A Spirit Treats A Bone In The Throat 神醫骨鯁

Wang Youliang of Poyang, while eating a spicy pig’s trotter, accidentally swallowed a finger-sized bone which stuck in his throat and for several days could not be gulped down. Despite spitting and salivating being painful, he could take a little drink and soup, but his family were extremely worried about him. At dusk, when he was beginning to doze, he saw a scarlet-robed figure approach and tell him: “It is said you suffer from a bone. I have medicine, which is simply the finest southern pengsha.”[1] Awaking, he requested a small piece, held it in his mouth until it dissolved, and then on eating, was able to swallow freely as before. This can be seen as an example of spirits granting their secrets in the aid of others.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.226 (Tale 403):

神醫骨鯁

鄱陽汪友良因食辣蹄,誤吞骨如指大,鯁於喉間,累日不下,雖咳唾亦痛,但略通湯飲,家人絕憂之。於昏睡次,睹一朱衣來告曰:「聞汝苦骨,吾有一藥,唯南鵬砂最妙。」覺而索砂一小塊,淨洗含化,纔食頃,脫然如失。此殆神明陰授以方濟人云。

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).

[1] Pengsha 鵬砂 refers to borax, or sodium tetraborate.

 

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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).

A Ghost Helps Fell Trees 鬼助伐木

A carpenter, Li Jian, once went alone into the mountains to cut timber to build a house. One day at noon he saw a person, tall in stature and ugly in appearance, and seemingly engraved all over, suddenly appearing before him. Li was about to chop down a tree, and the other also took up and used an axe; when asked his name, he called himself “Dr Hua.” Li’s heart leapt with fear, believing him to be a mountain goblin, and staring round couldn’t see anyone else, so yelled out several times to the spirits about his plight. The other leapt up and, excited, said:  “You suspect me, which makes it hard to help you.” Uttering a long, loud cry, it climbed a tree and departed.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.238 (Tale 430):

鬼助伐木

木匠李監,嘗為人入山造木料架屋。一日午,見一人身長而貌醜,遍體雕質,(「質」,明刻本作「青」。)突如其前。李方伐木,彼亦用斤,問其姓名,則自稱曰「花博士」。李心驚悸,以為山之精怪,旁顧無人,即呼所事之神數聲。其人躍然而興曰:「爾既疑我,難以為助。」長嘯攀樹而去。

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).