Posted by Markovic Plestovic Anna on March 8, 2014 at 3:25 AM


In the first part I have taken you to the tour of religious imageries and the position of feminine principle that can be derived from these imageries, which I understood through the symbols of I Ching.

Now, what Pallas Athene and Virgin Mary have to do with a very-very old philosophy book from the other end of the world? Some would say nothing at all. But, my job is basically to find out what people really do, why they are doing that, how they think and what to do with it, so I am used to think in symbols and to look for underlying patterns of universal principles in most unlikely places. And, standing on the Acropolis I have found the connection

Many years after the Christian and Ancient Greek imageries, I have discovered the I Ching, the ancient Chinese Book of Changes and was intrigued by the eternal circular dance of polarities, of feminine and masculine principles establishing and re-establishing dynamic balance in the constantly evolving spiral of creation and annihilation in time and space. After 15 or so years of studying and practicing Feng Shui and other spatial-social sciences, the visit to the Acropolis and the Meteora monasteries made me realize that the system of relation of feminine and masculine values, as described by the imageries of Ancient Greek gods and of Christianity could be interpreted through the yin-yang concept and hexagrams of I Ching. It has occurred to me that the Greek imagery can be likened to hexagram 11 T`ai (Peace), while the Christian imagery and it`s demotion of feminine principle is represented by the opposite hexagram, 12 Pi (Stagnation).

Now how did I come to that? First let`s see how this hexagrams are formed and what do they mean. The polarities in I Ching are referred to as Yin and Yang.

Yin is characterized as slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, and passive; and is associated with space, matter, water, earth, the moon, femininity and nighttime. It is represented by broken lines. Yang, by contrast, is fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, and aggressive; and is associated with time, ideas, fire, sky, the sun, masculinity and daytime. It is represented by solid lines. The lines then combine into trigrams which are more yang or more yin depending on the number of broken and solid lines.

Of trigrams, the one composed of three broken lines is the most yin, associated with feminine principle, the mother and the Earth, while the one composed of three solid lines is the most yang, associated with the masculine principle, the father and the Heaven.

The yin trigram, being the representation of the feminine polarity and mother, could be likened to Eros, the instinct for life, love and sexuality in its broadest sense, the drive toward attraction and reproduction. That would point the ultimate yang trigram, the masculine principle to be interpreted as opposite to Eros, which would be Thanatos, the instinct of death, aggression, the drive toward repulsion and destruction. It is also interesting to note that C. G. Jung, also very much influenced by the teachings of Yin and Yang, equated the feminine principle to Eros, while the counterpart, the masculine principle he saw as Logos, the principle of rationality, of ideas that manifest in “the Word” that has the power of creation.

The trigrams are combined – one on top of the other – into hexagrams, where the upper position, sometimes referred to as outer, is considered yang, while the lower position, also mentioned as inner, is considered yin.

Applied to ancient Greek imagery, the feminine principle that is placed among the forces of Heaven (Olympos) if symbolized by ultimate yin trigram, would be in upper, yang position, while the masculine symbol, the ultimate yang trigram is in the lower, yin position. This results in the image of hexagram 11. T`ai (Peace):

Here both of extreme polarities are counterbalanced by the quality of their positions, which prevents extreme effects. The movement of the yang Heaven trigram is upward, while the yin Earth trigram strives downward, so the two primary powers meet in a fruitful creative union, through which all things enter upon union and development. This hexagram is called T`ai, which is usually translated as Peace, or Blessings of Heaven and Earth. T`ai is a hexagram wherein the masculine and the feminine are intersecting smoothly and without obstruction, intermingling with each other harmoniously and peacefully, which is an ongoing state, not the end result.

The I Cing also talks about societal impacts of such symbolism, about unity of high and low in directing their wills to a common goal. The position of yang trigram below or inside also symbolizes that power is in the center, held by good persons, the influence directed outside, while the weak persons at the periphery, the outside that are dependent on this power are subject to the influence of this good. The movement of the hexagram as a whole produces finally a victorious ascendancy of the principles of good man.

Every hexagram is a step iin the cycle of change, a state that occurs in a moment of time. This hexagram describes the season and state of spring, both in the year and history. And isn`t it precisely as we like to think of the Ancient Greece, the Athens of Pericles: as an era of superior good, lofty ideas and supreme beauty ruling the human world? And it indeed is the state of mind that I felt the Acropolis brings about.

On the other hand, the hexagram that could describe Christian imagery and the feeling of place at Meteora monasteries, places the feminine principle, the ultimate yin trigram down, while the masculine principle is placed up, which is the arrangement of Hexagram Pi, which is translated as Stagnation.

The yin place of the yin trigram intensifies its basic character to the extreme and the yang place of the yang trigram does the same. Heaven stays above and the masculine tends to move, while earth stays below and the feminine tends to remain still; therefore they are separating. There is no intersection or association between masculinity and femininity, so no life can be created.

The I Ching describes societal impacts of this state as the complete opposite of those in previous hexagram: when those above and those below are disunited, political and social life stagnate. Within, at the center should be light; instead, the dark is there, and light is pushed to the outside. Inferior men are at the center of government, and the superior men are forced to the periphery. The three solid lines at the upper position also symbolize withdrawal, escape from pressing difficulties caused by the inferior men, and rejection of material rewards.

In time, this is the season of autumn, both in year and history. And do we not refer to the long period after the fall of Roman Empire as “the Dark Ages”, characterized by falling apart of structures and order, the appearance and growth of monasticism, the withdrawal from the society, the outer world? And it is the feeling, the state of mind that the awe-inspiring complex of inaccessible monasteries of Meteora evoke.

The spatial setting of the two complexes seem to be very similar at first sight: both are built on high rocks, both are designed to be sacral places, places of worship and spiritual lidership. But the diametrically opposite effects I felt at these two places indicated that the here described symbolic meanings of both Acropolis and Meteora are materialized and spatialized. In part 3 I will analyze these material-spatial differences in which the differences of values and meanings are embodyed.


Categories: Dr Anna Markovic Plestovic