A Turtle Understands Fortune and Misfortune 龜知吉凶

Pacification Commissioner Yang Yanzheng and his younger brother had faith in dreams, and both followed previous generations in taking up office in the Pacification Commission via examination. In their household was a great turtle, over two chi (c.66cm) in size, and they prepared a turtle chamber in the centre of the hall, feeding it every day with cooked rice or various kinds of pastries. When the two Yangs received promotion, or there was some other type of joy, it would then emerge in leaps and bounds; where there was misfortune, it would then emerge shedding tears. This was truly a turtle spirit!

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.266 (Tale 484):

龜知吉凶

楊安撫炎正與其弟夢信,皆以世科官至安撫使。家蓄一大龜,二尺餘,作龜室於堂奧,每日飼以飯或餅餌之屬。二楊偶有除擢,或有他喜,則跳躍而出;或有凶事,則出而淚下。信乎龜之靈也!

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

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A Rat Turns A Spinning Wheel 鼠運緯車

The family of Constable Wu Guinian of Jintian often saw a person wearing a kerchief and a Huai robe, sometimes sitting beneath the moon, sometimes seated before the flowers, sometimes reclining by the pond, sometimes sitting on the building, changing and never looking quite the same. One day it was leaning against the gate with its hand, and Constable Wu said: “This is a household spirit; please return to the ancestral hall.” It then vanished. They also had a spinning wheel, which when night came could spin of its own accord, and this continued for several nights running. One evening, Wu covered his lamp with a pail and sat down next to it. He heard something descend the stairs, uncovering the matter step by step. Before long the spinning wheel began to spin once more, so he quickly removed the pail, leaving the lamp shining brightly, and the strange thing without time to change its shape. He saw a large rat, the size of a small pig, turning the wheel with its tail. He later treated it according to the Buddhist law, at which the demon vanished.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.257 (Tale 467):

鼠運緯車

金田吳尉龜年,其家常見有一人淮巾袍帶,或坐月下,或坐花前,或坐池畔,或坐樓上,變見不一。一日以手柱門上,吳尉曰:「此家神也,請歸祠堂。」遂不見。又有一緯車,遇夜自能運轉,如此已數夕矣。一夕,吳以燈覆桶下,坐其旁,聞一物自樓梯下,步步分曉。須臾其緯車復運轉,急去桶,燈明,其怪物不及變形。乃見一大鼠如小豬兒狀,以尾拽其車。後以(此處原多一「其」字,據明刻本刪。)法治之,其怪乃絕。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Li Yue Prays For Rain 梨岳祈雨

When Shi Yuzhi (1216-1293) was judge over Jianning Prefecture, the climate settled into a severe drought. At Li Yue the prefecture had a powerful spirit, and one day Mr Shi went to pray in the ancestral hall, saying: “The spirit is a deity who enjoys the offerings from this land; your servant is a minister upholding an order to protect this land; this prefecture has long suffered drought, the seedlings and grains will soon wilt; if the spirit does not send rain, how will our hearts be soothed? Now I will pour two cups of wine; the spirit will drink one, your servant will drink one, and if the spirit sends sweet timely rain, commendation at court will bring generous titles and rewards. If there is no rain, destruction will visit your statue and fire your temple.” Mr Shi lifted a cup of wine, and the spirit emptied the cup of wine in front of him. Just as he emerged from the temple gate, dark clouds gathered, rain fell in torrents, and duckweed covered all around, vapour rising to blanket the earth. When the rain stopped, the water of the western river had quite dried up. They thus realized that the spirit had transported that to use as rain.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.223 (Tale 396):

梨岳祈雨

史宇之以大觀文殿學士判建寧府,值天時亢旱,郡有神靈於梨岳,一日禱於祠,曰:「神為血食此土之神,某奉君命守土之臣,斯郡久旱,苗稼將枯,神不降雨,我心何安?今釃酒二,神飲其一,某飲其一,若神降甘澍,保奏朝廷,厚其封贈。其或不雨,毀像焚廟。」史公舉杯一飲,而神前杯酒已竭矣。甫出門,陰雲四合,雨即霶霈,與萍俱下,水已帶土氣。雨止,西河之水已竭。乃知神運河之水以為雨也。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

A Household God Brings Property 家神送物

The family of Zhang Shuiyuan, of Yongfeng Stone Well in Xinzhou, served their household god with great reverence. The [lacuna] household god was an ancestor. The [lacuna] household had very little property, and later, due to the exhaustion of their property, the family prayed from dawn to dusk, hoping for assistance from the nether world. One day, when dusk was approaching, an old woman was seen walking straight in, carrying a bamboo box which she placed on a table in the ancestral hall. The family rushed out to meet her, but she was nowhere to be seen. When they looked at the portrait of a female ancestor in the ancestral hall, however, there was a close resemblance; the family were astonished and confused, and hesitated to look at the box. After a night had passed they finally opened and examined it, and all the contents were items of silver and gold. The Zhangs sold this and managed their property, and from this initial wealth became an important lineage. The old woman was their ancestress.

Among these ancestral spirits there are none who do not watch over their descendants from the nether world, cherishing people who live in ignorance, instead revering and praying to lascivious demons from dawn to dusk, calling them deities and divinities. When other people pray for their ancestors, this can be called auspicious and prosperous. If one pays no heed to one’s ancestors, failing to observe the seasonal offerings, not revering the tombs, even when there are descendants, how does this differ to the extinction of a lineage? If people can shift their reverence from lascivious demons to respectful service of their ancestors, it would not only be the Zhangs who receive protection and reward, and the deities of heaven and earth too would extend their generosity and protection.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.219 (Tale 389):

家神送物

信州永豐石井張稅院者,家事家神甚謹。[ ]家神者,祖先也。[ ]薄有貲產,後因破蕩,家人朝夕禱之,以冀陰相。一日將暮,忽見一嫗攜一小竹合子直入,置家堂中几案上,急出迎之,亦不見矣。但瞻家堂中所畫先世祖婆者如之,家人疑異,留不啟視。經宿啟視,皆黃白之物。張鬻之治產,(「產」,明刻本作 「生」。)因此貲產甲於〔一〕(據明刻本補。)族。蓋嫗者,祖婆也。夫祖宗英靈毋有不陰相子孫,惜人未之知,但朝夕奉祀淫鬼,指為神明。為他人祀祖宗,謂可徼福,反以本生祖宗置之度外,歲時不祭,墳墓不登,雖有子孫,絕嗣何異?儻能移祀淫鬼之心敬事祖宗,非惟如張氏之獲報,而天地神明亦加垂佑焉。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).