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ASCENDING T HE HEAVEN S ON CONJURED DRAGONS: DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN MAGIC AND RELIGION IN CHINESE DAOIST PRACTICE A Thesis BY Estefan Antonio Rodriguez Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of in Religion/Chinese Language and Culture Under the sponsorship of Professor Susan Marks Sarasota, Florida May, 2013
ii Acknowledgements Throughout the four years I have spent at New College of Florida I have not only had the incredible privilege of receiving a quality education but also experienced the joy of making new, loving friends, and coming into my own as an individual. However, as is often the case there has also been no shortage of trials and tribulations during my time at New College. At those points in my life, when my strength failed me a nd I began to flounder in the seemingly endless sea of academic obligations and emotional turmoil, there is not a shadow of doubt in my mind that the patience and understanding of my advisors as well as the loving kindness of my friends kept me sane. Given the incredible amount of care and support I have received over the years I now feel the need to thanks those who have helped to get me to this point. I would like to begin by thanking my New College family. I would like to thank my dear friend, Tania Har rison, who felt for me when I could not feel for myself, and close friend, Melissa Campbell, for her gift of comfort in troubled times and the joy of her company. I would like to thank my former roommates Justin Spengler and Evan Giomi who kept me laughing, even when I felt more like crying, and kept life light and fun even when things were tough. I must also thank my current roommate, Andrew Kotick, whose constant stream of light hearted inanity provided much needed companionship in a time of extreme isolation. Of course, it would be remiss of me to neglect to thank my real family. I want foremost to thank my sister, Kirstie Rodriguez, my longest friend and an irreplacea ble source of joy in my life, for her continuing support in all my endeavors. I find I must also
iii thank my parents, without whose support none of my dreams of college would ever have been possible. Last, and certainly not least, I want to extend my thanks to my baccalaureate committee, and special thanks to Caroline Reed. Without their patience, understanding, and desire to see me succeed, through good times and bad, and through countless drafts, I would never have come this far in my academic career.
iv Ta ble of Contents I. i i II. ...iv III. .v IV. V. Chapter One: What is Magic? .............................................................................. .8 VI. Chapter Two: Walking on Air and Riding on Clouds: Magic and Religion in the 28 VII. 46 VIII. 4 IX. 68 X. 70 XI. 1
v Abstract This thesis examines the theoretical relationship of magic to religion in the Chinese Daoist tradition through a ritual lens with the intent of deriving a model suitable to the purpose of differentiating magic from religion in a Chinese Daoist context. By analyzing various theories of magic from the early 1900s through the e arly 2000s this thesis grapples with the complexities of the theoretical relationship of magic to religion while simultaneously recognizing a tendency of theories to focus on the ancient and classical Mediterranean. In light of this tendency, this thesis d erives a model of the relationship of magic to religion from the pre existing scholarship and applies said model to textual and ritual instances where ambiguity between magic and religion provides a suitable proving ground. Ultimately, this thesis raises q uestion s about the sometimes unclear relationship of magic to religion in a Chinese Daoist context while underscoring the necessity of further research in regards to the aforesaid relationship in a historical Chinese Daoist context. Dr. Susan Marks, Advisor Division of Humanities
1 An Introduction to Magic and Religion One of the classics of Daoism, the Liezi, conveys an anecdote about two different face. 1 With one look this man can tell when that person was born, when they will die, whether that will be lucky or unlucky and so on. The other man in the anecdote is similarly mystical. This other man can change his nature so that he may appear to be dying one moment, or overflowing with life the next, he can even change his nature such that he appears as he was before he even came to be, formless, ubiquitous, and utterly without physical characteristics. At face value these two men appear to be a skilled physi ognomer and a consummate shape shifter respectively. However, it may surprise the reader to discover that the text treats one of these two men as a religious figure and philosopher highly adept in the mystic arts, while the other is labeled a sorcerer and gets run out of town by the mystic adept. I invite the reader to take a moment and guess which is which, and then consider why such is the case. After all, do not both men appear to be using abilities that we would consider magical? The job of establishin g the relationship of magic to religion and by extension where magic end s and religion begins has the potential to seem exceptionally facile. Nevertheless, digging deeper into the scholarship on magic reveals that questions about the relationship of magic to religion are not new ones. In fact, explorations of the relationship of magic to religion have been a topic of serious discussion in the academic community since the 1920s when these kinds of questions were first raised by early 1 Note: the Liezi represents the modern pinyin Romanization of the Chinese characters for the Chinese name but in Wade Giles transliteration this same name appears as Lieh tzu. In the body of this thesis the spelling will follow the pinyin Romanization except where quoting or citing texts which use the Wade Giles.
2 sociologists and anthrop ologists. Since that time the discussion has continued on and off for the past several decades and has focused primarily on magic in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. Using the magical practices of the classical civilizations on the Mediterranean an d their neighbors as fodder various disciplines found copious material to further their studies of the relationship of magic to religion. For the most part though, theoretical material establishing the relationship of magic to religion continues to focus p rimarily on magical and religious practices in those same areas of time and space, which is to say the classical and late antique periods of the Mediterranean and Near East. In light of such a dearth of information concerning other times and places this th esis seeks to explore the applicability of the aforementioned theories explores a radically different region in time, space, and culture. In short, this thesis explores and applies the major theories regarding the separation of magic and religion and appli es them to the practice of Daoism in classical and medieval China to ascertain the applicability of their universality. The application of collected scholarship reveals a number of problems and considerations, the nature of which not only challenge the way we think about magic and its relationship to religion but also pose s new questions about how to frame our future explorations of magic and religion A number of scholars, such as Catherine Bell, and others addressed the practice of magic in China. However their concerns are primarily anthropological focusing on the situation of magic in relationship to its cultural context, and address the magical practices without concern for theoretical distinctions between magic and religion. Looking at an example of herself seems interested in magic only insofar as it informs her study of popular religion
3 as opposed to a definitional differentiation of magic from religion as in our case. 2 My study asks whether a theoretical model of the relationship of magic to religion developed based on the magical practices of ancient Mediterranean societies provide consistent, reliable results when attempting to differentiate between magic and religion in a roughly contempora neous Chinese context The theoretical model presented in this thesis represents a conglomeration the theories which I feel yield the best measure for differentiating magic from religion. While the model proves capable of different magic from religion in a n instance of orthodox Daoism in tension with the practice of magic, we find that in instances of Daoist mystical practices, particularly those involving talismans, our model fails to yield a clear cut result. In other words, I argue for a partially succes sful application, offering insights concerning these practices. To this end, I begin this thesis with a survey and analysis of the major names and theories in the discussion of the relationship of magic to religion between the early 1900s and the early 200 0s. Using those theories I thereby derive my own model based on the scholarship which I feel best suited to the task of distinguishing magic from religion and vice versa. Secondly, I present an analysis of a major Chinese text traditionally considered a re ligious text by both Chinese and Western scholarship This text presents instances of people with numerous supernatural abilities with the goal of discovering expl oration of the Chinese text in question will serve as a baseline measure of how well our model differentiates between magic and religion. Finally, I examine the intricacies of the esoteric practices of Daoism in China to illustrate two complications in the application of our model which are important to our final understanding of the difference 2 Bell 1989, 37.
4 between magic and religion and their nature as ends on a spectrum as opposed to the polarizing, opposing sides of a dichotomy. The Origins of Daoism in Brief To facilitate ease of understanding and I present in this introduction a brief history of the origins and early history of Daoism. In addition, see Appendix A for a list of the major Chinese dynasties, their dates, as well as important events pertinent to thi s thesis. Daoism forms an integral part of Chinese culture and has not only contri buted considerably to its shaping and development, but is also deeply embedded in it. In the time before even the first traces of Daoism appear on the historical horizon usually associated with the philosopher Laozi, dated to around 500 b.c.e. various cult ural perceptions and religious practices were established that have had a lasting effect on Daoist philosophy, cosmology, ritual, and religious cultivation ever since. 3 The practice of record keeping in the courts of ancient China helps such claims. Those records of Chinese religion begin with institution of ancestor worship and the worship of nature gods, centered on an otherworld bureaucracy which reflected the hierarchical nature of the Shang Dynasty court (ca. 1600 1028 BCE). Daoism later adopted the se beliefs as their own, eventually incorporating a myriad of other nature gods, pure emanation of the Dao, and an impressive number of immortals to the heavenly hierarchy. As history progressed, the Shang Dynasty was replaced with the Zhou Dynasty (1028 221 BCE) which, rather than replacing the old gods and ancestor worship, incorporated abstract representation of the cycles and patterns of nature, a nonhuman force tha t 3 Kohn 2008, 1.
5 interacted closely with the human world in a non 4 In this system, if the actions of human being were morally righteous and the ruler ruled well, Heaven responded in kind through maintaining a beneficent homeostasis with humanity character ized by good weather, fertility, and a general wellness. Conversely, if people behaved in an inco rrect fashion Heaven would repay mankind with natural disasters as a form of punishment. In this way, Heaven came to represent the totality of human and natura l activity and their interaction in the mindset of the Zhou, and this idea of the interaction between humanity and nature based on ethical behavior became not only the centerpiece of Daoist ethical thought, but also a central component of Chinese thought i n general. 5 During the Eastern Zhou Dynasty Daoism found itself in dialogue and sometime conflict with three other major philosophical schools: Legalism, Confucianism, and the Yin Yang Cosmology. 6 Legalism, founded 300 230 BCE, sought to regulate human con duct through strict rules and harsh punishments, a method vehemently opposed by members of the Daoist camp who relegated these methods to their conception of hell and underworld prisons. On the other hand, Confucianism, established 552 479 BCE, sought to i nfluence the acts of humanity through espousing a system of virtue ethics based primarily on benevolence, righteousness, wisdom, propriety, and honesty, with a strong emphasis on observing various rituals. This system of ethics became a major goal of Daois t cultivation and of Chinese ethics in general. However, Daoists eventually became 4 Kohn 2008, 4. 5 Kohn 2008, 4. 6 Note : A full discussion of these interactions would make a book in and of itself, and as such I ask the reader to pardon what may appear to be a reductionist explanation of these interactions in the interests of the time, space, and scope of this thesis.
6 averse to the Confucian emphasis on learning and observance of social rituals and formalities and finally alighted upon a system of Confucian virtue ethics but without the e xtremely social bent, instead coming to favor monastic or even hermetic practices. Finally, the Yin Yang philosophy was a school of thought which rationalized the cosmos as a constant transition of phases between two complementary opposites, an idea best e ncapsulated in the iconic Chinese yin yang symbol, which shows that each opposing force has its genesis in the other and that as one waxes the other wanes. In the thinking of Yin Yang Cosmology all things in creation are a composition these two opposing fo rces, yin and yang, in various proportions. The Yin Yang C osmology school of thought was in time completely consumed by Daoism to such an extent that the two became inextricable and indi stinguishable and the Yin Yang C osmology came to be used in almost eve ry facet of Daoist practice. Having detailed the early history of Daoism in China including its origins and its interactions between the various competing philosophies around which it grew up around, further details about the history of Daoism in China and cultural information about various time periods relevant to this thesis will be discussed in later sections of this thesis in greater detail. For a timeline of Chinese dynasties and dates relevant to this thesis, please see Appendix A. The history of Daoism is long with many sects and traditions and as such cannot be recorded in full here, but this brief recounting of the foundations of Daoism provides sufficient information about the origins of the religion to facilitate discussion. Equippe d with the necessary background knowledge for this discussion we may begin to explore theoretical aspects of the relationship of magic to religion. Using the scholarship of many
7 of the most influential names in the discussion of the relationship of magic t o religion the following chapter presents the model that will be used throughout this thesis.
8 Chapter One What is Magic? In recent years magic has become a much larger part of pop culture. After the publishing of the Harry Potter novels in the summer of 1997, magic seems to have gripped the public imagination even tighter. Although fun in this context it would be a mistake t o think of magic as a solely fictitious or make believe activity. Indeed, magic appears as a very real (if occasionally taboo) part of everyday life in the ancient world and non western societies, but also in small pockets throughout the West such as the W icca and Neo Pagan religious movements. While the definition of magic may be taken for granted by people outside of academia, an in depth inquiry into the matter reveals a complex system of relationships specific to each culture one examines. Further comp licating the matter, the line that denotes where magic ends and religion begins, if such a line even exists, has been a subject of scholarly debate for some time now. While some scholars have come to their own conclusions there remain as many points of dis agreement as there are of agreement. In following the tradition of searching for a definition of magic I have drawn upon some of the most important names in the discourse to highlight similarities in their respective arguments, grapple with their individua l biases and inclinations, and distill a working definition of magic based upon their strongest commonalities. Ultimately, these commonalities reveal that a concrete definition of magic is rendered untenable by the multitude of different beliefs and practi ces surrounding the practice of magic, but these same commonalities simultaneously reveal a set of characteristics we can use to identify magical practice.
9 An example reveals the blurred line between magic and religion. The Daoist practice of lian hua als o called lian pian 7 This particular practice involves a meditative envisioned auto cremation. The ultimate result of this process, if performed properly, is that the Dao ist can ascend into heaven in such a way that the body flies away with the soul and the Daoist becomes a t ian xian or Heavenly Immortal. 8 Given this example it is easy to see how this ritual could be considered to be very deeply religious because it does, after all, result in someone ascending to immortality in heaven. However, Robinet has consigned this practice to the category of magical practice; seemingly solely on the basis that it involves a personal transformation. 9 Therefore, the question remains, is lian hua magic, or religion? It is our goal to be able to resolves such quandaries as these through our research and the results yielde d from careful analysis. I present the lens best suited and most effective in the pursuit of this question using the work of H.S. Versnel, a fairly recent scholar of the subject. In considering the available research presented by Versnel and applying a ca reful analysis we open a dialogue concerning the agreed upon facets of magical practice in such a way that permits for the acknowledgement and then minimization of cultural and personal biases from the discourse. In the process of distilling the agreed u pon facets of magical practice posited by his peers and predecessors Versnel arrived at very interesting results. The following quote from Versnel presents the rough rubric for our model: 7 Robinet 1979, 67 68. 8 Robinet 1979, 67 68. 9 Robinet 1979, 66.
10 1) Intention Magic is employed to achieve concrete, mostly individua l oriented goals. Religion is not primarily purpose motivated, or at most focuses on intangible long term goals which concern collective issues of society. 2) Attitude Magic is essentially manipulative. Man is both the initiator and the executor of processes he controls with the aid of knowledge which he has, or which is put at his disposal. Religion views man as dependent on powers outside his sphere of influence. This entails an attitude of submission and supplication. The opposition is thus one 3) Action Magic is characterized by the attention paid to the technical side of the manipulation, precision of formula and modus operandi Professional experience is often required since the knowledge is secret. But if all the instructions are observed, there is an expectation of direct results. In so far as religion, on the other hand, admits of intended effects (prayer for health, votives, private oracles), the results are never de pendent upon a professional specialist, though his skill may be required as a mediating factor, nor on the suppliant, but solely and exclusively on the free favor of sovereign gods. 4) Social/moral evaluation Since the goals of magic often run counter to the interests of other members of society, magic easily acquires the connotation of an anti social or at least a social activity. Thus leading to the Durkheimian dichotomy: magic is immoral, anti social, deviant, whereas religion has positive social functions is cohesive and solidarizing. 10 These conclusions represent the essence of our model, however, we should carry this model one step further and add sympathetic principles as another feature of magical practice making the final list of features. I will sa y more on this point below. In addition to Versnel, earlier arguments such as those of Sir James George Frazer in The Golden Bough; Primitive Culture ; and Emile Durkheim in his work The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life ; all prove to b e foundational in the discussion of the relationship of magic to religion. 11 In analyzing them we can fully appreciate their strengths and shortcomings. Furthermore, a brief review of the conclusions presented by Murray and Rosalie Wax in The Notion of Magi c will give us a 10 Versnel 1991 186 11 Frazer 1890 Tylor 1964, Durkheim 1915
11 chance to survey the various conclusions of other scholars who have grappled with the problems presented by the most seminal authors of the discourse, mentioned above. Finally, we will arrive at the works of Susan Greenwood and Sarah Isles Johnston who wrote The Anthropology of Magic and Magic and Religion in the Ancient World respectively. In addressing these works in tandem we reveal the importance of sympathetic principles to magical practice and the corresponding importance of thought i n the practice of magic. Let us begin to address the basis for our model by examining the basis for our model. For some decades now, there has been a definite tendency in the fields of academia which concern themselves with magic to view the relationship of magic and reality that, of course, will seldom or never answer to these ideal Reality, instead, generally displays a continuum between the tw 12 M ost importantly, we must bear in mind the regardless of where we come from both geographically and socially that we carry with us personal biases and preconceptions. As ith their own pre formed conceptions of magic. Above all, we must always strive to maintain a keen awareness of the difficulties in discussing the subject of magic without bringing in personal biases or falling prone to momentary of lapses in critical thin king. Suffice to say, our primary theoretician, Versnel, exceeds in many of these areas. Furthermore, rather than propose that the term magic be retired from use until a more fitting terms can be found, we must also fully acknowledges that magic cannot be discussed without the term 12 Versnel 1991 181
12 point with which Versnel is in full accord. 13 Versnel, whose summation of the scholarship takes pains to avoid and acknowledge and then to som e extent ameliorate such false dichotomies as the ones found in the early scholarship, manages to distill a few commonly recurring features that he finds helpful to defining the magic as well as proposing that magic be seen as a category with recurring cha racteristics in much the same way members of the same family share a resemblance. As described above, these include: instrumental, manipulative, mechanical, non personal, coercive, and short term with tangible and individual oriented results My model emphasizes such categories as intention, attitude, action, socio moral evaluation as a means of distinguishing magic from religion. magical practice. In applying our model it is only fitting that we begin with the fundamenta l uch, we begin with addressing a founder of the disc ourse and one of his respondents, as well as their respective views of magic as a pseudo science. Beg inning in the 189 0s Frazer began his discussion of magic, claiming that the fundamental thought processes in magic are identical to those found in the pursuit of western sciences. 14 The following quote from magnum opus The Gold Bough summarizes his views nearly in totality: Wherever sympathetic magic occurs in its pure unadulterated form, it assumes that in nature one event follows another necessarily and invariably without the intervention of any spiritual or personal agency. Thus its fundamental conception is identical with that of modern science; underlying the whole system is a faith, implicit but real and firm, in the 13 Versnel 1991 181 14 Wax and Wax 1963, 111 discussing Frazer; Versnel 1991, 181.
13 15 However, despite the telling nature of this quote we s: flaw of magic lies not in its general assumption of a sequence of events determined by law, but in its total misconception of the nature of the particular laws which govern 16 kind of science, but also calls to the fore his view that magic represents a confusion on the part of the practitioner. when Frazer first broached the discussion of magic, describing it as a primitive and fallacious science, he began a discourse that would pave the way for further scholarship some years later. Perhaps equally influential in the discussion of magic was Edward Burnett Tylor Tylor treats magic as a primitive pseudo science and precursor to the evolution of religion. Primitive Cultures reveals not The modern educated world, rejecting occult science as a contemptible superstition, has practically committed itself to 17 Over all, Tylor compared magic to an intricate and systematized pseudo science used for the purpose of revealing, predicting, and achieving certain results, claiming that this pseudo science had its root in so called erroneous connections made in the minds of t he practitioners. 18 15 Frazer 1890 220. 16 Frazer 1890 220 221. 17 Tylor 1924, 112. 18 Wax and Wax 1963, 495 discussing Tylor.
14 If we return to our model and acknowledge the biases of Tylor and Frazer while simultaneously addressing their merit then the biggest issue to be found with the views of Frazer and Tylor is, above all, that they totally circumvent the values and world view s of the practitioner. The application of the term pseudo science derides, intentionally or otherwise, the practice of magic by implicitly stating that magic is only noteworthy in relation to the western ideal of science. However, we also find some of the characteristics of magic in the works of Frazer. The following quote reveals, in order, mechanical, manipulative, coercive and non personal aspects of magic. The reader will note that these terms have been bracketed to mark the connection to our list from Versnel. The magician does not doubt that the same cause will always produce the same effect, that the performance of the proper ceremony, accompanied by the appropriate spell, will inevitably be attended by the desired result it only so long as he conforms to the rules of his art, or to what may be called the laws of nature as conceived by him [manipulative & non personal]. 19 Indeed, herein we find at least four of the common feature of ma attention to the mechanical, or highly ritualized nature of practice, as well as the frequent and the way in which practitioners may traffic with and manipulate forces of an impersonal natures provid 20 however, u nlike Frazer, Tylor fails to discuss the facets of magical practice that are alluded to by Frazer in The Golden Bough Instead, Tylor dedicates a great deal of his time to denigrating the practice of magic, The modern educated world, rejecting occult science as a contemptible superstition, has practically committed itself to 19 Frazer 1890 220 221. 20 This is to say, the tendency to coerce the desired results from any involved entities.
15 the opinion that magic belongs t 21 The following quote by Tylor reveals his inclinations towards magic in no uncertain terms: Looking at the details here selected as fair samples of symbolic magic, we may well ask the question, is there in the whole monst rous farrago no truth or value whatever? It appears that there is practically none, and that the world has been enthralled for ages by a blind belief in processes wholly irrelevant to their supposed results, and which might as well have been taken just the opposite way. 22 other portions of the text which prove to be of great use in constructing our argument for the inclusion of sympathy in our model. Earlier in the text, Tylor makes the claim that the Association of Ideas, as faculty which lies at the very foundation of human reason, 23 If, in keeping with Versnel, we sift through the biases of the author then we alight upon the basic principles of sympathy, which this there is at least a suggestion th at sympathy belongs in our model definition of magical practice. Setting this aside for a moment, we turn our attention to Bronislaw Malinowski, who offers yet another definition of magic which we must address. Also in the tradition of Tylor and Frazer we find the work of Malinowski. The attitude towards magic held by Tylor and Frazer is seized upon and defended by and even lauded in the 1950s by the founder of modern ethnography, Malinowski. Malinowski takes a different approach to the discussion of magic, an approach that makes him quite possibly the most influential author on the subject during the 1950s despite suffering 21 Tylor 1924, 113 & 116. 22 Tylor 1924, 133. 23 Tylor 1924, 113.
16 some of the same problems as found in the Trobriand islanders Malinowski followed the paradigms laid out by his predecessors Tylor and Frazer by describing their use of magic in such a way that it conforms to the ideals of a western rationale. 24 Malinowski paints magic in the context of a purely practical art governed by simple and shallow beliefs, exercised as the need arises, while science, likewise mundane but mo re complex and less shallow, is based on solid logic. Once he has positioned magic in this frame, Malinowski draws his parallel between magic and religion by claiming that magic and science are both possessed of a definitely practical aim, positing this to be the biggest difference betw een magic and religion. 25 However, a decade later the Waxe n discussing this theory, many 26 Therefore, while certain texts clearly show the way in which magic can be similar to science it would be incorrect to assume that the practitioner of magic would cleave to the view that magic is a kind of science as surely as the scholars of the first half of the last century do. 27 In the end, we must conclude, as do the Waxes, that we can by no means justify a theory or definition of magic based upon a world view that is not shared by the practitioner and as such the similarity of magic and religion based on these world views in fundamentally untenable 28 In departi ng from the tradition of Frazer we turn now to the theories of Emile Durkheim, who proved to be seminal to the discussion of magic in 1947 in much the 24 Wax and Wax, 1963, 497 discussing Malinowski. 25 Wax and Wax 1963, 498. 26 Wax and Wax 1963, 498. 27 Especially in the highly ritualized and formulaic examples found in such texts as the Qiu Yu Seeking Rain 28 Wax and Wax 1963, 496.
17 same way as Tylor and Frazer in so far as he further legitimized the discussion of magic in academia. Emi le Durkheim was another such scholar who followed in the tradition of the magic religion dichotomy, evaluating magic based on what he viewed as its moral character and value to society. 29 Indeed, Durkheim finds that the ultimate distinction between magic an d religion, and by extension the moral distinctions between the two, reveal themselves in his constructed social anti social paradigms highlighted in the following quote: But it [magic] does not result in the binding together those who adhere to it, nor in uniting them into a group leading to a common life. There is no Church of magic Between the magician and the individuals who consult him, as between these individuals themselves, there are no lasting bonds which make them members of the same moral commun ity, comparable to that formed by believers in the same god or the observers of the same cult. 30 Durkheim takes the view that the division between magic and religion is that magic is inherently anti social, inherently amoral, and operates against the gene ral aims of society whereas religion is a fundamentally constructive force as revealed through the preceding quote. 31 We should take care in treating this quote while being mindful of our model. Simply put, we should take a moment to see past the moralizing commentary present in anti social distinction between the nature of magic and religion. Defying this claim is the research of one scholar, Derk Bodde, whose research finds the ex istence of multiple magical rituals in China that were to be practiced by a groups of commoners for the benefit of the common people. 32 29 Wax and Wax 1963, 497 discussing Durkheim. 30 Durkheim, 19 15 60. 31 Wax and Wax 1963, 497 Discussing Durkheim. 32 Bodde, 1964, 293 5.
18 the distinctions in the relationship magic religion. H owever, and of equal import, is The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life Magic, too is made up of beliefs and rites. Like religion, it has its myths and its dogmas; only they are more elementary, undoubtedly because seeking technical and utilitarian ends, it 33 This quote serves th e dual function of revealing that magic and religion are not mutually exclusive and thus on a continuum, as this thesis emphasizes. Insofar as the technical and utilitarian goals of magic touched upon by Durkheim resonate with the identified characteristic s of the short term and tangible results, potentially through instrumental manipulative, mechanical, non personal, and coercive means the above the distinction betwee n magic and religion is fundamentally faulty, his identification of elements of magic in religion and of qualities of magic itself reveals more support for our model. Despite the inability of scholars to place magic in any sort of dichotomy many of them co ntinued to differentiate betwee n magic and religion or attempt to deal with the relationship magic religion in similar terms. 34 Ultimately, in the 1960s the Waxes propose three possible solutions to the problem at hand. First, that we abandon the use of the sense for its lack of precision; second, that we acknowledge that magic has a range of meanings and characterizations in educated western discourse, and finally that we examine magic in the terms of cultural 33 Durkheim 1947, 57 58. 34 Wax and Wax 1963, 500.
19 interaction between religions and view it as a means of conceptualizing a world outside 35 As a matter of course, academics cannot pursue a discussion without the necessary terms to discuss the desired subject, and as a result we second proposal is most certainly of merit, it similarly fails to facilitate easy discussion of how to define magic which is itself a problem because this solution provides that the word magic does not necessarily mean the same thing from scholar to scholar. Finally, we arrive at the third solution of the Waxes: that we examine magic in the terms of cultural interaction between religions and view it as a means of conceptualizing the world. It is precisely this relativistic approach to the material which we should strive for, and within the context of our model Versnel himself, rather than making the same sorts of instead on legitimating his claims within a specific are a and time frame. 36 However, the most important contribution of the Waxes to our theory is their compilation of the scholars and their respective materials which both facilitate d and ease d the process of analyzing the body of material at hand. In short, ma gic, rather than a single concept or entity, should be addressed as a category possessed of certain characteristics which appears as either a whole or partial set and in any number of combinations. While this definition addresses the more theoretical aspec ts of what magic is we would be avoiding a major aspect of magical practice, which is to say the practice itself. Rather than simply consider the theoretical spirit and inclinations of magical practice we should also consider the 35 Wax and Wax 1963, 503. 36 Versnel 1991, 182.
20 various forms the aspects of magic can assume during the act of performance. To this end we will strive to construct a set of tools and practices we recognize as employed by the practitioner in order to carry out magic acts and achieve the desired results. I believe that by assembl y a set of tools that are regarded as regularly used by the magician we can construct a more complete model of magic and i Ultimately, if we examine what are generally consider to be the means of the mmon threads that will link not only magical practice in a given region, but that, when combined with a more theoretical approach, will yield a solid model of magic that can be applied to our source material. Once again we turn to the scholarship in order to find a viable solution to our present goal. Even with the wealth of information about the relationship of magic to religion that we have already gathered we would be remiss if we did not examine an instance of more recent scholarship. Furthermore, we must also show why principles of sympathy belong in our model and to that end the following examination of The Anthropology of Magic aims to illustrate the importance of sympathetic principles to magical practice The Anthropology of Magic represents a rad ically different approach to the study of magic, one which not only poses an interesting set of questions about the practice of magic but one which deals primarily with the way in which magic is practiced and acted out, thus making it ideal for our purpose s. Susan Greenwood, takes an approach to examining magic that focuses on the idea of
21 37 Furthermore, this magical consciousness can be expressed in many different ways and informs cosmological realities and individual behavior as well as societal constructs forming a universal frame of mind found in all cultures across time and space The consciousness and the association of one idea with another, associations which inform our reality. According to Tylor, the association of ideas in this way is the founding principle of sympathy and the cornerstone of magical practices. 38 In fact, if writes that sympathetic magic is a series of intrinsic connections and associations based on the belief that certain objects or persons are connected to one another through their inherent connections to, or similarities with, other objects or persons. 39 This thesis uses the definition of sympathet ic given by Tylor in his to show that sympathetic principles. Furthermore, because these tools of the magician are shown to be of some significance T his thesis argues for the inclusion of sympathetic principles in our model. we must address her frame of universality. In the previous section of this thesis we painted the kind of problems inherent in any theory that purports universality in broad strok es. T he theories of Frazer, Tylor, and Durkheim all proved to be 37 Greenwood 2009. 4. 38 Tylor 1924, 113 39 Greenwood 2009, 46.
22 unworkable based on their inherent lack of relativity and as was sometimes the case, were untenable because of their basis in empirically false assertions Despite the fact that Greenwood lac ks moral ly oriented judgments that were symptomatic of Frazer and Tylor Greenwood nonetheless takes for granted certain absolutes of human consciousness in much the same way Frazer, Tylor, Durkheim, and Malinowski did about magic, morality, science, and s ociety. the idea represents principles of sympathy, and that those principles belong in our model nonetheless proves a provocative proposition. Greenwood beg ins to tackle the monumental task of explaining her magical consciousness by laying out four key feature of participation in magical consciousness. Greenwood defines magical consciousness as an: 1. Association with altered levels of consciousness and intuitiv e rather than analytical connections. 2. 3. Expression in metaphorical, often poetic turns of phrase which 4. Levy 5. stories. 40 From this list of features we can detect a number of potential problem s in the theory we are presented with. First, w hile it may well be the case that magic is associated of unseen forces it seems unfounded to call these connections intuitiv e rather than analytical. Indeed, one should find this idea strikingly similar to the assertions of 40 Greenwood 2009, 30 1.
23 Tylor and Frazer that magic is pseudo scientific with a foundation in erroneous logic, assertions found untenable in the previous section. In fact, we shoul d expect to find that the connections made by the magical consciousness to reflect highly systematized connections expressed through ritual with intentional design. practice of mag ic is based on intuitive rather than analytical connections we find that the central theme of he r postulations remains the same; she argues for sympathetic connections in the mind of the practitioner which allow for the practice of magic Let us pause for the moment to consider an example of a particular ritual from China which illustrates how sympathetic principles are derived from this kind of mental connection. The following instance comes to us from the work of Bodde, author of Sexual Sympathetic Magic in Han China. In this instance w e find that a village suffering from drought This village may shut its southern gates and open the northern gates, thus blocking warm, arid weather from the south while drawing in cool and moist air from the north to bring rain. 41 In Chinese cosmology the South is associated with Yang the masculine energy representing firmness, warmth, light, dryness, positivity and so forth. Conversely, the North is associated with Yin the feminine energy representing receptiveness, cool, dark, wet, negativity and so on. 42 If we then accept the in spirited perspective of the participant proposed by Greenwood as her first point, we find that this association is more thought out, more logical, than intuitive. Additionally, we find that in this case the association of ideas serves as the basis for the magical ritual to end the drought in the city. As such, 41 Bodde 1964, 293. 42 Kohn 2008, 66 67.
24 we find the connections between variou s ideas discussed by Greenwood to be fundamentally reducible to sympathy A t the very least sympathy plays a major role the particular magical ritual mentioned above. This serves as but the first of multiple instance s which suggest that prin ciples of sympathy belong in our model for differen tiating magic from religion. Second the language of holism discussed by Greenwood is not entirely unproblematic either. T he definition s somewhat vague co nsidering her as it pertains to participation in magical consciousness we find that the anecdotal evidence for this phenomena only validates a personal experience rather tha n supporting a universal feature of her theory 43 Interestingly, magical connection and associations alludes to what could be a more appropriate sympathetic ma gic According to Greenwood sympathetic magic is a series of intrinsic connections and associations based on the belief that certain objects or persons are connected to one another through their inherent connections to, or similarities with, other objects or persons. 44 Here G reenwood gives us the example of an experiment that was conducted by two famous psychologists: Some American undergraduate student participants of a psychological experiment watched as two empty, clean bottles were filled with sugar powder poured from a commercially labeled sugar box. The participants w sucrose written on it and the other labe Participants were instructed to attach one label to each bottle, as they 43 Greenwood 2009, 30. 44 Greenwood 2009, 46.
25 prefe preference for the sugar shown that this similarity based rejectio n occurred even if the bottle w not sodium cyanide not poison 45 The particular example given above revolves around the association of ideas and words/symbols While it is questionable whether or not the above example is magical in nature, it remains clear to see that once again the importance of claim rest s upon the association of one idea with another as a function of sympathetic principles. If we consider that this language of holism includes the mental association of one object with an other, then it becomes clear in our reckoni ng that the continuity of time and space is reducible to a function of sympathetic principles. If indeed such is the case then its centrality to the practice of magic makes it indispensible to our model. On another note, t he focus on symbols and actions is extremely reminiscent of statements made by Sarah Isles Johnston regarding the relationship between language and the practice of magic in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. t one of the key features of the ancient magician is a gift for words, often using language to evoke connections, call on divinities, and inspire onlookers 46 H ere for our purposes we place special emphasis on evoking connections Furthermore, if we look a esearch once more we find that her studies reveal a pertinent trend: magic has a tendency (in the mind of the 45 Greenwood 2009, 45. 46 Johnston 2004, 144 145.
26 magician) to take effect immediately or spur the action of demons, spirits, or divinities which themselves move to obey immediately. 47 In considering that there is n either time delay between the enacting of a spell and the actualization of the effect, nor distance between the caster of the spell and target we find more substantiation for the that magic may exhi bit a continuity of time and space. s about the practice of magic exhibiting a co ntinuity of time and space seem far contribution in ligh t of Greenwood remains the fact that in order for these assertions to work we find the need for a mental connection with any number of object s I n points four and five Greenwood makes a good, if somewhat problemati c, case Namely, that participation can sense of Levy otherwise can be seen as having a soul or psyche. 48 Of course, this is a major problem for the proposed theory. While it may be s upposed that something fundamental drives the underpinnings of magic and lends force to spells and other works of magic this is altogether too large an assumption when asked to think that these objects involved in magic are in any sense conscious or that the cultures which embrace magic adhere to a fundamentally animistic world view. Despite this rather large problem and in following this line of thinking, Greenwood cites the final element of Levy mation of a mythical world which can only be accessed through the magical aspects of the 47 Johnston 2004, 143. 48 Greenwood 2009, 30 31.
27 mind. 49 It is logical to conclude that the magical frame of mind necessitates a certain belief in the supernatural. This belief may take the form of in an inherent powe r, energy, or absoluteness in the environment that can be accessed and u sed to achieve a desired effect. O r it can take the form of a belief in a God, gods, spirits, demons, or other supernatural agents that can act on behalf of the magician. 50 Within the f ramework we have constructed over the course of the last few passages we can conclude regarding sympathetic principles that these supernatural phenomena or entities would likely form the inhuman or immaterial aspects of a ritual centered on sympathetic pr inciples. By associating certain material, words, acti ons with the magical elements which the practitioner wishes to invoke through means of a mental connection, he or she calls on the necessary powers to perform the magical act according to id ea of magical consciousness which we have here reduced to symp athetic principles. Finally, we must conclude by returning to Versnel and our earlier model Here I have tried to illustrate the necessity of including the pri nciple of sympathy in magic, from its frequent intent to achieve a direct, tangible result ; its attitude of manipulation; its focus on the technical aspects of ritual ; and freq uent need of a specialist ; as well as how it is evaluated from a socio moral standpoint. However, cts of magic, which is to say the requirements for performing magical acts, illustrates the 49 Greenwood 2009, 31. 50 Gre enwood 2009, 31.
28 importance of sympathetic principles. The advantage of adding this further point to our model is that while Versnel enables us to see what magic should look like o n the outside, this understanding of the inner workings of magic al ritual provided by Greenwood provides a deeper, more holistic method of distinguishing magic from religion In the final reckoning of our methodology for this thesis, our model appears, in short : 1) Intention Magic is employed to achieve concrete, mostly individual oriented goals. 2) Attitude Magic is essentially manipulative. 3) Action Magic is characterized by the attention paid to the technical side of the manipulation, precision of formula and modus operandi. 4) Social/moral evaluation Since the goals of magic often run counter to the interests of other members of society, magic easily acquires the connotation of an anti social or at least a social activity. 5) Principles of Sympathy Objects, beings, and metaphysical energies respond to manipulation of thoughts or materials based upon logical These five attributes of magical practice will help us evaluate the distinctions between magic and religion. Our model firmly in hand it now falls upon us to investigate a n instance where there is ambiguity in the boundaries between magic and religion. To that end we will examine a n early philosophical and religious t ext This text contains a number of anecdotes recounting tales of human beings who possess supernatural powers which stretch not only the boundaries of the imagination, but also the boundaries of thinking about magic and religion.
29 Chapter Two Walking on Air and Riding on Clouds: Magic and Religion in the Liezi The Yellow Emperor a figure featuring prominently in Daoism, folk beliefs, and esoteric practices lends his name to section two of the Liezi, which relates a number of anecdotes inv olving mystical abilities learned from immortals and sages and philosophical discourse. 51 In a time of constant political turmoil during the early period of Liezi developed a world view which, though initially ignored and almost f orgotten, would go on to become one of the most influential philosophies in China. In the tradition of so many of the major philosophical texts of China the largely anecdotal teachings of Liezi were recorded after his death and then modified and edited by scholars throughout the years since his death thus bringing us the version we have today W name d for the Yellow Emperor as well as our model for magic in C hapter O ne we can conclude that first, the nature of the supernatural abilities would appear to be the result of a religious undertakin g and not a magical one. Second these powers lack the attitude we should expect o f a magical practice, and third the processes involved i n attaining the abilities of the immortals appear to be an entirely mental exercise in nature. Furthermore, the nature of these powers appear neither anti social nor a social which one would expect to find in practices of a fundamentally magical nature, an d for our final point, as a purely mental exercise targeted at creating a specific frame of mind we can say with certainty that there are not sympathetic principles involved in attaining these powers. Ultimately, 51 Note that Liezi is the modern Romanization of the Wade Giles transliteration Lieh tzu. Liezi appears in our discussion of the material, while Lieh tzu appears only in citation and quoted material where that version of the name is used.
30 our reading of this section sheds light on how one of the greatest names in Chinese philosophy thought about the relationship between magic and religion, and also how the writings of this same philosopher informed later generations of the religiously inclined in China. Before delving too deeply in to implications of the source material or applying our previous findings to the material at hand we need to examine the background information about Liezi, his text, and his times, thus enabling us to fully understand the deeper full impact of the text. Un However, scholars now generally agree that Liezi was a real person, a position that many early scholars who challenged 52 Liezi (c. 400 BCE) was a Daoist philosopher who lived during the Warring States Period of the Eastern Zhou dynasty ( 770 476 BCE) in the kingdom of Z heng. 53 In addition to being an extremely dangerous and politically turbulent time the Warring States Perio d of the Eastern Zhou dynasty proved to be intellectually fertile, with the troubles of the time acting as fodder for minds seeking better ways to live and govern. With his name eventually becoming the title of the book attributed to him, Liezi was probabl y born into the aristocracy and reputedly studied under Wenzi, who was in turn reputedly a student of Laozi himself, the founder of Daoism. 54 If taken at face value this series of teachers and students would place Liezi in a direct line of transmission lead ing back to the very founder of the religion and whose philosophy he espoused in his writings. If we are to accept this proposed line of 52 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995 3. Note: the text we are using is an abridged translation of thirteenth anecdote elements and the general retelling remain fait hful to the original. 53 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 3. Note: Wong uses the Wade state. 54 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 3.
31 transmission then we may assume with reasonable safety that Liezi remains an authoritative source on matters of Daoism including its practice, philosophy, and the appropriate stance of Daoists on any number of matters. However, whether or not Liezi was actually a pupil of Wenzi, and whether or not Wenzi really studied under Laozi is ultimately a moot point because during the height of Daoism power and development under the Tang dynasty, the Liezi became canonized alongside the Zhuangzi and the Laozi as one of the three classics of Daoism. 55 Even though we cannot verify the authority of Liezi on issues of Daoism by means of his strong claim to descent in education lineage and thus a strong chain of direct transmission, the widespread acceptance of his teachings nonetheless lent his work its influence on popular views about Daoist concerns. Another thing that we must take int o consideration, the Liezi does not merely inform us on the state of Daoism after its full recognition and canonization during the Tang dynasty, but the Liezi is also strongly representative of the views and attitudes about Daoist practice during the late Warring States Period 722 476 BC E the Warring States Period 475 221 BC E and the Qin 221 207 BCE Han 206 BCE 219 CE Wei 220 265 CE and Jin dynasties 265 420 CE. 56 The introduction to the section of the text entitled The Yellow Emperor contains a list of abilities that can be exercised by people who visited the mythical land visited by the Yellow Emperor in his dream. Because there was nothing to welcome or dread, t hey could stay under water and not drown; they could walk through fire and not be burned. They could be cut with knives and would not be wounded. They could be poked and scratched, and they would not feel the itch. They could float through space as if they were walking on solid ground. They could sleep 55 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 4. 56 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 5.
32 on this air as if it were a solid bed. Clouds and mist could not block their vision, thunder could not disturb their sense of hearing, and beauty and ugliness did not affect their judgment. Traveling in spiri t, they could walk surefooted on treacherous paths in the mountains and valleys without fear of precipitous heights. 57 question we should ask of this rather expansi ve set of supernatural abilities is whether or not there is any opinion given in the text itself and we also want to know if the author would categorize these abilities as either magical or religious in nature. We are told by the author that the people wh o possess these powers are immortals living on an island blessed by the gods in the eastern sea. 58 That these islands are blessed by the gods is a clear indication of some sort of divine intervention in the lives of the beings that live on this island, and elements of this tale. In the context of our model the interaction of gods and people is not enough to simply declare these powers of the immortals as religious in origin. Furthermore, t he lack of anything in the wording of the passage to indicate that these powers were given to the immortals on the island by the gods demonstrates a lack of action on the part of the immortals to gain these powers from the gods. Similarly this lack of acti on to attain these powers from another source, such as imploring divinities, manipulating various energies or spirits complicates the idea that these powers have any origin with the gods, while simultaneously calling into question whether or not these imm ortals are themselves divine in nature. 57 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 52. 58 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 53.
33 Despite the lack of answers, there are certain questions which we will be able to ask and then answer using our model from C hapter One Recall that our model, based on the works of Versnel and Greenwood, directs us to the following points: 1) Intention Magic is employed to achieve concrete, mostly individual oriented goals. 2) Attitude Magic is essentially manipulative. 3) Action Magic is characterized by the attention paid to the technical side of the manipula tion, precision of formula and modus operandi. 4) Social/moral evaluation Since the goals of magic often run counter to the interests of other members of society, magic easily acquires the connotation of an anti social or at least a social activity. 5) Principles of Sympathy Objects, beings, and metaphysical energies respond to manipulation of thoughts or materials based upon logical Applying these points to the chapter on the Yell ow Emperor we recognize that the abilities possessed by the immortals in question seem to have their genesis in the particular mental state described by Liezi, so this fit s what we should expect to find from religion rather than magic. I ndeed the implicati on of this particular passage seems to be wisdom and equality amongst the immortals in addition to an incredible dearth of worldly concerns the immortals have gained these powe rs for themselves. 59 In applying our model to this case we find that even though the inhabitants of this island possess these powers as a group we may note that the sphere of influence one m a y exert with these powers is entirely personal. In short, it is en avoid being injured in the ways described which is precisely what we should expect in and furthermore there is no mention of being able to extend these powers to others. Theref ore, the attainment of these powers seems to be a 59 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995 51 52.
34 matter of personal interest and by extension this trait suggests that the nature of these powers is magical. However, before pronouncing this suggestion as a hard and fast rule we should pause to consider not only the effects of these powers but also the goals and aims of the people who possess these powers. As previously stated there is no implication that these th e text implies that the nature of these powers is salvific in nature and the ultimat e purpose of practicing them is seen in the following text: On an island in the eastern seas are immortal beings who live on dewdrops and pinecones. They do not eat grain, they feed on the wind and vapor, and their minds are clear and still as a mountain lake. They have ruddy cheeks and all look like healthy children. They are open, friendly, and have no inhibitions. They do all their own chores and are helpful to others. Th ere is no fear, no anger, no tension, and no dissatisfaction. No one is supe rior or inferior to anyone else. Everything is bountiful and everyone enjoys the providence of heaven and earth. The sun and moon send a gentle light, the seasons are never harsh, the earth is rich, and the inhabitants are kind. The deities bless the land, and monsters never go near it. This is the land the Yellow emperor visited in his dream. 60 Indeed, the above text does nothing if not demonstrate the salvific nature of these abil ities through the paradisiacal results for the immortals, living on this island in the eastern seas attaining and practicing these abilities. In the context of our model, the salvific nature of these powers implies a more religious attitude as opposed a ma gical one. Setting the salvific nature of these powers aside one finds that, other than the benefit of an exceptionally long life, there is no mention of any further benefits conferred on these immortals by way of power over others, whether spirits, gods, animals or other humans. 60 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 53.
35 Indeed, if we look at the information provided in the text we find that all of these powers originate from a state of mind within the person. 61 If we consider our model in light of this information then we arrive at a certain set o f conclusions about the nature of these powers. First, the nature of the aforementioned supernatural abilities is fundamentally salvific. These abilities in question are aimed at long term goals which cannot be immediately gratified. Indeed, the following excerpt illustrates precisely the long term nature of these abilities and a focus on the numerous benefit s : When he awoke, the Yellow Emperor felt enlightened. He called his find out what is the best way to govern the country and cultivate myself. However, I did not become enlightened trying to think things out consciously. I got enlightened in a dream. Now that I know the way is not something that can be discovered by conscious think mythical land he had visited in his dream. 62 With benefits intended for a large number of people as s 20 year effort to make his kingdom like the mystical land he visited. 63 Therefore, the abilities of these immortals would appear to be the result of a religious undertaking and not a magical one. Second, we can ascertain that because the special powers gained by the immortals were not acquired through the manipulation of deities or other supernatural entities and energies T hese powers lack the attitude we should expect of a magical practice, especially because the text indicates a marked lack of concern with personal gain or even immortality. A s such, we can conclude that this instance of supernatural 61 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 52. 62 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 52. 63 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 52.
36 ability does not meet the criterion for the second point of our model. Third, the processes involved in attaining the abilities of the immortals appear to be an entirely mental exercise in nature w hich is, in theory, exercisable by everyone and requires no involvement on the part of a ritual specialist as demonstrated by the Yellow Emperor and his whole kingdom becoming adepts of a similar sort to the immortals. Fourth, based on desire to emulate the immortals we can assume that practicing the arts which would ultimately result in attaining the abilities of the immortals is neither anti social nor a social which one would expect to find in practices of a fundamentally magical nat ure according to our fourth point. 64 Finally, we must turn once again to the mental practices required to attain the powers of the immortal that we encountered in the frame of mind we can say with certainty t hat there are not sympathetic principles involved in attaining these powers, and thus these magical practices fail to match the added fifth criteria. Indeed, despite the fact that Daoist mysticism relies heavily on the manipulation of energies within the b ody, this particular instance is devoid of any of the sympathetic principles we would expect to find in magic proper. As such, even though the intention points us to the possibility of the narrative of the Yellow Empe ror concerning magical powers, accordin g to the points on our model these acts appear closer to our understanding of religion than magic. This is not the only remarkable instance where we find an occurrence of mystical powers being exercised in the Liezi. Indeed, there is one direct mention of a sorcerer; someone who is explicitly in the business of using magic, interacting with Liezi and his master Huzi and it would certainly be a mistake to ignore this particular instance. 64 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 52.
37 However, this particular section of text is not without its own proble ms. This portion of the Liezi, titled Lieh tzu makes no explicit mention of what exactly it is that makes this sorcerer a practitioner of magic, instead of religion. Furthermore, we find that there is little information to imply that Li sorcerer as well. Consequently, this chapter of the Liezi presents a substantially more complicated portion of text than one might expect from such a straightforward title. Therefore, in the interest of parsing the text so as not to miss anything we will address the deals with the sorcerer as well Beginning with the nature of the sorcerer and his abilities, the Liezi describes a tell whether this person would live or die, be lucky or unlucky. He could even tell an 65 In the context of our model, this is not a great deal to go on. In fact, there is no indication whatsoever in the entirety of the chapter about how this sorcerer acquired hi s special abilities and no explicit mention is made of how exactly the sorcerer exercises his powers other than by looking at the face of the person whose future he wishes to see. However, despite the possibility that this sorcerer may in fact be a simple physiognomer t he text itself suggests that he is indeed a man possessed of unquestionably supernatural abilities. Indeed, the story relates that Liezi seems thoroughly convinced that this sorcerer has genuine mystical abilities at his disposal. In the cont ext of our model we find that there is not enough information provided to us to determine whether or not this sorcerer represents a practitioner of magic 65 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 69.
38 or something else such as religious mysticism or something as mundane as simple physiognomy. However, we should be careful to note that the emphasis placed on the future he would predict indicates a necessary physical component which would suggest that magic is at work. Again, however, despite this sugges tive piece of evidence it ultimately remains just a single piece and by no means serves as foundation enough to make a judgment either way. In fact, if we look at the text itself then it seems that Huzi should be the more likely candidate for a user of m agic. After Liezi relates to Huzi the nature of the sorcerer and his own feelings about the superiority of the sorcerer we find that Huzi rebukes Liezi, you the underlyin g nature of things, and you think you have understood the mysteries of 66 This cryptic challenge and the ensuing encounters between Huzi and the sorcerer reveal that rather than an explicit statement of what make the sorcerer different from Huzi the encounters between the two inform our conclusions through what they do not say. The day after Huzi issues his challenge, Liezi brings the sorcerer to see Huzi. Huzi asked Liezi to stay outside Lieh tzu 67 W hile it may seem as though the anecdote should end at this clever trick played by Huzi. In the following section of text we find out that Huzi 66 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995 69. 67 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 69.
39 68 The following day a very similar scene takes place except this time Huzi shows the sorcerer the dominance of yang over yin and the sorcerer claims that Huzi is showing s igns of life again thanks to his preventative foretelling. However, Huzi asks Liezi to bring the sorcerer once more. This time, the sorcerer is He [the sorcerer] probably saw the process of creation and 69 Finally, Huzi has Liezi bring the sorcerer to see him one final time to drive the point home. This time the sorcerer flees came into the world. I had not shape, no form, no sound, no smell. I drifted in and out of things I could not be grasped or examined. He has never seen anything of the like before, so he got scared 70 From a literary perspective, this final passage seems like a cautionary statement about the superiority of religious attainment over magical prowess humiliate the sorcerer. However, without applying our model to the situation above we cannot say for certain who is more magically inclined within our theoretical frame. Having thus assembled a significant amount of evidence we may begin analyzing the text for in formation of particular importance. We must first dispense with the thought that Huzi is the practitioner of magic as opposed to the sorcerer himself. From the perspective of the critical eye, claiming that Huzi is the magician does not take a great leap o f imagination. After all, Huzi not only bests the sorcerer in terms of ability to 68 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 69. 69 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 70. 70 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 70.
40 engage with the energies of life and death, but also demonstrates a vastly superior proficiency in manipulating those forces to his advantage. However tempting it may be thou gh, we cannot write off this instance i n the text as one of magic. In fact, we find the encounter between Huzi and the sorcerer deceptively complex. In proceeding from the first point of our model we can conclude that there is little evidence to base a dec isive conclusion about the intention of Huzi or even the sorcerer in displaying their respective powers. In truth, the information given to us by the text deals exclusively with the effects of their attainment and not their original motivations for said at tainment. However, we can soundly conclude that neither Huzi nor the sorcerer acquired their respective powers with the sole intention of having this particular confrontation in the future. Despite the lack of an actual statement of intention we can contr ast the information in the text about Huzi with the information about the sorcerer in order to draw conclusions about what their intentions are. In the case of the sorcerer we find that his powers, or at the very least the way he employs them run counter t o the collective concerns of society insofar as his abilities strike fear in the people of the surrounding area. 71 from this sorcerer because they were afraid he might tell them things they would rather 72 Based on the wording of the previous quote we can also assume that the sorcerer is prone to telling people information about their future against their will. Based on such an assumption we can conclude that either the people with his power or to cow them with his abilities but this is all just conjecture. Regardless of whether or not the previous analysis is conjecture or how precisely it 71 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 69. 72 Lieh tzu and Wong 1995, 69.
41 informs our understanding of the text the fact remains that if nothing else the sorcerer and his intentions at least appear to have specific goals in mind which run counter to the collective interests of society. Conversely, there is no implication that Huzi is feared by the people of the area. While this may seem like solid evidence against the possibility of Huzi being a sorcerer we should also bear in mind that even though Liezi would have had to seek out Huzi to become his student Liezi seeks out the sorcerer readily and without reservation. In th is particular instance the only hard and fast facts we can walk away with are that the sorcerer is feared for his abilities. However, if we take a moment to look at the contrast between the Huzi and the sorcerer as constructed within the text then we find ourselves reminded of the fact that the text intentionally contrasts Huzi with the sorcerer. Indeed, if it were not for such a contrast in the text then there would likely be no need for such a portion of the Liezi, or at the very least this section on Lie zi and the Sorcerer would be radically different. Ultimately, if we accept an in spirited, participatory worldview when examining the text we should assume that because the sorcerer is explicitly referred to as a sorcerer and it contrasted with Huzi, then from such a standpoint Huzi should not exhibit the same intentions as the sorcerer. As such we can infer that at the very least the intentions we infer in the sorcerer are not the same intentions we should expect to find in Huzi. Having thus grappled wit their abilities we must ask about their attitude towards the practice of their powers. In terms of the actions of Huzi and the sorcerer we have a significantly larger selection of information to work
42 Whil e the sorcerer does not use any of the kind of ritual elements that we would expect to find in magical practices such as talismans or incantations, in fact, all this sorcerer needs to exercise his supernatural abilities is to look at the face of the person whose future he wishes to see. It does not appear that the sorcerer employs any tangible ritual tools. constitutes reliance or focus on a material element in the practice supernatural abilities and by extension serves as one of the elements of magic practices named in our model. Of course, in examining the more active or performative aspects of the encounter between Liezi, Huzi, and the sorcerer we should also pay attention to how Huzi fits into this portion of our model as well. Once more we find ourselves in the position of lacking enough substantive evidence to make a solid decision. In the text we are not privy to the way Huzi affects the balance of yi n and yang within his own body and therefore we technical side of his mystical abilities. However, if we again allow ourselves to conjecture based on the information pr methods are more suggestive of religion because of a lack of technical aspects in his practice. Based on the fact that the sorcerer is a man of great acclaim given his skill in the arcane arts we can assume th at as a specialist he would likely notice the use of any talismans, incantations, and the like which could be used to manipulate the energies in of
43 hand, a skill which se ems antithetical to the values espoused in Daoism, or Huzi has mastered techniques which permit Daoists to internalize the processes governing the interactions of yin and yang and as such has bypassed the necessity for the formulaic, material, or technical aspects of his art. In the event that we accept the latter suggestion as thoroughly religious, fail to meet this criterion for definition as a magical practice. In turning t o the final criterion of our model we once again apply a comparison by contrasting Huzi and the sorcerer to determine which of the two is more inclined to magic by way of a socio moral evaluation. In the case of Huzi our job is simplified by the lack of in formation about public opinion regarding Huzi. Indeed, nothing at all is said about any popular sentiments towards Huzi in the entire section of text except for the thoughts and feelings of Liezi who is understandably attached to his master. On the other h and, the sorcerer and his proclivities are such that they are patently disturbing to the public to such an extent that people actively avoid him. In short, the actions and powers of the sorcerer are such that they could very easily be ruled as anti social, let alone a social. Given the available information we can therefore assume that while Huzi and his practices are, at worst, a social as one might expect from the classic image of the Daoist hermit, the sorcerer is decidedly anti social and as such his practice is definitively more magical in this regard. Overall, the difference between the two men is what we would expect. In conclusion we began by examining the section of the Liezi concerning the Yellow Emperor and his journey in dream to the mythical land of the immortals, asking whether the people and peculiarities of this place are more magical or religious in nature as a way of ev aluating our model. This text proved to be comparatively straightforward in
44 terms of analysis. After examining the intention, attitude, action, and socio moral evaluation placed on the immortals of the mystical lands and the nature of their powers we deter mined that their practice in fundamentally religious via the following points of our model: 1) Their intentions focused on long term goals not readily achievable. 2) The means of exercising their powers does not rely on manipulative means. 3) Their acti ons are directed more towards attaining a certain mental state through philosophy and do not really rely on specialists or the technical aspects of practice. 4) Their use of their powers and their means of attaining them are considered socio morally accept able. 5) The emphasis on philosophical cultivation rather that the manipulation of yin and yang, or other means centered on sympathetic principles, constitutes religious rather than magical practice. with the sorcerer in the chapter of the same name we found that we were initially vexed by the apparent dearth of evidence for any argument pertinent to this thesis. However, using the inherent contrast established between Huzi and the sorcerer in the tex t we are able to establish that while there may not be enough information to establish beyond doubt that Huzi is not himself a practitioner of mystical abilities grounded in religion we are also able to establish that at the very least Huzi himself does fi t enough of the criterion of our model to qualify as a magician any more than he appears to be religious. Conversely, based on inferences drawn from the text we are able to conjecture that the sorcerer himself conforms far more easily to the role of magici an than the role of the adept of a more religious orientation based on the same model used in the first section of this thesis chapter. All in all we may call this test of our model successful in yielding the results that one would expect if with slightly less impressive results than hoped for.
45 Indeed, our model was successful in its attempt at showing the way in which the immortals are religious figures rather than magical ones, an interpretation which falls in line with some orthodox Daoist interpretati ons. Conversely, the sorcerer is shown to be far more magical in the context of our model even though our model failed to provide a more definitive location for the religious personage of Huzi on the spectrum of magic and religion. However, it would be sho rtsighted of us to assume that our model will work in every instance of tension or uncertainty between magic and religion. Despite the intricacies of the above exploration of the relationship of magic to religion in the case of Huzi and the sorcerer the re sults proved to be more or less as one might imagine I ndeed this case was chosen to serve as a relatively simple baseline to determine whether or not our model even works in circumstance s which should prove relatively clear cut. In order to provide a more complete test of our model the following chapter presents a case which exhibits much more complexity: an examination of talismanic magic. The following discussion of talismans in a Chinese context reveals not only a glimpse of the complexity of talismanic culture in China, but also some of the weaknesses and complications the practice of talismanic magic pose s to our model
46 Chapter Three Talismanic Magic: A Challenge to our Model Talismans are a common facet of practicing magic. 73 Throughout the ancient Mediterranean talismans have been studied in their various forms. Those that survived to this day have most often taken the form of leaden curse tablets called defixiones and the study of these tablets has greatly informed the study of magic in the ancient Mediterranean. In considering that our model is based upon the work of Versnel, who deal primarily with the ancient Mediterranean, prudence necessitates that we examine talismans in a Chinese context. More to the point, talismans a re a prominent feature of popular Chinese culture and can still be found for sale in both Buddhist and Daoist temples to this day. In the past, such artifacts of supernatural repute could be found for sale by wondering mystics, mediums, exorcists, and magi cians of both the Buddhist and Daoist schools. For our purposes, if talismans proved to be so enlightening for the study of magic in the ancient Mediterranean then it makes sense that we should explore the same considerations with regards to the use of tal ismans in China. In pausing to consider this handful of facts about the people who deal in talismans we are faced with the question of whether or not talismans are magical or religious or if we can even say talismans belong to one category or the other at all. Considering how important talismans are Chinese culture and how the study of talismans has affected discourse on magic in academia we still need to explore why the study of talismans is relevant to our thesis. As previously stated, talismans are gene rally considered to be a major part of magic in the ancient Mediterranean and are treated as 73 Note: Merriam plural.
47 such by the scholarship thereon. But, in China we find that even as far back as the Han dynasty talismans become associated with the religious institutions of Daoi sm and Buddhism and their respective practitioners. Despite this association, texts from both traditions refute having anything to do with the creation and distribution of talismans, or at the very least look down on magical practices and by extension view talismans as neither truly religious nor acceptable according to doctrine. On the other hand, we find that through anecdotes and within various religious texts there is some level of endorsement of talismans and their use. These uses of talismans within r eligion call into question not only the analysis of intention, but also of attitude and socio moral evaluation in our model, all three of which are features we should expect to find in magical practices, but which in this context run counter to what we sho uld expect to find. In short, the creation and use of talismans in historical China complicates our understanding of the difference between magic and religion by contesting our model in ways which cannot be reconciled. Already we see that even within the D aoist focus of this study the answer to whether or not talismans are magical or religious presents a murky vision of conflicting ideals at best and a series of baffling contradictions at worst. However, with the application of our model laid out in Chapter One we find that what matters most in determining the religious or magical nature of talismans lies primarily in the intention of the talisman, the attitude in which the talisman is made, its socio moral evaluation, and finally whether or not the talisman Before diving headlong into a discussion of talismans and their uses in magic and religion we should examine the history of talismans in China, and with this goal in mind Signs of Power: Talismanic Writing in Med ieval Sinitic Buddhism
48 James Robson can provide insight into the origin of talismans in China. 74 Rather than jumping straight into the subject matter of his article, Robson take a spare moment to describe the characteristics and uses of the most commonl y found variety of talismans in the area of the Mediterranean during the course of the Western Classical Period. According to Robson, talismans are often written using a range of scripts and/or designs which may or may not be legible, and which are worn, c onsumed, or prominently placed 75 Even though independent corresponds with the information we find in Sa the ancient Mediterranean. 76 demonstrate that talismans do not represent a unique Daoist invention and that as such talismans were neithe r originally created by Daoists nor exclusively used by Daoists. 77 While doing fieldwork in China Robson encountered the following scene: I entered a shrine located on the summit of a mountain and saw that there was a small wooden table that had a candle a nd various writing implements. When I had earlier visited the same site, a Daoist priest was sitting at the table writing and selling talismans to long line of devotees. On a more recent visit, however, I sat that the same table was now staffed by a Buddhi st monk writing out the same talismans for an equally long line of pilgrims. 78 The above anecdote shows that the practice of making talismans eventually became an institution which reaches across religious boundaries in modern China, but leaves us f 74 Robson 2008, 1. 75 Robson 2008, 130 131, 134. 76 Johnston 2004, 147 77 Robson 2008, 136. 78 Robson 2008, 4.
49 making talismans in China is one that has been going on since at least the Han dynasty and this practice has for many centuries has been primarily attributed to the Daoists. 79 Conversely, history also reveals that the use of talismans is attested in both Buddhist and Daoist cannons in similar ways and these particular talismans even make use of similar ritual tools such as wooden seals yin or oral formulas for use in writing 80 However, we should also be careful to avoid the assumption that talismans have their origin with Chinese Buddhists. 81 According to Robson the origin of talismanic writing in China began during the Han dynasty and originates in the stylized wording and use of imperial edicts and signs of authority employed in dispatches from the emperor, inscribed on treasure objects, and written on various edifices such as tombs. 82 Based on the nature of the talismanic inscriptions found on the various tombs it appears that the earliest uses for talismans included but where not limited to protecti on, healing, and exorcism. 83 On the other hand, popular talismans from today such as the ones being sold in the shrine in talismans are often designed to grant requests for academic suc cess, elevation in status and rank, or for knowledge and wisdom and other requests of that nature. 84 Talismans of this sort clearly demonstrate the personal interest and desire for tangible gains in the near future, with their construction clearly focused o n the more technical, material aspects of the ritual act which our model suggests we should find in magical practices. As such, we would consider these talismans to be magical in nature and as such we would also be 79 Robson 2008, 136. 80 Robson 2008, 139 81 Robson 2008, 151 82 Robson 2008, 136, 145 83 Robson 2008, 136 84 Robson 2008, 132
50 likely to assume that they are looked dow n upon by religious establishments, and yet this is clearly not the case as these talismans are often created and sold by religious figures in religious edifices such as the Daoist and Buddhist monks in the anecdote. Already we can see how our theoretical model for separating magic and religion is complicated by the by the relationship between talismans and religious institutions in China throughout history. By moving on to another case we can see how difficulties arise for our model. To explore this issue more we should turn our attention to the work of Schuyler V.R. one way in which the practice of making and using talismans adopts a particularly Daoist guise. The eight t rigrams are a series of eight symbols composed of straight and broken lines in combination each with a corresponding element. For instance, the trigram for heaven consists of three unbroken horizontal lines, while the trigram for water consists of a broken line on top of a solid line laying over top another broken line. Called the ba gua in Chinese, the eight trigrams are usually depicted as a set of all eight arranged in a circular formation around the taiji du more commonly known as the yin yang symbol i n the west (see figure 1) 85 This arrangement of the trigrams has with two common variations which arose independently: the Fu Xi circle and the King Wen of Zhou circle. 86 Each trigram circle also has its own everted form and each of these trigrams 87 85 Note: Cammann gives the Wade Romanization: taiji du used here. 86 Cammann 1990, 302 Note: Cammann uses Wade Giles, ergo Fu Xi can be found in Cammann as Fu Hsi Also, C ammann refers to the King Wen of Zhou circle as the Wen Wang circle, and refers to the kingdom of Zhou as Chou according to Wade Giles transliteration. 87 Cammann 1990, 303 Note: everted, more simply means inside out.
51 As the use of the trigrams spread both the Fu Xi and the Wen circles came to find dif ferent uses in day to day life, among which we find the most prominent use: the Fu Xi circles use in the Feng Shui compass, or luopan (see figure 3) 88 Another popular folk usage of the eight trigrams is employment as a talisman. In talismanic form the eigh t trigrams appear in the usual circular formation of the Fu Xi circle arranged around a taiji du with the trigrams radiating out from the center as shown in the image below. 89 The aforementioned pattern can be employed on any number of surfaces, including b ut not limited to metals, wood, and paper and may appear in a variety of locations such as inside houses, or on metal amulets. 90 This variety of talisman finds itself most frequently used for protection from evil spirits to attract good fortune. 91 Another po pular form of this talisman appears as the same eight trigrams arranged on the frame of a circular mirror but without the taiji du and according to popular belief can deflect negative energies away 88 Cammann 1990, 306 89 Cammann 1990, 30 8 90 Cammann 1990, 308 91 Cammann 1990, 308
52 from buildings located in places with bad geomantic energi es. 92 Figure 1 shows the everted form of the Fu Xi circle with the trigrams radiating our from the central mirror which reflects negative energies and bad luck Read clockwise, this depicts the phrases of the yin and yang from pure yang heaven (at the top), to pure yin Earth, and back to pure yang Heaven. 92 Cammann 1990, 307
53 Figure 2 shows a talisman inscribed on the back of Figure 1 showing talismanic a script invoking the god of wealth, the ancestral masters, the four d irections and the powers of nature to bring wealth, fortune, longevity, health, and ward against evil.
54 Figure 3 shows a Chinese geomantic compass, called a luopan used in the practice of Feng Shui Note the trigrams arranged around the central compass in the King Wen of Zhou formation. Aside from further illustrating that the creation of talismans in China is not limited to hand written amulets this article reveals a very important point for our argument. The taiju du and the eight trigrams are a very common symbol in the imagery of Daoism and a tool for teaching the cosmology and cosmogony of Daoism. 93 As a teaching tool the trigrams lay out the final stages of the creation of the universe, the cosmic oneness of the Dao unfold ing into yin and yang and eventually into the eight 93 Kohn 2008, 115
55 trigrams all of which describe the functioning of the fundamental forces of the universe. 94 However, that the trigrams should find their way into magical practice is only logical when one pauses to conside r that the trigrams were already in use as a divinatory tool as Yijing 95 In thinking about divinatory practices as magical in nature and adding to this line of thought that the forces of creation are encapsulated within these symbols then it only makes sense that the eight trigrams would find their way into magical practice t hrough their use in the creation of talismans. Furthermore, according to the work of Johnston, the inclusion of religious imagery into spells and talismans is incredibly common place in places such as the ancient Mediterranean, there we find as well, with the use of Daoist symbols in the writing of talismans including religious elements. 96 between magic and religion in the ancient world reveals that there are in fact very close ties between religious imagery and talismanic magic in the ancient world, wherein spells can assume the structure and style of prayers and even call on the same assortment of deities as a prayer of the same kind might but with very different intentions. In the context of talismanic magic in China we find more of tell the same. Images of the t aiji du appear on Chinese talismans as do other images of people and animals that represent the materialization of the religious concepts of yin and yang. 97 Similarly, t alismans in the Chinese Buddhist tradition call upon a variety of saints and deities similar to those which we might expect to find on Daoist talismans. Some of these same talismans were 94 Kohn 2008, 115. 95 Kohn 2008, 6 Note: Yijing it an alternative spelling of the I in English. 96 Johnston 2004, 11. 97 Legeza 1975, 10.
56 prescribed for use by both Daoist and Buddhist religious figures such as the monks and nuns of both religions. This incorporation of religious imagery into magical practices and specifically the act of creating and using talismans calls to the fore another particularly vexing problem. While the insertion of religious eleme nts is not an uncommon practice in the creation of talismans and the practice of magic in general we find that when the purpose of the talisman overlaps with the purpose of the practice of religion then we are presented with a unique problem. We know that based on the model for differentiating magic and religion presented in Chapter One of this thesis the aims and motivations of magic and religion are some of the key factors that separate these insofar as they can be separated. However, one key instance whe re our model falls short is where the goals of magic and religion overlap. In the practice of Daoism there are a number of rituals aimed at achieving a means of self induced salvation through attaining immortality and delivering urdens of the material world. Rituals related to us through or her form at will. T he process for becoming a Daoist saint may be enacted either talismans play a major role 98 The sainthood mentioned by Robinet in her article refers the same method of self sal vation which takes the form of mastering the Daoist art of b ian hua an art which can be enacted through the application of a variety of talismanic 98 bian hua not only while alive but also one who uses bian hua to transcend mortality through the shi jie ritual.
57 rituals. 99 In their simplest application of the powers of bian hua these talismans can be used to affect any number of changes to ones form and or appearance usually by means of ingesting the talisman. 100 More important for our purposes is the fact that these powers called shi jie or deliverance from the corpse. 101 Generally speaking, texts which deal with shi jie agree that the most prestigious way to enact shi jie and the rituals it entails involves the use of a talisman which in this instance takes the form of a sword When performed correctly, this kind of shi jie the grants adept a vision of the Supreme One on a heavenly yellow horse made entirely of auspicious light bounding and es his or her place in the grave while the adept in turn take the place of the Supreme One on the heavenly steed. Finally, the adept is freed from the dominion of the underworld gods and can fly aloft in broad daylight. F r ee to roam for eternity, the adept leaves only the swor d corpse behind. According to Robinet flying off into sky, or mounting a chariot drawn by dragons just as the Yellow Emperor was carried aloft by a dragon when he reportedly practiced this method of shi jie is always a mark of the mo st elevated degree of sanctity. 102 The act of shi jie involves the kinds of bodily and even spiritual transformations that we would expect to find in the practice of bian hua but rather than practitioner of this esoteric Daoist art nears the end of his or her lifetime. 103 Already, this 99 ) is the pinyin Romanization. In Wade 100 Robinet 1979, 46. 101 Robinet 1979, 57. 102 Robinet 1979, 60 61. 103 Robinet 1979, 60.
58 information suggests that the shi jie ritual may be religious i n nature, but Robinet describes these practices as magical. As such, we must discern the means by which Robinet distinguishes magic and religion. In the course of discussing the various rituals and practices Robinet distinguishes between magic and religion based primarily on two characteristics: first, whether or not the practitioner of these mystical rites have fully internalized t he requisite rituals and powers; second, rather than performing the rites in meditatio n the practitioner manually, performs the rites in a very literal way. 104 However, our model takes pains to establish other criteria which we can use to establish the boundaries between magic and religion, and these criteria place a special emphasis on the i ntention with which the mystical, ritual acts are performed, as well as on the goals and motivations of the aforesaid mystical rituals. That being said, we also need to consider the ramifications of such concerning factors as attitude, goals, and intention s in performance of any rituals which may potentially be magical in nature, and herein lays the complications in our model. To reiterate, Magic is often employed to achieve concrete, mostly individual oriented goals whereas religion is not primarily purpo se motivated, or focuses on intangible long term goals of a broader, society oriented interest. As the sources relate the set of rituals in question represent a means of deliverance from death and as such constitute a form of salvation. In many ways salvat ion from death represents one of the concerns normally has death as a prerequisite. Furthermore, performance of these rites which would bring about salvation of the practi tioner are usually performed at the end of 104 Robinet 1979, 60.
59 concerns itself the long term goals we should expect to find in a religious ritual and also that the goal itself is not nece ssarily tangible in the same way as more material concerns such as the acquisition of money, a spouse, or other such things. In short, the practice of shi jie appears to be a primarily religious act performed by powerful mystics in the final stages of the ir life. Conversely though, we find that if the act of shi jie is performed correctly then the practitioner becomes capable of disappearing suddenly and in broad daylight and then being borne aloft to heaven. 105 Frankly speaking our model is ill prepared to parse out such a complex problem solely within the confines of intention as it has been defined within the context of our model. Questions about how this particular ritual poses problem for other terms in our model prove similarly troublesome. If we consi der talismanic shi jie in terms of attitude, the second term of in our model, then we find that analysis does not indicate an attitude of religion as before, but rather one of magic. To paraphrase from our model, we find that first and foremost magic repre sents a manipulative process. In acts of magic human practitioners make use of powers or knowledge at their disposal to influence gods, spirits, mystical energies, or forces of nature to attain a desire outcome. Conversely, in religious rites one should ex pect to find that practitioners find themselves in a position of supplication or submission to forces perceived as beyond the control of mere mortals. 106 In the case of talismanic shi jie we find that the practitioner manipulates the ritual implements of shi jie talismans, drugs, and meditative exercises, to extricate the soul 105 Robinet 1979, 60. 106 Versnel 1991, 186.
60 deliverance from mortality. 107 In light of the way practitioners manipulate the rituals implements in volved in shi jie and the lack of a supplicative, personal negotiation of supernatural forces we can decidedly say that the attitude of shi jie is magical. Thus we have explored two terms, one of which indicates that the shi jie ritual is religious and the other magical, respectively. At this stage we already find difficulties in determining whether or not talismanic rituals with a salvific purpose are magical o r religio us in a Chinese context. These are exactly the sort of compl ications discussed previously in th is thesis However, there yet remain three more points of our model which we need to discuss before arriving at the final conclusion about whether or not talismanic shi jie really is magical of religious. The next point t o be discussed is the third item in out model: action. Action constitutes the attention paid to the technical side of the manipulation. Professional experience is often required since the knowledge is secret, and there is an expectation of direct results. Alternatively, religion admits to intended effects in so far as the results are not dependent upon a professional specialist but solely and exclusively on the mercy of intractable gods. 108 Similar to what we discovered in our investigation we find that there exists a special attention paid to ritual elements of shi jie From the creation of the magic sword created by applying special drugs to the sword in question to the necessary specification of the magic staff and the way to inscribe it with magical symbol s and the specific way to use both implements there can be little question as to whether or not the practices in question are materially oriented. As such, this particular term of our model indicates that this particular aspect of talismanic shi jie is mag ical in nature. 107 Robinet 1979, 60 108 Versnel 1991, 186.
61 Another point for our consideration is the question of the socio moral evaluation of the talismanic, so called magical version shi jie ritual. While Robinet describes the ritual in question in great detail there is not a great deal of disc ussion about how popular, widespread, or how well received the practice of talismanic shi jie was. Unfortunately, Robinet does not make clear whether or not the magical version of the shi jie was considered inferior or superior to the religious version of the same ritual either by the religious establishment or by the practitioners themselves. All we can say on this point in that there are some varieties of what Robinet refers to as the magical version of the ritual which are considered superior to others based upon whether the ritual is performed during the night time or the day time, whether it is performed using a magical sword or a normal sword, with or without drugs and so forth. 109 However, we do know that this particular ritual tends to be viewed in ve ry positive terms at least by practitioners of ritual is mentioned in a number of Daoist texts and as such it may be possible that such discussions are conducted withi n the Daoist canon, but verifying such information is little more we can say on the matter, and as such we must see this point as inconclusive. In the context of the fifth point, sympathetic principles, there are similar complications. In Chapter Two we briefly discussed the processes of sympathy and the balance of the forces of yin and yang which frequently empower magical rituals. In the instance of the talismanic va riant of the shi jie ritual we also find the presence of sympathetic principles, albeit in a somewhat less direct way. We already know that the talismanic shi jie is considered a subset of the broader range of transformative practices 109 Robinet 1979, 60.
62 called bian hua Bian hua a compound word, represent two different ideals is a single term. First, bian represents a broad, general set of powers including but not limited to those discussed in Chapter Two, in our exploration of the Liezi, such as the ability to go unharmed b y fire or water, and others such as ubiquity, invisibility, supernaturally fast travel, prescience and so forth. Secondly, hua of yin and yang; when non being arises from being and being arises from non being, ther e is hua ; in the birth and death of the myriad creatures, there is hua. 110 Therefore, the compounding of these two words represents the totality of these powers in combination driven by the manipulation of yin and yang such as we saw in the confrontation between nce of yin and yang in his body and appeared to be dying or living or as yet formless unborn. As a subset of bian hua the talismanic shi jie ritual similarly relies on these same forces of yin and yang and their interplay. This reliance on the manipulation of the forces of yin and yang through the use of talismans represents precisely the kind of manipulation of sympathetic principles that we should expect in primarily magical practices. However, in the meditative exercises characteristic of what Robinet ca lls the religious shi jie ritual we find exactly the same associations taking place in the mind of the practitioner as the practitioner envisions the necessary imagery to complete their ritual transformation. The result of this similarity is that presence of sympathetic principles in both religious and magical shi jie rituals means that as a tool the discussion of sympathy in this particular ritual serves only to complicate our understanding rather than simplify it. To conclude, we find that even though ou r model may serve as a good tool in distinguishing magic from religion in instances where the ritual in question is primarily 110 Robinet, p.37
63 concerned with material practices we find that our understanding of the relationship of magic to religion is complicated by ritual s with strong elements of salvific import or sympathetic principles which function on a primarily mental level. This analysis of the practices surrounding magical talismans in China reveals that while in the area of the ancient and classical Mediterranean talismanic culture and for that matter the culture surrounding magic in general, thus seems to be primarily a material component in China. Indeed, in the examples we explored we see a larger metaphysical component even though all of the talismanic process es described in the shi jie ritual by Robinet have necessary material components there remain large portions of the ritual which must be visualized in the mind of the practitioner and acted out in internal, mental spaces for the full effect. Furthermore, t he fact that the shi jie is oriented toward the long term goal of personal salvation complicates the idea that magic is used, above all, to attain immediate and tangible results as indicated in our model. Overall, the facts of this matter challenge our und erstanding of magic as a primarily materially oriented process. As such, with the results of our exploration of talismanic magic in hand, we may now examine the results of each individual chapter as a whole and draw conclusions about the overall success of this thesis.
64 Conclusion We saw in chapter one of this thesis that there remain many points of disagreement about the precise nature of magic and its relationship to religion, or even whether we should use the term at all. In following the tradition of searching for a definition of magic we explored some of the most important names in the study of magic and religion to highlight similarities in their respective arguments, grapple with their in dividual biases and inclinations, and distill a working definition of magic based upon their strongest commonalities. These commonalities presented intriguing ideas about the relationship of magic to religion and yielded a model we used to examine the rela tionship of magic to religion in a Chinese context. In C hapter O ne we also discovered that despite the inability of scholars to place magic in any sort of dichotomy many of them continued to differentiate between magic and religion or attempted to deal wi th the relationship magic religion in similar terms U ltimately, we embrace the solution that an examination of magic in the terms of cultural interaction between religions results in seeing magic as a means of conceptualizing the world. This formed the s pringboard of our model allowing us to arrive at the works of the scholar Versnel. Rather than making the same sorts of broad sweeping claims made by some scholars Versnel focuses instead on legitimating his claims within a specific area and time frame. 111 In examining the section of the Liezi concerning the Yellow Emperor and his journey in dream to the mythical land of the immortals we found t his text to be comparatively straightforward in terms of analysis. After examining the intention, 111 Versnel, 1991, 182
65 attitude, action, and socio moral evaluation placed on the immortals of the mystical lands and the nature of their powers we determined that their practice was in fundamentally religious because of the following points of our model: 1) Their intentions focused on long ter m goals not readily achievable. 2) The means of exercising their powers does not rely on manipulative means. 3) Their actions are directed more towards attain a certain mental state through philosophy and not do really rely on specialists or the technica l aspects of practice. 4) Their use of their powers and their means of attaining them are considered socio morally acceptable. 5) The emphasis on philosophical cultivation rather that the manipulation of yin and yang or other means centered on sympathetic principles constitutes religious rather than magical practice. the same name we found that we were initially vexed by the apparent dearth of evidence for any argum ent pertinent to this thesis. However the sorcerer is shown to be far more magical in the context of our model even though our model failed to provide a more definitive location for the religious personage of Huzi on the spectrum of magic and religion. I n chapter three we examined the application of religious imagery in the construction and employment of magical talismans in a Chinese context and the complex issues that the use of talismans in a Chinese salvation ritual posed. We examined the way in which issues of salvation, internalized ritual, and principles of sympathy complicate out understanding of the relationship of magic to religion and by means of this showed the ways in which our model was more or less effective. Overall we find that even tho ugh our model may serve as a good tool in distinguishing magic from religion in instances where the ritual in question is primarily concerned with material practices we
66 find that our understanding of the relationship of magic to religion is complicated by rituals with strong elements of salvific import or sympathetic principles. T his thesis proved important in a number of way s First and foremost, as far as the author is aware this is the first attempt to take theories about the practice of magic and its r elationship to religion and apply them to instances of magic and religion in China. Overall, the research revealed that while there are certainly instances wh ere magic is looked down upon by religious institutions such as Daoism and Buddhism at various poi nt in Chinese history, there also seem to be a much great acceptance of magic in China throughout its history than one might find in similar times and circumstances in the west. Consequently, our understanding of magic as something that is viewed with a ne gative socio moral evaluation in the eyes of the public, religious orthodoxy, and governing bodies proves a complicated perhaps even untenable position to argue. Additionally, explorations with a focus on internalized magical practices or principles of sympathy in the practice of Chinese magic reveal the possibility that Chinese magic may in fact be far less dependent on material components than magic in similar periods of histo ry in the ancient Mediterranean. As such future models of the relationship of magic to religion must take care to note these substantial differences in practice between the two localities, or perhaps the necessity of another model entirely. Finally, we mu st take note not only of the implication for further research, but also of its necessity. The question of how magic was accepted by religious orthodoxy, ruling bodies, and the common people over time remains unanswered and an answer would go a long way to w ards shedding light on the complex relationship between magic and how its practice was and is viewed by Chinese society. Another point of academic
67 interest which needs further exploration is the existence of more religiously sanctioned magical rituals such as the shi jie ritual described by Robinet. Such finds would further clarify the relationship between religious orthodoxy and the practice of magic. Furthermore, if there are enough cases such as this in the practice of Daoism then it is very likely that the model presented in this thesis will need to be laid aside in favor of an entirely new model as the current state of scholarship is as yet unequipped to address such as radically different definition of magic and its relationship to religion. Despite th e necessity for further research, I feel that overall this thesis has been successful in developing a tool which helps raise these important questions based on findings in a another time and place in spite of the complexities of Chinese magic and religion.
68 Glossary Ba Gua : The complete set of the eight trigrams Bian hua : A broad, general term used to denote any number of bodily transformations which may be affected by the Daoist adept. Defixiones : Lead curse tablets found throughout the ancient Mediterranean, one of the most commonly found artifacts of magic in the ancient Mediterranean. Fu Xi circle: One of two common arrangements of the 8 trigrams displaying transition of one phase of yin and yang to the next. This arrangement is also arrangement because it depicts the separation of heaven and earth before their copulation which created the other elements of the Ba Gua Huzi: A Daoist mystic and a teacher of Liezi according to the story of Liezi and the sorcerer. King Wen of Zhou circle: One of two common arrangements of the 8 trigrams. This because it depicts the new locations of heaven and earth after their copulation which created the other ele ments of the Ba Gua This form is used less often than the Fu Xi circle arrangement. Lian hua : auto cremation conducted in the mind of the practitioner. Lian pian : and are an alternate writing of lian hua These characters cremation conducted in the mind of the practitioner. Liezi: Chinese philosopher living during the Warring States period of Chinese history (see Appendix A). The book the Liezi bears his name and contains anecdotes about his life
69 Luo pan : A Chinese geomantic compass used in the practice of Feng Shui to select auspicious locations and directional orientations for cons tructing buildings. Tian xian : according to Robinet are the titled conferred on one who completes the shi jie ritual and gains an immortal, metaphysical body. Qiu yu : These characters mean eeking r ain Chinese Han Dynasty text containing rituals to be performed in time s of drought or when more rain is needed. Shi jie : Chinese ritual which give the practitioner deliverance from the corpse. This ritual is most commonly performed with the aid of magical drugs or talismans, and once completed numerous magical powers. For more details, see Robinet 1979, 60. Taiji du : symbolic represent ation of the unity of yin and yang, colloquially known as the yin yang symbol in the West. Trigram: A graphical representation of the phases of yin and yang consisting of three horizontal lines which may be either sold or broken in the middle. See figure 1 for a depiction. Yellow Emperor : A mythical emperor of China who appears in the s tory of Liezi and the sorcerer as well as many other Chinese texts wherein he is most often a popular subject of philosophical musings and mystical teachings. Yijing : Al so written as I Ching in Wade Giles transliteration, the Yijing, meaning the Classic of Changes, is a book containing instructions for using the Ba Gua to divine the future.
70 Appendix An Annotated Timeline of Chinese Dynasties 112 B.C.E Xia ca.2100 1600 Shang ca.1600 1028 First record of religion in China, Ancestor worship begins Zhou 1027 221 Confucianism & Daoism established Western 1027 771 Eastern 770 221 Life of Confucius, Life of Laozi, Daode jing written Spring and Autumn 722 468 Warring States 403 221 Life of Liezi, Liezi written, Life of Zhuangzi, Zhuangzi written, Analects written Qin 221 206 Former Han 206 8 Daoism becomes a state religion with Confucianism C.E. Later Han 25 220 Buddhism enters China Three Kingdoms 220 265 Western Jin 265 317 Eastern Jin 317 420 Six Dynasties 420 589 SOUTHERN Liu Song 420 479 Southern Qi 479 502 Southern Liang 502 557 Southern Chen 557 589 NORTHERN Northern Wei 386 534 Eastern Wei 534 550 Western Wei 535 577 Northern Zhou 557 681 Sui 581 618 Tang 618 907 Height of Daoist power and influence in historical China. Five Dynasties 907 960 Liao 916 112 5 Song 960 1279 Northern 960 1126 Southern 1126 1279 Mongol Yuan 1260 1368 Ming 1368 1644 Manchu Qing 1644 1911 112 Adapted from Kohn 2009 viii ix and 231.
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