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I Ching with Clarity

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:

To learn the I Ching

Start with the Beginners’ I Ching Course

It has all you need to get started from scratch. Then if you’re familiar with the basics and want to develop your confidence in interpretation, have a look at the Foundations Course.

To get the I Ching’s help

Start with a free online I Ching reading

(There’s help at hand to explain how it works.)

If you’d like my help, have a look at the I Ching reading services.

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 moon almost full

Some of the Yi's most interesting phrases come in threes. The advice not to chase what's lost, for instance, or 'not robbers, marital allies'. This is another of those: 'the moon is almost full'.

'Already rained, already come to rest.
Honour the power it carries.
The wife's constancy brings danger,
The moon is almost full.
Noble one sets out to bring order - pitfall.'

Hexagram 9, line 6

'King Yi marries off the maidens.
The first wife's sleeves are not as fine as the younger sister's.
The moon almost full, good fortune.'

Hexagram 54, line 5

'The moon almost full,
A horse's yoke-mate runs away.
No mistake.'

Hexagram 61, line 4

What's the significance of an almost-full moon?

The moon over China

I've taken a quick dive into early Chinese ideas about the moon. There was the lunar calendar, of course, but from all I've been able to find out, the phases of the moon had no particular astrological significance.

The moon and sun have poetic significance, though. In the Book of Songs, women who are unhappy in love call out to sun and moon, and a man compares his beloved's beauty to the moon:

'A moon rising white
Is the beauty of my lovely one.
Ah, the tenderness, the grace!
Heart's pain consumes me.'

Song 143 from The Book of Songs

There's also a woman who lives in the moon: Heng E, the beautiful wife of Yi the Archer, stole the elixir of immortality from him and fled to the moon. Yi is the hero who shot at the ten suns when they all came out at once and scorched the earth, so he and his wife are connected with sun and moon. Of our three Yijing lines, two mention wives, and the third a pair of horses.

Let's look at them one at a time...

9.6

Hexagram 9, Small Taming, starts with the frustration of dark clouds that bring no rain. But by line 6, the rain has finally come - which makes it perhaps a little odd that this line changes to Hexagram 5, Waiting. Yet it does seem to counsel patience:

'Already rained, already come to rest.
Honour the power it carries.
The wife's constancy brings danger,
The moon is almost full.
Noble one sets out to bring order - pitfall.'

Now it's rained, the ground is fertile - the seeds will germinate and grow. (In the garden after rain you can almost hear them stirring and waking.) The 'moon almost full' is part of the same atmosphere: nights are getting brighter, energy is on the rise. This is no time for the noble one to set out to war, not least because he needs to stay home and farm.

Why does the wife's constancy mean danger, though?

An easy solution to this is to revert to the ancient meaning of zhen, 'constancy', as 'divination'. With the yin, moon energy on the rise, the wife's divination might be especially accurate, and she prognosticates the disaster if the man sets out.

Still… if there were such a thing as 'wife's constancy', what could it be? Constancy means knowing truth and holding to it, carrying something through. And the wife governs the inner space, is the home-maker. So in my 2010 book, I imagined this as dogged persistence in creating and securing your own space. The man setting out to bring order was simply the externalised, male version of the same impulse - and while the wife's constancy might avoid the pitfall of trying for too much certainty, a military expedition surely wouldn't.

Only it occurs to me now that the wife's role is also to bear children. Could this line be saying she's conceived? Honour the power she carries; the moon is almost full. He really should stay home. And this would make for a strong connection with the zhi gua 5, Waiting.

When the moon is full, it will be fully opposite the sun - they face one another. That creates a strong contrast between 9.6 and 9.3:

'A cart losing its wheel spokes.
Husband and wife avert their eyes.'

With the moon almost full, this line's on the verge of that perfect partnershp. Its rising energy has to do with relationship, turning towards one another and coming into alignment - a terrible time for him to turn his face away from the home and set out to war.

54.5

An interesting fact about Hexagram 54: in the Guicang, another ancient hexagram oracle of which only fragments survive, it is still called 'Marrying Maiden', and says,

'Heng E stole it [the elixir of immortality] to flee to the moon. When she was about to go, she had the stalks divined by milfoil by You Huang. You Huang prognosticated them and said: Auspicious. So soaring the returning maiden, alone about to travel westward. Meeting heaven's dark void; do not tremble, do not fear. Afterwards there will be great prosperity.'
Edward Shaughnessy, Unearthing the Changes

(On arrival, Heng E was transformed into the striped toad, which makes you wonder about You Huang's refund policy.)

So this hexagram and the moon have history.

Here's its fifth line:

'King Yi marries off the maidens.
The first wife's sleeves are not as fine as the younger sister's.
The moon almost full, good fortune.'

The younger sister's finer sleeves are understood to represent her greater fertility: she would become the mother of Fa, the future King Wu. We might say her star is rising; Yi says her moon is waxing. Shang and Zhou are coming into partnership; the Lady of Shen is coming into her own; the Mandate of Heaven is coming a little closer to the Zhou people. The moon is almost facing the sun, but for now, all we have are subtle omens and the sense of future promise. It’s a moment to celebrate what is to come.

61.4

Hexagram 61 is full of pairs and partnerships - the crane and its young in line 2, the counterpart in line 3, and in line 4 a pair of horses:

'The moon almost full,
A horse's mate runs away.
No mistake.'

Unlike the previous two lines, this one puts the waxing moon first - emphasising that the light is getting brighter, we're almost there, on the cusp of alignment and perfect rapport.

And… one of the horses runs away and disappears. (The verb used means 'flee' and also 'disappear, lose, die'.) This certainly seems like a disaster, especially at such a moment, but we're reassured that it's not a mistake. Why not?

Line theory has an answer: the fourth line is yin, a 'pair' with the other yin line at line 3, but runs away from that one to support the yang fifth line, like someone who follows a higher path. That's persuasive, but I'd find it even more so if only it said the horse's mate runs free, or ascends, or finds a new master, instead of just saying that it's gone.

We're at the threshold between trigrams, of course, so there's certainly a sense that line 4 is pulling away from line 3 as the wind moves freely over the lake. This seems to me to have an opening effect. The waxing moon is a time for partnership, but both the vanished horse and the one left behind are open now to new pairings, as free to respond as the mare of Hexagram 2. There's a great sense in this line of opening up to invite new experience, and maybe even a walk with tigers.

Summing up…

The 'moon almost full' becomes a lot more resonant when I realise that it's the moon almost perfectly opposite the sun, just coming into full relationship with it. The theme is one of rapport, partnership and alignment - in potential, almost there. A time of anticipation, a good time to turn towards one another - or, in Hexagram 61, towards some mysterious new energy out beyond what we know.

almost full moon

I Ching Community discussion

Not interpreting the I Ching

This is a challenge I set for Change Circle members in the first week of our Imagery Class: to find a way to respond to a reading without interpreting it. The idea is to create a space where we can interact with all the layers and facets of the Yi's imagery from the 'inside'. Instead of dry theorising about the various things an image might represent, we can have an immediate, visceral experience of the reading. Then the imagery-experience resonates with our lived experience, and the oracle gets to work.

For me, this is a way to escape from the trap of 'knowing what it means'. This hexagram is about overwhelm, that line is about defensiveness… yes, maybe (and also maybe not), but what is it saying to you now? It's horribly easy to slip into doing a 'what I already know this means' reading instead of a Yijing reading.

For a comparative newcomer to the oracle, the same strategy - respond first, interpret later - might be a way to escape reliance on commentaries. That's just another variety of 'knowing what it means' before you have time to respond to the reading, only with the idea that someone else knows when you don't. Any such advance knowledge, yours or a commentator's, puts distance between you and direct experience of your reading.

So Change Circle members have been coming up with ways to connect with a reading and defer interpretation. First you experience the imagery in its own terms, from the inside; then you start to ask what this experience reminds you of.

This week's experiment involves telling the story of a hexagram or line, in the first person, from the inside - without trying to apply it to the question. For instance…

'The disaster of disentangling
Maybe someone tethered a cow -
Travelling people's gain,
Townspeople's disaster.'

Hexagram 25, line 3

'I promise you I tied Daisy up to this post just like I always do, I used the same good old knots that my father taught me, and now she's gone! How was I supposed to know something like that could happen?'

‘People in harmony at the outskirts altar.
No regrets.’

Hexagram 13, line 6

'Well, here we all are! Look at that great dome of sky… it's so good to get outside. Spread out, now, there's plenty of elbow room for everyone. Bring the sacrifice! Start the singing!'

'The vessel with upended feet.
Fruitful to get the blockage out…'

Hexagram 50, line 1

'What am I doing? I'm cleaning out this vessel is what I'm doing. Yes, I know it's not exactly ritually correct - OK, so it's unspeakably disrespectful - but that gunk stuck in the legs was making everything smell odd, and do you think the ancestors appreciate that? No, nor do I. Now if I just give it a couple of sharp taps with this wooden spoon…'

Your stories will be different, of course, and different again each time you come back to a line - and that's as it should be. The oracle is alive, and there's nothing set in stone to tell us what its words mean.

I Ching Community discussion

Walking round the pathway of 42.6

This isn't one of those posts where I explore many different experts' translations and interpretations of a line. Instead, it's just things I've learned from a combination of reading experiences and a line pathway.

What's a line pathway?

A line pathway is what LiSe calls 'mirrors': a group of four lines, connected either through change - 42.6 becomes 3, 3.6 becomes 42 -

<<< >>>

- or inversion: 42.6 upside-down is 41.1; 3.6 upside-down is 4.1.

upside down is

and

upside down is

When you're looking at a reading, one of these lines is your cast line, and each of the others has a specific role in the pathway, and specific things it can show you - see the Line Pathways course in the Change Circle Library. But it can also be interesting, away from readings, just to look at one of these groups of four lines to see how they're connected and what light they cast on one another - to take a 'circular walk' round the pathway and see how it looks from these four different perspectives.

42, line 6

'Absolutely no increase for this one,
Someone strikes them.
The heart's foundation is not lasting,
Pitfall.'

I'd really be quite happy if I never received this line again. I've found it describes the experience of being slapped down - sometimes when I expected it, often when I didn't.

This is the sixth line, the furthest extreme of Increase, asking 'What can be changed? How can this grow and improve?' from a lofty position, far away from ground-level realities. It's also the line that changes to Hexagram 3, Sprouting, with its great surge of desire to grow, explore and reach out. Increase and Sprouting agree: they want to grow, create change, make things better! And we know how well that works out. Absolutely no increase for this one.

Dazhuan

But why no increase - what went wrong? The 'master' in the Dazhuan explains:

"The superior man sets his person at rest before he moves; he composes his mind before he speaks; he makes his relations firm before he asks for something. By attending to these three matters, the superior man gains complete security. But if a man is brusque in his movements, others will not co-operate. If he is agitated in his words, they awaken no echo in others. If he asks for something without having first established relations, it will not be given to him. If no one is with him, those who would harm him draw near."

Dazhuan, Wilhelm/Baynes translation

Stephen Karcher thinks this is the record of a master diviner extemporising on a reading, and that seems right to me. It fits the way these passages of the Dazhuan tend to be strongly relevant sometimes. I've found the most relevant part here is, "If he asks for something without having first established relations, it will not be given to him."

I looked up the Chinese original to make sure I understood it. What the noble one does is to 定其交而后求 - 'He settles and makes sure of (ding, 定) his jiao 交, and-then-afterwards asks.'

The subject of the line, by contrast, 無交而求 - 'Without jiao, then asks' - with the result that 民不與, 'people don't offer support.'

So jiao 交, 'relations', are clearly the crucial factor We know the word from 14.1 - 'no interaction with what is harmful.' It means intercourse, friendship, mixing, mingling, intersecting. The noble one has made sure of this first; muggins (as my mother might've called the subject of this line) is asking for something though she has no jiao at all - no meeting, no mingling, no mutual involvement.

The heart's foundation not lasting

Back to the line itself, and the 'heart's foundation not lasting'. 'Lasting' here is the name of Hexagram 32, which is the exact opposite of 42 -

is the opposite of

- so it's natural it should be missing here at the extreme of 42.

The foundation is li 立: to stand, to raise (like the king setting up the royal standard), to construct buildings, to set up. The old character shows a human figure standing with both feet planted firmly on the ground. The English idiom for someone with no lasting li might be 'doesn't have a leg to stand on.'

It's often said that this line is about someone getting their come-uppance for being selfish, but my experience suggests that's not quite right. 42.6 can apply to someone who's wholly focussed on benefitting other people. If the slap-down comes as a shock, that's because she's founded her heart on a relationship or mutual agreement she assumes is there. (It isn't.) She isn't necessarily selfish, just… self-centred, perhaps? She imagines that others must share her understanding and agenda, so it never occurred to her to be like the master diviner's noble one, and check first.

Paired line 41.1

The paired line, 41.1, shows the other side of this coin:

'Bringing business to an end, going swiftly,
Not a mistake.
Considering decreasing this.'

You need, says 41.1, to finish with your stuff and move swiftly on. I can see a connection: 42.6 is the situation of someone who has not brought their business to an end, but is still involved in it to the exclusion of all else.

'Consider' is a lovely word: 酌, zhuo, originally showing a wine vessel and ladle. Your own business needs to be opened up for discussion (like the relating-interacting-mingling of the Dazhuan?) as it's poured out, offered up and diminished. Once it's emptied out, or at least occupying less space, there might be room to learn something…

Fan yao 3.6

The fan yao of 42.6 - the opposite direction along the same path - is 3.6. Increase infused with Sprouting's energy for growth and exploration turned out to be a mess - and so too is Sprouting that goes looking for Increase:

'Now driving a team of horses,
Now tears of blood flow.'

In lines 2 and 4 of Hexagram 3, the suitor drives out and meets his bride. In line 6, he just drives out… and out…

This looks like a fan yao as emotional context, something to be aware of: commitment that meets no correspondence, like a heart whose foundation is not lasting.

Fourth line, 4.1

And so we come round to the final line of the pathway, 4.1:

'Opening up ignorance,
Fruitful to use this for punishing people,
To use removing shackles and manacles,
Cause of shame in going on.'

There's a distinct difference between sixth and first lines in this pathway: 41.1 and 4.1 are creating an opening to learn; 3.6 and 42.6 seem to show where you land if you miss that chance. And I think 4.1 uncovers a deep theme they all share: the importance of opening up, becoming available for new experience and getting beyond the limitations of our own perspective.

I Ching Community discussion

Clarity: the acknowledgements section

There are a few websites without which this one would be only a pale shadow of itself. Here are four huge thank yous…

Hermetica.info

This is Bradford Hatcher's site, and contains much of his life's work - work that Yi described better than I can. The individual help and support he gave me - for instance by checking and providing feedback on my book, hexagram by hexagram - was extraordinary. I've referred heaven-knows-how-many people to his website over the past couple of decades to download his Yijing, both for his unique commentary (which has a distinctly oracular character of its own) and for the character-by-character 'matrix' translation. Those two blue volumes are always on my desk.

Yijing Research

The website of Harmen Mesker, fount of information on all things ancient Chinese, its language and divination practices. His scrupulously-researched articles are a rich source of imagination food, and he's unreservedly generous with his knowledge.

He's also created the world's most aptly-named Yijing video channel, Yi-tube, which is full of good things.

Chinese Etymology

Richard Sears has been providing this priceless resource online, free, since 2002: an immense database of Chinese characters, with a great array of ancient versions of each one. If one of my blog posts talks about the etymology of an ancient character, or includes an image of one, odds are it comes from Uncle Hanzi.

Yijing, Oracle of the Moon

I see that in my first newsletter - a printed one, sent in November 2000 - I recommended "a fascinating and beautifully-presented site by a lover of the I Ching from Holland." I still do.

I often recommend LiSe's site for the etymologies of the hexagram names - but there are also pages on many of Yi's most important words, and vivid trigram pages, and brilliant stuff on the layers in hexagrams without which the Yijing Foundations Course would not at all be the same. Also, don't miss the ShenShu oracle.

Yijing Menagerie Quiz

Just for fun...


Welcome to the Yijing Menagerie quiz! There are three rounds: the famous animals, the not-so-famous, and the hidden menagerie that some might argue aren't really there at all. Can you identify them all - and can you do it without looking anything up? Click 'Next' to get started.

  • Please type all your answers as x.y (e.g. 2.2 for Hexagram 2, line 2, or 3.0 for the Judgement/Oracle of Hexagram 3) so the quiz can recognise when you get it right! Don't forget the '.0' for the Judgements.
  • If you can think of more than one answer, just enter one of them, or the poor quiz will get confused.

I Ching Community discussion

Happy Birthday, Clarity

On 26th April, 2000, I registered the domain name onlineClarity.co.uk. (Back then, adding 'online' to your business name showed you were really up-to-the-minute with the interwebs. Or something.) So I think that makes today Clarity's 21st birthday.

I want to celebrate by doing more of what Clarity's been doing for the past 21 years: opening doors and making the Yi more accessible. Here's how…

For all members: a 'key to the door' and a free workshop

Starting today, all Clarity members have a week's free access to the Change Circle Library and WikiWing - so Change Circle membership, in effect, minus its forums (because those are private for members) and I Ching chats (because logistics). You have the key to this particular door until May 3rd: look in the top right-hand corner of each page for a 'Change Circle' link to the library, and you'll find WikiWing in the Community menu.

I'll run a Connecting to Yijing Imagery workshop on May 1st - please do sign up for that if you'd like to come:

If you're already a Clarity member, please log in before you sign up -





This is one I've run a couple of times before, now with new examples - and new readings from participants, of course.

(If we hadn't just had the year we've just had, I might've gone for a 'Zoom party' with less 'meat' to it, but… well… I think the novelty of socialising via Zoom wore off about 11 months ago, didn't it? So this will be full of good, rich, nourishing Yijing things that are worth your time. Party hats optional.)

For Change Circle members

There's a whole lot more to explore by way of Yijing Imagery than can be covered in 90 minutes or so of workshop, so I'll follow that with a mini-class on imagery for Change Circle, in early May. It'll be a chance to dive in deeper to all Yi's ways of showing us pictures, and practise and experiment with different ways of responding. No need to sign up anywhere for that - if you're a Change Circle member, I'll email you nearer the time.

Also, we can try out a new 'synchronistic conversations' feature in Change Circle - more on that next month, too.

A request

Most people haven't heard of the Yi, or don't know what it can do. There are a whole lot of people out there whose lives could be better - clearer, more aligned, calmer - if they got to know the oracle. You probably know some of them. So… please help by making some introductions!

One simple way to do that is via the 'share' buttons I've recently added to the bottom of most pages at Clarity. If you're not sure what to share, the free beginner's course might be good.

Thank you, and happy 21st :) .

I Ching Community discussion

From the I Ching Community

Join Clarity

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  • participate in the I Ching Community
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Join here!

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