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Profile of Immortal Woman He (Xian Gu)

The Only Woman of the Eight Immortals


He Xiangu
Public Domain/Wikipedia Commons

He Xian Gu, or Immortal Woman He, is the only female among the Eight Immortals. She is known to carry a large ladle, whose bowl is made of bamboo. This bamboo bowl is filled with objects associated with Immortality: peaches, sprigs of pine and bamboo, and magic fungus. Sometimes instead of the ladle she carries a lotus flower on a long stalk; at other times a fly-whisk, or a basket of wild fruit and herbs. The lotus flower, as well as the fruits and herbs in her basket, have the power to improve ones physical and mental health. Sometimes she is seen with a Sheng (reed-organ) and/or a fenghuang bird.

He Xian Gu was born with six long hairs on the crown of her head. When she was fourteen years old, she had a dream in which her spirit-guides instructed her to eat powdered mica, as a way of transforming her human body into the body of an Immortal. When she did this, her need to eat regular food gradually decreased, until eventually she stopped eating regular food completely.

Part of He Xian Gu’s daily routine was to wander in the mountains, gathering fruits and herbs for her mother. She is said to have moved with such lightness that it looked like she was flying. (Think: “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”!) She is also said to have taken a vow of virginity.

Read More:

Alchemy In Taoist Practice
Immortality In Taoism

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