h Phoenix Qi: Correct Orientation of Taiji Yin/Yang symbol

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Correct Orientation of Taiji Yin/Yang symbol

Subtitle: are you a yin/yang snob?

I admit it….I was until a few months ago when I observed a most interesting symbolic association of the taiji symbol with a symbolic energy map.

Most people believe the proper orientation for the taiji is yang on the left originating on the bottom, growing around in a clockwise direction from 6:00 to 12:00 positions, and reaching maturity at the top while yin is on the right, has its origin at the top, also grows in a clockwise direction from 12:00 to 6:00 positions, and matures at the bottom of the circle. If you trace the center curving line, you will see that it creates a reversed "S."

Many people believe the above symbol is related to this sequence of the trigrams (three-line symbols) of the I Ching. Imagine you are standing in the center of the diagram looking toward the edges. Beginning in the lower left position, the symbol for "thunder" comprised of a bottom solid line (yang), middle and top broken lines (yin), the yang energy grows clockwise around the left side until at the top, there are three yang lines indicative of the peak of yang energy. The yin cycle begins with the trigram for "wind" in the upper right corner; you can see how the yin energy begins to grow from the yin line at the bottom, continues to grow clockwise around the right side of the circle, until yin is at its peak as shown by the three yin lines at the bottom.

You may recognize this circle of trigrams as the Early Heaven Arrangement I spoke of earlier in my post about The Sacred Wheel of the Year as revealed through the I Ching. It can represent just about any cycle you care to apply it to, but is most often used to indicate the seasonal cycles of summer/winter and daily light/dark cycle.

However, there is an alternative possibility and orientation.

This diagram is called the HeTu or HoTu, the Yellow River Map, and was the original Mystical message sent to Fu Xi; from this he created the Early Heaven Circle of trigrams seen in the second diagram above. The Hetu is used mainly by practitioners of Xuan Kong (aka Time & Sapce, or Flying Star) feng shui who create and study a diagram of the energies of your home. The pairs of numbers 1-6, 3-8, 2-7, and 4-9 represent favorable or unfavorable energetic influences. I may go into feng shui at a later date; the only thing you need be concerned with in the present discussion is that the white circles represent yang, and the black circles represent yin, and the forward progression of the numbers starting with the lowest: 2-4-6-8 for yin and 1-3-7-9 for yang. The center represents Heaven (five white circles) and Earth (ten black circles).

Now, take a look at this ancient taiji diagram and notice how the yin and yang start at a spot on the edge of the inner circle, grow in the direction that corresponds to the ascending numerical sequence for their type (yin or yang) from the He Tu diagram, moving from an inner aspect to an outer aspect just as the groups of black and white circles do on the He Tu.

Assume that Heaven and Earth, the five yang and ten yin circles are in the center of this ancient taiji circle. 2 and 4 on the He Tu correspond to the yin area on the right which is inside the yang, and numbers 6 and 8 correspond to the HeTu where yin had moved to the outer aspect and continues around on the left side from the bottom to the top. Yang behaves the same, starting on the inside with the number 1, growing clockwise to the number 3 position, and then becoming the outer aspect at the numbers 7 and 9 He Tu positions.

Rounding it out a little, softening the edges, we get the mirror image of the first taiji diagram:

So, if you had a bet with someone on the "correct" orientation for the taiji or yin/yang symbol, you're both right!

As everything else in life, nothing is ever what it seems, and everything is only a matter of perception.


Readysteady said...

Hi Phoenix,
May I have your permission to replicate your image called in my book on the I Ching and possibilities for it describing string theory and gravitons - with attribution to you or your blog, whichever you prefer? I will send you a copy of the book if you like, when/ if the book is published. It is called FRACTAL GRAVITONS in a new TOE, and it uses the I Ching symbols as a shorthand to explain the dynamic of gravitation.

Phoenix said...

Hi Readysteady,

Thank you for asking.

As far as I know, all of the images in this post are in the public domain.

I don't own them, they are free for anyone to use, so feel free to use them in your book.

Your title sounds fascinating; good luck in getting your book written and published. Let me know when it's avaialable!


Cathy Dunham said...

Thank you for sharing your in-depth knowledge and descriptions on the Yin-Yang symbol. I had always leaned towards the first diagram in your article. I've not read all of I Ching, but it's easier for me to comprehend the diagram's structure by following the explanations of the winter solstice moving towards the Summer Solstice (http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/YinYang2.htm).

I also find the Yin Yang symbol with the white and black switched in your diagrams, thereby creating four different versions. That's why I get confused as to which is correct. After reading your blog, I feel that it's more important to just focus on the symbolic flow and cycle (and let go of being right). Thank you.

legendofzoltar said...

Each yin/yang symbol has a different meaning. Clockwise represent postnatal qi and counterclockwise represents prenatal qi. Then each of those has a yin and yang version delineated by which is on top. Asking which of these four is the correct one is like asking what is the correct position of the sun and moon.