Magic & Superstition
Although systems of magical practice were uncommon in
ancient China, there have been many instances of the employment
of magical means and the belief in a supernatural world
peopled by gods, demons, and other beings. One writer comments
‘‘Although the Chinese mind possessed under such a constitution
but few elements in which magic could strike root and
throw out its ramifications and influence, yet we find many
traces giving evidence of the instinctive movement of the mind,
as well as of magical influence; though certainly not in the manner
or abundance that we meet with it in India. The great variety
of these appearances is, however, striking, as in no other
country are they so seldom met with. . . .
‘‘It is easy to understand from these circumstances wherefore
we find so few of these phenomena of magic and the visionary
and ecstatic state, in other parts of the East so frequent,
and therefore they are scattered and uncertain. Accounts are,
however, not wanting to show that the phenomena as well as
theories of prophecy were known in more remote times. Under
the Emperor Hoei Ti, about 304 A.D., a mystical sect arose in
China calling themselves ‘the teachers of the emptiness and
nothingness of all things.’ They also exhibited the art of binding
the power of the senses, and producing a condition which
they believed perfection.’’
Demonism and Obsession
The Chinese of former times were implicit believers in demons
whom they imagined surrounded them on every hand.
One writer states, ‘‘English officials, American missionaries,
mandarins and many of the Chinese literati (Confucians, Taoists
and Buddhist believers alike) declare that spiritism in some
form, and under some name, is the almost universal belief of
China. It is generally denominated ‘ancestral worship.’’’
‘‘There is no driving out of these Chinese,’’ stated the missionary
Father Gonzalo, ‘‘the cursed belief that the spirits of their
ancestors are ever about them, availing themselves of every opportunity
to give advice and counsel.’’ And Justus Doolittle
‘‘The medium consulted takes in the hand a stick of lighted
incense to dispel all defiling influences, then prayers of some
kind are repeated, the body becomes spasmodic, the medium’s
eyes are shut, and the form sways about, assuming the walk and
peculiar attitude of the spirit when in the body. Then the communication
from the divinity begins, which may be of a faultfinding
or a flattering character. . . . Sometimes these Chinese
mediums profess to be possessed by some specified historical
god of great healing power, and in this condition they prescribe
for the sick. It is believed that the ghoul or spirit invoked
actually casts himself into the medium, and dictates the medicine.’’
And in his work China and The Chinese (1869), John L. Nevins
‘‘Volumes might be written upon the gods, genii and familiar
spirits supposed to be continually in communication with
this people. The Chinese have a large number of books upon
this subject, among the most noted of which is the ‘Liau-chaichei,’
a large work of sixteen volumes. . . . Tu Sein signifies a
spirit in the body, and there are a class of familiar spirits supposed
to dwell in the bodies of certain Chinese who became the
mediums of communication with the unseen world. Individuals
said to be possessed by these spirits are visited by multitudes,
particularly those who have lost recently relatives by death, and
wish to converse with them. . . . Remarkable disclosures and
revelations are believed to be made by the involuntary moveChildren
of the Night Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
ments of a bamboo pencil, and through a similar method some
claim to see in the dark. Persons considering themselves endowed
with superior intelligence are firm believers in those and
other modes of consulting spirits.’’
W. J. Plumb, a public teacher in Chen Sin Ling, states ‘‘In
the district of Tu-ching, obsessions by evil spirits or demons are
very common.’’ He further writes that ‘‘there are very many
cases also in Chang-lo.’’ Again he comments
‘‘When a man is thus afflicted, the spirit (Kwei) takes possession
of his body without regard to his being strong or weak in
health. It is not easy to resist the demon’s power. Though without
bodily ailments, possessed persons appear as if ill. When
under the entrancing spell of the demon, they seem different
from their ordinary selves.
‘‘In most cases the spirit takes possession of a man’s body
contrary to his will, and he is helpless in the matter. The kwei
has the power of driving out the man’s spirit, as in sleep or
dreams. When the subject awakes to consciousness, he has not
the slightest knowledge of what has transpired.
‘‘The actions of possessed persons vary exceedingly. They
leap about and toss their arms, and then the demon tells them
what particular spirit he is, often taking a false name, or deceitfully
calling himself a god, or one of the genii come down to
the abodes of mortals. Or, perhaps, it professes to be the spirit
of a deceased husband or wife. There are also kwei of the quiet
sort, who talk and laugh like other people, only that the voice
is changed. Some have a voice like a bird. Some speak Mandarin—the
language of Northern China—and some the local dialect;
but though the speech proceeds from the mouth of the
man, what is said does not appear to come from him. The outward
appearance and manner is also changed.
‘‘In Fu-show there is a class of persons who collect in large
numbers and make use of incense, pictures, candles, and lamps
to establish what are called ‘incense tables.’ Taoist priests are
engaged to attend the ceremonies, and they also make use of
‘mediums.’ The Taoist writes a hand, stands like a graven
image, thus signifying his willingness to have the demon come
and take possession of him. Afterward, the charm is burned
and the demon spirit is worshipped and invoked, the priest, in
the meanwhile going on with his chanting. After a while the
medium spirit has descended, and asks what is wanted of him.
Then, whoever has requests to make, takes incense sticks,
makes prostrations, and asks a response respecting some disease,
or for protection from some calamity. In winter the same
performances are carried on to a great extent by gambling
companies. If some of the responses hit the mark, a large number
of people are attracted. They establish a shrine and offer
sacrifices, and appoint days, calling upon people from every
quarter to come and consult the spirit respecting diseases. . . .
‘‘There is also a class of men who establish what they call a
‘Hall of Revelations.’ At the present time there are many engaged
in this practice. They are, for the most part, literary men
of great ability. The people in large numbers apply to them for
responses. The mediums spoken of above are also numerous.
All of the above practices are not spirits seeking to possess men;
but rather men seeking spirits to possess them, and allowing
themselves to be voluntarily used as their instruments.
‘‘As to the outward appearance of persons when possessed,
of course, they are the same persons as to outward form as at
ordinary times; but the colour of the countenance may change.
The demon may cause the subject to assume a threatening air,
and a fierce, violent manner. The muscles often stand out on
the face, the eyes are closed, or they protrude with a frightful
stare. These demons sometimes prophesy.
‘‘The words spoken certainly proceed from the mouths of
the persons possessed; but what is said does not appear to come
from their minds or wills, but rather from some other personality,
often accompanied by a change of voice. Of this there can
be no doubt. When the subject returns to consciousness, he invariably
declares himself ignorant of what he has said.
‘‘The Chinese make use of various methods to cast out demons.
They are so troubled and vexed by inflictions affecting
bodily health, or it may be throwing stones, moving furniture,
or the moving about and destruction of family utensils, that
they are driven to call in the service of some respected scholar
or Taoist priest, to offer sacrifices, or chant sacred books, and
pray for protection and exemption from suffering. Some make
use of sacrifices and offerings of paper clothes and money in
order to induce the demon to go back to the gloomy region of
Yanchow . . . As to whether these methods have any effect, I do
not know. As a rule, when demons are not very troublesome,
the families afflicted by them generally think it best to hide
their affliction, or to keep those wicked spirits quiet by sacrifices,
and burning incense to them.’’
An article in the London Daily News gave lengthy extracts
from an address upon the Chinese by Mrs. Montague
Beaucham, who had spent many years in China in educational
work. Speaking of their spiritism, she said, ‘‘The latest London
craze in using the planchette has been one of the recognized
means in China of conversing with evil spirits from time immemorial.’’
She had lived in one of the particular provinces known
as demon land, where the natives are bound up in the belief
and worship of spirits. ‘‘There is a real power,’’ she added, ‘‘in
this necromancy. They do healings and tell fortunes.’’ She personally
knew of one instance that the spirits through the planchette
had foretold a great flood. The Boxer uprising was
prophesied by the planchette. These spirits disturbed family
relations, caused fits of frothing at the mouth, and made some
of their victims insane. In closing she declared that ‘‘Chinese
spiritism was from hell,’’ the obsession baffling the power of
both Christian missionaries and native priests.
Nevius sent out a circular communication for the purpose
of discovering the actual beliefs of the Chinese regarding demonism
through which he obtained much valuable information.
Wang Wu-Fang, an educated Chinese, writes
‘‘Cases of demon possession abound among all classes. They
are found among persons of robust health, as well as those who
are weak and sickly. In many unquestionable cases of obsession,
the unwilling subjects have resisted, but have been obliged to
submit themselves to the control of the demon. . . .
‘‘In the majority of cases of possession, the beginning of the
malady is a fit of grief, anger, or mourning. These conditions
seem to open the door to the demons. The outward manifestations
are apt to be fierce and violent. It may be that the subject
alternately talks and laughs; he walks awhile and then sits, or
he rolls on the ground, or leaps about; or exhibits contortions
of the body and twistings of the neck. . . . It was common
among them to send for exorcists, who made use of written
charms, or chanted verses, or punctured the body with needles.
These are among the Chinese methods of cure.
‘‘Demons are different kinds. There are those which clearly
declare themselves; and then those who work in secret. There
are those which are cast out with difficulty, and others with
‘‘In cases of possession by familiar demons, what is said by
the subject certainly does not proceed from his own will. When
the demon has gone out and the subject recovers consciousness,
he has no recollection whatever of what he has said or
done. This is true almost invariably.
‘‘The methods by which the Chinese cast out demons are enticing
them to leave by burning charms and paper money, or
by begging and exhorting them, or by frightening them with
magic spells and incantations, or driving them away by pricking
with needles, or pinching with the fingers, in which case they
cry out and promise to go.
‘‘I was formerly accustomed to drive out demons by means
of needles. At that time cases of possession by evil spirits were
very common in our villages, and my services were in very frequent
demand. . . .’’
The missionary Rev. Timothy Richard writes in response to
Nevius’s circular
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. CHINA
‘‘The Chinese orthodox definition of spirit is, ‘the soul of
the departed’; some of the best of whom are raised to the rank
of gods. . . . There is no disease to which the Chinese are ordinarily
subject that may not be caused by demons. In this case
the mind is untouched. It is only the body that suffers; and the
Chinese endeavour to get rid of the demon by vows and offerings
to the gods. The subject in this case is an involuntary
one. . . .
‘‘Persons possessed range between 15 and 50 years of age,
quite irrespective of sex. This infliction comes on very suddenly,
sometimes in the day, and sometimes in the night. The demoniac
talks madly, smashes everything near him, acquires unusual
strength, tears his clothes into rags, and rushes into the
street, or to the mountains or kills himself unless prevented.
After this violent possession, the demoniac calms down and
submits to his fate, but under the most heart-rending protests.
These mad spells which are experienced on the demon’s entrance
return at intervals, and increase in frequency, and generally
also in intensity, so that death at last ensues from their
‘‘Now we proceed to those, who involuntarily possessed,
yield to and worship the demon. The demon says he will cease
tormenting the demoniac if he will worship him, and he will reward
him by increasing his riches. But if not, he will punish his
victim, make heavier his torments and rob him of his property.
People find that their food is cursed. They cannot prepare any,
but filth and dirt comes down from the air to render it uneatable.
Their wells are likewise cursed; their wardrobes are set on
fire, and their money very mysteriously disappears. Hence
arose the custom of cutting off the head of a string of cash that
it might not run away. . . . When all efforts to rid themselves
of the demon fail, they yield to it, and say ‘Hold! Cease thy tormenting
and we will worship thee!’ A picture is pasted upon the
wall, sometimes of a woman, and sometimes of a man, and incense
is burned, and prostrations are made to it twice a month.
Being thus reverenced, money now comes in mysteriously, instead
of going out. Even mill-stones are made to move at the
demon’s orders, and the family becomes rich at once. But it is
said that no luck attends such families, and they will eventually
be reduced to poverty. Officials believe these things. Palaces
are known to have been built by them for these demons, who,
however, are obliged to be satisfied with humbler shrines from
the poor. . . .
‘‘Somewhat similar to the above class is another small one
which has power to enter the lower regions. These are the opposite
of necromancers, for instead of calling up the dead and
learning of them about the future destiny of the individual in
whose behalf they are engaged, they lie in a trance for two days,
when their spirits are said to have gone to the Prince of Darkness,
to inquire how long the sick person shall be left among
the living. . . .
‘‘Let us now note the different methods adopted to cast out
the evil spirits from the demoniacs. Doctors are called to do it.
They use needles to puncture the tips of the fingers, the nose,
the neck. They also use a certain pill, and apply it in the following
manner the thumbs of the two hands are tied tightly together,
and the two big toes are tied together in the same manner.
Then one pill is put on the two big toes at the root of the
nail, and the other at the root of the thumb nails. At the same
instant the two pills are set on fire, and they are kept until the
flesh is burned. In the application of the pills, or in the piercing
of the needle, the invariable cry is; ‘I am going; I am going immediately.
I will never dare to come back again. Oh, have
mercy on me this once. I’ll never return!’
‘‘When the doctors fail, they call on people who practice
spiritism. They themselves cannot drive the demon away, but
they call another demon to do it. Both the Confucianists and
Taoists practice this method. . . . Sometimes the spirits are very
ungovernable. Tables are turned, chairs are rattled, and a general
noise of smashing is heard, until the very mediums themselves
tremble with fear. If the demon is of this dreadful character,
they quickly write another charm with the name of the
particular spirit whose quiet disposition is known to them. Lutsu
is a favourite one of this kind. After the burning of the
charm and incense, and when prostrations are made, a little
frame is procured, to which a Chinese pencil is attached. Two
men on each side hold it on a table spread with sand or millet.
Sometimes a prescription is written, the pencil moving of its
own accord. They buy the medicine prescribed and give it to
the possessed. . . . Should they find that burning incense and
offering sacrifices fails to liberate the poor victim, they may call
in conjurors, such as the Taoists, who sit on mats and are carried
by invisible power from place to place. The ascend to a
height of twenty or fifty feet, and are carried to a distance of
four or five li (about a half mile). Of this class are those who,
in Manchuria call down fire from the sky in those funerals
where the corpse is burned. . . .
‘‘These exorcists may belong to any of the three religions in
China. The dragon procession, on the fifteenth of the first
month, is said by some to commemorate a Buddhist priest’s victory
over evil spirits. . . . They paste up charms on windows and
doors, and on the body of the demoniac, and conjure the
demon never to return. The evil spirit answers ‘I’ll never return.
You need not take the trouble of pasting all these charms
upon the doors and windows.’
‘‘Exorcists are specially hated by the evil spirits. Sometimes
they feel themselves beaten fearfully; but no hand is seen.
Bricks and stones may fall on them from the sky or housetops.
On the road they may without warning be plastered over from
head to foot with mud or filth; or may be seized when approaching
a river, and held under the water and drowned.’’
In his Social Life among the Chinese (2 vols., 1866), Doolittle
‘‘They have invented several ways by which they find out the
pleasure of gods and spirits. One of the most common of their
utensils is the Ka-pue, a piece of bamboo root, bean- shaped,
and divided in the centre, to indicate the positive and the negative.
The incense lighted, the Ka-pue properly manipulated before
the symbol god, the pieces are tossed from the medium’s
hand, indicating the will of the spirit by the way they fall.’’
The following manifestation is mental rather than physical
‘‘The professional takes in the hand a stick of lighted incense
to expel all defiling influences; prayers of some sort are
repeated, the fingers interlaced, and the medium’s eyes are
shut, giving unmistakable evidence of being possessed by some
supernatural or spiritual power. The body sways back and forward;
the incense falls, and the person begins to step about, assuming
the walk and peculiar attitude of the spirit. This is considered
as infallible proof that the divinity has entered the body
of the medium. Sometimes the god, using the mouth of the medium,
gives the supplicant a sound scolding for invoking his aid
to obtain unlawful or unworthy ends.’’
And Sir John Burrowa writes, ‘‘Divination with many strange
methods of summoning the dead to instruct the living and reveal
the future, is of very ancient origin, as is proved by Chinese
manuscripts antedating the revelations of the Jewish Scriptures.’’
An ancient book called Poh-shi-ching-tsung, consisting of six
volumes on the source of true divination, contains the following
‘‘The secret of augury consists in the study of the mysteries
and in communications with gods and demons. The interpretations
of the transformations are deep and mysterious. The theory
of the science is most intricate, the practice of it most important.
The sacred classic says ‘That which is true gives
indications of the future.’ To know the condition of the dead,
and hold with them intelligent intercourse, as did the ancients,
produces a most salutary influence upon the parties. . . . But
when from intoxication or feasting, or licentious pleasures,
they proceed to invoke the gods, what infatuation to suppose
that their prayers will move them. Often when no response is
given, or the interpretation is not verified, they lay the blame
CHINA Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
at the door of the augur, forgetting that their failure is due to
their want of sincerity. . . . It is the great fault of augurs, too,
that, from a desire of gain, they use the art of divination as a
trap to ensnare the people.’’
Peebles adds
‘‘Naturally undemonstrative and secretive, the higher classes
of Chinese seek to conceal their full knowledge of spirit intercourse
from foreigners, and from the inferior castes of their
own countrymen, thinking them not sufficiently intelligent to
rightly use it. The lower orders, superstitious and moneygrasping,
often prostitute their magic gifts to gain and fortunetelling.
Their clairvoyant fortune-tellers, surpassing wandering
gypsies in ‘hitting’ the past, infest the temples, streets and roadsides,
promising to find lost property, discover precious metals
and reveal the hidden future.’’
The Chinese were strong in the belief that they were surrounded
by the spirits of the dead. Indeed ancestor-worship
constituted a powerful feature in the national faith, involving
the likelihood and desirability of communion with the dead.
Upon the death of a person they used to make a hole in the roof
to permit the soul to effect its escape from the house. When a
child was at the point of death, its mother would go into the
garden and call its name, hoping thereby to bring back its wandering
‘‘With the Chinese the souls of suicides are specially obnoxious,
and they consider that the very worst penalty that can befall
a soul is the sight of its former surroundings. Thus, it is supposed
that, in the case of the wicked man, ‘they only see their
homes as if they were near them; they see their last wishes disregarded,
everything upside down, their substance squandered,
strangers possess the old estate; in their misery the dead
man’s family curse him, his children become corrupt, land is
gone, the wife sees her husband tortured, the husband sees his
wife stricken down with mortal disease; even friends forget, but
some, perhaps, for the sake of bygone times, may stroke the
coffin and let fall a tear, departing with a cold smile.’
‘‘In China, the ghosts which are animated by a sense of duty
are frequently seen at one time they seek to serve virtue in distress,
and at another they aim to restore wrongfully held treasure.
Indeed, as it has been observed, ‘one of the most powerful
as well as the most widely diffused of the people’s ghost stories
is that which treats of the persecuted child whose mother comes
out of the grave to succour him.’
‘‘The Chinese have a dread of the wandering spirits of persons
who have come to an unfortunate end. At Canton, 1817,
the wife of an officer of government had occasioned the death
of two female domestic slaves, from some jealous suspicion it
was supposed of her husband’s conduct towards the girls; and,
in order to screen herself from the consequences, she suspended
the bodies by the neck, with a view to its being construed
into an act of suicide. But the conscience of the woman tormented
her to such a degree that she became insane, and at
times personated the spirits of the murdered girls possessed
her, and utilised her mouth to declare her own guilt. In her ravings
she tore her clothes and beat her own person with all the
fury of madness; after which she would recover her senses for
a time, when it was supposed the demons quitted her, but only
to return with greater frenzy, which took place a short time previous
to her death. According to Mr. Dennys, the most common
form of Chinese ghost story is that wherein the ghost seeks to
bring to justice the murderer who shuffled off its mortal coil.’’
Poltergeists were not uncommon in China, and several
cases of their occurrence were recorded by the Jesuit missionaries
of the eighteenth century in Cochin China.
There are numerous mysteries of meaning in the strange
symbols, characters, personages, birds, and beasts that adorn
all species of Chinese art objects. For example, a rectangular
Chinese vase is feminine, representing the creative or ultimate
principle. A group of seemingly miscellaneous art objects, depicted
perhaps upon a brush tray, are probably the po-ku, or
‘‘hundred antiques’’ emblematic of culture and implying a delicate
compliment to the recipient of the tray. Birds and animals
occur with frequency on Chinese porcelains, and, if one observes
closely, it is a somewhat select menagerie, in which certain
types are emphasized by repetition. For instance, the dragon
is so familiar as to be no longer remarked, and yet his
significance is perhaps not fully understood by all. There are,
in fact, three kinds of dragons, the lung of the sky, the li of the
sea, and the kiau of the marshes. The lung is the favorite kind,
however, and may be known when met by his having ‘‘the head
of a camel, the horns of a deer, the eyes of a rabbit, ears of a
cow, neck of a snake, belly of a frog, scales of a carp, claws of
a hawk, and palm of a tiger.’’ His special office is to guard and
support the mansions of the gods, and he is naturally the peculiar
symbol of the emperor.
A less familiar beast is the chi-lin, which resembles in part a
rhinoceros, but has a head, feet, and legs like a deer, and a tufted
tail. In spite of his unprepossessing appearance, he is of a
benevolent disposition, and his image on a vase or other ornament
is an emblem of good government and length of days. A
strange bird, having the head of a pheasant, a long flexible
neck, and a plumed tail, may often be seen flying in the midst
of scroll-like clouds, or walking in a grove of treepeonies. This
is the fengbuang, the Chinese phoenix, emblem of immortality
and appearing to mortals only as a presage of the auspicious
reign of a virtuous emperor. The tortoise (kuei), which bears
upon its back the seagirt abode of the Eight Immortals, is a
third supernatural creature associated with strength, longevity,
and (because of the markings on its back) the mystic plan of numerals
that is a key to the philosophy of the unseen.
Colors have their significance, blue being the color of the
heavens, yellow of the earth and the emperor, red of the sun,
and white of Jupiter or the Year Star. Each dynasty had its own
particular hue, that of the Chou dynasty being described as
‘‘blue of the sky after rain where it appears between the
The apparently haphazard conjunction of objects in the
decorative schemes of Chinese art is far from being a matter of
chance, but adds to its decorative properties the intellectual
charm of symbolic significance.
China in the Modern World
In the great political and economic upheavals of modern
times, culminating in the establishment of the People’s Republic
of China October 1, 1949, many old beliefs, superstitions,
and practices have been swept away, but in the emergence of
China as a modern nation many skills from the past have also
been revived and developed. The references to ‘‘pricking with
needles’’ quoted earlier can now be seen as an imperfectly understood
observation of the practice of acupuncture, an interesting
blend of mystical concepts of anatomy and medical healing.
Acupuncture and its associated skills of moxibustion and
acupressure are now gaining ground in Western countries.
Also familiar in the West is the group of Asian martial arts,
combining mental, physical, and spiritual resources for selfdefense
in weaponless fighting, or the achievement of apparently
paranormal feats of strength and control. These involve
the concept of ch’i (or ki), a subtle vital energy that can be controlled
by willpower. Also taught in Western countries is the
Chinese system of physical exercises known as t’ai chi chuan,
originally a self-defense system.
Another element of Chinese tradition to attract popular interest
is the I Ching, a book embodying a system of philosophy
and divination, now widely consulted in various translations in
Western countries.
With the opening up of communications and cultural relations
with the West, many ancient Chinese mystical teachings
and practices are now becoming more widely known. Chinese
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. CHINA
astrology is over a thousand years old but has not been familiar
in the West nearly as long. Like the Western zodiac, it comprises
twelve signs. But it operates on a completely different
system; it is based on a 12-year rather than 12-month cycle, and
each year is symbolized by the sign of an animal—rat, bull,
tiger, cat, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog,
and pig. The attributes of these animals differ radically from
the pejorative associations of the West (for example, rats are intellectual,
affable, generous, and fun-loving) and can be found
in Chinese astrological manuals.
Buddhism was known in China from the beginning of the
Christian era, and the Ch’an or Zen school was established in
the sixth century with the arrival of the patriarch Bodhidharma.
China developed its own individual forms of yoga, often
merging with Taoism. Taoist yoga developed from the Hindu
concepts of kundalini and brought together special practices
of physical development, diet, and meditation. These were
often characterized by the term ‘‘K’ai Men,’’ meaning ‘‘open
door,’’ expressing the idea of Taoist yoga as the doorway to the
channels of mind, spirit, and body, and reflecting the harmony
and balance of the principles of yin and yang in the universe.
These teachings and practices, long a secret tradition, have
now gained some attention in the Western countries through
such authorities as Lu K’uan Yü (Charles Luk), Mantak Chia,
and Maneewan Chia. On a more popular level, the simpler
mind-body exercises of t’ai chi chuan, an offshoot of the Taoist
tradition, have now been revived widely in China and the rest
of the world.
In the pragmatic liberalism of present-day China, religions
are now widely tolerated, and in 1968, the Liaoning People’s
Publishing House released a series of books titled Man and Culture,
which included the standard guide to psychical research
by Ivor Grattan-Guinness, Psychical Research; A Guide to Its History,
Principles, and Practices. This work was issued in celebration
of a hundred years of the Society for Psychical Research, London,
and its release in China signifies an interest in reputable
academic study of parapsychology.
The current Chinese approach to research in claimed paranormal
phenomena is in terms of materialistic philosophy, and
in place of Western terms like ‘‘extrasensory perception,’’ Chinese
researchers speak of ‘‘EHF’’ (exceptional human function).
A number of Chinese children have claimed to demonstrate
such EHF faculties as identifying hidden targets of
Chinese written characters, under test conditions (like Western
parapsychology tests for ESP with Zener cards or other targets),
psychokinesis, and teleportation. A team of five members from
the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of
the Paranormal, the skeptical debunking organization, visited
China during March and April of 1988 and while there tested
a number of EHF subjects and investigated claims at the Institute
of Scientific and Technical Information of China, Beijing.
CSICOP findings were, as expected, largely negative. For an
account of the visit, see The Skeptical Inquirer (12, no. 4, summer
Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. An Outline of Chinese
Acupuncture. China Books, 1975.
Carus, Paul. Chinese Astrology. LaSalle, Ill. Open Court,
Cerney, J. V. Acupressure, Acupuncture Without Needles. Virginia
Beach, Va. Cornerstone, 1975.
Chee Soo. Chinese Yoga The Chinese Art of K’ai Men. London
Gordon & Cremonesi, 1977.
Chia, Mantak. Awaken Healing Energy Through the Tao The
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