Sat, Apr 09, 2011 - Page 13 News List

Sword ladder makes cosmetologist a Taoist master
登一百零八層劍梯 美容師順利考取法師

A sword ladder with a small platform at the top is erected in Hualien County’s Jian Township on April 2. The ladder was built for a ceremony held by Beitian Temple, in which worshipers who wish to become Taoist masters have to climb to the top.

Photo: Lin Hsin-han, Liberty Times

Beitian Temple in Hualien County’s Jian Township held a ceremony to bring blessing to locals last Saturday. A 33-meter-high ladder, about the height of a 12-storey building, whose rungs were made with 108 swords, was erected on the main square. Ten worshipers who applied to take a test to be Taoist masters at the ceremony climbed the ladder’s steps one after another under the supervision of a temple official and a senior Taoist master.

One of the examinees was Lin Ji-chi, a 33-year-old cosmetologist. Lin’s mother is an attendant at the Kanling Temple in Ji-an Township. Lin said that Ji Gong, a divinity who is also known as the “Mad Monk,” had hinted to her mother three to four years ago that she had to take this test. Lin successfully passed her trial last Saturday.

This is the sixth consecutive year that the Beitian Temple blessing ceremony has been held. This year seven men and three women took the sword ladder test. A temple official first climbs up through the “heavenly gate” and onto the dizzyingly high platform at the top of the ladder, where he prays to the gods to grant blessings to local people and throws pieces of paper with auspicious Taoist spells to worshippers on the ground. After praying, he asks the gods’ permission to start the ceremony by casting divination blocks.

After the ceremony, the 10 worshipers who had to climb the sword ladder did so one step at a time, guided by the senior master. After reaching the platform at the top and worshiping the gods, they cast their divination blocks to the ground until they obtained “divine approval,” a sign that they had passed the test. Thereupon they officially became Taoist masters.


1. rung n.

梯子橫檔;橫檔 (ti1 zi5 heng2 dang3; heng2 dang3)

例: The legs of a chair are stabilized by the rungs that connect them.


2. hint v.

示意 (shi4 yi4)

例: Timothy hinted at what he wanted for his birthday by mentioning backpacks as often as possible.


3. thereupon


於是 (yu2 shi4)

例: I tried to persuade Rachel not to go the party alone, but she wouldn’t listen and left the room. Thereupon I realized I was wasting my breath.


The first person to climb the ladder was Chen Pao-chu, a 55-year-old woman. With bare feet, she started to ascend the ladder of swords. She was almost exhausted halfway, and took a rest while holding on to the ladder, but eventually she succeeded in climbing to the top.

Kang Lai-fa, a temple official, said that Chen had passed the test last year but had kept it secret from her husband. Since her secrecy was contradictory to one of the traditional wifely virtues, which is to help one’s husband and teach the children, she was disqualified. That is why she came back from Kaohsiung to climb the sword ladder again this year.









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