The Great Perfect Warrior Emperor
Origin of the Great Perfect Warrior Emperor
The Great Perfect Warrior Emperor ( 真武大帝 Zhenwu Dadi ) is also called the Mysterious Warrior Spirit ( 玄武神 Xuanwu Shen ) and the Highest Emperor of the Mysterious Northern Heaven ( 玄天上帝 Xuantian Shangdi ). According to the Supreme Venerable Sovereign's Sublime Book of Divine Incantations Telling the Story of the Great Sage and Perfect Warrior of the Mysterious Northern Heaven ( 《太上說玄天大聖真武本傳神咒妙經》 Taishang Shuo Xuantian Dasheng Zhenwu Benzhuan Shenzhou Miaojing ), he was the 82nd avatar of the Supreme Venerable Sovereign ( 太上老君 Taishang Laojun ). As a son of the King of Pure Bliss ( 淨樂國王 Jingle Guowang ) and of the Queen of Virtuous Victory ( 善勝皇后 Shansheng Huanghou ), he was born in the Heavenly Palace of Non-Desire in the All-Embracing Realm. The queen dreamed that she had swallowed the sun, and was found pregnant after awaking. She gave birth to a baby after 14 months pregnancy. Grown up, the prince left his home and his parents to cultivate Dao on Mt Wudang, and attained immortality after 42 years. He ascended to Heaven in full daylight. He was given the title 'Supreme Mystery" and ordered to guard the north by the Jade Emperor ( 玉帝 Yudi ). The Mysterious Warrior" was originally the collective name of the northern seven of the 28 constellations. In the section 'Distant Excursion" of the Elogies of the Chu ( 楚辭 Chuci ), Qu Yuan sings "to invoke the Mysterious Warrior and fly towards it". The Mysterious Warrior constellation is shaped like a tortoise and a snake, so the commentary says: "The Mysterious Warrior is the tortoise-and-snake. It is called mysterious (dark) because its position is to the north; it is called warrior because it has scales and an armament on its body." In the Kaibao Era of the Northern Song dynasty, the Mysterious Warrior Spirit descended on Zhongnan Mountain. In the seventh year of the Dazhong Xiangfu Era of Emperor Zhen (AD 1014), he was given the title 'Perfect Sovereign Who Aids the Sagely and Protects the Virtuous" ( 翊聖保德真君 Yisheng Baode Zhenjun ). Afterwards, the name 'Mysterious Warrior' was changed to 'Perfect Warrior' ( 真武 Zhenwu ), to avoid using the the character 'Xuan' (mysterious, dark) which appeared in the name of the royal ancestor, Zhao Xuanlang. Emperors Zhen, Hui and Qin of Song dynasties all honoured him with titles. In the seventh year of the Dade Era of the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1303), he was honoured as 'Original, Holy, Kind and August Holy Emperor of the Mysterious Northern Heaven" ( 元聖仁威玄天上帝 Yuansheng Renwei Xuantian Shangdi ). Emperor Cheng of the Ming dynasty worshiped the Perfect Warrior, and so Perfect Warrior Temples were built in the imperial offices at all levels such as agencies, bureaus, ministries, and the treasury. In the tenth year of the Yongle Era, Marquis Zhangxin was ordered to build a complex of temples on Mt. Wudang with 200,000 soldiers, and promoted the worship of the Great Perfect Warrior Emperor to the highest peak.
The Big Dipper Who Decrees Death ( 北斗注死 Beidou Zhusi )
'Mysterious Warrior" is the general name of the seven northern constellations, among which is the Dipper constellation. Daoism, saying that "the Southern Dipper decrees life and the Northern decrees death", attaches much importance to the worship of the Dipper stars. From entering the womb, a man's destiny is transferred from the Southern Dipper to the Northern Dipper. Therefore, he who prays for longevity must worship the Great Perfect Warrior Emperor.
Essence of Water
The Sage Protecting Mantra ( 《佑聖咒》 Yousheng Zhou ) calls the Perfect Warrior the "essence of water who is the transformation of Supreme Yin. It corresponds to the Xuwei Constellation and is shaped like a combination of a tortoise and a snake. Omnipresent in all directions, its power frightens all the spirits." Belonging to water, the Perfect Warrior can administer the rivers and fire, and thus eliminate relevant disasters. This is the reason why many Perfect Warrior Temples were built in the palaces of the Ming Dynasty.
Worship in Temples
The 3rd day of the 3rd month of the lunar calendar is the divine birthday of the Perfect warrior. On that day, birthday celebration ritual offerings are held in all places, among which the worship on Mt Wudang is the most flourishing.