Neidan Dictionary


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heche 河車

river chariot; waterwheel


① True Yang (True Lead). ↔ taiyang liuzhu 太陽流珠 flowing pearl of great Yang.

At the beginning of Yin and Yang, Mystery holds the Yellow Sprout; it is the ruler of the five metals, the River Chariot of the northern direction. 陰陽之始,玄含黃芽,五金之主,北方河車。 (The Seal of the Unity of the Three, sec. 22)

The Flowing Pearl of Great Yang is Yin within Yang, the River Chariot of the northern direction is Yang within Yin. 〔陽中陰:〕太陽流珠。〔陰中陽:〕北方河車。 (Weng Baoguang, "Model Images of the Golden Elixir", trans. in Taoist Internal Alchemy: An Anthology of Neidan Texts, p. 131)

② The metaphoric “waterwheel” that inverts the downward flow of the Essence (jing) and enables it to begin its upward course along the Lesser Celestial Circuit (xiao zhoutian). See the picture below.

River Chariot

The Waterwheel.
Neijing tu (Chart of the Inner Warp), detail.


③ The metaphoric vehicle that transports the Essence along the Lesser Celestial Circuit. See the picture below.

River Chariot

The River Chariot.
Xiao Tingzhi (fl. 1260-64), Jindan dacheng ji
(The Great Achievement of the Golden Elixir: An Anthology).


The River Chariot dares not stop for one moment, as it enters the summit of Mount Kunlun. 河車不敢暫留停,運入崑崙峰頂。 (Awakening to Reality, "West River Moon", poem 5)

④ A synonym of Lesser Celestial Circuit itself.

The Caudal Funnel, the Spinal Handle, and the Jade Pillow are the “three Barriers” that mark its ascending route. The Muddy Pellet, the Yellow Court, and the lower Cinnabar Field are the three Cinnabar Fields that mark its descending route. (Wang Mu, Foundations of Internal Alchemy, p. 71)