The Development of Chinese Magick pt. 1

Zhang Daoling.jpg

Formal Taoist magickal schools first arose during the Han period; this was an age that saw a general proliferation of many different types of occult ideas and their attendant art forms. The founding father of religious Taoism, as an organized system of magician-priests, was the deified Chang Tao-ling. He was a magician from the province of Szechwan, and around the year 150 C.E., he established a school that came to be known as the Heavenly Master Sect. This was otherwise known as the Way of the Five Bushels of Rice, because of the fact that each prospective student was required to provide the group with just such an amount of food, prior to initiation.

This sect emphasized the use of talismans, spirit evocation and exorcism, the esoteric use of sex, and other magickal and shamanistic practices. It also established the idea that personal spiritual evolution could be greatly enhanced by formal membership in the organized Taoist religion. Forgiveness for earthly acts that transgressed Heavenly law, and greater spiritual movement away from the artificial aspects of life and toward the Tao, would be offered by the gods to those who had been formally initiated into the Taoist religion. Chang’s community was based on the mutual dependency of its members, and for a time, it even governed its own lands on an autonomous basis.

-Richard Herne, Magick, Shamanism, and Taoism


Knowledge from the Other-Realms

Finally, a last by very important component of talismans was the written word. As we remarked in the previous chapter, medieval sorcery’s chief instructors in this art were the Jewish cabalists, although the magical practice of incising runes has been known the world over, from ancient Egypt to China to Siberia. If a word of power or deity name has potency when uttered, it follows that it will also impart this force to an object when it is inscribed upon it.The same applies to magical stories, spells.

With the rise of a definite art of sorcery as distinct from religion, the notion also persisted that if the talisman spell were written in a foreign language or even in a mysterious cipher, it would become that much more powerful. Following the lead of medieval cabalists, who drew their wonder-working angel names and words of power from the Hebrew texts of Holy Scripture, the medieval and Renaissance sorcerer also adopted Hebrew as the magical language. It was the tongue the first men spoke, according to Scripture. The angels also talked it before the Fall, and so of course, did God Himself.

-The Coffee Table Book of Witchcraft and Demonology


Buddhist Saints

According to the Buddhist belief system there are four types of holy individuals who span the gap between Buddhahood and ordinary, unenlightened humanity. These are the Stream-Errant, the Once-Returner, the Non-Returner, and the Arahant. These four types of holy individuals are distinguished from one another by the degree of their insight into the nature of reality. Buddhists measure holiness by the intensity experienced in deep meditation which allows the individual to see the illusion of worldly concepts and ideas. The greater the experience, the more piercing the insight, the more concepts are seen as mere illusions and thus abandoned. These illusionary concepts are regarded as fetters which chain the soul to the wheel of Karma and thus prevent the individual from attaining final liberation, and therefore, in effect, “sainthood.”

-Saints, The Chosen Few


Parallel Sayings of the Masters

Understand what is here and now and you will understand all mysteries.

Jesus, The Gospel of Thomas

When ignorance is overcome through knowledge of the Self, God is revealed.

Krishna, The Bhagavad Gita

Wise is that person who sees reality behind the illusion.

The Buddha

With the sight and hearing of a child, the wise person makes no distinction between thisa nd that. He simply sees what is in front of him.

Lao Tzu, The Tao Te Ching


Centuries of Meditation

You never will enjoy the world aright till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars, and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world, and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs as well as you; till you can sing and delight and rejoice in God, as misers do in gold, and kings in scepters…till you are as familiar with the ways of God in all ages as with your walk and table; till you are intimately acquainted with that shady nothing out of which the world was made.

-Thomas Traherne, “Centuries of Meditation”


Saints in the Islamic Tradition

Islam does, of course, possess the notion of virtue and “holiness.” There are certain qualities that can be earned by an individual during his lifetime, and others which may be attributed by religious tradition. Any person, for instance, may become a religious scholar and thus earn the title of “shaikh.”

Muslims are required to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca during their lives, after which they may be called “hajji.” Warriors (“ghazi”) and martyrs (“shahid”) also earn special titles. Depth of faith and the absolute cultivation of it, on the other hand, may earn a religious person the title of “murshid” (spiritual guide), “nabi” (prophet), or “mujjadid” (renewer of religion). A religious renewer is a particularly worthy person for he will keep the flame of the faith alight. While other sacred scriptures such as the Bible and the New Testament, eagerly remind the reader of the unholiness and state of sin of all mankind, the Koran encourages the faithful to rejoice in the bounty which has been given to them.

-Manuella Dunn-Mascettie; Saints, the Chosen Few