Zetetic Bulletin: The Myth of the Wu Xing Iris
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A Short Essay Debunking the

Myth of the “Wu Xing Iris”

By Marquise-Cut ZIRCON Gabriel


FOREWORD



For a long time, scholars have been fascinated by the mythology of the Eastern world. As most of that region has, until recently, been sealed off to the general populace due to internal governmental strife, there have been very few opportunities to obtain the region’s folkloric items and explain their alleged “magical” properties.

Today, I have the pleasure of presenting to you a rare curiosity, generously retrieved by a team of RUBIES in Guizhou.


VISUAL ASSESSMENT



A simple yet stunning work of ancient craftsmanship, the Wu Xing1 Iris is a large jade-stone ring inscribed with middle-pinyin characters. The artifact reads “Our Radiant Father in the Heavens” on one side and “He showers us with blessings” on the other. The ring is connected to a peach-wood handle with a long, thin, handmade rope consisting of yak hair.

This elegant trinket deserves to be on display in a museum, not clasped between the palms of a cultist in prayer.


HISTORY



According to a trusted historian’s analysis, the object has been in the custody of sun-worshipping monks2 since the early-to-mid Tang dynasty in the 8th century.[1] Adherents of the faith claim that the sun is a sentient being — known as “The Radiant Father” — who bestowed upon them abilities befitting that of a ball of gas and flame.

The first known recorded instance of Wu Xing Iris use can be traced back to the late 1250s when a travelling monk used its “holy properties” to kindle a flame, which he later used to defend a village against the invading Mongol hordes.[2] Reported appearances of the Iris are sparse; throughout the region’s history, the Iris is often credited with performing outstanding feats in times of need.


THE MYTH



The following excerpt was taken from a 19th-century text believed to contain a first-hand account from the monk responsible for the Iris’ creation.[3]

The Radiant Father cast a light so bright,
Illuminating a branch of the heavenly peach tree.
He commanded I take it;
I obeyed my father without question.
He commanded I eat its fruit;
I obeyed my father without question.
He commanded I not eat for eight dawns;
I obeyed my father without question.
He commanded I sit beneath the heavenly peach tree
And listen to his wisdom;
I obeyed my father without question.
On the eight dawn, from the branch of the heavenly peach
Grew a ring of perfect jade:
An example of my Radiant Father’s wisdom.
He commanded I teach his word;
I obeyed my father without question.
Thus I have spoken.


THE DEBUNKING



As is the case with all ancient religious documents,3 I firmly believe this passage to be a wildly exaggerated recounting of events witnessed by a madman.

The Wu Xing Iris’ original wielder was a monk whose name has been lost to time. Over a thousand years ago, being a monk in a remote Chinese mountain province meant sacrificing many of the already scarce luxuries one in their position would have. This leads me to reason that the monk was starving, exhausted, and prone to hallucination by the time he met with his “god”.

The Radiant Father cast a light so bright,
Illuminating a branch of the heavenly peach tree.

Peaches are a symbol of purity, longevity, and holiness in China, and have been for longer than this myth has existed.[4] I would argue that this monk was taking advantage of the symbolism behind peaches to add credence to his false ideology. As for what he encountered? I do not know for certain, but I do believe it may have been a form of powerful hallucinogenic vegetation. It is entirely possible that the monk’s hallucinations began after consuming a rotten fruit, and that he suffered from delirium as his body attempted to detoxify it.

He commanded I eat its fruit;

Pharmacological studies indicate that hallucinogens affect one’s perception of time and induce stimulus-related hallucination — obviously. One cannot survive properly for 8 days without nutrition or water, and the possibility of a jade ring sprouting from a tree branch is laughable. It is my belief that the monk took a jade accessory he had on his person and fastened it to a nearby stick while under the ill effects of the consumed hallucinogen.

Upon careful examination and testing, no flame-emitting devices have been found within the item: it is simply an ornate fetish. Because of the Iris’ ringed shape, it is theorized that its now-empty socket once held a glass lens. The lens was presumably used under the sun as an ancient magnifying glass to create focused beams of heat, which would eventually erupt into flames given the right conditions.

Based on thorough analysis, it is this ZIRCON’s pleasure to declare the Wu Xing Iris debunked as nothing more than a glorified magnifying glass made by a delusional, if talented, vagrant. The ring is currently held in the hands of our RUBIES in Western China, who are using it to show the truth to the good people of the land — if they so wish to release indoctrinated hands from their ears and listen.


Bibliography
1. Roger Stanpike (1996). The Tang Dynasty Abridged: Fifth Edition, The Stationery Office Ltd
2. Ren Luoyang (1963). The Siege of the Eighteen Provinces, Bā House Publishing
3. Blackwood (1869). Lord Blackwood in the Land of Canton, Knowing Publishing
4. Xu Guo (2003). Heavenly Peaches: The Fruit of the Gods, Bā House Publishing

When in doubt, doubt.

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