The Significance of Yin and Yang (Part Two)
In ancient times people learn from their surroundings in the natural world. It is therefore not surprising that they described the qualities of yin and yang from nature, the elements and the seasons. To avoid the danger of categorizing all that we see into lists of yin and yang, let’s take a closer look at nature in terms of yin and yang.
Structures built of light, hollow flexible types of wooed have an uplifting nature but at the same time a lack of stability. If you were chairing an important meeting you would appreciate a strong, solid oak chair to support you, but you might feel less confident in a flimsy bamboo beach chair. The latter, however, would be ideal if you were on holiday and wanted to relax with an informal routine. The more solid timbers that take time to grow and mature, such as oak, are far more yang than the hollow, lighter structures of bamboo that only take weeks to grow.
Almost all mineral structures in nature needed time, pressure and heat to form. The more of these qualities that were present, the more yang the structure of the resultant rocks. One of the most yang geological structures is granite, which took unimaginable time and pressure to form and can withstand the battering of the elements for thousands of years. Younger, sedimentary rocks exhibit far less yang. Equally, while the granite may be a fine example of yang energy it does not allow much yin expression to be present. This is seen in the lack of vegetation, the dryness and the absence of the freshness and vitality that you can feel when you walk on lighter or more sandy mineral structures.
Clay is a great example of a yang soil structure, heavy, sticky and rich in minerals it can be made even more yang by the use of fire. Compost, light soil and sand are examples of yin soil structures, which although fertile, tend to be superficial and easily eroded by rain.
A fire made from twigs or leaves may appear superficially right and roaring, but it does not have the yang to sustain long, slow combustion. Compare this with a fire of coal or charcoal, which will burn steadily for hours at a constant temperature – it is easy to see that the slower fire is more yang. It is not its superficial quality that merits this description but its inner nature.
This element provides a whole spectrum of yin/yang qualities. Fresh, clear, running water that can appear superficially yang (because it is active) is really presenting us with some of the finest qualities of yin, its freshness and vitality represent yin’s ‘upward’ nature. Conversely, the stillness and depth of water that we perceive in a lake or an ocean may appear superficially yin (inactive), but its hidden strength and deeper nature are the clue
to its more yang nature.
Pursuits that we engage in that are practical and ‘hands-on’ are regarded as more yang, whereas reading, writing, inventing and discussion are all seen as more yin activities. Being led is more yin than being the leader. Working in a group as part of a team is more yin, while working alone and in isolation is more yang. Lazing in the sun on a tropical island is definitely yin compared to climbing a mountain in the Alps alone which is yang.
Tiredness is a common problem in modern life and is a good example of a yin symptom. Its causes can be lack of fresh air, over-eating, not enough sleep or not enough variety in our lives. Feeling withdrawn and fearful while at the same time avoiding engaging in too much activity is another yin symptom. Craving sweet foods, sweet drinks, ice cream, chocolate and stimulants such as coffee is also symptomatic of a yin condition. A very practical way of assessing your condition is to see whether your hands are damp or dry: any excess damp is yin.
Being hyperactive – unable to rest, to slow down or even have a full night’s sleep – is a symptom of an over-yang condition. If you crave salty, savory or hot foods and like plenty of physical activity for recreation then your condition is more yang. Dry hands with a firm handshake is another sign of a yang condition.
If you want to know more about Yin Yang and I Ching Astrology, visit www.iching-astrology.com . Next week Jon looks at the Ancient Five Transformations of Chinese Philosophy and their connection with I Ching Astrology.