Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 1 Book of Thunder – Chapter 67 Exorcism Ceremony
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 67 Exorcism Ceremony
Afterward, just like Wen Jiubo said, my second aunt was sent to a very far away monastery. It took quite a lot of effort to find a monastery willing to take in my second aunt. My mother had to use all her connections and call in all her favors.
“Well, it’s like this all the time now. The monks at the monastery aren’t really willing to take in anyone without the calling, especially someone in your second aunt’s current situation. If we don’t offer them some money, then there’s no place that would accept her.” My mother nattered away at me. “I visited a lot of different places and spoke to a lot of people I know before I found a kind-hearted abbot who was willing to take her in. Ah, your second aunt really has a very unfortunate life …”
My second aunt was currently sitting not far from us. She had already showered and dressed, with her hair up in a bun and wearing all-white, sitting silently in a corner of the room. You could not read a single hint of an expression on her face, it was as if she was an inanimate object.
My mother glanced at my second aunt briefly with worry and then pulled me by the elbow. “Ah, that boyfriend of yours, Wen what’s his name…”
“Wen Jiubo.” I reminded her.
“Yes, Wen Jiubo. Is the method he described reliable?” My mother asked anxiously. “He looks so young, not even thirty. My sister’s life is in his hands.”
I smiled a little, reassuring her, “Don’t worry, he’s very strong. Over in Yan City, he’s a famous exorcist. Even though you weren’t there that night, Wen Jiubo saved everyone in that restaurant by himself.”
“Is that so.” My mother seemed to relax a little, her eyes lowering. “Ah, Gu Yu… Your mother I didn’t use to believe those tales about ghosts and demons. I always thought that there was always a human responsible for everything, why shift the blame onto demons? But now… your second aunt and your grandmother are such good people, why did this happen to them? If this wasn’t them being targeted by demons, then what is it? In all honesty, our family has never done anything to bring harm to anyone, why did it turn out like this?”
My mother patted the back of my hand, seemingly about to natter on about something else, but she heard the sound of the inside door being pushed open. The clear ringing sound of bells followed.
Was Wen Jiubo ready? I turned to look, and as I did, I was completely startled.
Wen Jiubo wore a hanfu robe, the top was white and the bottom was red. A silk scarf was wound around each of his wrists, his collar was smooth and he wore a golden neck ring. His long hair was loose like a girl’s, gently falling against the side of his face. He also wore a little bit of powder on his face, making his features seem even softer.
But… even dressed up like this, Wen Jiubo didn’t seem even the slightest bit feminine. It was the complete opposite, a miraculous sort of utter beauty that belonged to a man. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I definitely would not believe that a man could be so beautiful.
My mother was even more surprised. She stared directly at Wen Jiubo, mumbling non-stop, “So beautiful… really too beautiful.”
“What’s wrong? Is everything prepared?” Wen Jiubo tucked the golden bells he had been holding into his chest, his expression as usual.
“I-it’s ready.” I felt my face heat up for no discernable reason. I stood abruptly. “Why are you dressed like that!”
“You mean this?” Wen Jiubo smiled, explaining, “There are many different rituals to cleanse someone of a demon, but to take care of a wangliang possession, the most suitable ritual is a shrine maiden exorcism.”
“Shrine maiden?” I asked questioning. “Then… isn’t that a Japanese thing?”
“Wrong.” Wen Jiubo raised his forefinger, shaking it in disagreement. “‘Shrine maidens’ can be traced back to the 《Rites of Zhou》. Shrine maidens are also known as female attendants, mediums, and priestesses. They are described as the guardians of the rituals in the 《Rites of Zhou》and are one of the officials of the ceremony. They not only can invoke spirits by dance, they can also communicate with the gods and make sacrifices to them to bring good weather and prosperity. They are quite powerful and are an existence that many other spirit officials aspire to. Shrine maidens were brought to Japan during the Wei-Pu period, but well before then, the shrine maiden rituals were already well established in China.”
I nodded, only understanding half of it.
“So this time, I’ve dressed up like a shrine maiden to do the ritual. Usually, only females can do the shrine maiden ritual, but this time I need to cross-dress as a woman and trick the heavens.” Wen Jiubo showed a sly, fox-like smile. “If you want to know why, it’s actually because the gods are all quite dumb, they can’t really tell the gender of a shrine maiden, so it doesn’t matter.”
I was made speechless by Wen Jiubo’s utterly solemn casual attitude. However, following that, Wen Jiubo walked up to my second aunt, holding out a hand to her, his expression smiling gently.
My second aunt reacted slightly at that, raising her head to look at Wen Jiubo. “Go where?” she asked, confused.
“To exorcise the demons within you.” Wen Jiubo was still kind and gentle.
“Then would… Then would I be able to gain happiness?” My second aunt said slowly.
“Yes, that’s right.” Wen Jiubo’s hand was still held out. “Let’s go.”
My second aunt tilted her head as if considering it for a moment. However, it seemed like her current state of mind was unable to process that complicated of a thought. After a few seconds, she chose to reach out and hold Wen Jiubo’s hand.
And I, standing behind them, felt deeply grateful.
Wen Jiubo was probably right when he said that humanity was a difficult-to-understand animal. On one hand, they pursued the truth, but on the other, they were addicted to the sweet comfort of lies and did not want to extricate themselves. They wasted entire lifetimes to search for this so-called love and freedom but in the end, they built high walls for themselves on all four sides and died restrained by shackles made by their own hand.
This ritual was done within the monastery. My second aunt wore homespun cloth, kneeling in front of the incense burner within the monastery, chanting indecipherable scriptures with the monks. You could only hear the temple bell ringing from being struck one time after another.
Every time the flat bell rung, Wen Jiubo shook the golden bells in his chest once. The combination of the bright clear chime with the low chime was music to my ears.
“Four forms up towards the sky, eight spirits to the corners of the earth. Seductive demons and god-like spirits, all defy extermination.”
Wen Jiubo started dancing in time with the music. The large sleeves of his outfit followed his movements and swirled in a dance. His face was like pale jade, his eyebrows lilting up towards his hairline, it was as if he had walked out from a painting.
“I invite you, both gods and realists to descend upon us; to calm the heart and purify the spirit, to enter into the realm of ghosts: tianpeng, tiannei, tiandong, tianfu, tianqin, tianxin, tianzhu, tianren, tianying!”
The crisp ringing of the golden bells stopped abruptly, Wen Jiubo’s long hair fell down, the bottom of his robe swaying in the breeze.
“Namo, sanmanduo, moriluo, nan, han!”
With Wen Jiubo’s last incantation spoken out loud, my second aunt’s body started to shake. Then, afterward, a white light surrounded the both of them, forming a pentagram. The light was bright enough to hurt the eye, but not long afterward, it became fainter and fainter before vanishing altogether.