(Continued from Hexagram 18 – Poisonous Dark Sorcery)
In the ancient world, the word Cổ Trùng include poisonous toads, frogs, snakes, spiders, scorpions, centipedes, as well as various other types of animals we would not normally consider poisonous. This also includes certain types of ticks and butterflies, and even bacteria and viruses.
Please don’t misunderstand. I am not disparaging those animals sharing the environment with us humans. I am ONLY talking about Cổ Trùng, which are very different entities.
For the record, I am not squeamish when it comes to bugs, reptiles, and amphibians (poisonous or otherwise). In and of themselves, they are sacred spirits of the Earth, deserving of life and respect for their contribution to this world we live in.
I also happen to think they are very cool, and enjoy learning more about them in their natural habitat.
A quick word on viruses and bacteria: As far as I can tell, the ancient people had no concept of bacteria, so infections such as bacterial meningitis and tuberculosis that caused people to die mysteriously were thought to be caused by black magic.
Viruses were also considered to be of a similar nature, since many of them are also horrifically deadly and none of them are visible to the naked eye. This means that when a person chokes to death for lack of oxygen (COVID-19, H5N1), or bleeds from all orifices for no apparent reason (Ebola), it would be determined that black magic would have been responsible.
These are horrible and deadly diseases, but they are NOT Cổ Trùng.
Cổ Trùng is in a class unto themselves. They were so horrific that entire monarchies have been annihilated because of them. This points to the fact that even in ancient times, biological warfare had already been carried out and was considered a critical weapon within any war chest of worth (more on this later). This is because there is a HUGE difference between your run-of-the-mill poisonous life forms, and Cổ Trùng. Allow me to clarify.
Cổ Thuật: School of Dark Arts
Cổ Thuật is one of the ‘dark arts’ that has been practiced alongside other types of dark arts for thousands of years. As I pointed out in my previous post, Hexagram 18 – Poisonous Dark Sorcery, Cổ Thuật existed even before the I Ching was written, which is how Cổ was able to be included into the book, occupying position number 18 within the exalted group of hexagrams.
To those who are fully immersed in the dark art of poison, any and all things poisonous can be used to deliver excruciating pain and horrifying death, either targeted at individuals, or en masse.
But merely using a poisonous critter to kill someone does not make a person an official card-carrying Cổ Black Sorcerer, nor does it make that offending critter a bona-fide Cổ Trùng. Animals that are poisonous by nature are simply the natural results of nature doing her usual normal evolutionary thing and should not be confused with a real Cổ Trùng, which must be created.
Back in those days, entire schools of dark arts magic of the poisonous variety were thriving everywhere, and–although a bit on the shady side, they were every bit as legitimate as those of the white magics because they counter balanced the world. It was only after Cổ Trùng affected the very structure of the ruling monarchy of that time, that it was completely banned as a dangerous and evil practice (I’ll get to that later).
I will lay out, in general, the steps that are used to create the Cổ Trùng , but understand that this is to allow us to have a better understanding of what it is and how it is created in order for us to guard against it. Beware that any such activity can only affect your karma in very negative ways. Nothing good can come of creating or wielding such monstrosities, even if the intent is good.
The Method and Madness of Cổ Trùng
But who are we kidding here? The average person does not have the necessary skills or training to go through such rigorous demands. This is high level sorcery, not something that can be ‘cook booked’.
The creation of a single Cổ Trùng requires a practitioner to go through a lengthy process that is both costly and violent, both monetarily as well as physically. The end result is a twisted macabre human-created aberration that is used for nefarious means.
And before you roll your eyes and think I’m making all this up, rest assured. This has been thoroughly investigated, not just by me but by many people before me.
The details are written in a series of books titled Gia Định Thành Thông Chí, a historical documentary written in ancient Nôm script around 1802. The original manuscript that was written on thin wooden boards has been lost to the ravages of time, but handwritten copies have survived, annotating that it was a series of six books, bound into three separate volumes.
By around 1820 the sitting monarch of Vietnam, King Minh Mạng, requested the compilation and conservation of ancient texts, which allowed Gia Định Thành Thông Chí, to be more widely disbursed. It was eventually translated into modern Vietnamese in 1863 for the sole purpose of creating a translated version in French entitled Histoire et description de la Basse Cochinchine.
There is no English translation of this book, or I would have grabbed with with both hands since my French is only slightly better than my grasp of ancient Nôm script. I do, however, have access to the ‘free-to-use’ e-book, courtesy of HCMC National Library, and most of the details are taken from there, with a few embellishments on my part to make it easier to understand, within the context of today’s world.
Within one of the volumes of this historical documentary, the methodology of creating Cổ Trùng has been preserved. I have done my best to translate as clearly as I can. This is what it states.
Before the actual event of creating a Cổ Trùng, the Cổ Practitioner (henceforth to be referred to as ‘sorcerer’) must prepare a space within his main living area to accommodate the Cổ Trùng. This area should be at the center of the room and easily accessible, for very practical reasons which will soon be clear.
Once the decision has been made to accommodate this creature, everyone living with in this dwelling must bathe thoroughly using coriander leaves and dress in formal clothing. There must be a ceremony where incense and candles are lit before the ancestral altar. Prayers must be said to the gods of heaven and earth to inform them as well as the ancestors that this is ground zero for such a creature.
To be perfectly clear, this is not a request or a plea. This is an announcement made by a high level black sorcerer to the spirit and ancestral world that he is about to begin this undertaking. Those spirits who are unhappy about this activity needs to vacate the premise because it’s about to go down.
In truth, no heavenly beings or ancestral spirits are going to condone this activity, but if you’re a high level black sorcerer, who’s going to tell you what to do? You’ve pretty much done any and all things that would be considered…less than reputable.
Then they dig a large hole at the center of the main living area (what we would consider the living room) and place within the cavity, a large wide-mouth jar with a fitted lid. The mouth of the jar needs to be level with the ground so that when the lid is placed over the jar, it will be flushed with the floor so that a floorboard can be placed over it. The lid does not necessarily have to be air-tight, but it must be tight enough so that when closed, nothing can enter or escape.
Time of Đoan Ngọ: Then they must wait for the right time to carry out the procedure. Timing is of utmost importance. The sorcerer must wait for the 5th day of the 5th lunar month (which would be June 7th of this year in our Gregorian calendar) to begin the ceremony.
This day is a very special day for the Vietnamese. We call it Đoan Ngọ, The word Đoan means ‘opening’ and the word Ngọ is the period from 11 am to 1 pm when the sun is closest to heaven and earth. This peak noon time is supposedly when poisonous gas is the most abundant in the atmosphere and the critters are able to absorb the maximum amount of poison from the air and ground.
This is also the day known as the Bug Extermination day, what Americans call the Bug Busting Day. It is a designated day when people get together and catch insects, ostensibly so as to eliminate pests and diseases that harm crops. It has been since turned into a sort of fun festival day because the real reason for this yearly event has been lost to the general public (more on this day in a future post).
But trust me–it has nothing to do with trying to eliminate harmful insects from vast fields of crops. Its real origin lies in the ancient tradition of Cổ.
Procedure to create Cổ Trùng
Once the day of the Đoan Ngọ arrives, the sorcerer and his adherents must go out into the fields to collect their critters. At the appropriate time, the Sorcerer and his adherents or family must catch twelve different types of poisonous critters.
Traditionally, there are five critters, or the Ngũ độc, that have been named as suitable for collection: the viper, centipede, scorpion, toad, and spider. However, truth is, nobody is going to turn down poisonous worms and salamanders and ticks and ants. If they are poisonous, then they are all going into the pot, if only to feed the more poisonous critters.
There are really only two criteria that must be adhered to.
- These critters must be caught on the day of the Đoan Ngọ between 11am and 1pm.
- they must be poisonous ground crawlers such as snakes, eels, centipedes, frogs, toads, scorpions, worms, caterpillars, mantises, etc. This means no flying critters (poisonous moths, bees, etc.) are allowed. Only by following these stringent requirements can they be turned into Cổ Trùng .
Once a random collection of twelve of these types of poisonous critters have been gathered, the sorcerer then places these critters into the jar and closes the lid. At this point, the critters would now be referred to as kim tằm. The floorboard is drawn and a rug is used to cover up the opening.
Then, each night before going to bed, the sorcerer and his entire family or adherents must gather around the buried pot and say a single prayer to the kim tằm. After the prayer, the sorcerer will check on the condition of the various kim tằm. This must be done every single night for a year without fail and must be carried out in complete secrecy to prevent dangerous attacks from other sorcerers who may be also on the hunt for these Cổ Trùng.
At this point, the various kim tằm. will have begun to fight and eat each other inside the jar. The more poisonous ones will eat the less poisonous ones and the stronger ones will eat the weaker ones. In turn, they would fight to the death and consume each other, absorbing all the poisons from each attack and ingestion of the ones who died.
Each night, after the prayers, the sorcerer must continue to maintain vigilance and check on the remaining kim tằm until there is only one left alive. And voila! You have a brand new Cổ Trùng.
The Baby Cổ Trùng
The Cổ Trùng, at this point, is still very small. It must be fed daily with a single live poisonous critter which it must subdue and consume. Since the Cổ Trùng is now much stronger than before due to having ingested all the original kim tằm within the jar, it will have no problem killing and eating the poisonous critters.
The care and feeding of the Cổ Trùng must continue for one hundred days until the kim tằm‘s form begins to morph into something very different. According to various legends told throughout the ages, there are mainly two types of Cổ Trùng.
One type is called ‘Ancient Dragon’ because it is shaped like a dragon, possibly morphed from a poisonous snake or a centipede.
The other type is called an ‘Ancient Unicorn’ and resembles a foo dog, perhaps metastasized from a frog or lizard.
In either case, congratulations! The arduous year-long attempt was a success and a poisonous demonic Cổ Trùng has just been formed. No two are alike and each has its own unique strengths and abilities. They are also highly adaptive to the needs of the sorcerer and will do the things that need done without qualms.
You would be think this is all there is to the Cổ Trùng, but we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface. There is much more to be said about these dark magical creatures, which I will cover in one of my next postings.
(Continue to Cổ Trùng – Dark Sorcery 2)
I wonder what the sorcerers set the critters out to do when they grow up. It sounds dangerous to begin with to gather them. Are there known mishaps to that as well?