Tongji (spirit medium)

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Tongji (Chinese: 童乩; pinyin: tóngjī; Wade–Giles: t'ung-chi; literally: "youth diviner"; Tâi-lô: tâng-ki) or Jitong (Chinese: 乩童; pinyin: jītóng; Wade–Giles: chi-t'ung; literally: "divining youth") is a Chinese folk religious specialist, usually translated as a "spirit medium", "oracle", or "shaman".

This word compounds tong "child; youth; boy servant" and ji "to divine" (cf. fuji 扶乩 "divination; planchette writing"). Regional variants include Hokkien tâng-ki 童乩 and Cantonese gei-tung 乩童 or san-daa 神打.

A tongji or jitong is a person believed to have been chosen by a particular shen 神 "god; spirit" as the earthly vehicle for divine expression. The Chinese differentiate a wu 巫 "shaman; healer; spirit medium" who gains control of forces in the spirit world versus a tongji who appears to be entirely under the control of forces in the spirit world.

Frequently a person who will become a tongji to experiences a feeling of compulsion of something that will possess them. The person may attempt to resist that compulsion, but should their resistance fail, they will enter into a trance in which they may beat themselves with a nail-studded ball at the end of a cord and handle to the point that he draws blood from multiple wounds on his back. While in this trance state the tongji is believed to be possessed by a shen.

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