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  • Hi, Today I want to talk  about Mazu aka Lin Moniang,  

  • who is a widely worshiped Goddess in TaiwanMainland China, and other Asian regions.

  • Even though she's super popular in  East Asia, not a lot of people in  

  • the English-speaking world know about her. Most of the info about Mazu is in Chinese

  • Lucky for you, I speak Chinese, sothought it'd be awesome to gather some  

  • cool facts about her and share them with you  in English. So, are you ready? Let's dive in!

  • Mazu, also known as the Lin Moniang, is  a revered deity in Chinese folk belief.

  • The belief in Mazu has spread  throughout the coastal regions of  

  • Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Hainanthe Shandong Peninsula, and Tianjin.

  • It has also been transmitted to Taiwan, the  Ryukyu Islands, mainland Japan, Singapore,  

  • and beyond by immigrants from these areas.

  • Originally named Lin Moniang,  

  • Mazu is also known as the Heavenly holy  Mother(天上聖母), and by several other titles.

  • Mazu's story began in 960 AD on Meizhou  Island, where she was born to the Lin  

  • family. From a young age, she was said  to displayed supernatural abilities,  

  • leading a life devoted to spiritual practice.

  • Renowned for her intelligence and taciturn nature,  

  • she was a practitioner of both Taoism and  Buddhism who is said to have used her deep  

  • spiritual insights and powers to predict and  influence the fortunes and misfortunes of  

  • sailors and fishermen, guiding them away  from storms and leading them to safety.

  • Her ability to forecast weather and protect  those at sea earned her the title of Sea Goddess,  

  • with countless temples and shrines dedicated  to her worship, especially in coastal regions.

  • After her death, Mazu is said to have ascended  to heaven and become a goddess due to her acts  

  • of bravery and kindness. It's said that she  continued to protect sailors and fishermen,  

  • appearing to them in visions or  dreams to guide them away from danger.

  • There are even legends where she  manifests in the tumultuous seas as  

  • a beautiful woman in red, calming storms  and safeguarding sailors and fishermen.

  • This led to widespread veneration asprotective goddess of the sea. Mazu is perceived  

  • as a powerful and benevolent goddess, holdingsignificant place in the hearts of her followers.

  • Her worship was officially  recognized during the Song  

  • dynasty, with her temples becoming  centers of religious activities.

  • Mazu holds a place of special  reverence in Taiwanese society,  

  • especially through the notable  temples dedicated to her,  

  • such as Dajia Zhenlan Temple, Chaotian  Temple in Beigang, and several others.

  • The Legends of Mazu

  • There are many legends associated with Mazu,  

  • which highlight her miraculous powers and  benevolent acts, here are some of my favorites:

  • The Miraculous Rescue at  Sea with Astral Projection

  • While Mazu still living as a mortal named  Lin Moniang, in the year she turned 16,  

  • her father and brothers encountered a violent  storm at sea during a trading journey.

  • While she was at home weavingLin Moniang sensed their distress.

  • Instantly, she performed Astral Projectionsoaring over the ocean to their rescue.

  • She managed to hold onto her father with her arms,  

  • while gripping her brother's belt in her  mouth. Meanwhile, back at home, her mother  

  • found Lin Moniang motionless beside the loom andfearing the worst, began to cry out in despair.

  • Lin Moniang quickly respondedwaking up with tears in her eyes,  

  • and recounted the entire ordeal to her mother.

  • Three days later, her father  returned with the news that,  

  • while she successfully saved her fatherher elder brother had tragically perished,  

  • exactly as Lin Moniang had describedleading the family to realize that  

  • Lin Moniang was extraordinary, possessing  abilities beyond those of ordinary people.

  • Battle with the Demons ( who  later became her guardian spirits)

  • There is a legend that once Mazu, saw a young  and beautiful girl being carried in a sedan  

  • chair to be offered as a sacrificial offering  to appease two powerful demons terrorizing a  

  • mountain village, demanding a beautiful girl as  a sacrifice each year to cease their misdeeds.

  • Lin Moniang resolutely took the place of  the girl and was carried forward to the  

  • sacrifice. The two demons, delighted by Lin  Moniang's beauty and grace, were overjoyed.

  • However, she showed no fear  and solemnly told them,  

  • "You must abandon your wicked  ways and stop harming the people."

  • The two demons, considered her  merely a mortal woman, paid no heed.

  • Lin Moniang, seeing that these  demons were stubborn and unrepentant,  

  • deemed it necessary to teach themlesson and challenge them to a battle.

  • The demons, towering and as strong as oxenimmediately took up a fighting stance.

  • Unexpectedly, after only a few moves,  

  • they were all thwarted by Lin  Moniang, whose power was superior.

  • Realizing they were at a disadvantage and  attempting to retreat, Lin Moniang pointed  

  • her finger toward the sky, and a gigantic  rock weighing thousands of pounds flew down,  

  • hovering above the heads of the demons.

  • At this moment, the demons knelt and  begged for mercy, willing to renounce  

  • their evil ways and follow Mazu foreverassisting her in her righteous deeds.

  • These two demons are now known as the guardian  

  • spirits Qianliyan(千里眼) and Shen  Feng Er (順風耳) who assist Mazu.

  • Qianliyan(千里眼) can see anything  from thousands of miles away,  

  • his job is to watch over the world to  see who needs help and report to Mazu.

  • Shen Feng Er(順風耳) has the ability to  hear sounds from great distances his  

  • job is to listen to the world's  cries and also report to Mazu

  • They combined their exceptional powerswith Qianliyan's unparalleled vision and  

  • Shun Feng Er's extraordinary hearingto form a vigilant duo that serves Mazu,  

  • ensuring no call for help goes unnoticed  and aiding in her mission to protect and  

  • assist those in peril, especially  across the vastness of the seas.

  • The legend of "Bomb Catching Mazu"

  • This one is one of my favorites.

  • The legend of "Bomb Mazu" emerges fromperiod marked by the turmoil of World War II.

  • During this time, Taiwan found  itself under Japanese rule,  

  • a strategic outpost in the vast  Pacific theatre of conflict.

  • As a consequence of its occupationthe island became a target for  

  • American bombings aimed at crippling the  Japanese military's reach and resources.

  • Amidst this backdrop of war and destructionwhere fear and uncertainty clouded daily  

  • life, the legend of Mazu catching  a bomb transcends mere folklore.

  • As the legend goes, in the northeastern part  of Zhu Tang Township's Wu Zhuang Village,  

  • the area suffered heavily from  air raids by American planes.

  • It is said that at that time, the  American forces dropped a 500-pound bomb,  

  • and a woman dressed in red appeared in the  sky, catching the bomb with her hands and feet.

  • Afterward, villagers discovered that  the statue of Mazu in the Pi Tou He  

  • Xing Temple(埤頭合興宮) had a broken right  index finger and a left shoe fallen off.

  • Therefore, the local residents believed  that the bomb was caught by Mazu,  

  • which led to Mazu of the He Xing  Temple being called "Bomb Mazu."

  • This story, known as "Bomb Mazu," is not unique to  Changhua but echoes through temples across Taiwan.

  • There are many versions of the story aboutBomb  Mazu” . Each version carries the same essence—a  

  • goddess's refusal to let her people suffer,  a testament to Mazu's enduring protection.

  • These tales weave a narrative of faith, hopeand the profound impact of the Mazu belief  

  • system in the hearts of the Taiwanese, serving  as a beacon of light through the shadows of war.

  • Mazu sentenced to celestial prison

  • I think this one is the most intriguing one.

  • In 1862, Maogangwei was one of the bustling  villages in the Tainan area of Taiwan,  

  • lively enough to have a "night  market" for evening shopping.

  • According to some recordson the eve of an earthquake,  

  • the Holy Mazu of the Tianhou Temple in  Maogangwei "descended to the planchette"  

  • to warn the people of an impending "great  disaster" and urged them to be cautious.

  • However, when the people pressed  for more details about the disaster,  

  • Mazu did not elaborate further, as divulging the  

  • secrets of heaven was considered a grave  sin and could not be explained further.

  • Due to the outbreak of the Dai Chaochun  rebellion starting in April of that year  

  • (historically referred to as the Dai Chaochun  Incident), the residents of Maogangwei did not  

  • associate the divine warning with a natural  disaster but rather with human calamities,  

  • suspecting that Dai's troops or  bandits might attack the village.

  • Consequently, they took preventive  measures such as sealing doors and  

  • scattering beans to obstruct thieves.

  • Unexpectedly, the disaster turned  out to be a massive earthquake,  

  • and these actions inadvertently  hindered escape routes.

  • This misunderstanding of Mazu's warning, or  perhaps the revelation of heavenly secrets,  

  • led to the legend of Mazu being "imprisoned  for a hundred years" by the heavenly court,  

  • until her "release" in 1962.

  • Following her release, a committee was established  

  • to rebuild the Tianhou Templewhich was completed in 1975.

  • Mazu's attempt to warn her people of  an imminent disaster underscores her  

  • unwavering willingness to help them, even  at the risk of facing consequences from  

  • the heavenly bureaucracy for revealing  secrets meant to be kept from mortals.

  • This act of divine defiance highlights  her compassionate nature and her role as a  

  • guardian who prioritizes the well-being  of mortals over celestial decrees.

  • The legend also casts a light  on the intricate relationship  

  • between the divine and the earthly realms.

  • The villagers' misinterpretation of Mazu's  warning reflects the limitations of human  

  • understanding and the challenges in  deciphering divine signs, especially  

  • when clouded by the immediate threats of human  conflicts like the Dai Chaochun rebellion.

  • This misalignment between the heavenly warning  and earthly reception inadvertently led to Mazu's  

  • "imprisonment," a narrative element that  speaks to the complexities of divine-human  

  • interactions and the consequences  of intervening in mortal affairs.

  • From a more conservative interpretationthe story also hints at a justification  

  • for the heavenly bureaucracy's strict  rules against revealing the future.

  • It suggests that there might be wisdom in  the divine reluctance to share knowledge  

  • of future events, as such revelations can lead  to unintended consequences, misunderstandings,  

  • and potentially exacerbate the  situations they aim to prevent.

  • The villagers' preparations forhuman threat rather than a natural  

  • disaster illustrate how divine  guidance, when misinterpreted,  

  • can lead to actions that may not  only be futile but also harmful.

  • The Cultural Significance of Mazu

  • In 2009, the belief in Mazu was inscribed  

  • on the UNESCO Representative List of the  Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

  • Over time, emperors from various dynasties  bestowed upon her numerous honorary titles,  

  • elevating her status from a noblewoman  to a goddess recognized by the state.  

  • This culminated in the Qing dynastywhere she received the highest honors.

  • The spread of Mazu's worship is closely linked  to maritime history and the diaspora of ethnic  

  • Chinese coastal communities, formingsignificant part of the cultural heritage  

  • and social fabric in East Asia and Southeast  Asian regions with ethnic Chinese populations.

  • Worshiping Mazu is an integral part  of cultural and religious life in  

  • many ethnic Chinese communities around the world,  

  • with numerous temples dedicated to her and  various festivals celebrating her legacy.

  • Famous Mazu Temples 

  • Here are some of the most famous  temples where you can pray to Mazu

  • Dajia Zhenlan Temple (大甲鎮瀾宮) - Located in  Taichung, Taiwan, it is famous for hosting  

  • one of the largest and most significant  Mazu pilgrimage festivals in the world.