Taoism, like Confucianism is a native Chinese religion. Its root's go back to the earliest history of China. However Taoism did not begin to develop as an organized religion until 100 B.C.
Taoism teaches that everyone should try to achieve two goals, happiness and immortality. The religion has many practices and ceremonies, intended to help people. They include prayer, magic, special diets, breath-control, meditation, and recitation of scriptures. Taoists also believe in astrology, fortune telling, witchcraft and communication with the spirits of the dead. Taoists worship more deities than do the followers of almost any other religion. Some deities are ancestors and others are the spirits of famous people.
Taoism borrowed heavily from Buddhism. Many Taoist deities, temples and ceremonies show the influence of Buddhism. By A.D.1000, Taoism had divided into many sects. Some of the sects withdrew from daily routine to meditate and study in Monasteries. Other sects were based in temples. The temple priests passed on their position to their children. They gained a reputation as highly skilled magicians, who could predict the future, protect believers from illness, accidents and other misfortunes.
In mid 1900's, the Chinese government opposed Taoism, claiming it was based on superstition. Today, the Chinese Government permits the practice of the religion and the followers are gradually increasing in number. Taoists remain active in Chinese societies outside China. Their deities include Jade emperor who rules the Earth, Empress of Heaven, and Laozy - an ancient Chinese philosopher who is the founder of Taoism.