Most of us have a concept of what yin and yang mean; they are often thought of in terms of male and female. But, really, yin and yang "is a complex, relational concept in Chinese culture that has developed over thousands of years. Briefly put, the meaning of yin and yang is that the universe is governed by a cosmic duality, sets of two opposing and complementing principles or cosmic energies that can be observed in nature."
Generally, yin is thought to be inward feminine energy that is somewhat dark and negative. Yang is characterized as outward energy that is masculine, hot, bright, and positive. They come in pairs; male and female; hot and cold; moon and sun; passive and active, etc. But here's where it gets kind of interesting. Yin and yang are not static nor are they mutually exclusive terms. The world is composed of many different forces, some are opposing forces, yet these forces manage to coexist and even complement each other. Sometimes, in nature, opposite forces are dependent on one another. Day and night are a perfect example; we cannot have shadows without some light.
Yin and yang must balance each other. If yang is too weak, then yin will be too strong...or vice versa. And when that happens, it throws everything out of whack. Under certain circumstances, yin and yang can contain certain components of the other one. "The balance of yin and yang is perceived to exist in everything."
The yin-yang symbol is also known as the Tai Chi symbol. The white dot in the black area and black dot in the white area represents the coexistence of the two forces. The curvy line signifies that there is no absolute separation between the two forces.
Yin and yang have a long history but the short version is that there are written records about these two forces that date back to the Yin Dynasty (1400-1100 BCE) and the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100 -771 BCE). The oldest records of the yin-yang principle are found in the "Zhouyi," also called the I Ching or "Book of Changes," which was written by King Wen in the 9th century BCE during the Western Zhou dynasty. In short...it's OLD!
The origin of yin-yang is found in the ancient Chinese timekeeping system of using a pole to measure the changing lengths of the shadows over the solar year. "In fact, the yin-yang symbol closely approximates a graphical representation of the daily change of a pole's shadow length during the year. Yang begins at the winter solstice and indicates the beginning of the period when daylight dominates over darkness and thus is associated with the sun. The yin begins at the summer solstice and represents the dominance of darkness over daylight and is associated with the moon." Yin - yang also represents the observance of the shadow of the earth on the moon and the record of the position of the Big Dipper constellation throughout the year. These observations make up the four points of the compass: the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the direction of the shortest shadow measured is south, and at night, the pole star points north. Yin and yang are fundamentally connected to the cycle of the earth around the sun and the resulting four seasons.
But did you know that yin-yang was also an important element in early Chinese medicine? "Huangdi Neijing," or "Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine" written about 2,000 years ago, it is the earliest Chinese medical book. it is believed that for one to be healthy, yin and yang must be in balance. Yin and yang are still important today in Chinese medicine. It is also an integral part of Feng Shui.
Yin and yang are so much more than just opposites. I hope you learned something today about these forces that you didn't know before. I sure did!
Tomorrow is national Plant A Flower Day and I have a few fun facts about flowers that I know you won't want to miss so please come back. Until then, I wish you all