Built nearly three centuries ago in the old part of Taipei (a district called Wanhua), Longshan Temple is the most renowned temple in Taiwan, and a must-visit for those who are fascinated with Eastern religion.
There are a variety of deities in Longshan Temple that people may pray to, depending on their needs. For instance, there is the god of wisdom, god of business, goddess of childbirth… there is even a god for matchmaking!
Worshipers come from all over the island to offer fruits and delicacies to their gods, and in return, they ask for guidance. But unlike western religions, they don’t communicate through figures like priests; instead, they use signs, which in this case are two crescent-shaped wooden blocks. Basically, like a telephone to the gods!
This ritual is known is bwa-bwe, where people with questions toss the two pieces onto the ground in front of the statues of the gods; the way they fall is the answer. If one piece is facing up and the other is down, it’s a YES. If both pieces are facing down then it’s a NO, and if both are up it means NOT CLEAR.
See, simple. If ever you have a question that’s been bothering you, here is a guide on how to properly ask the gods for help.
Before entering, you must pray to the “host” god of the temple, in order to get permission for asking questions: state your name, birthday and address to the host, which in this temple is the goddess of compassion and mercy, Guanyin.
Once in the temple, pray to the rest of the gods, starting from the right. Then you may go to the god you would like to talk to.
Ask “Are you there?”, because he/she might be busy. You need a YES to move on to your question; if not, wait for another few minutes and ask again.
Ask your YES/NO questions, and be precise. If your question involves a person, give details on who he/she is.
Now, if you want to have a more in-depth answer, you can also pull a wooden stick out of a bucket close to the altar. Each stick has a number on it, corresponding to an ancient Chinese saying.
State your question, and ask whether he/she is willing to give you a stick; you need three consecutive YES answers to pull out one stick.
Once you have a stick, ask if it is the one he/she wants you to have; same with the three YESes rule.
If the god gives you three YESes for the stick, you can get a piece of paper with your Chinese saying, and go to a member of the staff at the temple for further interpretation.