Myths and Legends of China

Page: 81

The worship of Lei Kung seems to have been carried on regularly from about the time of the Christian era.

Lei Chên-tzŭ

Another Son of Thunder is Lei Chên-tzŭ, mentioned above, whose name when a child was Wên Yü, who was hatched from an egg after a clap of thunder and found by the soldiers of Wên Wang in some brushwood near an old tomb. The infant’s chief characteristic was its brilliant eyes. Wên Wang, who already had ninety-nine children, adopted it as his hundredth, but gave it to a hermit named Yün Chung-tzŭ to rear as his disciple. The hermit showed him the way to rescue his adopted father from the tyrant who held him prisoner. In seeking for some powerful weapon the child found on Page 203the hillside two apricots, and ate them both. He then noticed that wings had grown on his shoulders, and was too much ashamed to return home.

But the hermit, who knew intuitively what had taken place, sent a servant to seek him. When they met the servant said: “Do you know that your face is completely altered?” The mysterious fruit had not only caused Lei Chên-tzŭ to grow wings, known as Wings of the Wind and Thunder, but his face had become green, his nose long and pointed, and two tusks protruded horizontally from each side of his mouth, while his eyes shone like mirrors.

Lei Chên-tzŭ now went and rescued Wên Wang, dispersing his enemies by means of his mystical power and bringing the old man back on his shoulders. Having placed him in safety he returned to the hermit.

The Mother of Lightning

This divinity is represented as a female figure, gorgeously apparelled in blue, green, red, and white, holding in either hand a mirror from which proceed two broad streams or flashes of light. Lightning, say the Chinese, is caused by the rubbing together of the yin and the yang, just as sparks of fire may be produced by the friction of two substances.

The Origin of the Spirit of Lightning

Tung Wang Kung, the King of the Immortals, was playing at pitch-pot1 with Yü Nü. He lost; whereupon Heaven smiled, and from its half-open mouth a ray of light came out. This was lightning; it is regarded as Page 204feminine because it is supposed to come from the earth, which is of the yin, or female, principle.

The God of the Wind

Fêng Po, the God of the Wind, is represented as an old man with a white beard, yellow cloak, and blue and red cap. He holds a large sack, and directs the wind which comes from its mouth in any direction he pleases.

There are various ideas regarding the nature of this deity. He is regarded as a stellar divinity under the control of the star Ch’i,2 because the wind blows at the time when the moon leaves that celestial mansion. He is also said to be a dragon called Fei Lien, at first one of the supporters of the rebel Ch’ih Yu, who was defeated by Huang Ti. Having been transformed into a spiritual monster, he stirred up tremendous winds in the southern regions. The Emperor Yao sent Shên I with three hundred soldiers to quiet the storms and appease Ch’ih Yu’s relatives, who were wreaking their vengeance on the people. Shên I ordered the people to spread a long cloth in front of their houses, fixing it with stones. The wind, blowing against this, had to change its direction. Shên I then flew on the wind to the top of a high mountain, whence he saw a monster at the base. It had the shape of a huge yellow and white sack, and kept inhaling and exhaling in great gusts. Shên I, concluding that this was the cause of all these storms, shot an arrow and hit the monster, whereupon it took refuge in a deep cave. Here it turned on Shên I and, drawing a sword, dared him to attack the Mother of the Winds. Shên I, however, bravely faced the monster and discharged another arrow, this time Page 205hitting it in the knee. The monster immediately threw down its sword and begged that its life might be spared.