Tag Archives: Guan Di

The Wild Hunt: The Fire Is Here


William Blake, “Death on a Pale Horse,” 1800.

My latest piece at The Wild Hunt, “The Fire Is Here,” is now up. It’s an homage to James Baldwin, Walter Benjamin and their ideas about progress, death and our fear of it, racism, ancestors and apocalypse. It would honor me if you read it.

I’m also now a moderator at The Pagan Study Group, a Tumblr blog that answers questions about Paganism, Polytheism and Witchcraft. Questions that I’ve answered specifically are under the heathenchinese tag.


Ghost Heroes

Chu's boundaries in 260 BCE. Credit: Philg88.

Chu’s boundaries in 260 BCE. Credit: Philg88.

Last Saturday was Duanwu Festival, the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. The festival has ancient roots in early summer ceremonies to protect against plague, and also ceremonies to propitiate river spirits. It is most often associated now, however, with the poet Qu Yuan who lived in the state of Chu, and who committed suicide in 257 BCE when Chu was conquered by Qin. This conquest was a significant battle in the first unification of China, which led to rule by an Emperor rather than a feudal over-King. The name “China” actually comes from Qin. Here is one of Qu Yuan’s poems, the “Elegy for the National Martyrs” from the Songs of Chu, as quoted in Deng Ming-Dao’s The Lunar Tao:

They gripped the halberds of Wu, wore rhinoceros-hide armor.
Chariot hub crashed, short swords clashed.
Banners blotted out the sun, their foes charged like clouds.
Volleys of arrows answered each other, warriors vied to be first.

The enemy broke their ranks, trampled their lines.
The horse on the left died, the one on the right was slashed.
Chariot wheels seized in the dust, teams of horses fell tangled.
Raising jade drumsticks, they shouted and beat their drums.

Yet heaven’s season was against them, the powerful gods were angry!
Our staunchest men were slaughtered, left scattered on the field.
They went out, did not come back, will never return.
The plains lie empty, the roads stretch on.

They buckled on their long swords, raised their Qin bows.
Although their heads were hacked from their bodies, their hearts held no regret.
They were truly brave, such great warriors.
Strong and powerful to the end, they were never cowed.

Their bodies may be dead, but their spirits have become gods.
Their souls are transformed, they are our ghost heroes! (152)

Today is the thirteenth day of the fifth lunar month, Guan Di’s birthday as a mortal [EDIT: festival, one of several throughout the year. Attributed by some sources as (one of) his birthday(s), celebrated by others as his son Guan Ping’s birthday or the day that he sharpened his blade — see comments below].

I’m posting this poem on this blog in his honor as well, for the last two stanzas apply to his life and apotheosis perfectly.

Drought and Religion, ACTION

I have a guest post at The Wild Hunt entitled “Drought and Religion” about the current ongoing drought in California, historical and contemporary polytheist perspectives on drought’s religious implications, and the history of drought-related to political and economic conflicts.

I also have an interview entitled “Ancestors, Ancient Culture, and Old Gods” in the Litha 2015 issue of ACTION, the newsletter of the Alternative Religions Education Network (AREN). Sadly, this is the last issue of ACTION, by mutual decision of Christopher Blackwell (Editor and Chief Reporter) and Bill Kilborn (Web Guy).


Uncontrolled: The Boxer Rebellion of 1898-1900

Artist: Johannes Koekkoek, 1900. Credit: Public Domain.

Artist: Johannes Koekkoek, 1900. Credit: Public Domain.

My latest Gods and Radicals article, “Uncontrolled: The Boxer Rebellion of 1898-1900,” is up. It expands on my previous posts about the Boxers with material from Paul Cohen’s excellent book History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience and Myth.

The article touches upon Boxer organizational structure, social dynamics surrounding mass spirit possession, Guan Di’s role in the movement, the use of magic and prayer to attempt to control fire, morally questionable actions such as edicts restricting the movements of women or the widespread summary execution of civilians, and the all-female Red Lantern auxiliary force.

Words of Guan Gong from a Channeler, Singapore

Via the latest post at the website http://guan-di.tumblr.com:

My honourable Masters and Angels,
The basic energy of loyalty is service and it is not about service in return for favours. For these favours perpetuate one’s control over others to achieve one’s selfish requests. This is loyalty cloaked in ultimate treachery.

When one declares that he is loyal to a captain, state, an empire or a cause, it is not done in exchange for protection or the surrendering of one’s mandate but in spite of it. This means one needs to answer truthfully to the question of whether he can sincerely serve a peer not because he is a leader that can offer shelter and profits or for some temporal mutual benefits but because it is our basic nature to serve one’s fellow brothers and sisters?

Electing a leader to set a common goal is supplementary to the fulfillment of the goal. And this goal goes to the heart of every man’s dreams. Loyalty is not offered to the man because of his power, might and status. It must never be demanded out of fear and trepidation. Under no circumstances can a brother be coerced through violence, threat and emotional blackmail to obey the commands of anyone including the source that is deemed as God.

Loyalty is not a special quality that is only of concern during conflicts, competition and when one is challenged. It is the under current that determines our being, values and perceptions. And this points to the fact that no living creature, man and beast is an island. We do not live in isolation but in service of each other and nature is such that we support her growth while she nurtures our lives. And all this is not done for the sake of ripping rewards but simply IS.

Thus dear masters and angels, it is natural then what we do and say affect not only ourselves but those that are immediately within our environment reaching further to the four corners of the world. So when we believe that we are loyal to a particular leader and creed, it is limiting our instinctive nature to be loyal to humanity and all of life force itself. In other words it is a false belief when certain organizations indoctrinate mankind that he is born free and only by maintaining loyalty to these organizations will his freedom be guaranteed. If man is born free, why would another man need to guarantee it? When a general takes a group of soldiers to battle, it is his duty to serve them and their duties to serve him out of SelfLESS motivations.

You are a free man by birth and not by choice and definitely not determined by circumstances.

Devotion without wisdom is a dangerous state.
Devotion with wisdom breaks barriers.
Wisdom without devotion strengthens the ego.
Wisdom with devotion removes all illusions.
And so it is.

In your service and of Light, Integrity and Brotherhood,

Guan Yu

Are The Gods On Our Side?

Boxer, Gansu Brave, Tiger-man

I have an essay for Gods and Radicals entitled “Are The Gods On Our Side?” I use Guan Di as a case study to analyze the implications of both sides of a conflict (such as the class struggle) praying to the same god(s).

Cultural Appropriation Has Consequences

The point of talking about cultural appropriation isn’t to tell people what they can’t and can’t do (often a futile effort anyways), but to remind people that their actions have consequences. Guan Sheng Di said:

However, if your heart is full of evil and you do not do good things, lust after other people’s wives and daughters, break up their marriages, destroy their purity, ruin their skills, scheme for their wealth, instigate lawsuits, harm others in order to benefit yourself, rail against Heaven and Earth, slander the wise and virtuous, destroy statues of the gods, cheat the gods, wantonly kill living things, destroy good books, rely on force, slander the good, use wealth to oppress the poor, separate people from their relatives and brother from brother, not believe in the true path, lust, steal, go whoring, swindle others, act extravagantly, waste grain, are ungrateful, go against your conscience, use crooked weights and measures, set up false teachings, lead on the simpleminded, falsely say that someone has died, extort goods, cheat others, talk obliquely, curse people in broad daylight, scheme to hurt others behind their backs, not follow Heaven’s way, not make others happy, refuse to believe in karma, entice others to do evil, and do not even a bit of good yourself — Those who do such things will have reason to regret it. They will suffer fire, flood, and bandits. They will suffer plague, give birth to idiots, be destroyed themselves, and have their family line extinguished. Their sons will become thieves and their daughters whores. Retribution will fall upon them, their sons, and their grandsons. The gods see everything and don’t miss things even as tiny as a hair. Good and evil are two paths. Disaster and fortune are separate things. If you do good, you will have good fortune; if you do evil you will suffer misfortune. I tell you this to encourage you to act. Although my words are simple they are of great benefit. Those who make fun of my words will be destroyed. [Emphasis added].

Guan Di is “the protector of the Chinese ecumene” (Duara 789), the Chinese people and their world.

Don’t fuck with our shit.

Feng shui isn’t housecleaning tips for bored suburban housewives, it’s a system for finding auspicious locations to bury one’s ancestors and build one’s house, and to mitigate the effects of not having access to the most auspicious locations. Feng shui led Chinese people to topple telegraph poles and rip up railroad tracks. Don’t fuck with what you don’t understand.

Qi gong isn’t for New Agers, it’s for warriors.

Shaolin monks perform qigong, a type of traditional Chinese martial arts, during the opening ceremony of the fourth Southern Shaolin Martial Arts Cultural Festival in Putian city

Shaolin monk practicing qi gong. Credit: Ripleys.

Edit: This post originally quoted a speech attributed to Chief Seattle, which I’ve since learned was written by a white man, and is not authentic. Accordingly, the quote has been removed.