History, Mystery, and The Search for Immortality: Where to Travel to Explore the Legend of the Elixir of Immortality

Throughout our history, humanity has had a bit of an… shall we say… obsession with immortality. We are programmed to fear the unknown from birth. We find our comfort in the familiar, so, perhaps, this is why death frightens us so much. Because of this fear, we’ve been known to take it too far in the past. Famous historical figures and regular people alike have developed fascinations or even obsessions with the idea of staying young forever. That’s why we’re going to focus a series of articles on the idea of immortality and the objects we theorized could help us on our quest. In this first post, we’ll discuss the Elixir of Immortality which was an elixir of legends based in ancient Chinese mythology that allowed believers to think they could live forever.

What was the Elixir of Immortality?

Ancient Chinese myths tell of the Elixir of Immortality, a potion that, when drank, will offer you immortality. Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of the Qin Dynasty of China, was said to have taken a great interest in this elixir and sent out many adventurers on the search for it. Legends tell of his extensive search for the elixir and his growing obsession with staying young forever. Like with many cultures, this hunt for immortality intertwines with mythology, philosophy, alchemy, and traditional medicine. Emperors, scholars, and thinkers all set their sites on the elixir after Qin Shi Huang thought it may be real.

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Daoist alchemist sought to transcend the limitation of the reality we know of by creating this elixir that may make oneself immortal. The aim was to achieve physical and spiritual immortality by aligning oneself with the Dao. Alchemists experimented with various substances, minerals, and herbs hoping to discover the secrets of everlasting life. Emperors, such as Din Shi Huang, were often obsessed with immortality and had the resources to try and solve this unsolvable puzzle. These powerful figures believed that a ruler who achieved eternal life could ensure stability and prosperity for the empire. The idea of the Elixir of Life mixed with the theme of immortality regularly reappeared in Chinese literature and poetry. Classic stories featured heroes on the quest for the elixir of immortality, facing trails to test them on their journeys.

Where to Travel Today to Re-Live this Legend?

Now, when I go on my adventures, one of my favorite things to do is to re-trace the steps of famous myths and legends (or even just epic stories). When I hear of locations associated with great epic tales, they’re the first place on my bucket list to go to. So, I give you some of the places you should visit to re-live the quest for the Elixir of Immortality in China.   

Mount Kunlun:

Mount Kunlun is a mythical mountain often associated with the pursuit of immortality in Chinese mythology. It is believed to be the dwelling place of immortals and a source of mystical knowledge. While the mountain itself may not be easily accessible, regions surrounding it may have historical sites linked to the quest for immortality.

Maoshan Mountains:

Located in Jiangsu Province, the Maoshan Mountains have been historically linked to Daoist practices and alchemy. The region is known for its Daoist temples, caves, and hermitages where Daoist practitioners sought immortality through meditation, alchemical practices, and herbal medicine.

Penglai Island:

Penglai is one of the mythical Isles of the Immortals, often associated with the search for the Elixir of Immortality. While there might not be concrete historical evidence, Penglai Island is referenced in ancient Chinese texts and poetry. Shandong Province is often connected to the legends of Penglai, and exploring the coastal areas might reveal historical insights.

Xi’an:

As the ancient capital of several Chinese dynasties, Xi’an has historical connections to the quest for immortality. The First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty, Qin Shi Huang, was famously obsessed with the search for the elixir. Visiting the Terracotta Army and the mausoleum can provide insights into the emperor’s beliefs and the historical context of his quest.

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Traditional Chinese Medicine Museums:

Exploring museums dedicated to traditional Chinese medicine, such as the Traditional Chinese Medicine Museum in Shanghai or the Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Museum, can provide insights into the historical use of herbs and alchemical practices in the quest for longevity.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: we humans are exceptionally weird. Our fear drives against our nature, and we wind up fighting against the clock, time and time again, looking for ways in which we can live forever. This fight appears again and again throughout the history of mythology and lore, and the Elixir of Immortality is just one way this has appeared throughout our curious past.

Malorie Mackey is an actress, published author, and adventurer. Malorie grew up in Richmond, Virginia where she loved sports, the outdoors, animals, and all forms of art. She took to acting at a young age, so it was no surprise when she decided to go to college for theatre. While in college, Malorie studied body movement with the DAH Theatre in Belgrade, Serbia, voice in Herefordshire, England with Frankie Armstrong, and the business of theatre in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Malorie moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles after receiving her BFA in Theatre Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon arriving in LA, Malorie participated in the Miss California USA 2011 Pageant where she won the “Friend’s Choice” Award (by popular vote) and received a beautiful award for it.

While living on the West Coast, Malorie accumulated over 40 acting credits working on a variety of television shows, web series, and indie films, such as the sci-fi movie “Dracano,” the Biography Channel show “My Haunted House,” the tv pilot “Model Citizen” with Angie Everhart, and the award-winning indie film “Amelia 2.0.”

Throughout her experiences, Malorie found a love for travel and adventure, having journeyed to over a dozen countries experiencing unique locations. From the lush jungles of the Sierra Madre mountain range to the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, Malorie began adventuring and writing about her unique travels. These travel excerpts can be found on VIVA GLAM Magazine, in Malorie’s Adventure Blog, in Malorie’s adventure show: “Weird World Adventures” and in the works for her full-length travel book.

In 2022, Malorie was thrilled to become a member of the Explorer’s Club through her work on scientific travel. Her experiences volunteering on archaeological and anthropological expeditions as well as with animal conservation allowed her entry into the exclusive club. Since then, Malorie has focused more on scientific travel.

Malorie’s show “Weird World Adventures” releases on Amazon Prime Video in the Spring of 2024! Stay tuned as Malorie brings the strangest wonders of the world to you!

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