Chinese Magical Medicine, 1.3-1.5


Heredity or Contagion?


pp. 23-4 ghost-infestations

p. 23

"the procedures employed by the malevolent dead was "plain from beyond the tomb" or "sepulchral lawsuit" (chung-sung). This term described the origin of the pathology, but the pthology itself or its physical symptoms were designated by ... "ghost- ... infusion"

p. 24

or "ghost-infestation" (kuei-chu). The first syllable, kuei, denoted ... ghosts ... . The second syllable, chu, means, literally, "a pouring in." Scholars are familiar with this word in nits more common usage as "a textual commentary"".

pp. 25-7 treating ghost-infestations

p. 25

[Ko Hun : C^ou-hou Pei-c^i Fan ('Praescriptions Within Arm's Reach for Use in Emergencies'), section 7.] "several recipes for ... treatment" : "bark of mulberry root and small red beans"; "peach kernels". "mulberry root and peach kernels are potent anthelminthics, ... corpse-demons ... having the form of worms." [p. 293, n. 1:89 : : according to Ko Hun, "get this ailment on carriages and boats (p. 15) : ... i.e. {forms of nauseous motion-sickness :} modern travel-sickness, car-sickness, sea-sickness". {Another modern form would be airplane-nausea.}]

p. 26

[C^>ao Yu:an-fan : C^u-pin Yu:an-hou Lun ('On the Origins and Symptoms of Diseases', written Chr.E. 610) 24:130] "the patient ... has collided with a ghost or demon (kuei-wu). ... Under the separate rublic "ghost-infestation" (kuei-chu), Ch>ao describes a condition in which someone ... is suddenly pushed or struck by a spectral being (kuei)."

p. 27

"Chapter 25 of Ch>ao's work is entirely given over to a description of ku magic".

p. 28 Sun Ssu-mo : C^>ien-c^in Yao-fan ('1000-Worth Important-Praescriptions', written in Chr.E. 650s) -- "instructions, too, for observing the pathogens as one expells them"

[17:320a] "A five-ingredient herbal compound should be taken on an empty stomach. After an interval, the patient should spit onto a wall, whereupon, at the foot of the wall, the evil creatures will be seen departing, tadpole-like and toad-like, sometimes a foot or two long."

pp. 29-31 Sun Ssu-mo : C^>ien-c^in I-fan ('1000-Worth Supplementary-Praescriptions')

p. 29

[30:354b] (healer's proclamation so as to command ailment-spirit into obedience :)

"From south of the heavens I have come to the north, ...

When I spit on heaven, heaven must turn.

When I spit on earth, earth sinks and opens.

When I spit on stone, it shatters and crumbles. ...

When I spit on water, the abyss dries up."

in the __

the C^u named __

infesteth the __


I ('Doctor')



C^>in ('Blue')

veins and arteries


Yao ('Shaker')

spine and waist

p. 30


Tz>u ('Female')

heart and spleen


C^ih ('Pheasant')

10 fingers

in the __

the C^u named __

infesteth the __


Yan ('Sheep')

stomach and intestines


Kou ('Hound')

heart and mouth


C^i ('Chicken')

heart and navel


Yu: ('Fish')

6 agencies (throat, bladder, etc.)


C^ih ('Pheasant')


In the praeceding chapter (29:347b) the directions of 'Hound' and 'Sheep' are reversed.

The next spell (in this cap. 30) : ""I know your family name and given names,/ I possess your kung and shang./ Why don't you go far away --/ What can you hope for by staying on?"

Kung and shang are two of the five basic musical notes. Every Chinese family name was classified as rhyming with one of the five, and was thus linked with one of the five directions".

p. 31

30:355a incantation :-

"I am a child of Mount T>ai,

I have now been sent here by Mount T>ai."

pp. 32-3 Wan T>ao : Wai-t>ai Pi-yao ('Outer-Tribunal Secret-Essentials', written Chr.E. 752) -- method by Ts>ui C^ih-t>i (in Chr.E. 7th century) of extracting disease-daimon

p. 32

[vol. 1, c^u:an 13:358b-359a] "cut out paper money and take it to a freshly made tomb. Have the sick child sit with his back to the tomb, facing the road back home. With the paper money and a new cord, go around the tomb and patient so that they are completely encircled. ... Have a healthy person strike to locks together behind the patient's back. Recite this spell :

Concealed connection ... be loosed! ...

I will loose you with ... locks. ... .

p. 33

Offer ... to the General of the Five Ways, and recite this spell :

Gate of Heaven, open!

Door of Earth, shut! ... .

... the patient was to sit on the congee-filled gourd. ... The stuffed gourd served both as bait and demon-trap. Many an exorcist in Chinese legend keeps demons in a gourd container."

pp. 34-7 Lu S^ih-c^un : Yu-:t>an Ta-fa ('Jade-Hall Great-Rites', written c. Chr.E. 1158), HY 220

p. 34

"Writing in 1158, Lu Shih-chung tells [HY 220, 1:7a-8a] how in 1120 he had been guided by a marvelous light to a point on the summit of Mao Shan. Digging there,

p. 35

he found the text of these Rites of the Jade Hall, which ever after formed the core of his Taoist practice. ...

p. 36

Lu Shih-chung proceeds [23:7b-8b] to decribe the pathogenic worms that are responsible for corpse-disease. There are nine different sorts, of which six undergo a series of six metamorphoses. ...

Lu resumes his description in the middle of the next chapter [cap. 24], delving deeply tino the worm's {worms'} itineraries and giving an exact account of their shapes and colors. ... As the disease advances, they come to look like three-inch strands of twisted silk ... . And so it continues, through six stages or metamorphoses, as the pathogens take on an array of ... shapes of inanimate objects. By the time the sixth stage is reached, we find the worms appearing as double-stranded horsetails (... the male and the female worms) ..., or as something resembling overcooked noodles."

p. 37

"Liu Ts>un-yan, in an article on "The Taoists' Knowledge of Tuberculosis in the Twelfth Century." [T>OUNG PAO 57,5 (1971):285-301] Liu translates in full the account ... . ...

He ... speculates that Taoist priests may have gained their knowledge by using compound microscopes."

{Seeing of microscopic beings is possible by psychic means of magnifying skrying, without use of any material instruments.}


Two Types of Karman


p. 42 T>ai-p>in C^in ('Grea Peace Classic') -- meditation as remedy for world's troubles

"The world in entirely evil, and they are unable to realize this. ... All ... can only be explained as manifestations of "received burden." As a remedy, the author recommends "guarding the One" -- that is, meditating on the single, undifferentiated unity of the primordial ch>i, source of all phenomena. ... For the living, there is to be no soul-searching, no penitence and confession, no guilt and no reproach. ... In both cases, it has nothing to do with the living person himself but is all a matter of his moral patrimony -- the deeds of his forebears."

pp. 44-5 C^en-kao, HY 1010, 2:12a -- music with religious singing can enable that singer's corpse to persist undecayed

p. 44

"in the reign of King Wu of the Chou dynasty ..., there lived a certain Hsieh Ch>ang-li, who had achieved immortality. His younger brother, Hsieh Lu:, ... could not repress his sexual longings ... .

p. 45

... Still, Hsieh Lu ... was also especially fond of music. To fortify his spirits, he would sing aloud as he practiced the Tao in solitude. As a result, his inner spirits and ethereal souls were so strengthened that when he died he {his corpse} did not undergo dissolution."

{This may be related to perceptions of music issuing from graves of saints.}

p. 297, n. 1:147 exorcisers in India

""among the great mass of the people of India, three-fourths of the diseases of individuals are attributed to evil spirits and evil eyes; and for very phyiscian among them, there are certainly ten exorcisers" (Sleeman ... [1915]:168)."

Sleeman 1915 = William H. Sleeman : Sleeman in Oudh.

p. 47 confession of sins in Mao S^an texts

"In the fourth-century Mao Shan materials, ... There are two formulae for confession, one connected with the Five Planets ...,

the other with the stars of the Northern Dipper the other with the stars of the Northern Dipper (Ursa major), which systematically observe and record all the misdeeds of the living.

For the first, one should use the "five days of communication," which are days of assembly in heaven. Kneeling, the penitent confesses both all the faults of his ancestors to the seventh degree and his own ... . He asks that his name be remobved from the Black Register of the infernal Three Officers, and that he be permitted to disport himself among the Five Planets.

The second method involved bringing down the stars of the Northern Dipper one by one, each on a different day and into a different organ of the body. Of each of the seven stars, the supplicant requests that all the faults and misdeeds of himself and his forebears to the seventh degree be expunged from the record. When, in his final address, he brings down the eighth and nin[e]th stars (which lie alongside the Dipper's handle and are usually invisible to the eyes of the profane), he alters the number of generations from seven to nine." (Robinet 1984, vol. 2, pp. 53 & 81)

Robinet 1984 = Isabelle Robinet : La re've'lation du Shangqing dans l'histoire du taoi:sme. 2 voll. Paris : E'cole Franc,aise d'Extre^me-Orient.

p. 49 invocation of spirits of medicinal drugs in order to perform healings

"the Mao Shan scripture that contains the largest number of drug names, the Book of the Devil-Destroyers of Wisdom (Hsiao-mo chih-hui ching, HY 1333) ... consists of a long list of pharmaka, classified according to the celestial region with which they are in rapport. ...

Thus it appears that the virtue of all these healing drugs will be actualized for the benefit of him who simply steeps himself utterly in the droning evocation of their names."

{In experiential accounts (e.g., PSM) spirits of medicinal plants can indeed be conjured, but only after they have personally met (of their own accord) with the conjurer.}

PSM = Eliot Cowan : Plant Spirit Medicine. Newberg (OR) : Swan Raven, 1995.


Apocalyptic Intimations


p. 51 Lu Hsiu-c^in (Chr.E. 406-77) : Lu Hsien-s^en Tao-men K>o-lu:eh (HY 1119) 1a -- how Essence-spirits came to dominate Heaven-and-Earth [also in Nickerson 1996, p. 352]

"emanations (ch>i) of the Six Heavens claim to claim official status and ... made themselves into the various elemental demons (ching, "essential spirits") ... . They assembled ... armies, the men calling themselves "generals" and the women "ladies." They led spectral troops, marching and encamping through the heavens and over the earth. They imposed their rule ... into the temples of men."

pp. 52-3 Annals of the Sage of Latter Time, Lord of the Golden Gateway of Supreme Purity (HY 442) 3b-4a (Bokenkamp 1997a:345-6) -- a prophecy

p. 52

"In the age of birds and beasts, ...

in the year chia-shen (monkey) ...,

{"transformed into apes and phantoms" ("TB")}

p. 53

the Good shall be selected ... . Above shall mingle pestilence and flood,

while war

{"set against each other so that they fell in the combat" ("TB")}

and fire join everywhere below. ...

Those who love the Tao will hide in the earth, while the Good will ascend up into the mountains.

{"And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us ... from the wrath of the Lamb" (Apok. of Ioannes 6:16).}

The noisome host of the afflictors will ... be cast into the gaping abyss.

{"a part sank into the earth" ("TB")}

So shall the final judgement be effected.

Then, in the year jen-ch>en (dragon ...), on the sixth day of the third month, the Lord Sage will descend and shine forth in splendor

in the presence of the multitude." {multitude = commoners}

{According to the HMP, in the Sun of Wind "the macehuales [commoners] ... became monkeys." (ATh&C, p. 42)

"TB" = "Tower of Babel" in Legends of the Jews

by Louis Ginzberg

Apokalupsis of Ioannes 6:16

HMP = Historia de los Mexicanos por sus Pinturas.

ATh&C = Miguel Leon-Portilla : Aztec Thought and Culture.

p. 53 physiognomy

"The Annals [HY 442:9a-13a; Bokenkamp 1997a:355-62] includes a very curious list of physiognomic indicators, signs which, when present on the face or body, foretell not only a person's predestination for immortality but even the exact rank he or she will occupy in the celestial hierarchy."

pp. 54-6 animal of natal year; miscellaneous prohibitions

p. 54

injunctions [HY 179:1b-2a; Bokenkamp 1997a:362-3] : "the fifth is "Do not eat the animal of your parents' destiny";

and the six is "Do not eat the animal of your own destiny."

These are the animals presiding over successive years in the twelve-year sequence ...; thus one is forbidden to consume the flesh of the beasts ruling one's own and one's parents' natal years.

In his commentary on the pharmacopoeia, T>ao Hung-ching refers to this rule and states that Taoist may eat only the flesh of deer and pheasants" (Strickmann 1978b, p. 473, n. 23).

{This is similar to the rule among certain South American tropical-forest indigenous tribes : forbidden to eat "pets" (domestic animals), permitted to eat only wild animals.}

p. 55

[HY 179:3a-b; Bokenkamp 1997a:364-5] miscellaneous prohibitions :-

"One must not urinate facing north, or while gazing on the Three Luminaries (sun, moon, stars),

nor is it licit to face north while combing one's hair or undressing ... . ...

d. of


It is prohibited to __



"kill living creatures while facing north."



"eat fish".



"eat the inner organs of animals".



"cut plants or chop down trees."



"look at blood".



"dig in the earth".



"think of evil things".



"buy footware".



"set up a bed".



"blame other people".



"bathe or wash your hair".

"These are major prohibitions of the people of heaven. ..."

{Prohibitions to perform specific actions on specific days of the month are also in force amongst Zaratustrians and Manda< (Iran and <iraq).}

Strickmann 1978b = Michel Strickmann : "A Taoist Confirmation of Liang Wu Ti". J OF THE AMER OR SOC 98:467-75.

p. 56 HY 442 -- promise of heavenly rank & of protection

[HY 442:7a; Bokenkamp 1997a:351-2] "The names of all those who obtain my Annals are fixed in the celestial registers, being those of the highest rank, inscribed in jade on tablets of gold. ...

If, too, having obtained this text, he should cease to pay reverence to the Tao and its virtue ... -- yet even he ... shall be given office as an agent-beneath-the-earth."

[HY 442:6b; Bokenkamp 1997a:351] "Do not divulge these my Annals to miscreant corpses ["i.e., the profane"]! ... All others will rejoice when they behold you, since the jade youths who accompany the text will also extend their protection to your person."


Michel Strickmann (ed. by Bernard Faure): Chinese Magical Medicine. Stanford U. Pr, 2002.