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Ghost, Hauntings, Taoist Sorcery, Black Magic, Witchcraft and the Paranormal.

SPI Journey-to-Hell Experiment

(To See Hungry Ghosts)

Written by SPI on 23 August 2008


SPI members on Sarinbum beach in the ritual experiment



Are hungry ghosts real? How do they look like? Can a Taoist magic ritual really let us to go down to hell and see them?

In summary, we observed some relations between the paranormal phenomena and hypnosis. But some are still unexplained. Also our food tasting experiment yielded new insights.

The Journey to Hell Experiment

On Saturday, 23 August 2008, SPI invited Master Wilson (from KL, Malaysia to Singapore and conduct an experiment in a special place for a special purpose.

The special purpose is to verify how hungry ghosts look like in hell during Seventh month. Do they receive the offerings and return to Hell? Is Hell now really empty after the hell gates opened and the ghosts roamed out to this world?

The special place we chose is at Sarinbum beach that is a reputably haunted place with many violent deaths given its gruesome history of WW2 Japanese landing site. Historical record has it that the British spilled out the oil to the sea; lit up and burnt alive the Japanese soldiers who were swimming half way in Johor Straits.

With such a battlefield history of violent deaths resulted from an unethical invasion, the place should theoretically be heavily invested with many hungry ghosts.

Master Wilson commented that this is the first time ever that such journey-to-hell ritual was conducted outdoor, during Seventh month in order to meet hungry ghosts. Usually this ritual was conducted in a Chinese temple, with the participants sitting on chairs and in front of a deity altar.

By the magic which he learnt from his master (  ) and successful conducted many times in Malaysia, he is confident that it could be conducted outdoor without constraints. He told us the most important thing is the power of the secret spell and citing the names of the appropriate deities – he joked later that this is similar to using login name and password nowadays to gain “access” to the power from the other realm.

Other Taoist masters which SPI interviewed claimed strongly that it is impossible for a live human to be sent down to hell (of course with the exception of only when he died). Journey to hell, Master Wilson described this ritual is similar to opening a portal which one’s soul is unable to fully ‘experience’ with all his senses of the happening of the other world. He emphasized that it can be taken as just an illusion, and advised participants don’t take it too seriously.


The proceeding of the ritual

30 SPI participants were selected out of 50 people who attended the seminar, for the journey-to-hell experiment. They naturally form a good mix of gender and ages and different backgrounds.

The set up of the ritual is to make a fire ring about 6 meters in diameters. Three batches of ten participants were seated in the center. Master Wilson said at one round its at best if only includes 10 people, because if too many people it will be difficult to manage.

At the beginning, Master Wilson prayed to the earth god at the beach as a courtesy of the informing the surrounding natural spirits. Every participant was blind-folded with a red-cloth that is embedded with a secret talisman inside. Wilson said the secret talisman is very important as this is like the ‘coach ticket’ identifying to the hell guards that the soul of this participant will be sent by the ritual magic to hell, and to be allowed entry into that particular dimension.

The ritual is actually very simple. Wilson was in-charge, leading and guiding the participants. But he needed two assistants to continuously chanting two prayers – one for the entry to hell, the other for exit back to this world.

Repeatedly the entry prayer was chanted, as the ritual started.

Wilson has instructed the participants to raise their hands as soon as they began to have a vision of a light, like light from the end of a tunnel. Then he would walk in front of the participant and move a bunch of joss-sticks in circle. At the same time, he would verbally interact with the participant by asking him/her what he/she saw. The participant replied while being blind-folded, describing the scene of the other world.

When I asked Wilson later, why his hand needs to move in circles with his joss-sticks in front of the participant’s face, he said that he was actually drawing a secret talisman in air (as a hand gesture) – and that is the ultimate secret force that enables the participant’s soul to travel into the other world. The hand gesture is like a secret seal of authority that commands the hell guards to move the participant along to hell.

Thus to sum up, the following ritual items are required in order of importance to move the participants’ souls to the underworld.

n            The hand gesture

n            The talisman that is embedded in the red-color blindfold

n            The talisman that is burnt over the water and to be drunk by the participants (it is called activation

n            The entry and exit prayers that needed to be chanted by the assistant masters during the journey


Likewise, the following factors are mostly importantly needed from the participants themselves to decide whether his journey to the other world is successful or failed.

n            His/her karma

n            The sincerity, willingness and confidence towards this ritual

n            The level of concentration

n            Date, time and environment


Wilson commented that there is no guarantee that this ritual will work for everybody every time. Some had tried for a long time several times but never get to see anything. Some however can see light just a few minutes soon after the ritual started.


The secret talismans used by Master Wilson


Three rounds of the ritual were conducted, each have 10 participants on site. The first batch has a success rate of 2 girls out of 10 people being able to have a vision of hell. The second round success rate increased to 3 out of 10. The final round we achieved up to 5 out of 10. The success rate was increasing, why?

In these three rounds of experiments, everything else was kept unchanged except the tune of the chant. It was deliberately done so for studying the relation of hypnosis effect and the subjects. In the first round, the chant was read out word-for-word with a mechanical voice tune with minimum emotion. For the same prayers, the second round was chanted in a somewhat hypnotizing tone like trying to induce people into a trance. The final round, the pronunciation of the text was blurred out, but purposely sang it into a prominent flowing rhythm.

As for the vision of what the participants have seen, below is a selected list of individuals’ accounts that are relatively interesting:

Yuiiko Tan, female, the first to be able to see vision after about three minutes the ritual began. She saw first a group of blue lights (more than 8). The blue lights which like torpedoes with a face and big eyes, were trying to whisper to Yuiiko, asking her to come in now. Yuiiko took a step forward, saw a door with dragon motif on, immersed in very bright light. Behind the door is a bridge like that in our Chinese Garden. The water pond under the bridge has beautiful lotus flowers, big and white with some pinkish color.

Surprisingly Yuiiko said this place looks very familiar to her. When her grandfather passed away, she used to have a dream (when 4 years old) about her grandpa brought her down to the underworld for a tour. And that place was exactly the one that she went before. During the ritual experiment, Yuiiko even saw items that used to belong to her grandfather for example playing chess board, bowls and glasses that he used. But this time she didn’t get to see her grandfather. There were people there, but less than last time she saw. You can contact Yuiiko for more details (hp: 93294331)


Yuiiko in the ritual

Yuiiko being the first participant who can have the vision


Other participants’ vision in the underworld can be generalized by features as below:

n            a very cold place, but with ominous bright light in the sky (like fluorescent light) that is turned on 24 hours a day. No sight of sun however.

n            a peaceful ancient Chinese town, with houses and streets in the medieval times.

n            there are people dressed in Chinese medieval clothing, walking leisurely around. But their faces are abstract which you can’t really identify their facial features. Some of these people are trading, selling soya bean drinks and buns

n            a comfortable place after all

Surprisingly they all have seen about the same things with only few who had the following differences:

n            One guy, aged about early 20, said he was riding a horse (Wilson interpreted it as he has a very good karma, or reincarnated from an important deity; so he has this special luxury treatment)

n            One Nepal lady, aged between mid-30’s and early 40’s said that the light she saw was so bright that first she thought she played cheat by peeping through the bottom hole of the eye-fold. When she was seeing the light, she thought somebody was shinning a torch light on her eyes. So later she adjusted the eye-fold by pulling it down a bit more and covered the gaps. But surprisingly she continued to see the light only gets brighter (which doesn’t make sense as she pulled further down the eye-fold). She was frightened and immediately took off the eye-fold. There was this moment about a second she still saw the very bright white light after she took off the eye-fold. Over the moment, her vision returned to reality which is dark in a beach and nobody was shinning any light on her. Her ritual experiment was interrupted then.


Master Wilson together with two assistants chanting the text prayers


Overall, all the participants who can see visions of the underworld saw about the same thing. The vision lasts for about several minutes, as Wilson said it is for their safety not to stay for too long. He used to know some people, who stayed too long, get too emotional and do not want to come back out. Hence it became a grave problem.

There are some rules regarding the ritual anyway, to be obeyed by the participants:

n            Always follow the instruction by the master

n            Do not touch or take anything down there

n            Do not speak or respond to anybody who talks to you

n            Always remind oneself it is only an illusion though it will look very real

n            Don’t cast a mindset of wanting to stay there forever

n            Don’t get too emotional especially when see his/her deceased family members or lovers

In a layman term, Wilson described that the feeling is like those Role-playing 3D game which you can navigate around a place, but you cannot see yourself.


Master Wilson was briefing the participants prior to the ritual at Sarimbun beach


Is this Hell? Where are the Hungry Ghosts?

The participants were surprised on how come they cannot see hungry ghosts, and “hell” is such a nice place.

Wilson explained that the dimension which the participants went into, is actually a temporary place (some religions call it Limbo) where the souls stay before they get on with their journey – reincarnation or transforming to an immortal – after they died and parted from this physical world. In Chinese this place is said to be temporarily resided by ghosts of ‘中阴身’ that means those who had just recently died – fresh ghosts.

Then how come no hungry ghost?

Wilson said he tried, but not successful to bring the participants enter the hell. The explanation from him is that Hell is a very restricted place for human souls – only those who are condemned would allow access in and out, like only prisoners can go prisons.


Participants in the middle of the ritual


In other words, even with the strongest talisman Wilson has (as far as he knows) one cannot easily enter into hell for just a visit. He said this tallies with the Buddhist hell concept where the hell is a place that has one of the underworld army guarding, like a prison which doesn’t allow anyone anyhow drop for a visit without a valid reason.

Nevertheless, he tried, though unsuccessful.

Wilson then told us that this kind of ‘journey-to-hell’ ritual was originated in about 15BC in China, where an emperor wanted to meet his deceased queen very desperately. A shaman wizard created this magic spell for allowing the emperor to visit the hell to see his family members. And that place (limbo) however is only for those who died of a pleasant death, usually from either a noble background or with relatively good karma to temporary reside.

The bad guys who did very sinful things are subject to Hell, where usually ritual magic could not easily gained access to. Rules are rules that cannot be easily broken even in hell, strictly no visitor. This might have created the legend of Ulambana in Buddhism and the story of Mu Lan whose filifialty touched the heart of a Buddha, hence the legend of the merciful one month hungry ghost holidays for the suffering souls.

Although Wilson is Taoist priest, he is earning his PhD in psychology in November 2008. His current research topic is on Memory Regression Therapy which he finds many similarities to the tradition Taoist ritual magic of journal-to-the-under-world.


Our special guests, Mr Tony Kern and Ms Genevieve Woo, with Yuiiko


SPI proceeding to Sarimbun beach for the ritual experiment

Scientific theories of Journal-to-the-underworld

Out of this experiment, we observed interestingly a few points which are summarized below:

The reciting of the prayer text is like inducing people into a trance; this is further testified in the experiment when round 2 and round 3 of rituals in which more rhythmic chanting was used, then more participants could easily succeed in getting the vision

Blind-folding the eyes with a hard object of a folded talisman strip can cause hallucination. You can try close your eyes, use your fingers to press on the eye-balls, you see tiny bits of lights

Subconsciously when a person believes into the ritual, the dark environment, plus the trance-like chanting enables one to “visualize” things that he/she wants to see. The pre-occupied concept of “hell” being in Chinese decoration is hidden in sub-consciousness, will fill into the picture in one’s mind, making him to see scenes of hells playback from his memories.

This typical scene of hell in Chinese style has already been implanted in our minds in Chinese community from sources of information since young.

Interestingly during the experiment there were three Caucasians who tried, but all failed to visualize such picture of hell.

The master was interactively guiding the participants to see during the tour of the underworld. This technique is very similar to hypnosis who regressively recall the hidden memories out from the participants’ minds. The hypnotist guides the subject to bring out the pre-exist memories from the mind, and project the image out as if a real vision really could be seen.

Lastly blind-folding is necessary as it shuts off the visual information, making room for the images to appear in our mind from our subconscious memories.




Food samples – plan egg cakes like those used for offering to ghosts


We separated them into 2 samples – one to let the ghost eat, another we keep aside

Food tasting experiments

In the past years, SPI used to conduct food tasting experiment to test whether food after offered to ghost will taste differently.

Our results in the past showed it was rather random – in other words, there is no significant difference in the favours of the foods that were offered and unoffered to the ghosts.

This year, however, we found there are two fundamental mistakes we made in our past experiments. One is the food sample used was wrong; we used fried fish ball, fish cake, pork meat cakes (Lo Xiang) for the experiment. These foods carry many and complex favours with pepper and spices, and their taste was relatively strong. The other mistake was we tested only one part of the sample (e.g. a random cut out of a meat, assuming the taste distributed evenly).

This year we repeated the same experiment but using a consistent food sample – just as a typical egg cake with simple favours – sweetness and fragrance of egg.

One sample of food was offered to the ghosts summoned by Master Wilson from the water at Sarinbum beach at midnight during hungry ghost month. Incense and a pile of burning paper offerings were set aside near the cake samples put on the beach. (we used 4 cakes for offering, 4 for control samples without being offered. They are equal in size, and bought in one same box, likely to be manufactured in the same batch. They should be quite identical).

In the food tasting experiment, we let our participants (30) tried both samples in turn, without telling them which is which in advance.

But we separated this tasting process into two steps. The first step, we let them taste the “outer” layer of the cake. The second round, we dig into the center of the cake, and let them eat the inner part of the cake.

Very interestingly, the first round has a significant tendency of results that show most people (up to 90%) said the offered cake outer layer tastes blunter than that of the control sample. The control sample without being offered carries full favour.

But in the second round, when we dig out the inner part of the cakes of each sample, our participants has almost the same percentage (90%) that they are equally sweet!

Master Wilson prepared a ghost feeding ritual, invited ghosts to eat the cake


He said ghost eat them in the form of sniffing off the taste away as a cultural belief.

We speculated that the loss of favour of the offered cakes to the ghosts is due to exposing the food to the open air. And the smoking effect by the incense and offerings also are responsible for destroying the favours of the cakes. Smoke in air actually carries many ash particles, which can be examined under a micro-scope that they clot on the out surface of the cake.

So this additional ‘coat’ of ash when eaten with the cake will make our taste bud sense the loss of favour, especially in terms of sweetness.

But the inner part of the cake under the surface, was relatively unaffected by the pollution of the tiny ash by the smoke from burning incense and paper offering. It still tastes same level of sweetness as the unoffered samples.


Strange apparitions were captured, albeit some said it is just merely smoke

Here's the link to More Photos and Updates  

(Articles write up and photos courtesy of


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Feng Shui


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