Goddess of the Seas: The Patron Deity of Sailors and Fishermen
Lin Yuan and Lady Wang were a philanthropic couple who had six children. One of them was a boy. However, the boy was born with a weak constitution. So, the couple went to pray to the Goddess of Mercy,“Goddess of Mercy! My son was born with a weak constitution, and we are worried that there will be no one to carry on our family name. Please bless us with one more son.”That night, Lady Wang dreamt that the Goddess of Mercy came to her dreams and said,“You will bear a daughter who will be worshipped by many; not only will she be a saint, she will also be the protector and patron deity of sailors and fishermen.”Then, the Goddess of Mercy gave Lady Wang a magic pill to eat. Ten months later, on the 23rd of March, a daughter was indeed born to the family. The five elder sisters doted on their little sister.
One day, as Lin Yuan was thinking of a name for his newborn daughter, he said,“It has been over a month since this child was born. But I have never heard her cry before. Let’s name her Moniang (silent girl)!”Moniang grew up to be very intelligent. Apart from studying, she practiced medicine and treated sick villagers. It seemed that she was blessed by the Goddess of Mercy, for she was able to foretell the future. Moreover, when fishermen ran into a storm and their boat capsized, they all saw a girl dressed in red flying over the water, and rescuing the fishermen. The rescued people said, “Moniang saved us! She is a living goddess who protects our village.”Thus, word about Moniang’s supernatural powers began to spread.
On the double ninth festival when Moniang was 28 years of age, she and her sisters arranged to climb a mountain. By the first light of dawn, Moniang had finished grooming herself and told her sisters,“I would like to set off a bit earlier this time. You can join me later.”She then set off toward the highest mountain peak. Just as she arrived at the top of the mountain, a hole opened up in the clouds, and a pair of fairies flew down and told Moniang,“We have been ordered to bring you back to the Heavens. Please come with us.”And so, Moniang went to the Heavens with the fairies. The villagers at the bottom of the mountain witnessed what happened, and knelt in reverence. After ascending to the Heavens and attaining immortality, Moniang often stood atop the clouds and gazed upon the mortal realm, working miracles and appearing in people’s dreams. As a result, she was loved by the people and her followers referred to her reverently and affectionately as “Ma-zu”or “Mother Ancestor.”