What does a dragon enjoy? It enjoys sleep. If large, for a thousand years; small ones, not less than several hundred years. After such a long hibernation, a dragon will enter into a nirvana like state to renew itself. The maiden refuses to reveal to the youth how a human being might acquire similar powers. She then abandons her role of instructor, and the trio passes the night in wine-drinking, poetic composition, and delicately hinted at love making…( Ts’ao Chih, third century A.D.)
The grandest copulations between women and dragons, in Chinese mythology, were those that engendered future kings. Many instances are solemnly recorded in the Chinese dynastic histories. Two good examples have to do with rulers of the Wei dynasty, a family of kings of nomadic origin who ruled the north Chinese in the fifth and sixth centuries of our era. They adapted the Chinese myth of the dragon ancestor to their own ancestral legends. The first tale tells how a remote ancestor of the dynasty, a bow weilding nomad with a troupe of horsemen, encountered a handsome woman in the course of a wilderness hunt. After the happy union, she disappears. The following year she meets the chieftain in the same place and presents him with an infant son, the future founder of the dynasty’s fortunes.
Here the divine woman, identified by the swirls of blowing rain, finds a human consort. In the other story, which pertains to a much older time, when the Wei monarchs were much established in Northern China, it is told how a great lady of the palace dreamed that she was pursued by the sun, which found her hiding under her bed. The sun changed into a dragon and coiled around her. From this mating came yet another monarch of Wei. Here the woman is human, and her mate a divine rain creature, despite his transient solar guise.
Impregnation by a dragon did not preclude the efficacy of normal sexual relations with His Majesty. Rather it served to authenticate the divine source of imperial blood, and it guaranteed the legitimacy of the young prince. Confirmation was particularly needed in view of the doubtful nomadic origins of the dynasty.
The Western world knows something of such unions. The God Ammon took the form of a serpent to visit Olympias, wife of King Philip II of macedon, and made her the mother of Alexander the Great. Similarly, the Roman emperor Augustus was the son of a deity revealed as a serpent. It is said her mother could never rid herself of the spots left by the creature on her body.
The goddess who made the greatest impression on the Chinese imagination was a lovely but nameless being who is generally referred to as the Woman, or Deity, of Wu-shan. The name of her ordinary residence. Wu-shan, means Shaman Mountain. It was a holy place, far up the yangtze River, centuries before the beginning of the Christian era. She was a goddess of rain and fertility who revealed herself to human beings as a kind of luminous nimbus or ectoplasm; a shifting, misty form in which the colors of the rainbow played.
Out of this shimmering aureole the lovely form of the goddess herself would gradually take shape. The rainbow was, therefore, both the symbol and the quintessential spirit of the goddess, who was also the ancestress of the royal clan. Fertilized by the sun, she had the power to bear divine kings, to bring rain, and to assure men, plants, and animals of progeny. The delights of a supernatural union that in a
ions of greater or lesser subtlety in medieval poetry was transformed from religious vision into erotic apparition; revived later as a classic beauty in enchanting epiphanies, an unhappy ghost or simply as an example of the sorrows of parted lovers. Indeed, the expression ”clouds and rain”, became a common metaphor of sexual intercourse.
Whether presenting an ancient goddess, divine water creatures, in exalted or debased condition, early medieval prose tended to show her more intimately than did poetry. In poetic myths, the hero meets the goddess in an ultimately unsatisfactory relationship on the banks of the river she rules over. She is indescribably beautiful, and even when helpful, aloof. In the newer prose tales the hero chats intimately with her, and may even visit her in her pearly palace under the waves.
She no longer flashes mysteriously and dragonlike out of rainbows and rain flurries, but sways coquettishly in her rainbow colored, diaphanous costume. She is only a dragon by courtesy, but her mystery persists. Like a dragon, her divine permutations are beyond the comprehension of ordinary men.
” The Songs are shamanistic incantations in which a male human ritually performs a mimesis of the courtship of a goddess and attempted sexual union with her. The Songs ( ”Nine Songs” ) may be read as form of supplications used in ancient fertility rites. In the more complex poem, ”Encountering Sorrow”,…his male subject exiles himself from human society in quest of an ideal goddess. He is represented as a marginalized male, who belongs neither to human society nor the divine world.
This representation dramatizes the irreconcilable aspects of the divine and the human experience, and creates a conflict between feminine superiority and masculine subordination. In this gender hierarchy, woman is represented as the embodiment of spiritual and physical perfection and as the conceptualized object of unattainable desire. ”