Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Five Uncontrollable (五猖)

There are many beliefs of what 5 uncontrollable spirits are. There is a section of mantra for evoking these 5 uncontrollable spirits that could give us a telltale sign:

Those of you who rolled into ravine, come!
Those who jumped over a bridge, come!
Those being struck by batten and those slashed by machete; come!
Those cannot return home, come!
Those who hung themselves, come!
Those who bitten by tigers and those who are strangled by snakes, come!

So the 5 uncontrollable spirits are a group of spirits of untimely death. The 5 uncontrollable (五猖) is the name given by Indochina hill tribes such as Yao and some Chinese minority Taoists.

The traditional Chinese Taoist magic call the 5 uncontrollable as “5 ghosts” (五鬼) but the southern Chinese Taoist and Taiwanese Taoists call them the “5 legionnaire armies” (五营兵). The later term is now widely spread throughout the world amongst Chinese communities.

Each of the Taoist lineages has its own nomenclature for these 5 uncontrollable. My 5 uncontrollable is known as the “5 seniors” (五爷) and this system is private to me alone. Other than that, the Vietnamese Taoists call these 5 uncontrollable spirits as “forest military” spirits and in Thai magic, they may be known as warrior spirits.

The common Taoist 5 legionnaire armies are mainly wandering spirits of that areas and they has lesser powers than the private ones; the concepts of 5 legionnaire armies has also extended to includes the “heavenly soldiers” (天兵), thunder gods (雷部将) and etc.

Traditionally, a person should be given permission by his/her master if he/she wishes to obtain these 5 uncontrollable spirits. But now-a-day, people would just simply call upon these spirits at will.

The 5 uncontrollable spirits are said to be the most powerful Taoist spirit helpers out there and they can do many things other deities cannot do. And specialties for each lineage would also be different too... for example the Plum Mountain Sect (梅山派) mainly use the 5 uncontrollable spirits for hunting purposes only.

Perhaps the saying: “for we are a legion” rings a bell! There are indeed many devils around.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting... I think I've read about something similar in a folklore archive.