The Eight Immortals Of Taoism

"Eight Immortals Crossing The Sea". Wikimedia Commons

How many Taoist practitioners have achieved Immortality? No-one knows! Laozi – the founder of Taoism – is of course among them, as well as his spiritual descendent, Zhuangzi. But countless are the numbers of hermits and wandering Taoist sages, whose levels of realization were known only to themselves – and perhaps also their equally anonymous teachers!

In spite of (or perhaps because of?) this fact, the so-called “Eight Immortals” (Baxian) have emerged, within organized forms of Taoism, as mythological archetypes of the experience of Immortality.

Among the Eight Immortals, a number seem to have had actual historical existences. They were “real people.” Nevertheless, the many stories that have accumulated, describing the magical and mysterious lives of these practitioners, make it well-nigh impossible to distinguish historical from mythological reality.

For me, these stories of the lives of the Eight Immortals are a source of inspiration, devotion and – occasionally – simple entertainment. I don’t doubt the possibility of the feats described, because I tend to think that anything is possible, and love to “push the envelop” in various ways. It doesn’t really matter to me whether their human existence can be proven, or not. For this reason, the short introductions below do not include any details about their supposed historical lives. Instead, I’ve focused on their identifying characteristics, and a couple of stories from the lives of each.


Meet The Eight Immortals

Follow the links below for introductions to each of the Eight Immortals:

1. He Xian Gu - Immortal Woman He
2. Cao Guo Jiu – Royal Uncle Cao
3. Taiguai Li – Iron Crutch Li
4. Lan Caihe
5. Lu Dongbin (also spelled Lu Tung Pin)
6. Han Xiang Zi – Philosopher Han Xiang
7. Zhang Guo Lao – Elder Zhang Guo

Zhongli Quan


Of Special Interest: Meditation Now - A Beginner's Guide by Elizabeth Reninger (your Taoism guide). This book offers step-by-step guidance in a number of Taoist Inner Alchemy practices (e.g. the Inner Smile, Walking Meditation, Developing Witness Consciousness & Candle/Flower-Gazing Visualization) along with more general meditation instruction. This is an excellent resource, which provides various practices for balancing Yin-Qi and Yang-Qi and harmonizing the Five Elements; while offering support for the “path of return” to resting naturally in alignment with the vast and luminous Tao (i.e. our True Nature as an Immortal). Highly recommended.

Read More:

The Three Purities
Esoteric Initiation & Immortality In Taoism

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Reninger, Elizabeth. "The Eight Immortals Of Taoism." ThoughtCo, Jul. 30, 2015, Reninger, Elizabeth. (2015, July 30). The Eight Immortals Of Taoism. Retrieved from Reninger, Elizabeth. "The Eight Immortals Of Taoism." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 24, 2018).