M357
Hua Miao spirit worship.
Worship of the venerable and the old.

Compiled by Wang Ming-ji.

Introduction.

Wang Ming-jiís opening sentence makes the assertion that the worship of sacred rocks and trees was also the worship of the Spirit Zu-gi-za, but nowhere does he explain how, and the Spirit Zu-gi-za is not mentioned again either in the description of the ritual or in the incantation. Yang Yung-xinís account of the sacrifice breaks off after the incantation without saying that any of the food or wine was actually scattered as an offering to the sacred rock or sacred tree. Instead he says that a libation was made to the Spirit Zu-gi-za. Some confusion has apparently arisen, for, when all the information had been collated, the worship of the Spirit Zu-gi-za and the worship of sacred rocks and trees are clearly quite distinct, and for the following reasons.

  1. The Spirit Zu-gi-za was only worshipped when there was sickness and the shaman-healer had determined that it was necessary. The worship of sacred rocks and trees took place annually.
  2. The worship of the Spirit Zu-gi-za was a family undertaking. Rocks and trees were worshipped by the whole village community together.
  3. The officiant at the worship of the Spirit Zu-gi-za was the zu-mu and no one else. Rocks and trees might be worshipped by anyone in the community who was familiar with the ritual.
  4. The worship of the Spirit Zu-gi-za always took place in the autumn. Rocks and trees were worshipped in early spring.
  5. The worship of the Spirit Zu-gi-za always came first, never as an addendum at the end of some other rituals.

What appears to have happened is that Wang Ming-ji has taken up a couplet of the incantation used in the worship of the Spirit Zu-gi-za, (M353)

"Plant them firmly as trees,
Plant them firmly as rocks,"

and assumed that this implied an identification of the sacred rocks and trees with the Spirit Zu-gi-za. Hence his statements in the first paragraph of M352, and the first sentence of the present section. Following this lead Yang Yung-xin substituted a libation to the Spirit Zu-gi-za for the scattering of food and wine for the sacred rock or tree.

This ceremony seems to have been an annual outing for the whole village. Each family took a wooden steamer full of maize meal and a chicken. The latter was killed at the foot of the rock or the tree and was cooked immediately. Hence the lifting of the taboo on gathering kindling on the sacred hill. Preparing food for so many people would have required a number of fires. When the food was ready the leader recited the incantation, then a small spoonful of meal and a little cooked chicken with wine poured on the top was scattered over the rock or at the foot of the tree, a spoonful from each family. As it was scattered the spirit was alerted by the cry, "It is ready". With these solemnities completed, the people settled down to eat the meal they had prepared.

 

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