Learning to cope with our fears

Throughout our history, fear has been the constant behind many of our religious practices – worshiping the sky, paying respect to sacred animals, or making offerings to gods. What has changed is how we manage our fears. The complexity of human society and the clash of cultures have given rise to countless forms of religious ritual all intended to allay our fears. Whether it is a belief in exorcists and spirit mediums or fairs and festivals to appease the gods, these rites help us keep the darkness at bay.

A spirit hierarchy

People's beliefs are a reflection of people themselves. That is why the spirit world resembles the human world. The complexity and hierarchical nature of human society characterizes the society of ghosts, too. At the top of the ladder are the heavenly spirits, and below them are the creatures of the mountains and forests. Because they are harbingers of both good and evil, people need to perform rites to appease them. At the bottom of the hierarchy are devils and demons who pose only harm. Fortunately, black magic offers ways to keep them at bay.

A wooden house in the city?

The old-fashioned spirit houses are slowly vanishing. The traditional wooden structures are being replaced by more modern-looking houses made of granite. The change has nothing to do with feng shui or a shift in beliefs. The trend is led by high-priced condominiums that want a sleek, expensive look both inside and out.