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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

Plans for Clarity in 2017…

I don’t have my calendar filled in with a Grand Plan for the Year, because you know how those turn out. (I’m learning that they turn into colour-coded confetti by about mid-February.) But I have some plans for the first few months, and it occurred to me you might be wondering what’s available when. So…

In January 2017 I’ll be opening for readings – the full reading service, not the smaller I Ching chats which are more or less always available (though not so much for the next couple of weeks, because Christmas). The still point round the turning of the year, the quiet before Spring, is a natural time to go deeper.

I read for at most half a dozen people at a time: I’ve found that’s a good way to ensure I have plenty of time and energy to work with each reading, mull it over and follow where it leads without hurry. The first thing I do when I open is to email people who have downloaded ‘Ways of Opening’ (a guide/ helper for finding your question), so if you’d be interested in a reading in January, please download a copy now.

In February 2017 I’ll start the class on Reading for Others. This will be very small, probably a ‘beta’ version (ie it’s inexpensive and participants will be involved in shaping and improving the class), since while I’ve been doing this for a (very) long time, I’ve never taught it before.

I won’t start anything else while ‘Reading for Others’ is still running, but later in the year I’d really like to run a Foundations Class again. The Foundations Course is always available, of course, and if you’re part of Change Circle you can always get my help with it in Yi Academy or by phone/Skype. But that’s still not the same as being part of a class, embarking on the course together and getting to know one another along the way. So… Foundations Class, later.

And other intentions…

  • share more with you (remembering my reading for the year – 61.2.4.5 zhi 21)
  • take more breaks
  • spend more time with people and with Yi, and a whole lot less time in website-wrangling

A gift

Here are two downloadable ebooks I put together for you:

  • Book of Stories: an anthology of my posts on this theme over the past year, describing how you can use the stories Yi tells to understand your readings.
  • Questioning: seven articles about how we open our conversations with Yi – a mix of experiences, thoughts and suggestions

Both are pdf files, so right-click and chose ‘save target as’ or the equivalent to download them.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you!

Fireworks at night

Each year on my birthday, I ask Yi for guidance for the coming year. Then over the course of the year I revisit the reading, finding guidance and gleaning understanding as I go.

At least, such is the theory. Last year’s reading, cast on 7th December 2015, was Hexagram 55, Abundance, changing at line 4 to 36, Brightness Hiding.

I could recognise the 55 moment, the imperative to take responsibility, do the abundance of things to be done (like redesigning the website) with the abundance of energy and motivation available to do them. And I could recognise 36 as my general tendency to want to stay safe by staying invisible. (Not the most helpful tendency to have in my line of work.) But the moving line…?

‘Feng is screened off
At midday, seeing the Dipper.
Meeting your hidden lord,
Good fortune.’

So here is Wu of Zhou, the new leader, finding his city shrouded in darkness, not quite able to see where he is, but with guidance still clearly visible. (Yes.) And then he meets a hidden lord, a ‘Yi lord’. The Yi people were not normally allies of the Zhou, on the contrary, but Wu made common cause with them against the Shang. So I generally read this line to mean seeking and finding an ally where you wouldn’t normally do so.

“Because of the importance of what you have to do, you will meet what you fear – and because you can see your direction so clearly, you can bring even the hidden lord into alliance with your greater purpose,” says my book (rather ponderously).

“Meet your enemy! He might be the one you need. Sometimes the very things which hold us back contain the energy which can help us to gather the strength to go on,” says LiSe, conveying more in fewer words.

So I understood all about hidden lords in theory, but who was mine? All through the year, I couldn’t seem to spot one. I got more help from a web developer than I might otherwise have done, yes, and I listened to advisers whose perspective is different from mine… but really, I didn’t meet anyone very dark or mysterious. I revisited the reading periodically without being any the wiser, and started to wonder if this might be one of Yi’s giant jokes: that the hidden lord was so well-hidden you’d never know whether or not you’d met him.

With about three days to go before my birthday, I sat down and asked myself again – who is this Yi lord? 

And – as usually happens when I’m prepared to sit and get into dialogue with a reading – I had a moment of recognition, remembering a couple of encounters that I realised were with the Yi lord.

There was a conversation that looked like it must surely become an argument: we were clashing over deep convictions, and when that happens my default setting is to respond in self-defence, as if my very self were under attack. But my interlocutor paused to say, ‘I don’t want to argue’ – and that brought me up short.

And I’d been reading Facebook posts from someone saying she had voted for Trump, and sincerely inviting civil discussion to build understanding. To be clear – I found her invitation disingenuous, and I think standing against what Trump represents is wholly necessary. But that’s also not the same thing as having a row on Facebook, and the parallel, the not-arguing, was striking.

In each case I found myself thinking – if this isn’t an argument, what is it? If I’m not on the defensive here, what am I doing? And I realised that my next impulse was to ask how can I helpAnd especially, how can I help this person to inhabit the real world?

Of course, the Trump voter would no doubt claim to have voted in the ‘real world’: one where we are under threat, and human compassion might be all very nice in theory, but we can’t really afford to extend it to those people who are not like us, and hence scary and not quite real. But that is a fairy story – a construct – a bubble. Not real.

Scratch the surface a bit, and I can find my own inner Yi lord, living in her own little fantasy bubble of fear and threat. The more visible I become, the more she has to say – in fact, she’s been vetoing this post for a couple of weeks now:

“You can’t post this,” she explains, reasonably, “because people won’t accept it – or you. Sharing openly might be all very nice in theory, but you can’t really afford to do it, it isn’t safe, because Those People” (she never quite explains who They are, but she knows all about Them) “don’t believe you’re real, and they’ll hurt you.”

It takes more effort, but I can also at least entertain the idea that this bubble-world might not be real, either.

The deep underlying reality and the stuff the cosmos is made of is connection, meaning, compassion. How do I know? Because readings work. Reality acknowledges, responds and talks to people; I help by making that reality a bit more obvious.


So what can I learn – a bit late – from 55.4 to 36?

I’m familiar with 36, Brightness Hiding, as relating hexagram. In that position I find it mostly has to do with believing that you’re in danger and need to hide your light. The belief can be based on experience, and it may be true now, or it may not. It’s also possible that the light hidden under the earth is being kept safe, like the spark of a fire banked up overnight.

The Yi lord is a dark figure who, oddly enough, somehow manages both to inspire such beliefs and also represent them: he (or she) is a threat, and also believes in a world of threat. And so this is stronger than just, ‘Someone you wouldn’t normally consider as an ally’: it’s someone opposed to all I stand for. But what if I’m at Feng, at the heart of my calling and work, and the Yi lord shows up saying, ‘I don’t want to argue’ and ‘Let’s talk’? If I’m not fighting this darkness, not defending against it – if I’m somehow meant to be making an ally of it, of all things – and I cannot begin to describe how bizarre and unnatural that seems to me – then what on earth is that going to look like?

This is still a mystery to me, but I think it has something to do with the Yi lord’s power to clarify a calling and galvanise action. The changing line’s in the fourth place: first steps in the outer world, asking, ‘What can I do?’ Also, it’s the first line of thunder, the trigram of initiative and setting things in motion. The energy of Yi is added to that of Zhou. (Which is exactly what LiSe’s commentary said…)

I also found, in the moment, that having ‘How can I fight off this threat?’ taken out of the picture left a lot of space for ‘How can I help?’ – for compassion and a desire to share.

A couple of days later, I cast my reading for this year, and received 61.2.4.5 to 21.

 

A ‘nuclear story’ (my term for something many people have described before me) is found within a single hexagram, by ‘unpacking’ its trigrams and nuclear trigrams. It unfolds a kind of ‘hidden adventure’ for the hexagram.

I realise I’ve written this up for Change Circle members in some detail (see this Wiki article and the linked pdf and call recording), but not really mentioned it on the blog, so here – as one more of the many ways that Yi is a ‘Book of Stories‘ – is a whirlwind tour.

A hexagram’s formed of two trigrams – lines 1,2,3 and 4,5,6. But folded up inside it, in overlapping lines, are another two trigrams: lines 2,3,4 and 3,4,5. Those are the nuclear trigrams. Put them together, and you have the nuclear hexagram, the heart or seed of the original.

But you can also combine main component trigrams with nuclear trigrams to form yet more ‘hidden hexagrams’. I’ve found it most satisfying to look at just three nuclear hexagrams:

  • lines 123,234, making an ‘encounter’ or ‘Call’ hexagram
  • lines 234,345, the true nuclear, the core work
  • lines 345,456, expressing a higher potential, learning or gift

These three hexagrams between them tell the cast hexagram’s underlying story. You could think of it as a way to imagine the hexagram as a novel, or an epic poem… or a blockbuster film…


The Great Taming”

Our impulsive hero is called to take a stand, to speak up, to decide what she’s really about. Maybe her neighbourhood’s turning into a ghost town because everyone’s going to the soulless restaurant chain down the road, so she decides the place needs its own café, makes her case to the local authorities and gets permission to open her own…

…and then she finds that running a café is vastly bigger and more complicated than she ever imagined. All her plans amount to nothing, and she’s compelled to learn on her feet, divine what the locals really want, and adapt as she goes.

…so that ultimately she learns to nourish both her own life and her community in a sustainable way, and finds new equilibrium.

(Hexagram 26: ‘call’ nuclear hexagram 43, Deciding; true ‘work’ nuclear 54, Marrying Maiden; final, ‘higher’ nuclear 27, Nourishment.)


OK, perhaps that one isn’t blockbuster material. Maybe sci-fi…

Traveller”

Aboard the multi-species interstellar ship seeking a new planet to call home…

…there’s a catastrophic cascading systems failure that demands an unprecedented response…

…and they can only be saved from destruction by creative use of the different species’ unique characteristics. (The hive mind that can survive in vacuum and the individualist that can see in ultraviolet, or some such.)

(That one’s Hexagram 56: ‘call’ nuclear hexagram 53, true nuclear 28, ‘learning’ 38.)


Well, possibly I shouldn’t give up the day job – but hopefully you see what I mean, how the the three nuclear hexagrams can tell a story of their own.

If you receive Hexagram 56, the Traveller, you might encounter it at first as the flight of the geese, searching for a place to belong. You might find that the real work and adventure of being the traveller involves ‘standing alone without fear’, finding your environment won’t bear the weight of your true identity and purpose so you must carry it all yourself, feeling the stress of that and the risk of overstepping the mark. And ultimately you might have an opportunity to learn to live with difference at a higher and more creative level.

Nuclear stories reflected in changing lines

And… you can look not only at the hexagrams, but also the moving lines within the hexagrams. (I have Luis Andrade, Sparhawk in our I Ching Community, to thank for suggesting I look into this fully.)

So line 3 in Hexagram 56 is reflected at the very beginning of that hidden, inner story as 53.3.5:

unfolding lines 1,2,3 – 2,3,4 would reveal…

If the protagonist of ‘Traveller’ were an anti-hero who triggered the system failure and lost friends… well, perhaps his back-story might involve losing his father to the failed settlement of an inhospitable planet, and a driving frustration at how long the journey is taking. Perhaps that’s why he burned out life support in an impatient attempt to boost the engines.

(Who knew this oracle would make it so easy to write clichéd sci-fi? We can probably get a romantic sub-plot out of 28.2.4, and the moral of the story from 38.1, in which our hero can only save the day by overcoming his reflexive aversion to the slug aliens. Or something.)

Outside Hexagram Cinema, though, how could you use this in real-life readings? Well… with discretion. Do I want to explore the full-length epic of a temperamental webserver, or a holey tooth? Probably not, no. But for a big question, something larger-scale and longer-term, nuclear stories come into their own.

When you’re not sure where to start or how to ‘get into’ a reading, the ‘Calling’ nuclear may give you a foothold. It answers questions like, ‘Yes, but why would that happen?’ or ‘Yes, but where’s that coming from?’

A big reading often works itself out in both waking and dreaming life – and the core nuclear can show those workings. Dream imagery especially can show up in the lines of nuclear hexagrams; it’s very exciting when that happens in a client’s reading. (When doing an in-depth reading for a client I always read through the full nuclear story, but I wouldn’t share it all in our first call – not when a single changing line can be reflected in as many as five nuclear story lines. It’s possible to have too much of a good thing.)

It also works itself out in other readings. I just found a smallish reading I cast showing up as the true nuclear hexagram (and moving line) of a bigger one; it’s surprising how often this happens. Yi’s redirecting my attention by showing me where smallish thing fits in the bigger scheme of things.

In conclusion? No conclusion, really… just explore, let your readings tell you stories, see where they take you. Also, the slug aliens really aren’t so bad.

 

 

I wrote about a core message of Hexagram 23 when it’s your cast hexagram: how it demands a true tabula rasa, not just a ‘rethink’. What about 23 as relating hexagram – what can that mean?

Of course, there are 64 different ways a reading can change to Hexagram 23, but here are the six ways that involve just one line changing:

‘Giving up your own spirit tortoise,
Gazing at me with jaws hanging down.
Pitfall.’ (27.1)

‘Embracing the ignoramus, good fortune.
Receiving a wife, good fortune.
The son governs the home.’ (4.2)

‘Stilling your waist,
Dividing your back,
Danger smothers the heart.’ (52.3)

‘Advancing like a long-tailed rodent,
Constancy: danger.’ (35.4)

‘Seeing my own life.
The noble one is without mistake.’ (20.5)

‘Dragons battling in the open country.
Their blood dark and yellow.’ (2.6)

If we can see what these lines have in common, that might (perhaps) offer a guide to the more complex, multi-line readings.

The first thing I notice is that they all seem to involve separation and divergence: explicitly or implicitly, there are two directions present, and the distance between them is important.

Gazing at the hanging jaws means giving up your sacred tortoise. Accepting the child’s new authority means moving away from the certainty of the father’s rule. You keep your waist still, but natural movement continues and pulls you apart. The humans want a grain store, but the rodent’s idea of ‘advance’ takes things in another direction. The noble one’s detached vision pulls up and away from involvement. The dragons of winter and spring fight to pull the year in opposite directions. It all shows the influence of 23 as Splitting Apart.

In a lot of these – all except 20.5, perhaps – there’s rivalry between two authorities, or two agendas, pulling in opposite directions. (And perhaps you could even construe 20.5’s overview as an alternative ‘authority’.) The line is tending to split apart from an original structure, vision or flow – pulling away from the situation’s dominant direction.

That divergence can show up as an inner division that becomes self-sabotage: pushing out that solid sixth line can amount to separating from your own motive force, your natural insight, desire, greater purpose or creative direction.

In relationships between people, the growing distance stretches communication to breaking point. People pull too far apart to connect with one another, or with an idea.

Separating from the yang sixth line can also feel like ‘getting off the train’ – separating yourself and your perspective from the onward march of things. Is that ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or feasible? It depends what you think of the onward march. Wondering whether to accept the upgrade to Windows 10, I asked Yi about declining, and had 2.6 – resisting the change, separating from the trajectory of ongoing upgrades and updates Microsoft has laid out for us.

Every now and then, Stripping Away as relating hexagram has a paradoxically creative effect, opening space for more responsive action. You can recognise this in the moving line texts – 4.2 or 20.5, for instance. And the same’s true of multi-line readings.

Decreasing and Stripping Away, 41.1.2 to 23 –

‘Bringing your own business to an end, going swiftly,
Not a mistake.
Considering decreasing it.’

‘Constancy bears fruit,
Setting out to bring order: pitfall.
Not decreasing, increasing it.’

Your own agenda is stripped out, cleared out of the way of increase.

Gradual Development’s Stripping Away, 53.3.5 to 23 –

‘The wild geese gradually progress to the high plateau.
The husband marches out and does not return,
The wife is pregnant, but does not raise the child.
Pitfall.
Fruitful to resist outlaws.’

‘The wild geese gradually progress to the ancestral grave-mounds.
The wife is not pregnant for three years.
In the end, nothing can prevent it.
Good fortune.’

– and Already Across, Stripping Away, 63.2.4 to 23 –

‘Your wheels dragged back.
Constancy, good fortune.’

‘Constancy, good fortune, regrets vanish.
The Thunderer uses this to attack the Demon Country.
Three years go round, and there are rewards in the great city.’

In both of those readings, what’s stripped away seems to be your own timetable: you might expect to have arrived by now, but no. That can eb experienced as a great loss.

Or 12.4.5 to 23, a reading I had once for what to do with a decaying wisdom tooth. I think those lines –

‘There is a mandate, no mistake.
Work with clarity, fulfilment.’

‘Resting when blocked.
Great person, good fortune.
It is lost, it is lost!
Tie it to the bushy mulberry tree.’

– are a way of separating one’s own efforts from the outcome. I used raw garlic to cure the infection (not for the faint-hearted); then I had the thing extracted, and was finally able to concentrate on something else. Stripping Away can even be a relief…

falling leaf

 

 

 

 

The essential message of Stripping Away is devastatingly simple:

‘Stripping away.
Fruitless to have a direction to go.’

Your ‘direction to go’ can be whatever plan you have in mind, your purpose or vision or intent, or something as slight as a curiosity to explore in a certain direction. The root of the idea is to travel from the centre to the borders, to explore and sound out the unknown. Stephen Field associates Hexagram 23 with King Hai at Yi – exploring and testing his boundaries in a new culture, something that didn’t work out so well for him.

Hexagram 23 responds to whatever part of you is saying ‘Onward and outward!’ with ‘Nope. No use.’

So in practice, in readings, this is pretty simple: you see Hexagram 23, and give up whatever you had in mind.

Naturally, simple is not the same as easy. We like our ideas; we do not want to let them go. And a particular frustration of Hexagram 23, at least for me, is that I tend to receive it just when I’m convinced I’ve had a grand and entirely new idea – only to realise, in the course of the reading, that I was only perpetuating the old.

When Hexagram 23 is the primary hexagram, especially, it tends to point to some purpose or self-concept or pet idea that needs to be shed completely. The shape of the hexagram shows how what the idea rests on is not solid and offers no support. There’s no point trying to travel to the borders when the centre is crumbling; you can’t build towers on air.

But the advice isn’t just to recognise your idea is doomed and drop it; it’s to strip it away actively and create mental space. It’s particularly important not to respond to 23 with, ‘Oh, this idea must need some tweaking to make it work…’ The shadow hexagram for 23 – Hexagram ‘Minus 23’ in the Sequence – is 42, Increase, with its Image of a noble one who ‘sees improvement, and so changes; where there is excess, she corrects it.’ Increase’s way of thinking is ‘this can be changed, this can be improved’ – and in a time of Stripping Away, that would be a trap.

As long as old ways of thinking linger, we tend to repeat ourselves. Hexagram 23 is a call to create such emptiness that the next move can only be completely new. Perfect tabula rasa; no precedent. In this space you might find a true seed of change.

The Image helps us find this mindset –

‘Mountain rests on the earth. Stripping Away.
The heights are generous, and there are tranquil homes below.’

– because it depersonalises. The mountain rests on the earth, the soil erodes into the valley, the heights are generous, and the process of change is ongoing. There’s no person here called on to give things up, willingly or not; there’s just change happening. It isn’t about you.
Tabula rasa

 

From the I Ching Community

Plans for Clarity in 2017…

I don’t have my calendar filled in with a Grand Plan for the Year, because you know how those turn out. (I’m learning that they turn into colour-coded confetti by about mid-February.) But I have some plans for the first few months, and it occurred to me you might be wondering what’s available when. So…

In January 2017 I’ll be opening for readings – the full reading service, not the smaller I Ching chats which are more or less always available (though not so much for the next couple of weeks, because Christmas). The still point round the turning of the year, the quiet before Spring, is a natural time to go deeper.

I read for at most half a dozen people at a time: I’ve found that’s a good way to ensure I have plenty of time and energy to work with each reading, mull it over and follow where it leads without hurry. The first thing I do when I open is to email people who have downloaded ‘Ways of Opening’ (a guide/ helper for finding your question), so if you’d be interested in a reading in January, please download a copy now.

In February 2017 I’ll start the class on Reading for Others. This will be very small, probably a ‘beta’ version (ie it’s inexpensive and participants will be involved in shaping and improving the class), since while I’ve been doing this for a (very) long time, I’ve never taught it before.

I won’t start anything else while ‘Reading for Others’ is still running, but later in the year I’d really like to run a Foundations Class again. The Foundations Course is always available, of course, and if you’re part of Change Circle you can always get my help with it in Yi Academy or by phone/Skype. But that’s still not the same as being part of a class, embarking on the course together and getting to know one another along the way. So… Foundations Class, later.

And other intentions…

  • share more with you (remembering my reading for the year – 61.2.4.5 zhi 21)
  • take more breaks
  • spend more time with people and with Yi, and a whole lot less time in website-wrangling

A gift

Here are two downloadable ebooks I put together for you:

  • Book of Stories: an anthology of my posts on this theme over the past year, describing how you can use the stories Yi tells to understand your readings.
  • Questioning: seven articles about how we open our conversations with Yi – a mix of experiences, thoughts and suggestions

Both are pdf files, so right-click and chose ‘save target as’ or the equivalent to download them.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you!

Fireworks at night

Each year on my birthday, I ask Yi for guidance for the coming year. Then over the course of the year I revisit the reading, finding guidance and gleaning understanding as I go.

At least, such is the theory. Last year’s reading, cast on 7th December 2015, was Hexagram 55, Abundance, changing at line 4 to 36, Brightness Hiding.

I could recognise the 55 moment, the imperative to take responsibility, do the abundance of things to be done (like redesigning the website) with the abundance of energy and motivation available to do them. And I could recognise 36 as my general tendency to want to stay safe by staying invisible. (Not the most helpful tendency to have in my line of work.) But the moving line…?

‘Feng is screened off
At midday, seeing the Dipper.
Meeting your hidden lord,
Good fortune.’

So here is Wu of Zhou, the new leader, finding his city shrouded in darkness, not quite able to see where he is, but with guidance still clearly visible. (Yes.) And then he meets a hidden lord, a ‘Yi lord’. The Yi people were not normally allies of the Zhou, on the contrary, but Wu made common cause with them against the Shang. So I generally read this line to mean seeking and finding an ally where you wouldn’t normally do so.

“Because of the importance of what you have to do, you will meet what you fear – and because you can see your direction so clearly, you can bring even the hidden lord into alliance with your greater purpose,” says my book (rather ponderously).

“Meet your enemy! He might be the one you need. Sometimes the very things which hold us back contain the energy which can help us to gather the strength to go on,” says LiSe, conveying more in fewer words.

So I understood all about hidden lords in theory, but who was mine? All through the year, I couldn’t seem to spot one. I got more help from a web developer than I might otherwise have done, yes, and I listened to advisers whose perspective is different from mine… but really, I didn’t meet anyone very dark or mysterious. I revisited the reading periodically without being any the wiser, and started to wonder if this might be one of Yi’s giant jokes: that the hidden lord was so well-hidden you’d never know whether or not you’d met him.

With about three days to go before my birthday, I sat down and asked myself again – who is this Yi lord? 

And – as usually happens when I’m prepared to sit and get into dialogue with a reading – I had a moment of recognition, remembering a couple of encounters that I realised were with the Yi lord.

There was a conversation that looked like it must surely become an argument: we were clashing over deep convictions, and when that happens my default setting is to respond in self-defence, as if my very self were under attack. But my interlocutor paused to say, ‘I don’t want to argue’ – and that brought me up short.

And I’d been reading Facebook posts from someone saying she had voted for Trump, and sincerely inviting civil discussion to build understanding. To be clear – I found her invitation disingenuous, and I think standing against what Trump represents is wholly necessary. But that’s also not the same thing as having a row on Facebook, and the parallel, the not-arguing, was striking.

In each case I found myself thinking – if this isn’t an argument, what is it? If I’m not on the defensive here, what am I doing? And I realised that my next impulse was to ask how can I helpAnd especially, how can I help this person to inhabit the real world?

Of course, the Trump voter would no doubt claim to have voted in the ‘real world’: one where we are under threat, and human compassion might be all very nice in theory, but we can’t really afford to extend it to those people who are not like us, and hence scary and not quite real. But that is a fairy story – a construct – a bubble. Not real.

Scratch the surface a bit, and I can find my own inner Yi lord, living in her own little fantasy bubble of fear and threat. The more visible I become, the more she has to say – in fact, she’s been vetoing this post for a couple of weeks now:

“You can’t post this,” she explains, reasonably, “because people won’t accept it – or you. Sharing openly might be all very nice in theory, but you can’t really afford to do it, it isn’t safe, because Those People” (she never quite explains who They are, but she knows all about Them) “don’t believe you’re real, and they’ll hurt you.”

It takes more effort, but I can also at least entertain the idea that this bubble-world might not be real, either.

The deep underlying reality and the stuff the cosmos is made of is connection, meaning, compassion. How do I know? Because readings work. Reality acknowledges, responds and talks to people; I help by making that reality a bit more obvious.


So what can I learn – a bit late – from 55.4 to 36?

I’m familiar with 36, Brightness Hiding, as relating hexagram. In that position I find it mostly has to do with believing that you’re in danger and need to hide your light. The belief can be based on experience, and it may be true now, or it may not. It’s also possible that the light hidden under the earth is being kept safe, like the spark of a fire banked up overnight.

The Yi lord is a dark figure who, oddly enough, somehow manages both to inspire such beliefs and also represent them: he (or she) is a threat, and also believes in a world of threat. And so this is stronger than just, ‘Someone you wouldn’t normally consider as an ally’: it’s someone opposed to all I stand for. But what if I’m at Feng, at the heart of my calling and work, and the Yi lord shows up saying, ‘I don’t want to argue’ and ‘Let’s talk’? If I’m not fighting this darkness, not defending against it – if I’m somehow meant to be making an ally of it, of all things – and I cannot begin to describe how bizarre and unnatural that seems to me – then what on earth is that going to look like?

This is still a mystery to me, but I think it has something to do with the Yi lord’s power to clarify a calling and galvanise action. The changing line’s in the fourth place: first steps in the outer world, asking, ‘What can I do?’ Also, it’s the first line of thunder, the trigram of initiative and setting things in motion. The energy of Yi is added to that of Zhou. (Which is exactly what LiSe’s commentary said…)

I also found, in the moment, that having ‘How can I fight off this threat?’ taken out of the picture left a lot of space for ‘How can I help?’ – for compassion and a desire to share.

A couple of days later, I cast my reading for this year, and received 61.2.4.5 to 21.

 

A ‘nuclear story’ (my term for something many people have described before me) is found within a single hexagram, by ‘unpacking’ its trigrams and nuclear trigrams. It unfolds a kind of ‘hidden adventure’ for the hexagram.

I realise I’ve written this up for Change Circle members in some detail (see this Wiki article and the linked pdf and call recording), but not really mentioned it on the blog, so here – as one more of the many ways that Yi is a ‘Book of Stories‘ – is a whirlwind tour.

A hexagram’s formed of two trigrams – lines 1,2,3 and 4,5,6. But folded up inside it, in overlapping lines, are another two trigrams: lines 2,3,4 and 3,4,5. Those are the nuclear trigrams. Put them together, and you have the nuclear hexagram, the heart or seed of the original.

But you can also combine main component trigrams with nuclear trigrams to form yet more ‘hidden hexagrams’. I’ve found it most satisfying to look at just three nuclear hexagrams:

  • lines 123,234, making an ‘encounter’ or ‘Call’ hexagram
  • lines 234,345, the true nuclear, the core work
  • lines 345,456, expressing a higher potential, learning or gift

These three hexagrams between them tell the cast hexagram’s underlying story. You could think of it as a way to imagine the hexagram as a novel, or an epic poem… or a blockbuster film…


The Great Taming”

Our impulsive hero is called to take a stand, to speak up, to decide what she’s really about. Maybe her neighbourhood’s turning into a ghost town because everyone’s going to the soulless restaurant chain down the road, so she decides the place needs its own café, makes her case to the local authorities and gets permission to open her own…

…and then she finds that running a café is vastly bigger and more complicated than she ever imagined. All her plans amount to nothing, and she’s compelled to learn on her feet, divine what the locals really want, and adapt as she goes.

…so that ultimately she learns to nourish both her own life and her community in a sustainable way, and finds new equilibrium.

(Hexagram 26: ‘call’ nuclear hexagram 43, Deciding; true ‘work’ nuclear 54, Marrying Maiden; final, ‘higher’ nuclear 27, Nourishment.)


OK, perhaps that one isn’t blockbuster material. Maybe sci-fi…

Traveller”

Aboard the multi-species interstellar ship seeking a new planet to call home…

…there’s a catastrophic cascading systems failure that demands an unprecedented response…

…and they can only be saved from destruction by creative use of the different species’ unique characteristics. (The hive mind that can survive in vacuum and the individualist that can see in ultraviolet, or some such.)

(That one’s Hexagram 56: ‘call’ nuclear hexagram 53, true nuclear 28, ‘learning’ 38.)


Well, possibly I shouldn’t give up the day job – but hopefully you see what I mean, how the the three nuclear hexagrams can tell a story of their own.

If you receive Hexagram 56, the Traveller, you might encounter it at first as the flight of the geese, searching for a place to belong. You might find that the real work and adventure of being the traveller involves ‘standing alone without fear’, finding your environment won’t bear the weight of your true identity and purpose so you must carry it all yourself, feeling the stress of that and the risk of overstepping the mark. And ultimately you might have an opportunity to learn to live with difference at a higher and more creative level.

Nuclear stories reflected in changing lines

And… you can look not only at the hexagrams, but also the moving lines within the hexagrams. (I have Luis Andrade, Sparhawk in our I Ching Community, to thank for suggesting I look into this fully.)

So line 3 in Hexagram 56 is reflected at the very beginning of that hidden, inner story as 53.3.5:

unfolding lines 1,2,3 – 2,3,4 would reveal…

If the protagonist of ‘Traveller’ were an anti-hero who triggered the system failure and lost friends… well, perhaps his back-story might involve losing his father to the failed settlement of an inhospitable planet, and a driving frustration at how long the journey is taking. Perhaps that’s why he burned out life support in an impatient attempt to boost the engines.

(Who knew this oracle would make it so easy to write clichéd sci-fi? We can probably get a romantic sub-plot out of 28.2.4, and the moral of the story from 38.1, in which our hero can only save the day by overcoming his reflexive aversion to the slug aliens. Or something.)

Outside Hexagram Cinema, though, how could you use this in real-life readings? Well… with discretion. Do I want to explore the full-length epic of a temperamental webserver, or a holey tooth? Probably not, no. But for a big question, something larger-scale and longer-term, nuclear stories come into their own.

When you’re not sure where to start or how to ‘get into’ a reading, the ‘Calling’ nuclear may give you a foothold. It answers questions like, ‘Yes, but why would that happen?’ or ‘Yes, but where’s that coming from?’

A big reading often works itself out in both waking and dreaming life – and the core nuclear can show those workings. Dream imagery especially can show up in the lines of nuclear hexagrams; it’s very exciting when that happens in a client’s reading. (When doing an in-depth reading for a client I always read through the full nuclear story, but I wouldn’t share it all in our first call – not when a single changing line can be reflected in as many as five nuclear story lines. It’s possible to have too much of a good thing.)

It also works itself out in other readings. I just found a smallish reading I cast showing up as the true nuclear hexagram (and moving line) of a bigger one; it’s surprising how often this happens. Yi’s redirecting my attention by showing me where smallish thing fits in the bigger scheme of things.

In conclusion? No conclusion, really… just explore, let your readings tell you stories, see where they take you. Also, the slug aliens really aren’t so bad.

 

 

I wrote about a core message of Hexagram 23 when it’s your cast hexagram: how it demands a true tabula rasa, not just a ‘rethink’. What about 23 as relating hexagram – what can that mean?

Of course, there are 64 different ways a reading can change to Hexagram 23, but here are the six ways that involve just one line changing:

‘Giving up your own spirit tortoise,
Gazing at me with jaws hanging down.
Pitfall.’ (27.1)

‘Embracing the ignoramus, good fortune.
Receiving a wife, good fortune.
The son governs the home.’ (4.2)

‘Stilling your waist,
Dividing your back,
Danger smothers the heart.’ (52.3)

‘Advancing like a long-tailed rodent,
Constancy: danger.’ (35.4)

‘Seeing my own life.
The noble one is without mistake.’ (20.5)

‘Dragons battling in the open country.
Their blood dark and yellow.’ (2.6)

If we can see what these lines have in common, that might (perhaps) offer a guide to the more complex, multi-line readings.

The first thing I notice is that they all seem to involve separation and divergence: explicitly or implicitly, there are two directions present, and the distance between them is important.

Gazing at the hanging jaws means giving up your sacred tortoise. Accepting the child’s new authority means moving away from the certainty of the father’s rule. You keep your waist still, but natural movement continues and pulls you apart. The humans want a grain store, but the rodent’s idea of ‘advance’ takes things in another direction. The noble one’s detached vision pulls up and away from involvement. The dragons of winter and spring fight to pull the year in opposite directions. It all shows the influence of 23 as Splitting Apart.

In a lot of these – all except 20.5, perhaps – there’s rivalry between two authorities, or two agendas, pulling in opposite directions. (And perhaps you could even construe 20.5’s overview as an alternative ‘authority’.) The line is tending to split apart from an original structure, vision or flow – pulling away from the situation’s dominant direction.

That divergence can show up as an inner division that becomes self-sabotage: pushing out that solid sixth line can amount to separating from your own motive force, your natural insight, desire, greater purpose or creative direction.

In relationships between people, the growing distance stretches communication to breaking point. People pull too far apart to connect with one another, or with an idea.

Separating from the yang sixth line can also feel like ‘getting off the train’ – separating yourself and your perspective from the onward march of things. Is that ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or feasible? It depends what you think of the onward march. Wondering whether to accept the upgrade to Windows 10, I asked Yi about declining, and had 2.6 – resisting the change, separating from the trajectory of ongoing upgrades and updates Microsoft has laid out for us.

Every now and then, Stripping Away as relating hexagram has a paradoxically creative effect, opening space for more responsive action. You can recognise this in the moving line texts – 4.2 or 20.5, for instance. And the same’s true of multi-line readings.

Decreasing and Stripping Away, 41.1.2 to 23 –

‘Bringing your own business to an end, going swiftly,
Not a mistake.
Considering decreasing it.’

‘Constancy bears fruit,
Setting out to bring order: pitfall.
Not decreasing, increasing it.’

Your own agenda is stripped out, cleared out of the way of increase.

Gradual Development’s Stripping Away, 53.3.5 to 23 –

‘The wild geese gradually progress to the high plateau.
The husband marches out and does not return,
The wife is pregnant, but does not raise the child.
Pitfall.
Fruitful to resist outlaws.’

‘The wild geese gradually progress to the ancestral grave-mounds.
The wife is not pregnant for three years.
In the end, nothing can prevent it.
Good fortune.’

– and Already Across, Stripping Away, 63.2.4 to 23 –

‘Your wheels dragged back.
Constancy, good fortune.’

‘Constancy, good fortune, regrets vanish.
The Thunderer uses this to attack the Demon Country.
Three years go round, and there are rewards in the great city.’

In both of those readings, what’s stripped away seems to be your own timetable: you might expect to have arrived by now, but no. That can eb experienced as a great loss.

Or 12.4.5 to 23, a reading I had once for what to do with a decaying wisdom tooth. I think those lines –

‘There is a mandate, no mistake.
Work with clarity, fulfilment.’

‘Resting when blocked.
Great person, good fortune.
It is lost, it is lost!
Tie it to the bushy mulberry tree.’

– are a way of separating one’s own efforts from the outcome. I used raw garlic to cure the infection (not for the faint-hearted); then I had the thing extracted, and was finally able to concentrate on something else. Stripping Away can even be a relief…

falling leaf

 

 

 

 

The essential message of Stripping Away is devastatingly simple:

‘Stripping away.
Fruitless to have a direction to go.’

Your ‘direction to go’ can be whatever plan you have in mind, your purpose or vision or intent, or something as slight as a curiosity to explore in a certain direction. The root of the idea is to travel from the centre to the borders, to explore and sound out the unknown. Stephen Field associates Hexagram 23 with King Hai at Yi – exploring and testing his boundaries in a new culture, something that didn’t work out so well for him.

Hexagram 23 responds to whatever part of you is saying ‘Onward and outward!’ with ‘Nope. No use.’

So in practice, in readings, this is pretty simple: you see Hexagram 23, and give up whatever you had in mind.

Naturally, simple is not the same as easy. We like our ideas; we do not want to let them go. And a particular frustration of Hexagram 23, at least for me, is that I tend to receive it just when I’m convinced I’ve had a grand and entirely new idea – only to realise, in the course of the reading, that I was only perpetuating the old.

When Hexagram 23 is the primary hexagram, especially, it tends to point to some purpose or self-concept or pet idea that needs to be shed completely. The shape of the hexagram shows how what the idea rests on is not solid and offers no support. There’s no point trying to travel to the borders when the centre is crumbling; you can’t build towers on air.

But the advice isn’t just to recognise your idea is doomed and drop it; it’s to strip it away actively and create mental space. It’s particularly important not to respond to 23 with, ‘Oh, this idea must need some tweaking to make it work…’ The shadow hexagram for 23 – Hexagram ‘Minus 23’ in the Sequence – is 42, Increase, with its Image of a noble one who ‘sees improvement, and so changes; where there is excess, she corrects it.’ Increase’s way of thinking is ‘this can be changed, this can be improved’ – and in a time of Stripping Away, that would be a trap.

As long as old ways of thinking linger, we tend to repeat ourselves. Hexagram 23 is a call to create such emptiness that the next move can only be completely new. Perfect tabula rasa; no precedent. In this space you might find a true seed of change.

The Image helps us find this mindset –

‘Mountain rests on the earth. Stripping Away.
The heights are generous, and there are tranquil homes below.’

– because it depersonalises. The mountain rests on the earth, the soil erodes into the valley, the heights are generous, and the process of change is ongoing. There’s no person here called on to give things up, willingly or not; there’s just change happening. It isn’t about you.
Tabula rasa

 

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