By: Lily Wu
This post includes topics of religion, spirits, and culture viewpoint. Plus, a video of the game in process. You’ve been advised.
A Short Introduction of the Game itself
Similar to Oujia board, the plate spirit, (die xian) is a divination that is famous and popular in Asia. The divination can also be performed with pen, chopsticks, or coins. As silly as the name of the divination might sound, the plate spirit is a dangerous game of summoning the spirits.
Brief history of the Game
Dated back to China in around 1100 AD, a method called “fuji” was used to summon god and goddess. In Asia, most people believe in a multi-god system. Every year, during the New Years on the lunar calendar, temples would have a festival of “fuji”, where people can ask god or goddess questions. The plate spirit game is known to be a variation of “fuji”. The game was extremely popular in Taiwan during the 1960s. The game was mostly played by middle and high school children, sometimes college students. But due to the infamous nature of the game, the government banned the selling of the plate spirit games.
Process of the Game
- Put a paper that has 1000 basic Chinese words and a dot in the middle of the paper on a table.
- Draw a tiny arrow on the plate to indicate the word that the plate might point to.
- The participants must all hold out one finger and put it gently on the rom of the plate and chants together “plate spirit, plate spirit, please come quickly.” (Spoken usually in the form of Chinese proverb.)
- The participants must not let their fingers leave the plate once the game has begun, until the plate spirit has been sent away.
- The participants believe that once the plate starts moving, then the plate spirit has been summoned.
- People can begin asking questions. (Of course, there are many taboo questions.)
- Once the game is complete, the participants must move the plate back to the dot and chants “plate spirit, plate spirit, please return to the other world.” (In a very polite matter and also in the form of Chinese proverbs. The Chinese proverb says, it’s easy to summon a god, but hard to make it leave. Those who can’t make the spirits leave are usually screwed.)
Common Belief About the Plate Spirits
People believe that the plate spirit is the spirit of those who passed away. Those who play the game think that the plate spirit has the ability to know into the past and present. But many believed that for questions pertaining to the future, the plate spirit does not have accurate answers because its ability is not as powerful as the gods in the temple (thus, this is why “fuji” ritual exist). Usually, the participants would ask things that they already know to test the plate spirit’s ability. Then, the participants would ask the questions they really want to know.
Aftereffects of the Game
Some believed the game to be just a fun and mysterious game. But for a small group of people, after they performed the summoning rituals, there would be aftereffects from the game. The aftereffects included uncontrollable crying, depression, vomiting, hallucinating, losing consciousness or even committing suicide. People claimed that this happened because of the spirits possessing during the game. But the medical world believed that the aftereffects happened due to the power of hinting which caused mental issues. Interestingly, the participants who endured aftereffects are mostly middle or high school girls.
Taboo and Cautions
- Do NOT ask anything about the spirit, or any stupid question like are you dead or alive?
- Respect the spirit, absolutely no profanity allowed.
- You can’t push the plate with force. It’s obviously fake if one pushes the plate.
- Do not destroy the plate after the game or because you don’t like the answer.
- You can’t randomly give out promises and break it.
- You must send the spirit back after the game ends.
- You’ve summoned the spirit out, and thus, you must send it back. If it doesn’t want to go back, then there are usually two situations. One, you’ve made a taboo; or two, the spirit wants your help with a wish. You must complete the wish since you’ve summoned it. If you didn’t complete the wish, the spirit will stick to you like a crazed stalker.
Real Incidents of Plate Spirit or Its Variations
In Houbi High school, a high school in Tainan Taiwan, eight high school girls played the plate spirit. The girl had been playing since midnight until the morning. After the game, the girls were all traumatized and send to the hospital. Some were screaming, crying, or mumbling to themselves when they were sent into the ambulance. After medical diagnosis, the hospital stated that the girls endure mental problems. The students then claimed that they saw horror visions, but they refused to talk about the incidents, and the visions that they saw.
*There are many more incidents mentioned in the video, but I’d go over the word limit.
All the story and incidents were translated from the Youtube Video of the once popular show “The Incredible World.” The show is a talk show where daoist priests and news reporters talk about incidents of spirits, taboos, strange events, or culture beliefs. The show was popular in 2005, but it was called to an end because of its content. The Fuji culture was from personal experience and past knowledge of what I learned in the temple.
Part 1 to 5 of all kinds of ghost summoning game (In Chinese):
I am having a mild headache after writing this article. But I will come back next time with the hell and reincarnation system, possessed spirits, real life ghost stories and what to do if you actually encounter a ghost in Asia. There are honestly too many topics to write about. In addition, I think it’s an Asian thing. But people in Asia don’t generally believe in the devils, we believe in ghosts since it appears more common. Until next time.