chapter  V
The Sacred Trees of the Hung Society
Pages 17

The obvious starting point in such a piece of research is the Peach Tree, which has been regarded by the Chinese as a symbol of long life for as far back in their history as we can trace any definite records. In the Han Wu-te nei ch’wen, or, Traditions Concerning the Emperor Wu of the Han D ynasty , we are told that “Wang Mu, the Royal Mother of the West, presented to Wu, as a reward for his having journeyed to her Paradise, peaches from her sacred peach tree. She also informed him that this tree bore fruit only once in three thou­ sand years.” Again the Shih i K i , or, Record of Forgotte?i M atters, a work of the 4th or 5th centuries, A . D ., informs us that in the Eastern Desert there is a Peach Tree in the East, which is five hundred feet high, whose leaves are eight feet long, and whose fruit are three feet in length. From the stones of these fruit could be decocted the Elixir of Life.(rt) It is clear that this tree was a Sacred Cosmic Tree, like Yggdrasil among the Norse, and had little in common with its feeble earthly representative, the ordinary Peach Tree. It belongs to the realm of mythology, but for all that there are not lacking certain facts which may explain why a tree which in itself does not possess long life, therein differing markedly from our sacred oaks of the West, should yet be regarded as an emblem of Long Life, and the Cosmic Tree be confounded with it, receiving even its name.