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Of Sandalwood And The Ghost Month - Part 2


The Hungry Ghost Festival falls on the fifteen day of the seventh lunar month. It is actually a festival based on the virtues of devotion, duty and compassion. Legend has it that the filial piety showed by a Buddhist monk moved the King of Hell so much, that his mother's suffering was eased in purgatory, and all the souls in that domain were granted a period of reprieve. Buddhists and Taoists believe that some ghosts wander through the earthly realm during the Ghost Month, because they did not have the proper rituals when they departed from life. Or they could be ancestors of those who have neglected to pay their respects to them. In Singapore, people would put offerings and burn prayer money to appease these spirits and hopefully give them some measure of peace.

This year, I have experienced a number of strange events during and around the Ghost Month. In mid-August, I was enjoying a late morning sleep-in, half-dozing and listening to the TV. All was peaceful. I could hear my husband, Rex, brushing his teeth at the sink in the bathroom. In the next moment, I found myself standing kerbside on a footpath, looking at a spot between two residential properties. A cat was creeping in the tall lush grass along a brown fence. Either wood or Colourbond. It was a wild cat, with markings like a snow leopard, about the size of a lynx cub. Its ears were pointed, with white wispy fur at the tips, but not tufty.

The whole scene felt so real. It did not have the haziness of a dream. I saw every detail for a few moments, as clear as daylight in front of me. I felt the firmness of the footpath beneath my feet. Smelled the nearby fresh green grass and slight dampness of the soil. I could also hear the murmur of the TV newsreader in the background. But before I could take a step towards the cat, I was back in bed.

That same afternoon, when I was waiting for Rex to lock up the garage in the basement carpark of our building, I saw a woman walking towards me from the corner to my left. I was standing in front of the lift or elevator, and she was approaching from the emergency exit that led upstairs to the street level. She looked to be in her late twenties, maybe early thirties. Medium height, slim, straight dark hair in a short bob and pale complexion. Her white blouse had short sleeves, with small black-and-yellow print, and her straight black skirt was knee-length. It was the middle of winter in Australia, but her legs were bare.

Turning to take a closer look at her, I was marveling to myself at how she was not cold, dressed as if it was for summer. At the same time, I wanted to note where she was going, so we could keep to proper social distancing.

But she was now gone! I did not see or hear anyone open the heavy fire door. She was just there in front of the grey wall, taking a few steps towards one of the garages. Her head had been turned at an angle from me. The image of her was almost distorted, like I had been looking at a reflection from a window pane or refracted through water.

Our apartment building is over twenty years old and we have lived there for nineteen years. Rex remembers that an insurance building used to be on the same site. The builders could have even used part of the same foundations during the construction. That woman did look like she was dressed for the office or was wearing some uniform.

It occurred to me that the woman did not appear to register that I was there. Perhaps she was just an imprint, an echo from the past? Or was I the echo in hers? When we got home, I glanced at the calendar near the front door and realized that we were still in the middle of the Ghost Month. Just another coincidence?

A week or so later, I was putting a few eggs to boil on the stove for 'mi goreng', a type of Indonesian fried noodles. I turned to the knife block next to the sink, looking for a pair of scissors to cut open the noodle packets. One pair was partially blocked by a few bottles, so I chose a second one within easier reach.

Then I turned to check on the eggs and found that the glass lid was covering the small pot on the stove. For a moment, I wondered if I had absent-mindedly done it myself. But I was not in the habit of covering the pot when boiling eggs. If I had somehow gone on auto-pilot, wouldn't I be following a usual routine?

Still puzzled over the lid, I turned back to put it in the sink, thinking to give it a rinse. The first pair of scissors was now sitting to the left of the sink on the kitchen counter, as if someone had obligingly placed it there for me. Now THAT I was certain I did not do. Not when I had already chosen another pair. Furthermore, the bottles were still in the way.

I simply said: "Thank you," replaced the kitchen scissors and carried on making lunch. There was no real cause for alarm. If anything, it felt like someone was trying to be helpful.

Around end-August, Rex and I watched the SBS TV drama series, 'Hungry Ghosts', which was based on happenings centered around an Australian Vietnamese community during the Ghost Month. It was during the second episode, the scene where the chief protagonist burned joss sticks at the family altar for her recently deceased grandmother.

Sandalwood! I was sure I could smell sandalwood again, but this time we were upstairs. Jumping to my feet, I tried to find if the scent of incense was coming from outside the bedroom window or wafting up the stairs from the corridor. But it was only near my side of the bed and dissipated after a minute or so.

Once again, I was reminded of Aunty May. Her funeral service had taken place just recently and many in the family would have liked to pay our final respects in person. But with the pandemic and travel restrictions in many countries, we had to settle for the service to be Zoomed from Hong Kong to our large clan around the world. I had only got the Zoom details of the session during the final moments and did not make it in time for the service.

As I was thinking about all this, someone called the woman protagonist in the TV show by name: May Le.

That made me smile.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Jubeele, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Jubeele (26 stories) (886 posts)
3 years ago (2020-11-22)

That OB episode with the cat was amazing, as was the sensation of being in two places at the same time. Your family has a remarkable gift. The only other time I had experienced something similar was during a guided transcendental meditation workshop, where I went a bit too deep and felt myself 'floating' among the stars in the night sky for a few moments. It was strange, but quite liberating.

I suspect that the recent activity, particularly in the kitchen, was likely Aunty May letting me know she was there. Perhaps her intent was to have me convey to my mother, and the rest of the family, that all was well with her and thus be comforted.

Thank you for coming by to read my account and sharing your thoughts with us.
MrRiggs (7 stories) (102 posts)
3 years ago (2020-11-19)
As a home grown member of western society, I find this recounting unsettling. In the U.S., ghost month would pass largely unnoticed outside of Asian communities. Our western views of life, death and the hereafter generally differ from those found in the orient. What is disturbing is that the eastern beliefs may be correct, and we have been wrong, thereby creating many aggrieved spirits. The American saying "You only hurt the ones you love." may be more correct than we know.

Your encounter with the cat sounds like an out of body (oob) experience. These were common in my family and I know first hand that oobs are real and not particularly extraordinary. That you were relaxed and dozing (in and out) is the perfect state for a spontaneous oob. I love them as they show us that we are not our body and that our body is not us.

The young woman in the white blouse sounds like a typical ghost sighting, though it could be an imprint created by means or reason unknown. Given it was ghost month I'll go with conventional eastern wisdom.

The goings-on in the kitchen seem to indicate you had company which, frankly, is not too uncommon. After my mother passed she could be heard handling silverware at the kitchen sink. That was a common sound in our house when she was alive, and she seemed to spend a lot of time at it, as though she enjoyed it. That you were being shown you had a companion seems to indicate a friendly presence.

My vote is for Aunt May, sandalwood and all. After all, being dead is just a long term out of body experience. And who needs a body just to stop by and lend a hand in the kitchen?
MrsRamsay (guest)
3 years ago (2020-11-19)
RC Ruskin, that thing you said about things happening...that's happened to me a ton. While working on Ancestry... I will be focussed on one particular time period and place, for example the Revolutionary war in New Jersey. The next thing I know, there's a show on tv focussing on that time and place. It's a neat little synchronicity that's occurred more than a couple times.
Jubeele (26 stories) (886 posts)
3 years ago (2020-11-15)
lady-glow - The events were very odd, but we were distracted by other things happening at the time. It was only weeks later, looking through my journal, that I realised how active the period had been. Which goes to show the importance of keeping a journal. That lynx cub had pretty markings. Totally unexpected. Hope your family and yourself are keeping safe, and staying well. 😘

Melda - Maybe I was simply the human conduit for Aunty May to pass on the message that she's fine. Mum hopes that she would come and visit her dreams one of these days. I wouldn't be surprised if Aunty May had preferred to boil her eggs with the lid on. 😉
lady-glow (16 stories) (3157 posts)
3 years ago (2020-11-13)
Hi Jubeele.

Those sure were some exciting things to have witnessed. The cat sounds like a lovely sight.
Melda (10 stories) (1363 posts)
3 years ago (2020-11-08)
Jubeele - Ghosties breakdancing and tweaking around you trying to get your attention is a very entertaining thought. Put up some motion cameras in your house and add me on the "sent to" list 😁

Like you, I'm also wary about mentioning anything supernatural to all and sundry. I learned that during my childhood years. Most people think we're freaky, or we're lying.

Perhaps Aunty May has twisted some arms and has been granted the privilege to visit every now and then? None of us knows for sure what happens when we reach the other side!

Regards, Melda
Jubeele (26 stories) (886 posts)
3 years ago (2020-11-08)
Hi Lost Voyage, I've wondered if these festivals mark thresholds as well as periods of seasonal change. Special boundaries where the Veil between realms of time, realities and space become thinner at certain times of the year. I've shared this article before on the Celtic belief that at certain times and in certain places, ghosts or spirits could slip through 'betwixt and between', like going to another room. It's a fascinating concept.


It's always nice to encounter a friendly spirit. Not all encounters need to be scary or negative ones. Thanks for coming by to read my account.
Jubeele (26 stories) (886 posts)
3 years ago (2020-11-07)
RCRuskin (hi "Brother-brat"),

I've shared some of my experiences with a few in the family. Not sure about the attendance. I might have to ask them when I get the chance. But so far, I haven't heard that anyone else has received a visit from Aunty May. Mum would love a visit from her eldest sister, May, even if it's in a dream. But Mum has been very ill and was in hospital for a while soon after the funeral. Perhaps Aunty May chose me because I had the best available 'reception' at the time, so she sent her message via me (like a human antenna!) to Mum and the rest of the clan. That would be like Aunty May - practical as ever.

I wouldn't be surprised if Aunty May came that night to tell me that I shouldn't have missed her funeral service. No excuses! I can just hear her say in her most imperious tone: "Why were you not there to pay your respects, young lady?" And yes, I also got the brief lecture from my elder sister to be more tech savvy like the rest of the family. Mea culpa - my bad. But I did get a copy of the Order of Service from my cousin and said a prayer for Aunty May. We miss her heaps. 😘
Jubeele (26 stories) (886 posts)
3 years ago (2020-11-07)

Your questions have got me thinking. Being the lunar calendar, the Ghost Month falls on different dates every year. I don't remember the Ghost Month in the past being more 'active' than other months, but I've only started keeping an event journal since October last year. That is how I found a correlation from the period to the recent activities. It could be that since we're spending more time at home these days, I'm finally paying attention. Just think, ghosties could have been tweaking and breakdancing around me all these years and I never noticed!

I like what you said that we have to consider our past, in order to look to the future. Remember the lessons learnt, forget the bad, keep what is important. For me, it would be family ties and their loving bonds. Despite all the differences and the distance between us, a family with a good foundation would pull together in times of trouble.

Rex and I usually don't mention our strange experiences to the neighbours. It tends to make them uncomfortable. But I did meet up with the young woman who has the car space next to the emergency exit. It was just a few days ago. We were waiting in the basement carpark and I told her about the woman I saw. She was quite intrigued, but has never seen anything out of the ordinary. I might have started a legend in our building... 😉

That cat could have been an OB experience? I didn't know what to make of it. It was so sudden. Pity it was so short because that was really interesting, like being in two places at one time. Wonder if the cat saw me?

I'm not sure if it was Aunty May helping out in the kitchen, but that is a lovely thought. Since then, I've not smelled sandalwood and things have stayed where they are expected to be. It could very well be that she's now safely moved on, having made sure we were all okay. 😊
The_Lost_Voyage_11 (7 stories) (238 posts)
3 years ago (2020-11-07)
Hi Jubeele, fascinating encounters. I know this time of year, regarding late Oct/early Nov, they consider the veil between worlds to be the thinnest, I wonder if the ghost month even though the time period is different than now has the same consideration. When talking about the 'veil', some here state it's the veil between the physical realm and that of spirit, some just say 'between worlds'. I have oft wondered if those 'worlds' may indeed be what we consider other realities or other time periods. Your first 2 encounters, especially the 2nd one strike me as maybe seeing a glimpse of another reality or time? Here in the US, I have been curious if the hauntings people see on some of the civil war battlefields are actually ghostly re-enactments or actually seeing something occurring on another plane of existence, another time as it were. Maybe the veil is pierced based on the level of emotions experienced in situations like that for all involved! It would certainly reclassify some of our 'ghostly' sightings for sure! Just food for thought! The last encounter is either a helpful spirit or one messing around with you, or perhaps both!
RCRuskin (9 stories) (817 posts)
3 years ago (2020-11-07)
"Fascinating." -Spock from Star Trek.

Hi, "sis"! 😁

I crashed early last night, due to... Well... That thing.

Not relevant to ghosts but I often get notified of stuff that interests me anywhere from an hour to a few weeks *after* the actual thing itself. 😠 It makes me wonder something, and you could probably find this out. Has anyone else been visited by Aunt May? And if yes, were they late to the Zoom or did they miss it entirely?
Melda (10 stories) (1363 posts)
3 years ago (2020-11-06)
Jubeele - Since leaving Singapore and having been resident in Australia for many years now, have you ever had other experiences which could connect to the ghost month? Besides paranormal experiences year round, do the bulk of them occur say towards end June to early August?

Maybe that's a silly thought but it just crossed my mind. I think for most people our roots play a part in our lives going forward.

The lady you saw might have been residual. If she were seen by other residents do you think they would have told you? Do you have that open of a relationship with them?

In my mind the sighting of the feral cat was an OB experience. Amazing isn't it? I've had a few OB experiences and only one scared me enough to pray to all that is holy to protect me from experiencing it again. However in this one you appear to be happy and curious and it happened in such a short time!

The kitchen again! Did you get the impression that was Aunty May? It would be nice if it were 😊 Of course at some stage she will probably move on, which would be a good thing for her.

Regards, Melda

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