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’:
Wiederspiegelnd ruht der See.’