Healing the Ghostly Affliction

In the vicinity of Qiantang, there resided a skilled healer named Xu Qiufu, known for his expertise in treating ailments. His abode was situated east of the Hugou Bridge, overlooking the serene waters of West Lake. One night, Qiufu heard a plaintive moaning in the air, the sound laden with intense suffering. Intrigued, he rose and followed the sound to its origin.

Addressing the ethereal presence, Qiufu inquired, “Are you a malevolent spirit? Why do you suffer so? Do you hunger for sustenance or shiver in cold? Or is it the affliction of illness that burdens you?” The apparition identified itself as Si Mengping, a former official from Dongyang. In life, Mengping had succumbed to excruciating back pain and now lingered as a tormented spirit in the northern regions of West Lake.

Expressing gratitude for Qiufu’s reputation as a skilled healer, Mengping revealed a remedy. Qiufu fashioned a straw effigy resembling a human, strategically inserted needles into the designated acupoints, and, after a solemn ritual, cast the effigy into the flowing waters of the lake. As night fell, Mengping appeared in Qiufu’s dream, conveying the success of the treatment and expressing gratitude for the generous offerings.

This mystical encounter and healing event became part of Xu Qiufu’s legacy, eventually leading him to serve in the imperial court during the sixth year of the Song Dynasty’s Yuanjia era.

Original story in 《齊諧記》


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