Xiwangmu JEt Queen Mother of the West

Xiwangmu HzEif, the Queen Mother of the West, was first seen in Shanhaijing l±I$5i|§ (The Canon of Mountains and Seas). This book contains three descriptions of Xiwangmu.

First, the Western Great Remote [Dahuangxijing JfJft jffiff) section of The Canon of Mountains and Seas tells us:

In the south of the West Sea, on the bank of the Sandy River, in back of the Red Water and in front of the Black Water, there is a great mountain named Kunlun. On this mountain, there is a deity with a human face and a tiger body, and the body has white stripes and a tail. This deity wears a Xing jjjjjj (jade flower) and has tiger teeth and a leopard tail. She dwells in a cave and her name is Xiwangmu jf| ffff . Everything is in this mountain.3

Second, the West Mountain [Xishanjing Hf U_[j|£) section of the same book tells us:

Yushan (Jade Mountain) is the dwelling place of the Xiwangmu pfzEiJ- Her shape is human-like with a leopard tail and tiger teeth. She is adept at whistling. She wears a Xing M (jade flower) in her loosened hair. She holds the universal power of punishment over everything.4

Third, the North of the Inner Sea (Haineibeijing ^frM) section of the book tells us:

On Snake Shaman Mountain, there is someone who holds a peach-wood scepter and faces the eastern direction, although some say she lives on Tortoise Mountain. She is Xiwangmu jjjjjEfjj (the Queen Mother of the West). She stands on the terrace holding a staff of

Queen Mother The West
Stone carving of the Queen Mother of the West; from an early Han Dynasty tomb.

power and wearing a Xing JP (jade flower). To her south are three green birds that gather food for her. This is to the north of Kunlunxu idilmJiH (Void or Cave).5

The Queen Mother of the West is a condensation of the Subtlest Vital Breath of the Western Essence from the Vital Breath of the Dao of the Primordial Chaos (Cosmos). This deity, surnamed Hou JJJJJ , is allocated the western direction. Figures of a human body with tiger teeth, a white tiger body, and a leopard tail were considered envoys of the Queen Mother of the West and the White Tiger spirit of the West. This image was more a symbol of her shamanic power than simply a representation of the Queen Mother of the West herself. The peach-wood staff mentioned here is not a walking stick but a decorative ornament used to connect with the universe. According to shamanic tradition, a staff has the power to drive off demons.

Tales have portrayed the Queen Mother of the West as both majestic and unreasonable. In ancient books, however, she is described as an intriguing beauty who remains forever in the first flush of youth due to her discovery of the elixir of immortality. Historical annals from the Han Dynasty, Shtji ^.jfB, record that the Queen Mother of the West appeared as a virtuous, compassionate, ageless beauty during the reigns of Huangdi JJ'fir (Yellow Emperor), King Mu JHof the Zhou Ml Dynasty, and Emperor Wu ;Kof the HanWkDynasty.

In the perspective of the Daoist religion, the Queen Mother of the West rules over the Western Paradise and is the head of a pantheon of goddesses and female immortals. The Queen Mother of the West lives in the Kunlun WaAwf Mountains in a city that spans one thousand miles and has twelve jade mansions with halls of green light, nine-story primordial chambers, and purple and green elixir chambers. To the left is the Jade Lake and to the right are the Green Mountains. In her garden, she grows the peaches of immortality. According to the Bowuzhi JjJJJJjJJJJ (Natural Science and Miscellaneous Stories), the peach trees by the Jade Lake "bear fruit once every 3,000 years."

The different images of the Queen Mother of the West symbolize an infinite feminine universal force as well as immortality. In shamanic tradition, she represents the prenatal consciousness of the body which originated in the Dao.

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