Green Maiden Brews Snow

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The story was originally mentioned in the poem Snow of the Collection of Highest Clarity ( 《上清集‧詠雪》 Shangqingji Yongxue ) by Bai Yuchan, who wrote in the poem: "when the green maiden brews snow at the breast, snow is the fermented rice and dew changed into wine ". In this story, the "green maiden' referred to a young lady in green dress. In later periods, Daoism borrowed this term to imply 'mercury in the elixir'. In the Orthodox Commentary on Realizing Perfection ( 《悟真篇正義》 Wuzhenpian Zhengyi ), Dong Dening, a scholar of the Qing dynasty, explained: "the image of the li trigram is a maiden, and the color of wood is green. The two factors produce the image of 'mercury in the elixir' because the elixir belongs to 'li-fire' and mercury belongs to 'zheng-wood' in the trigram figures." In this regard, the 'green maiden' had become a symbol of inner alchemy. There is no doubt Bai Yuchan was very familiar with it. Moreover, through combining different images, he gave the 'green maiden' deeper implications.


People may have different images and experiences about snow. In Bai Yuchan's mind, snow was a reminder of wine drunk in cold weather. In the poem, Bai conferred multiple associations on the image of the green maiden. Firstly, it stood for green mountains covered with white snow, an image reminiscent of a maiden with snow in her arms, like a fertile and energetic young lady. In her arms, snow melts just as wine brews in a jar.