Black Warrior of the North

北方玄武 · [ běifāng xuánwǔ ]

The black warrior of the North is one of the five heavenly beasts, one of the fundamental symbols in the Taoist cosmology and the five elements. The Chinese character wu means warrior and turtle at the same time, no wonder the constellation of the North is also often called the black tortoise. The compound term Xuanwu (black warrior) can also translate as snake. There are three meanings slumbering in one term – and in fact the warrior of the North is traditionally depicted as a turtle fighting with a snake. 

The Northern constellation of the black warrior is also known in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. One of the most famous legends around this constellation is about a young prince named Xuanwu. He showed no interest in ascending the throne of his father, the Chinese Emperor. He left his parents at the age of sixteen, to study Taoism instead. As a master of this philosophy, he later attained enlightenment and was worshiped as a godlike constellation. In Chinese thinking, the turtle is connected directly with the North, the element water, the winter and the night. The animal was always considered as mysterious and very symbolic creature. Its shell is compared with the celestial vault, the underside with the flat disc of the earth. It symbolizes happiness, stability, longevity, help in difficult phases of life, endurance and mental agility.


> Usage of the symbol

The five celestial beasts are very powerful. As a representative of the North and the element water the black warrior is best placed in the North quadrant of your home. For more tips pleas look up the articles water and North.

For more information about the five elements/phases and the five celestial animals please read the article:
> Five elements


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