F is for Fei Lian

Published April 7, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros


Fei Lian is a Chinese wind spirit of monstrous appearance, though my sources have contrasted greatly on just what his monstrous appearance actually looks like.  “Deer” and “snake” came up in both, but the former came up in different places.  (Honestly, I think the description of him as a dragon with the head of a deer and the tail of a snake sounds a bit more authentically Chinese than the description of him as having the body of a deer, the head of a sparrow, the horns of a bull and the tail of a snake.  But what do I know?  I was dazed most of the day today (I think I accidentally took one of my medications twice) and could be typing upside down and inside out for all I know.)

Regardless of what Fei Lian looks like, he keeps the winds in a bag, so that he can let them out to do his bidding whenever he wants.  However, he is also rebellious, and once rose up against Huang Di, the Yellow Emperor.  He was, of course, brought down, and forced to toe the line.  (Or perhaps hoof the line, if he does indeed have the body of a deer.)

So, it’s not a terribly great comparison — that’s starting to be a running theme, I’m sorry to say — but I know of another individual who could keep the winds in a sack:  Aiolos, who put all the winds but Zephyros into a sack and gave them to Odysseus so he would have smooth sailing to get back home again…which obviously didn’t work out too well, due to the greed of Odysseus’ crew.  (Or so Odysseus claimed, anyway.  How much of the tale he told to the Phaiacians we should take seriously is a difficult matter to determine.)

Obviously, there are huge differences.  Aiolos would not normally keep the winds in a sack, and only put them there as a special favor to a mortal he had taken a shine to — or to curry favor with that mortal’s guardian goddess, whichever — and even then it wasn’t all the winds, merely all the ones that would interfere with Odysseus’ return to Ithaca.  And Aiolos is one of those characters who may well have been created for the story in which he is now found, as opposed to a character whose stories all post-date him, as Fei Lian almost certainly is.  And Aiolos is not the least bit rebellious, either.

So really the only strong comparison between them is that they both keep the winds in a sack.  And there are probably others who do that as well,  who I just didn’t encounter.



Ugh.  I swear, at some point I am going to start putting out some of these that don’t suck.

It just may take me a while!

(Okay, no, actually, tomorrow’s shouldn’t be too bad.  It’s got a bit more meat to it, at any rate.)

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