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Confidence in Change

For some 3,000 years, people have turned to the I Ching, the Book of Changes, to help them uncover the meaning of their experience, to bring their actions into harmony with their underlying purpose, and above all to build a foundation of confident awareness for their choices.

Down the millennia, as the I Ching tradition has grown richer and deeper, the things we consult about may have changed a little, but the moment of consultation is much the same. These are the times when you’re turning in circles, hemmed in and frustrated by all the things you can’t see or don’t understand. You can think it over (and over, and over); you can ‘journal’ it; you can gather opinions.

But how can you have confidence in choosing a way to go, if you can’t quite be sure of seeing where you are?

Only understand where you are now, and you rediscover your power to make changes. This is the heart of I Ching divination. Once you can truly see into the present moment, all its possibilities open out before you – and you are free to create your future.

What is the I Ching?

The I Ching (or Yijing) is an oracle book: it speaks to you. You can call on its help with any question you have: issues with relationships of all kinds, ways to attain your personal goals, the outcomes of different choices for a key decision. It grounds you in present reality, encourages you to grow, and nurtures your self-knowledge. When things aren’t working, it opens up a space for you to get ‘off the ride’, out of the rut, and choose your own direction. And above all, it’s a wide-open, free-flowing channel for truth.

For I Ching Beginners -

How do you want to get started?

There are two different ways most people first meet the I Ching. There’s,

‘I’m fascinated by this ancient book and I want to learn all about it,’

and there’s,

‘I need help now with this thing (so I’ll learn whatever I need to know to get help with The Thing).’

Learning about the I Ching, or learning from the I Ching?

In the end, these two ways aren’t actually different. It isn’t possible to do one without the other, and people end up wanting both: the ‘learn about Yi’ people draw on its help more as their knowledge grows; the ‘learn from Yi’ people find they want to know more, once they’ve got the help they need.

But... they are different at the beginning:

Not a beginner?

Welcome - I’m glad you’ve come. Clarity’s here to help you deepen, explore and enjoy your relationship with Yi. You might like...

And so you can get to know some like-minded Yi-enthusiasts and we can keep in touch, do join Clarity

Hello, and thank you for visiting!

I’m Hilary - I work as an I Ching diviner and teacher, and I’m the author of I Ching: Walking your path, creating your future.

I hope you enjoy the site and find what you’re looking for here - do contact me with any comments or questions.

Clarity is my one-woman business providing I Ching courses, readings and community. (You can read more about me, and what I do, here.) It lets me spend my time doing the work I love, using my gifts to help you.

(Thank you.)

Warm wishes,
Hilary”

From the blog

The Image of Hexagram 3, Sprouting, says,

‘Clouds, thunder, Sprouting.
A noble one weaves warp and weft.’

or as Bradford Hatcher translates, ‘sorts warp from weft’.

What the noble one does is just two characters: jinglun, 經綸. Jing is the same word as in Yijing and literally means the warp threads on a loom, and by extension the structure that gives everything else its place to be. Jing already meant this invisible structure even before it meant ‘Classic Book’.

Lun means long, strong thread. The character has a fascinating etymology: silk thread, and a ‘reading from books’ component which Richard Sears says means reflection and soul-searching.

Jinglun together mean ‘statecraft’, and RJ Lynn translates,

‘Clouds and Thunder: this constitutes the image of Birth Throes.
In the same way, the noble man weaves the fabric of government.’

Imagery of thread and weaving is often used in Chinese writing to describe the human and cosmic order. A quotation from Lu Jia (228-140BC), copied from David Pankenier, Astrology and Cosmology in Early China (brilliant book – I read it while I was away):

“Heaven positions them [the myriad things] according to the host of stars, regulates them with the Dipper, envelops them with the Six Directions, reticulates them with threads and ropes, reforms them with disaster and disturbances, makes announcements to them with auspicious omens, motivates them with life and death, and makes them aware with patterns and revelations.”

Everything’s held together by these invisible threads. And on a more practical level, if you want to align your buildings with the stars, or even just to build their walls in a straight line, you will need to use taut strings to lay out the plans.

In the older imagery of Hexagram 3 there are literal bonds connecting the horse teams of lines 2, 4 and 6, and metaphorical ones binding feudal lords and marriage partners.

And when in line 3 there’s the risk of ‘losing the thread’ by chasing the deer into the heart of the forest, and the noble one ‘understands the signs of the time’ and prefers to desist, the character for ‘understanding the signs’ is made up of ‘on guard’ and ‘tiny-tiny’: originally the silk cocoon and the fine thread teased out from it. So this means seeing the smallest beginnings, the tiny threads that will be spun and woven into the stuff of experience.

So overall we can say that Hexagram 3 has a theme of bringing order out of chaos: drawing straight threads from the tangle, weaving them together, making sense of the world.

Contrast that with Hexagram 40, Release. One meaning of the hexagram name is actually ‘untie’, and the character may refer to a horn tool used for prising knots loose. The Zagua and Xugua Wings both characterise it as huan, 緩: slow, slack, relaxed, delayed, with etymology that suggests thread drawn slowly through a loom. And in 40’s Image,

‘Thunder and rain do their work. Release.
A noble one pardons transgressions and forgives crimes.’

the ‘crimes’ to be forgiven are, etymologically, evil caught in a net.

In the oldest text, there is the noble one bound and released in line 5, and in line 6 the hawk shot down with an arrow – an arrow flies when the tension is released from the bowstring.

So… taut threads let you weave and build, but releasing the tension allows free and purposeful movement.

Hexagram 3 is circumspect and circling: the sprout’s roots, the expanding network of feudal lords, the woven cloth, all created gradually from a core structure. ‘Don’t use this to have a direction to go; it’s fruitful to establish feudal lords.’ (The problem with a premature ‘direction to go’ shows in line 3.)

Hexagram 40 is free to move directly, clear and unhindered as the flying arrow: ‘With no place to go, to turn round and come back is good fortune. With a direction to go, [starting at] daybreak is good fortune.’ (No risk of getting lost for 40’s hunters.)

The intriguing thing is that these two hexagrams feature the same trigrams. Hexagram 3, Sprouting has thunder inside and water outside; Hexagram 40, Release, has water inside and thunder outside:

|:::|:      :|:|::

I have to admit, I don’t understand why these two trigrams in particular should be associated with thread – but I find myself captivated by the similarities between Hexagram 3 and the Miller-Urey experiment, and especially how scientists talk about it.

The experiment involves passing electrical current through water vapour in an atmosphere thought to reproduce that of early earth. When the water’s recondensed, it’s found to contain amino acids – the building-blocks of life. Electricity –

|::

– acts on water

:|:

– and creates just the rudimentary beginnings of life. Creative impulse acting on the chaotic ferment tends to create structure.

Here’s a further article on some new, related experiments, which I don’t pretend to begin to understand. I’ll quote it anyway:

Saitta suggests that a potentially important aspect of electricity as a source of energy is its ‘directionality’ – that it can align atomic and molecular species within the electric field and promote chemical reactions in a way that is different from other sources of energy such as simple heating. The researchers propose that short-range, localized electric fields on the surface of minerals may have played a part in directing the chemistry that led to the molecules of life. ‘My feeling is that an electric field gives something else besides energy,’ says Saitta.

Directionality’ that ‘aligns’ the components with the field: there’s thunder at work. (It’s at work in the lake in Hexagram 17, too, energising what flows and creating synchronicity.)

In Hexagram 3, thunder acts on and through water and creates structure; in Hexagram 40 the free flow of water is translated outwards through thunder into creative, fluid action. (I’m not sure which experiment might correspond to that – maybe a potato battery?)

By the way – the quotation that inspired the title comes from Now We Are Six by A.A.Milne:

The Engineer

Let it rain!
Who cares?
I’ve a train
Upstairs,
With a brake
Which I make
From a string
Sort of thing,
Which works
In jerks,
‘Cos it drops
In the spring,
Which stops
With the string,
And the wheels
All stick
So quick
That it feels
Like a thing
That you make
With a brake,
Not string….

So that’s what I make,
When the day’s all wet.
It’s a good sort of brake
But it hasn’t worked yet.

I’ve just opened the (virtual) doors for a new I Ching chat service

What this is

A 30 minute chat on anything I-Ching-related – a line you’re stuck on, a reading where you could really use a fresh perspective, an image or hexagram that keeps coming back, even a knotty problem that you can’t seem to resolve into a simple question to ask. That kind of thing.

When I let the main I Ching reading service grow to the size it seemed to want to be – a month or so of in-depth exploration with weekly calls – this left a bit of a gap if you wanted some individual help with a reading but didn’t want a month-long, deep-dive intensive. I started offering I Ching chats for Change Circle members, and since this has worked well, I’ve decided to extend the offer to everyone.

How it works

First you book a time, then you pay, and then you’re taken to a page where you can send me the details of what you want to talk about. That seemed the best order to do it in, to ensure you don’t pay unless you’ve booked a time that suits you.

On the day, I’ll call you – by phone or Skype, whichever. Skype is preferable if you have it, because the sound quality’s better, but phone works too.

Three reasons not to book an I Ching chat

1. You’re completely new to the I Ching

Confident expertise isn’t required, but you do need to be reasonably familiar with casting your own readings, so we can spend our 30 minutes focussed on what you wanted to ask about, not distracted by technical details.

(Of course, if what you want to ask about is a technical detail, that’s OK!)

2. You’ve got a lot going on and need comprehensive help

If you want really in-depth help, especially if you think it might take more than one reading, then you probably need the full I Ching reading service instead. In a small chat like this, I think less is more.

3. You’re a Change Circle member

If you’re a Change Circle member, this service is included as part of your membership. So use the Change Circle booking link – not the regular shop page, which would ask you for payment after booking. (If you're not a member, you're welcome to join - you'll be able to access the members-only booking page immediately.)

Here are all the details and the booking link for I Ching chats. If you have any questions, please ask!

…disguised as an archaeological discovery about Chinese pre-history.

You might have seen the reports: someone has found clear evidence of a great flood in China. Here’s a good account of the discovery with a link to the full paper: in a nutshell, there was a great earthquake in about 1920BC which caused a landslide that completely blocked the Yellow River. It took six to nine months for the water pressure finally to breach this dam, and when the water burst through it created cataclysmic flooding downstream, changing the course of the river and creating effects that lasted for years.

The authors of the study note that this doesn’t just show that there was a great flood at about the right time to correspond with the myth of Yu the Great and the founding of the Xia dynasty, but that it was the right kind of flood, one that would take decades to tame, that might well require re-dredging of watercourses rather than just mending breached levees.

(Incidentally, the date is close enough to the one David Pankenier gives, in his wonderful Astrology and Cosmology in Early China, for a sign in the heavens that prefigured the Xia: in February 1953BC, all five visible planets clustered exceptionally closely together on the pre-dawn horizon.)

I find the correlation to the whole Chinese flood myth really startling.

There was a great earthquake that caused landslides…

“Long ago Kung Kung fought with Chuan Hsu to be God. In his fury he knocked against Pu-chou Mountain. The pillar of Heaven broke and the cord of earth snapped. Heaven tilted towards the northwest, and that is why the sun, moon and stars move in that direction. Earth had a gap missing in the southeast, and that is why the rivers overflowed and silt and soil came to rest there.”

(Questions of Heaven, as quoted by Anne Birrell in Chinese Mythology)

(Gong Gong, aka Kung Kung, is the original villain who caused the flood. There’s also a version of the story in which he commanded a monster that devoured mountains and turned all the land to swamps.)

…and one of these landslides created a dam, and there was long-term flooding when the dam was breached.

Gun stole the self-renewing soil from Heaven and tried to block up the floodwaters, but he failed. His son Yu, with his new strategy of not just building dams, but also clearing ways for the water to flow, eventually succeeded.

Well… it’s hardly surprising that the story-tellers were unimpressed by Gun’s strategy of holding the water back behind great dams. In fact, it makes you wonder about the original story. In the version we have, Gun is a Promethean figure, stealing the soil from Heaven to respond to the people’s distress, and punished for his efforts. However, he also has a great deal in common with Gong Gong: both rebels against the ordained order, one instigating the flood, the other making it worse. (Mark Edward Lewis in The Flood Myths of Early China says the two ‘may indeed be derived from a common mythic ancestor’, though in Warring States accounts of the myth Gun’s intentions are clearly good.) So I wonder about the self-renewing soil and the great dam across the Yellow River that held back the floodwaters for a few months.

New story: earthquake, landslide, dam, breached dam, flooding. Original story: broken mountain, flooding, dams, failed dams, flooding. Not, at 4,000 years’ distance, so different.

As for Hexagram 43 – it, along with 44, contains one of Yi’s clearest references to Yu the Great, with his ‘thighs without flesh, moving awkwardly.’ (His decades of hard toil wading through floodwaters took their toll.) We shouldn’t forget that, although we can only recognise these allusions thanks to the later, fuller versions of the myth, the Yi must contain the earliest written references to Yu and his work.

In Hexagram 41, the lake trigram was contained below the mountain. Now it emerges as upper trigram – higher than heaven – and stays in that position right through the decade of the 40s: the lake higher than heaven, above the earth (‘set aside tools and warn against the unexpected’!), drained by the rivers, and transfigured by fire.

And the name of Hexagram 43, Deciding or Breakthrough, 夬, is written with a water radical added – 决 – to mean the breaching of a dike.

 

 

Short version: here it is, with my apologies. (I didn’t know anyone still used it!)

Backstory:

A few years ago I commissioned Ewald Berkers (creator of the I Ching Community’s indispensable hexagram search) to make us a new online I Ching.

I did so because the old reading, the one in two frames, created a lot of confusion for beginners. It always shows two hexagrams even when you’ve only cast one, so people get the impression that that an unchanging hexagram is ‘casting the same hexagram twice’. And it displays the complete changing line texts of both hexagrams, leaving newcomers far from sure what’s actually part of their answer.

The new reading cleared up the confusion: an unchanging hexagram just appears as one hexagram, and only the relevant text is displayed. Also, since it casts one line at a time and displays the answer on a new page, it’s just a little slower to use, which in my book is a Good Thing. (And it can be saved and exported to pdf and linked to…)

I left the old frames reading around in case anyone wanted to use it, though I didn’t really expect anyone would. And then when I created the redesigned site, I called on Ewald again to make his reading script work with it (as a WordPress plugin)… and pretty much forgot the two-pane reading still existed.

Well… I live and learn…

I’ve already had about 20 requests to put the old reading back. So, in response to popular demand, here it is. Restyled a little to match the new site, and with the links corrected, but otherwise unchanged.

I’ve included a link to this on the main free reading page – tucked away at the bottom, under the ‘introduction for beginners’.

As you can see… we have a new Clarity website. I really hope you like it! Here’s an explanation of the changes and a guide to the new site.

Why change the design?

Because the old one was old  – some nine years old, in fact – which means it wasn’t at all adapted for browsing on smartphones/ tablets. (You may have found it disappeared from Google search results on your phone – that would be why.) So that had to change… and while I was working on that, I’ve also tried to make it look a bit less like 2007.

In the process I get to do something I always wanted: fill the site with images of the natural world, showing what Yi is and what it’s made of. When I started out, ‘site full of images’ meant ‘site no-one can actually load over their dial-up connection’ – but times have changed, and there’s no need for a site about the Yi to look like a site about a bank.

The new header image shows the sun emerging from behind clouds – which is (probably) what the Chinese character yi originally represented. Yi is change as in ‘a change in the weather’ and ‘the emergence of light’ – something I didn’t yet know in 2000 when I named the business ‘Clarity’.

‘Life can be translucent’, says the header. That’s my idea of what Yi does – it opens up ordinary life so meaning shines through.

What’s changed?

Content-wise…

Not a huge amount has changed. What I’ve done is to move things round and consolidate all the learning material in one place. So instead of a private free course for members and a bunch of public pages that sort-of more-or-less duplicate its material, there is a single free beginner’s course. You’ll find it (unsurprisingly) under ‘Learn’.

There are still bonuses for free members. The difference: you don’t have to seek out a separate download area to find them, you only need to be logged in when you look at the course pages. On the same page, people who haven’t joined (or aren’t logged in) will see messages saying ‘Sign up to get this download’, while as a member you’ll just see a link to download it.

If you’re on any page and not seeing what you think you should (eg if you’re a Change Circle member not seeing the full Foundations Course), click ‘log in’ at the top right.

Log in link top right

You’ll be redirected back to the same page afterwards, now displaying the right version for you.

Navigation-wise…

You no longer have to click over to ‘Learn’ to see what’s available there. Any main page is available from any other page – just mouseover/ tap on the main menu.

Site search is also available directly from the main menu, and so is a contact form under ‘About –

Contact form in the menu under 'About'

That’s on every page except the forum, where you’ll just see a link to the contact page. Please use one of these if/when you find bugs!

Finding forum things

Mouseover/ tap on ‘Community’. Here you’ll find a complete list of forums and – once you’re logged in – the forum search options, notifications, private messages and links to profile and settings. On a computer, you mouseover and then click what you want; on mobile, you tap a submenu to open it and then a link to access it.

the 'Community' menu

So everything that was under the ‘Talk’ tab is here, and so is most of what you used to access by clicking the ‘account’ link in the top right-hand corner. The exception to that: the log in form and the link to your main account page for Clarity as a whole (not just the forums) are still at the top right:

'Your account' link top r for the whole site, 'forum settings' link under 'Community' just for the forums

Go to the ‘Your Account’ link at the top right if you want to – 

  • see everything you’ve purchased
  • change your password
  • change your registered email address (for forum notifications and product orders)
  • change your username (that’s for future posts – it won’t affect what’s displayed on your previous posts)
  • delete your whole account at Clarity

 Use the ‘Forum settings’ link under the ‘Community’ menu if you want to – 

  • tweak how you appear on the forum – profile picture, the avatar by your posts, etc
  • change your forum signature
  • change any of your forum preferences: skin, subscriptions, friends, private messaging etc
  • access your bookmarks (CC members)

To access what you’ve purchased…

Log in, and then –

You can look under the relevant tab: access Reading Circle, WikiWing, Yi Academy etc via the ‘Community’ menu; access the Foundations Course via ‘Learn’ and the ‘Treasure Chest’ extra articles via Learn > More tools – or from the ‘Change Circle’ home page under ‘Community’.

You can also click ‘Your Account’ in the top-right hand corner of every page for… well… your account, which includes a list of direct links to ‘active resources’.

Using the forum on your phone/ tablet

I’ve had the menu adapted to be mobile-responsive in the forums too, so you may be quite happy using the forum just as it is. But if you’d prefer something simpler, there is a mobile skin you can choose as your default instead. To try it –

  • At the bottom of the ‘Community’ menu, tap ‘Forum settings’
  • In the left-hand menu under ‘My Account’ tap ‘General settings’
  • In the very last section of this page, ‘Miscellaneous options’, you’ll find a dropdown menu for ‘forum skin’. Change that to ‘default mobile style’ and tap ‘save’ at the bottom of the page.

This gives you a rudimentary, very quick and simple version of the forum: no links to the rest of the site, no ‘post thanks’, no settings page or hexagram search. Its main menu is the blue square grid icon at the top right.

To change back, click ‘full site’ at the bottom of any forum page, and then make your way back to the settings page again to switch your default skin.

If you find a bug…

Then please oh please let me know. Click ‘About’ in the main menu and try out that nice, new contact form! Or visit this page at the forum where kind people are already posting about bugs/ questions.

From the I Ching Community

The Image of Hexagram 3, Sprouting, says,

‘Clouds, thunder, Sprouting.
A noble one weaves warp and weft.’

or as Bradford Hatcher translates, ‘sorts warp from weft’.

What the noble one does is just two characters: jinglun, 經綸. Jing is the same word as in Yijing and literally means the warp threads on a loom, and by extension the structure that gives everything else its place to be. Jing already meant this invisible structure even before it meant ‘Classic Book’.

Lun means long, strong thread. The character has a fascinating etymology: silk thread, and a ‘reading from books’ component which Richard Sears says means reflection and soul-searching.

Jinglun together mean ‘statecraft’, and RJ Lynn translates,

‘Clouds and Thunder: this constitutes the image of Birth Throes.
In the same way, the noble man weaves the fabric of government.’

Imagery of thread and weaving is often used in Chinese writing to describe the human and cosmic order. A quotation from Lu Jia (228-140BC), copied from David Pankenier, Astrology and Cosmology in Early China (brilliant book – I read it while I was away):

“Heaven positions them [the myriad things] according to the host of stars, regulates them with the Dipper, envelops them with the Six Directions, reticulates them with threads and ropes, reforms them with disaster and disturbances, makes announcements to them with auspicious omens, motivates them with life and death, and makes them aware with patterns and revelations.”

Everything’s held together by these invisible threads. And on a more practical level, if you want to align your buildings with the stars, or even just to build their walls in a straight line, you will need to use taut strings to lay out the plans.

In the older imagery of Hexagram 3 there are literal bonds connecting the horse teams of lines 2, 4 and 6, and metaphorical ones binding feudal lords and marriage partners.

And when in line 3 there’s the risk of ‘losing the thread’ by chasing the deer into the heart of the forest, and the noble one ‘understands the signs of the time’ and prefers to desist, the character for ‘understanding the signs’ is made up of ‘on guard’ and ‘tiny-tiny’: originally the silk cocoon and the fine thread teased out from it. So this means seeing the smallest beginnings, the tiny threads that will be spun and woven into the stuff of experience.

So overall we can say that Hexagram 3 has a theme of bringing order out of chaos: drawing straight threads from the tangle, weaving them together, making sense of the world.

Contrast that with Hexagram 40, Release. One meaning of the hexagram name is actually ‘untie’, and the character may refer to a horn tool used for prising knots loose. The Zagua and Xugua Wings both characterise it as huan, 緩: slow, slack, relaxed, delayed, with etymology that suggests thread drawn slowly through a loom. And in 40’s Image,

‘Thunder and rain do their work. Release.
A noble one pardons transgressions and forgives crimes.’

the ‘crimes’ to be forgiven are, etymologically, evil caught in a net.

In the oldest text, there is the noble one bound and released in line 5, and in line 6 the hawk shot down with an arrow – an arrow flies when the tension is released from the bowstring.

So… taut threads let you weave and build, but releasing the tension allows free and purposeful movement.

Hexagram 3 is circumspect and circling: the sprout’s roots, the expanding network of feudal lords, the woven cloth, all created gradually from a core structure. ‘Don’t use this to have a direction to go; it’s fruitful to establish feudal lords.’ (The problem with a premature ‘direction to go’ shows in line 3.)

Hexagram 40 is free to move directly, clear and unhindered as the flying arrow: ‘With no place to go, to turn round and come back is good fortune. With a direction to go, [starting at] daybreak is good fortune.’ (No risk of getting lost for 40’s hunters.)

The intriguing thing is that these two hexagrams feature the same trigrams. Hexagram 3, Sprouting has thunder inside and water outside; Hexagram 40, Release, has water inside and thunder outside:

|:::|:      :|:|::

I have to admit, I don’t understand why these two trigrams in particular should be associated with thread – but I find myself captivated by the similarities between Hexagram 3 and the Miller-Urey experiment, and especially how scientists talk about it.

The experiment involves passing electrical current through water vapour in an atmosphere thought to reproduce that of early earth. When the water’s recondensed, it’s found to contain amino acids – the building-blocks of life. Electricity –

|::

– acts on water

:|:

– and creates just the rudimentary beginnings of life. Creative impulse acting on the chaotic ferment tends to create structure.

Here’s a further article on some new, related experiments, which I don’t pretend to begin to understand. I’ll quote it anyway:

Saitta suggests that a potentially important aspect of electricity as a source of energy is its ‘directionality’ – that it can align atomic and molecular species within the electric field and promote chemical reactions in a way that is different from other sources of energy such as simple heating. The researchers propose that short-range, localized electric fields on the surface of minerals may have played a part in directing the chemistry that led to the molecules of life. ‘My feeling is that an electric field gives something else besides energy,’ says Saitta.

Directionality’ that ‘aligns’ the components with the field: there’s thunder at work. (It’s at work in the lake in Hexagram 17, too, energising what flows and creating synchronicity.)

In Hexagram 3, thunder acts on and through water and creates structure; in Hexagram 40 the free flow of water is translated outwards through thunder into creative, fluid action. (I’m not sure which experiment might correspond to that – maybe a potato battery?)

By the way – the quotation that inspired the title comes from Now We Are Six by A.A.Milne:

The Engineer

Let it rain!
Who cares?
I’ve a train
Upstairs,
With a brake
Which I make
From a string
Sort of thing,
Which works
In jerks,
‘Cos it drops
In the spring,
Which stops
With the string,
And the wheels
All stick
So quick
That it feels
Like a thing
That you make
With a brake,
Not string….

So that’s what I make,
When the day’s all wet.
It’s a good sort of brake
But it hasn’t worked yet.

I’ve just opened the (virtual) doors for a new I Ching chat service

What this is

A 30 minute chat on anything I-Ching-related – a line you’re stuck on, a reading where you could really use a fresh perspective, an image or hexagram that keeps coming back, even a knotty problem that you can’t seem to resolve into a simple question to ask. That kind of thing.

When I let the main I Ching reading service grow to the size it seemed to want to be – a month or so of in-depth exploration with weekly calls – this left a bit of a gap if you wanted some individual help with a reading but didn’t want a month-long, deep-dive intensive. I started offering I Ching chats for Change Circle members, and since this has worked well, I’ve decided to extend the offer to everyone.

How it works

First you book a time, then you pay, and then you’re taken to a page where you can send me the details of what you want to talk about. That seemed the best order to do it in, to ensure you don’t pay unless you’ve booked a time that suits you.

On the day, I’ll call you – by phone or Skype, whichever. Skype is preferable if you have it, because the sound quality’s better, but phone works too.

Three reasons not to book an I Ching chat

1. You’re completely new to the I Ching

Confident expertise isn’t required, but you do need to be reasonably familiar with casting your own readings, so we can spend our 30 minutes focussed on what you wanted to ask about, not distracted by technical details.

(Of course, if what you want to ask about is a technical detail, that’s OK!)

2. You’ve got a lot going on and need comprehensive help

If you want really in-depth help, especially if you think it might take more than one reading, then you probably need the full I Ching reading service instead. In a small chat like this, I think less is more.

3. You’re a Change Circle member

If you’re a Change Circle member, this service is included as part of your membership. So use the Change Circle booking link – not the regular shop page, which would ask you for payment after booking. (If you're not a member, you're welcome to join - you'll be able to access the members-only booking page immediately.)

Here are all the details and the booking link for I Ching chats. If you have any questions, please ask!

…disguised as an archaeological discovery about Chinese pre-history.

You might have seen the reports: someone has found clear evidence of a great flood in China. Here’s a good account of the discovery with a link to the full paper: in a nutshell, there was a great earthquake in about 1920BC which caused a landslide that completely blocked the Yellow River. It took six to nine months for the water pressure finally to breach this dam, and when the water burst through it created cataclysmic flooding downstream, changing the course of the river and creating effects that lasted for years.

The authors of the study note that this doesn’t just show that there was a great flood at about the right time to correspond with the myth of Yu the Great and the founding of the Xia dynasty, but that it was the right kind of flood, one that would take decades to tame, that might well require re-dredging of watercourses rather than just mending breached levees.

(Incidentally, the date is close enough to the one David Pankenier gives, in his wonderful Astrology and Cosmology in Early China, for a sign in the heavens that prefigured the Xia: in February 1953BC, all five visible planets clustered exceptionally closely together on the pre-dawn horizon.)

I find the correlation to the whole Chinese flood myth really startling.

There was a great earthquake that caused landslides…

“Long ago Kung Kung fought with Chuan Hsu to be God. In his fury he knocked against Pu-chou Mountain. The pillar of Heaven broke and the cord of earth snapped. Heaven tilted towards the northwest, and that is why the sun, moon and stars move in that direction. Earth had a gap missing in the southeast, and that is why the rivers overflowed and silt and soil came to rest there.”

(Questions of Heaven, as quoted by Anne Birrell in Chinese Mythology)

(Gong Gong, aka Kung Kung, is the original villain who caused the flood. There’s also a version of the story in which he commanded a monster that devoured mountains and turned all the land to swamps.)

…and one of these landslides created a dam, and there was long-term flooding when the dam was breached.

Gun stole the self-renewing soil from Heaven and tried to block up the floodwaters, but he failed. His son Yu, with his new strategy of not just building dams, but also clearing ways for the water to flow, eventually succeeded.

Well… it’s hardly surprising that the story-tellers were unimpressed by Gun’s strategy of holding the water back behind great dams. In fact, it makes you wonder about the original story. In the version we have, Gun is a Promethean figure, stealing the soil from Heaven to respond to the people’s distress, and punished for his efforts. However, he also has a great deal in common with Gong Gong: both rebels against the ordained order, one instigating the flood, the other making it worse. (Mark Edward Lewis in The Flood Myths of Early China says the two ‘may indeed be derived from a common mythic ancestor’, though in Warring States accounts of the myth Gun’s intentions are clearly good.) So I wonder about the self-renewing soil and the great dam across the Yellow River that held back the floodwaters for a few months.

New story: earthquake, landslide, dam, breached dam, flooding. Original story: broken mountain, flooding, dams, failed dams, flooding. Not, at 4,000 years’ distance, so different.

As for Hexagram 43 – it, along with 44, contains one of Yi’s clearest references to Yu the Great, with his ‘thighs without flesh, moving awkwardly.’ (His decades of hard toil wading through floodwaters took their toll.) We shouldn’t forget that, although we can only recognise these allusions thanks to the later, fuller versions of the myth, the Yi must contain the earliest written references to Yu and his work.

In Hexagram 41, the lake trigram was contained below the mountain. Now it emerges as upper trigram – higher than heaven – and stays in that position right through the decade of the 40s: the lake higher than heaven, above the earth (‘set aside tools and warn against the unexpected’!), drained by the rivers, and transfigured by fire.

And the name of Hexagram 43, Deciding or Breakthrough, 夬, is written with a water radical added – 决 – to mean the breaching of a dike.

 

 

Short version: here it is, with my apologies. (I didn’t know anyone still used it!)

Backstory:

A few years ago I commissioned Ewald Berkers (creator of the I Ching Community’s indispensable hexagram search) to make us a new online I Ching.

I did so because the old reading, the one in two frames, created a lot of confusion for beginners. It always shows two hexagrams even when you’ve only cast one, so people get the impression that that an unchanging hexagram is ‘casting the same hexagram twice’. And it displays the complete changing line texts of both hexagrams, leaving newcomers far from sure what’s actually part of their answer.

The new reading cleared up the confusion: an unchanging hexagram just appears as one hexagram, and only the relevant text is displayed. Also, since it casts one line at a time and displays the answer on a new page, it’s just a little slower to use, which in my book is a Good Thing. (And it can be saved and exported to pdf and linked to…)

I left the old frames reading around in case anyone wanted to use it, though I didn’t really expect anyone would. And then when I created the redesigned site, I called on Ewald again to make his reading script work with it (as a WordPress plugin)… and pretty much forgot the two-pane reading still existed.

Well… I live and learn…

I’ve already had about 20 requests to put the old reading back. So, in response to popular demand, here it is. Restyled a little to match the new site, and with the links corrected, but otherwise unchanged.

I’ve included a link to this on the main free reading page – tucked away at the bottom, under the ‘introduction for beginners’.

As you can see… we have a new Clarity website. I really hope you like it! Here’s an explanation of the changes and a guide to the new site.

Why change the design?

Because the old one was old  – some nine years old, in fact – which means it wasn’t at all adapted for browsing on smartphones/ tablets. (You may have found it disappeared from Google search results on your phone – that would be why.) So that had to change… and while I was working on that, I’ve also tried to make it look a bit less like 2007.

In the process I get to do something I always wanted: fill the site with images of the natural world, showing what Yi is and what it’s made of. When I started out, ‘site full of images’ meant ‘site no-one can actually load over their dial-up connection’ – but times have changed, and there’s no need for a site about the Yi to look like a site about a bank.

The new header image shows the sun emerging from behind clouds – which is (probably) what the Chinese character yi originally represented. Yi is change as in ‘a change in the weather’ and ‘the emergence of light’ – something I didn’t yet know in 2000 when I named the business ‘Clarity’.

‘Life can be translucent’, says the header. That’s my idea of what Yi does – it opens up ordinary life so meaning shines through.

What’s changed?

Content-wise…

Not a huge amount has changed. What I’ve done is to move things round and consolidate all the learning material in one place. So instead of a private free course for members and a bunch of public pages that sort-of more-or-less duplicate its material, there is a single free beginner’s course. You’ll find it (unsurprisingly) under ‘Learn’.

There are still bonuses for free members. The difference: you don’t have to seek out a separate download area to find them, you only need to be logged in when you look at the course pages. On the same page, people who haven’t joined (or aren’t logged in) will see messages saying ‘Sign up to get this download’, while as a member you’ll just see a link to download it.

If you’re on any page and not seeing what you think you should (eg if you’re a Change Circle member not seeing the full Foundations Course), click ‘log in’ at the top right.

Log in link top right

You’ll be redirected back to the same page afterwards, now displaying the right version for you.

Navigation-wise…

You no longer have to click over to ‘Learn’ to see what’s available there. Any main page is available from any other page – just mouseover/ tap on the main menu.

Site search is also available directly from the main menu, and so is a contact form under ‘About –

Contact form in the menu under 'About'

That’s on every page except the forum, where you’ll just see a link to the contact page. Please use one of these if/when you find bugs!

Finding forum things

Mouseover/ tap on ‘Community’. Here you’ll find a complete list of forums and – once you’re logged in – the forum search options, notifications, private messages and links to profile and settings. On a computer, you mouseover and then click what you want; on mobile, you tap a submenu to open it and then a link to access it.

the 'Community' menu

So everything that was under the ‘Talk’ tab is here, and so is most of what you used to access by clicking the ‘account’ link in the top right-hand corner. The exception to that: the log in form and the link to your main account page for Clarity as a whole (not just the forums) are still at the top right:

'Your account' link top r for the whole site, 'forum settings' link under 'Community' just for the forums

Go to the ‘Your Account’ link at the top right if you want to – 

  • see everything you’ve purchased
  • change your password
  • change your registered email address (for forum notifications and product orders)
  • change your username (that’s for future posts – it won’t affect what’s displayed on your previous posts)
  • delete your whole account at Clarity

 Use the ‘Forum settings’ link under the ‘Community’ menu if you want to – 

  • tweak how you appear on the forum – profile picture, the avatar by your posts, etc
  • change your forum signature
  • change any of your forum preferences: skin, subscriptions, friends, private messaging etc
  • access your bookmarks (CC members)

To access what you’ve purchased…

Log in, and then –

You can look under the relevant tab: access Reading Circle, WikiWing, Yi Academy etc via the ‘Community’ menu; access the Foundations Course via ‘Learn’ and the ‘Treasure Chest’ extra articles via Learn > More tools – or from the ‘Change Circle’ home page under ‘Community’.

You can also click ‘Your Account’ in the top-right hand corner of every page for… well… your account, which includes a list of direct links to ‘active resources’.

Using the forum on your phone/ tablet

I’ve had the menu adapted to be mobile-responsive in the forums too, so you may be quite happy using the forum just as it is. But if you’d prefer something simpler, there is a mobile skin you can choose as your default instead. To try it –

  • At the bottom of the ‘Community’ menu, tap ‘Forum settings’
  • In the left-hand menu under ‘My Account’ tap ‘General settings’
  • In the very last section of this page, ‘Miscellaneous options’, you’ll find a dropdown menu for ‘forum skin’. Change that to ‘default mobile style’ and tap ‘save’ at the bottom of the page.

This gives you a rudimentary, very quick and simple version of the forum: no links to the rest of the site, no ‘post thanks’, no settings page or hexagram search. Its main menu is the blue square grid icon at the top right.

To change back, click ‘full site’ at the bottom of any forum page, and then make your way back to the settings page again to switch your default skin.

If you find a bug…

Then please oh please let me know. Click ‘About’ in the main menu and try out that nice, new contact form! Or visit this page at the forum where kind people are already posting about bugs/ questions.

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  • access the audio version of the Beginners’ Course
  • participate in the I Ching Community
  • subscribe to ‘Clarity Notes’ for I Ching news

Join here!

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