Taboos in the Use of Fire

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Outer Alchemy
Regulations for External Alchemy
Cinnabar House and Cauldrons
The Practice of External Alchemy
Taboos in the Use of Fire
Terms of Outer Alchemy
The External Alchemy Skill of Refining the Yellow and the White
Six-and-One Mud
The Heavenly Palace of Supreme Oneness
Reducing and Increasing Fire
Poison Removal Skills
The Dragon-Bud Elixir Tradition

There are taboos in regard to using fire and refining elixirs. From the ancient magicians ( 方士 Fangshi ) to the Daoists, refining elixirs was considered to be a serious issue, and no mistake was permitted. As a result, taboos came into being, including those related to using fire. To a big extent, they were linked to the taboos of elixir chamber. The chapter Pollution Taboos ( 禁穢 Jinhui ) in Pollution Taboos Essential to Know in the Elixir Chamber points out that females, Buddhist monks, hens, cocks and dogs were forbidden enter the elixir chamber where fire was used for refining. When fire was light, incense should be burned. When people went inside the chamber, they should put on new shoes and dresses. Acrid and pungent foods, like scallions and garlic were forbidden. When fire was light, alchemists would pray for blessings from the Emperor of the Mysterious Origin and other spirits such as holy officials or immortal sovereigns. Alchemists attached a great importance to the timing of fire. If there was a tide at midnight, firing had to be postponed. On the days Jia Shen, Jia Wu, Jia Chen, Jia Yin or Jia Zi, when spirits in charge ascended to their thrones, no fire was permitted for refining elixir, otherwise, the work was doomed to failure due to offending the spirits. In addition, refining elixir should be avoided during wind, rain and thunder. There were taboos against mournful cries and sad feelings, as well as blood and other pollutions. These taboos originated from religious belief as well as experiences, which showed how alchemists reacted to things which were thought at their time to be in coherence.