 m4 sei2 in Cantonese) sounds like "not grow, not dying". This often refers to something that is in a bad place, but can neither end the misery or grow out of it. Also in Cantonese, it refers to something that is done in a way that is improper as in shady. You might refer to an improper look this way. You night also describe the way someone who does business in a shady manner as 唔生唔死. 

: "一生一世" This sounds like "one life, one lifetime" in both Mandarin and Cantonese, and is often used romantically, akin to "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part" in English. 

: "七六八" (jyutping: cat1 luk6 baat3) rhymes with the phrase "一路發" (jyutping: jat1 lou6 faat3) in Cantonese, which means "fortune all the way." Alternatively, 168 "一六八" is sometimes used for the same term in Mandarin. 

: In Mandarin, 7456 (qī sì wǔ liù) sounds marginally like "氣死我了" (qì-sǐ wǒ -le, "to make me angry," "to piss me off"), and is sometimes used in internet slang. 

: "九死一生" (gau2 sei2 yat1 saang1 in Cantonese) – nine die to one live, meaning 90% chance of being dead and only 10% chance of being alive, or survived from such situations (a narrow escape). 

: In Mandarin it is pronounced wu er yi, it sounds similar to wo ai ni. Which means I love you. 1314: also sounds like forever in Cantonese. yut sung yut sei. which means one life one death in literal terms. Therefore, 5211314 means I love you forever. 

: "七四八" In Mandarin this number is pronounced "qī sì bā". If these numbers are stated in certain tones, it has a meaning which roughly translates into: "Why don't you go die?" "去死吧" This combination is more commonly used as an insult to others, or rather, an indirect death threat. Youngsters can jokingly tease each other by saying "你去死吧!". Depending on the mood, place and way of saying this sentence it can confer meanings ranging from joking to insulting or provoking. On the other hand, any 3 digit number that ends with 48 sounds like "wealthy for X live times" (世發) (e.g. 748[七世發] is wealthy for 7 live times"), thus is generally considered lucky, with 448 and 548 being the exceptions since they are also homophones of "死先發"(Wealthy on death) and "唔洗發"(no need/not going to be wealthy). 

: "五幺八" (Mandarin: wǔ yāo bā) In this, for the number to work, "一"(yī, one) must be read as "yāo"(幺), which is another way in Mandarin to say one, often used when giving phone numbers. "wǔ yāo bā" sounds like "wǒ yào fā" or "我要发" which means "I am going to/will soon prosper".
Any number of repeated 5s: "五" (wǔ) sounds like an onomatopoeia for crying, and is sometimes used in internet slang. 


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Incubus and Succubus



According to the definition for these two spirits is as shown below:

Incubus: An evil spirit that lies on persons in their sleep; especially one that has sexual intercourse with women while they are sleeping.

Succubus: A demon assuming female form to have sexual intercourse with men in their sleep.

The word incubus is derived from Late Latin incubo (a nightmare induced by such a demon); from incub(āre) (to lie upon). One of the earliest mentions of an incubus comes from Mesopotamia on the Sumerian King List, ca. 2400 BC, where the hero Gilgamesh's father is listed as Lilu. It is said that Lilu disturbs and seduces women in their sleep, while Lilitu, a female demon, appears to men in their erotic dreams. Two other corresponding demons appear as well: Ardat lili, who visits men by night and begets ghostly children from them, and Irdu lili, who is known as a male counterpart to Ardat lili and visits women by night and begets from them. These demons were originally storm demons, but they eventually became regarded as night demons because of mistaken etymology.

Incubi were thought to be demons who had sexual relations with women, sometimes producing a child by the woman. Succubi, by contrast, were demons thought to have intercourse with men. Debate about the demons began early in the Christian tradition. St. Augustine touched on the topic in De Civitate Dei ("The City of God"). There were too many attacks by incubi to deny them. He stated, "There is also a very general rumor. Many have verified it by their own experience and trustworthy persons have corroborated the experience others told, that sylvans and fauns, commonly called incubi, have often made wicked assaults upon women." Questions about the reproductive capabilities of the demons continued. Eight hundred years later, Thomas Aquinas lent himself to the ongoing discussion, stating, "Still, if some are occasionally begotten from demons, it is not from the seed of such demons, nor from their assumed bodies, but from the seed of men, taken for the purpose; as when the demon assumes first the form of a woman, and afterwards of a man; just so they take the seed of other things for other generating purposes." It became generally accepted that incubi and succubi were the same demon, able to switch between male and female forms. A succubus would be able to sleep with a man and collect his sperm, and then transform into an incubus and use that seed on women. Even though sperm and egg came from humans originally, the spirits' offspring were often thought of as supernatural.

Some sources indicate that it may be identified by its unnaturally large or cold penis. Though many tales claim that the incubus is bisexual, others indicate that it is strictly heterosexual and finds attacking a male victim either unpleasant or detrimental.

Incubi are sometimes said to be able to conceive children. The half-human offspring of such a union is sometimes referred to as a cambion. An incubus may pursue sexual relations with a woman in order to father a child, as in the legend of Merlin

According to the Malleus Maleficarum, exorcism is one of the five ways to overcome the attacks of incubi, the others being Sacramental Confession, the Sign of the Cross (or recital of the Angelic Salutation), moving the afflicted to another location, and byexcommunication of the attacking entity, "which is perhaps the same as exorcism." On the other hand, the Franciscan friar Ludovico Maria Sinistrari stated that incubi "do not obey exorcists, have no dread of exorcisms, show no reverence for holy things, at the approach of which they are not in the least overawed."


There are a number of variations on the incubus theme around the world. The alp of Teutonic or German folklore is one of the better known. In Zanzibar, Popo Bawa primarily attacks men and generally behind closed doors. "The Trauco", according to the traditional mythology of the Chiloé Province of Chile, is a hideous deformed dwarf who lulls nubile young women and seduces them. The Trauco is said to be responsible for unwanted pregnancies, especially in unmarried women. Perhaps another variation of this conception is the "Tintín" in Ecuador, a dwarf who is fond of abundant haired women and seduces them at night by playing the guitar outside their windows; a myth that researchers believe was created during the Colonial period of time to explain pregnancies in women who never left their houses without a chaperone, very likely covering incest or sexual abuse by one of the family's friends. In Hungary, a lidérc can be a Satanic lover that flies at night and appears as a fiery light (an ignis fatuus or will o' the wisp) or, in its more benign form as a featherless chicken.

In Brazil and the rainforests of the Amazon Basin, the Amazon River Dolphin (or boto) is believed to be a combination of siren and incubus, that shape-shifts into a very charming and handsome man who seduces young women and takes them into the river. It is said to be responsible for disappearances and unwanted pregnancies, which metamorphoses back into a dolphin during the day. According to legend the boto always wears a hat to disguise the breathing hole at the top of its head.

The Southern African incubus demon is the Tokolosh. Chaste women place their beds upon bricks to deter the rather short fellows from attaining their sleeping forms. They also share the hole in the head detail and water dwelling habits of the Boto.

In Germanic Folklore, there is the mara or mare, a spirit or goblin that rides on the chests of humans while they sleep, giving them bad dreams (or "nightmares"). Belief in the mare goes back to the Norse Ynglinga saga from the 13th century, but the belief is probably even older. The mare was likely inspired by sleep paralysis.

In Assam, a north-eastern province of India it is mostly known as "pori" (Assamese: পৰী, meaning "angel"). According to the mythology, Pori comes to a man at night in his dreams and attracts towards her. Gradually the victim's health deteriorates and in some cases a tendency to commit suicide generates in him.

In Turkish culture, incubus is known as Karabasan. It is an evil being that descends upon some sleepers at night. These beings are thought to be spirits or jinns. It can be seen or heard in the nightmare and a heavy weight is felt on the chest. Yet people cannot wake up from that state. Some of the causes are sleeping without adequately covering the body (especially women) and eating in bed.

Scientific Explanations

Victims may have been experiencing waking dreams or sleep paralysis. The phenomenon of sleep paralysis is well-established. During the fourth phase of sleep (the deepest stage, also known as REM sleep), motor centers in the brain are inhibited, producing paralysis. The reason for this is ultimately unknown but the most common explanation is that this prevents one from acting out one's dreams. Malfunctions of this process can either result in somnambulism (sleepwalking) or, conversely, sleep paralysis - where one remains partially or wholly paralysed for a short time after waking.

Additional to sleep paralysis is hypnagogia. In a near-dream state, it is common to experience auditory and visual hallucinations. Mostly these are forgotten upon fully waking or soon afterwards, in the same manner as dreams. However, most people remember the phenomenon of hearing music or seeing things in near-sleep states at some point in their lives. Typical examples include a feeling of being crushed or suffocated, electric "tingles" or "vibrations", imagined speech and other noises, the imagined presence of a visible or invisible entity, and sometimes intense emotion: fear or euphoria and orgasmic feelings. These often appear quite real and vivid; especially auditory hallucinations of music which can be quite loud, indistinguishable from music being played in the same room. Humanoid and animal figures, often shadowy or blurry, are often present in hypnagogic hallucinations, more so than other hallucinogenic states. This may be a relic of an ancient instinct to detect predatory animals.

The combination of sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucination could easily cause someone to believe that a "demon was holding them down". Nocturnal arousal etc. could be explained away by creatures causing otherwise guilt-producing behavior. Add to this the common phenomena of nocturnal arousal and nocturnal emission, and all the elements required to believe in an incubus are present.

On the other hand, some victims of incubi could well have been the victims of real sexual assault. Rapists may have attributed the rapes of sleeping women to demons in order to escape punishment. A friend or relative is at the top of the list in such cases and would be kept secret by the intervention of "spirits".

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