knock on wood

“Knocking on wood used to be a way of warding off suspected impending bad luck”

(my mom told me to touch wood because i was googling about ghosts all day)


Idea Development


Food Offerings

Especially during the 15th day of the Ghost Month, family members put out food offerings for their ancestors or the ghostly spirits who roam. These offerings usually are quite extravagant on the 15th day, consisting of whole roasted pigs, ducks, fruits and other food items that may relate to the people who have passed.

Honestly if you were not familiar with the whole ritual and beliefs, you’d be confused why they’d put a roasted pig out and leave edible food on the floor with candles in them. I always felt like the roasted pigs looked a bit grotesque from how they were laid out, perhaps its just my young generation mindset talking. I may not feel the same way that these are necessary but I do them anyway. Traditions are in place for a reason, I think.

This made me think about anthropomorphism (when you morph animals with human parts or qualities). It’s a little twisted but I was imagining these animals being offerings.



牛头马面 / 黑白无常

Ox-Head and Horse-Face /  Black and White Impermanence

Those are quite literal translations. The latter, ox head and horse face, are actually the guards of the gates of hell in Chinese mythology. They establish order, instil discipline in the rowdy spirits and catch wandering spirits to hell if they’re trying to skip their turn. They’re considered the left and right hand man of the king of the hell. (I know it sounds weird, but stay with me). They appear like an Ox and a Horse because of those these animals are known to be fierce. Nightmare inducing, apparently. I asked a really stupid question to my dad of whether people offer beef and horse meat during the seven month, then I realise they probably wouldn’t offer the meat of the guards of hell to their ancestors. Not cool.

Black and White Impermanence are basically the same thing as ox-head and horse-face except they’re more like constables or hell envoys. They perform rituals in the human realm and catch spirits back as well. They probably do not do as much ground work though. Still nightmare inducing. Used as a common trope in shows about ghosts because its the biggest fear for them – being draggedt to hell.


I might use the ox/horse story because it could tie in with my previous idea of looking at the offerings.



Dreams vs. Reality 

Have you had a feeling that something was pressing on top of you while you were sleeping? My mom told me I used to have that problem when I was a child. I’d like to think I had sleep paralysis and I couldn’t really wake up properly. From the fear in her eyes, she thought that I had a ghost lying on top of me (without consent). It’s one of those moments between being awake and asleep that weird things happen. I saw figures by my bedside or just staring at me. I wouldn’t say this is ultimately connected to the usual supernatural ideas of ghosts but it does convey a surreal state that i’d like to believe is related to the topic.

I’d probably have to do something surreal or distorted relating to this topic.



For stylistic inspirations / ideas


(for the rest of the references)


(Most images are from Pinterest and their accounts can be accessed from the weblinks above) 



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