Casting out Charm

To know if a person is charmed (In Hokkien’Tiok Kong Thau’), experienced mediums or deliverers will look into the victims pupil and observe its dilation and sheen.

To confirm his suspicion , he will make the suspect crawl under fishing nets left basking at the beach during sunrise or make him cross a river. For it was said that evil spirits wouldn’t cross a river or sea, and so are charms.

For if a person can do that with ease, that means he/she is not suffering from some kind of charm or possession. Evil spirits will also get themselves trapped in the net and so are charms, therefore the possessed will refuse to crawl beneath them. That is the reason why fishing nets has always been part of the accoutrement found above door entrances in shophouses, besides the more popular pakua ‘Eight trigrams’ used in Taoist rituals that has a curve mirror smacked in the centre of it.

If a person is found charmed, the medium or bomoh will first search for the ‘opening’, a gateway where the charm enters from, and then determine the origin of the charm inflicting him. That opening is usually an object left in the garden or main door of the home of that person charmed. Without that gateway, the charm cannot enter the home and attack the person. Evil spirits can also enter homes through other means, like sneaking under umbrellas for instance, which is also another reason why locals shun carrying open umbrellas when they enter into their own houses at night, whilst our fellow Malay friends washes their feet before entering.

The openings or gateway are usually claypots wrapped in cloth left perched in between branches of a tree. Inside the pot, depending on the severity of the infliction, were found rusty nails, amongst other things. The colour of the cloth will also determine where the charm originates from. That will direct the medium to the source if he needs to seek aid, if the charm is too powerful hence refuses to leave that person. A yellow cloth is left by a Chinese shaman, the red, by the Thais, and the black, the Malays. So it was believed that the most fearful charms comes from the Thais.

When they are found, the medium will then perform some incantations, climb up the tree, and dislodge it by the kick of his feet. The act of kicking or knocking it down with the feet is sacred, for if hands were used, the charm will also enter the medium when he picks it up. Other than football, our feet cannot pick up things.

Hence the old wives tale of shunning the idea of picking up things left on the roadside not meant for you.

Strange Occurrences

This event happened many years ago when I was just backed from Singapore. Around 1987-1988?

It was late, around 1am in the morning and I was still sitting on my table doing drawings for my clients due to dateline. I was in the middle hall, with a doorway which opens to a bedroom on the left and a staircase to the right before one gets to the large living hall, then the driveway, then the gate and then, the road. The table I used to work on was oriented to face the front of this large semi detached house inside the hall with louvre windows flanking the entire length of the left wall. I was basically doing sketches when a flash of very bright lights zoom passed me across my left. I looked to the side, then looked down again, little did I pay heed. After a short while, I thought I heard a sound similar to a large iron ball rolling on the parquet flooring upstairs and because it is overhead of where I sat meaning upstairs I thought to myself that it could be a rat running across. But then the sound went diagonally from the other corner of the hall where I sat, and it rolled diagonally to the back of the hall, my behind. I didn’t quite pay heed because on my desk is a project screaming to be completed. The next minute, at the very same end, again that object rolled from behind me and went back to the same spot it first came from. On the ceiling. I didn’t think much about it but I knew it was kind of unusual and because it was late, I didn’t want to scare myself so I got up, and hurried upstairs to sleep.

At that time, living in this house was just my mom, my brother, my Ji Ku (2nd uncle), Devi, our maid and me. I was given the last room where my Tua Ku uses but he had passed away. Above the hall where I sat is another hall, then does it reaches my back room. I took a quick glanced at that space where I heard the sound from. But there was, just sitting there, a tall brass bed my grandma uses and some old furnitures. Nothing else. I went to sleep. This house actually belongs to my grandma. But not long after she passed on, the siblings agreed to sell it because business wasn’t doing well.


And for those who doesn’t believe in phenomenas such as this, that was quite an experience. And, it is also an unlucky house. For those who knew, that house took away two lives, my maternal grandma’s, and my Tua Ku’s ( mom’s brother), and apart from that, my granduncle’s first and second wife, though they don’t live together, all, a year apart from each other. So for four years in a row, imagine we were all wearing black. For four years, we didn’t celebrate Chinese New Year.

Mom and my 2nd auntie used to be firm believers in mediums etc and because of the string of bad luck inflicting everyone, they were told by one medium that there is something which my grandma kept which should be appropriately, in spiritual terms, sent off. So the house was bustling as they were ransacking grandma’s possessions. Grandma kept a lot of things since pre war days so the house in s way do look like an attic. And guess what they found stashed below her four poster bed? A deity (Jepun Hood) which she has not worshipped for years! Whether that was the spirit living inside the house that was disturbing everyone because of neglect, we will never know.


Long after we vacated this place, I asked my mom how did she end up in the room downstairs when she has her own, preferring to share a room with our maid? Because I noticed that , maybe six months before we moved out , but didn’t want to ask her earlier. She was older and I also thought it cumbersome for someone older to want to climb stairs. Only then did she relate to me that there was once she saw a big black genie choking her. And she got frightened. My younger brother, who was once occupying the front room facing the road, then joined in and told us he was once also strangled by a huge black genie. Whether or not it is the same black genie or not, that I can’t be sure. I did t get to see it. He also told us that at one time, in the middle of the night, he thought he heard a sound of chains dragging on the tar road outside so he got up to inspect it. Lo and Behold! he saw the two Chinese Guardian of Hades, the cow head and the horse face strapping and pulling a man across the road!


One day, I chanced upon our maid. She still oases by that house everyday because of her work commitment. She told me the night after we left, our neighbors whom she met told her they saw flashes of lights being switched on and off and the sound of what seems to be a legion of people shouting and screaming at each other. Obviously my neighbors could see everything because we share a common chain link fence.

The day when I found out that mom decided to move off from this place, I made a decision to go on my own, at the age of 24? and rented a small cubicle with its own entrance from a man whom much later became my faithful client because he generously offered me the job of designing his home where I stayed and he owns. Thus, from landlord, we too became friends after that. He told me his sister was fascinated with what I designed for him and asked if she could copy the design? So generously I said yes! without even asking for a gratuity or even asked him the location of his sisters house (although that design would have looked better with a slope access like his).

Time passes by and probably about six years later? , I went avisiting my landlord at his shop located at Chowrasta. The conversation went on and he popped the question as to where I was living before I moved into his place? He was completely overwhelmed as our conversation went one full circle to reach the doorstep of where this whole story arises, which is his sister’s home! Previously our home! (He is a Pakistani Muslim by the way)And I was relating to him this same story and experiences without realizing his sister is now occupying that house!


He told me his sister bought it and since then, together with the husband, they are facing financial difficulties as business is not moving as fast as it should etc etc. He told me his sister also had similar encounters but hers was different . She felt the presence of someone always following her each time she climbs up or alight from the stairs. At first she didn’t want to alert her hubby but feeling the need to engage an Imam to reconsecrate the home which they actually did before moving in, she then told him. The imam once again got the home re-blessed and recommended them to hang holy scriptures all over which they did! But still, that thing did not stop. They then tried the bomohs as a last resort. That didn’t work also. The uncanny thing is, his sisters family is still living there today.


A few years back when I returned to Penang and had to bypass this road, for memories sake, I had this picture taken. This was the place with the encounters.


But the story hasn’t ended.


Three to four years back, I stumbled upon my neighbor’s son who once lived next door to us. Although we don’t talk much those days and we were quite young, me around 23-24 and he was my junior, as a courtesy talk, I asked him how he and his family is, and reminiscing the old times. He told me, just what our former maid told us. He also told me of the many unrest in their house starting with his grandfather’s death and how their business empire fell. And their whole family broke up. He told me he had the house checked at the land office and through the records, there was an old (khu khar lau) bungalow on stilts that stood where the row of eight semi detached house were built on. His family also went to consult a Chinese medium who is also a seer who told them the developer did not perform the rites to appease the spirits that the land was sitting on because it was infested with many killings during the Japanese occupation period.


But the house still remains until this day, unperturbed , and oddly, as I thought to myself, why didn’t my former landlord’s sister moved out? The plague in front of the house is still there so I assumed they are still residing inside.

Today that property would have cost rm2mil because it has a vast backyard. We sold it for rm350k then.

But then again, for us in the know, who would want it?