The Thunder Patriarch
Origin of the Thunder Patriarch
The Thunder Patriarch ( 雷祖 Leizu ) is also called the 'Heavenly Lord of Universal Transformation Whose Voice of Thunder Resonates from the Origin of the Nine Heavens' ( 九天應元雷聲普化天尊 Jiutian Yingyuan Leisheng Puhua Tianzun ), or the 'Perfect King of Universal Transformation Whose Voice of Thunder Resonates with the Origin of the Nine Heavens' ( 九天應元雷聲普化真王 Jiutian Yingyuan Leisheng Puhua Zhenwang ). He is, according to the Jade Book of Thunderbolts from the Mystery Capital of Jade Clarity and Great Purity of the Star of Purple Subtlety in the Nine Heavens of the Most High ( 《無上九霄玉清大梵紫微玄都雷庭玉經》 Wushang Jiuxiao Yuqing Dafan Ziwei Xuandu Leiting Yujing ), the avatar of the Perfect King of Jade Clarity ( 玉清真王 Yuqing Zhenwang ) and the ninth son of the Primeval Lord of Heaven ( 元始天尊 Yaunshi Tianzun ). He is also said to be the Thunder Spirit ( 雷神 Leishen ), a deity in charge of thunder and rain, who is the immortalized Yellow Emperor with the title 'Thunder Patriarch'. The Thunder Patriarch lives in the Jade Mansion of Divine Heaven ( 神霄玉府 Shenxiao Yufu ), in the midst of the Pure Vital Breath of the Azure Heaven ( 碧霄梵氣 Bixiao Fanqi ), 2300 miles from the Thunder City ( 雷城 Leicheng ). The 81 zhang-high Thunder City is the place where the Heavenly Court administers thunders, to the left of which is the Jade Pivot Five Thunder Agency ( 玉樞五雷使 Yushu Wulei Shi ) and to the right of which is the Jade Mansion Five Thunder Agency ( 玉府五雷使 Yufu Wulei Wulei Shi ). In front of the Heavenly Lord, there are thirty-six thunder drums in the charge of thrity-six spirits. When it is time for thunders, the Thunder Patriarch beats the drum once; and Grandpa Thunder ( 雷公 Leigong ) and the Master of Thunder ( 雷師 Leishi ) throw out thunderbolts. The thirty-six spirits of the Thunder Agency are all meritorious ministers of the time. The Romance of the Gods ( 封神演義 Fengshen Yanyi ), a fiction of the Ming Dynasty, calls Wenzhong the 'Heavenly Lord of Universal Transformation Whose Voice of Thunder Resonates with the Origin of the Nine Heavens", who leads twenty-four Law-Protecting Heavenly Sovereigns Who Bring Wind and Rain ( 催雲助雨護法天君 Cuiyun Zhuyu Hufa Tianjun ). Among them are Deng Yuanzhong the Great Spirit of Statutes and Ordinances ( 律令大神 Luling Dashen ), who is often worshipped in temples, Xi Huan the Heavenly Sovereign of Silver Teeth and Shiny Eyes ( 銀牙耀日天君 Yinya YaoMu Tianjun ), Zhang Jie the Flying Messenger ( 飛捷服應使 Feijie Baoying Shi ), Supreme Commander Gou Zhang the Left Demon Suppressor ( 左伐魔使 Zuo Famo Shi ), Supreme Commander Bi Huan the Right Demon Suppressor ( 右伐魔使 You Gamo Shi ), Heavenly Sovereign Tao Rong, Heavenly Sovereign Pang Hong, Heavenly Sovereign Qin Wan, Heavenly Sovereign Zhao Jiang, Heavenly Sovereign Dong Quan, Heavenly Sovereign Yuan Jiao, etc.
In ancient times Grandpa Thunder and the Thunder Spirit had already been worshipped. But it was at the end of the Northern Song that the Thunder Agency ( 雷部 Leibu ), in the charge of the Heavenly Lord of Universal Transformation Whose Voice of Thunder Resonates with the Origin of the Nine Heavens, was incorporated into the Daoist divinity system. In the northern Song, Daoist sects such as the Divine Heaven Tradition ( 神霄派 Shenxiao Pai ) and the Pristine Subtlety Tradition ( 清微派 Qingwei Pai ), emphasized Thunder Skills ( 雷法 Leifa ). Thus, the functions of thunder expanded from providing rain to announcing fortune or misfortune, and even to conferring life or death after the inspection and evaluation of people. The Jade Pivot Precious Book of the Heavenly Lord of Universal Transformation Whose Voice of Thunder Resonates with the Origin of the Nine Heavens ( 《九天應元雷聲普化天尊玉樞寶經》 Jiutian Yingyuan Leisheng Puhua tianzun Yushu Baojing ) says that "those who are not pious to their parents, teachers and kings" will be killed by the Five Thunders Inspection and Execution Agency. The impious are killed first in the spirit and then in the body, and even beaten into pieces by thunderbolts.
Worship in Temples
According to the 'Records of Rites" in the History of the Ming Dynasty ( 明史 Mingshi ), 'the Heavenly Lord of Universal Transformation Whose Voice of Thunder Resonates with the Origin of the Nine Heavens is in charge of the five thunders. The 24th day of the sixth lunar month is considered by Daoists as the day of his manifestation. So, on this day every year, officials are sent to the Temple of Numinous Manifestation ( 顯靈官 Xianlinggon ) to offer sacrifices." Major temples all worship the Thunder Patriarch. Every 24th day of the sixth lunar month, many Daoist believers burn incense in temples to pray for gook luck. Large-sized rituals of the Orthodox Oneness sect ( 正一派 Zhengyi Pai ) often assign a Divine Seat for the Thunder Patriarch and invoke the Heavenly Sovereigns of the Thunder Agency.