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Hexagram 10 and the experience of divination

When I cast a reading for the week, sometimes I find the reading tells me about the week; sometimes I find the week tells me about the reading. And usually it’s some mix of the two.

This last week Yi suggested I look out simply for Hexagram 10 – no changing lines. Maybe I could learn something about ways to follow tigers and not be devoured.

Well, I’ve spent my week immersed in a stream of readings. For some reason (maybe someone wise in astrology can tell me what this is?), suddenly it seemed as if everyone needed a reading. People I’ve been reading for for years, people quite new to me; their relationships and careers and journeys, their uncertainties and decisions and insights and moments of perfect clarity, and the whole fierce communication of oracle and soul.

That meeting of oracle and soul is the tiger I’ve been following all week. Anyone who doubts its fierceness should try being immersed in it for a while, and especially experiencing it through other people. The oracle’s words have teeth, and people’s responses have the same intensity. As a diviner, I take this as a good sign: whether the querent is moved to tears, or laughter, or just a powerful desire to hurl the book out of the window, this tells me that there is a real conversation going on.

I’d almost forgotten how much divination is like the ‘treading’ through hexagram 10. You step close behind the tiger – that might devour you, or give protection and fertility, or guide you along new paths. And you step into the shoes of the ancestor – so in a way you embody a spirit for a while, or at least you represent it. It’s not ‘channelling’, but it does involve being infused with something more than your ordinary self. (Stephen Karcher finds an association between this hexagram and the story of the mother of Hou Ji, Lord Millet, who conceived miraculously when she trod in Di’s footprint.)

And that takes me back to the inner lake trigram: not only reflecting and absorbing what’s above, taking it into inner circulation, but also somehow calling it, inviting it. This, just like treading behind tigers, calls for immense care – the ‘ritual conduct’ meaning of Hexagram 10. There are so many ways to go wrong – most of them having to do with confusing my own preconceived ideas with what the oracle inspires.

I think this is why the junzi when Treading ‘differentiates above and below.’ The lake needs to reflect all the depth of heaven, not to confuse the two, but to create an inner sense of another dimension.

There’s a couplet in a poem of Goethe’s describing a lake at dusk, how it rests ‘reflecting back black-deepened darknesses’:

‘Schwartzvertiefte Finsternisse
Wiederspiegelnd ruht der See.’

6 responses to Hexagram 10 and the experience of divination

  1. yes. It reminds me — once I asked the i ching to tell me or show me what deep creativity is, and I got this hexagram, unchanging. I think it’s just the kind of thing you talk about here: “being infused with something more than your ordinary self.”

  2. Yes, these comments are very evocative.
    We know that “ritual” (li) is often defined as “conduct” (lyu, #10).
    Why, I wonder, does #10.5 mention “guai”?
    Guai (#43) is a really clear example of a “dui function” since it opens upwards at the top.
    Lyu (#10) has an “inner dui.” In some ways, this is the gap that is opened when the human position in Qian (#1) is split. You know, the splitting of the human position is coordinated with the tiger throughout the Yi jing. Four pairs split only the human position when rotated: #9/10, #15/16, #21/22 and #47/48. The tiger appears three times in the Yi jing: identical to the splitting (#10); metaphorical or transformed to the splitting (#21–>#27); and metonymical or next to the splitting (#49).
    The question, though, is why “guai” is mentioned at #10.5, rather than in the Dui trigram below?
    Hope my question makes any sense?

  3. Just spent an interesting few minutes writing down hexagram pairs and getting what you mean about ‘splitting the human position’. Interesting, thank you. Do you have a theory as to why there would be tiger-footprints around this?

    If ‘guai’ is a specifically dui-thing, then you do have to wonder why it’s up at 10.5. But if it’s more of a qian+dui thing, then – well – you don’t. Not just splitting or opening, but deciding; not just a token to hold up or message to bring, but the power behind it that it represents.

    (By the way, for anyone else puzzling over this: the ‘human position’ in a hexagram is at lines 3 and 4, sandwiched between lines for earth and heaven. In the hexagram pairs Scott refers to, lines 1,2,5 and 6 stay the same from one hexagram to the next, but 3 and 4 are changed.)

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