Among the many mythological figures in Chinese folklore, none are probably more infamous as a group than the 8 immortals.
People find affiliation with them partly because they are all commoners who attained immortality from their adventures and consuming the peach of immortality.
To make it clear, the members are not gods but are instead considered as deities.
Who are the eight immortals
The 8 members of the team consist of:
- Zhongli Quan
- Tieguai Li
- Lu Dongbin
- Cao Guojiu
- Han Xiangzi
- Zhang Guolao
- He Xiangu
- Lan Caihe
Among them of which, He and Lan are the only females while the rest are males.
Zhongli Quan is widely accepted as the leader of the group even though there has never been a specific mention of it in the stories. Also known as the fan deity, he carries a traditional fan as an emblem which is able to control the sea.
Tieguai Li is temperamental and reckless at times. He is usually depicted with an iron crutch and carries a gourd as a talisman which contains magical medicine.
Lu Dongbin stands out as the most athletic looking member and can be often seen masterfully holding a sword in a suave pose. Because of this, he is the most popular figure among the eight immortals and many people see him as the leader of the gang instead.
Cao Guojiu is often known as the royal deity. This is because he is the uncle of Emperor Ying Zong and brother of empress Cao during the Song dynasty. His totem is a pair of castanets or a jade disc-shaped tablet.
While the journeys of the 8 immortals is a group with strong social dynamics, Han Xiangzi is known as an independent individual who has no issues with being alone. He liked nothig more than to spend time alone making tunes with his flute.
Being the eldest of the immortals, Zhang Guolao can sometimes practice eccentric behavior. His emblem is a fish drum and can be often be depicted riding his magical donkey backwards.
He Xiangu is the lotus fairy whose feminism can make many a man blush. She holds a holy lotus bloom which has the ability to cure the sick.
Even though Lan Caihe is understood to be female, she can sometimes be depicted as a boy. She is the most unpredictable amongst them and also the youngest. She carries a flower basket believed to able to bestow the gift of happiness ad beauty.
Together, the team of 8 is said to represent male, female, old young, rich, noble, poor, and humble.
Legends of the 8 immortals
There are many stories of the colorful adventures of the octet. Among them, they are most famed for the story of them crossing the sea in 八仙過海.
So well-known is this story that it is not surprising to find people who learned about the 8 immortals through hearing about the story. Not the other way around.
The tale tells of them wanting to attend the magic peach conference (蟠桃會) and encoutered an open sea. Instead of calling to the heavens for help, they decided to complete the task by drawing on their own unique powers and divine capabilities.
It is still a classic that is read by kids today.
In other popular legends, there are also stories of encounters between the empress Wu Zetian with He Xiangu, Tieguai Li and Zhang Guolao. All about the empress’ quest for immortality.
Then there was the story of the fierce battle between the 8 immortals and 5 demons who were spreading a plague from town to town. They only managed to defeat the demons with the 8 trigram array and enlisting the help of the famed ghostcatcher known as Zhong Kui.
There are various other stories of the immortals both as a group and as individuals.
They all tell of supernatural powers, good deeds, assisting those in need, and punishing bad guys like corrupt government officials.
Placement of the 8 immortals
Because we are currently in the period of 8 feng-shui-wise, the 8 immortals have become more prominent as they share the same number. That’s saying something when we consider how revered they already are.
Regarding feng shui placement, it is important to realize that the 8 immortals take up corresponding positions of the 8 trigrams.
This can also be observed from the 8 trigram array formation which was previously mentioned.
The directional positions of each immortal is as below.
This means that as individuals, the best place to locate paintings or sculptures are the directional space stated in the table above.
But as we are discussing the 8 immortals, why not have them as a group instead of just one person?
So if you have all eight members are figurines, consider positioning them in the trigram formation so that their powers and influence multiplies.
Being in their natural positions would enable them to better harness their energy.
Also when all member are displayed like in a painting, and the painting is hung in let’s say the north sector of the house, then the attributes of Zhang Guolao will be bestowed on the household.
This also implies that when a specific sector is enhanced, the attributes of the immortal represented by that sector is enhanced.
For example, if plants are used to energize the east sector of the house, then the attributes of Zhongli Quan will be enhanced for members in the household.
As display items in the house, they should be placed in common areas with the exception being the kitchen.
The kitchen is never ideal for a lot of feng shui symbols especially those with celestial connotations.
They make great artwork for living rooms signifying having them as guests who brings good luck and blessings of good health.
Paintings often depict the 8 immortals under a tree where they often bond as friends by just chilling out. Sometimes playing chess. This have them in a relaxed and harmonious manner. Making it good for harmony at home.
They are also depicted on a dragon boat supposedly on the way to heaven. This symbolizes anticipation of positive events and good fortune.
Overall, the positive connotations associated with the 8 immortals make them good feng shui decor items that can magnify positive energy that is already present and dissipate negative energy around the space they are located in.