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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hotei: The Laughing Buddha

Who is Hotei Buddha?

Depending on what legend you read, Hotei Buddha is either a Japanese God of Luck or a Zen Monk known for his cheerful and generous nature. To further complicate matters, Hotei Buddha (also known as the Laughing Buddha) is often confused with Guatama Buddha the founder of Buddhism. Presently, through a process called conflation, he encompasses all three beings on some level.

Hotei is traditionally depicted as a portly man dressed as a monk. His large stomach, which represents  abundance and prosperity, often protrudes from his robes. The word Hotei means 'cloth-sack' and the Laughing Buddha is often seen carry such a sack from which he removes food, money, or candy. He is often seen surrounded by children. Overall he is seen as a generous spirit of luck, prosperity, and happiness.

Images of the Laughing Buddha can be found at the entrances to Chinese Buddhist temples, as well as in many Chinese and Japanese restaurants. In addition many Root Doctors and Spiritual Workers will have images of him on their Wealth and Prosperity Altars. 

 Hotei Budda on my Prosperity and Money Altar 

Working with Hotei Buddha

There is a widespread belief that rubbing Hotei's belly will bring good luck and prosperity. As part of my daily practices, I light a candle on this altar each morning and rub his belly. I often pray the 23rd Psalm followed by a more specific petition or prayer (if I have one.) Candles are often dressed with a Prosperity, Money-Drawing, or Money Stay With Me Oil and the equivalent incense is burned as well. If I have accepted petitions for others their needs will also be addressed. 

Some people may find it odd to pray a Christian prayer to a non-Christian deity. The way in which I reconcile this is that when I pray The Lord is my Hotei at my money altar then that prayer is directed to Hotei himself and in that instance his is the Lord mentioned in the prayer. Although the 23rd Psalm is widely considered to be an all-purpose prayer. There are certain verses contained in the Psalm that really speak to prosperity and abundance such as:

  • I shall not want
  • He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
  • My cup runneth over
  • Goodness and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my life

Hotei is surrounded by symbols of prosperity such as Maneki Neko, a piggy bank, and dried rice. In addition I have a large green bowl of trained hunting money on top of which is a large lodestone fed daily with magnetic sand. There are several smooth, flat stones around the altar on which you will find gems, coins, and other curious such as pyrite. These items are believed to draw in money and prosperity, and placing them on these stones represent building your fortune on a solid foundation. A Boss-Fix Honey Jar can also be found on the altar for continued employment and contentment on the job.

Other items on the altar include a Wishbone, a Rabbit's Foot, a Gold-Plated Elephant with Trunk Raised (facing my front door), and images drawn from the Tarot. The box on which the Maneki Neko statue sits also contains a Money Drawing Mojo Bag when it is not being carried, or fed.

Every other week I make offerings of apples to Hotei in thanksgiving for my blessings. A shot glass of fresh water is kept on the altar and is renewed every day. Finally, as a person who enjoys comedy and jokes I consider my own laughter an offering to this happy and generous figure.

Carolina Dean


Move Buddha? From the Archives of the Miami News, 1981
Buddha as a Luck Bringing Deity in a Non-Buddhist World


Jesse W. Campbell said...

This is my first comment. I only recently found and started following. Thank you for all the useful info! :-) I just started on a magickal path myself (2009). There has been so much to learn and I have relied on your blog several times for reference and information. Thank You! :-)
I'm creating my own abundance altar and have a question: Is there any direction (N,S,E,W) within the home you would recommend? or perhaps facing the entry door?

Carolina Dean said...

Hi Jesse,

Thanks for your comment. If you like my blog, you may also be interested in my book of shadows site at or my hoodoo site at (this one is still in progress)

With regard to your question, if it were me, I would align it to the East with the rising sun (for increase) or to the North (for prosperity and stability).

Carolina Dean

Jesse W. Campbell said...

Thank you! :-) I had done some reading on Feng Shui, but got conflicting directions from different sources. :-(
Thanks for the links. I'll check those out ASAP. :-)

Carolina Dean said...

I've read about Feng Shui and even dissected my house but I don't consider that philosophy when I erected my altar(s).

Regarding your front door, it is traditional in some areas to have an elephant statue with Trunk Raised facing your front door.

In my home I have a jade one on my abundance altar and a gold one with diamond eyes on a side table facing the front door as well.

BTW I noticed you're from South Carolina too! It's always nice to meet someone from back home. I only visited greenville once to go to "The Castle" for the turn of the century celebration but it was a beautiful place!

Jesse W. Campbell said...

This is my first Altar erected for a specific purpose. I felt I needed to be specific with the direction as well. I had trouble finding anything on direction other than Fedng Shui related...and Feng Shui always comes with its own set of correspondences.

Yes it is very nice to speak to someone from SC! :-) The Castle is still around...and Greenville has the ONLY Pride store in South Carolina now - That is good and bad I guess.

Thanks again for the advice!

Carolina Dean said...

Well it's a start!

Jesse W. Campbell said...

Just wanted to let you know I've got my altar up and running...and to thank you again for the advice. :-) My financial situation has been pretty dire up until now and the prosperity altar has definitely helped keep me afloat! The adage about spending money to make money seems to be in play here as well...I've had to drop a good bit of cash for my altar. The cool thing is that every penny that has gone into it has made my financial situation better, so I'm not complaining! :-P It asked to be painted recently so I've been working on that. I'll link a pic as soon as it's finished. :-)

Carolina Dean said...

That's GREAT Jesse, I am so happy for you.

Here's some more information that may be of assistance to you.