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Immortal Woman He

Named Hé Qióng (何瓊 Hé Qióng), Immortal Woman He or He Xiangu (何仙姑 Hé Xiān Gū in pinyin or Ho Hsien-ku in Wade-Giles) is the only female deity among the Eight Immortals. (The gender of her fellow Immortal Lán Cǎihé is somewhat ambiguous).

She was from Yong Prefecture (永州 Yǒngzhōu) (today Linglin County (零陵縣 Líng Lín Xiàn), Hunan) in Tang Dynasty, or from a wealthy and generous family in Zēngchéng County (增城縣), Guangdong.

Legend

Hé Xiān Gū was the daughter of Ho T‘ai, of the town of Tsêng-ch‘êng, in the prefecture of Guangdong

At birth she had six long hairs on the crown of her head. When she was about 14 or 15, a divine personage appeared to her in a dream and instructed her to eat powdered mica, in order that her body might become etherealized and immune from death. So she swallowed it, and also vowed to remain a virgin.

Up hill and down dale she used to flit just like a creature with wings. Every day at dawn she sallied forth, to return at dusk, bringing back mountain fruits she had gathered for her mother.

Later on by slow degrees she gave up taking ordinary food.

The Empress Wu dispatched a messenger to summon her to attend at the palace, but on the way there, she disappeared.

One day during the Jīng Lóng (景龍) period (about 707 CE), she ascended to Heaven in broad daylight, and became a Hsien (Taoist Immortal).

From Lieh Hsien Chuan, ii, 32, 33

Depiction

Her lotus flower improves one's health, mental and physical. She is depicted holding a lotus flower, and sometimes with the musical instrument known as Shēng (笙), or a fènghuáng bird to accompany her. She may also carry a bamboo ladle or fly-whisk.

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