Posted by Lotg on November 08, 2003
In Reply to: Unicorns and Virgins posted by Paul on November 07, 2003
: In the Cloisters in New York City you can see all the tapestries of the story of the capturing of the Unicorn and one of the last Tapestries in the sequence, was of a virgin with the Unicorn sleeping on the virgin's lap after having suckled at her breast. It took a virgin to capture the Unicorn because the Unicorn symbolized masculine energy (the cornocupia) and was ever able to touch green Earth, otherwise, they would be magnetisized to the Earth and lose all their magical powers of flight, etc. Kind of allegorical to the alchemical elixir of turning the lead into gold. Love conquers all
: : In the mythology of unicorns, virgins play a number of interesting roles. Does anyone know the history of this relationship, and if it is English in origin or is part of the worldwide Unicorn myth?
Theoretically unicorns have been a part of ancient greek and chinese mythology and were supposedly first sighted in India. Ctesias first described the unicorn as a wild white Indian ass whose horn provided preventative medicines.
In Chinese mythology there were 2 kinds. One had a beautiful voice and announced the birth of children - Confucious being one of them. The other was a judgemental unicorn who pointed out the guilty and punished them. Apparently some Chinese courthouses still have unicorns on their buildings.
There have even been descriptions of unicorn-like animals in ancient versions of the bible. Although to my knowledge the actual name unicorn wasn't used.
Some say that Noah gets the blame for the fact that there are no more unicorns around (or are there???) cos he couldn't or didn't include them on the ark.
But their association with virgins does appear to have been more recent. In fact at some point they became inextricably linked. Supposedly the Romans discovered that unicorns were lovers of purity and innocence and as a sort of test, they placed a virgin at the feet of a unicorn. The unicorn was unavoidably attracted and fell asleep on her lap.
Later the act of standing a woman in front of a unicorn would prove to be a test of her virginity (this may have originated in England, I don't know). Frankly as tests go, this one's a bit rugged. Cos if the woman wasn't a virgin, the unicorn's horn would pierce her body and kill her. If she was a virgin, theoretically the horn would pass through her body unharmed.
Furthermore, it didn't always pay to be a virgin who associated with a unicorn, because they were very jealous and possessive. If the virgin took up with a suitor and married him, the unicorn would kill the husband and gut the virgin.
Anyway, both are pretty rare aren't they???