Mazu Empress of Heaven
Born in 960 CE, the story of Mazu begins in a small fishing village in the Fujian province on the southeastern coast of China. A daughter of Lin Yuan, she was given the name Mo Niang, “Silent Maiden”, because she didn’t cry at birth and for a good month after. She was a quiet, pensive child.
Mo Niang exhibited supernatural powers which continued to elevate with her steadfast devotion to her spiritual studies. At the age of sixteen, a Taoist immortal bestowed upon her two bronze tablets which gave her supreme psychic power to see into the future and predict weather, travel in spirit, heal illnesses, advert disasters and ward off evil. She was known to be an accomplished swimmer, diving into rough seas to rescue fishermen and seafarers in trouble. In literature, she’s frequently seen wearing a red robe and patrolling the seas to guide boats back to safety.
In one popular story, Mo Niang was at home weaving tapestry when her father and brother’s ship encountered trouble at the seas. She fell into a deep trance and left her body to save her kin, rescuing her brothers but not able to complete her mission to help her father when her mother, unaware of the situation, woke her from her trance. Some stories say that she drowned from exhaustion while attempting to find her father. Other stories say that she passed away in meditation, and still others say she climbed a mountain to the heavens in a beam of bright light. This shamaness was elevated to deity status posthumously. Today, this beloved Heavenly Mother’s protection extends beyond the seas to all aspects of life and death.