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King Yama and the Underworld Records

Updated: Sep 13, 2023


In Daoist beliefs, the underworld is meticulously organised, with various deities and spirits overseeing the souls of the departed. King Yama, also known as Yanluo Wang, stands as the presiding deity, judging souls and deciding their fates.

The Story: As legend has it, King Yama's ledger, which records the deeds – good and bad – of every soul, is open for auditing during Ghost Month. During this time, spirits are granted a reprieve from the underworld to visit the living realm. However, this isn’t a holiday for them. Instead, they come to our world to settle old scores or seek redemption.

There's another element to this tale: King Yama's officials might also roam the Earth during this period to observe the deeds of the living, noting their actions for future judgment.

To appease these wandering spirits and officials from the underworld, families offer food, incense, and joss paper. These gestures are both acts of reverence to the deceased ancestors and a way to appease wandering spirits, ensuring they won't bring misfortune.

Historical Context: The establishment of King Yama as a dominant figure in underworld tales might have historical origins tied to ancient rulers or significant personalities who were later deified. Auditing the ledger, a practice symbolising judgment might reflect ancient societal practices where rulers held sessions to judge the deeds of their subjects, meting out rewards or punishments.

Significance in the Ghost Month: The rituals surrounding King Yama emphasise the importance of remembrance, reverence, and the interplay between the living and the dead. The month underscores the belief in the cyclical nature of existence and the inherent karma in human actions.

The tale of King Yama and his underworld ledger brings forth the intricate balance of fear and respect associated with Ghost Month. As with many such traditions, the interweaving of myth, belief, and potential historical resonances reflect cultural values, societal norms, and the human need to understand and respect the mysteries of the afterlife.

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At my practice, I use Ba Zi and Feng Shui to provide my clients with a comprehensive assessment of their lives. I take into account the unique energies of a person’s home and surroundings, as well as the energies of the environment and the person’s own destiny. With these insights, I am able to offer my clients assistance to help them reach their goals, and improve their lives.

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