Pill of Immortality

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The Pill of Immortality was an elixir or pill sought by Chinese alchemists to confer physical or spiritual immortality. The search for the pill was started several centuries BC, and continued until 500 AD and was often based on gold.[1] Its search was supported by the emperors and the nobility of China, with a strong tradition in Taoism.[2][3] The alchemical tradition in China was divided into two differing schools in the search for the pill of immortality.[4] Taoist sects which advocated the attainment of immortality by consuming substances were very popular during the Eastern Han dynasty in the 2nd century AD and they were collectively known as the School of the External Pill.[5] "Internal alchemy" was thought to create the "immortal body" within the corporeal body, and a variety of actions involving dietary, respiratory, and sexual practices and/or mental practices such as meditation were believed to cause immortality.

In the Lich Hsien Ch'uan a tradition is preserved of a man named Wei Do-yang who had made a pill of Immortality.[6] Texts dating from the 4th century AD and later, present the legendary Yellow Emperor near the end of his reign as finding the pill in Huang Shan mountain range and he establishes the seventy-two peaks of the mountains as the dwelling place for the immortals.[7]


  1. ^ Richard Myers (1 January 2003). The Basics of Chemistry. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 11–. ISBN 978-0-313-31664-7. 
  2. ^ Eva Wong (2011). Taoism. Shambhala Publications. pp. 68–. ISBN 978-0-8348-2738-7. 
  3. ^ Dorothy Perkins (19 November 2013). Encyclopedia of China: History and Culture. Routledge. pp. 142–. ISBN 978-1-135-93562-7. 
  4. ^ Hoyt Cleveland Tillman; Stephen H. West (January 1995). China Under Jurchen Rule: Essays on Chin Intellectual and Cultural History. SUNY Press. pp. 156–. ISBN 978-0-7914-2273-1. 
  5. ^ Li Ying-Chang; Yingzhang Li (1 January 2003). Lao-Tzu's Treatise on the Response of the Tao: A Contemporary Translation of the Most Popular Book Taoist Book in China. Rowman Altamira. pp. 24–. ISBN 978-0-7619-8998-1. 
  6. ^ Mircea Eliade (January 1978). The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structure of Alchemy. University of Chicago Press. pp. 116–. ISBN 978-0-226-20390-4. 
  7. ^ Susan Naquin; Chün-fang Yü (1 January 1992). Pilgrims and Sacred Sites in China. University of California Press. pp. 246–. ISBN 978-0-520-07567-2.