In Chinese divination philosophy, the tortoise is the foundation of  the cycle of creation – birth, life, death and rebirth

Photographer - Dianne Donnahue

Photographer – Dianne Donnahue

Legends share  that around 3000 BC, the Emperor Fu-hsi (Fu-xi) was meditating by the Yellow River, when a tortoise emerged from the water and the markings on its shell revealed to him the 8 trigrams of the I Ching.

I Ching (Yi Jing) – The Book of Changes – ancient divining system and oldest book in the world

In the Chinese Cardinal Directions symbology the tortoise protects ones back.  It can also symbolize a shield.  In Roman times warriors marching with shields up coming up from behind slowly is a reflection of a turtle’s shell!

8 Trigrams

These  8 trigrams became a more sophisticated system with 64 hexagrams.  In 1143 BC King Wen organised these hexagrams into a system and commentary  creating the structure of the I Ching that we know today.

Around 1000 BC yarrow stalks replaced  the tortoises and in 500 BC Confucius is said  to have added commentaries to the I Ching.

The I Ching  is considered to be a philosophical system based on higher mathematics. It utilises strong / solid lines that are considered to be yang, and yielding / broken lines that are considered to be yin. These lines are combined into groups of 3, which give us the trigrams that symbolically represent:

Upper line – Heaven

Middle line – Humanity

Lower line – Earth

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Renee Lindstrom, GCFP,
Feldenkrais® Practitioner since 2007, Value-Based Communication & Empathy Coach since 2004, Art of Placement  since 2000, Founder of Greater Victoria Peace & Intercultural Celebrations since 2010 & Greater Victoria Labyrinths since 2012, #yyj Peace Week Calendar Founder – 2014 & 2015

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