FOLK MAGICAL TRADITIONS IN CHINA
In this section we will introduce you to the rich tapestry of Chinese folk magical traditions in China that lie beyond the usual conception of 'Daoism' in the western mind.
Even though technically we are a Maoshan School, the reality is that many of the folk traditions of an esoteric nature share a common basis , rooted in the culture in Southern China, whose ultimate roots are the ancestral and shamanic traditions of pre-organised religion.
One will notice common training methods and a shared body of core spellcraft in many of these traditions. A fact we shall explore in this small article.
Folk traditions are quite different from Daoist orthodoxy you will find in public temples throughout Asia. The methodology is different, the method of transmission will be different, there is usually no fixed temple location, and are want to use methods and techniques that an orthodox priest would not even consider.
Different provinces, cities and even villages may be home to a particular tradition.
For example the Henan School is from Henan but has spread much further afield.
HENAN PAI is popular not only in Henan, but in Sichuan, Chongqing and Guizhou as well as Hunan.
The central deities are Taishang Laojun , Tong Tian or Zhang Zhen Ren.
Some of the taboos are those typical of most Southern Schools of Folk Magic.
Taboos include not eating beef, dog, snake or fish without scales. A curious one is one cannot pass under a spider's web.
The legend of the Henan school is also typical of most folk traditions. The ancestral masters of the tradition lived in Henan and travelled to Longhu Mountain, returned to help the poor and the needy.
Like Maoshan , Henan Fa is known to be fierce, having many techniques which are considered powerful and dangerous witchcraft.
Dating the Henan method is difficult, but local tradition puts a date somewhere in the 1600s .
Local legends and accounts of Henan Masters include the ability to emit visible light from the fingers.
As to magic used there are no taboos, even when the magic has a dark purpose. The Master has to carry the responsibility himself. Henan, like Maoshan teaches that magic and talisman power derive from one's own inner ability to execute the magic in question, one's own inner spirit is thus cultivated, a factor known as Natal Yuan Chen.
In similarity with many traditions, including the Luban Tradition, there is a price you pay for practicing the darker aspects of folk magic.
In one narrative, a student would accompany the Master to learn in a cemetery at night on a daily basis. When the student was passed the tradition he would be asked what price he would be willing to pay. In older days the price was no descendants, or lack of health, or even blindness and an early grave. However, the Master being fond of his student chose the 'forfeit' for the student and declared that he should never 'have clothes'. From that day forth whenever the student bought new clothes, something would happen...a tear would appear, buttons fall off and so forth.
Alcohol is also forbidden three days before, during and after spell crafting.
Henan Fa follows the usual precepts of Daoism as concerns killing and illicit sex.
Some of the spells typical of Henan Fa are fairly widespread in other traditions:
Bone Transforming Water.
Hundred Solutions Method is used to destroy all influences of black magicians or sorcerers.
Five Thunders Fire is a powerful method to 'burn' evil spirits and evil masters.
Maitreya Transformation Method. Is a method used when a magician goes to a place where there is a risk of 'psychic infection' such as visiting a hospital, a haunted place or even before visiting a place to do a fengshui evaluation. A similar method in our own Maoshan Society will use Guanyin for the same purpose.
Reporting Violations by water is used to rid of violations one may have inadvertently made against Nature or the Spirit World and so curing illnesses, fevers, exorcising evil spirits and so on.
The list goes on, as most folk traditions have hundreds of spells and occult methodologies at their disposal.
Another popular magical tradition in China is the Luban Method, named for Luban, an ancient master of architecture, engineering, carpentry, masonry and fengshui.
Several versions of a Luban Spell book have been circulating through China since at least the Ming Dynasty and it appears to be a major source of magical spell craft for many folk magical traditions. Or it could be that the writer of the Luban collected the essence of popular spells in Southern China and collected them in one book.
The Luban contains spells for healing and also spells for magical warfare that are very aggressive in their nature.
The Maoshan Method, our own school , has an unclear history and the term Maoshan has been applied to various traditions.
Perhaps Maoshan is the most infamous because it has been seen prominently in Hong Kong movies ,and so automatically people think of yellow robed Taoist priests leaping around slapping talismans on coffins to stop the undead and wielding peach wood swords.
The Maoshan of the movies is not the Maoshan of the Shanqing sect however. Shanqing was an ancient and orthodox sect situated on Maoshan Mountain and has little to do with the Maoshan of popular cinema.
Maoshan Fa was a method developed in Southern China, particularly in Guangdong, Guangxi, and much later, in Hong Kong.
However less known and in fact keeping more of the original essence of Maoshan are the Maoshan sects of South Western China.
Jiangxi has some of the most powerful methodologies of Maoshan and it is thus often referred to as Northern Maoshan as Jiangxi is relatively north of the more southerly branches. It is in this Jiangxi Maoshan tradition that Jasper Lake Maoshan has its origin, via the Patriarchal Master Guo Fa Qing.
Jasper Lake Maoshan is closely linked to local Jiangxi witchcraft and martial arts methods that combine magic such as the 500 Coins Method, so called because it cost a neophyte 500 silver coins to learn.
Lushan is a famous school in China but now more especially Taiwan. In many ways it is similar to and in fact compatible with Maoshan, and historically speaking the two factions have often traded methods. Like Maoshan it is fairly ferocious and has a 'Either I die or You die' approach.
Meishan developed among hunters in Hunan, so it has a primal and practical method to its methods. Its most curious feature is the Master Meishan, a God shown upside down.
Yinshan is the most notorious as it deals almost exclusively with necromancy, ghosts and the dead in its spells. In reality it is an extension of the Lower Altar of Maoshan.