The Spirit of the White Stone

In Tianchang County(天長), there was a magistrate named Lin who served in the capital city’s district. In his home, there was a spirit-writing altar occupied by a monster. This monster claimed to be the ‘True Man of the White Stone(白石真人)’ and accurately foretold fortunes and misfortunes for those who sought its advice.

The monster often persuaded Magistrate Lin to cultivate the Dao and practice immortal arts, claiming that by opening a third eye on his face, he could see the palace where the Heavenly Emperor resided and the immortals frolicking in the clouds. Enchanted by the monster’s words, Lin started obsessively carving between his own eyes with a small knife. If anyone tried to take away his knife, he would fly into a rage and curse incessantly.

One day, the spirit-writing board conveyed: ‘I am the land god here. The entity troubling your master is a spirit from the White Stone on the western mountain. This powerful spirit lacks literacy skills. I am forced by it; the words on the spirit-writing board are all compelled by this monster. Today, the monster has gone to the Western Heaven to pay respects to Buddha. Therefore, I’m informing you specifically—hurry and dismantle the spirit-writing board, compose a report detailing the mischief caused by the monster, and submit it to the city god of our county for punishment. This way, you’ll be free from the harm caused by the monster. But do not let the monster know that it was I, the land god, who leaked this secret.’

Coincidentally, Jiang Shiquan(蔣士銓), an editor from the Hanlin Academy(翰林院編修), arrived in Tianchang(天長) from Jinling(金陵). Hearing about the situation at his relative Lin’s house, he immediately dismantled the spirit-writing board. He then spent thirty taels of silver to purchase a Daoist charm from Zhang, hanging it in Lin’s residence. After this, indeed, the monster ceased its visitations.

Ten years later, Lin passed away, yet Zhang’s Daoist charm still hung in his residence. One day, the incense burning in the censer accidentally fell, burning away the cinnabar characters and drawings on the charm, but the backing paper remained unscathed and continued to hang. At that time, Jiang was in the capital and unaware of Lin’s passing. Zhang, meeting Jiang in the capital, said, ‘Your relative, Mr. Lin, has passed away.’ Surprised, Jiang inquired how Zhang knew, and Zhang replied, ‘On a certain month and day, the divine generals I dispatched on the charm have all returned, indicating that Mr. Lin is no longer in this world and no longer needs protection.’ Later, upon learning about the burning of the charm at Lin’s house, Jiang confirmed Zhang’s words, feeling deep regret.

Initially, whenever the spirit writing was conducted, as long as Jiang was present, the sand plate remained still. When Mr. Jiang left, someone asked the spirit writer, who wrote, ‘This old gentleman emits a radiant aura that troubles me upon sight.’ According to the land god, ‘The Spirit of the White Stone was causing mischief in the Lin household, intending to consume Lin’s soul to serve and speak on its behalf.

Translated from《白石精》in 《子不語》:

天長林司坊名師者,家設乩壇,有怪物占為壇主,自名「白石真人」,人問休咎頗驗。常教林君修仙,須面上開一眼,便可見上帝宮室,雲中神仙。林從此癡迷,時以小刀向鼻間刻劃。人奪其刀,便怒罵。
忽一日,乩盤書云:「我土地神也。現在纏汝者是西山白石之精,神通絕大,我受其驅使。渠不能作字,凡乩上,皆強我代書。今日渠往西天參佛,故我特來通知,速拆乩盤,具呈於本縣城隍,庶免此難。但切不可告知此怪,是土地神來泄漏也。」適蔣太史苕生自金陵來,知其故,立毀其盤,並以三十金買天師符一張,懸林室中,怪果不至。
後十年,林君亡矣,符尚掛中堂,有線香倒下,燒其符上硃砂,字畫盡,而襯紙不壞。其時蔣在京師,未得林訃,適天師來朝,告蔣曰:「貴親家林君死矣。」問:「何以知之?」曰:「某月日,我所遣符上神將已來歸位故也。」後得知林家燒符之信,方覺駭然。
當扶乩時,蔣在座,則盤中不動。蔣去後,人問乩,書云:「此老有文光射人,我不喜見之。」據土地云:「白石精在林家作祟者,要攝取林之魂,供其役使故耳。」

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