Zuo Ci (左慈) is a legendary personage of the Three Kingdoms period of China. Though he is known as a local of Lujiang, the years of his birth and death are unknown. It is believed that he had existed before the collapse of the Han Dynasty, and it is claimed that he lived to three hundred. He learned his magics and path to longevity from the Taoist sage Feng Heng (封衡), and eventually passed his arts to Ge Xuan.
Zuo Ci studied atop the Mount Tianzhu, practiced medicinal alchemy and nourished his vital essence by controlled breathing and Taoist sexual practices. It is said that he could live for long periods without eating. He was also learned in the Confucian classics and in astrology.
At some time before 200, the local warlord Sun Ce, who was a strict Confucian, wanted to kill Zuo Ci and chased him on horseback. Zuo Ci, unmounted, still managed to escape by seemingly walking slowly.
Later, Zuo Ci went to Cao Cao, who granted him a pension to do his magics. Cao Cao may have shown an interest in the Taoist approach to longevity by doing this, but his son Cao Zhi wrote that the pensions are only intended to keep the magicians and their wild teachings under control. Zuo Ci showed Cao Cao's court a number of magics, such as catching an exotic fish from an empty copper pan, and teleporting far away to buy ginger. Zuo Ci once fed a whole court assembly with food and wine, but Cao Cao soon found out that Zuo Ci had emptied every wine shop in the region with his magic for this purpose. Cao Cao tried to execute Zuo Ci, but Zuo Ci escaped by walking through walls. When someone reported that Zuo Ci had been sighted in the market, everyone in the market became identical to Zuo's appearance. Another report said Zuo Ci went to the mountaintop, so Cao Cao and his men went, and realized Zuo Ci was concealed among a flock of sheep. Knowing he could not find him, Cao Cao announced to the flock of sheep that he was merely trying to test Zuo Ci's skill, and had no intention to kill him. At the moment, a goat stood on its hind legs and spoke. Cao Cao's men rushed to the goat, only to find the rest of the flock also turned into goats and started standing and speaking like humans. Zuo Ci was never found by Cao Cao's men again.
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