It’s been quite some time since I wrote about an article under the MYTH BUSTER category. But today, allow me share a pervasive myth amongst the local of Siquijor (a province in the Philippines known for witchcraft and stories of Manananggal or local vampires). In a trip to Siquijor a few months back, some people told me that I will never see a pure black cat in Siquijor because the albularyos (local shamans) hunts the black cat, kill them, then burn it and use the ash in looking for demons and fighting them. I was quite surprised and told my guide to hook me up with an albularyo who practices this because I would surely love to understand more about this practice.
Some of my friends who are with me warned me not to talk to the albularyos because I might get hexed or bewitched. I was pretty confident that it wouldn’t happen because I have my Kalachakra Pendant and more importantly I have my Vajrapani Ruel and Surangama Mantra Amulet.
I was lucky enough to meet two elderly albularyos who absolutely forbid me to take their photo because they believe that their soul might be captured by the camera or photo (I will discuss this in succeeding posts). Anyway, they told me that this is a known way to best see and fight a demon, but it is a practice that is quite difficult to do. At the end, they said that they have tried it, however, they don’t know the actual ritual thus are unable to do it.
I got really curious about this practice and decided to do more research about it. I found out that ancient Hebrews also believes in this practice. Now the question is there truth to this?
The variables present as was shared with me are they only need of the ashes of black cat and some prayer. If I’m going to base it on this alone, I think this is more of a myth. Why? Because an ash has no chi. It is literally without energy thus it can be used into a spiritual object or amulet. In fact, Buddhist prefers to be cremated because in that case they won’t have to worry as to where to put the ash. Once a person has been cremated, one will not need to worry about the Feng Shui of the burial site because the ashes have no chi.
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Growing up with a devout Catholic maternal grand mother, I’m quite familiar with how Catholics looks at a Palaspas or Palm Fronds. My Lola would always tell me that a palaspas is what saves us from the devil during Holy Week, because, she explains, this is the time when Christ is at his weakest. Like most superstitious Catholics, my Lola has a lot of beliefs that are technically not espouse by the Church.
My Lola, like most Catholics, would get several Palaspas not for it’s religious significance but more for it’s association with the supernatural. Her house, where I grew up, would have a Palaspas in each of the window and door where it would hang for the rest of the year until the next Palm Sunday. Before hanging the new Palaspas or Palm Frond, she would take out the old dried Palaspas and make several different amulets out of them. She would cut them up into small pieces and put them under our bed to prevent dwendes (dwarves) from visiting us. She would burn some of them and keep the ashes so that she can use them against the mananaggal (Philippine Vampire) should they decide to visit us. Still others would be cut into small pieces, put in a small red cloth and hang by the bed room doors, and by the bed, this is to protect us from bad spirits.
I know now that a lot of what she believes in and do are simply born out of superstition. However, I decided to write this post because just yesterday, in the front page, of all the 3 major national newspaper, it shows that the Catholic Church through one of its bishops has warned the people that a Palm Frond or Palaspas is not to be used as amulet.
I don’t really know the religious significance of going through the ceremony of waving a Palm Frond and having a priest bless them during mass if there is not special power in this act. I will not dare dwell on it. However, I would like to answer the question whether a Palaspas can be use as an amulet.
In Feng Shui, leaves or a leaf, especially if it has religious significance, is a great symbol and cure to be use in changing one’s bad luck into good luck. For Buddhism, the most common leaf used as a symbol to help signify the change of one’s bad luck into good luck is the Bodhi leaf. This is because of the association of the achievement of Buddhahood by the Historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, under a Bodhi tree. For Catholics, I believe that palaspas would also work in the same manner. However, at least for Feng Shui perspective, it is extremely inauspicious if you continue to keep a dead flower or leaf, and this is usually the case with Palm Fronds, we normally keep them even if they’d totally dried. Again, in Feng Shui perspective this is considered unlucky.
To directly answer whether a palaspas or palm frond is an amulet, the answer is yes, that is until they’ve dried out.