Penglai Shan - Island of the Immortals
Penglai Shan is said to be the home of the Ba Xian. Penglai Shan is an elusive island on the east of China that cannot be reached by the ordinary boats of mortals. It can only be reached by those with feet as light as feathers.
The peach tree, whose sacred fruit bestows immortality on the eater, and which blossoms only once every three thousand years, is found on Penglai Shan. The dwellings of the Ba Xian on this Island of the Immortals are made from pure silver and gold. It is also here that one will find the fountain of the elixir of life.
Xi Wang Mu
Also known as Mang Mu Nian Niang, Jing Mu, Xi Lao. There are two descriptions given of Xi Wang Mu: in one she is described as a fair and gentle old woman with a beautiful singing voice, and in the other she is seen to be about thirty years old and very beautiful. She is the keeper of the sacred peach tree which blossoms only once every three thousand years. On this day she celebrates her birthday with other immortals on a high jade tower. Her emblem is the feng or phoenix.
Xi Wang Mu has the honour of being regarded as the “Royal Mother” of the western mountains of China. Her abode is said to be in a hidden cave in the Kunlun Mountains. She is sometimes seen with her companion, Ma Gu, who is distinguised by her extraordinarily long finger nails and waist length hair.
"Shou Xin" means "Star of Longevity". Shou Xin is regarded as an immortal and also as a symbol of longevity. Displaying his portrait during a person’s birthday is said to bring good luck. Statues of Shou Xin are very popular.
Ge Xuan - Immortal Elder Ge
Ge Xuan was born into a highly respected family in Danyang in the state of Wu around 3 AD. He was a precocious child who loved to read philosophy and history. By the time he was 16 years old he had earnt quite a reputation as a scholar among the residents around the North bank of the Yangtze River. He was particularly attracted to the teachings of Lao Tse and Zhuangzi, and did not relish the thought of pursuing an official career.
When faced with the death of both of his parents while in his teens, Ge Xuan realized the inconstant nature of life, and decided to commit himself to the study of the Tao. He left his home to live in seclusion on the mountains of China, such as Chi Cheng, Ling Yue, Luo Fu, and Tian Tai Shan. It was there that he sought the company of immortals, and embarked upon a rigorous and diligent regime of spiritual and physical purification. In time his hard work and persistence bore fruit. He achieved immortality and learned to travel in an instant from the mountains to the seaside, could assume other forms, and became an expert at healing the sick, and banishing demons.
One day, after growing tired of entertaining the Emperor, Ge Xuan said to his disciple, Zhang Gong, that he would retire from the world at midday 11 August. When the time came, Ge Xuan dressed in his finest attire and lay down on his bed. After a while, Zhang Gong noticed that Ge Xuan was no longer breathing but still had colour in his cheeks.
Zhang Gong lit joss sticks and tended to Ge Xuan’s body for three days and nights. At midnight a gust of wind suddenly stirred in the room blowing out the candles. Once the wind had stopped, Zhang Gong relit the candles to find that Ge Xuan had disappeared, leaving only his clothes on the bed with the waistband still tied together. The next day, Zhang Gong went to ask the neighbours if there had been a strong gust of wind the night before. They all said no. The wind had risen only in Ge Xuan’s room.
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