This passage of the Cantong qi is reproduced from Fabrizio Pregadio, The Seal of the Unity of the Three: A Study and Translation of the Cantong qi, the Source of the Way of the Golden Elixir (Golden Elixir Press, 2011).
The Golden Elixir website contains an extended collection of of free translations, essays, and other materials on the Cantong qi reproduced from this book.
Book 2, Section 68: The Lovely Maid and the Yellow Sprout
|1-4||The Lovely Maid of the River|
|is numinous and supremely divine:|
|when she finds Fire she flies away,|
|leaving behind not a speck of dust.|
|5-8||Like a demon she hides, like a dragon she conceals:|
|nobody knows her whereabouts.|
|If you want to control her,|
|the Yellow Sprout is the root.|
The Lovely Maid of the River (heshang chanü) is True Mercury; she is the Yin line within Li , referred to as the "second daughter" in the terminology of the Book of Changes. Aroused by fire, she escapes and flies away. Only the Yellow Sprout (huangya), which is True Lead, can hold her. When they meet, they join and generate the Elixir.
The argument poetically expressed in these verses resounds at different levels and can be understood in different ways. From the perspective of the Cantong qi, all of them are instances of one and the same principle. In a material sense, the Lovely Maid of the River can be mercury, which escapes (volatilizes) when it is heated by fire. In a spiritual sense, referred to the human being, the Lovely Maid can refer to sentiments and passions. When one's own Fire is used to stimulate those sentiments and passions, they escape and run uncontrolled. When they are presided over by one's own True Nature (Lead, the Yellow Sprout), they turn into qualities — instincts, intuitions, propensities — that express one's Nature.
© Fabrizio Pregadio and Golden Elixir Press