The Three Great Emperor-Officials

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Immortals and Immortalism
The Heavenly Lords
The Primeval Lord of Heaven
The Heavenly Lord of the Numinous Treasure
The Heavenly Lord of Dao and its Virtue
The Great Jade Emperor
The Heavenly Lord of Supreme Oneness and Salvation from Misery
The Three Great Emperor-Officials
The Four Heavenly Ministers
The Emperors of the Soil
The Queen Mother of the West
The Thunder Patriarch
The Stellar Sovereigns
The Great Perfect Warrior Emperor
Imperial Sovereign Wenchang
The Stellar Sovereign of the Five Planets and Seven Stars
The Four Numinous Animals and Twenty-Eight Constellations
The Big Dipper
The Sixty Daily Spirits of the Celestial Trunks and Earthly Branches
Spirits of Mountains, Rivers, Seas and Thunder
The Great Emperor of the Sacred Mountain of the East
The Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud
The Five Supreme Commanders of the Thunder Agency
The Father of Thunder and the Mother of Lightning
The Dragon King
The Master of Rain
The Earl of Wind
Spirits of the Soil and Local Protector Spirits
The City God
The Door Spirits
The Earth Spirit
The Kitchen Spirit
Spirits of Wealth and Longevity
The Spirit of Wealth
The Stars of Luck, Wealth and Longevity
Guardians of Hell
The Great Emperor of Fengdu
The Yamas of the Ten Halls
Perfect Men and Immortals
Guanyin (Avalokitesvara)
The Eight Immortals
The Motherly Matriarch
Emperor Guan
Patriarch Lü Numinous Official Wang
The Water-Margin Lady
The Three Mao Perfect Sovereign Brothers
The Great Life-Protecting Emperor
The Saintly Founder-King of Zhang
The King of the Three Mountains

Origin of the Three Great Emperor-Officials

The Three Great Emperor-Officials ( 三官大帝 Sanguan Dadi ) are the Heavenly Official ( 天官 Tianguan ), the Earthly Official ( 地官 Diguan ) and the Water Official ( 水官 Shuiguan ). In early ancient China, rituals of sacrifice to Heaven, Earth and Water were commonly performed. The Records of Rites ( 禮記 Liji ) says: "The sacrifice for Heaven is burned with wood; the sacrifice for the mountain is raised to the mountain peak; the sacrifice for the river is sunken in the water; and the sacrifice for earth is buried." However, it was the exclusive right of emperors to sacrifice to heaven, earth and rivers, while the common people only sacrificed to their ancestors. In the eastern Han dynasty, when Zhang Daoling founded the Celestial Masters Tradition ( 天師道 Tianshi Dao ), he instated a method for Daoists to pray for healing by sacrificing to Heaven, Earth and Water, and by presenting Handwritten Repentances to the Three Heavenly Officials ( 三官手書 Sanguan Shoushu ). "One is placed on the top of the mountain to offer to heaven; one is buried into the earth; and one is sunken into water." In the Southern and Northern dynasties, the Three Officials were combined with the Spirits of the Three Origins (higher, middle and lower) ( 三元神Sanyuan Shen ).


The Heavenly Official Who Confers Blessings

The Heavenly Official, also known as 'Higher Origin First-Class Heavenly Official Who Confers Blessings' ( 上元一品賜福天官 Shangyuan Yipin Cifu Tianguan ) or 'Great Emperor of Purple Subtlety' ( 紫微大帝 Ziwei Dadi ), belongs to the Jade Clarity Realm ( 玉清境 Yuqing Jing ). The Heavenly Official, a condensation of green, yellow, and white Vital Breaths ( 氣 Qi ) of the Original Chaos, is in charge of the emperors of all the heavens. Every 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar, he descends to the human world and inspects and decides the sins and blessings of men, and thus is called the Heavenly Official Who Confers Blessings ( 天官賜福 Tianguan Cifu ).


The Earthly Official Who Absolves Sins

The Earthly Official, also known as the 'Earthly Official of Middle Origin and Second-Rank Absolver of Sins' ( 二品中元解厄地宮Erpin Zhongyuan Jie E Diguan ) or 'Great Emperor of Pristine Emptiness" ( 清虛大帝 Qingzu Dadi ), belongs to the Highest Clarity Realm ( 上清境 Shangqing Jing ). The Earthly Official, a condensation of Numinous Vital Breath of the Original Grotto of Chaos ( 元洞混靈之氣 Yuandong Hunling Zhi Qi ) and of Essence of Extreme Yellow, is in charge of the Five Emperors of the Five Sacred Mountains and of the Earthly Immortals of all places. Every 15th of the seven month of the lunar calendar, he comes to the human world, inspects the sins of men and absolves them.


The Water Official Who Eliminates Misfortunes

The Water Official, also known as the 'Water Official of Lower Origin and Third-Rank Eliminator of Misfortunes' ( 下元三品解厄水官 Xianyuan Sanpin Jie E Shuiguan ) or 'Great Emperor of Pervasive Yin" ( 洞陰大帝 Dongyin Dadi ), belongs to the Jade Clarity Realm ( 玉清境 Yuqing Jing ). The Water Official, a condensation of Vital Breath of Winds and Lakes and of Essence of the Dawn of Greatness, is in charge of the immortals residing in water. Every 15th of the tenth month of the lunar calendar, he comes to the human world to inspect sins and good fortune, and eliminates the misfortunes of men.


Worship in Temples

On 15th of the first month, the 15th of the seventh month and the 15th of the tenth month, the birthdays of the Three Officials of Heaven, Earth and Water, Daoists go to temples and burn incense to offer sacrifices. Also, Golden Register Rituals ( 金籙齋 Jinlu Zhai ) and Yellow Register Rituals ( 黃籙道場 Huanglu Daochang ) are held to pray for fortune and eliminate misfortune.