Chinese Magical Medicine, 5



Genealogy of Spirit-Possession


pp. 194-5 exorcists are praesent to protect noblewomen at childbirth (in Nippon)

p. 194

"The most impressive accounts of demonic activity ... come in connection with the culmination of pregnancy, often that of empresses ... . As such times, to counter such spirit-world forces, a group ... would be called in ... throughout the lying-in period. [p. 325, n. 5:2 : "See, for instance, the cases recorded in the Eiga monogatari (c. 1092) ..., translated by William and Helen McCullough, 1980:84-88."] ...

It was when a woman cried out in her [parturitional] labor pains that the demons were made manifest. And we learn of the demons' presence only through the activities of the ... exorcists.

p. 195

Thanks to their efforts in transferring the afflicting demons into the bodies of young mediums, through whom the demons could tell their stories, we come to learn the identities of the attackers. ...

The attacker might ... prove to be the soul of living ... rival, one of whose souls had left her body without her awareness to attack someone ... ." [p. 325, n. 5:3 : "This is the theme of various No plays, like Aoi no ue. See Bargen 1997:76-108".]

William & Helen McCullough 1980 = William H. & Helen Craig McCullough (transll.) : A Tale of Flowering Fortunes. 2 voll. Stanford U Pr.

Bargen 1997 = Doris G. Bargen : A Woman's Weapon : Spirit Possession in "The Tale of Genji". Honolulu : U of HI Pr.

pp. 195-6 female spirit-mediumship at a childbirth (in Nippon)

p. 195

"These potent otherworldly forces manifested themselves most dramatically around the bed of an expectant mother, where ... the ... usual procedure was to transfer the offending spirit or spirits ... into the body of a special medium, usually a girl or young woman. In a typical case described in the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon (968-1025), ...

p. 196

[quoted from Morris 1964, pp. 149-50 :] the medium began to tremble and fell into a trance. ... She lay there groaning and wailing in the most terrible way".

Morris 1964 = Ivan Morris (transl.) : The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. NY : Columbia U Pr.

p. 197 sectarianism in exorcism (in Nippon)

[quoted from Morris 1964, p. 152] "Shamanism and ... possession by evil spirits formed no part of Buddhist doctrine;

{These played no part in Hina-yana doctrine; they are omitted from the Hina-yana Abhi-dharma, and even from most Maha-yana doctrinal handbooks.}

and ... we should expect Shintoist priests to officiate on occasions of this kind.

{Howbeit, S^into spirit-possession (as formerly practiced in Omoto) is a largely matter of becoming possessed by spirits of animals (specifically, of foxes and of badgers), which were not deemed of avail in medical cases.}

p. 197 exorcism in general (in Nippon)

"Accounts of Japanese ... exorcism through induced, voluntary spirit-possession have been studied, on the basis of medieval novels and diaries, by William McCullough (1973) and Jolanta Tubielewicz (1980)".

McCullough 1973 = William H. McCullough : "Spirit Possession in the Heian Period". In :- Ota Saburo & Fukuda Rinkutaro (edd.) : Studies in Japanese Culture, vol. 1:91-8. Tokyo : Japanese PEN Club.

Tubielewicz 1980 = Jolanta Tubielewicz : Superstitions, Magic and Mantic Practices in the Heian Period. Warsaw : Wydaw-a VW.

p. 202 fusion of the human with divinity

"the ... practitioner is able to achieve transcendence ...; he embodies supradivine transcendence and mortal existence ... . It is this fusion that gives ... power over human affairs ... . ... It is no wonder that

monarchs were seduced by a program of wish-fulfillment designed to achieve their most extravagant ... perfect spiritual correlative to imperialism."

{If, whenever such monarchs would sincerely pursue such a "perfect spiritual correlative", they would correspondingly abandon mere materialist greed (and thus, so-called "imperialism"), then while enjoying the Kingship of Heaven, they could ignore mundane hegemony. The result would be royally-sanctioned international co-operation.}

"Others [p. 326, n. 5:14 : "see Stablein 1975"] have ... described the union {viz., temporary fusion of identities} that characterizes Tantric ritual as a form of ... "neo-shamanism.""

{Actually, however, fusion of identities (between divine and human) is more typically a feature of spirit-mediumship than of "shamanism".}

Stablein 1975 = William George Stablein : "Mahakala Neo-Shaman". In :- John Hitchcock & Rex Jones (edd.) : Spirit Possession in the Nepal Himalayas. London : Aris & Phillips.

p. 326, n. 5:15 spirit-possession in Bharata

"Among the large body of literature on [spirit- and deity-]possession in India and Indianized Asia, see ... Belo 1960; Miller 1979; Hitchcock and Jones 1976; Alexander Macdonald 1987; Hiltebeitel 1989; and Freed and Freed 1993."

Belo 1960 = Jane Belo : Trance in Bali. NY : Columbia U Pr.

Miller 1979 = Caspar J. Miller : Faith-Healers in the Himalayas. Kathmandu.

Hitchcock & Jones 1976 = John Hitchcock & Rex Jones (edd.) : Spirit Possession in the Nepal Himalayas. London : Aris & Phillips.

Alexander Macdonald 1987 = Alexander W. Macdonald (ed.) : "Rituels himalayens". L'ETHNOGRAPHIE 83:100-21.

Hiltebeitel 1989 = Alf Hiltebeitel (ed.) : Criminal Gods and Demon Devotees. Albany : State U of NY Pr.

Freed & Freed 1993 = Ruth S. Freed & Stanley A. Freed : Ghosts : Life and Death in North India. AMER MUS OF NAT HIST ANTHROPOLOGICAL PAPERS, 72.

p. 203 spirit-mediumship

"The medium can incorporate a spirit from the world of the dead, or the medium's own spirit can travel to that invisible realm. In any case, the same two-tiered system of personification ... prevails : The active ... dominates the passive medium, incorporating a subordinate god or demon. The drama is accomplished in these terms ...

(as the Japanese description [on pp. 195-6] ... suggests)."

[p. 195 "with his eyes tightly shut be began to read {miraculously viewing them through closed eyelids?} the mystic incantations (dharan.i) ... . ...

[p. 196] It was awesome indeed to see how the priest's incantations were taking effect. Everyone ... was overcome with respect."]

pp. 206-7, 326-7 Pu-tin S^ih-c^e T>o-lo-ni Pi-mi-fa T. 1202 dragon-spirit-possession rite

p. 206

"burn Parthian incense (gum guggul). Then take a mirror, place it over the heart

p. 207

... and ... look into the mirror. ... You should then summon a dragon-spirit ... . The spirit will then enter the ... heart, and when the officiant discusses matters pertaining to past, present, or future, all questions will be answered."

p. 326, n. 5:27

"Hold a mirror against your chest, ... look into it ...; you should call the dragon-spirit and ask its name; ...

p. 327, n. 5:27

spirit will enter ..., tell you all you want to ask about the three times {viz., past, praesent, and future}."

p. 207 C^in-kan-fen Lou-ko I-c^>ieh Yu:-c^ih C^in ('Yogin's Book of All the Yoga-s of the Diamond-Pinnacle Pavilion') T.867

[18:269b] "you can bring about aves`a ...; /

of things in the three ages {viz., past, praesent, and future} and the three worlds {viz., Heaven, the middle-world, and the Netherworld} /

you can fully learn the ... portent."

"Recite spells over them, cover their faces, ...

Their bodies will be sometimes suspended in space.

About things in past, present, and future,

They will have total, comprehensive knowledge."

pp. 209-10 T>ai-s^an C^ih-wen Tun-s^en San-lu ('Red-Script Divinity 3-Registers') HY 589 roaming of man's soul (in dreams) into the power of the divine Jade Maidens

p. 209

[HY 598, 6b] "This ... is entitled "Method of the Patriarchs for Treating Night-Dreams in Which, Having Roamed to Various Regions, One's Souls Are Beguiled by Jade Maidens." ... Next the officiant ... recites, "I send the four great spirit-generals to apprehend the souls that have been beguiled by the jade maidens. I call them swiftly to return.""

"What we have here ... is ... a persistent tendency to ... erotic dreams (since the ... agents are "jade maidens," beautiful celestial women ...) ... .

{These transparent-bodied jade maidens are perhaps identical with the transparent-bodied h.uri-s of Paradise, promised in the Qur>an to male worshippers.}

For the cure, it is necessary to penetrate the dreamer's world by means of an emissary : the child-medium. ...

{Cf. the excessive trust placed by Puritans in young children in matters of dealing with devils : at Salem, Massachusetts, young children were incited to make accusations of witchcraft against adults.}

p. 210

The deity known as the Immovable One ... in this Taoist text reveal the technique's ultimate inspiration ... ."

{This deity, personifying persecution of pious and devout love-making pacifists by government-hireling deity-hating militarists, revealeth the technique's inspiration in godless atheism -- the Chinese countrepart to anti-erotic (usually Protestant, such as Puritan) Christianity, which ascribeth all sexual thoughts to devils.}

{That the officiant is obliged to send the military to arrest any man who is involved with making love to divine women, would indicate the rite's being promulgated by a war-mongering "Make War, Not Love" conspiracy of secret-police government-agent-hirelings. Any genuine religious devotee (Taoist or otherwise) would rejoice in the conjunction between mortals and divine immortals.}

p. 210 Yao-s^ih Ju-lai Kuan-hsin I-kuei Fa (T. 923) messenger to the invisible world

"the officiant asks that "the youth Po-ssu-na," or "Po-ssu-na youth," transmit the incense-smoke bearing the officiant's request ... . ... . ... Taoist written documents were burned in the flame of an incense burner, and ... they make their way heavenward in the company of special emissaries, spirit-messengers ... . ... The Taoist master dispatched his communications with a little group of travlers, the Dragon-Lord of the Left and the Tiger-Lord of the Right, the Merit-Officer's emissary and the Incense-Officer."

pp. 211-4 Su-po-hu T>un-tzu C^>in-wen C^in (T. 895) ways of drawing down a deity into an image or an icon

p. 211

"drawing down a deity into various vehicles or abodes, especially an image or icon. When the procedures have been followed with exactness, the deity and his suite will manifest themselves to the practitioner. ...

The face or eyebrows of the image will move, for example, or

the statue's ornaments will tremble.

There may be a rain of {praeternatural?} flowers from heaven or

a fragrant aroma;

one may perceive a trembling of the earth, or

a voice in the air saying ..., "Now I will explain to you what you wish to know," or ...

One may sense the hairs of one's own body standing on end,

have feeling of joy in one's heart, or

hear celestial music. For that matter,

the deity himself may appear to you in person, descending to you from out of the air."

"to bring down Po-ssu-na ... . He should be invited to abide in a finger, a bronze mirror, clear water, a sword-blade, the flame of a lamp, or a jewel; or in a hollow statue, ... a pearl, or a piece of flint. Into such a lodging Po-ssu-na will come if one invokes him, and he will at once explain things in the heavens or among men, as well as matters past, present, and future ... .

p. 212

... If you wish it to descend into a jewel or pearl ..., ... recite ..., and all forms will instantly be manifested therein. ... If you wish a divine image to be the vehicle, make offerings with flowers and it shall manifest itself at once. ... And the spirit will even come to you in your dreams to explain various things."

p. 213

"When Ssu-na has descended, there are the following signs and manifestations : a look of delight ...; ability to gaze at objects without blinking; and no ... inhaling or exhaling. ... Then you should respectfully inquire, "What manner of god is your reverence?" ... Then that spirit will speak of things past, present, and future ... . Speedily accept and hold in memory all that he

p. 214

tells you -- do not be hesitant or suspicious. When he is done answering your questions, send him away again at once." (T. 895, 18:728a-c)

pp. 214-7 the identity of boy-god Po-ssu-na : personification of Bodish /pra/

p. 214

"the mysterious Po-ssu-na, or Ssu-na ... (... "the Po-god") ...

p. 215

compilers ... have glossed ... as a transcription of a ...

Sanskrit word, prasena. ...

[p. 328, n. 5:43 : "P. S. Jaini ... suggested, rather, prasanna, "bright" or "clear," ... the name of a gandharva -- an airborne spirit ... very frequently linked with spirit possession."]

The word pra, in Tibetan, designates a particular class of divinatory techniques and phenomena. Pra pha-pa ("to bring down the pra") means to divine by means of a charmed mirror. ... . ... we find [T-SD, vol. 2:1454] the Sanskrit word prasena given as the equivalent for the Tibetan pra. ...

p. 216

For example, when performed under the auspices of King Gesar (a legendary


{originally Zaratustrian, mentioned as /Geser/ in the Zend-Awesta}

epic hero, later assimilated to the Chinese god of war), a scroll depicting Gesar is suspended above a table ... . ... On the left side is ... a well-polished mirror".

"in Tibet, the priest himself may gaze into the mirror. ... . Such is the account given by... Chime Radha ... . He states that the diviner focuses his

p. 217

attention by gazing into a small mirror ... . ... He also quotes [Chime Radha 1981, pp. 8-12] cases of successful pra-divination using a mirror".

T-SD = Lokesh Chandra : A Tibetan-Sanskrit Dictionary. S`ATA-PIT.AKA SER, vol. 3. Kyoto : Rinser Bk Co.

Chime Radha 1981 = Chime Radha : "Tibet". In :- Carmen Blacker & Michael Loewe (edd.) : Oracles and Divination. London : Random House. pp. 3-37.

pp. 219-20 Hu C^u T>un-tzu T>o-lo-ni C^in (T. 1028)

p. 219

"there are yaks.a[-]s and raks.asa[-]s that delight in devouring human fetuses {foetus}. ... Most of the demons have the appearance of animals ... : cow, lion, fox, monkey, horse, dog, pig,

p. 220

cat, crow, pheasant, owl, and snake."

pp. 220-1 Skanda

p. 220

"Skanda's own particular sign is when a child moves both shoulders; the name Skanda itself means "shoulder" in Sanskrit ... . ... The characteistic sign of Skanda's presence, though, is when the child shakes its head back and forth."

p. 221

"The spear is a constant of Skanda's Hindu iconography ..., and in Indian tradition Skanda's mount is the peacock, whose apotropaic powers are universally acknowledged".

pp. 221-2 literature ascribed to Ravan.a

p. 221

"in the Book of Ravan.a's Explanations of How to Cure the Ailments of Children (Lo-fo-nu shuo chiu-liao hsiao-erh chi-ping ching, T. 1330) ..., the twelve "planetary mother-demons" (the g.rha[-]matr.ka, the "seizing" or "grasping mothers") are said to possess small children in order to extort offerings from their parents. ... Full of pity ..., Ravan.a ... provided the spells and describes the sacrifices by which the demonesses can be appeased ..., and the malady cured. [T. 1330, 21:492c-494b] ...

p. 222

This Chinese text ... corresponds to ... Ravan.a's Kumara-tantra ... . It forms part of a Sanskrit medical treatise composed around 1050 [ChrE], the Cikitsa[-]samgraha". (Bagchi 1940)

Bagchi 1940 = P. C. Bagchi : "New Materials for the Study of the Kumara-tantra of Ravan.a". INDIAN CULTURE 7:269-86.

p. 223 symptoms of the child attacked by Skanda

[Vagbhat.a : As.t.anga-hr.daya -- translated in Filiozat 1937, p. 53] "The child attacked by Skanda ... contracts its body, its mouth hangs agape, it ... foams at its mouth. Its eyes turn upward and its hands ... and feet begin to dance."

Filiozat 1937 = Jean Filiozat : E'tude de de'mologie indienne. Paris : Imprimerie Nationale.


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