The True Meaning of the Yin and Yang Symbol

The concept of yin and yang is a deeply complex theme, but more than interesting.

Appearing in Chinese culture several thousand years ago, it expresses ideas of balance, harmony and interdependence in all things.

The thinking behind yin and yang can be difficult to understand... but we have a great ally to help us understand it: I am of course talking here about the symbol that is used to represent it.

Yes, the yin yang symbol, sometimes also known as Taiji or Taijitu, holds within it clues that can allow us to understand some of the greatest teachings that Chinese philosophies have offered us.

Composed of a circle separated by a curve into two parts (one black and one white), each having a little of the other within it, it is quite easy to see the idea of ​​ambivalence, or all of it. less duality in our world.

Stopping our reflection there, however, would be a serious error, and would deprive us of the greater messages that the symbol of Yin and Yang carries.

Contents :

A few words about Taoism

The story behind the yin and yang symbol

Ideas for creation and balance

But actually, how did this symbol appear?

The meaning of yin and yang?

Two examples of practical uses

Reflecting on the messages of the yin and yang symbol

Discover this article in video format

Ancient Chinese painting showing Taoist monks.

A few words about Taoism

Taoism (also known as Daoism) is a Chinese philosophy attributed to Lao Tzu (a great thinker who lived around 500 BC).

With some of the most interesting philosophical teachings in the world, Taoism still has many followers around the world today for whom the symbol of yin and yang takes on an even more special character than for the others.

Anyway, to put the lucky symbol we're going to talk about into context, let's review some of the biggest characteristics of Taoism.

The concept of tao (the way)

Basically, Taoism is a belief system based on the concept of "way", or "dao" in Chinese. At first glance, we might think that this is an easy idea to understand, but that is really not the case.

In fact, Taoism was established on a careful observation of the world and nature to ultimately arrive at the conclusion of a great cosmic balance maintained by a superior force: the Dao (or Tao).

This concept of tao involves many consequences on human life. For example, here are some lessons from the site that we can learn from it.

Chi, the great energy at the basis of the movement of the universe

Furthermore, Chinese sages defined the universe as changing. Clearly, nothing is immobile or static, everything is always transforming and following a great movement.

It is from this observation that the idea of ​​Chi, or primordial energy, was created, a kind of force present inside everything that exists and which precisely generates the movement we have just talked about.

If I have cited the ideas of Dao and Chi to you here, it is because, as you will see in a few moments, they come into play in the explanation of the meaning of the symbol of Yin and Yang.

This is not the topic of the day but, once again, here is some additional information on the concept of chi.

Great men sometimes elevated to the rank of deities

It is interesting to note that in this philosophy, wise and great men are sometimes deified to enter the pantheon of venerated beings. We could of course think of Lao Tzu, of Zhuang Zhu, but also of people that many today think are purely legendary, like the Yellow Emperor or the Daughter of Jade.

Immortality and alchemical principles

Taoist thought is also deeply marked by the idea of ​​immortality, and the quest that surrounds it.

Far from being purely allegorical, many practitioners have over time dedicated their entire lives to the search for this ultimate treasure.

Other ideas and thoughts

Besides this, the lives of followers of Taoism are often marked by the same principles.

Simplicity, duality in all things and the presence of the microcosm in the macrocosm are just a few examples.

Three Chinese lucky charms: a statue of a fu dog, two wu lu gourds and the jin chan

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The story behind the yin and yang symbol

We all know people around us who wear bracelets of this type or such amulets in the colors of the yin and yang symbol. Few, however, know its deeper meaning... and that's a shame!

To put it simply, we are talking about two opposing energies that live intertwined with each other without ever completely mixing. We could somehow say that Yin and Yang are attracted, while paradoxically being different enough to repel each other. However, each has a little of himself in the other...

With all this, we can quickly get lost!

To fully understand the meaning of Yin and Yang, it is good to look at the myth that explains it.

At the beginning of time, the universe was chaos. From this chaos emerges one day two opposing energies: Yin and Yang.

From their union a cosmic egg appeared, from which the first man was created, but also the first Chinese gods, such as Fuxi or Shennong.

This egg, moreover, would still be found today at the center of the earth, allowing through its sacred presence all things to exist through an organization of primordial chaos.

It is therefore from the creation and then the meeting of Yin and Yang that our world, as well as humanity, appeared.

This story may seem “folkloric” but it is absolutely essential to understand to fully understand the meaning of yin and yang and the Chinese lucky charms that come from them.

Drawing of the yin and yang symbol on aged paper.

Ideas for creation and balance

This story, which I have obviously abbreviated here, actually describes to us an essential quality of the yin-Yang duality: it is creative.

This capacity to create also arises from a second, which amounts to organizing chaos.

The meaning of Yin and Yang does not end there. Despite a manifest duality, these two forces nevertheless come from the same disorder, and therefore share the same essence.

It may be interesting to note how, in nature itself, everything seems to be organized according to a dual model : masculine and feminine, day and night, hot and cold...

Now, in fact, these precisely things can also form encompassing and superior concepts: humanity, time, temperature.

If you want our opinion, this notion of complementary duality can be found particularly well in this amulet in two parts, each being independent but yet made to exist with the other.

In summary therefore, the meaning of yin and yang is that of the organization of the world by a complex duality which is nevertheless unitary, of the presence in all of two opposite but nevertheless identical principles.

Black and white taijitu in the middle of circles drawn in the sand.

But actually, how did this symbol appear?

For most historians, the symbol of Yin and Yang appeared around the 3rd century BCE at the same time as the emergence of certain Chinese schools of thought. We can, for example, cite that of a certain Zou Yan who looked particularly closely at the question.

However, this is not entirely true: the Chinese's knowledge of Yin and Yang seems to be even older.

Similar patterns have recently been found used at least 400 years earlier by astrologers.

Even more interesting, some remains of animal bones used in primitive divination rituals have been engraved with marks very similar to our symbol. However, these bones date back more than 1400 years BC.

There are even written traces which attest to knowledge of the symbol of Yin and Yang as early as the 9th century BC, more precisely under the Zhou dynasty.

It was in fact around this time that the Zhouyi was written, a work better known under the name of Yi Jing, or Book of Transmutations.

Alongside the detailed description of the five elements of our world and the way in which they interact, advice on the circulation of Chi or good health practices, the balance between Yin and Yang is indeed there. well described, at least in its beginnings.

In any case, one thing appears clearly here: our symbol is inseparable from China and its ancient culture.

If you are interested in the history of this great country, you will find here a set of symbols, accessories and lucky charms emblematic of the Chinese spirit.

Yi Jin compasses, a bracelet with the symbol of Yin and Yang and a Feng Shui bagua mirror

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The meaning of yin and yang?

Fundamentally, Yin (which corresponds to the black part of our symbol), is associated with the feminine, cold and night, Yang (which is therefore represented in white), is used to describe the masculine, invigorating heat and day.

As we said previously, all the subtlety of our lucky symbol lies in the interconnection, union and harmonization of these two seemingly opposite entities.

We can therefore easily see through it an allegory of change in constancy, of unity in diversity, of duality in uniqueness... in short, of a whole bunch of paradoxes.

As the wise teach us, the relationship between Yin and Yang is constantly evolving, each pole trying to gain the upper hand over the other without ever succeeding... from a global and universal point of view at least.

It sometimes happens that an imbalance sets in on a smaller scale. Depending on the intensity, the consequences can be disastrous. We are talking here about depression at the human level, but even epidemics or economic crises at the level of cities or countries.

In short, another essential point to raise about the symbol of Yin and Yang is the presence of each inside the other. Yes, remember: they come from the same essence...

Although absolutely opposite, our two poles are thus two sides of the same coin, of a coin which constitutes the great whole of the ordered universe, source of the world as we can perceive it.

Here, it is not simply China that stands out but rather the philosophical and spiritual reflections that may have been thought there.

We therefore see why the symbol of yin and yang is so used by those who are interested in the art of Feng Shui and its mysteries.

Qigong and Taichi practitioner practicing in a field, in front of a bright sun.

Two examples of practical uses

Together we discovered the true meaning of Yin and Yang, whether from the point of view of the legend linked to it, its history or its hidden message.

This part of the article will not change anything we have seen, but will simply apply it to certain areas of everyday life that affect us all every day.

The yin-yang duality in food

We can't talk about food, especially how Asians view it, without talking about Yin and Yang.

To put it simply, each food would contain more of one or the other, and the trick would be to achieve a balance on our plate.

Concretely, spicy or sweet foods are linked to Yang, while those that are more salty or bitter are linked to Yin.

Much more than simply spiritual, the consequences of putting the theories we have seen into practice can have a real impact on our health.

Astrology, traditional medicine and energetic arts

This was said when we talked about its history but, yes, the Yin-Yang symbol can be used in certain divination or astrology contexts. If you are a fan of this type of practice, here is an avenue to explore.

We also cannot talk about Yin and Yang without mentioning Chinese medicine.

Written around 2000 years ago, the Huangdi Neijing (a medical treatise written by the Yellow Emperor, a ruler of China elevated to the rank of god) already tells us about the balance between the Yin part and the Yang part of the human being as a basis for achieving true health.

Here is a very interesting article from the site which explains the link between the symbol of taijitu and Chinese energy medicine.

In any case, this avenue also deserves our closer attention.

Solid wood door on which is the symbol of Yin and Yang drawn in gold leaf.

Reflection on the messages of our symbol

The meaning of yin and yang both simple and complex. This is true of most Chinese lucky symbols, but this one truly has a unique character.

In any case, yin and yang is clearly one of those themes on which we can build our thinking and thanks to which new ideas are born in our mind.

More personally, I have listed some thoughts about this Chinese symbol that I would like to share with you:

  • The concept of Yin and Yang teaches us that in life, nothing we encounter is entirely good or bad. Everything that happens to us contains a bit of both, and it's good to learn to see them at the same time.
  • The universe is, from a global point of view, a perfect harmony between Yin and Yang. Succeeding in achieving this balance within us can only help us live better in our environment.
  • When something negative happens to us, it's a safe bet that something of similar size awaits us in the near future.
  • According to what we have seen, the presence of the dark side is a necessary condition for that of the light side, and more broadly for the exit from chaos. We must therefore accept it and not seek unnecessarily to escape negativity that is sometimes necessary to achieve higher objectives.

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Lucky charms featured in this article

Taijitu amulet

Taijitu amulet

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Taijitu amulet in two parts

Taijitu amulet in two parts

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Taijitu Bracelet

Taijitu Bracelet

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author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.