5-part cosmologies, as presented to kids through the ages

  • Millenia ago in some places in China kids were taught the universe was made of up 5 elements

    Wood + Fire + Earth + Metal + Water

    Their lessons were aided by associating corresponding animals 1

    dragon + bird + unicorn + tiger + tortoise

  • around 1608 in England, a playwright called Shakespeare wrote 2
    [man to his infant son]
    Thou hast as chiding a nativity
    As fire, air, water, earth, and heaven can make,
    To herald thee from the womb

    (From Pericles, Prince of Tyre.
    They are in peril in a storm on the open seas,
    and the infant's mother has just died.)

  • Just recently in Orlando, Florida children were taken to the following ceremony:

I guess there are only so many ways one can represent the harmony of nature.

even sillier addition

Pretend that the break-dancing means something. Pretend that when the legs kick a cycle is passed. Maybe the left legs create the classic Chinese 'generating' cycle!

earth + bares + metal + collects + water + nourishes + wood + feeds + fire + creates + earth

Bear + bares + Shark + collects + Turtle + nourishes + Alligator + feeds + Tiger + creates + Bear

and maybe the other leg is the 'overcoming' cycle

wood + parts + earth + absorbs + water + quenches + fire + melts + metal + chops + wood

Neither the animals nor the order match exactly.

  1. there were other similar sets
  2. Forget the myth you were taught in school, likely this play was completed by the friends of Edward De Vere after his death, in preperation for the publication in the First Folio that would retain his famous pseudonym. [related post]