Even a Shaman Needs Evening Self Study

Even a Shaman Needs Evening Self Study

Chapter 6 - Enlightenment

For a thousand years, the relationship between Shamans and Nuo rituals has been complex, with periods of separation and integration, leaving a deep influence. The spirit master profession, tracing its roots to shamans, occasionally uses Nuo rituals as well.

In the eyes of the world, the most distinctive feature of Nuo rituals is probably the masks. The Book of Rites records the "golden four-eyed" Nuo masks, but most people's impression is that they use wooden masks.

However, the mask that Tan Xiao pulled out from somewhere was made of kraft paper, painted with bright red and black colors, forming feather-like patterns.

"I knew a shaman from Qi province before, and they all used camphor wood masks." Mr. Xu rubbed his chin and said, regardless of camphor, poplar, or willow wood, no matter which school, there might be differences in customs, but in his impression, most basically used more wooden masks.

"Maybe it's to save costs. Look, they've industrialized this. It's good enough that they didn't use an electronic version." Mu Fei thought that after changing industries, the Tan family spirit masters made some innovations.

"...That's because when worshipping the true god, 'hidden faces', that is, wooden masks that cover the entire face, are used. The disciples of the god should use paper masks, which cannot cover the whole face, but reveal it, called 'bright faces'." Tan Xiao turned his face and explained helplessly. How could they suspect that their family's products cut corners? Cost control wouldn't go that far.

Mr. Xu and Mu Fei smiled awkwardly and lowered their voices.

"But he's not worshipping the Primordial Phoenix, right?"

"I remember, it might be because we saw peacock feathers on the ritual objects at the bottom of the tomb. Tan Xiao said peacocks are the children of the Primordial Phoenix. The ritual objects of the shaman figurines were most likely imitations, he's probably worshipping the Primordial Phoenix's children to avoid bothering two masters for one matter."

Their guess was more or less correct.

Not only spirit masters, but shamans in various places generally have their main gods to worship, believing in whoever is most efficacious, and then adding other gods as auxiliaries.

But as an underage spirit master whose main job is being a student and working for the family during holidays, Tan Xiao didn't have a decision on who to mainly worship. Most of the time, he just randomly picked one placed at the front, or even based on tourists' reactions.

Last time in the tomb, Tan Xiao briefly used the Chu emperor's ritual object, which had a peacock pattern on it. At that time, he had a faint spiritual response. This time, subconsciously, he chose to worship the Primordial Phoenix's children.

Unable to resist interrupting them, Tan Xiao readjusted his mask and chanted the shaman's words. His tone carried a peculiar rhythm, as if singing: "The sun bird knows spring before it crows, incense burns before inviting the gods. Incense smoke curls around the misty magnificent hall, the heavenly gate opens and forms mysterious clouds..."

He chanted in a low voice, unconsciously immersed in the lyrics, his eyes slightly closed.

In the flickering of the underworld incense, he seemed to see a pair of eyes again, his mind flashing like lightning, leaving only these pupils.

In the seemingly frozen time, Tan Xiao had a long gaze with them.

The ancient rituals represented thousands of years of favor, and the lingering smoke released a peculiar fragrance. Everything encountered here was like a dream, and the shamans were convinced that only by falling into a dream could they feel the spiritual response.

Thousands of hearts feel the heart, thousands transform the thoughts. Countless vague voices were chanting spells.

In a daze, Tan Xiao didn't even know whether his eyes were closed or open, whether he saw or forgot, whether these eyes appeared in the darkness or in his mind.

Those slightly upturned eyes seemed to appear casually. When they saw Tan Xiao, they paused, recognizing the young man from last time, and the extremely delicious, attentive, and unusual sacrificial food, making their gaze bright.

History that had passed with the wind was too long ago, and shamans were no longer active on this land.

Even a thousand years ago, with the Primordial Phoenix above, few people worshipped or sought help from Him. He gazed at the young shaman for a long time. In the gaze, He almost forgot to enjoy the offerings.

He was also convinced that those who had seen Him would leave a deep impression, undoubtedly.

He seemed to be able to see the shock and admiration in the other's eyes...

Then let it be him.


Everything happened in an instant. Tan Xiao's chanting didn't stop. His hands formed the "Big Dipper" gesture, then changed to the "Golden Hook" gesture. "One point spans the universe, horizontally carrying a month-long moon, gathering all evil spirits, and sending them to the ninth heaven together!"

As soon as he finished speaking, his hand also pointed at Professor Mo's eyes—no, it was just a hair's breadth away, almost touching Professor Mo's eyeballs.

But Professor Mo looked as if he had suffered a huge impact. He actually tilted his head and, despite having been on nutrient injections for several days, opened his mouth and vomited loudly. Transparent mucus continuously spewed from his mouth, which seemed to contain some white flocculent matter.

Tan Xiao retreated abruptly. Professor Mo's vomiting couldn't even be called vomiting; it was simply ejection. There was no time to use a container to catch it.

He vomited about half a pot's worth. A damp, fishy smell instantly filled the room. The crowd felt nauseated at the sight. This smell was not only visually disturbing but also made them directly associate it with snakes. It made people feel that this was not like something a human would vomit, but more like snake saliva.

"Go dig some soil to cover it, then sweep it out together and bury it!" Mr. Xu ordered. The vomited filth couldn't be thrown away casually.

Looking at Professor Mo, after such a big vomit, he actually gradually stretched out his limbs, and his mind also recovered.

His two disciples both rushed to support him, anxiously asking if the teacher was okay.

Old Ji also stepped forward, looking at him with concern. The crowd gathered around.

Tan Xiao was anxious and also squeezed in desperately, like someone watching the excitement: "Let me see, let me see, what's the effect?"

The crowd: "............"

Under the gaze of everyone, Professor Mo took a long time to regain his senses. His mouth slightly opened, and he said weakly, "Hungry!"

The first word he uttered was hungry.

Tan Xiao quickly filled a bowl of chicken soup and brought it to Professor Mo, along with tofu and fish.

These foods that had been used as offerings were also called "ghost dishes". In the past, people said that eating them could boost courage, so after the ritual, every family liked to take some for their children to eat. Now, feeding them to Professor Mo, who had just been possessed, was considered appropriate in all aspects.

Professor Mo's withered hand immediately grabbed the bowl, almost snatching the food from the hands of the young man he didn't even recognize, and desperately stuffed it into his mouth.

He didn't know if it was because of the torment, but even the taste of chicken soup was extraordinarily delicious, clear and soothing to the stomach.

If some fish were added, it would be even more delicious. The rich fish meat would burst with a strong aroma between the teeth, with the freshness being stronger than the fragrance, spreading around the internal organs after swallowing. Unfortunately, he was seriously ill and couldn't eat anything too greasy. He only scraped a few bites of fish before being stopped.

Professor Mo looked eagerly at the fish, then gulped down a few more mouthfuls of tofu. Fortunately, the tofu was also extremely delicious. After waking up, he was ravenous and didn't even have time to talk to anyone.

Old Ji snatched the fish, feeling that everyone was staring at this dish. He said helplessly, "Did you all come to see the ritual, or did you just want to feast?"

The crowd was a bit embarrassed. They didn't expect Tan Xiao to have this skill...

They even suspected that Tan Xiao deliberately chose dishes that were easy for patients to digest - chicken soup, fish, and tofu.

At this moment, Professor Mo's disciple suddenly realized, "Wait, Master, it seems you haven't finished the ritual yet. Shouldn't the ritual be complete, with inviting the gods, offering to the gods, and also sending off the gods?"

Tan Xiao was stunned and a little embarrassed.

He had never encountered a situation where in the middle of performing a ritual, someone was actually cured. He just went to see the patient and forgot that the ritual wasn't finished.

Closing his eyes now, it seemed he couldn't see the other party anymore.

Did they leave?

Tan Xiao wasn't too sure either.

"It should be fine," Tan Xiao thought, "Anyway, Professor Mo is already well... or should I send them off now?"

Professor Mo's disciple had a puzzled look. You're going to just leave it?

Tan Xiao made a crane hand seal on the spot, signifying sending off the gods.

Professor Mo's disciple now treated Tan Xiao with the utmost respect, but seeing this, he was a bit perplexed. Are rituals usually done so half-heartedly? It didn't quite match the common knowledge he had.

Although most of his knowledge came from countless folklore works, like how it's easy to invite gods but hard to send them off, and that dealings with gods and spirits must be thorough.

Tan Xiao's sending off of the gods was quite perfunctory, he even originally planned to ignore it...!

Mr. Xu laughed, "This just shows that Chu shamanism is very old-fashioned. Do you know what the difference is between shamanism and mainstream sects?"

He pointed to Tan Xiao and then to Mu Fei, these two represented shamanism and mainstream sects respectively.

Professor Mo's disciple humbly asked, "What's the difference?"

Mr. Xu was also a top student who graduated with a master's degree in religious studies. He happily explained, "In the words of anthropologists: the most notable difference between mainstream sects and shamanism is that mainstream sects aims to please and persuade deities, viewing them as having personalities. Although shamans directly converse with deities in rituals, essentially..."

He glanced at Tan Xiao, "Shamans view deities as inanimate objects. Their goal is to use any means, even coercion, to make the deities carry out the shaman's orders."

To this day, many people see little difference between the two, and they do influence each other. But there are fundamental differences between them.

...Not to mention Tan Xiao also had the buff of being a cultural tourism mascot, so it was hard for him to think like a traditional shaman.

Professor Mo's disciple heard this and suddenly realized, "So that's how it is. When you put it that way, it's indeed common in Chinese folk religion to immediately turn hostile and even whip divine statues when prayers aren't answered. This also stems from shamanism."

Tan Xiao blinked. To be honest, this was the first time he learned about the academic distinction between the two. He himself subconsciously didn't think that much.

Just then, Professor Mo let out a long sigh and put down his bowl and chopsticks.

Everyone's attention was drawn over.

By this point, he had regained his senses. The little old man rubbed his belly in embarrassment and said, "Excuse me for my lack of manners!"

How could anyone not understand? They said it's good as long as he's recovered. Later they must hurry and send him back to the hospital for a physical exam. But then they'll have to make up a story to the doctors about how the patient was taken out for a few hours and became cured.

"From what I heard just now, the one who saved me is this young comrade?" Professor Mo looked at Tan Xiao. He was a smart man. Plus, during his paralysis, he wasn't completely unaware. He could still hear sounds, just unable to react. So he actually knew what happened to him.

Tan Xiao was still dressed as a shaman, with a half-worn mask. He waved his hand, "I was just giving it a try."

"Thank you so much!" Professor Mo directly grabbed Tan Xiao's hand, "You saved my life. I see you are so young, yet your conduct is so delicious!"

Tan Xiao: "?"

The crowd: "??"

Professor Mo pointed at the food, "Haha, I misspoke. After all, it's my first time eating such delicious carp. And I was starving for so many days, it left a deep impression on me."

Getting nutrition injections could only sustain his life, but don't forget he was conscious. That feeling was too uncomfortable!

Carp is commonly seen on ritual tables, but it's actually not very popular in Nanchu due to water quality and other reasons. It's hard to make it tasty. But under Tan Xiao's cooking, with the fishiness removed and the freshness brought out, it displayed its due superb flavor.

This was definitely not just an embellishment due to Professor Mo being overly hungry.

Everyone realized Professor Mo was probably joking. They all laughed, feeling the tense atmosphere of the past days finally loosening. There was a sense of gratitude after going through hardships. A glance conveyed what words could not.

After his humorous moment, Professor Mo said to Tan Xiao seriously, "Young comrade, which work unit are you from? I don't even know how to thank you." He had no special skills, but he should at least give a banner of gratitude. He heard Mr. Xu and Mu Fei's identities and figured Tan Xiao also had a background.

"No need to thank me, no need," Tan Xiao paused. What work unit did he have? "My work unit... is Nanchu No. 1 Middle School, I guess."

Professor Mo: "?"

He almost couldn't react. What kind of work unit is this? He thought it would either be the Bureau 404 or some other religious temple.

Professor Mo belatedly said, "You're still a student?"

Tan Xiao innocently nodded.

"The kid is still in 11th grade. You can call their school to thank them later, just say he acted bravely to help you to the hospital or something," Old Ji sat on the bed and gave a suggestion. "I say, Old Mo, you've finally come to your senses. There's a lot I want to talk to you about. Did you know there's even an altar in this tomb?"

Professor Mo's attention immediately shifted, his eyes widened, "Oh?"

"The burial items this time are extremely rich. There are many sets of musical instruments, jade ware, and even many bamboo slips... These all have great historical research value!" Old Ji thought and said, "Of course, there are also many snakes."

He slowly recounted the events in the tomb, including recently seeing the nine-headed Xiong Hui binding the coffin.

Professor Mo slapped his forehead, so that's how it was. When he was in the tomb studying the shaman figurine, he suddenly felt something spit on his face, covering his senses, and then he couldn't move.

"So, what should we do with this Xiong Hui now? Although it can no longer affect the excavation, Little Tan and the others, do you think it's still best to transfer them to another location as soon as possible?" Old Ji looked at Tan Xiao and the others eagerly.

Previously, Tan Xiao had subdued the Xiong Hui, but it only returned to the inner coffin. At that time, they discussed coming up to rest first and deal with it later.

Actually, this follow-up procedure should be the responsibility of 404, but Old Ji currently trusts Tan Xiao more.

Tan Xiao showed a thoughtful expression, "This... actually, is it possible not to transfer it?"

Old Ji didn't understand for a moment, and the others also looked confused. How could they let bygones be bygones after suffering such a big loss with the Xiong Hui?

Mu Fei even frowned and said, "Little Tan, you don't want to keep it as a subordinate, right? This is a legendary creature. Generally, at this level, even if it's been filed, it can't be casually brought into the city."

She knew that shamans dared to keep anything, just look at the Chu emperor.

"No, no, why would I want it as a subordinate," Tan Xiao waved his hands repeatedly, afraid of being misunderstood. He said, "I thought of how the Xiong Hui can communicate with humans, so why not let it help examine the cultural relics in the tomb? Even if it doesn't know the use of the relics, it must know which Chu emperor was its master, right? Hasn't that not been identified yet? I just think it's a pity, but I don't know if it complies with your procedures."

?! Oh right, they were so frightened that they overlooked that this was still a living cultural relic.

Professor Mo and Old Ji looked at each other, their hearts pounding wildly: letting the cultural relics date themselves?

Damn, an unprecedented path has appeared!


Hello! I'm Echo, and I've always been fascinated by how stories can connect us across different worlds. When I'm not translating, I'm probably playing guitar or experimenting in the kitchen. I hope my translations resonate with you, just like a good melody

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