The true gods all have halos around their heads. When the lesser gods and demons see these halos, they hide and dare not move. The Master of the Heavens on the Dragon-Tiger Mountain meets the gods at all times. One day the God of War came down to the mountain while the mandarin of the neighboring district was visiting the Master of the Heavens. The latter advised the mandarin to withdraw and hide himself in an inner chamber. Then he went out to receive the God of War. But the mandarin peeped through a slit in the door, and he saw the red face and green garment of the God of War as he stood there, terrible and awe-inspiring. Suddenly a red halo flashed up above his head, whose beams penetrated into the inner chamber so that the mandarin grew blind in one eye. After a time the God of War went away again, and the Master of the Heavens accompanied him. Suddenly Guan Di said, with alarm: “Confucius is coming! The halo he wears illumines the whole world. I cannot endure its radiance even a thousand miles away, so I must hurry and get out of the way!” And with that he stepped into a cloud and disappeared. The Master of the Heavens then told the mandarin what had happened, and added: “Fortunately you did not see the God of War face to face! Whoever does not possess the greatest virtue and the greatest wisdom, would be melted by the red glow of his halo.” So saying he gave him a pill of the elixir of life to eat, and his blind eye gradually regained its sight.
It is also said that scholars wear a red halo around their heads which devils, foxes and ghosts fear when they see it.
There was once a scholar who had a fox for a friend. The fox came to see him at night, and went walking with him in the villages. They could enter the houses, and see all that was going on, without people being any the wiser. But when at a distance the fox saw a red halo hanging above a house he would not enter it. The scholar asked him why not.
“Those are all celebrated scholars,” answered the fox. “The greater the halo, the more extensive is their knowledge. I dread them and do not dare enter their houses.”
Then the man said: “But I am a scholar, too! Have I no halo which makes you fear me, instead of going walking with me?”
“There is only a black mist about your head,” answered the fox. “I have never yet seen it surrounded by a halo.”
The scholar was mortified and began to scold him; but the fox disappeared with a horse-laugh.
Note: This tale is told as traditionally handed down. The Master of the Heavens, Tian Schi, who dwells on the Lung Hu Schan, is the so-called Taoist pope.
Notes: The Chinese Fairy Book contains 74 Chinese folktales, sorted into several categories.
Editor: Dr. R. Wilhelm
Publisher: Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York