Regulations for External Alchemy
"Regulations for External Alchemy" refers to all kinds of ritual services in the whole process of refining elixir, including such aspects as selecting people and locations before refining, collecting soil, making charcoal, and building altars, as well as those rites following the inauguration of elixir refining, such as Offerings for the Elixir Cauldron ( 祭爐 Jilu ), Fasts and Oaths ( 約齋盟誓 Yuezhai mengshi ), Offering Incense ( 合香 Hexiang ), Offering Rituals for the Supreme Oneness ( 醮太一法 Jiao taiyi fa ) and the Elixir Cauldron Opening Rite ( 開爐 Kailu ), etc.
The Offerings for the Elixir Cauldron refer to a rite of worshiping elixir cauldrons prior to refining activities. According to Pollution Taboos Essential to Know in the Elixir Chamber ( 丹房需知 Danfang xuzhi ), sacrificial articles include things such as wines, dried meats and fresh fruits. The rite was followed by fasts and oaths, which stress that when Daoist masters teach secrets of elixir making to their students, they must swear to keep them secret because these skills are considered to be granted by heaven. If secrets are disclosed to the wrong people, punishments from heaven follow. All people involved in refining activities should therefore be cautious. They are required to take vows. Since the Spirit of Supreme Oneness ( 太一神 Taiyi shen ) was widely worshiped among alchemists, special rites were introduced for that sake. Without these rites, alchemists believed, no elixirs were attainable. On the contrary, The spirit's presence at the invitation of offerings will bring 'spirit' and 'vital breath' to elixirs and strengthen their effects. This belief reveals Daoists' respect for the Supreme Oneness. After elixirs were made, it was the time to open the cauldron. It was by no means a less important event. Many rites and taboos were involved. In general, the practitioners were to clean their bodies and fast, put on their ritual dress and star crown, and kneel, facing south with the cauldron in their hands. After the incense was burned, and their bodies cleaned, they began to pray to Daoist spirits and holy sovereigns. All these complex proceedings embodied Daoist attitudes in regard to refining elixirs.