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Shang (shäng) or Yin, dynasty of China, which ruled, according to traditional dates, from c.1766 B.C. to c.1122 B.C. or, according to some modern scholars, from c.1523 B.C. to c.1027 B.C. It is the first historic dynasty of China; its legendary founder, T'ang, is said to have defeated the last Hsia ruler, Chieh. His successors ruled over a city-state in modern Henan prov. and may have controlled other smaller states on the North China Plain. They warred against the Huns and against the Chou, who finally defeated the last Shang king, Shou. Archaeological remains at one of the capitals, near modern Anyang, suggest (along with later records) that the Shang had a complex agricultural civilization of peasants and city-dwelling artisans, with a priestly class, nobles, and a king, who was also high priest. Shang religion was characterized by ancestor worship, sacrifices to nature deities, and divination. Stylized inscriptions on bone and bronze artifacts probably reveal the earliest examples of Chinese writing. Bronze casting under the Shang reached a height of artistic achievement rarely equaled anywhere in the world. There was a highly organized bureaucracy, and the patriarchal Chinese family system seems to have already been developed.


See H. G. Creel, The Birth of China (1954); T. Cheng, Archaeology in China: Vol. II, Shang China (1960); K. C. Chang, Shang Civilization (1980); D. Keightley, Early China (1981) and The Origins of Chinese Civilization (1983).

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Yin; Yang

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In Chinese philosophy Yin and Yang are the two great opposite principles on whose interplay everything in the universe depends. Yin is female and Yang is male. Yin is also regarded as negative and dark, while Yang is positive and light. Both are necessary to make up the whole. The traditional Yin/Yang symbol is a circle divided into two teardrop shapes, one black and one white. In the center of each is a small circle of the opposite color, showing that each encompasses the other's attributes, just as a man has a feminine side and a woman a masculine side.

The vital energy that animates, connects, and moves everything through the cycles of life is termed ch'i (pronounced chee), the Chinese word for energy. In the art of Feng-Shui, ch'i should be able to flow freely from room to room and within any room without obstruction. Within your own body, your personal ch'i should also flow freely. When it does, you feel good and energized, whereas when you are sick, there is some obstruction in the body's ch'i. By maintaining a balance of Yin and Yang, good ch'i is obtained. Ch'i is constantly changing as is life. Growth and movement produce change.

Yin is associated with the following: dark, small, ornate, horizontal, curved, rounded, soft, low, cool, cold, floral, earth, moon, and feminine. The opposite, Yang, is associated with light, large, plain, vertical, straight, angular, hard, high, warm, hot, geometric, sky, sun and masculine.

Most Witches are aware of ch'i and Yin and Yang, if only subconsciously. Many were originally drawn to the Old Religion by the fact that there is a balance of deities—a god and a goddess. This balance is found throughout life and is reflected in much of Witchcraft. In many traditions, there must be a balance of male and female members in a coven.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



mountains in North China, north and northeast of the Huangho. The Yin Mountains consist of a series of ranges divided by valleys and arranged one behind the other (Langshan, Sheiten-Ula, Ulashan, and Tach’ing-shan). Overall length, approximately 650 km; maximum altitude, 2,400 m. The northern slopes of the ranges tend to rise gently; the southern slopes are steep. The mountains are composed primarily of ancient crystalline rock (granites and gneisses). The region is important for the mining of coal (at the city of Shihkuaikou) and iron ore (at the city of Payang Oupo). Near the tops of the southern slopes, there are mountainous steppes. There are pine and birch groves in the ravines. Groves of laurel poplar grow in the river valleys. The terrain of the lower parts of the northern slopes is semidesert.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.