Chinese Magical Medicine, 3



Literature of Spells



Spirit-Spells of the Abyss



Bauddha Books of Spells



Man.i-ratna Book



Book of Consecration



Daimones in the Meditation-Hall




Spirit-Spells of the Abyss


p. 90 Tun-yu:an S^en-c^ou C^in ('Cavern-Origin (Abyss)'s Spirit-Spells Classic') HY 335

HY 335:1.2a-b : "The Tao said, "... the demon armies will flood forth and the devil kings will afflict ... . I am now sending forty-nine milion constables to arrest the devil-kings of the Thirty-Six Heavens, to subdue them and bind them by oath. According to the oath, from now on, should any people of this land ... suffer from grievous ailments, prison, or

forced labor, this will all be due to the devil-kings not having kept the lesser demons from afflicting and harming the people.

{Corve'e labor is imposed by the political state, whose ruling-class of nobility is here being evidently being described as "lesser demons", who are expected to be restrained by Taoist devil-king spells.}

From this time forth, the golden mouth of the Most High decrees that ... devil-kings ... place those demons under restraint"".

p. 91 proficient manufacture of scriptures along several sectarian lines

p. 91 "the Shang-ch>ing revelations of 364-70 brought some fifteen new celestial scriptures into the world, together with much hagiography ... and prophecy. Then, in the 390s, the Ling-pao ("transcendent jewel") revelations vouchsafed a further twenty-odd scriptures to an expectant humanity. Other authors ... were busily producing still more texts ..., readily adapting Shang-ch>ing and Ling-pao elements; the creator of the Spirit-Spells is ... one of these".

p. 92 Tun-yu:an S^en-c^ou C^in ('Cavern-Origin (Abyss)'s Spirit-Spells Classic') HY 335

HY 335:1.3a-b :"those who either hear or behold the Spirit-Spells of the Abyss ... will be able to pass through the Three Rivers (of the underworld) ... . ... When the Most High ... expounded this scripture in the Palace of Sublime Effulgence, the Great Devils of the Nine Heavens ..., together with all their attendants to the number of eight million myriads, ... with one accord prostrated themselves. The Celestial Venerable then proceeded to develop his great scripture for duly registered immortals, and every one among the ... listeners, when he heard it, felt strange effects in his own body."

pp. 93-94 Tun-yu:an S^en-c^ou C^in -- census of deities (HY 335:1.6a-b)

s[ahasra] = 10^3; m[yriad] = 10^4


the __

the "Great Kings of Malignant Wraiths of the __ Heavens"

lead a troop of __ myriads

that specialize in spreading __ ailments

p. 93 symptoms of pestilential color-headed killer-demons




48 m



80 m


700 m


"Sudden Turmoil"


60 m


33 s


"government officials"



70 m





9,000,000 m


[green] swellings

p. 93 90,000,000 m "great gods" provide cures

p. 94 hostility toward secular governments on the part of devotees of the Spirit-Spells of the Abyss

HY 335:1:6b "Sometimes the curses of dead ancestors reach to living persons; when there is this ..., it brings about troubles with officials, imprisonment".

{One's own ancestors are likely to have cursed saecular goverments -- implying that in order proprely to honor such ancestors, one ought to add one's own curses against the saecular government likewise.}

"striking ... is the extension of demonic causality to include trouble with secular authorities (who are also stigmatized as demonic afflictors in Indian Buddhist texts). ... this worldview ... structures taxonomy according to diagnostic signs ... concluding with "official business" -- namely, trouble with the law. Demonically induced "ailments" are ... societal in the fullest sense ... . Illness is ... national, universal. For these Taoists, the secular goverment itself would ... count as one more disagreeable pathological symptom".

pp. 94-6 the praesence of this book in a household will assure protection from stooges of the government : praesence of this book in a household will evoke protection by divine spirits who are assisting anti-governmental protest-and-resistance

p. 94

HY 335:1:6b-7a "The Tao said, "O you Great Kings { addressed by way of rhetorical apostrophe : uncanny/untoward praeternatural ringleaders of lesser evil spirits hitherto in the employ of saecular governments} of Malignant Wraiths! In previous lives {such current praeternaturals evidently being often imprisoned in living material bodies as poinalty for their ongoing ungodly misdeeds } you accomplished no acts of merit; you did not have faith in the Great Tao; you heaped up mountains of guilt. Now you are among the malignant wraiths ... . ...

p. 95

Ailments of these kinds {societal ailments} fill the entire world ..., causing them {protestors against saecular government} to ... be cast unjustly into prison. ... From this time on, you {now-converted spirits and their already-revolutionary mortal sympathizers} are to aid and protect those who do honor to this scripture-talisman. Do not let them suffer any evil {from stooge-thug-hirelings of the saecular government}. The place where this scripture is read is to be avoided by demon-soldiers {such are as yet working for the saecular governments} and protected by Good Spirits {who side with religious insurrectionists}. ... Then you {spirits hitherto in the employ of the saecular government} will not be able to attack and harm and plague and torment the good, just people of the world {internationalist insurrectionists}! Swiftly, swiftly, in accordance with the Statutes and Ordinances {Statutes and Ordinance of the divine world which is assisting the religious devotees in their now-resolute insurrection against the saecular governments}!""

"Indeed, possession of the Spirit-Spells [of the Abyss] is both a proof of status {as a bona-fide anti-governmental insurrectionist} and direct evidence of Lao-tzu's {or rather, the Great Tao's} promise that the book's possessors will not be attacked by the wraith-kings and their counless demon-troops {nor by mortal hireling-stooges of the saecular government, either}. Since owning a copy of this scripture in itself ensures immunity ..., the work renders obsolete all previous treatments for {against} demonic assault. It informs its readers that if they simply accept the scripture and pay homage to it in their family circle {the famiy household-circle being envisaged as the natural unit of the religious insurrectionist-cell}, they will no longer need recourse to the traditional Taoist registers of spirits -- the lists of spirit-protectors, increasing in number as the householder advanced in seniority, with which all members of the Way of the Celestial Master (the basic Taoist organization) were successively invested. ... "Because this scripture has countless immortals, jade maidens, celestials, dragons, and {good} demons {cf. Agatho-daimon} who constantly protect it."

These deities will naturally extend their protection to the scripture's reverent possessors, so that [1.7b] "persons ... have only to accept and possess this scripture to eliminate all their great calamities."

In this way the Spirit-Spells of the Abyss presents itself as the nucleus of

p. 96

a new sacred genealogy. It links its possessor to the Tao ...; it also allies him wih other

owners of the scripture in a new family of the saints." {living saints}

pp. 96-7 indigeneity (to China) of the cultic reverence of the scriptural text

p. 96

"In the Lotus Scripture ..., which was first translated {by fictitious imputation} into Chinese in 286, we find the book speaking with a similar {viz., Taoist-style} voice. Again and again the Lotus tells of ... eventual rebirth among the happy and sensuous gods {not a truly Bauddha (nor even Jaina) goal nor aim at all, though very Taoistic!} -- for the person who receives, keeps, reads and recites, copies or causes others to copy, studies and practices the Lotus Sutra."

{This Sat-dharma Pun.d.arika Vaipulya-sutra, which is non-existent in India itself, is not likely to have been been translated from anything, but rather forged in Chinese within China itself, and would appear to have been modeled after already-existent Taoist scriptures (with little heed to any genuine Bauddha literature). Its original probale intent may may been to convert Buddhists into Taoists.}

"The typical scipture ... comes into your home accompanied by a powerful troop of otherworldly guardians. ... It must at all events be treated with marked attention and respect, and be kept in a special receptacle in a pure place. Swaddled and boxed ..., it must have incense-offerings burnt before it (as one would burn incense before ... an ancestral tablet). To become a fortune-bringing talisman for your whole family, it must be venerated in its own right. The book is a

[p. 309, n. 3:10 : "In a culture where writing (as wen) has always been regarded as an emanation of the ultimate principle, scriptures were naturally held in high esteem. {Contrary to India, which by traditional law of a Druidic-like sort, hath always prohibited ever even writing down the Veda!} In early Taoism, the ching [classic-scripture] was believed to have a celestial nature. On this point, see Robinet 1984, 1:112-22.]

p. 97

true eidolon ..., and such devoted bibliolatry {bibliolatry being likewise quite usual in Bod (Tibet), a country heavily influenced by Han (Chinese) mannerisms} will bind to your service not only the scripture's own divine protectors but also

the demonic legions that the scripture's new authority has bound by oath under the Law."

{Binding deities by oath is an indigenous Han (rather than Bharatiya) practice (and likewise acculturated from Han into Bod). It was part of the C^ou (Ts>ou/Zhou) dynasty's rite for assimilating new tributaries.}

p. 97 conversion of Kings of Malignant Wraiths involveth a new religious dispensation, reverting to relying on the very deities which the Taoist movement had thitherto snubbed and rejected

"As the Spirit-Spells of the Abyss never wearies of repeating, its recipients are the beneficiaries of a special dispensation from the devil-kings and the Kings of Malignant Wraiths ... .

{Converting "Kings of Malignant Wraiths" naturally involved inducing them to join the forthcoming planetwide insurrection against saecular governments.}

Thus the new scriptural literature also achieves a redefinition of the nature and function of demons.

As in Buddhism,

{only in the fictive "Buddhism" which developed in China, never in the genuine Buddhatva of Bharata}

the chiefs of pandemonium are ... converted, and bound to serve the very Law {Taoist religious law, not the law of the saecular governments} that they previously defied {actually basically ignored, rather than actively "defied"}. They have special qualifications for controlling the millions of violent demons with which the world teems, and so the devil-kings and Kings of Malignant Wraiths -- whose visble manifestations were the leading "gods" worshipped by ordinary people -- are pressed into service".

"As is so often the case, ... literary forms simply helped to bring forward and clarify ideas and practices that were already there, and this ... explains their success in China."

[p. 309, n. 3:11 : "The same is true in the case of Japan; see Rotermund 1991a."]

Rotermund 1991a = Hartmund O. Rotermund : Ho^so^gami ou la petite ve'role aise'ment. Paris : Maisonneuve et Larose.

p. 97 scriptures in Heaven : egalitarianism & latitudinarianism

"Starting with the Shang-ch>ing revelations, Taoist scriptures had begun to assure their possessors that simply owning the text was sufficient protection against all possible attacks from ... misfortune-producing demons.

Such scriptures were stated to have been eternally extant in the heavens

{this likewise eventually coming to be imputed to religious scriptures elsewhere, e.g. to the Qur>an};

they were now brought into the world ready-made for all contingencies. [p. 309, n. 3:12 : "see Robinet 1993:19-24".] One needed only to acquire them ...; the rest was automatic.

Present social status was irrelevant ..., for whether or not one would come into possession of the sacred book was said to have been occultly determined long before, often by deeds committed in previous existences (whether one's own or one's ancestors'). Some scriptures go beyond social egalitarianism to a complete latitudinarianism : Even if you never practise any of the rituals or observe any of the prohibitions set forth in the text, so long as you keep it in your possession and do not allow it to be defiled, your salvation is ensured." (Strickmann 1981, p. 220, quoting the Annals of the Sage of Latter Time, HY 442)

Robinet 1993 = Isabelle Robinet (transl. by Pas & Girardot) : Taoist Meditation. State U of NY Pr.

Strickmann 1981 : Michel Strickmann : Le taoi:sme du Mao Chan. Paris.

p. 99 the the vertical grouping" : three caverns (among 5th-century Taoists)


titled __

comprise scriptures of the __ denomination

1st : highest



2nd : middling



3rd "lowest



p. 100 HY 369:2a, 15b : the horizontal grouping : "five caverns" in the Lin-pao canon


"__ Cavern"











p. 100 "Groups of threes are ranked vertically, while sets of five are deployed horizontally".

p. 101 HY 1010:10.10b4-11a3 : "spell of the star T>ien-p>en ("Caelestial Beacon")" in the Declarations of the Perfect Ones of the S^an-c^>in

"Blue of tongue, green of tooth,

The four-eyed ancient ...

4-eyed bear-masked funeral tomb-consecrator; cf. Sardinian (Nuraghi) 4-eyed god; Dahomean 4-eyed death-god [I]Ku

Let heaven's cavalry soar upward,

Overawe the north with lances at the ready.

Cf. Zaratustrian heavenly cavalry

Assign three hundred thousand infantry

On guard about my nine-walled citadel."

Cf. concentrically-walled Hagmatana (in Media); concentrically-walled Sacsahuaman (in Peru`)

How deities may slay a daimon :-

"May the Heaven-Snatcher with his great axe strike off his head and all his other limbs,

The Flaming Monarch crackle his blood,

The Northern Dipper roast his bones,

The Four Luminaries snap his skeleton,

The Ape of Heaven wipe out his clan."

Cf. Hanumant's battling Raks.asa-s in Lanka

p. 102 miniature dragons

"In his commonplace book, the last emperor of the Liang dynasty ... informs us that ... "foreign magicians" by means of their spells ... can approach a deep lake (yu:an, "abyss") with the Step of Yu: and bring a dragon up to the surface. The creature may be a hundred feet long, but when the magician recites his spell over it, it shrinks to a few inches so that he can pick it up and place it in a bottle-gourd. They always have four or five of these miniature dragons with them ... . When there is little rainfall in other countries ..., the magicians go that that place and take out one of their dragons and place it in water, and it immediately raises clouds and rain." (C^in-lou Tzu 12, p. 226)


Bauddha Books of Spells


p. 106 T>o-lo-ni Tsa-c^i (Dharan.i Miscellany), T. 1336 -- spell to cure swellings & ulcers

"Great fish in the sea turn into turtles,

thunder rises in the southwest, but its sound is not heard.

In it is a toad that eats the heart of the moon".

p. 312, n. 3:40 "There are remarkable accounts of live toads being used to treat cancer of the breast in eighteenth-century England. ... see Kennedy 1982."

Kennedy 1982 = Alison Kennedy : "Ecce Bufo : the Toad ... in Olmec Iconography". CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY 23.3:273-90.

pp. 107-8 C^>i-c^>ien Fo S^en-fu C^in (T. 2904, "a manuscript preserved at Tun-huang")

p. 107

"the six hundred cyclical signs cover me, ...

the planets and asterisms guide me, ...

immortals support me,

jade maidens attend me,

the green dragon precede me, ...

p. 108

the divine talismans protect me, ...

the hundred spirits adore me,

the Gate of Heaven open for me,

the Door of Earth reject me".

p. 108 T>ai-s^an T>ai-c^in T>ien-t>un Hu-min Miao-c^in ('Caelestial-Youth Protector-of-Life Marvelous-Book') HY 632

"May August Heaven give life to me,

August Earth support me,

sun and moon illuminate me,

stars and planets guard me."


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