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Symbolic of chastity and also an emblem of the sword or of the word of God. Tradition commonly presents it as a white horse with a single horn sprouting from its forehead, but according to esoteric belief it has a white body, a red head and blue eyes. Legend has it that it is tireless when pursued yet falls meekly to the ground when it is approached by a virgin.

This seems to suggest that it is symbolic of sublimated sex. In China, the animal known as Ch'i-lin is identified by some writers with the unicorn, whereas there are others who dispute this because it has two horns.

It is an attribute of high-ranking army officers and an emblem of uprightness and high birth. Its skin is of five colors red, yellow, blue, white and black; its cry is like the sound of bells. In legend it is reputed to live for a thousand years and to be the noblest of animals. Jung in his work on the relationships between psychology and alchemy, has studied a great many aspects of this faboulous animal, concluding that broadly speaking, it has no one definite symbolic character but rather many different variants embracing single-horned animals, both real and fabulous, such as the sword-fish or certain types of dragon.

He notes that the unicorn is at times transmuted into a white dove, offering the explanation that on the one hand it is related to primordial monsters while on the other it represents the virile, pure and penetrating force of the spiritus mercurialis. He quotes the remark of Honorius of Autun in his Speculum de Mysteriis Ecclesiae, as follows; "The very fierce animal with only one horn is called unicorn. In order to catch it, a virgin is put in a field; the animal then comes to her and is caught, because it lies down on her lap. Christ is represented by this animal, and his invincible strength by its horn. He, who lay down in the womb of the Virgin, has been caight by the hunters; that is to say, he was found in human shape by thise who loved him.' However, in Anitquity the unicorn appears on occasion with certain evil characteristics.

The Physiologus Graecus comments that it is in "an animal fleet of foot, single-horned and harbouring ill will towards men". As Jung has observed, the Church does not recognize this negative side of the unicorn. On the other hand, the alchemists made use of its ambivalent implications in order to symbolize the Monstrum Hermaphroditum.