Feng Shui For Modern Living - Back Issue Articles
The Tai Chi and the Cycle of
by Mark Shackelford, author of Software for Feng Shui 1. The Tai Chi
2. The Trigrams
The Taoist universe is described by a wide range of symbols, including 5 elements, 5 planets, 8 trigrams, 10 Heavenly Stems, 12 Earthly Branches, 60 year cycles and the 64 Hexagrams of the I Ching. Everything is linked to everything else in elegant numerological formulae.
The Trigrams are developed from the Yin and the Yang which are represented as lines - Yin consisting of two broken lines, Yang as a single unbroken line. The Yin and the Yang are combined in pairs to produce 4 items, and these are then combined again to create the Trigrams - all the possible combinations of three lines of Yin and Yang.
Each trigram is related to various aspects of the Taoist world, such as the Elements, the Seasons and Compass Directions. They also each have an Archetype or link to a natural phenomena.
3. The Hexagrams
The next stage in the development of the Taoist philosophy is the I Ching, or Book of Changes, used for Divination. This develops 64 Hexagrams (sets of 6 lines of Yin and Yang) made up from all the possible combinations of pairs of the Trigrams. Each Hexagram has a specific interpretation which is used to determine the likely effect of different choices and changes in the life of the diviner.
In particular the Chinese link 12 of the Hexagrams (The Sovereign Hexagrams) to the 12 months of the year. These hexagrams reflect the cycle of Yin and Yang as they increase and decrease during the year. The hexagrams are as follows (numbers in brackets are from the I Ching) :
4. The Months
When the hexagrams are laid out in order of their associated months, we can begin to see the sequence of increase and decrease of Yin and Yang through the year:
Note: The Chinese consider that this sequence starts with month 11 (the Winter Solstice), when the roots of the trees (Wood) are beginning to start their growth beneath the ground (Earth).
The sequence of hexagrams represents the increase of Yang (solid lines) up to the 4th month when it is full, and then the increase of Yin up to the 10th month when the Yin is full.
This sequence of increasing Yang and Yin can be shown in outline as below:
The shading indicates the areas of increasing Yin. Yin represents the cold, wet, Winter months whilst Yang is associated with the warm, dry, sunny Summer.
5. The Cycle
I have also chosen to draw the cycle in an anti-clockwise direction, which concurs with the Taoist idea that Earthly things are only a mirror of the perfection of the Heavens, and therefore are a mirror image of "Reality".
6. The Spiral
This can then be tidied up to give a new style Tai Chi, already looking rather familiar:
7. The Missing Trigrams
This completes the new version of the Tai Chi - which looks remarkably similar to the original well-known version (two fishes).
8. Afterthought Perhaps the ancient Chinese philosophers 3000 years ago went through the same thought process to come up with the original Tai Chi . Who knows.