The Eight Immortal Forces
The Eight Directions, the Eight Forces and an accompanying detailed history of each of the legendary Eight Immortals - scroll down to see. Full color, laminated, suitable for framing.
18" x 22" Poster
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The Eight Immortals and their Associated Forces
HAN HSIEN-KU (HAN XIANG ZI)
Han Hsien-Ku was born in the 8th century AD, and was a nephew of the great Tang poet and scholar, Han Yu. He studied and prepared for the state civil exams, but to the dismay of his uncle, he avoided taking them. He was an intelligent but wild child who disdained the pomp and vanity of the world. Despite his expulsion from a Buddhist temple for rudeness and mischief, he delighted in stillness and obscurity. He was initiated into the secrets of Taoism by fellow Immortal Lu Tung-Pin while still a teenager, and quickly became absorbed in the practice of internal alchemy. He probed the mysteries of Heaven and mastered the Five Phases (Elements) of Energy. The sacred knot on his robe is a symbol of his success in combining the two energies of Yin and Yang into the One Original Energy. One time Lu Tung-Pin carried him up to a vantage point on the mythical World Tree in order to show him the universe. Han Hsien-Ku fell from the tree and was killed but quickly resurrected himself. He was very poor, but totally unconcerned about it for he was intoxicated with the love of the Tao. He performed wonderful feats and is able to foretell the future. He was able to make wine without grapes and flowers bloom in mid-winter. One winter he magically grew a bunch of rose-peonies and on each petal were verses written in gold that foretold the fate of his uncle. He is often depicted with a bouquet of flowers. He carries a flute which he plays the Six Healing Sounds. He is shown mounted on a buffalo, a mythical beast symbolizing of the Taoist Goddess Hsi Wang Mu, Ruler of the West.
CHAUN CHUNG-LI (QUAN ZONG LI)
Chung-Li Chuan was born in the 3rd Century, AD. During the Han Dynasty, he was an Army General (Marshall of the Empire). After meeting an old man who taught him about the Tao, he left government service, and went to the mountains becoming a wanderer and a beggar. Once while meditating, the stone wall of his mountain dwelling crumbled exposing a jade box. The box contained secret meditation instructions on how to become an Immortal. He followed the instructions, and one day his chamber was filled with rainbow clouds and celestial music. A crane arrived and carried him on its back into the regions of immortality. After that he was able to wander among the heavens by himself. During a great famine he changed copper and pewter into gold and silver giving it to the poor, thus saving thousands of lives. He taught Lu Tung-Pin the secrets of Taoism after convincing him of the emptiness of life, and persuaded him to join in his blissful life as a fellow Immortal. He is portrayed as bearded, and thinly clad. His hair is gathered in two coils on the side of his head. His symbol is a fan which he uses to revive and reincarnate the souls of the departed. Over 1,800 years old, he has often reappeared on earth as a messenger of heaven. He is mounted on a chimera, a mythic animal sacred to the Taoist Goddess of Immortality, Hsi Wang Mu.
TSAO KUO-CHIU (CAO GUO JIO)
Tsao Kuo-Chui is one of two royal brothers. Their sister was a Sung Empress during the 11th century AD. He was so ashamed of his brother, who was a murderer and a hedonist, that he gave away all his wealth to the poor and went into the mountains to seek the Tao. In the mountains he clothed his body with wild plants and lived as a hermit. After some time he harmonized his mind, body and spirit until he could easily transform himself into the Tao. One day while roaming about his mountain realm he met two of the eight immortals, Chung-Li and Lu Tung-Pin. Lu Tung-Pin asked him, "What are you doing?" He replied, "I am nurturing the Tao and studying the Way." Asked where the Tao was, Kuo-Chui pointed to heaven. Asked where heaven was, he pointed to his heart. Chung-Li Chuan beamed and said, "The heart is heaven and heaven is the Tao. You indeed found the truth and the way. You understand the origin of things." They invited him to travel about with other Immortals. His symbol is the castanets, which he played in a soothing and relaxing rhythm to facilitate meditation and journeying throughout the universe. He is mounted upon a horse whose spirit may have helped him unveil the secrets of the Tao and immorality. He is said to be still living on earth.
CHANG KUO-LAO (ZANG GUO LAO)
Chang Kuo-Lao was born during the 8th Century, AD. He said in a previous life he had been a Grand Minister to the legendary Emperor Yao (2357-2255 BC). He was an old man and mountain hermit when he mastered the secrets of Immortality and became "the Original Vapor". He has a fabulous horse that carries him thousands of miles in a few moments. Often he would ride facing backwards . Upon reaching his destination, he collapsed the horse folding it like a piece of paper and stored it in his pocket. When ready to travel again he would take it out, and moisten it with water changing it back into a horse. Many of the Tang emperors invited him to court, but usually he declined to go. He entertained one emperor by making himself invisible and drinking poisons. The emperor bestowed upon him the title, "Master of Understanding the Mystery", offered him a high position and his daughter in marriage. Chang Kuo-Lao declined both offers, then he received the imperial summons to do it, so he laid down and died. He was buried in a coffin, but later when his disciples opened it, it was found to be empty. After this he was frequently seen alive. His symbol is a tube containing wands or "phoenix feather" with which he can foretell fortunes and misfortunes. He is known to help souls to reincarnate, and even today in China, his image is found is the bedrooms of those who are trying to have children.
LAN TSAI-HO (LAN CAI HE)
Lan Tsai-Ho was born during the Tang Dynasty, and became the youngest Immortal at age 16. He is an entertainer, and like some ancient shamans wore women's clothing and make-up. A street singer and a beggar, he gave away his money to the poor. Always dancing and singing, he walked about with one bare foot, followed by crowds who thought he was crazy. He wrote and sang songs which questioned this life, it's delusive pleasures, it's ceaseless and unnecessary reincarnations. In winter he would sleep soundly in the snow with steam rising from his body - a sure sign that he had mastered the techniques of internal alchemy. He was often found in taverns buying wine for everyone. One evening, after singing and entertaining, he left a tavern and mounted a crane which had descended amidst the sounds of a celestial chorus. The crane gracefully carried this "Holy Fool" off into the sky before an astounded crowd. His symbol is a basket of flowers, plants and branches from trees associated with longevity, such as chrysanthemum, peach blossom, sprigs of pine and bamboo. He is mounted upon an elephant, a symbol of wisdom, strength and prudence.
LU TUNG-PIN (LU DONG BIN)
Sometimes called Ancestor Lu or Lu Yan, Lu Tung-Pin is the hero of marvelous wisdom who resides on Stork Peak. He was born during the 8th century AD and is said to still be alive. He was a Confucian scholar who converted to Taoism after being initiated into the secrets of internal alchemy by fellow Immortal Chung-Li Chuan. He is mounted on a tiger, a symbol of the sacred energy that comes from the Taoist Goddess Hsi Wang Mu, who rules the West. Lu Ting-Pin carries a horse hair whisk which symbolizes his ability to fly through the air and walk on clouds. He is always portrayed with a double -edged ("demon slaying") magic sword strapped on his back. This sword of supernatural powers was given to him by a dragon. It allows him to hide in the heavens and to make himself invisible to evil spirits. His three-part beard symbolizes the three Thrusting Channels used in internal alchemy. He can travel thousands of miles in an instant and was known to roam about China seeking those with kind hearts, especially those who risked their comfort and well-being in order to help others in great need. Upon discovering such persons, he would use his supernatural powers to help them transform themselves into Taoist Immortals. He also took every opportunity to embarrass and punish the rich and powerful when he caught them oppressing those who were powerless and poor. The Chinese masses have always loved and respected this Immortal, the "Ancestor Lu". He spent 400 years on earth, and periodically reappears. He is accessible through mediums or through direct communication during meditation or shaman journeying.
HO HSIEN-KU (HE XIAN GU)
Ho Hsien-Ku was born in the 7th century A.D., and now she is still alive, over 1,400 years old. She became an immortal at age 14 after meeting fellow Immortal Lu Tung-Pin, who taught her internal alchemy giving her a precious rare PEACH OF IMMORTALITY. Soon after eating the peach, she was able to journey in her spirit body to pay homage to the Great Taoist Goddess of Immortality, Hsi Wang Mu. The Goddess delightedly carried her off to the gardens of Boundless space, Ho Hsien-ku's new home. She was able to cease her menstruation and conserve her life force energy. She also gained the ability to nourish herself by feeding only upon sweet, heavenly dew and the omnipresent Chi. She spent her youth telling fortunes, flying and floating from mountain peak to mountain peak collecting herb's and food for her mother and the poor. She also frequently flew to the mountains to meet other female immortals. She achieved great fame and was summoned to present herself to the Empress of China. She ignored the royal command and instead ascended to heaven in full daylight disappearing from the earth. Some years later she was seen floating on a rainbow cloud above the temple of Ma Ku, a famous woman Taoist adept. Ho Hsien-Ku still appears to the virtuous, the innocent, and those oppressed people who are in great need of divine intervention. She is shown holding a magic lotus blossom, the flower of open-heartiness and divine brilliance, which symbolizes her power and purity. She is mounted upon a deer, a symbol of longevity and ceaseless energy.
LI TIEH-KUAI (LI TIE GUAI)
Li Tieh-Kuai or "Iron Crutch Li" was born the Han Dynasty (2nd Century, AD). He lived in the mountains for 40 years where he devoted himself to practicing meditation that he often forgot to eat or sleep. Some legends say that the great Taoist sage Lao Tzu, personally introduced him to the Taoist practices. Other stories say it was the Taoist Goddess Hsi Wang Mu, ruler of the West, who taught him the art of Immortality. Depicted as a lame and ugly beggar, he was once a handsome and well built man of commanding stature. His transformation occurred after his spirit body went to see Lao Tzu. He asked his student to watch over his physical body for seven days and prevent its destruction by animals, insects, and other spirits from entering it. He told his student to burn his body after seven days if he had not returned by then. After only six days the student learned that his own mother was dying, so he burned Li's body and went to his mother's bedside. Li returned on the seventh day and wanted to enter his body. Seeing that his body had been destroyed, he entered the corpse of a lame beggar who had just died. He blew water on the beggar's bamboo staff and changed it into an iron crutch and a magic staff. His symbols are the staff and gourd (a symbol of the universe). Having mastered the Five Phases of Energy and successfully combined Yin and Yang into the One original energy, he is able to transmute matter with the staff and concoct medicines and potions from his gourd. He is credited with raising his student's mother back to life using a magical potion mixed in the gourd. At night he makes himself very tiny and enters his sleeping quarters which are also inside the gourd. He is well known to the poor, sick and needy by his reputation for benevolence. He eventually ascended to heaven in the form of a dragon, but frequently returns to earth to help others. He is shown mounted on a chimera, symbol of dignity and courage, which is a mythical guardian animal.