Ancient Chinese Spells
How to circulate your qi and cast spells

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This is a translation from Baopuzi (Master Embracing Simplicity), one of the most important works in the Chinese Taoist Canon. The book was written by Ge Hong (250-330) who called himself the Master Embracing Simplicity. This passage describes the uses of casting spells.

Baopuzi said, "Although using drugs is the basis of longevity techniques, if you can also circulate your qi, then their effect will be even faster. If you cannot obtain drugs but can circulate your qi, and have thoroughly understood the underlying principles, you can also live hundreds of years.

A page from the book Baopuzi

"Beside this, you also should know the art of the bedchamber (i.e. sexual techniques) . Because if you are not clear about the art of yin and yang (i.e. sexual techniques) and repeatedly exhaust yourself, it is very unlikely that circulating the qi will bring you any vitality.

"Man is within the qi, the qi is within the man. From heaven and earth down to the myriad things, there is not one thing that does not require qi in order to live. If you are good at circulating your qi, on the inside you can nourish your body, on the outside you can ward off evil forces. But people use the qi every day and do not understand it.

"In the states of Wu and Yue there is an extremely effective spell technique which enriches the qi. If you know this technique, you can walk into the middle of a great epidemic, share the bed with the sick and still not get infected. Or you can go along with a crowd of dozens of people and they will have nothing to fear either. This is because the qi can ward off natural calamities.

"Sometimes there are evil mountain spirits harming people, striking them dead with roof tiles and stones or burning their houses with fire. Sometimes people can see them coming and going, sometimes they can hear their voices talking. But if you are good at using spells, you can cast a spell on them so they will perish at once. This is because the qi can keep away ghosts and spirits.

"When you enter the mountains, there are many places with poisonous snakes in them and no one who passes through gets out unharmed. But if you are good at spells, you can keep away the tigers and leopards, the bees and snakes, so that they all hide away not being able to come out.

"If you use a spell on running sores, the bleeding will stop at once. You can also weld bones and connect joints. If you use a spell on a sharp blade, it will not cut you when you step on it, it will not pierce if you stab with it. When someone is bitten by a poisonous snake and you use a spell on it, he will get well immediately.

Moreover, in recent times, people like Zuo Ci and Zhao Ming could use a qi spell against water, making it flow backwards for a ten or twenty feet. O2, they made a fire on the reed roof`of a house and cooked on it, the reed roof, however, did not get burnt. Or, they pounded in a large nail seven-eight inches deep, but when they blew on it using their qi, the nail came shooting out. Or, they used a spell on boiling water and threw a hundred or so coins in it; then they made someone to pick them out, the person's hand, however, did not get blistered. Or, they used a spell on the water in the little garden pond and it did not freeze even during the greatest cold. Or, they were able to cause the people of an entire village who were cooking to never get their meal cooked. Or, they could make all the dogs refrain from barking.

"In the past, the state of Wu commissioned General He to wind up some mountain bandits. But among the bandits there was one man who was good at using spells. Whenever they were about to fight, the general's troops could not pull out their swords and their arrows always return to them. Thus the troops always came in vain. General He, being a wise and able man, said to himself, 'I have heard that spells can be used against metal that has a blade, against animals that have venom. But you cannot use a spell against things with no blade, against animals that have no venom. With their spell the bandits can evade my army but they certainly cannot evade things with no blade.' Therefore he ordered to make many white clubs from strong wood and selected five thousand troops of exceptional physical strength. Then he caught and beat all of the mountain bandits. The bandits were trying to rely on their friend who used the spell but he was no help at all. Thus the general attacked them with the white clubs and defeated them badly. The spells did not work anymore and the number of those who got beaten was over ten thousand."

Translated by Imre Galambos

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