山川有神

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1999 / 4月

文‧蔡文婷



不論是中國或其他民族的初民都有「大地之母」的觀念,因為大地生養萬物以養人。因此在農耕或是築屋,甚或挖礦、建路等會翻動土地的行為中,都會戒慎的敬拜一番。人們崇拜后土、土地公、土地伯公等土地神,也是認為大地不是冰冷的泥土、石塊而已;她是一個會生養、會疼痛的生命體。

古代天子在孟冬土地祭拜的「蜡祭」裡,天子率百官穿起黑服,代表為進入冬藏的土地「送終」,同時農事暫停,嚴禁動土,以利土地休息,待到明年春天土地社日之後,再開始新的一年的勞作。所以湘西有句民諺說:「吃了社飯動犁耙」。

現在在廟會中時常出現的民間小戲「牛犁陣」,也是在春天大地復甦之際,以充滿性暗示的舞蹈達到「交感作用」,期待地母恢復旺盛的生產力。因此「不能單以猥褻、不雅的眼光來質疑它,」中研院文哲所研究員李豐楙表示。

研究道教儀式的李豐楙更進一步指出,中國人對土地的尊重並不僅止於社神信仰,「在民間建醮的儀式前,有『封山禁水』的戒規,禁止砍柴狩獵、耕種捕撈,」嚴禁一切對大地山川的壓榨、索取。這更是中國人保障大地生生不息的基本想法,並非只在土地神明的祭典中才能凸顯。

山川有神,與土地緊密相連的老祖宗將智慧潛藏在宗教儀式與民間禁忌之間,對於挖山築路、開發不斷的現代人而言,可還相信土地有神?

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EN

Gods in the Ground

Tsai Wen-ting /tr. by Christopher MacDonald


The concept of "Mother Earth" was common to early peoples around the world, including in China, because they conceived of Earth as the parent of all living things for the nourishment of mankind. It was therefore necessary to show proper deference and offer a prayer to the earth before undertaking any act which involved breaking the ground, such as tilling the soil, building a house, or even digging for minerals or laying a road. The worship of local tutelary gods, such as Taiwan's Earth Lords and the "Old Uncle Earth" of the Hakkas, reflects the belief that Mother Earth, rather than being just a cold lump of dirt and rock, is a living entity that gives birth and can feel pain.

In ancient China's zhaji ceremony, a year-end sacrifice of thanksgiving, the emperor would lead a retinue of 100 officials, all clad in black, in "bidding farewell" to the Earth God as he retired for the winter. Farming activities were suspended and the breaking of ground was forbidden, to give the god time to rest. Work resumed in the spring after further ceremonies for the god. This accounts for the western Hunanese saying: "After the spring sacrifice banquet, take up the plow and the rake."

The "ox-plow dance," a sexually suggestive folk ritual that is often performed at temples around Taiwan in Spring to celebrate the reawakening of the world, is actually intended to promote a "sympathetic reaction" in Mother Earth, restoring her to the peak of her reproductive powers. Therefore, explains researcher Li Feng-mao of Academia Sinica's Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, the dance "can't just be cast in an obscene, indecent light."

Li, who studies Taoist ritual, adds that Chinese people's respect for the earth goes beyond just the traditional belief in earth gods. "Before important local religious ceremonies, strict prohibitions apply against any exploitation of 'the mountains and the waters,' with bans on wood cutting, hunting, farming and fishing." This reflects a fundamental attitude towards ensuring that the world can live and multiply without cease, and is not something that is only highlighted in earth god rituals.

There are gods in the ground. Our ancestors, whose lives were so closely tied to that of the earth, bequeathed to us their wisdom about those gods through religious ceremonies and folk taboos. But can today's people, forever developing the land and cutting new roads through the mountains, still believe in gods in the ground?

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