60 Zodiac Gods at Shanghai’s White Cloud Temple
The 60 Zodiac Gods at Shanghai’s White Cloud Temple reflect Taoism’s 60-year astrological cycle

Use the light and return to clear-sightedness.
– Lao Tzu

Classical Taoist theory identifies three realms to describe the influence of universal forces upon mankind: the heavens, man in the middle, and the earth below. Man, situated between the two, is a conductor of life-energy (sometimes called “Chi”) between heaven and earth. All Taoist sciences, from Chi Quong to acupuncture to meditation, are built upon this principle, which forms the basis for Shamanistic and Taoist religious practices. Operating within this paradigm, Taoist astrology is used as a systemization of the heavenly forces above man, and minerals and animals for the earthly forces below man. These fundamental tools, used by Taoist priests, codify the two realms that bracket man and affect his fate.

While Taoist astrology describes how the forces of the heavens manifest their action upon mankind, the earthly dimension of universal energy exerts equally powerful effects. And the combination of these forces either increases or decreases an individual’s animal power. Animal power reflects the corporeal aspect of existence that, if weakened, makes one vulnerable to physical hardship and disease. Taoist priests perform astrological calculations and then adjust them to factor in the effects of earth’s natural cycles through the use of specific minerals (e.g. quartz and malachite), herbs, and other techniques. They use these procedures to invite the appropriate missing animal power back into the weakened individual, thus restoring balance. The master can also use the power of certain animals to serve as liaisons between guardian spirits and the individual.

According to classical Taoism, each person is born under astrological signs representing a specific configuration of stars. Thus, every individual possesses his own “frequency,” which is associated with inherent Chi energy determined by the star configuration at the time of birth. These celestial alignments serve as channels of the cosmic energy beamed to each person; changing this “beam pattern” affects one’s fate. Thus, the priest’s objective is to realign an individual’s personal Chi with that of the Cosmos, as dictated by astronomical configurations. This technique corrects ill fate that results from “misalignment” caused by internal mental confusion or external metaphysical forces.

Using the sacred knowledge bestowed by masters from several millennia ago, corrective “realignment” is accomplished using prayer, rituals, ceremonies and talismans. For convenience in the calculation process, ancient Taoists developed a system classifying these frequencies into groups of animals, trees and stones. Augmenting this manipulation is a sphere of life-energy radiating from a powerful Shaman or Taoist master, favorably affecting the fate of those within the temple.