While helping my mother in the kitchen with hu plig morning preparations, I catch the faint presence of energy―of spirits. The ethereal scent of incense brings me closer to the gates of the other world welcoming ancestral entities at the doorstep of my home.
I hear the light click of smooth polished goat horns that divinate as well as tarot cards and tea leaves at the bottom of a tea cup. I hear the last ring of his gong and the final chime from his hoop, the sword lays still until picked up by another... His dance, his horse, his mask all rich in culture and many years of experience are respected and well known throughout our community.
Grandfather stands guard at the front door chanting loud and clear. The phonetics of our native tongue, mellifluous as the syrup my grandmother serves with her homemade ncuav, is spoken in tandem with rhythm and sounds like a song. Tall and strong, my grandfather is a powerful man. He’s wrestled with tigers and captured pojntxoog near river banks. Despite his age, grandfather stands guard at the front door.
He sweeps the house with his broom of leaves cleansing everything in its path for the incoming of a new year. He is a blessing, who blesses us all. What scares me most is when the crashing of his sword silences forever. For who is courageous enough not only to fill the shoes of a great txivneeb, but to become bigger than him? To carry on tradition into the next generation?
The lingering wisps bring me back to the kitchen task before me―be a good daughter and continue cooking.
Hu plig- A spiritual/blessing ceremony, can be a large or small event
Ncuav- A sticky rice cake
Poj ntxoog- Unfriendly spirits, sometimes in the form of women
Txiv neeb- Man, or shaman