Author Topic: The Supernatural World(the most common interpretations)  (Read 1388 times)

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Offline Kiaevita

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The Supernatural World(the most common interpretations)
« on: March 30, 2013, 10:17:19 PM »
(This is another one of those " I will update gradually because there are so many information in fact there are tomes after tomes written on these stuff" post)

For the longest time, these supernatural creatures have been called spirits and demons by translators. However, the mythology behind these creatures are much more complex, and they have much more distinctions than it seems. Here's a bit of a break down of what different kinds are there, and you will see why the common names, yao, demon, and spirits, are such really bad names for them. And maybe we can come up with a standardized system of names just as English already has for various supernatural creatures in various European mythologies.

To understand what these creatures are, we must first understand the concept of 修炼 xiulian, or the process of self improvement to rise from whatever natural hierarchy a creature is born in to a higher tier. The highest tier, the divine, is the real goal of many who indulge in this process, as they are true immortals. However, as a divine, there are laws that must be followed, which may deter those who train from completing this path.

However, not all those who can train can become divine, a specific subprocess called 修仙 xiuxian. This process is usually limited to humans, and creatures with extremely rare luck. With this stumble block, many creatures still try. The luck factor may be increased through hard work and kindness.

修行 xiuxing refers to the amount of training they've done, usually denoted in terms of years, and is correlated to the amount of magic they can use or generally how powerful they are.

道 dao, literally path, can refer to a certain fate. It is a path to becoming divine. It's like how saints must have done certain deeds to attain sainthood in Christianity, except here it is preordained and specific to each person. It's something the person must do, become or experience to fulfill their purpose in life. Note that this purpose may not be achieving divinity, but often it is. Every creature has this, though their true path is often not seen or purposely ignored. The training process of becoming divine often involves trying to interpret and figure out what their true path is. Note that this dao is the same "tao" in Taoism.

妖怪 yaoguai - the umbrella term for all non-divine, non-human supernatural creatures. It's usually consisted of creatures that can't go on the path to the divine (for various reasons), or those that are originally inanimated objects, or those who failed and fell in the path to the divine. This can be divided into five kinds. (tranlated from baidu article because I'm too lazy) Please note that why these are distinct categories, most supernatural ancient series (incorrectly) use some of them interchangeably. It's like when people call sprites fairies, or mistakenly call a gnome dwarf.

妖 yao
This is the main member of yaoguai. They are usually animal or plants in origin, have a human or close to human form, have certain amounts of magic, can move during the day as well as night, and dangerous to a degree. Note that when an animal or plant trains, if they embrace kindness in their path, they can possibly become divine, but if they fail in the xiuxian process, or they didn't get advice/tip from some divine immortal, or they went down the evil path by themselves, they become yao. An example is the Monkey from Journey to the West, who after training and learned of some magic, was not approved by Heaven, and thus was called yao. Even after he taken up office in Heave (by force), he was still refered as 妖仙yao xian, with the 仙xian part as honorifics, but with yao as his true title.

魔 mo
Come from the "mara" concept of Buddhism, which refers to any feelings that would distract the person, sabotage acts of kindness, and hinder self training. Mo at the very least have two qualifications: have great powers, and endangers humanity. Mo can be a kind of Yao, that is they are senior members with power much greater than normal Yao. The difference is that Mo can also be 仙Divine Immortals or 神Gods who have fallen from grace, instead of straight from animals and plants training. Because of the great powers of a Mo, and complex origins, a normal Deity may not be powerful enough against a Mo, and Heaven often can do nothing against them. Mo often have a bit of anarchistic flavor. Mo often have human shape or close to human shape, and can move about during the day and night.
It should be noted that the most dangerous kind of Mo is call the 心魔 xinmo, or Mo of the Heart. It doesn't originate from any creature or inanimated object, and instead are distracting thoughts, temptations or illusions that arises in the mind of human or creatures in the training process. Many fall into the path of Mo because of this, and becoming a Yao as a result. Even those who have become Deities would have to go through periodic tests which often involves fighting against Mo of the Heart. Those who cannot resist their Heart Mo falls into the path of the Mo. Because of this, Mo are really powerful.

鬼gui  or ghost or ghost spirit
The soul left behind after a person dies, that is after they yang/living age depletes, their bodies separates, leaving behind a non physical representation. They are purely yin or dark in aspect, and thus have a bit of supernatural powers, but are often extremely weak. They are mainly formed when the soul or spirit leaves the dead bodies, and usually only move about in 阴间 yinjian or Underworld. Those who died in unrest may return to the human world (but these are deemed illegal by the officials of the Underworld, and once found are punished severely). In the human world, ghost can only move about at night, and are extremely weak, and can at the most scare humans without any physical damage. What's in store for them normally consist of three kinds: one is that they reincarnate into humans or animals or plants, and what they reincarnate into depends on their karma (though bribery also exist). Another is to suffer in 地狱 diyu or Hell, experiencing all different kinds of tortures. This is usually reserved for those who have done much evil in the human world, though there are also some that misjudged into suffering Hell. Another, though much rarer, instance is becoming divine. This is for those who have done great deeds, trained a lot, received advice from sages, are appointed, or have great influence, but don't know how train, or simply don't have the chance to become divine in their mortal body. After they died, they might get chosen by the Heaven Court to become God and taken some sort of office.

{Note: Ghost spirits are different from simply out of body spirits, because ghosts no longer have a body to go back to. After a person dies, the spirit comes out of the body and are collected by the two officials of Hell, 黑白无常 heibai wuchang. Those who died innocent or have unfinished duty might evade these officials and remain in the human world as a wandering ghost, though that's considered as felony. Those who died with their bodies not properly buried cannot reincarnate, and are forced to stay in Hell until the bodies are given proper burial. This is why burial culture is so prominent. Some of them can train a bit if they were ghost for a long time, and can possess human bodies.}

怪guai or monster
In it's original meaning, it cannot be counted as yao. Guai emphasizes strangness, weirdness, and used concurrently with yao. Specifically it emphasize strangeness in looks. Afterwards, there gradually come to exist real monsters. For example, Huangpao Guai (Yellow Robe Monster from Journey to the West), originally is a Wolf God. There had not been a specific term then to denote a god that has become evil, and plus he has strange looks and thus earns the title Guai. Most Guai has pretty great powers, their looks strange and even to the point of being scary, usually has prominent origins or unknown origins, are dangerous to humans, and can move about in day or night.

{Note: this category are also used to describe misformed children that are born from human and yao, and or just misformed children in general}

There are two types of Jing. One is plants or animals that are in the training process, but has not yet become yao or divine, but already has a bit of magic. They have very little magic, and are kinder than yao in general. The other form of jing are inanimated objects that have trained enough to attain human or human-like form, have quite the amount of magic. The famous ones are the Skeleton Jing (Journey to the West), Pipa Jing (Feng Shen Bang). This latter kind are often evil and are harmful to humans. Both can move about in day and night.

{Note that Jing is also commonly used as a suffix for yao, though one can argue it is the result of humans in these series being ignorant of kindness in these supernatural creatures and stubbornly group them all into one category of evil creatures.}

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