Submissions are now closed for Issue VI titled Li Ji (courage & the serpent). The title refers to the Chinese tale ‘Li Ji (or Li Chi) slays the Giant Serpent’ which was first published in the 4th century compilation named Soushen Ji.
In the province of Fukien (or in an Eastern Yue translation, in Minzhong) there lived a serpent which demanded the sacrifice of maidens from the village below. If the serpent’s demands were not met the village would face calamity after calamity. The village soon agreed and sent a maiden to the serpent’s cave in the first week of the eighth lunar month. The maiden was taken and devoured by the serpent. This happened eight more times.
Li Ji offered herself as a sacrifice as her family had five daughters to choose from. Li Ji, however, was intent on defeating the serpent and avenging the maidens already sacrificed. Armed with a sword and snake biting dog, Li Ji journeyed into the mountains.
Li Ji withdrew the serpent from its hideout with sweet smelling rice cakes before setting the dog upon the monster. As the serpent recoiled, she followed, striking with her sword until the serpent was dead. She then retrieved the skulls of the nine maidens.
Li Ji’s story is akin to so many monster and dragon slaying tales from around the globe. Her courage and her wish to be sacrificed over her sisters is noble; she is cunning too, employing skill and stratagem to defeat her opponent.
The presence of the serpent in this tale cannot be ignored either, from biblical tales to how the snake is used in modern day music and art. Issue VI encourages contributors to tell tales of courage and innocence, of temptation and sacrifice, and of power within and without.
Submissions close on Sunday, 15th May.