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2 Conceiving the Embryo of Immortality: “Seed-People” and Sexual Rites in Early Taoism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the ideological background of the sexual rites of early medieval Taoism. These rituals, which aimed to conceive perfect embryos through the supervised intercourse of initiated adepts, were linked to the notion of chosen or “seed-people.” Woven into a pervasive soteriological and eschatological complex of ideas, this notion of ritually produced electi remained fundamental to the formation and identity of early Taoist religious communities and sectarian organizations. The moral dualism of these groups placed sexuality and procreation in the service of eugenic ends.



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