Sex, Women, Religion and Unicorns

The blog double X has up a wonderful post by Nina Shen Rastogi about girls and unicorns: Why Do Girls Love Unicorns? Like with my posts about monsters it seem that unicorns are rich place for theological meditation. A bit from the essay:

The most popular myth about unicorns takes this image of a tough, wild creature and adds two crucial elements: women and sex. According to this enduring story—the exact origins of which are a bit fuzzy—the unicorn is an uncontrollable beast that can only be captured if a pretty young virgin is dangled in front of him. The girl’s innocence proves so intoxicating that the animal goes all weak-kneed and submissive, at which point the hunters pounce and bag their prey. This is the scenario depicted in the famous Unicorn Tapestries that hang in New York’s Cloisters museum and in countless other works of art.

In one of its earliest and most notable Western appearances, this tale was meant to be understood primarily as a religious parable. It was included in a collection of animal stories known as the Physiologus, which was popular throughout the Middle Ages in a wide range of translations and editions. In the Physiologus and the many bestiaries that followed it, the story has an explicitly Christian cast: The virgin stands for Mary and the unicorn stands for Jesus, the implication being that only a force as powerful as Mary’s radiant goodness could persuade the awesome deity to humble himself and be “captured” by mortality.

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3 thoughts on “Sex, Women, Religion and Unicorns”

  1. The picture looks as if the unicorn would be Jesus - and the lady Mary Magdalene (in the traditional exegesis):
    the skirt slit so high... ;)

  2. I was quite virginal back when I was a running about wearing skirts slit up my thigh. I would suspect there's very little correlation between "sluttiness" of clothing and virginity, at least between the ages of (roughly) fourteen and twenty-one.

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