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Great ClarityDaoism and Alchemy in Early Medieval China$
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Fabrizio Pregadio

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780804751773

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804751773.001.0001

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The Crucible and the Elixir

The Crucible and the Elixir

(p.67) 4 The Crucible and the Elixir
Great Clarity
Stanford University Press

This chapter focuses on the doctrinal features of Taiqing alchemy. The central act of the alchemical process involves the reversion of matter to its state of “essence” (jing), or prima material. When the elixir ingredients are heated in the crucible, they go through the stages of development of the cosmos in a reverse order. The elixir is achieved when the ingredients reach a state deemed to be equivalent to the “essence” that spontaneously issues from the Dao and originates the world as we know it. The elixir, therefore, is not only a ritual object used for approaching the gods and expelling the crucible and the elixir demons, or a “medicine” ingested for healing illnesses and prolonging life. It is, first of all, a symbolic token of the essence from which the formless Dao generates the world of form. The crucible plays a crucial role in this achievement.

Keywords:   Chinese alchemy, Taiqing texts, elixir, crucible

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