In every culture in all types of places all over the world, there are always beliefs surrounding the supernatural such as spirits and demons.
Chinese culture is no different.
In fact, countless folklore, legends and stories tell of battles and adventures between good and evil forces. Just one example is the classic novel Journey to the West where the Monkey god escorted an accomplished Buddhist monk to retrieve sacred sutras.
And in Chinese tradition which is heavily influenced by Buddism and Taosim, there area various rituals and practices that are meant to protect people from mischievous spirits that might mean harm.
Because highly accomplished practitioners of these religions are often known to be experts in feng shui, the various technique for repelling evil from the living is often incorporated into the practice of feng shui when the situation calls for them.
Like garlic is to vampires, one of the most commonly used methods of combating evil is with the use of plants.
Here are some of the most widely used plants to repel against evil entities.
1) Peach wood
One of the key tools that you would find in a Taoist priest’s repertoire of equipment is peach wood. Not to be confused with peach fruit.
This is a material that is used in many diverse types of rituals including weather manipulation, divination, and fighting evil.
It is why peach wood is a very common material use to make items such as tallies and swords for rituals.
Homeowners who believe in them will hang peach tallies on their doors for protection.
Gourd bottles made from the gourd fruit itself are believed to be able to imprison ghosts.
As such, spirits would avoid going anywhere with bottle gourds in the vicinity. Which is why it is able to chase away evil.
However, this belief is most probably tied to how Zhang of the 8 immortals used it. Which is also why the use of gourd bottles against evil is often categorized as superstition.
The plant itself is most often planted at the front or back of the residence by homeowners who believes in it’s magic.
3) Willow branches
Branches (with leaves) of the willow tree are believed to be able to sting spirits. Which is why it is also often hung on front doors just like peach wood.
The idea is that spirits with bad intentions would not be able to enter the house as they don’t want to be stung.
The willow branch is also the sometimes held by the Goddess of Mercy in depictions. This is supposedly used to sprinkle divine water for casting her powers.
It also not uncommon to find Chinese households keeping miniature willow plants near the front door of the house. This is so that when they get back home from somewhere such as a funeral, they can break off a branch and brush themselves with it so as to detach any spirits that have clung onto them to enter the house.
A variation of this is to place a willow branch in a pail or basin of water and use the water to wash their hands and face before entering the home.
4) Ginkgo wood
Wood from the gingko tree is said to be able to control spirits.
And it is most often the material of choice for seals used in rituals against evil.
It’s no coincidence that in spirituals places and places of worship, it’s not uncommon to find majestic ginkgo trees in the premises.
5) Cypress trees
There’s a reason why the cypress tree is one of the most prominent trees found in the vicinity of graveyards. Sometimes completely surrounding them like a green natural wall around the perimeter.
The slender tall shape of this tree not only symbolizes a reach to heaven, but also believed to be able to ward off demons as well.
They are best used for demarcating land parcels, especially to act as a barrier against evil from entering a particular piece of land.
6) Sapindus seed (bodhi seed)
The sapindus seed is better known as the bodhi seed due to it being the favorite material used to make the rosary of monks and priests.
It is meant to represent all good and enlightenment as Buddha was said to attain enlightenment while sitting under a Sapindus tree.
This “all good” acts as a polar repellent against evil.
The Chinese mugwort, or artemesia, is actually an ingredient used in various types of TCM remedies. It’s even getting more widely used in western medicine these days.
But it is also a plant that is used to protect one from evil, and especially used during the traditional Dragon Boat festival.