Nothing is more “Sinicized” than astrological divination. Yet, in Urumqi authorities have decided that even this ancient practice is dangerous.
by Han Delun
The Public Security Bureau of Urumqi announced on April 15, which in China is the National Security Day, that six practitioners of the traditional form of astrology known as Qimen Dunjia, who had been arrested in 2020, had been sentenced to jail terms from one to two years by the Tianshan District People’s Court of Urumqi City, Xinjiang.
Bitter Winter has learned that the Public Security regarded one Master Chen as the most dangerous practitioner, claiming he had gathered thousands of followers and had been conducting sessions and seminars in a hotel in Urumqi since 2018. The authorities were alerted to the extent of Chen’s activities by the following he gathered on WeChat, and from him the investigation extended to other Qimen Dunjia masters.
Qimen Dunjia (奇門遁甲) is one of the most popular systems of astrological divination in the whole Sinosphere. Practitioners use an astrological chart to get answers to all sort of questions. Qimen Dunjia charts are complicated, and require years of practice to be used according to the tradition. In fact, Chinese astrology is combined in the charts with I Ching and Feng Shui, and a Feng Shui compass is also used.
Qimen Dunjia flourished in the 11th century CE but in fact its origins date back at least to the 4th century CE. Practitioners believe it is as old as China itself. One reasons many Chinese know Qimen Dunjia is because it is practiced by several characters in the “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” one of the most famous novels of Chinese literature, written in the 14th century by Luo Guanzhong.
“The CCP says it accepts only Sinicized forms of spirituality, one woman in Urumqi who regularly consults Qimen Dunjia masters told Bitter Winter, but what can be more Sinicized than Qimen Dunjia? It has been practiced by great emperors and great sages, and it is certainly a part of the excellent Chinese culture the CCP says it upholds.”
Interestingly, the article of the Chinese Criminal Code used against the Qimen Dunjia masters was Article 224-1, which prohibits multi-level marketing or pyramid selling. Bitter Winter has seen an increasing use of this article to crack down on spiritual practices. Every form of meditation, healing, or divination offered for a fee is now called “pyramid selling” and punished as such. The prosecutor also mentioned that the defendants were promoting “feudal superstitions.” However, Article 224-1 allows courts to sentence practitioners of divination or healing by accusing them of unethical commercial practices, without giving the impression that their ideas on spirituality are punished.
Qimen Dunjia is largely tolerated throughout China. There was, however, another crackdown in Chengdu, Sichuan province, which happened in 2018 and 2019, at the same time when the Christian house church Early Rain was persecuted, and its case made international headlines. Now, Qimen Dunjia is repressed in Xinjiang while the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims are persecuted. It seems that when the CCP is somewhat nervous about “illegal” religions, even forms of spirituality that have been traditionally left alone are no longer tolerated.