Category:Working Within the Taoist Tradition

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Thien Hau Taoist Temple in Los Angeles, California

Taoism or Daoism is a mingled religious and philosophical tradition that originated in China, in which the basic concept is that adherents seek to establish harmony with the Tao, which is the mechanism of everything that exists. The word "Tao" or "Dao" literally means "nature," but in English it is usually translated as "way," "path," or "principle."

Religious Taoism can be subdivided into organized or clerical Taoism, which is administered by priests or Dàoshi and is visible in the form of temples, and folk or popular Taoism, which is practiced in the home and through local village festivals. Philosophical Taoism is primarily propagated through books, essays, and literature.

Reverence for ancestor spirits and immortals is common in popular Taoism. Among the most popular of the Taoist deities are Mazu or Matsu, the Mother Goddess of the Sea; Fu De or Tu Di Gong, the Earth God of Wealth and Merit; and Guan Yu, also known as Kwan Dai, Kuan Ti, or Kuan Kung, the Military Emperor God who is a just and noble warrior.

The Three Jewels of the Tao are compassion, moderation, and humility. Taoist thought generally focuses on nature; the relationship between humanity and the cosmos; health and longevity; and wu wei (action through inaction). Harmony with the Universe, or the source thereof (Tao), is the intended result of many Taoist rules and practices.

Both the religious and philosophical forms of Taoism have had a profound influence on the culture of China and neighboring Asian nations. Chinese alchemy (including Neidan), astrology, cuisine, Zen Buddhism, several Chinese martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui, and many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history.

Cebu Taoist Temple in the Philipines
Chinese Fortune telling methods include astrology, numerology, I Ching, and indigenous sortilege oracles such as the Chi-Chi sticks
Kwan Tai Joss House, a small Taoist temple in Mendocino, California, dating to the Gold Rush

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Taoist Deities

For more information, see Taoist Deities

The Deities of Taoism are quite varied and comprise a long list of ancient Chinese Animist star gods, historical personages who have been elevated to godhood, and cosmological entities known through scripture. Among the most popular of the Taoist deities are The Star Gods, General Kung, Hotei, and The Kitchen God. Originally regional or tutelary deities, they have, over the course of centuries, become popular throughout China and wherever people of Chinese descent now live, while still retaining their regional qualities. The rise of Communism in China, with the imposition of state-mandated atheism, has diminished outward reverance to the Taost belief system, but the old deities still retain their popularity among the people The Deities of Taoism are quite varied and comprise a long list of ancient Chinese Animist star gods, historical personages who have been elevated to godhood, and cosmological entities known through scripture. (Read more ...)

Taoism and Hoodoo

Taoism forms a minor current in hoodoo folk magic which originated mostly on the West Coast, in New York City, and in Chicago.

The greatest overlap between Taoism and conjure, a form of magic primarily practiced by African American Protestant Christians, is centered in California. This is the result of the late 19th and early 20th century cultural intermingling of African Americans with Cantonese Chinese immigrants who were adherents of Taoism and Taoist-influenced Cantonese Buddhism and indigenous Chinese religious traditions.

Among the Chinese Taoist and Buddhist images and goods which became part of hoodoo iconography and practice were such items as Chinese Wash, Hotei the Lucky or Laughing Buddha, and Ling Nuts, known colloquially in the USA as Bat Nuts or Devil Pods. One popular Taoist form of divination, consisting of sortilege with the Chien Tung or Chi Chi Sticks, was widely offered for sale in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles Chinatown shops as early as 1915, and made a local impact on conjure due to its "exotic" appearance and its ease of use.

National distribution of products such as these, while not part of a true cultural integration of Taoism into African American society, nevertheless brought a great many hoodoo practitioners into contact with Taoist concepts and imagery.

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Religion

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Pages in category "Working Within the Taoist Tradition"

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