Esoteric Daoist Magic: The Ancient Daoist Magic Mirror
Esoteric Daoist Magic:
The Ancient Daoist Magic Mirror
Jerry Alan Johnson
Magic Mirrors (Jing) have always been considered a gateway into the Energetic and Spiritual Worlds. To the ancient Chinese Daoist, the mirror represents consciousness and its circular form represents the infinite space of the Wuji. Its power is in its natural ability to be clear, pure and bright, reflecting whatever appears within its reflection with impartiality and no judgement (Figure 1.1).
Magic Mirrors or “Divination Mirrors,” were used to obtain prophetic visions through the oracular intervention of certain deities. The art of using a Magic Mirror for divination is called “scrying,” “crystallomancy” and “catoptromancy.” In ancient China, Magic Mirrors were commonly used in divination rituals, rituals of healing, and for exorcism.
The Chinese Magic Mirror itself is a microcosm, a living Mandala which represents the entire world in small, unique detail. Everything in creation is held within the Magic Mirror. It can contain the likeness of all things reflected within its various energetic and physical boundaries, as well as include specific images of the past, present, or future, laid out within the four quadrants of heaven, according to the four directions of space. The Chinese Magic Mirror represents esoteric knowledge and understanding. It calls upon the forces of nature and the Heavens to help the bearer in time of need, as well as to bring him or her blessings from various types of deities.
The Specific Design of a Magic Mirror
The most ancient Chinese character used to signify mirror, “Jian” originally referred to a large tub of water used for bathing during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.E.) and the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.E.). The second Chinese character used to signify mirror, “Jing” originally referred to a bronze mirror, dating back to the Han Dynasty period (206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.). The Shuo Wen, a popular Han Dynasty dictionary, describes the Jing as, “an object that reflects light and shadow, the form and shape of things.”
The most ancient Chinese Magic Mirrors do not have handles. They are circular in design, and have pierced knobs in the center of their back through which a cord of various colored silk or red rope was passed for holding. This design continued unchanged until the Tang Dynasty (618-907 C.E.).
Magic Mirrors containe five small embossed circles that were arranged in the form of a cross on the back of the mirror’s surface (Figure 1.2). According to the ancient Daoist tradition, these five small circles symbolize the combined spiritual nature of both the observer’s Wu Jing Shen (Five Essence Spirits: Hun, Shen, Yi, Po and Zhi) and the Five Element correlations (North-Water, South-Fire, East-Metal, West-Wood, and Center-Earth).
From the Buddhist tradition, the mirror is placed upright in a container of barley or grain, and is covered with one of five colored silk cloths that represent the Five Buddhas. According to the ancient Buddhist tradition, these five small circles symbolize the Five Buddha Wisdoms. The ancient Buddhist priests commonly used Magic Mirrors in order to show chosen disciples the form in which they would be reborn.
Tibetan Magic Mirrors have always included various colored silk cloths (white, yellow or red) attached to the mirror. The white, yellow, or red silk colors represente the rituals of purification, enrichment and empowerment. A black silk ribbon has never been used, as it is believed that the black color would “cloud” the mirror with the influences of malignant or disease causing spirits (Figure 1.3).
According to ancient Chinese Daoist texts, on the glass itself, and sometimes on the back of a Magic Mirror strange patterns of divine landscapes were painted. These patterns could also include the energetic forms of either the Twelve Astrological Animals, Prenatal or Postnatal Trigrams, The Twenty-Eight Constellations, specific cloud formations, or lake and mountain formations. These mirrors were designed so that various images would appear when they were exposed to certain types of light. In sunlight, for example, the image of flowers would appear on the back of certain Magic Mirrors. In the moonlight, the same mirror’s form would change and take the shape of a hare.
It was believed that Magic Mirrors made spirits visible, and before mirrors were made from various metals or polished stones, the ancient Daoist priests used still bodies of water from within lakes, ponds or bowls as access portals into the Spirit World. Shiny stones were also used as Magic Mirrors before the invention of polished metals. It was also believed that mirrors that have been painted black (Yin) on the convex side are excellent tools for developing clairvoyance. Today in China, there are still certain ancient Daoist sects that use a large drop of black ink smoothed over a special stone or placed inside a teacup as a Magic Mirror.
Later, Magic Mirrors were constructed from polished metals, usually silver, bronze (two parts copper one part tin), bell-metal (a combination of copper and tin), or a combination of silver and tin. However, it was the ancient Chinese bronze mirrors that were believed to possess magical qualities, on account of the wisdom they had absorbed. The best Magic Mirrors were believed to be those formerly produced at Yang-zhou in Central China, particularly those made on the 5th day of the 5th month.
Specific Functions of a Magic Mirror
It is interesting to note that in many ancient tribal societies, the reflection in the mirror is believed to be the image of one’s soul. As the individual stares into the mirror, the changes of the images reflect the many faces of his or her own past lives. It is believed that if a man looks into a Magic Mirror and cannot recognize his own face, it is a sign that his death is near.
Magic Mirrors were commonly used for divination, reading signs and observing visions. In order to see visions, the ancient Daoist priests would empty his or her mind, gaze into the mirror, and recite a specific incantation. This incantation would draw power from the five directions (South, North, West, East and Center) into the back of the mirror. As these specific energies combined, they would merge with the infinite energetic space of the Wuji (depicted by the circular back of the mirror), and converge onto the surface of the Magic Mirror. All the Daoist priest need do then was to initiate a second incantation in order to see into the past, present or future.
At one time, Magic Mirrors were also used by the Daoist priests as weapons to deflect Evil Qi. According to the Books of the Later Han Dynasty (25 -220 C.E.), in ancient times, travelling Daoist used to protect themselves by placing Magic Mirrors fastened onto their backs. The travelling Daoist also used Magic Mirrors to observe the true shape or identity of any approaching animal spirit, which was believed to be able to assume human form. Because of their brilliance, the magic mirrors made visible the invisible. Therefore, it was believed that the “true form” of the evil spirit or demon would be reflected in the mirror, and exposed.
Solar and Lunar Mirrors
A Solar (Yang Sui) Mirror, is used for exorcising evil influences. If a Solar Mirror is exposed to the sun, the fire of Heaven appears. This is because the Yang Sui Mirror attracts and embodies the fire of the sun on Earth.
A Lunar (Fang Chu) Mirror is also a mirror used for defending against and removing evil influences. A Lunar Mirror picks up heavenly dew when it is exposed to the moon, because it quickly absorbs the watery essence of the moon.
The ancient Daoist believed that the Magic Mirror accomplishes the same thing as the gaze of a saint, by illuminating what is truly there in time and space. One Daoist meditation used to achieve this skill consists of imagining a white breath as big as an egg, being projected (via the moisture or mist of Breath Incantations) onto the surface of the Magic Mirror. The inner light of mystic theWater and the Metal of the Magic Mirror (the metallic mirror and the watery mist of the exhaled breath are both considered Yin substances) combine to make the Yang appear out of the Yin.
The illuminating power of the mirror’s ability to reflect the past, present or future can also be increased by having the Daoist absorb light-talismans, while imagining and visualizing the left eye as a shooting star and the right eye as lightning. This allows the adept to clearly see mountains and forests, people, and spiritual entities.
The Magic Mirror Used as a Tool to Train Spiritual Vision
The student is cautioned against regarding the Magic Mirror itself as possessing any particular magical power. On the contrary, the Magic Mirror only serves as a physical instrument for the observer’s trained spiritual vision.
The continued use of the Magic Mirror often has the affect of polarizing its molecules so as to render it far more effective as time passes. The longer the Magic Mirror is used by one individual, the better and more functionality powerful it becomes. The Magic Mirror tends to become polarized according to the specific energetic and spiritual requirements of the individual habitually using it. Therefore, it is generally believed that each person should keep their own Magic Mirror a
way from other individuals, and not allow it to be indiscriminately used by strangers.
When using the Magic Mirror it is important to maintain a quiet and serious state of mind. Always have the light behind your back instead of facing you. Gaze calmly into the mirror, but do not strain your eyes. Do not try to avoid blinking, as the initial goal is the use a soft gaze and not stare into the mirror. Some Qigong masters advised their disciples to make funnels of their hands when observing the mirror (as if looking through binoculars).
When first beginning to observe energetic patterns and various forms within the Magic Mirror, it is a good idea to try to envision something that you have already seen with your physical eyes. The first images generally seen within the Magic Mirror usually appear cloudy in appearance. Eventually this energetic fog or mist gradually loses its transparency, as forms, faces or scenes inevitably appear and can be identified.
Types of Visions Commonly Observed Within the Magic Mirror
According to ancient Daoism, mirror gazing can be performed by first hanging a Magic Mirror on the southern wall, and then projecting the spirit (Yuan Shen) into it. After a long time of practice, the Yin Spiritual realm eventually becomes manifested within the reflection of the mirror.
What is desired through the regular use of the Magic Mirror is to cultivate a personal degree of clairvoyant power so that the visions reflected within the Magic Mirror may appear clearly to the individual’s Yuan Shen. In this particular pursuit, the use of the Magic Mirror becomes both a wonderful and harmless tool of clairvoyant instruction. All visions occurring within the Magic Mirror can be classified as follows:
1. Images of something unconsciously observed. These are images that are either voluntary or spontaneously projected from the subconscious mind, and bring no fresh knowledge to the observer.
2. Images of ideas unconsciously acquired from others. These are images of specific memories or imaginative effects which do not come from the observer’s self, but are derived from his or her memory and manifest as illustrations of thought.
- Images that are prophetic or clairvoyant. These images give specific information as to something from the past, present or future, which the observer has no chance of knowing.
Training to Observe the Magic Mirror
When practicing with the Magic Mirror, one should proceed as follows:
1. Select a quiet room where you will be undisturbed, free from pictures, ornaments, other types of mirrors, and things of distraction. The room should be of moderate temperature. Should a light be necessary, it should be screened off so as to prevent the light rays from being reflected within the mirror. The room should not be too dark, but rather shadowed, with a dull light which permeates the interior.
2. The Magic Mirror should either be placed on a stand on a table, lie flat inside a bed of rice, or lie enveloped within a black velvet cushion. Some teachers advise their students to surround the Magic Mirror with a black silk or similar type of wrapping in order to cut off any undesirable reflections from the external environment.
3. Sit comfortably with both eyes fixed on the Magic Mirror. When first training with the Magic Mirror, begin by looking into its surface for only two to three minutes, taking care not to tire yourself. Blink as much as you need, but fixing your thoughts on whatever you wish to see. Use a soft, calm gaze for no more then 10 minutes only during the first, initial practice. When the time is up, carefully place the Magic Mirror away from public view. Keep it in a safe, dark place, allowing no one but yourself to touch it.
At the second sitting you should be positioned at the same place, at the same time of day. Begin to increase the length of meditation time to 15 minutes. Continue in this way (by increasing five minutes per day) during the next several days of sitting, after which you may gradually increase the meditation time up to, but not exceeding one hour. This specific order of progression should always be followed until the student has developed an almost automatic ability to readily obtain results. As the mirror becomes cloudy with a milky mist in its center, the image will gradually form.
4. When you find the Magic Mirror beginning to look dull or cloudy with small pinpoints of light glittering therein (like tiny stars) you will know that you are beginning to obtain the skill which you are seeking. The images in the Magic Mirror will sometimes alternately appear and disappear, as in a mist. Eventually this hazy appearance will transform quite suddenly into a bluish ocean of space, which at first blinds the senses, then manifests the vision.
5. Once you have developed the ability to access the Spiritual World via the Magic Mirror, you may then be able to submit questions. When asking questions, use a very gentle, low and slow tone of voice, and never use sudden or forceful mannerisms.
6. The Magic Mirror should not be practiced soon after taking a meal, and specific care should be taken as to one’s diet (eat lightly, avoid alcohol, and avoid hard to digest foods). Additional attention should be placed on Natural Breathing.
7. In regards to the time at which certain events will come to pass, as a general rule, visions appearing in the extreme background indicate more remote time (either past or future); while visions appearing in the foreground, or closer to the observer, denote the present or the immediate future.
8. Generally two primary types of vision will present themselves to the observer; A symbolic image, indicated by the appearance of specific symbols, and/or actual scenes relating to the individual’s personal life.
The Projected Tunnel of Light
While using the Magic Mirror, in order to increase his or her power over the individual observed, one can also employ the unique skill of projecting a “Tunnel of Light.” The Tunnel of Light technique is initiated during strong, focused concentration. This allows an energetic connecting channel or “line of force” to be established in the Spiritual World, energetic and spiritually linking the practitioner and the individual being observed. This powerful connection causes a polarization of the particles existing within the composition of both energetic and spiritual substances (e.g., the doctor and patient). The polarized particles manifests in a consistent current of intense vibrations, which serves as a channel for the transmission of energy and spirit.
This “Tunnel of Light,” serves as an already established conductor of energetic vibrations, currents and waves, which carry the practitioner’s perceptual senses back and forth to the individual being observed. It is through this Tunnel of Light that the practitioner can perceive and observe all people, places and things within the time-space continuum. Through the Tunnel of Light, one’s physical senses can actually feel, see and hear things being manifested at a distance.
Emitting An Tube of Light Within The Projected Tunnel of Light
In order to strengthen the energetic field within the Tunnel of Light, the practitioner can also imagine a whirling vortex (about six inches to a foot long) projecting from his or her Yintang (Third Eye) area, like a luminous ring of smoke. The practitioner should imagine that the projected energetic vortex-ring or “Tube of Light,” is quickly moving forward, boring a tunnel through space, while simultaneously following the energetic current or line previously established by the Tunnel of Light. This visualized Tube of Light is imagined as a vibrant ring of light and will vibrate powerfully, with a subtle intensity, as it moves along the Tunnel of Light.
This projected Tube of Light forms a more powerful conductor, capable of transforming vibrational resonance, particle to particle, and is sometimes used for “Binding”, prohibiting certain energetic or physical actions Once the Tube of Light overtakes and envelops the receiving individual, positioned at the other end of the Tunnel of Light, he or she will then be more susceptible to a greater energetic influence of thought produced “induction”
The Application of a Mirror in Feng Shui
Since ancient times, Feng Shui masters have used mirrors to help in warding off bad luck, Sha (Evil Qi) and Gui (ghosts or spirits) from houses, temples, and shrines. A mirrored plaque, with a Yin and Yang design drawn at its center and the Eight Trigrams positioned around its circumference is used to deflect negative or evil influences. Mirrors are also placed above doorways to repel evil spirits.
Professor Jerry Alan Johnson is one of the few internationally recognized non-Chinese Grand Masters, practicing doctors, and Director/Professor of Medical Qigong Therapy. Having studied for more than thirty-two years, he is recognized both in China and the West as America’s leading authority on Medical Qigong therapy. Professor Johnson is licensed as a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (D.T.C.M.) in Beijing, China.
He is currently Dean of Medical Qigong Science and Director of the Medical Qigong Clinic at two T.C.M. colleges (the Five Branches Institute in Ca. and the Academy For Five Element Acupuncture, in Fl.). He is also the Executive Director and Founder of the International Institute of Medical Qigong with branches throughout the world. He can be reached at his web site located at: www.qigongmedicine.com.
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