I’ ve been wondering and delighting in this reading for a year now – it seems a good time to share it.
I had a Christian upbringing, and as I started reflecting for myself, I never quite saw the point of the Incarnation. God is here, of course – where else would we be? So I never altogether understood why there would be such emphasis on a single human being as God’s representative. Anyway – this kind of adolescent wondering is the ‘background’ to the question, and may or may not have the smallest relevance to the reading…
I asked Yi:
“What does the Nativity mean for us?”
And the oracle answered with Hexagram 11, Flowing, changing to Hexagram 60, Articulating.
Hexagram 11 is Tai, the mountain the king climbs to connect with heaven, and it represents the power of heaven flowing into the earth. The divine, creative presence is here:
Small goes, great comes.
Good fortune, creating success.’
…and goodwill to all men! Great things are possible; small things and petty concerns are swept away on that river of spiritual power.
In the story of the Nativity, that any child can tell, Hexagram 11 is Articulated. Hexagram 60 has a lot to do with language, with putting things into words – and also with nourishment, making truths palatable and digestible. So the Nativity makes divine presence something we can relate to.
Of course the trigrams themselves of 11 show the idea of ‘incarnation’ as clear as day. Heaven is within the Earth.
‘Heaven and Earth communicate. Flowing.
The prince enriches and accomplishes the dao of heaven and earth,
Supports and structures heaven and earth’s mutual help and harmony,
Helps and protects the people.’
And then there are the changing lines.
‘There is no level ground without a slope,
No going out without a return.
Hard work with constancy is not a mistake.
No cares, your truth,
In eating and drinking there is blessing.’
This is Flowing’s 19, its Nearing or as we might say, its Advent. Jesus becomes Emmanuel, ‘God with Us’, and the story of his povery and homelessness at birth is the first sign that he is here to accept weal and woe, the complete package. Christ’s suffering to come is a powerful theme in Christian depictions of his birth. There is the wise man who brings a gift of bitter myrrh; there are paintings of the child with his arms outstretched as if already crucified.
To eat and drink with people means to be together with them, sharing their experience. It has a similar symbolic value in both Christian and Chinese traditions, I think. The ancient Chinese invited the spirits to the ceremonial meal, where they would share the same food. And with my Christian upbringing, I can’t think of ‘blessing in eating and drinking’ without thinking of the Eucharist.
‘Diyi marries off his daughters.
This brings fulfilment, good fortune from the source.’
When Diyi marries off his daughters, he creates an alliance. His second daughter will be the gentle, unassuming mother of a son with a unique Mandate to bring about a new kingdom.
Marriage is a supreme image of the harmonious, creative union of heaven and earth – and one adopted by Christianity, too, for instance in the idea that Christ came from heaven to seek the earthly Church as his bride.
This line promises fulfilment, but we know it’s in the future. There is a generation or two to go before King Wu (and almost dramatic irony in the line, as surely Diyi has no idea of the great change to come from this marriage). Changing this line alone would take us to Hexagram 5: Waiting, or Attending – or perhaps Faith.
This is just the barest sketch of a few of this reading’s possibilities. The ‘line pathways’ are worth studying, too… and the changes of each trigram (creative force becoming lake, earth becoming stream)… and the patterns of change, with the yang pattern 39 showing the arrival of Yu, the limping saviour-hero, and the yin pattern 38 showing the ‘different seeing’ that could emerge…
But the family is here, and I should go see whether any of the too-liquid icing I poured onto that cake yesterday evening is still on the top of it.
Have a wonderful holiday!