The Lavatory Lady; Goddess of the Toilet
Tzu Ku is queen of the outhouse and pigpen. She is theoretically the lady of the modern bathroom too, except that it’s not exactly the same. Her traditional domains are freestanding buildings similar to a little shrine building, albeit degraded.
Tzu Ku is a brilliant oracular spirit. She knows the unknown. Once she was a beautiful woman from Shou Yang named Ho Mei who married an actor in approximately 685 CE. The governor of Shou Yang desired Ho Mei. He arranged to have her husband killed and Ho Mei taken into his house as a concubine. His first wife was jealous. On the fifteenth day of the first month of the Chinese year, she had Ho Mei killed while in the toilet. When Ho Mei arrived in Heaven, Hsi Wang Mu, the Western Mother, appointed her Tzu Ku, the Lavatory Princess. Tzu Ku revealed her history to a famous Chinese poet via a spirit medium.
Although called goddess of the lavatory, she really has little to do with bathrooms or anything that usually goes on there. Instead, Tzu Ku is a divination goddess. She presides over a traditional Chinese method of fortune-telling and spirit communication called sand-tray divination, an ancestor of the modern spirit board. Sand or ashes are spread on a planchette or winnowing board. Tzu Ku sends messages using hair sticks or chopsticks as writing implements in the sand or ashes, similar to automatic writing or the planchette on a ouija board.
• Mothers invoke Tzu Ku’s blessings for their daughters’ happiness and marriage.
Women, fortune-tellers, diviners, shamans, spirit mediums
Tzu Ku’s image is kept in the bathroom or pigpen. Figures made from straw and grass are used to represent her.
Women honor Tzu Ku at the very beginning of the Chinese lunar New Year and at the anniversary of her death on the fifteenth day of the first month.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.