Xian (Taoism)

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Xian () is a Chinese word for an enlightened person, translatable in English as:
  • "spiritually immortal; transcendent; super-human; celestial being" (in Daoist/Taoist philosophy and cosmology)
  • "physically immortal; immortal person; immortalist; saint" (in Daoist religion and pantheon)
  • "alchemist; one who seeks the elixir of life; one who practices longevity techniques" or by extension "(alchemical, dietary, qigong) methods for attaining immortality" (in Chinese alchemy)
  • "wizard; magician; shaman" (in Chinese mythology)
  • "genie; elf, fairy; nymph" (in popular Chinese literature, 仙境 xian jing is "fairyland", Faerie)
  • "sage living high in the mountains; mountain-man; hermit; recluse" (folk etymology for the character 仙)
  • "immortal (talent); accomplished person; celestial (beauty); marvelous; extraordinary" (metaphorical modifier)
Xian semantically developed from meaning spiritual "immortality; enlightenment", to physical "immortality; longevity" involving methods such as alchemy, breath meditation, and Tai Chi Chuan, and eventually to legendary and figurative "immortality".

The xian archetype is described by Victor H. Mair.

<blockquote>They are immune to heat and cold, untouched by the elements, and can fly, mounting upward with a fluttering motion. They dwell apart from the chaotic world of man, subsist on air and dew, are not anxious like ordinary...
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