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Art Show: Lifting the Veil: The Art & Tools of Divination

The Witness Yarrow Stalk

by Diana Mae Potts

Banner for Lifting the Veil: The Art & Tools of Divination art show

Art: The Witness Yarrow Stalk by Artist Diana Mae Potts
On Canson Bristol Paper. Signed as my Chinese name Ting Mae in the lower right hand corner. For the Septemebr, 2007 "Tools of Divination Show". On and off since 1971 I have studied the Chinese classic "I Ching" and even went as far as learning some modern Chinese and classical Chinese language to better grasp the poetry and depth of this book. Depicted here is a yarrow stalk which is one of the fifty I sometimes use for divination. I got them in the late 1980's while staying on the land that I grew up on. So, this is sacred to me just by association with my home land in central new jersey where yarrow grows. I left a feathery leaf on it to make it into the "Po" character which is the character representing the mark made on a turtle shell when poked with a red burning stick. The earliest archeological evidence of divination in China are turtle shells with marks made on them from hot sticks. Depending on how the mark was made would signify whether it was a yes or no answer. Chinese writing first showed up on these shells and evolved slowly into written language. Later a mythical person, Fu Xi, was said to have been inspired to make the eight trigrams of the I Ching based on seeing marks on a turtle shell. Yarrow is said to have magical and healing qualities and became used in I Ching divination. The symbols or hexagrams are made by a series of counting and dividing forty nine yarrow stalks after one is set aside to be a witness. To make a work of art for this show, I began a consulting session of the I Ching. The first step is setting aside the witness. The one stalk seemed so simple that it seemed a drawing of one would be best to show this tool of divination. The marks on the left are the Po character.

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