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Cross-cultural symbolism


Dynamic Exploration of Value Configurations: Interrelating traditional cultural symbols through animation (Part #6)


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Six lines are configured in a number of cultures to form a double triangular "hexagram". This is most commonly associated in the West with the Hebrew Star of David symbol. It is however also used by Christians (notably the Mormons) and in Islam -- where it is known in Arabic as Najmat Dawuud or Khatem Sulayman (Seal of Solomon), although the latter name may also refer to a pentagram.. Six pointed stars are also to be found in the cosmological diagrams of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

The non-Jewish Kabbalah (also called Christian or Hermetic Kabbalah) interprets the hexagram to mean the divine union of male and female energy. In traditional alchemy, the two triangles represent the reconciliation of the opposites of fire and water. There is a degree of association of the 6-fold star with the 6-petalled lotus representation of the sacral chakra (Swadhisthana) of Hinduism and Buddhism.

The earlier exploration noted above (Sustainability through Magically Dancing Patterns 8x8, 9x9, 19x19 -- I Ching, Tao Te Ching / T'ai Hsüan Ching, Wéiqí, 2008), used one particular triangular design convention. It is therefore also of interest to explore the configuration of the 6 lines of the I Ching hexagram into a double triangle consistent with such traditional symbolic use. That exploration presented a table indicating such possibilities (Mapping of I Ching hexagram coding onto Star of David).

The 64 hexagrams in some of the animations are clustered into 8 "houses". Within the Hindu tradition, there are 8 major forms of Devi, the Goddess, known as the Ashta Matrikas (8 Mothers). Each has 8 attendants, therefore totalling 64 daikinis or yoginis.  Each of the 64, according to Matsyendranath, is correlated to the currents or winds of the human "etheric" body, or viewed as a type of neurotic or unproductive tendency (if  not appropriately balanced) through which forms are born out of desire thereby constructing reality. Just as the Yi Jing group of 64 hexagrams is associated with the 81 ideograms of the Tao Te Ching, so the 64 yoginis is also asociated with a larger set of 81.

Screen shot from a more complex animation

-- shown halfway to completion of cycle of 64 hexagrams
- this version features explicit labelling of completed hexagrams
- the correspondence between the line-coding of the central hexagram and the star may be seen
- a smaller version of the current central hexagram is visible in movement
towards its final position on the circle (on the right)
- an emerging central symbol (a Medicine Wheel) is faintly visible

Yantra, Yi Jing and Star of David animation

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