Written by Jonathan Wojcik

SEPTEMBER 13: The Mythology of Hungry Ghosts!

   Also known as Egui in China and a form of Preta in India, the Japanese Gaki or "hungry ghosts" are a consistent element of Eastern religion, a wretched form taken by the souls of the greedy, gluttonous and selfish after death. Cursed with twisted, corpse-like forms, their obscenely bloated bellies can never be filled for long, especially not with their pencil-thin throats or even pinhole-sized mouths, depending on the severity of their sins.

   The "hungry ghost" translation is admittedly misleading, since we generally define "ghosts" as the souls of the dead still haunting the mortal realm. The Gaki, Egui and Preta, on the other hand, are a corporeal reincarnation of the dead, occupying their own special realm that just happens to overlay our own. We can't see them, but they can see us, watching enviously as we gorge on triple bacon cheeseburgers and deep fried twinkies and Reese's peanut butter pumpkins.

   To make matters worse, a hungry ghost is typically cursed with one maddeningly persistent desire for something extremely specific, and as you might have guessed, we're not talking about strawberry cupcakes here. A big enough asshole could become a Gaki who cannot get enough hot, steaming dog vomit. Another might devour any burning hot coals he can get his bony claws on, uncontrollably choking them down even as he screams in agony. Dinosaur eggs. Moon cheese. The blood of a loved one. Hungry ghosts are perpetually tortured by cravings for the inedible, unobtainable, horrifying or all the above.

   Fortunately, these ravenous revenants are only a temporary state of punishment, ultimately moving on to reincarnation. The greedier you are, however, the more time you'll allegedly spend as a hungry ghost, and the hungrier you'll be. Hungry for rusty nails, skunk farts or even corn. I hate corn.