Difference between revisions of "The Spirit of Wealth"
(Created page with '==Origin and Duties of the Martial Spirit of Wealth== The Spirits of Wealth refer to the Civil Spirit of Wealth and to the Martial Spirit of Wealth. In contemporary Daoist templ...')
Revision as of 17:29, 11 October 2009
Origin and Duties of the Martial Spirit of Wealth
The Spirits of Wealth refer to the Civil Spirit of Wealth and to the Martial Spirit of Wealth. In contemporary Daoist temples, the Spirit of Wealth is depicted riding on a black tiger, with a black and long-bearded face, a rod and treasure in both hands, and wearing an ancient military uniform. In fact, this is a depiction of Marshal Zhao, the Martial Spirit of Wealth, who is popularly known as Zhao Gongming or Zhao Xuantan. Stories about the Spirit of Wealth can be found in books such as Investigations into the Divine and Declarations of the Perfected, which were written during the Wei, Jin and Southern and Northern dynasties. In these stories, he is either a deity in charge of burials or the god of plagues. It wasn't until the Yuan and Ming dynasties that the stories about him evolved into their present form. Marshal Zhao's surname was Zhao, and his personal name Lang or Xuanlang. He styled himself Gongming. A native of Mt. Zhongnan, he was one of the Sun Spirits, in reference to the ancient myth of the Nine Suns. After they were shot down by Hou Yi with his arrows, the Nine Suns transformed themselves into nine birds which fell down onto Mt. Qingcheng and transformed themselves into nine ghosts. While the other eight ghosts spread diseases among the people, Zhao Xuanlang was transformed into a man who stayed as a hermit in the Shu state (the western area of Sichuan) and cultivated Dao there. When Celestial Master Zhang Lin practiced alchemy on Mt. Qingcheng, Zhao Xuanlang became his disciple, acting as the protector of the Elixir Chamber. After Zhang finished his elixir, he offered it to Zhao. After eating the drug, Zhao was able to change his form at will, and took the appearance of a Celestial Master. Zhang designated him as the protector of the Mystery Altar. Henceforth, he was called the Supreme Commader of the Mystery Altar. The Complete Investigation into the Divinities of the Three Doctrines claims that he controls thunder and lightning, dominates wind and rain, eliminates plague and disease, resists disasters and bad luck, and that he brings justice to the victims of wrong verdicts, brings wealth to fair business, and brings good results to pious prayer. In the Romance of the Gods, a fiction of the Ming dynasty, in which the heroes were designated as gods, Zhao Gongming was granted the title 'Perfect Sovereign of the Orthodox Oneness Dragon Tiger Mystery Altar of Wish-Fulfilment of the Golden Dragon'. He controls worldy wealth; under his command are the Heavenly Lord Who Invokes Treasure, the Heavenly Lord Who Collects Jewelry, the Envoy for Raising Wealth and the Immortal Official Who Benefits Commerce. Besides Marshal Zhao, Emperor Guan and general Wu Luna, who died in the defense of Wuxi city during the Ming dynasty, were also regarded as Martial Spirits of Wealth in folk culture.
Origin of the Civil Spirit of Wealth
There are many versions of the Civil Spirit of Wealth, including Bi Gan, Fan Li, Stellar Sovereign Caibo and the Star of Wealth which, along with the Star of Luck and the Star of Longevity, was one of the Three Stars of Luck, Wealth and Longevity. In the sculptures and New Year pictures which are popular in folk culture, the Civil Spirit of Wealth normally wears good clothing, a hat and shoes, with a white and smiling face which fits the happy atmosphere of the new year. At that time he can be seen in every family, on walls or doors. It is said that the Civil Spirit of Wealth was so rich throughout his life that, even after his ascension to heaven, he was designated to run worldly wealth as well as official posts and ranks. However, the Civil Spirit of Wealth was never incorporated into the pantheon of Daoist Immortals. That's the reason why there aren't many Daoist scriptures attributed to him.
Worship of the Spirit of Wealth
It was said that the fifteenth day of the third lunar month (in another version, the second day of the first lunar month) was Zhao Xuannang's birthday. On his birthday, Daoist adepts came to Daoist temples to attend memorial ceremonies. They prayed for good harvests and great wealth. But according to some popular tales, it was on the fifth day of the first lunar month that the Spirit of Wealth descended to inspect worldly society. So on the morning of that day, people let off firecrackers and played lion games, which was known as Enticing the Spirit of Wealth. Everyone one hopes he will have a good start and make a big fortune after spring festival.