Saturday, May 5, 2007

Go-between for the living and the dead

Liu Fa Lian being possessed.

LIU Fa Lian has not had a good night’s sleep in 43 years.

She does not suffer from insomnia nor is she in poor health.

Rather, her disrupted sleep is due to voices that never stop "speaking" in her dreams.

They often ask her about her relatives or relate their own "lives" in the afterworld, often in response to queries from family members.
"I have dream after dream every night. Those whom I knew when they were alive and strangers have come in my dreams to ask or tell me things.

"My husband will testify that I have not had a good night’s sleep since marriage," the 60-year-old said.

Her sleeplessness actually began at 17 when she had a bad fever and word of her powers soon spread with relatives and friends asking her to communicate with the dead.

Liu is a "Wen Mi Po" (Granny Asking Rice), one of a handful of Taoists with psychic powers.

She is a go-between for the living and the dead, a task she confesses is not easy with its own difficulties and peculiarities.

Her days are spent with the living who pour out their hearts about people who have passed on; her nights with the dead who provide answers to the living.

A typical session begins with Liu interviewing people who come to her.

After a few minutes, her legs will start to shake, an indication that she is going into a trance.

Liu then chants incantations and grabs a handful of rice grains which she proceeds to throw on the floor, a typical feature of a ceremony dating back 2,000 years to the Guangdong province in China.

This signals that she is ready to communicate with spirits.

"I am told that I then start speaking about personal things, about people that only they and spouses knew. Sometimes people burst into tears on hearing their relatives ‘speak’," she said.

Liu usually comes out of the 20-minute sessions exhausted but has to repeat them with others who come from around the state seeking her service.

Her days start at 8.30am when she sees her first "customer" with the last person leaving her home about 3pm.

Phone reservations have to be made in advance as Liu only attends to a maximum of 20 people a day.

Chen Poh Noi, 46, is an example of a satisfied customer who "talked" to her mother who died three months ago.

"The sessions with Liu were truly unusual. She does not know us or anything about our family but she told me things that only my late mother knew," she added.

Chen’s 65-year-old mother was found dead on the floor of her bedroom after a heart attack.

"My mother told us through Liu that she could not believe she had just passed away like this. She said she was feeling uncomfortable on the day she died and had laid on the floor to take a nap.

"She said it was all like a dream to her. When she woke up, she found herself unable to touch everyone else there," Chen said.

How does Liu feel when she is possessed?

"I just feel like I am drifting around in a dream. I don’t really have full understanding of what I say.

"Sometimes I think I am singing but people around me understand me," she said.

The mother of five does not really enjoy her special powers.

However, she said she had learnt to live with them.



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