Chinese Magical Medicine, 6



Tantrists & Shamans


pp. 230-2 Su-c^i Li-yen Mo-hsi-s^ou-lo T>ien S^uo A-wei-s^e Fa (T. 1277) spirit-possession rite, to acquire a divinity as one's personal assistant

p. 230

"choose an auspicious day when the moon is in the lunar mansions of either the constellation called "Demon" or the "Year Star" (Jupiter). Best of all is a day on which sweet dew has fallen ("sweet dew" ... usually designates manna-like substances found on coniferous ... trees). ... have them hold in their mouths the aromatic wood Dragon's Brain (Dryobalanops aromatica) and the herb tou-k>ou (Alpinia globosum, or "Chinese cardamom," still a widely used as a breath-freshener. ...

p. 231

The children will begin to tremble, and by this sign he knows that the Holy One has entered their bodies. ... You must then present him with consecrated water and state your wish : that you desire that the Holy One henceforth, in all places and at all times, attend to your needs. ... Then you can instruct

p. 232

him to obtain for you the drug of long life or the precious wishing-pearl in the undersea palace of the dragons. ... Or you may send him up into the heavens to obtain fine sweet dew".

"Instead of being blindfolded ..., the children seal their own eyes by holding up the red flowers in their hands".

{This would apparently symbolize their eyen's being sealed with tears, as in the circumstance of ["Bhumi-khan.d.a" of the Padma Puran.a -- ID, p. 204] the "kamoda woman ... from whose tears sprang forth red flowers, without any fragrance."}

ID = N. N. Bhattacharyya : Indian Demonology. Manohar Publ, Delhi, 2000.

p. 233 Pu-tin S^ih-c^e T>o-lo-ni Pi-mi-fa (T. 1202) method for conjuring a disease-devil to speak through a sick person's mouth, in order to acquire a divinity as one's household-servant

"paint on the wall the image of a sword with the dragon ... twined about it. ... visualize ... the sword, sending forth an awe-inspiring radiance. If you cause a sick person to look at it, there will immediately be aves`a; he will truthfully inform you about whatever you ask him.

In this case, the [spirit-]possession is induced in the patient himself, and his indwelling disease-demon is forced to speak out, compelled by the fearsome dragon and ... sword."

{Inasmuch as the dragon (naga)'s Samskr.ta name is /KULika/, this would likely be originally a KaULa rite.}

p. 234 Ti-li San-mei-yeh Pu-tun Tsun Wei-nu-wan S^ih-c^e Nien-sun Fa (T. 1200) another method for conjuring a disease-devil to speak through a sick person's mouth, in order to acquire a divinity as one's household-servant

"the sick person ... will at once speak of his own accord ["i.e., the possessing demon will speak, admitting his identity, etc."]. ... If you ... enchant a mirror ..., ... the Holy One will appear within it and answer whatever you ask him".

pp. 234-5, 331 spirit-servant/messenger

p. 234

[T. 1200, 12b] "Afterwards he will always do whatever you wish and obediently provide you with everything you require : food and drink, ...

p. 235

and so forth. He will always be at your side, and you can even send him up into the heavens

to bring back celestial maidens for you."

{These caelestial damsels would be imported into one's dreams.}

"In these wonderful spirit-messengers we seem to have an anticipation of the omnicompetent Djinn {Jnun} of the Thousand and One Nights

(or the Golem of Jewish folklore)."

{The Golem ('Embryo') is aequivalent, more specifically, to the divine child whose engendrement is witnessed in the meditations of Taoist "internal alchemy".}

p. 331, n. 6:12

"For more stories about obtaining an otherworldly servant, see : T. 1202, 21:246; and T. 1246, 21:220-21 ... . See also Sanford 1991a. ... On the theme of the golem, see Idel 1990."

Sanford 1991a = James H. Sanford : "The Abominable Tachikawa Skull Ritual". MONUMENTA NIPPONICA 46:1-20.

Idel 1990 = Moshe Idel : Golem. Albany : State U of NY Pr.

p. 236 T. 865

"there will be aves`a ([deity-]possession), and he will experience a subtle and marvelous cognition. In this state, he will become aware of what is in the hearts of others; he will know the past, present, and future state of all things."

p. 236 Pei-fan P>i-s^a-men T>ien-wan Sui-c^u:n Hu-fa C^en-yan (T. 1248) cures


its cure

"made ill by a demon"

"threads of the five colors ... are plaited together, ... the plaited cord is then attached to the crown of his head".

"pains in his heart"

"pomegranate juice, and when he drinks it he will be cured."

"fox-goblin possession"

"the five colors ... plait them into a cord ... . Attach it to the patient's neck."

"aches and pains in the

bones and joints"

"a damascened sword ... exorcise (chin) the ailment with it; the cure

will follow immediately."

p. 237 T. 997:569b exorcism as cure from epilepsy

"If it is a case of possession by a demon of falling frenzy ["that is, epilepsy ..."], ...

draw that demon's image on the ground. Then ... take the poplar branch and beat the picture you have drawn on its breast, its back, and elsewhere.

{"After touching each figure of a sand-painting, the right hand was placed on the forehead of the invalid and the left hand on the back of the head and the head pressed in this way on all sides." ("CHD", as quoted in HM, p. 19)}

The patient will act as if his own body is being beaten -- ... [the epilepsy-spirit speaking through him,] saying, "From now on, I will never presume to come again!" ... After the demon has sworn the oath that he will never come back, the patient will immediately return to normal."

"CHD" = James Stevenson : "The Ceremonial of Hasjelti Dailjis". 8th ANNUAL REPORT OF THE BUREAU OF ETHNOLOGY (1891).

HM = Robert Noah Calvert : The History of Massage. Healing Arts Pr (Inner Traditions Internat), Rochester (VT), 2002.

pp. 238-9 Ko Hun : C^ou-hou Pei-c^i Fan ('Praescriptions Within Arm's Reach for Use in Emergencies') HY 1295 exorcism as cure from catatonia

p. 238

"a comatose state is described, ... termed "demon-possession sleep" (ya-mei, or ya-wo mei). The condition is due to the patient's ethereal and spermatic souls being held in duress, during their nocturnal roaming outside his body, by

{This is a condition known to befall, occasionally, a Siberian shaman who hath wandred in a shamanic dream into some unrecognized and unmapped Otherworld.}

p. 239

malevolent wraiths encountered along the way. ... Should you discover someone is this condition, you are above all not to bring a light into his vicinity, since that would terrify his night-roaming souls; they would then flee for good, and all would be lost. Thus ... you should employ safe method of awakening the sleeper ... . ...

One may also trying tickling his nose by any number of means,

{perhaps to activate a vis`va-vajra said to be situated at the tip of the nose}

holding his head down a well ... while calling out his name, or

{perhaps so as to communicate with Harut and Marut (vernacular names of two Zaratustrian hypostases, said to reside in a well -- EI"H&M")}

putting an earthenware pot over his face and ... beat on it till it breaks --

{perhaps re-enacting a myth similar to the AmerIndian one about the hero who stuck his head into an elk's skull, which thereupon needed to be broken off -- "NWhM", p. 225; HE"ES"}

all ways of awakening him. Or ....

a mirror is then to be suspended next to his ear and struck while calling out the victim's name."

{Perhaps the mirror-treatment was intended as variety of waterwell-treatment : "to visit the well at the sanctuary of Demeter at Patrae ... a mirror was tied to a cord and lowered to the water's surface" (SW, p. 117).}

{The medical emergency entailed is that the patient, while thus comatose, is unable to eat food (or even drink water), and will die of malnutrition (or even of dehydration).}

EI"H&M" = ENCYCLOPAEDIA IRANICA, Article "Hārut And Mārut".

"NWhM" = C. Staniland Wake : "Nihancan, the White Man". AMERICAN ANTIQUARIAN & ORIENTAL J 26 (1904):225-31.

HE"ES" = HOTCAK ENCYCLOPEDIA, Article "Elk's Skull".

SW = Gary R. Varner : Sacred Wells. Algora Publ, 2009.

p. 240 Ko Hun on epilepsy

Ko Hung's collection states [C^ou-hou Pei-c^i Fan (HY 1295) 3:63] that in all cases of tien, the sufferer falls prostrate, drools, and loses consciousness. ...

The distinctions ... show that tien corresponds to an epileptic fit, or "falling frenzy" ... (... the Chinese word is cognate with a homophonous word meaning "falling")".

"Also suggestive are two prescriptions [against epilepsy] that make use of [C^ou-hou Pei-c^i Fan (HY 1295) 3:61-2] henbane (Hyoscamus niger)."

pp. 240, 331-2 mad saints

p. 240

"Mad saints and holy fools ... may be either tien or k>uang."

p. 331, n. 6:23

"A case in point is ... "wild Ch>an" (k>uang-ch>an)

p. 332, n. 6:23

during the Sung period, the popular saint Tao-chi, also known as Chi-kung ("Mr. Chi") or Chi-tien ("Crazy Chi"). In modern popular religion, Chi-tien is also known to possess his devotees. See Shahar 1998; DeBernardi 1987."

Shahar 1998 = Meir Shahar : Crazy Ji. Cambridge (MA) : Harvard U Pr.

DeBernardi 1987 = Jean DeBernardi : "... the Vagabond Buddha". MODERN CHINA 13.3:310-32.

p. 241 madness vs. obsession by devils

"In cases of madness ( k>uang), we are told, the patient wants to run about or run away. ... If the patient ... weeps and laments and groans, this means that he is possessed by a malignant wraith (hsieh) or goblin (mei) and not madness ( k>uang)."

p. 242 a woman having sexual intercourse with a male devil [C^ou-hou Pei-c^i Fan (HY 1295) 3:64]

"a woman having sexual intercourse with

a malignant creature.

{The only way wherein this mighty creator (not "creature") might be "malignant" would be in encouraging her, along with others, to set themselves free from the oppressive human imperial government which is so impudently thus (by designating deities as "malignant") insulting the divine world.}

Her symptoms are talking to herself,

{Her "talking to herself" would be about how overjoyed she is that a supernatural deity is so greatly admiring her.}

laughing to herself, ...

{Her "laughing to herself" would result from her joy due to her ongoing relationship with this supernatural divinity.}

and or/delirium."

{Said "delirium" might consist of her sensing her own continuous actual praeternatural sexual intercourse (in some exalted, sublime plane-of-existence) therewithal.}

"treatment uses ... ginseng, the plant "wind-resister" (Siler divaricatum, or possibly Peucedanum rigidum), and anise-seeds."

{M.S. falsely designated (loc. cit.) this condition a "stupor" : but "talking" and "laughing" do not constitute a "stupor" in any definition of the word.}

pp. 243-4 C^>ao Yu:an-fan : C^u-pin Yu:an-hou Lun ('On the Origins and Symptoms of Diseases -- early 7th century Chr.E.)

p. 243

"Some patients ... scream and race wildly about.

{This may be their oblique way of expressing dislike of the oppressive government, when it would be dangerous to express such dislike directly.}

Some have the falling-frenzy madness (tien-k>uang) and lose consciousness,

others are alternately joyous and angry,

{This is manic-depression : a state of being terrified of the oppressive, impious class-ruled regime.}

p. 244

lamenting and laughing by turns.

Some sing and hum and shrill,

{being divinely inspired to do so}

while others are unwilling to speak."

{wary, with good reason, that whatever they say may be used against them : This is wariness is necessary in every U.S. (and European) state "insane asylum", where the psychiatrist (an appointee of the ruling-class, intent on maintaining oppressive class-rule) is adversarial and is aiming to betray (to the class-enemy) every involuntarily-committed "patient".}

[C^u-pin Yu:an-hou Lun 2:12-13] "take water in your mouth and spew it out at him. ... If he is still unwilling to speak, snap your fingers seven times and say, "you are cured!"

and as soon as he is cured ["which seems to mean ..."],

{M.S. wrote that "this seems to mean "conscious," or under control" : but such a comment is absurd, for the very next clause indicates that possession by a spirit speaking through the patient's mouth is intended (and such spirit-possession is generally unconscious), while the only thing that the patient is said in the Chinese text to be " under control" by, is the possessing-spirit ("demon")!}

question the demon fully on the circumstances of the case."

{Incidentally, Michel Strickmann's comments are frequently obtuse and even quite absurd, and as such have usually been by-passed by us without our quoting them. Though his translations may be accurate, his "clarifications" of the religious texts tend to be muddled, as is usually the case for the fumbling efforts of any materialist fanatic.}

p. 244 Taoist therapeutic directives in C^>ao Yu:an-fan

"prophylactic and therapeutic directives ..., taken fromTaoist sources in the Shang-ch>ing tradition ... lie in striking the teeth together

(to ward off potential demonic invaders),

{actually, to bite any such invaders, who are attempting to invade by route of the mouth}

employing inward vision (systematically conducting fresh vital-breaths around one's own viscera), and

{The rationale for such inner visualization being to apprise one's interior-abiding bodily deities of how such energies are to be conducted about within one's own body; once apprised, the interior deities will accomplish this conduct.}

the use of therapeutic massage.

One should also visualize a great mass of thunder and lightning ..., continuously rolling into one's stomach without ceasing, and the ailment will simply go away by itself -- ...

{More fully stated, this visualization would invite the lightning-deities to perform the exorcising of the ailment.}

anticipation of the exorcistic thunder-rituals of later Taoism."

{Thundre-deities are in other exorcism-systems, howbeit, regarded as rather dangerous : wherein perils "ascribed to thunderbirds are hinted at by the conjurors' stipulation that they remain outside the lodge in order to avoid breaking it apart." (OD, p. 112)}

OD = Jennifer S. H. Brown & Robert Brightman : The Orders of the Dreamed. Minnesota Historical Soc Pr, St Paul, 1988.

p. 245 daimonic bewitchment, according to C^>ao Yu:an-fan

"Anyone bewitched (mei) by a demonic creature (kuei-wu) will be ... emotional ... . ... He speaks madly and is in a state of terror; he wails and howls,

facing the wall.

{Perhaps Lin-c^>i C^>an (Rin-zai Zen) meditation whilst "facing the wall" is in imitation of this, intended to summon bewitchment-powers.}

He had nightmares and erotic-possession dreams, and

{These are instances of visitations into the divine worlds.}

will sometimes have sexual commerce with demons and spirits."

{These are mighty favors granted by supernatural deities.}

pp. 246-7 medicinal use of henbane

p. 246

"T>ao Hung-ching writes that henbane's only medicinal application in his day was in prescriptions against falling frenzy and madness. He takes note of the Pharmacopoeia's statement that although consuming too much at one time is

p. 247

dangerous, it still may be taken in smaller doses over a long period with the most beneficial results. ... Henbane appears again in an eighth-century [ChE] prescription [Wan T>ao : Wai-t>ai Pi-yao 13:368a] for dealing with demonic bewitchment (kuei-mei). Iris tectorum ("kite's head"), ... henbane, and ... Peucedanum japonicum ... together ... will cause the sufferer to see the demon".

pp. 248-9 exorcism of essential-spirit daimones (Wan T>ao : Wai-t>ai Pi-yao 13:369)

p. 248

"a general-purpose anti-demonic, calls for ... musk, ... and centipedes ... a subterrestrial fungus (Pachyma cocos), dried ginger, and ginseng. ...

p. 249

Taken internally, ... will cure symptoms of demonic bewitchment within two or three days. Phenomena such as essential-spirit demons (ching kuei), ... which throw bricks and tiles ... -- all such things count as demonic bewitchments".

p. 251 bestial typology of epilepsy; Balinese animalian-spirit-possession

"Ch>i Chung-fu, ... writing early in the thirteenth century, in ... falling frenzy (tien) ... distinguished [Nu:-k>o Pai-wen 1:47a] ... four types : cow, horse, pig, and dog frenzies, according to the sounds and movements manifested by the victim".

"Among ... trance-phenomena of Bali are a series of distinctively styled, voluntary animal-possessions : snake, pig, puppy, monkey, yellow horse, white horse, toad, and turtle. But then, in the exuberant Balinese tradition, even vegetables and what we might naively think of as "inanimate" objects (brooms, mortars for pounding rice, pot-lids) can take possession of a subject, old or young, and inspire him to mime their characteristic shape or actions." (Belo 1960:201-25)

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

p. 333, fn. 48 human imitaters of monkeys in China

"Joan Law and Barbara E. Ward, Chinese Festivals (Hong Kong, 1982):73-76. In a festival held in Kowloon, the monkey manifests himself regularly on the first and fifteenth days of every lunar month. He does so by entering the body of a medium ... and speaking through him. The medium acts like a monkey. ...

On the monkey-god Sun Wu-k>ung, see Meir Shahar, "The Lingyin Si Monkey Disciples and the Origins of Sun Wukong," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 53,1 (1992):193-224."

p. 252 dreaming while possessed by one of the deities of the Vinayaka {'Crooked'} category

[Manava Gr.hya-sutra, quoted from Bhandarkar 1913, p. 147] "When possessed by these, a person ... sees in dreams waters, men with shaved heads, camels, pigs, asses, etc.; and feels he is moving in the air".

Bhandarkar 1913 = R. G. Bhandarkar : Vais.n.avism, S`aivism and Minor Religious Systems.

p. 255 magic employing the icon of Vinayaka (T. 1272)

"If you attach a string to the image and draw it through the marketplace, all the people in the streets will strip off their clothes ..., and dance stark naked." (21:307b)

"If you smear it [the image] with a mixture of salt and hot mustard-seed oil, you will cause men and women to go quite mad and be entirely without restraint" (21:311b).

"The book's fourth and final chapter [21:318a-321b] contain explicit instructions for ritual sex[ual intercourse]."

p. 257 legendary male apes who abduct human women in southern mountains

""A great ape from the southern mountains /

Robbed me of my beloved wife. / ...

I could but retire, to dwell alone."

So reads one of the poems in the I-lin, a book of verses associated with I-ching hexagrams, from about 25 C.E.

A collection of tales from the third or fourth century [ChrE] localizes a race of women-stealing apes in the mountains of southwestern Szechuan; having impregnated their Chinese captives, the apes send them back to rear their children in human society.

An entire story cycle, the Tale of the White Ape, grew up around this theme".

{The Tale of the White Ape is described in "EPRAT", pp. 96-7.}

"EPRAT" = Wu Hung : "The Earliest Pictorial Representations of Ape Tales". T>OUNG PAO LXXIII (1987):86-112.

p. 259 worship of foxes by humans

"The fox's propensity for [spirit-]possessing human [spirit-media] ... only increased with time, until fox-shrines and fox-towers dotted the Chinese landscape.

"Of all the objects worshipped in our Middle Kingdom {China}, I believe in the Fox," as a literate Manchurian declared"" (MacIntyre 1886, p. 53).

{Fox-worship in China may have been promoted by Altaic-speakers. Likewise in Japan, the Omoto used to promote women's becoming possession-media of vixen-spirits.}

MacIntyre 1886 = John MacIntyre : "Roadside Religion in Manchuria". J OF THE NORTH CHINA BRANCH OF THE ROYAL ASIATIC SOC 21.1:43-66.

p. 261 hearing the voices of fox-deities

"the Shou-leng-yen ching (T. 945), assembled in China ... in 705 [ChrE]. There, ... the name "D[.]akin.i" occurs. It is glossed as referring to demons of fox-possession." (T. 945, 19:135b)

[p. 334, n. 6:80 : "see ... Hermann-Pfandt's more nuanced analysis (1992-93) ... . See also Gyatso 1998:243-64."]

Hermann-Pfandt 1992-93 = Adelheid Hermann-Pfandt : " in Indo-Tibetan Tantric Buddhism". STUDIES IN CENTRAL & EAST ASIAN RELIGIONS 5-6:45-63.

Gyatso 1998 = Janet Gyatso : Apparitions of the Self. Princeton U Pr.

p. 262 fox-deities in India

(de Mallmann 1963, p. 234) "the Agni-puran.a depicts one of the Eight Mothers, Ks.ama, as surrounded by jackals.

[de Mallmann 1963, p. 297] In the Markan.d.eya-puran.a, the fearsome goddess Can.d.i is said to scream "like a hundred jackals," and one of the Sixty-Four Yogin.i[-]s, Krodhana ("the Furious"), rides upon a jackal."

(Banerjea 1956:34) "The Matsya-puran.a describes another gruesome form of the Goddess, S`iva-duti, as having the face of a jackal (sr.gala[-]vadana)."

de Mallmann 1963 = Marie-The`re'se de Mallmann : Les enseignements iconographiques de l'Agni-puran.a. ANNALES DU MUSE'E GUIMET, BIBLIOTHE`QUES D'E'TUDES, Vol. 67. Paris : Pr Univ de France.

Banerjea 1956 = Jitendra Nath Banerjea : "Some Folk Goddesses of Ancient and Mediaeval India". INDIAN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY 14:101-9.

p. 263 "short fox" (bombardier beetle)

"an aquatic creature called the "short fox" (tuan-hu) ... appears to have been a formidable-looking insect called the bombardier beetle, which is [Read 1941:178] native to freshwater streams in central and southern China.

One author describes its head as closely resembling the muzzle of a fox. ...

{Cf., e.g., the beetle Fulgora laternaria (in Central & South Americas) whose head is described as resembling that an alligator or a crocodile.}

[C^ou-hou Pei-c^i Fan, HY 1295 (TT 1013-1015), p. 234 (of the 1963 Peking edn.)] "Within its mouth is a crossbow ... that it shoots ... at people's shadows on the water's surface. ... Keeping pure white geese or ducks will ward off this menace, as will carrying on one's person rhinoceros horn of fine quality."

Read 1941 = Bernard E. Read : Chinese Materia Medica. Part 10 : "Insects". Peking.


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