Polaris, the northern pole star on Earth, is the brightest star in the Ursa Minor constellation. Polaris is at the end of the or “handle” of the “Little Dipper” very close to the north celestial pole and can be found using the seven brightest stars of the constellation of the Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) known in ancient China as Beidou (北斗).
The Chinese character used to describe the North (Bei) represents the position of no communication and separation: 北 two backs opposing to each others – the ritual position of Man in Nature is facing the South hence his back is towards north and obscurity.
However, during the Han-dynasty the constellation BeiDou was revered as the dwelling place of the deity TaiYi (great unity). The Han considered Polaris as immobile with all the other constellations revolving around it: it represented the unification of all the movements of the stars under the vault of Heaven.
The far north/Polaris was not only a place of separation and absence of communication but also a place for returning to the origin and unity.
In the classic novel “Journey to the West” XuanWu was a king of the north who had two generals serving under him, a “Tortoise General” (symbol of water) and a “Snake General” (symbol of fire) – XuanWu, the turtle-snake constellation which contains the BeiDou stars is the only constellation represented by a double symbol – the archetypes of Yin and Yang.
Few months before receiving my license to practice acupuncture I was reading “The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth” by Hua-Ching Ni when I saw the symbol used by Master Ni to describe Polaris. It was immediately clear to me that that represented the perfect symbol for the acupuncture I wanted to practice.
If Polaris was the place of reunion of all the yin and yang and the only fixed point in our ever changing reality it represented the ideal stand point from which to practice Chinese Medicine and the best metaphor for that moment of silent, stillness and hesitation that precedes the insertion of needles. In addition, as a further incentive to use it as my sign, it was very similar to the way I sign my name.