Friday, May 11, 2012

Don't mess with Fox Faeries

In a certain hermitage on Mount Heng in Southwestern China, there lived a young Taoist adept whose name was Purple Pine. He diligently cultivated his Ch'i and gradually mastered the mysterious arts. From time to time, he had to descend the mountain to purchase provisions for his master. One day, while passing by the pagoda of a fox faery, he suddenly felt the urge to pee, so he stopped near the pagoda to relieve his bladder and inadvertently let some urine seep into the base of the pagoda. This provoked the fox faery who inhabited the pagoda to complain furiously. 

The young Taoist felt offended by the scolding the fox faery had howled at him, and so he said with a laugh, "Your own rank odor, old fox, is so foul that I can hardly even breathe, and compared to that smell, my urine could be regarded as quite fragrant!"

The fox faery grew enraged and vowed, "Insulting a fox faery is an unforgivable mortal offense. Only by drinking your blood shall my anger be pacified! Mark my words: within three months, I shall have my revenge on you!"

Purple Pine could not suppress a shudder of fear and left in silence, greatly distressed. That evening, while he was returning to the hermitage from the city, just as he reached the foot of the mountain a dense fog suddenly descended, completely enshrouding the entire area. 



 


Losing his way, he took the wrong fork in the trail, and after a long while, he finally saw a ray of light shining near the side of the path, so he quickly walked toward it. At last he came upon an ancient temple so densely veiled in mist that even the large characters inscribed on the tablet over the gate were too obscured to read. All he could see was that the front gate stood ajar, and feeling calmer now, he heaved a sigh of relief and went inside. There a young boy waved at him, so Purple Pine followed him inside and across a courtyard, stopping before the door of a small cottage. The little lantern hanging over the door cast a few dim rays of light into the night. But the light flowing from the window seemed to beckon him with a warm welcome.

The Taoist had an intuitive feeling that this place was rather fishy, and that it might hold some sort of danger for him, but he had no other choice, so he went inside. Right then, the young boy suddenly disappeared, and he heard the soothing sound of a harp, which so entranced him that he lost all sense of fear. Knocking on the door as he stepped inside, he saw two people sitting there completely enraptured by the music from the harp, and they both ignored him. The harp player was a stunningly beautiful girl with a face like a peach blossom, blooming with the ripe spirit of youth. Sitting to her side was an old man wearing a short vest over a long gown, very well groomed and dignified, with a long beard; but his demeanor was cold and reserved, and though he seemed to be intently listening to the music, he definitely noticed the Taoist standing there. Purple Pine paid no further attention to the old man, nor did he pause to consider that he might be stepping into a trap.

He just stood there dumbfounded, as though he'd lost his soul, and stared fixedly at that beautiful girl's jade-like face, just like a little bird mesmerized by the eyes of a snake. Soon the harp music gradually faded away, and the young beauty stood up with a sweet smile and bowed, saying to the old man, "Father, we have a guest." The old man glanced at the Taoist and said coldly, "Please have a seat. Perhaps you have already guessed that our surname is Hu." The old man was no doubt the fox faery who lived in that pagoda.


A moment later, the old man said, "You came at just the right time. We were just about to have dinner when the family next door sent someone over to report that their old grandfather is critically ill, so I must go over there and visit them. Please stay and accompany my daughter for a cup of wine and a few bites of our simple food:" When he finished speaking, he stood up and abruptly left without the courtesy of saying farewell, as though he didn't feel the slightest regard for his guest.

As they ate, Miss Hu served him with the utmost attention, and conversed with him without the slightest inhibition, and soon the two of them were as close as though they'd known each other forever. After a servant came to clear away the dishes and left them alone, the young girl flashed him a bewitching smile that silently revealed her intentions, and in this manner she extended him the invitation that could not be spoken aloud. The two of them immediately fell into a passionate embrace and went to bed together, and they didn't part until dawn.

After returning to his hermitage on the mountain, the young Taoist lived in seclusion as before and did not again descend the mountain and enter the city, nor did he ever again go out for strolls to enjoy the scenery. Why did Purple Pine cut himself off from the world and live like this? Was it because he wished to avoid another encounter with the fox faery? Not at all! Regardless of who the man might be, all it took was one illicit coupling with a fox faery, and his fate was thereby sealed. Thenceforth it was impossible to escape from the net, and even though he clearly knew from the start that this witch would suck his spirit dry, he would nevertheless have preferred to die in her arms than to forfeit the opportunity to enjoy the incomparable pleasure of copulating with her.


According to others who lived at the hermitage, a female fox was often seen darting back and forth around the walls of the hermitage, and this fox's fur grew shinier and more resplendent day by day, while Purple Pine's vital life force gradually withered away, and he became ever weaker and more exhausted.

His master must have known the cause of his disciple's ailment, and he must certainly have had a magic spell he could cast to help rid him of this calamity, but in order for the spell to work, Purple Pine would have to resolve himself to killing his beloved fox faery—otherwise the spell would have no effect. The old Taoist master took "noninterference" as his guiding principle, for how could he possibly force another person to make such a choice?

Three months after his first copulating with the fox faery, Purple Pine suddenly disappeared. Soon thereafter, someone came up the mountain to report to the master of the hermitage. He said that on that day at a dilapidated old temple at the foot of the mountain, he saw a corpse sprawled out in the courtyard and recognized it as the Taoist Purple Pine, his skin pale as a ghost, his entire body drained of blood. All around him were paw prints of a fox, as though left there by a large pack of foxes. From this it was clear that the old fox faery in the pagoda had fulfilled his vow of revenge.


Notes : 

  • Fox faeries are mythical beings who are said to have attained spiritual immortality while human, then transformed themselves into fox spirits. From time to time, they returned to human form as irresistibly beautiful women in order to mate with virile young men and steal their energy by draining them of their sexual fluids, as a means of boosting their own power.
  • The surname"Hu" is a homonym for the word "fox."
  • Wu wei, "noninterference," is a fundamental guiding principle by which Taoists live, always letting nature take its course without interfering.
  • This tale was recorded by John Blofeld in the Szechuan province of China. It illustrate the Taoist belief – shared with other Traditions - that ones life energy and longevity are deeply connected to sexual fluids (Semen and eggs). This belief is at the origin of various practices aimed at the actual preservation of these fluids.

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