Dictionary

Ancestor Worship (Chinese)~ This theory stems a little bit from Taoism and the Traditional Animist religions.  Many Chinese (both today and in ancient times) believe that when people die, their ghosts or spirits remain watching and capable of affecting the world. They often offer sacrifices, pray, care for the tombs, and offer acknowledgements to the ancestors.

Animism ~ the belief that the earth or nature is alive and has a spiritual essence flowing throughout. Adherents believe that the plants, animals, and earth itself are alive and conscious.

Ao ~ Chinese mythological turtle who lost his legs when Nüwa cut them off to fashion pillars holding up the sky. Legend says he is still floating in the sea, with the immortal islands on his back.

Buddhism (Chinese) ~ Traditionally in China, the goal of Buddhism is to find the happy or complete life – full of blessings, simplicity, and peace. Unlike Hindu Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism has distinctly “folk religion,” “Taoist,” and “Confucian” elements mixed inside. Buddhism was interpreted by Chinese translators through their own backgrounds in the other philosophies and it has been modified to adopt popular values and virtues throughout the years. Indeed, it changes depending on the people’s backgrounds and origins themselves. Some special features setting Chinese Buddhism apart is the belief that Buddha was a god (rather than a wise man) and the fact that faith in him is often combined with faith in the Taoist and ancestral gods. 

Chu Ci ~ Book of Chinese poetry containing the poem known as the “Heavenly Questions” which tells the Chinese origin myth of Nuwa and the pillars of earth. 

Confucianism ~ This is not actually a religion (most Chinese are offended if you suggest so), Confucius was not telling people about gods or how to life.  Rather Confucius spoke about society and the things that are required for society to function appropriately. He focused on education, order, and maintaining the social rules. Often described as a variation of the Virtue Theory, Confucianism proposed that people should seek to live the best life by understanding their role in relationship to others and the proper behaviors required of each type of relationship.

Cosmogonic Myth ~ a origin story that tells or explains the origins of order and the “cosmos” from an original state of chaos.

Creation Myth ~ a story telling or explaining the origins of something, most generally the earth.

Daoism (Taoism)~ A complex religious and philosophical theory from China that is built upon the theory that people should follow Tao, or the proper “path” for life. While Tao is a sort of mystical concept that has no real “form”, Daoism was itself a religion with a pantheon of gods. The primary authority on the faith came from the classical Chinese work I Ching- the first work to speak of Yin and Yang and a book that said humanity is controlled by changing elements in the world.

Foundation Myth ~ a story telling or explaining the origins of a particular people, nations, or culture

Fuxi ~ The brother and husband of Nüwa, who is often described as playing a role in the world’s origins.

Gonggong ~ The Chinese sea god / sea dragon who is blamed with having damaged the four pillars of the world in the beginning. To repair his error (which was destroying earth, the goddess Nüwa had to step in.

Huainanzi ~ an ancient Chinese book that tells of some of the Chinese myths and legends. Particularly interesting is its relation of the origin Myth based on the goddess Nüwa’s sacrifice and work to rebuild the world’s pillars.

I Ching (or Book of Changes)- one of the most ancient classical Chinese philosophical texts, centuries old. Offers extensive input on divination, based upon the theory that  humanity is controlled by changing elements in the world. These changes are marked by a series of hexagrams, which can be used to predict the future.

Legend ~ A traditional or folk story widely seen as true, but having never been verified.

Myth ~ A traditional or folk story, particularly telling of the early background or history of a culture or offering an explanation for some historic or scientific event.

Mythology ~ the study of myths, particularly those of one particular culture or country.

Nüwa ~ the Chinese goddess who, it is claimed, was part of the world’s origin when she helped rebuild the broken pillars holding up the heavens and created humanity itself.

Oral ~ spoken by word or mouth rather than written.

Pangu ~ one of the proposed “creators” of the earth in Chinese mythology. His legend comes from a Taoist writer who tells of Pangu, the giant dragon that made order out of chaos and fashioned the world from his own body.

Shan Hai Jing ~ Also called the Classic of Mountains and Sea. One of several stories relating the story about Nüwa, Gonggong, and Fuxi.

Tangun ~ The most popular of the Korean Foundation Myths, telling the story of the origins of Korea and the Korean culture.

Taoism (Daoism)~ A complex religious and philosophical theory from China that is built upon the theory that people should follow Tao, or the proper “path” for life. While Tao is a sort of mystical concept that has no real “form”, Taoism was itself a religion with a pantheon of gods. The primary authority on the faith came from the classical Chinese work I Ching- the first work to speak of Yin and Yang and a book that said humanity is controlled by changing elements in the world.

 

Yang ~ One of the two “elements” that were created from initial chaos and formed the world’s beginnings according to Chinese mythology. Usually portrayed as male, with qualities related to heaven, the light, heat, and passion.

Yin ~ One of the two “elements” that were created from initial chaos and formed the world’s beginnings according to Chinese mythology. Usually portrayed as female, with qualities related to earth, the dark, cold, and impassionate. (Impassionate is probably a bad word here. More like the contrast between heart and mind, with Yin being the mind.)

 

 

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