Liu Pi Requests Divination 劉闢求卦

Soon after Liu Pi[1] of the Tang had passed the imperial examinations, he visited a diviner to confirm, by means of casting yarrow from a calabash, that he would certainly receive an official salary. The gourd released a blind pair, and when the diviner was finished, he spoke to Pi: “Twenty years from now, you will be appointed in the southwest, and it will not end well.” Pi left rolls of silk as a gift. Afterwards, he ‘threw off his commoner’s clothes’, following Secretariat Chief Wei to Xichuan and rising to serve as Imperial Censor and Superior Administrator of the Army On Campaign. After twenty years, Wei passed away, sending Pi to court to report this, requesting advancement to Dongchuan. The decree did not permit this. Pi therefore dressed in simple clothes and rode alone back to the calabash diviner. Using the yarrow, when the stalks had aligned and the divination was complete, they addressed Pi: “Twenty years ago I once made a divination for someone and received the result ‘Mishap to follow’. Now we get the same reading again; is this not the virtue of the ancients?” Pi then submitted in agreement. The calabash diviner said: “If you ask other people about this, catastrophe will reach you.” Pi did not entirely trust him. He returned to Shu, and indeed rebelled. Emperor Xianzong (r. 805-20 CE) caught him and executed him on Gao Street.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.11 (Tale 67):

劉闢求卦

唐劉闢初登第,詣卜者葫蘆生筮得一卦,以定官祿。葫蘆生雙瞽,卦成,謂闢曰:「自此二十年,祿在西南,不得善終。」闢留束素與之。其後脫褐,從韋令公西川,官至御史大夫,為行軍司馬。既二十年,韋病薨,使闢入奏,請益東川。詔未允。闢乃微服單騎,復詣葫蘆生。筮之,揲蓍成卦,謂闢曰:「吾二十年前常與一人曾卜得『無妄之隨』,今復得此卦,非曩昔賢乎?」闢即依阿唯諾。葫蘆生曰:「若審其人,禍將至矣。」闢不甚信。乃歸蜀,果叛。憲宗皇帝擒之,戮之藁街。

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories) in Du yi zhi, Xuanshi Zhi 獨異志,宣室志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories, Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), edited by Zhang Yongqin 张永钦 and Hou Zhiming 侯志明 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983)

[1] On Liu Pi 劉闢 (d. 806 CE), see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liu_Pi_(official).

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A Daoist Sends A Letter 道人寄書

Before the seat of the Linchuan County Magistrate is a stone peak, topped with a small pavilion, and this is protected by a vermillion railing. A seventy-year-old army veteran said:

Beneath this peak was an immortal paradise. Long ago there was an Attaché to the Guard in Zhejiang who, encountering an immortal there, was given a letter, and told: “If I may trouble you, when you are about to leave Fuzhou, please knock on the rock below Ram’s Horn Peak that stands before the town, and there will be the letter’s recipient.” When the attaché returned, he knocked on the stone, and saw a red gate open to a cave, snaggletoothed with glazed tiles, and with windows and a pavilion, quite different from those seen in the human world. Elderly men and women all came out to greet and question him, giving him a cup of broth to drink that was fragrant and beguiling in flavour, and telling him: “The attaché can stay here.” The attaché said: “I have young and old to care for, and do not wish to remain here.” They gave him a sheng (about 1 litre) of grain, and although the attaché threw it to the ground angrily, a dozen or so grains stuck to the skirt of his robe. They then showed him out of the gate, which turned out to be on the riverbank at Wushigang. When he worked out the date, it turned out that he’d been gone more than a year. Later, he saw that the ten or more grains were actually tiny nuggets of gold.

From this we know that the stone at the peak is a border with the territory of the immortals, and that the attaché was not fated to enjoy their good fortune!

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.137 (Tale 241):

道人寄書

臨川郡治前有石山,覆以小亭,及結朱闌護之。有七十歲老兵云:此石山下有洞天福地。昔有一承局在浙,間逢一道人寄書云:「煩將去撫州州前羊角山投下,請扣石,自有人接書。」承局歸,往叩石間,即見朱門洞開,碧瓦參差,亭臺窗戶,殊異人間世。翁姥男女皆歡迎出問,飲以湯一杯,香味襲人,且謂:「承局可留此。」承局曰:「我有老小,不願留止。」與以穀一升,承局怒擲之地,但存十數粒粘於布裙間。遂送出門,乃是烏石岡江畔。以年月計之,則已過一年以外。後見穀十數粒,乃瓜子金也。因知仙境在石山之下,而承局亦無緣分也夫!

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 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).