Peach Blossom Girl Dueling Magic – Chapter 12


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Copyright © 2010 – Jeff Loh. All rights reserved

 
To free from a trap, know its mechanism,
To know the future, understand first its mysterious principles.
 
Let’s talk about Lord Chou as he burnt the fourth seal. Unlike the previous times, the sky roared differently this time. Down came a most ferocious-looking God. One stanza of seven characters attest to his appearance:
 
Pure silvery helmet birthing in an aura of death,
Donned in white armour layered with dragon scales.
A belt studded with polished jade so precious,
With war boots exhaling five colored auspicious clouds.
A Face powdered in arsenic1, divine eyebrows a standing,

Eyes glaring with light into four corners – truly a fearsome sight!

A heavenly body that is ten foot tall,
With a raised Square Heaven halberd2 held in hand.
Ask what name of this Lord may be,

Everywhere silenced by his prestige – for this is the White Tiger God2-9.

The White Tiger Lord approached the table and questioned,
 
“Conjurer, what task has thee for me to perform?”
Lord Chou replied,
 
“Blasphemy it is if no purpose is at hand. Peach Blossom is to be received into this household at tomorrow’s hour of Si. Conceal thy divine power until she awaits in the bridal chamber3 . Bite her to death and resume to your proper place.”
 
The White Tiger God obeyed, turned himself into a glittering spark and flew away into the heavens. After summoning the four orthodox Gods, Lord Chou put his Heavenly Dipper Divine Book away and tidied his hair. He then ordered his servants to put everything away. Lord Chou was in a great mood as he returned to his chamber muttering to himself,
 
“Peach Blossom Ren! Even if you can fly to heaven with your great powers, you will not be able to escape what’s in store for you! I’m not venomous in summoning these four orthodox Gods. It’s you who got yourself into this predicament!”
 
 
The fourth beat of the drums were sounded and Lord Chou went to sleep. Let’s not talk of him and his night activities any more but Peach Blossom’s determination to meet the challenge. She was set to see who was going to be more skilled in the magical arts as she put all her treasures in order. Next morning after washing her face and combing her hair, she quickly entered her backyard to water her peach trees. Her heart was uneasy and kneaded her fingers at once. Then she knew all that had happened and burst into a wry smile,

“Lord Chou! You belittle me. So now you have added four more vicious Gods to stab me in the back. Too bad your work is in vain. What harm can you do to me?”

With those words, she returned to her sewing room immediately. Inside her prepared brocade pouch, she took out a peach tree sprig and returned to the backyard. Muttering an incantation, she blew into the sprig and shouted,

“As-you-wish-master, return to your true form!”

Suddenly the peach sprig lengthened and in no time turned into a seven foot long halberd-like weapon. Wielding it in her hand, she took out an azure silk veil and covered her powdered face. With another hand she held a formula, recited an incantation, pointed the halberd into the air and she ordered,

“Where art thou is the Red God of Malignancy4 ? Descend quickly!”

Peach Blossom’s magical skills are greater than Lord Chou’s. This is because not only had she been trained long in the Jade Pools of Western Paradise but her heavenly book was bestowed by the Immortal of Malignancy who is the Lord overseeing all other malignant Gods. Peach Blossom’s incantation was the direct command used by Immortal of Malignancy himself to summon the Gods of Malignancy. Hence burning paper charms or casting the Big Dipper configuration was not needed. After a gust of wind died, down came a God donned in golden armor. Standing in the peach garden he bellowed,

“Conjurer, why thou dost call upon me?”

When Peach Blossom saw the Marshal of the Red Malignancy, she quickly closed both eyes and answered,

“Lord Chou performs services by making predictions thus violating Heaven’s Will. I invalidated his predictions. Still befuddled, he has no regret nor sees the need to pacify the anger of Heaven. From his venomous heart comes a marriage ruse, and a bidding to the Marshal of Black Malignancy to be his cohort and to guard the main gate entrance. He will strike me dead as I enter the bridal sedan! I have no choice but to borrow thy divine prowess for covert protection. As the God of Black Malignancy strikes me with his steel lash, I beg thee to use thy golden mace to parry it. After this small fairy enters the bridal sedan safely, you may return to your proper place. To disobey me is to be punished accordingly to the infractions proscribed in the Book!”

As Peach Blossom ended her incantation, the Red God of Malignancy left on a gust of wind.

Slowly she tidied up her hair and blew a fairy breath onto the halberd which transformed back to its original form of a peach sprig. Breaking off three tender peach shoots and a peach branch she returned to her room. There she began to make them into a long bow and three arrows. After putting them aside, she took out some cotton threads and began to weave a cross5 here and a cross there. Soon a sieve-like basket was formed. When the woof and weft were set snuggly she put everything away. Looking up at the sky, her ears were shaken with the drum beat sounds for the hour of Si.

In came Ren Tai Kung and wife, clad in auspicious clothing who in a hurried manner exclaimed,

“My dear, the carriage from Lord Chou has arrived. What are you going to do now?”

Peach Blossom wept as she heard the words,

“Father, mother! For sixteen autumns, you reared your daughter in vain. Today she’s to enter the Chou’s family. This I cannot avoid, there’ll be a fearsome life and death struggle whose outcome is unknown. I have a few words for you two. Please listen carefully my august ones!”

Through their sobs, Ren Tai Kung and wife replied,

“Worry not my daughter, please go with ease. We’re sure that the magic of Lord Chou will achieve no victory over you. If you have anything to say, just go ahead and say it. Nothing’s inappropriate. We two old biddies shall heed your words!”

The little miss then recited,

No Ying no Yang will approach,
Be charitable and there’s no regret.
No descendants now but later there will be,
When life ends on that day you’ll fly!
On streaks of clouds high over imperial towers6,
That day is the hours of Zi, Wu, Jia and Mao.
Think not the destinies of Heaven and Earth,
But the Peach Gardens waiting long for their gardeners7
A shining example to show the world the joys of being charitable!

These words are meant for Ren Tai Kung and wife that when their lives on this earth end, they shall ascend to heaven to become guardian Gods of the Peach Garden8. This happens after the story so no need for further elaboration. Peach Blossom then continued,

“The hour of Si is approaching, your daughter has to prepare. Parents, please don’t be sad!”

How can Ren Tai Kung and wife not bear their parting? The two old biddies tried holding on to their daughter while sobbing out loudly. Just at this moment in their inextricable embrace, servant girls came reporting,

“Master Pang has arrived!”

On hearing the news, Ren Tai Kung and wife stopped their sobs and looked up. Pang Jian came in and greeted the couple,

“Uncle and auntie and my virtuous sister, please don’t cry. Your nephew has something to say.”

Ren Tai Kung gazed at Pang Jian and his anger grew, shouting at him,

“Pang Jian! What a good fellow you have been! My daughter had warned you several times not to let the cat out of the bag and yet you leaked everything out. Lord Chou is now our mortal enemy. This marriage is an excuse to harm my daughter! He has no son, intending to do away with our daughter once she is in his place. I’m warning you that if anything happens to her, this old life shall fight the two of you till kingdom come!”

Pang Jian turned green and then red in angst. Quickly he knelt down begging,

“Your insignificant nephew did not admit to anything even after several interrogations had taken place and even after suffering a few hundred strokes of flogging ordered by Lord Chou. Only when his sword was out threatening to cut me into two that I had no choice but to tell the truth. I was punished and not allowed to leave the house. I could not come to report. I know my fault piles up to heaven. I really didn’t know that he’s using this marriage as a ruse…”

Before Pang Jian could finish his sentence, Peach Blossom cut in and said,

“Father, mother, please don’t put the blame on him.”

And she continued,

“Brother, today you’re here on orders of Lord Chou, tis not the time for idle talk. I’ve very important and serious matters to deal with. You must heed every word I tell you. Right now, here’s something for you to do.”

With that, she took out the bow and arrows and continued instructing,

“Keep these on you. When my bridal sedan enters the main gate, you must do this and this.”

As Pang Jian nodded his head continuously, Peach Blossom took out the thread sieve she made and gave him detailed instructions on what to do. Taking the sieve, he secretly went outside and placed it in the bridal sedan.

Peach Blossom took a few more articles with her as she prepared herself for the wedding. An Eight Treasure Pearl Coronet was placed on her head. Red robes of court officials befitting her station became her wedding gown. A Taoist symbol design was embroidered on yellow satin shoes. She stood on her brick bed9 so that her feet did not touch the ground. Finally as she added a belt studded with blue jade, matchmaker Chiang came into the inner hall with a three foot long red silk and a pair of precious vases filled with five grains. Peach Blossom held onto the pair of vases as she taught matchmaker Chiang how to veil it over the bride’s head. Then thinking to herself,

“This woman is a schemer, why don’t I make use of her!”

With that in mind, she casually called out,

“Mother Chiang, at all times you must stay at my side. You shall be rewarded with twenty taels of silver when I return home tomorrow.”

When matchmaker Chiang heard these words, in glee and joy she exclaimed,

“Miss, today this old crone is here to carry you over the threshold, how could I take more of Tai Kung’s boon?”

Ren Tai Kung said,

“Just take care of my daughter, carry her over the threshold safely and a boon of twenty taels of silver shall be yours. This I promise you.”

The miss then bade her father to help her into the bridal sedan. All articles used by Peach Blossom today are no trifle things but as protection to thwart the Gods of Malignancy. Who knew that such actions would become the custom and a ritual must for all later weddings.

Ren Tai Kung quickly helped to carry Peach Blossom into the bridal sedan10 and wailed loudly,

“My daughter! You asked for your father’s aid in carrying you into the bridal sedan, you who have been with your parents for so long… Today you’ve grown up. I wish that you and your husband shall live to a hundred in harmony and prosper with numerous grandchildren. To thee, great happiness, longevity and nothing to fear.”

Mrs. Ren came along, crying – a real separation between mother and daughter where each could not contain their feelings. No son for this couple, just only a daughter. Today’s separation drenched in sorrow without knowing what portends in the future. Even Pang Jian was shaken by their weeping and sobbed as well. Just as Peach Blossom was about to sit down, a strange gust of wind blew towards the bridal sedan. Then a steel mace appeared, poised to strike – the action of the Lord of Black Malignancy on Lord Chou’s orders to strike Peach Blossom as she entered the bridal sedan. Then suddenly out of nowhere, a golden mace came forth and parried the steel mace as it fell on the bridal sedan. The Lord of Red Malignancy appeared. On seeing his steel mace unable to strike further down, the Lord of Black Malignancy thundered wryly,

“By the orders of Conjurer Chou’s Bigger Dipper formation, I am to strike Ren Peach Blossom dead. Honorable Lord, why thou dost parry my blows to save her? No longer can I fulfill the conjurer’s orders, what now then?”

The Lord of Red Malignancy laughed along,

“I too am under the orders of Ren Peach Blossom. She used the summoning commands of the Immortal of Malignancy. Both conjurers are the Ying and the Yang elements battling wits. Ren Peach Blossom is of the orthodox path and under orders of the Jade Edict to be born on this earth. She is to annoy and provoke Lord Chou into a battle so that both can return to their proper places in Heaven and not remain on earth. Soon it is, their date of return. Must we obey their summons and destroy our harmonious relation?”

When the Lord of Black Malignancy heard the answer he replied,

“Ye words are most wise and most compatible with the mysterious will of Heaven. Let’s return to our proper places.”

With that both Gods left for heaven. To know what happens next please read the next chapter.

Notes:

1. In the original text, white color was understood from the words ‘face powder’. However the words lack power to describe the white face of the God. Hence I used the silvery white color of arsenic to achieve the desired descriptive effect.

2. An ancient weapon of warfare. In later times, it was used for ceremonial purposes.

 
3. After performing the kowtowing ceremony, a bride is led to the bridal chamber. There she is entertained by female guests and members of the groom’s family while the groom feasts with his male relatives and guests in the outer hall. The guests will try to make the groom drunk. A substitute may be used. This is known as arena fighting (打擂臺). When the groom is allowed to enter the chamber, more obstacles are thrown by the females to prevent him from entering. This ritual continues for some reasonable time or until the ladies have been bribed with red packets of money to leave sooner. All this while, the veiled bride sits patiently on the curtained bed. Finally when the newlyweds are alone, the groom lifts the red veil to see the bride for the first time and they make a toast to each other. Not until the next morning when the mother-in-law inspect the mandatory white handkerchief placed on the bed as proof of the bride’s virginity that she is officially accepted as wife. If no blood stains are found, the bride is returned immediately to her home and the marriage contract is deemed null and void.

4. So far I have avoided the translation of the character, 煞, ‘Sa’. Terms such as煞神 were translated Gods of Catastrophe or Gods of Malignancy. However this word denotes a Chinese concept unknown to western cultures other than auras of evil. ‘Sa’ is a Feng Shui term denoting objects or spirits containing too much negative energy that can cause bodily harm by contact. According to Yin and Yang principles, life is positive energy while dead things are negative. Sickness is caused when a person has too much negative energy and eventually death results if all positive energy is drained away.

Contact with unclean things such as ghosts and demons are termed as the ‘collision of evil’, 撞煞. When someone destroys too many living things, he is tainted with an aura of ‘Sa’, often translated as an aura of Malignancy, 煞氣. This does not mean that the aura is evil. Black and Red ‘Sa’ belong to this kind of malignant auras. Black Malignancy refers to the auras emanating from the dead which can be seen by ‘sensitive people’(people ‘born with a veil’ or psychic) (Black is the color of mourning in China).Red ‘Sa’ is the result from either exposure to excessive accumulation of bones of corpses or from extremely deep grievances of spirits and ghosts. The Red ‘Sa’ is the final evolutionary form of Black ‘Sa’. It is most injurious to life but luckily one does not encounter it often.

5. The Chinese character for the numeral ten, ’十’ is shaped like a cross.

6. Imperial towers were the tallest structures in those days hence denoting great heights.

7. 大椿 is a legendary tree of great longevity. Later it meant one’s father. Here the poem’s intention was that the garden needed their father to take care of it.

8. Most probably the peach gardens of the Queen Mother of Western Heaven, 西王母.

9. 炕 is a brick bed that can be heated from within. Northern Chinese sleep on ‘Kangs’ while southern Chinese sleep on beds.

Traditional kangs of the rich

 

This one is for the former lower ranking imperial concubines
 
Traditional in contemporary setting.
 
This is the bare minimum of the poorer classes.
 
Modern one
 

.
This is how the bed is being heated up

 
This ultra modern one is electrically heated!

10. I personally witnessed as a kid such a wedding ritual in my aunt’s wedding. A middle aged woman was needed to carry my 4th aunt into the car (reflecting the times of the late 1950s).

Original Text

桃花女陰陽鬥傳
 
第十二回
 
明陷阱顧圖解脫
知後事先洩玄機
 
卻說周公又把第四道靈符化了,只聽得空中風聲大作,與別的神祗不同,降下了一位猛烈神。有一首七字讚為證:
 
潔白銀盔生殺氣,

素披甲上砌龍鱗。

腰中繫寶磨珍玉,
戰靴五彩起祥雲。
面如傅粉神眉豎,
眼光四射好驚人!
法體金身高一丈,

畫戟方天手內擎。

若問此尊神名字,
威鎮四方白虎神。
 
白虎神來至桌前,道:“法官有何法旨差遣?”周公道:“無事不敢褻瀆,只因明日巳時,迎娶任桃花。伏乞尊神神力發威,在洞房中坐帳時,將此女咬死,方請回歸本位。”白虎神領了法旨,亦閃閃騰空而去。當下周公請完了四位正神,把《天罡神書》收起,理好了髮鬢,叫人進來撤去供物,回至上房,心中大喜。暗自言道:“任桃花!孤看你有回天本事,也難脫得來此災!請這四位尊神,不是心中萬毒,暗害於你,也是你自取之禍也!”想了一回,時交四鼓,方才睡去。一夜無話。
 
且說桃花女一心要與周公見個上下,便把一切寶物,收拾齊備。到了次日清晨,梳洗已畢,忙到後園澆了桃樹,自覺心中不寧。忙掐指一算,便知袖裡陰陽,自不由暗笑,叫言:“周公!你小覷了我。今又添請了四位凶神,想來暗害,可惜你枉用心機,怎能得來害我?”忙迴轉繡房,將收拾的錦囊打開,取出一枝小小的桃枝,拿至後園。口中念念有詞,用氣往桃枝上一吹,喝聲:“如意主,好還原!”忽見那桃枝一刻長將起來,竟似一枝七足長的畫戟一樣,提在手中,把青絲打開,反罩了他的粉面,一手掐訣,口中念咒,將畫戟往上一指,喝曰:“紅煞尊神速降!”桃花的根基道法,比周公高些,自他在瑤池修煉的久,天書又是煞真人所賜——煞真人乃諸神聖的首領,桃花女念的咒是煞真人勾神咒——故此不用燒符佈斗,一陣風過後,就落下一尊神,金盔金甲,立在桃園,口稱:“法師喚吾神有何使用?”桃花小姐一見紅煞大帥下界,忙緊閉雙目,道:“今日周乾賣卦,洩漏天機,被小仙兩次破解,尚不知醒,痛悔前非,以挽回天怒,今又立下萬毒心,用誆親之計,暗遣黑煞大帥守在門前,專侯上轎之時,要害我之性命!今不得已,借使尊神神力,在暗中保護,到臨期見黑煞神鋼鞭下時,求乞尊神用金鞭架住,待小仙的上了彩輿出門之後,方可領黑煞神一同復位。如違,按法書所貶!”  桃花女撒訣,紅煞神即隨風而去。任小姐慢慢的紮好青絲,向畫戟上吹了一口仙氣,便仍是一棱小小桃株。小姐又在桃樹上撅了三枝嫩枝兒,又把柳樹枝兒撅了一條,一齊帶回繡房中,親自做了一張弓兒,三枝箭兒,放在一邊。又取了幾根棉線來,左十字,右十字,做了一個像篩籮的樣兒,分經出緯的,用戒法戒好了,一齊收拾。看看天將巳時牌,又聽外邊鼓樂到門,鏗鏘之聲振耳。
 
忽見太公夫妻全穿著吉服,連忙走進來,喚叫:“兒呀,周家的彩輿已到門了,你如今怎麼樣?”桃花小姐聞言,不覺垂淚道:“爹,娘!你兩老空養女兒一十六秋。今日女兒到周家,必不相容,有一場惡鬥,生死已難預料定。只有幾句言詞,兩位大人須要在意!”任太公夫妻早已痛哭起來,說道:“我兒不必過憂,且放心前去,料得周公法術鬥兒不過。你有話,只管講說明,不須隱諱,我兩老那一個不依你?”小姐便念道:
 
無陰無陽不到頭,
莫道行善反無後。

無兒日後卻有兒,
大數來時白日飛!

雙跨木雲朝玉闕,
子午甲戊是了期。
絲毫不想天地數,
桃園久已待孤椿。
方顯人間行善樂!
 
此皆是任太公日後夫妻自日飛升,作桃園的上神。此是結局後話,不多提。只有桃花小姐說完了,又言:“巳刻時辰己到,孩兒也要收拾收拾預備。爹娘不必傷心!”惟有任太公夫妻那裡忍得住?兩老上前攜住桃花女,放聲大哭。
 
正在難解難分之際,只聽得使女們回說:“彭太爺來也!”有任太公夫妻聞言,止了哭泣,抬頭一看,果是彭剪走進來了。開言叫:“叔、嬸、賢恩妹,不須苦哭了,小侄有話告禀。”當下任太公一見他便含了怒:“彭剪!你是好人呀!我女兒一再叮囑於你,叫你不要說破,你今竟已說洩出來,使周公記下仇,結下冤,今用此誆親之計來算計我女兒!他是本無公子。不過候我兒出門後,要置治他之意。此去我女兒若無差池便罷,若有差池,我這條老命定同你一併周公拚了。與你二人勢不兩立!”當下彭剪聽了,急的面青面紅,雙足亂跳,道:“小侄那日何嘗肯直說?至周公三番五次詰問,又打我數百,仍不肯說出,到後來他大怒,惡狠狠仗劍要殺我,我不得已說出來。他把我問罪了,不許我出門,由此不得到來禀告知,原是罪大如天,教我今又不知他用這些誆親之計……”
彭剪口說未完,這桃花女叫:“爹爹、母親不必埋怨錯怪於他了。”又呼:“哥哥,如今周公差你來的,不是說閒話的時候。我正要有重重大事,在你須要謹謹依我調度。我今有些東西交與你。”說畢,忙取了弓箭一把,交彭剪道:“你可收下帶在身上,候我花轎一進大門,你可如此如此,這般行事。”彭剪連連點點頭。又把個線做成的篩籮交與他,密密的囑咐了一回。彭剪接下,暗暗拿了出去,放在花轎內。
 
桃花女隨帶了各物,頭戴八寶珠冠,身穿大紅蟒袍,足下穿一雙黃緞道鞋,不肯沾土,就站在炕上,戴好了碧玉帶。蔣媒此時也到了,進至中堂。忙拈遞上三尺紅綾,一對寶瓶,內盛滿了五穀。桃花女教他把紅綾蓋在他的頭上,一隻手提一個寶瓶,心中暗想,自言:“此婦心術不正,我今番用他替我罷!”隨叫一言:“蔣媽媽,你不可離我左右,明日來我家,賞你白銀二十兩。”蔣媒聽了,大悅道:“小姐,老身本是到來扶持小姐過門的,如何又敢妄領太公的賞?”任太公道:“只要好好的小心扶持,待我女兒過去,我就賞你銀子二十兩,定不虛言。”
 
又道小姐便叫父親來抱他上轎。 ——今日桃花女用的人並物件,原是為鎮破那些凶神惡煞之作用,豈知後來人大凡迎娶,俱照此式這般行事,日後竟成了風俗,作為要事。 ——一刻,任太公便把桃花女抱將過去,大哭:“兒呀!你要老父抱過你出去,願同你老父母一般大年紀,今日成人長大,夫妻百年好合,子孫昌盛,福壽綿長,百無禁忌。”有任安人也跟隨在後,一程送出,放聲大哭。正是母女分別,情不能已,況且他無兒子,止有此女,今日一別,又未知吉凶如何,正見苦切。放聲大哭。連打動彭老,也陪些眼淚。桃花小姐得任太公抱上轎,方才坐下。忽然一陣怪風向花轎吹去,只見一鋼鞭打過來。原來是周公請到黑煞神,一見上了轎,忙將鋼鞭打下。只見左邊又飛出一條金鞭,把鋼鞭架住,這紅煞神早已露出法體。這黑煞神見紅煞神架住他鞭,不能打下。有黑煞神道:“吾奉周法官的夭罡正法來打死任桃花女,尊神何故用金鞭架救脫此女?令吾不能覆他法旨,奈何?”有紅煞神陪笑臉道:“吾也奉任桃花用炁真人的神咒勾來救他,二人須乃係陰陽鬥智,然畢竟任桃花出於正,他乃奉玉旨臨凡,要激惱周公爭鬥,以返本還原,免生墮落於凡塵也。他二人歸期不遠矣,我二人又何必聽其私勾使喚以傷和氣的?”黑煞神聽了,道:“尊神所論,深合玄妙之旨。請各歸本位。”當時,二神駕雲回天。後事如何。且看下同分解.
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