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The Taoist Canon and the Representation of Taoist Exorcist Traditions

Pages 789 - 810



The Taoist Canon of the Ming-period contains only scattered individual documentation of Taoist exorcist rituals. Many ritual instructions were assembled in collections of texts that mostly date to the Yüan- and Ming-periods. We know that exorcist forms of ritual expression historically precede the Sung- and T'ang-periods. Since the Sung-period (11th/12th ct.) the terms Thunder Magic rituals (lei-fa/wu-lei fa 雷法/五雷法) summarize such exorcist rituals. The article sets out to explain the reasons for the uneven reception of such ritual documentation in the Canon that does not hold comparable instructions and documentation for the earlier periods of Taoist history. The very nature of the Canon throughout the ages as a monument of government sponsorship and the specific understanding of the nature of Taoist texts, all in combination with official standards explains the early suppression of such documentation in which the Taoists have a share. They promoted officially an exclusive understanding of the teaching of the scriptures (ching-chiao 經 教).


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