The Celestial Master Executes A Serpent 天師誅蛇

In Dongyang County, in Wuzhou, there was a Guo Langzhong, whose family depended on and lived among the mountains. The crags and rocks were steep and dangerous, the trees and forests deep and thick, and there were often great serpents that became demons that people were unable to deal with. Guo had a daughter, sixteen sui in age and of great beauty, who suddenly vanished and could not be found. Her parents suspected she had been deluded by a ghost, and thought about her endlessly, morning and night, sending people to offer incense and a letter to Longhushan, to call on and request help from the Guanmiao Celestial Master. The master intended to set off the next day, and that night dreamed that the school’s founder spoke to him: “You should not go; I will sort this out myself.” Suddenly, one day, there was a person of religion who arrived at the Guo household, and calling on him asked: “What matter disturbs your family?” Guo replied with the matter of his missing daughter. The person of religion said: “I have the power of the Way; you should send people after me to seek her.” They then sent people following after him, and on reaching the hills behind the house [163] he ordered the people to close their eyes, listen for his cry, and then open their eyes. When the cry came, they opened their eyes to see flames erupt from the hillside, with a great serpent burning among them, and the girl standing before it. On questioning, it emerged that the serpent had become a bewitching spirit. The demon then died. The religious then gave the girl an amulet to wear, and she regained her former peace.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.162-63 (Tale 282):

天師誅蛇

婺州東陽縣有郭郎中,家依山而居,山石險峻,樹林深密,常有大蛇為妖,人所不能治。郭有一女年十六歲,容貌甚麗,忽尋不見。父母疑為祟所惑,朝夕思慕不已,遣人齎香信詣龍虎山,迎請觀妙天師救治。師欲翌日起(「起」,明刻本、明抄本作「啟」。)行,是夜(「夜」作「以」,據明刻本、明抄本改。)夢祖師云:「汝毋往,吾將自治之。」忽一日,有〔道〕(據明刻本、明抄本補。)人到郭家,謁問之曰:「爾家中有何憂事?」郭以失女事對。道人曰:「我有道法,爾當遣人隨我尋之。」遂遣人隨去,至屋後 [163] 山中,令其人閉目,謂聞喝聲即開。及喝一聲,開目見山中火發,焚一大蛇於中,女立于前。詢之,乃此蛇為魅。其怪遂絕。道人乃給符與女服,獲安如故。

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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An Earthworm Demon 蚯蚓為妖

Qian Zizhao of Pengze County in Jiangzhou had a daughter who was still unmarried when she reached ‘the hairpin’ (i.e., the age of fifteen). Her parents came to realise that she was pregnant, and questioned her about it. She said: “Every night a beautiful youth comes out of the Heavenly Well and sleeps with me; this has been going on for half a year.” Her father and mother suspected that she might have been seduced by a demon, so gave her a length of fine thread on a needle, and instructed her to wait until she went out, and then to secretly attach it to her robe, so they could track where she had gone. The next morning they walked around and made an inspection, finding a two-cun length of thread trapped against one of the bricks in the well (a cun is about 2.5cm). Digging out a stone slab, below it they found a white earthworm, more than two chi in length (a chi is about 33 cm). When they killed it, it made a chirruping sound.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.260 (Tale 472):

為妖

江州彭澤縣潛子昭,有女及笄未婚,父母覺而有娠,詰之。乃曰:「每夜有美少年從天井中出,與同寢,今已半年矣。」父母疑為祟所惑,乃以[*糸末*]線穿針授女,令俟其去,則密縫其衣,視之何去。次早巡視,天井中磚縫外尚留線二寸許,掘開石板,下得白蚯蚓一條,長二尺許,殺之,作聲唧唧。

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 White Dog Takes Human Form 白犬化人

In Pucheng County there was a household from which both the elder and younger brother had departed. The elder returned first, and the next night, when it was intended that his younger brother should return, the elder brother’s maid observed a white dog come in from outside, straightening its [256] clothing and assuming human form, then going straight into the younger brother’s chamber. The younger brother’s wife herself said that her husband had come back, and by then it was the middle of the night, so they went to bed. The maid reported what she had seen to her master, saying that a dog had taken human form, and so they peeped into the room from outside the window, looking directly onto the bed. Realizing that it had been exposed, it changed back into a dog, leapt out through the window, and bit a piece from flesh from the maid’s face before escaping. To this day she bears the mark, and people refer to her as Dog Wound.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.255-56 (Tale 462):

白犬化人

浦城縣有一家,兄弟凡兩人皆他出。兄先歸,次夜擬弟歸,忽兄妮見有一白犬自外至,整束 [256] 衣巾便成人形,直造其弟房內。弟婦自謂夫歸,時已中夜,即與就枕。妮以所見告其主,謂犬化形,窗外密覷,正在牀中。知為人覺,復化成犬,自窗跳出,將妮面咬塊肉而去。至今留痕,人以犬殘稱之。

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 Dog Spirit Seduces A Woman 犬精迷婦

Wang such-and-such of Anren County once went away on business, making two trips without returning, and leaving his wife and mother at home. His wife suddenly became pregnant, and her mother-in-law grew suspicious. One evening the mother-in-law waited until the silence of night fell, and then secretly approached the wife’s room to investigate the matter, where she heard the woman making a ‘woo woo’ sound. When the next day dawned, the mother-in-law again approached the wife’s room, and questioned her, to which she said: “Whenever the second watch (9-11pm) arrives, a thing like a great board lays upon my body; I am unable to move, only when the cock’s crow sounds does it rise, releasing my body and departing.” Her mother-in-law began to understand, and looked under her body; the sleeping mat was soaked through with a white fluid, so she then knew it was a matter of demonic seduction. She ordered a procession of shamanic masters to treat it, but all failed to have any effect. One of the shamans secretly scattered ashes across the floor, however, and when inspected these revealed a dog’s pawprint. They followed the prints out to the road, and were led to such-and-such a household, where they bought the dog with paper money and boiled it on an altar out in front. The woman who had been seduced wept and howled as if she had been widowed, and after two days gave birth to a thing like a rabbit, without shedding a spot of blood. She was fortunate not to die, but lives to this day in a state of imbecility.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.255 (Tale 461):

犬精迷婦

安仁縣王某出外經商,兩載未歸,留婦及母在家。婦忽有孕,阿姑疑之。一夕阿姑伺夜靜,密造婦房前以察之,似聞婦有嗚嗚聲。至天明,阿姑再造婦房,詰問,乃曰:「每至二更時候,有一物若巨板狀伏於身上,不可動,至雞鳴物方離身起去。」阿姑方悟,視其身下,白汁滿席,方知為妖怪所惑。累命師巫救治,皆莫驗。巫乃密布灰篩於地,視之,乃犬迹也。隨路迹蹤,追至某家,就用鈔買至壇前烹之。所迷之婦若喪其偶,號哭不勝,越兩日,生下兩物如兔,更無點血,幸得不死,至今癡呆。

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 Demon Mud-Baby 泥孩兒怪

In Lin’an it was customary that people enjoy themselves on the lake, and many buy one another Pingjiang mud-babies, often giving them to neighbouring households and calling them Local Specialty Statues. A woman from a Yuanxi household, because she had received one of these yabei children, set it up a bed and hung a screen of coloured silk from a cross-beam, playing with and treasuring it tirelessly. One day, while having an afternoon nap, she suddenly heard a person chanting poetry: “Embroidered bedding gives long years of service, passed from hand to hand; fragrant bed-curtains may be handed on in quick succession.” When she awoke, she couldn’t see anyone. That night, waking a little in the small hours, she again heard someone chant the same couplet. Woken with a start, in the dim moonlight she saw a teenager stepping through the screen from the west, and leapt up in alarm. It advanced and comforted her: “Don’t be frightened; I live not far from here, you have yearned for a child for such a long time, your soul and spirit have brought you to this. Do not wait, open the gates and enter.” She rose and saw that the door was closed just as before. The woman realised that he was a spirit, but could not resist combining with him. At times when the night was dark and the moon bright, that youth would sometimes come and go, having left her a gold ring. The woman had secretly placed it in a box, and after several days realised that it was actually just dirt; she was greatly shocked. Suddenly she saw that the gold ring was missing from the yabei child’s left upper arm, and knew that it was a demon, so she smashed it and threw the fragments in the river; the demon then vanished.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.232 (Tale 419):

泥孩兒怪

臨安風俗,嬉遊湖上者,相尚多買平江泥孩兒,仍與鄰家,謂之土宜像。院西有一民家女,因得壓被孩兒,歸置於牀屏綵橋之上,玩弄愛惜無厭。一日午睡,忽聞有人歌詩云:「繡被長年勞轉展,香幃還許暫偎隨。」及覺,不見有人。是夕,中夜睡微醒,復聞有歌前詩句。驚覺,月影朦朧,見一少年侵步帳西,女子驚起。進而撫之曰:「毋恐,我所居去此不遠,慕子之久,神魂到此,不待啟關而入。」起視扃鑰如故。女知其神,不得已與之合焉。正當風清月白之時,此子時復而來,因遺金環。女密投箱篋中,數日見金環實土為之,女心大驚。忽見壓被孩兒左臂上金環不存,知此為怪,遂碎而投諸河,其怪遂絕。

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)

A closely comparable tale is found in Tian Rucheng 田汝成, Xihu Youlan Zhi Yu 西湖遊覽志餘 (A Continued Record of Sightseeing at West Lake), (Shanghai: Shanghai Guji Chubanshe, 1980), 26.477-78:

宋時,臨安風俗,嬉遊湖上者,競買泥孩、鸎歌花、湖船回家,分送鄰里,名曰湖上土宜。象院西一民家女,買得一壓被孩兒,歸置屛橋之上,玩弄不厭。一日午睡,忽聞有歌詩者云:『繡被 [478] 長年勞展轉,香幃還許暫偎隨。』及覺,不見有人。是夜將半,復聞歌聲,時月影朦朧,見一少年,漸近帳前,女子驚起,少年進撫之曰:『毋恐,我所居,去此不遠,慕子姿色,神魂到此,人無知者。』女亦愛其丰采,遂與合焉。因遺女金環,女密置箱篋。明日,啓篋視環,乃土造者。女大驚,忽見壓被孩兒左臂失去金環,遂碎之,其怪乃絶。

A Fox Takes the Form of a Dead Person 狐戀亡人

Chen Chengwu’s household was poor, without an income, and he lived alone in a small house, but having once seen a village woman of great beauty, his heart often cherished her memory. One evening the woman suddenly arrived before his narrow bed, saying: “My heart has long wished to be united with you, but there are many people in my home, and I could not come and go. Now they have all gone away, so I came especially to visit you.” Chen was delighted to be united with her, his tender sentiments intense, quite unaware that she was a disembodied spirit. Enjoying contact from dawn to dusk, his face grew sallow and drawn, and he fell ill and died. Upon his death those who came to prepare his funeral saw only an elderly fox (i.e., instead of a woman), cradling its head in its paws by Chen’s grave and howling in a most sorrowful way. They raised the coffin and approached the fire, and the fox followed them, disappearing from view as soon as it reached the flames, leaving no trace.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.249 (Tale 450):

狐戀亡人

陳承務家貧無取資,獨處小室,曾見一村婦有色,心常思慕。一夕婦忽至榻前,曰:「吾心欲與子合久矣,奈屋內人稠,不能出入。今皆他出,特來相訪。」陳喜與合,情意稠密,莫知其為人鬼也。朝暮往來,面色黃瘁,感疾而卒。及其死也,為治喪事,但見老狐扶頭坐於陳喪之側,嗚嗚聲有悲哀之狀。舉棺就火,狐(「狐」原作「婦」,據明刻本改。)亦隨之,至火滅方不見其蹤影。

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 Spirit Knocks at Physicians’ Doors 鬼扣醫門

Long ago in the capital several friends among the scholars of a government school were strolling beneath the moon when they saw a page boy bearing a red gauze lamp and leading, with a woman walking very slowly behind. The scholarly friends, having suspicions about the strange sight of a woman walking alone so late at night, so they followed and observed her. Reaching the left side of Zhong’an Bridge, she knocked on the gate of the physician Zhang Fangyu and called on him for medicine. Zhang opened the door and saw her, then shut [237] it without admitting her. Next she knocked on Superintendant Li’s shop; Li came out and looked, then invited her in and went to feel her pulse. The scholar friends waited for a long time but she did not emerge, so they memorized the positions of the two physicians’ gates and went home. The next morning they called on Zhang Fangyu, who said: “Walking alone late at night, she couldn’t be the daughter of an honourable household, so she was turned away.” They then visited Li’s shop, and heard the sound of weeping and wailing coming from his household; asking them, they were told: “Last night a woman knocked on the door for a medical consultation, and after she left he had a stroke and died.” They then knew that it had been a ghost taking the shape of a woman, knocking on doors and seeking medicine. It can only be that Li saw her beauty and then ended up like this.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.236 (Tale 426):

鬼扣醫門

昔京庠有士友數人步月夜行,見有(「有」,明刻本作「一」。)小廝持紅紗籠前導,一婦人冉冉後隨,士友疑其暮夜獨行之異,跡而視之。至衆安橋左側,扣內醫張防禦門謁藥。張啟戶視之,即掩 [237] 門不納。次扣李提點鋪,李出視,延入,遂為診脈。士友俟久不出,默識兩醫之門而歸。次早訪張防禦,曰:「暮夜獨行,必非良家子女,所以卻之。」次過李鋪,聞其家有哀哭聲,問之,則曰:「昨夜一婦女扣門謁藥,去後中風而卒。」方知鬼化為婦,扣門求藥。豈非李見其美麗,動興而致然爾。

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).