Ganoderma lucidum is the latin name for reishi mushroom and there terms used interchangeably to describe this amazing herb.
The ancient Chinese text called the Shen Nong which originates from essentially 500CE, stated that reishi mushroom or ganoderma, is useful for enhancing vital energy, increasing thinking faculty, and preventing forgetfulness. That is it can refresh the body and mind, delay aging, and enable one to live a long life. And it’s also said to stabilize one’s mental condition. And that really ties into even the modern classification, the modern usage of it for stabilizing the shen or building the shen, which is our sort of mental/emotional/spiritual aspects and is what ganoderma is so famous for.
So on the topic and on the subject of talking about ganoderma as a sort of spiritual aspect, we can really see and understand that it has a pretty colorful past. And according to legend, Toaist priests in the first century were actually the first people to really experiment and use this herb. And I’ve actually read some Taoist texts and seen in the glossary they mention ganoderma, which was pretty cool and pretty fun to see. And they’re supposed to have included the mushroom in magic potions that would grand them longevity, eternal youth, immortality, etcetera.
We can refer to another ancient Chinese text where ganoderma is highly regarded, and it’s China’s oldest material medica called the Herbal Classic, and it’s basically divided into 365 ingredients and it basically ranks herbs into three different categories, being superior, and then sort of the medicinal, and sort of the inferior herbs. And this book regards reishi as a superior herb which has a bitter taste and an atmospheric energy of being neutral and having no toxicity. Book says that it cures accumulation and pathogenic factors in the chest, it’s good for the chi of hte head, including the mental activities. It tonifies the spleen, increasing wisdom, improving memory so that you won’t forget, long-term consumption will lighten the body and you will never become old. It lengthens ears, it has spiritual powers and develops spirits so that you become a spirit being like the immortals. And that’s nothing I made up, that’s a direct quote from the Herbal Classic, which is the oldest ancient Chinese text. So ganoderma’s reputation as the mushroom of immortality essentially reached one of the oldest Chinese emperors who was Emperor T, and this emperor was supposed to have set up a whole fleet of ships of 300 men and 300 women and he told them to sail to the east where they thought reishi was growing, and then they were supposed to bring that back. So essentially, as the story goes, this ship essentially got lost at sea, and then they were shipwrecked and washed ashore in Japan, and according to the story, that’s actually how Japan was started.
So again, just to recap, according to this lore of mythology, Japan was discovered and colonized because the emperor sent 300 men and 300 women in a fleet of ships out to find ganoderma mushroom. So just that little anecdote alone is pretty crazy. So as I mentioned earlier, in Chinese art, reishi is pretty ubiquitous and pretty widespread as a symbol of good health and long life. We can find depictions and images of reishi found on doors, archways and railings throughout the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace in ancient China.
In various times in Chinese history, the emperor’s official scepter included a carving of reishi mushroom. Which people actually believe that they have pictures of the original scepter, and they think that it was actually a real ganoderma mushroom. So to the general population, to the general public, the image of ganoderma appears to be more of a good luck charm or like a talisman, or a symbol that is thought to have sort of magical powers. And then in various pen and ink drawing, tapestries, and paintings, subjects would sometimes wear jewelry or jade pieces made in the image of ganoderma mushroom. And kwan yen, who is the ancient Chinese god of healing and mercy, is sometimes depicted actually holding a ganoderma mushroom. So hopefully all of those examples I’ve given you have given a good idea, a good illustration and demonstration of how revered and how magical ganoderma was believed to be in ancient times.
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