Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yao (ruler)

Yao was a legendary ruler, one of the Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors. Also known as Taotang-shi , he was born Yi Fangxun or Yi Qi as the second son to Emperor Ku and Qingdu . He is also known as Tang Yao .

Often extolled as the morally perfect sage-king, Yao's benevolence and diligence served as a model to future Chinese monarchs and emperors. Early Chinese often speak of Yao, and as historical figures, and contemporary historians believe they may represent leader-chiefs of allied tribes who established a unified and hierarchical system of government in a transition period to the patriarchal feudal society.

According to legend, Yao became the ruler at 20 and died at 119 when he passed his throne to , to whom he gave his two daughters in marriage.

Of his many contributions, Yao is said to have invented the game of , reportedly as an amusement for his slow-witted son Dan Zhu .

Xuan Wu (god)

Xuan Wu , posthumously known as High Heavenly Xuan God , as well as True Warrior High God , and commonly known as Bei Di or Di Gong in Hokkien dialect; is one of the higher ranking Taoist deities, and one of the more revered deities in traditional China. He is revered as a powerful god, able to control the elements , and capable of great magic. He is particularly revered by martial artists, and is the patron saint of the Wudang Mountains in China's Hubei Province, where he allegedly attained immortality.

Xuan Wu was originally a butcher who had killed many animals unremorsefully. As days passed, he felt remorse for his sins and repented immediately by giving up butchery and retired to a remote mountain for cultivation of the Tao.

One day while he was assisting a woman in labor, while cleaning the woman’s blood stained clothes along a river, the words "Xuan Tian Shang Di" appeared before him. The woman in labor turned out to be a manifestation of the goddess Guan Yin. To redeem his sins, he dug out his own stomach and intestines and washed it in the river. The river turned into a dark, murky water. After a while, it turned into pure water.

Unfortunately, Xuan Wu does indeed loses his own stomach and intestines while he was washing it in the river. The Jade Emperor was moved by his sincerity and determination to clear his sins; hence he became an Immortal known with the title of ''Xuan Tian Shang Ti''.

After he became an immortal, his stomach and intestines after absorbing the essences of the earth, it was transformed into a demonic turtle and snake which harmed people and no one could subdue them. Eventually Xuan Wu returned back to earth to subdue them and later uses them as his means for transportation.

Xuan Wu is portrayed as a warrior in imperial robes, his left hand is in the "three mountain hand seal", somewhat similar to Guan Yu's hand seal, while the right hand holds a sword, which is said to have belonged to Lü Dongbin, one of the Eight Immortals.

Another legend says that he borrowed the sword from Lü Dongbin to subdue a powerful demon, and after being successful, he refused to bring it back after witnessing the sword's power. The sword itself would magically return to its owner if Xuan Wu released it, so it is said that he always holds his sword tightly, and is unable to release it.

He is usually seated on a throne with the right foot stepping on the snake and left leg extended stepping on the turtle. His face is usually red with bulging eyes. His appearance also causes most people to accidentally mistake him as Guan Yu.

His birthday is celebrated on the third day of the third lunar month.

Generals Wan Gong and Wan Ma

Xuan Wu is sometimes portrayed with two generals standing besides him, General Wan Gong and General Wan Ma (萬公, 萬媽). Most temples that are dedicated Xuan Wu also have Generals Wan Gong and Wan Ma, especially in Malaysia. The two generals are deities that handles many local issues from children's birth, medication, family matters as well as feng shui consultation. The Malaccans particularly in Batu Berendam County have deep faith in the generals due to their many good deeds and contribution to the local villagers.

In ''Journey to the West''

In the classic novel ''Journey to the West'', Xuánwǔ was a king of the north who had two generals serving under him, a "Tortoise General" and a "Snake General". This king had a temple at Wudang Mountains in Hubei, thus there is a Tortoise Mountain and a Snake Mountain on the opposite sides of a river in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei.


The Xilin is a mythical creature of ancient China which has been used for many centuries for good luck, etc.

Uses of the Xilin

The Xilin is a mythical creature used many buddhist and believers of "风水" aka "Feng shui". The 风水 is an ancient art of Chinese "placings" which will help somes wealth, health, etc or vice versa. According to believers and 风水 masters, the Xilin can help the user/owner increase their wealth, fortune and so on. One special use of the Xilin is that it can/will help the user/owner of it and grant them with a child within 2 years unless the female is over-aged or sick. One problem/difficulty is that the Xilin can't/shouldn't be used sparingly. This is because in ancient times, the Xilin was said to serve under the emperor there of was said to only help people of high ranks . If an ordinary person used it, it was said that the Xilin would "turn around" and feed off its masters wealth instead of helping the owner/master. The Xilin is often compared to the Lion and is said to be the 9th child of the dragon. The Xilin is compared to the lion because of its look-a-likes and they are related.


The Xilin is seen in many palaces through out China. One of the most common one mentioned/seen is the one in the "summer palace" which is in Beijing. The emperor of that time were said to taken the statues of the Xilin along with them for protection and good fortune. Statues of Xilins are commonly seen in palaces/imperial walkways along with Lions, Dragons, and other creatures as "guardians". Statues of Xilin are also one of the many small figures on top of imperial roofs . This design was commonly used.


Xeglun is the celestial elk in mythology. It was 's pursuit of this creature that was said to have created the Milky Way.

Wish Tree

A Wish Tree is an individual tree, usually distinguished by species, position or appearance, which is used as an object of wishes and offerings. Such trees are identified as possessing a special religious or spiritual value. By tradition, believers make votive offerings in order to gain from that nature spirit, saint or goddess fulfillment of a wish.


Involving coins alone

One form of votive offering is the token offering of a coin. One such tree still stands near Ardmaddy House in Argyll, Scotland. The tree is a , a species traditionally linked with fertility, as in "May Blossom". The trunk and branches are covered with hundreds of coins which have been driven through the bark and into the wood. The local tradition is that a wish will be granted for each of the coins so treated.

On Isle Maree in Loch Maree, Gairloch, in the is an oak Wish Tree made famous by a visit in 1877 by Queen Victoria and its inclusion in her published diaries. The tree, and others surrounding it, are festooned with hammered-in coins. It is near the healing well of St. Maree, to which votive offerings were made. Records show that bulls were sacrificed openly up until the 18th century.

Near Mountrath, County Laois, is a shapeless old Wish Tree in the form of a tree called St. Fintan's Well. The original well was filled in, but the water re-appeared in the centre of the tree. Hundreds of Irish pennies have been beaten into the bark as good luck offerings.

Many public houses, such as the Punch Bowl in , near in Cumbria, have old beams with splits in them into which coins are forced for luck.

Clootie wells

Coins are sometimes used, hammered deep into the tree trunk; however, the practice of tying pieces of cloth to the tree may also qualify, although this is more often directly associated with nearby clootie wells as they are known in Scotland and Ireland or Cloutie or Cloughtie in Cornwall. has an example of a clootie well in nearby woods.

Madron Well is a Cloutie well in Cornwall with the same practice of tying cloth, and as it rots, the ailment disappears. Sancreed and Alisia Wells are other Cornish Cloughtie wells where this ritual is carried out. It is likely that an offering is also being made to the tree spirit, as elsewhere, the ritual is to place objects into water, so here they are hedging their bets and effectively making an offering to both.

Offerings of alcohol

There are parallels here with wassailing where the Wassail Queen is lifted up into the boughs of the apple tree, where she places toast that has been soaked in Wassail from the Clayen Cup as a gift to the tree spirits to ensure good luck for the coming season's crop and to show them the fruits of what they created the previous year.

Involving other offerings

This was a rhyme one had to sing whilst sticking a pin first into one's warts and then into the tree.

The Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees are located in Hong Kong near the Tin Hau Temple in Lam Tsu. Two banyan trees are frequented by tourists and the locals during the Lunar New Year. Previously, they burnt joss sticks, wrote their wishes on joss paper tied to an orange, and then threw them up to hang in these trees, believing that if the paper successfully hung onto one of the tree branches, their wishes would come true.

In Glasgow's Hidden Garden at Pollockshields and at the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery, Scotland, a number of trees have been planted onto which people can tie white labels, onto which they have written their wishes.

Eglinton Castle estate, now Eglinton Country Park, has had a Wish Tree for many years. This tree is a yew on an island in the Lugton Water, now left high and dry due to the weir giving way.

The Christmas tree is often quoted as being a pagan symbol connected with tree worship, clearly linked with good luck achieved through offerings to and veneration of special trees.

Charles Darwin encountered a tree in modern-day Argentina called ''Walleechu'', which was regarded by the Native Americans as a god. The tree was festooned with offerings such as cigars, food, water, cloth, etc., hung from the branches by bright strips of coloured thread.

A number of Wish Trees have been set up to make a wish for the environment, such as at the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park? Centre at in Scotland. People make their wish for and pledge to help the environment and tie the wish label to the tree.

Thomas the Tank Engine

In one of the television episodes of ''Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends'', one of the locomotives goes to the Wish Tree and wishes that he will pull passenger trains. He later regrets this and then wishes at the Wish Tree only to haul freight trains in future. On the model, one can see many people standing around the wish tree, also making their wishes.

Wish or Kissing trees in British folklore and other cultural traditions

In Hindu mythology, the banyan tree is also called ''kalpavriksha'', meaning "wish- fulfilling tree", as it represents eternal life because of its seemingly ever-expanding branches.

The Wishing Tree or Kissing Tree was made at Christmas or Yuletide before pine trees were introduced by Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840. An evergreen bough was hung with apples, sweetmeats, and candles and decked with ribbons representing wishes.

At the summit of the Fereneze Braes in Neilston, Renfrewshire, Scotland, there was an old hawthorn, well known locally as "The Kissing Tree". The story goes that if a young man could drive a nail fully into the thorn tree with a single blow, then he would be entitled to "ae fond kiss" on the spot from his sweetheart. Success in the task was considered proof of his suitability as a good suitor for the young lady. The original tree fell in around 1860, but in 1910, a replacement was said to exist. Driving a nail into the tree may link the custom with that of driving coins into trees as noted above.

In parts of Yorkshire, a tree with two spreading branches which also formed a bower over the point of branching, was known as a Wish Tree by children who would climb onto the junction and make a wish.

Tsao Fu

Tsao Fu , in ancient Chinese Mythology, was an exceptionally skilled charioteer, who is said to have lived around 950

The Chinese tell the story of the Emperor Mu Wang, who was determined to visit paradise. He wanted to taste the peaches of immortality there. He found a very brave charioteer named Tsao Fu, who drove eight amazing horses with great skill. Tsao Fu was afraid of nothing—he carried the emperor across the Earth and into the heavens. The emperor finally reached Mount K’uen Lun and tasted the peaches of immortality. His brave charioteer Tsao Fu was carried up to the stars, where both he and his eight horses can be seen among the stars of the constellation . The star Zeta Cephei is specifically named after him.

External Links and References



In Chinese mythology, Tianlong or Tien-long are the celestial who pull the chariots of the gods and guard their palaces. There is also a Chinese system of Martial Arts known as Tianlong Dao which has schools throughout North America and Asia.