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The 5 Thunder Marshals In Taoism & Other Thunder Gods

* This article is a follow up Article of: The Thunder Patriarch (雷祖 - Lei Zu) & Ministy Of Thunder and Thunder Departments Of Taoist Religion

 The 5 Thunder Marshals of the Thunder Agency

The Five Thunder Marshals of the Thunder Agency (雷部五元帥 Lei Bu Wu Yuan Shuai) refer to the five supreme commanders of the Thunder Agency (雷部 Lei Bu), under the administration of  The Thunder Patriarch (雷祖 Lei Zu) - 'Heavenly Lord of Universal Transformation Whose Voice of Thunder Resonates With the Origin of the Nine Heavens' (九天應元雷聲普化天尊 Jiu Tian Ying Yuan Lei Sheng Pu Hua Tian Zun).

In Religious Taoism & Chinese Folk Religion records, there are several different groups of Thunder Deities in the Thunder Agency, eg: such as 5 Thunder Marshals (五雷元帅), 24 Heavenly Thunder Monarchs (廿四位天君)  and 36 Heavenly Thunder Generals (三十六位神将). The most commonly seen 5 Thunder Marshals worshipped in Taoist Temples - Deng(邓), Bi(毕), Liu(刘), Xin(辛), Pang(庞). 

Chief Thunder Marshal Deng - Deng Yuan Shuai (鄧 元 帥)

Marshal Deng (邓元帅). His given name is Zhong (忠). He is the leader of 5 Thunder Marshals. It is said that he has "silver teeth & bright eyes", and "is surrounded by fire". 

In the book 'Supplementary Records of the Listener' (夷堅志補 Yi Jian Zhi Bu), he is recorded as "General Deng of Heavenly Origin who Interrogates and Summons Demons ( 天元考召鄧將軍 Tian Yuan Kao Zhao Deng Jiang Jun) ". 

In the book 'The Remaining Stories about Cauldron-Casting' (鑄鼎餘聞 Zhu Ding Yu Wen) quotes the Personal Records of the District of Changshu ( 常熟私志 Chang Shu Si Zhi), calling him "Supreme Commander Deng, Great Spirit in Charge of Laws and Decrees ( 律令大神鄧元帥 Lü Ling Da Shen Deng Yuan Shuai)", which indicates that he is in charge of laws and decrees, and of the interrogation and summoning of the Thunder Agency.


The Thunder Spirit Bi - Bi Yuan Shuai (毕元帅)

Supreme Commander Bi was formerly called Tian Hua (田华). 

According to 'The Comprehensive Collection of Investigations into the Divinities of the Three Doctrines since their Origin' ( 三教源流搜神大全 San Jiao Yuan Liu Sou Shen Da Quan), Tian Hua was originally a Thunder Spirit ( 雷精 Lei Jing), who was concealed underground and reincarnated in the fields, and after being nourished by the breath of stalactites for 1,000 years, he was given his birth. 

At the moment he was born, there was a bolt from the blue in the day time, the flame lit up the sky, a sudden gale struck and a heavy shower suddenly fell. Surrounded by large serpents, he was fed by bees. 

Getting older, he was given the name Tian(田)(field) for he was born in the fields, and the name Bi (毕), for the characters Bi and Hua are alike. 

He Cultivated and Refined ( 修煉 Xiulian ) himself under the Lulu Cliff (漉泸岩). When Nu-Wa (女娲) failed to patch the holes in the sky, Supreme Commander Bi assisted the Spirits of Fire and Water ( 水火之精), and shouted between heaven and earth so as to block the holes in the sky. 

Later, he refined the battle formation of fire and wind and thunder of five colors, helped the Yellow Emperor ( 黃帝 Huang di ) kill Chi You (蚩尤), and then being worshipped as the master of dragons. 

The Jade Emperor appointed him Supreme Commander Bi of the Thunder Agency, ordered him to be in charge of the twelve Thunder Courts ( 雷庭 Lei Ting ) and to assist the Highest Emperor of the Mysterious Heaven ( 玄天上帝 Xuan Tian Shang Di ) in killing the gods of plague and using spirits. 

He controlled the dryness and wetness of Heaven and Earth, checked the activities of demons, and strike those who were not benevolent or upright.


Thunder Marshal Liu in charge of affairs - Liu Yuan Shuai (刘元帅) - (刘天君)

Heavenly sovereign Liu (刘天君) had the given name Hou (后) and lived in the Jin dynasty. 

He was born in a fishing boat on the Minjiang River, and did not drown when falling into the middle of the river during his childhood. 

Due to poverty, he was sent to be the page boy of Perfect Man Luo. Since he had a good command of the gestures of the Five Thunders, he was able to summon wind and rain, and responded immediately after being asked, and benefited the people and the country. 

One year, when the eastern capital suffered severe droughts, the emperor prayed in the Shrine of Heavenly Sovereign Liu, and a heavy rain fell as expected. That autumn had a good harvest. 

The emperor named him the Perfect Sovereign of Creation and Benevolence ( 立化慈濟真君 Li Hua Ci ji Zhen Jun), and the Jade Emperor ( 玉皇大帝 Yu Huang Da Di ) ordered him to be in charge of various kinds of affairs of the prince palace of the Thunder Agency.


Thunder Marshal Xin of the Thunder Fast (雷斋辛元帅)

Xin was formerly named Xin Xing (辛兴)  and styled Zhen Yu (震宇), who was a native of Yong Zhou (雍州). 

According to 'The Comprehensive Collection of Investigations into the Divinities of the Three Doctrines since their Origin 《三教源流搜神大全》, there was a Mountain of Divine Thunder ( 神雷山 Shen Lei Shan ) in the area of Yong Zhou (雍州). Xin Xing's mother was scared to death by the thunderbolt on the Mountain of Divine Thunder, and Xin Xing held his mother's corpse, weeping. 

Moved by his extreme filial piety, the Thunder Spirit transformed into a Daoist priest and offered his apology, and presented to him twelve fire elixirs for him to eat. Then Xin changed his form, his head changed into that of a monster, his mouth into a beak, his shoulders into wings, with a dagger in his left hand and a mallet in the right and five drugs under his feet. 

The Jade Emperor appointed him Supreme Commander, who, together with the Supreme Commander Bi, "was responsible for affairs in the five directions, travelling back and forth in the heavens, and eliminating the evil demons and ghosts in the nether world and this world". 

25th day of the sixth lunar month is the divine manifestation day of Supreme Commander Xin. On that day, the Daoist priests worshiping the Thunder Sprits will abstain from eating meat. This is known as the "Thunder Fast" ( 雷齋 Leizhai ), in order to pray for the blessings of gods.


Thunder Marshal Pang with a Golden Sword (金刀庞元帅) 

Supreme Commander Pang was formerly named Pang Qiao (庞乔) and styled Chang Qing (长清).

 According to the Comprehensive Collection of Investigations into the Divinities of the Three Doctrines since their Origin, he was born in a poor family who had been ferrymen for generations. Yet Pang Qiao was kind in heart and actions. 

He was never impartial to those who traveled by ferry and helped people in emergency and difficulty. Hearing of his extreme filial piety and absolute sincerity, the Jade Emperor appointed him Supreme Commander of the Vital Breath of Chaos. 

With a golden sword in hand, he was devoted to his duty of guarding the gate of heaven, in order to vanquish the demons in the nether world and exterminate the old evils, and never failed.


Worshipping of Thunder Marshals

The Hall of Heavenly Generals ( 天將殿堂 Tian Jiang Dian Tang ) is always founded in some large Daoist temples to enshrine the Thunder Marshals of the Thunder Agency or some other heavenly generals. 

The titles and number of  thunder marshals  being worshiped may vary from place to place, due to the differences in the local cultural and historical background of the Daoists in different places. 

But it is common to take the Thunder Marshals of the Thunder Agency as the guadian dieties (护法神).


The 24 Thunder Deities of clouds & rains department(雷部催云助雨护法二十四天君):
(For Your reference only - so not translated into English)


36 Heavenly Thunder Generals (三十六位神将):
(For Your reference only - so not translated into English)


There are also other groups of 5 Thunder Gods / Deities:

1) In certain Folk Taoist (Chinese Folks Religion) Temples, they pray to 都天大五雷师公 (Du Tian Da Wu Lei Shi Gong) - 'The Great Five Thunder Deities Of Capital Heaven'. These are the 5 Thunder Gods: 
  • 雷正(雷震子) Lei Zheng 
  • 雷沈 (Lei Chen) 
  •  雷勝 (Lei Sheng) 
  • 雷进 (Lei Jing) 
  • 雷真 (Lei Zhen)
Important Point: Notice they are called  都天大五雷师公 (Du Tian Da Wu Lei Shi Gong)  and not 雷部五元帥 (Lei Bu Wu Yuan Shuai) because they are different groups of 5 Thunder Deities.

2) In certain Taoist Magical / Sorcery Sects,  there is a group of  '5 Savage Thunder Messengers' (五方蛮雷使者) that the Taoist Masters seek for spiritual assistance. They are: 
  • 东方蛮雷使者马郁林 - Ma Yu Lin from the East
  • 南方蛮雷使者郭元京 - Guo Yuan Jing from the South
  • 西方蛮雷使者方仲高 - Fang Zhong Gao from the West
  • 北方蛮雷使者邓拱辰 - Deng Gong Chen from the North
  • 中央蛮雷使者田元宗 - Tian Yuan Zong from the Central

Related Article: 

The Thunder Patriarch (雷祖 - Lei Zu) & Ministy Of Thunder and Thunder Departments Of Taoist Religion

"I only find out information about 1 thunder god called "Lei Gong" (雷公). Why are there 5 thunder gods instead of 1? And who are the 5 thunder gods?" 

Questions like these are not able to be answered in 1 short reply. It took me quite sometime to think through whether I should write a topic solely on Taoist Thunder Gods Series,because it is very long topic of dicussion.

1st - Nowadays folks who are seeking for Taoist Sorcery Help are more concern about immediate help from taoist talismans or  rituals, and have no interest to understand about the heavenly structure of Taoist Gods. Folks like these have no interest to get too deep into understanding Taoist Gods.

2nd - There is too little information on Pure Religious Taoism and Folk Taoism, written in English. Folks from Western Countries and also the English Educated Chinese, who wish to know more and understand deeper into Taoist Gods / Deities can't get much infomation online. Therefore, if I don't spend the time to write and share, many folks interested in Religious Taoism can't get the much needed information.

3rd - Worst case - some western folks who are Taoist-Master-Wannabes,  without full knowledge of Taoist Deities nor the proper Spiritual / Magical Training, not even able to read and write Chinese Characters and not even know the secret chants, hand seals and full ritual to create and empower the talismans,  are trying to copy blindly on the Taoist Talismans they happen to see online. 


Since someone asked about Thunder Gods, I shall share as much details as possible for Your understanding of the Taoist Thunder Gods. Read only if You are interested.

Many ordinally Chinese Folks, and some Western Folks who are interested in Taoist Magic, would have only heard about 五雷 (Wu Lei) - Five Thunders, or have seen some different types of "Five Thunder Talismans" (五雷符). Many folks don't know who are the Five Thunder Gods. 

*The Taoist Thunder Series written here are just brief introduction to the Structure of different groups and departments of Taoist Thunder Gods. To fully understand the full details about Taoist Thunder Topics, You have to read up several Taoist Thunder Related Scriptures , such as 《無上九霄玉清大梵紫微玄都雷庭玉經》 (Wu Shang Jiu Xiao Yu Qing Da Fan Zi Wei Xuan Du Lei Ting Yu Jing).

Even before getting to know who are the 5 thunder gods, lets start from the highest top ranking - The Thunder Patriarch (雷祖 - Lei Zu) in Pure  (Orthodox) Taoist Religion.

The Thunder Patriarch (雷祖 Lei Zu) is also called: 

1) 九天應元雷聲普化天尊 (Jiu Tian Ying Yuan Lei Sheng Pu Hua Tian Zun) - The 'Heavenly Lord of Universal Transformation Whose Voice of Thunder Resonates from the Origin of the Nine Heavens'

2) 九天應元雷聲普化真王 (Jiu Tian Ying Yuan Lei Sheng Pu Hua Zhen Wang) - The 'Perfect King of Universal Transformation Whose Voice of Thunder Resonates with the Origin of the Nine Heavens' .

According to Taoist Scripture - ( 《無上九霄玉清大梵紫微玄都雷庭玉經》 Wu Shang Jiu Xiao Yu Qing Da Fan Zi Wei Xuan Du Lei Ting Yu Jing): Thunder Patriarch (雷祖 Lei Zu) is the avatar of the NINTH  SON  of  'Fu Li Primeval Lord of Heaven' (浮黎元始天尊 - Fu Li Yuan Shi Tian Zun), known as The Perfect King of Jade Clarity - Yu Qing Zhen Wang (玉清真王).  

The Thunder Patriarch lives in the 'Jade Mansion of Divine Heaven' (神霄玉府 - Shen Xiao Yu Fu), in the midst of the Pure Vital Breath of the Azure Heaven ( 碧霄梵氣 Bi Xiao Fan Qi), 2300 miles from the Thunder City (雷城 - Lei Cheng).  The '81 Zhang' high Thunder City is the place where the Heavenly Court administers thunders, to the left of which is the Jade Pivot Five Thunder Agency (玉樞五雷使 Yu Shu Wu Lei Shi) and to the right of which is the Jade Mansion Five Thunder Agency (玉府五雷使 - Yu Fu Wu Lei Shi).  *雷祖居于神霄玉府,在碧霄梵气之中,去雷城有二千三百里。雷城是天庭行雷之所,高八十一丈,左有玉枢五雷使院,右有玉府五雷使院*

In front of the Heavenly Lord, there are thirty-six thunder drums, in charge by thirty-six thunder spirits. When it is time for thunders, the Thunder Patriarch beats the drum once; and Grandpa Thunder ( 雷公 Lei Gong ) and the Master of Thunder ( 雷師 Lei Shi) throw out thunder bolts. The thirty-six spirits of the Thunder Agency are all meritorious ministers of the time. *天尊前有雷鼓三十六面,由三十六神司之。行雷之时,雷祖击鼓一下,即时雷公雷师兴发雷声。雷部有神三十六名,皆当时辅相有功之臣*

Base on 'The investiture of the gods' ( 封神演義 Feng Shen Yan Yi ), a fiction of the Ming Dynasty:

Wen Zhong (闻仲) is the 'Heavenly Lord of Universal Transformation Whose Voice of Thunder Resonates with the Origin of the Nine Heavens", who leads 24 Law-Protecting Heavenly Sovereigns Who Bring Wind and Rain (催雲助雨護法天君 Cui Yun ZhuYu Hu Fa Tian Jun). 

Among the 24 of them, there is Deng Zhong (鄧元帥, 名忠) - the Great Spirit of Statutes and Ordinances (律令大神 Lu ling Da Shen), who is often worshipped in Folk Taoist temples.

Functions of Thunder Agency:

Since ancient times in China, Grandpa Thunder (雷公) / Thunder Deity (雷神)  had already been worshipped. 

But it was at the end of the Northern Song that the Thunder Agency (雷部 Lei Bu), in the charge of the 'Heavenly Lord of Universal Transformation Whose Voice of Thunder Resonates with the Origin of the Nine Heavens' (九天应元雷声普化天尊), was incorporated into the Daoist divinity system. 

In the Northern Song period, Daoist sects such as the Divine Heaven Tradition ( 神霄派 Shen Xiao Pai) and the Pristine Subtlety Tradition ( 清微派 Qing Wei Pai), emphasized Thunder Skills ( 雷法 Lei Fa). 

Thus, the functions of thunder expanded from providing rain to announcing fortune or misfortune, and even to conferring life or death after the inspection and evaluation of people. 

The Jade Pivot Precious Book of the Heavenly Lord of Universal Transformation Whose Voice of Thunder Resonates with the Origin of the Nine Heavens ( 《九天應元雷聲普化天尊玉樞寶經》 Jiu Tian Ying Yuan Lei Sheng Pu Hua Tian Zun Yu Shu Bao Jing) stated that "Those who are Disloyal to the emperor, infilial to parents, disrespect to teachers" will be killed by the Five Thunders Inspection and Execution Agency. The impious are killed first in the spirit and then in the body, and even beaten into pieces by thunder bolts.

Worshipping of Thunder Deities in Temples:

According to the 'Records of Rites" in the History of the Ming Dynasty ( 明史 Ming Shi), 'the Heavenly Lord of Universal Transformation Whose Voice of Thunder Resonates with the Origin of the Nine Heavens' is in charge of the Five Thunders Marshals

The 24th day of the sixth lunar month is considered by Daoists as the day of his manifestation. On this day every year, Taoist temples that worship the Thunder Patriarch (雷祖 - Lei Zu) will have Taoist Priests and Taoist Followers doing prayer and burn incense in temples to pray for gook luck. 

Interesting Point to take note: Lei Zu (雷祖) has a 3rd eye. The third eye can see all things in the world, in charge of yin and yang, good and evil, thunder agency, five elements, descendants, etc. 

Important point to take note: Thunder Rituals and Thunder Talismans are sometime used in extreme exorcism - To destroy the evil spirits and demons  from a person or place.

Continue to Article:

*Below are the different departnments of   'Jade Mansion of Divine Heaven' (神霄玉府 - Shen Xiao Yu Fu), base on the Taoist Scripture - ( 《無上九霄玉清大梵紫微玄都雷庭玉經》 Wu Shang Jiu Xiao Yu Qing Da Fan Zi Wei Xuan Du Lei Ting Yu Jing) : *For reference only, so no English Translation

The Four Thunder Mansions are: 'Jiu Xiao Yu Qing' Mansion, 'Dong Ji Qing Xuan' Mansion, 'Jiu Tian Ying Yuan' Mansion, 'Dong Yuan Jade' Mansion

The 6 Thunder Institutions (院 -Yuan) are: 'Tai Yi Nei' Yuan, 'Yu Shu' Yuan, 'Wu Lei' Yuan, 'Dou Shu' Yuan, 'Shi Yang' Yuan, 'Xian Du Huo Lei' Yuan

There are Several Thunder Departments (司 - Si): Tian Bu Ting Si, Peng Lai Du Shui Si, Tai Yi Lei Ting Si, Bei Di Lei Ting Si, Bei Dou Fang Wei Si, Yu Fu Lei Ting Jiu Si, Zhu Cao Yuan Zi Si.
诸有司为:天部廷司、蓬莱都水司、太乙雷霆四司, 北帝雷霆司、北斗征伐司、北斗防卫司、玉府雷霆九司诸曹院子司。

In each institutions / departments, there are sevreal groups of thunder spiritual assistants: "Yu Fu Zuo Xuan, You Xuan, Jin Shu Shi Zhong, Shu She, Shang Xiang Zhen Xian, Zhen Bo, Qing Jian, Xian Lang, Yu Lang, Yu Tong, Yu Nu Zuo You, Si Hui Zhu Bu Lei Shen, officials, Guan Li, Jiang Li".

Also known as "Jiu Tian Lei Gong Jiang Jun, Ba Fang Yun Lei Jiang Jun, Wu Fang Man Lei Shi Zhe, Lei Bu Zong Bing Shi Zhe, under the command of 九天應元雷聲普化天尊 (Jiu Tian Ying Yuan Lei Sheng Pu Hua Tian Zun).

There are36 thunder gods among the divisions, divided into 3 categories: Heaven, Earth, and Human, with 12 in each category.

天雷十二为 (12 Thunder spirits of the Sky):神霄雷公、五方雷公、行风雷公、行雨雷公、行云雷公、布泽雷公、行冰雷公、行霄雷公、飞砂雷公、食粜雷公、伏魔雷公、吞鬼雷公。

地雷十二为 (12 Thunder spirits of the ground):纠善雷公、罚恶雷公、社令雷公、发稻雷公、四序雷公、却灾雷公、收毒雷公、扶危雷公、救病雷公、太升雷公、巡天雷公、察地雷公。

人雷十二为 (12 Thunder spirits of human):收瘟雷公、摄毒雷公、却祸雷公、除祸雷公、破祸雷公、破庙雷公、封山雷公、伏虎雷公、打虎雷公、灭尸雷公、破障雷公、管魄雷公、荡怪雷公。

These 36 Thunder Spirits (Lei Gongs) take charge of  thirty-six types of heavenly laws, strictly abiding by the order of  九天應元雷聲普化天尊 (Jiu Tian Ying Yuan Lei Sheng Pu Hua Tian Zun) , and imposing punishment on behalf of the Heaven. It is said that “The orders  are as fast as wind and fire, as if raining  spears everywhere and sounds of thunder. It can be bring  drought or rain, and the decrees must be issued." 九天應元雷聲普化天尊 (Jiu Tian Ying Yuan Lei Sheng Pu Hua Tian Zun) is in charge of  the Five Thunderials , Ten Thunderials, and 36  Thunderials.

The meaning of 5 Types Of Thunders : Sky Thunder, Ground Thunder, Water Thunder, God Thunder, Spirit (Of the land) Thunder. 

The meaning of 10 Types Of Thunders: Yu Shu Thunder, Shen Xiao Thunder, Da Dong Thunder, Xian Du Thunder, Bei Ji Thunder, Tai Yi Thunder, Zi Fu Thunder, Yu Chen Thunder, Tai Xiao Thunder, Taiji Thunder.

The meaning of 36 types of Thunders:  Yu Shu Thunder, Yu Fu Thunder, Yu Zhu Thunder, Shang Qing Da Dong Thunder, Fire Wheel Thunder, Guan Dou Thunder, Feng Huo Thunder, Fei Jie Thunder, Bei Dou Thunder, Zi Wei Xuan Shu Thunder, Shen Xiao Thunder, Xian Du Thunder, Tai Yi Hong Tian Thunder, Zi Fu Thunder, Tie Jia Thunder, Shao Yang Thunder, Chu Huo Thunder, She Ling Man Thunder, De Zhi Ming Thunder, San Jie Thunder, Zhan Kuang Thunder, Da Wei Thunder, Liu Bo Thunder, Qing Cao Thunder, Bagua Thunder, Hun Yuan Ying Quan Thunder, Xiao Ming Feng Lei, Huo Yun Thunder, Yu Bu Da Tong She Thunder, Tai Ji Thunder, Jian Huo Thunder, Wai Jian Thunder, Nei Jian Thunder, Shen Fu Tian Shu Thunder, Da Fan Dou Shu Thunder, Yu Chen Thunder.
三十六雷为 :玉枢雷、玉府雷、玉柱雷,上清大洞雷、火轮雷、灌斗雷、风火雷、飞捷雷、北极雷、紫微璇枢雷、神霄雷、仙都雷、太乙轰天雷、紫府雷、铁甲雷、邵阳雷、欻火雷、社令蛮雷、地祗鸣雷、三界雷、斩圹雷、大威雷、六波雷、青草雷、八卦雷、混元鹰犬雷、啸命风雷、火云雷、禹步大统摄雷、太极雷、剑火雷、外鉴雷、内鉴雷、神府天枢雷、大梵斗枢雷、玉晨雷。

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