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Trusting in stripping away

A thought about Hexagram 58, line 5… not yet completely confirmed by experience, just a thought…

duiHexagram 58 is Opening, Joy and Communicating: the human figure with the great mouth who seems to dance and sing. This post is about its fifth line – the peak and culmination of the hexagram, as a rule, and its place of greatest choice – which reads, ‘Trusting in stripping away, there is danger.’

A little background should help to show where I’m coming from…

The Shuogua says of the trigram dui that is doubled to make this hexagram:

“Dui is the lake, is the youngest daughter, is the shamaness, is the mouth and tongue, is the deterioration [of plant life] and the breaking-off of what had been attached.”

(RJ Lynn, The Classic of Changes, p124)

There might perhaps be an old association with the Queen Mother of the West (the direction for dui in the Later Heaven bagua), a goddess who lives far, far to the west of human habitation:

“In appearance the Queen Mother of the West is like a human, with a panther’s tail and a tiger’s fangs, and she is a fine whistler. In her tangled hair she wears the sheng crown. She is the official in charge of vile plagues sent from heaven, and of the five dread evils.”

(The Shan Hai Ching, as quoted in Anne Birrell’s Chinese Mythology)

So she and dui have womanhood, and the West, and ‘deterioration’ of one kind or another in common, and maybe also tigers and leopards (thinking of hexagrams 10 and 49).

All of this is thoroughly vague and inconclusive, and I’m only starting with it to create a context for looking at 58, line 5 – the place of the ruler within the hexagram of Opening. If there is a place for a shamaness or a queen anywhere in the hexagram, this must surely be it: the dancing mediator in authority, ruler in her own domain.

And then precisely in this place of authority, she is connected (by the changing of 58.5) to Hexagram 54, the Marrying Maiden: the young girl, not yet a woman, who becomes only a junior wife and takes second place, where she has no authority at all.

Might Dui, the shamaness, be entering into marriage with the spirits as a junior bride?

To marry is also to ‘come home’ – and Opening to the spirits must needs involve letting go of ‘bringing order’ and relinquishing her personal ‘direction to go’, as the Oracle of Hexagram 54 says.

Then the moving line itself, 58.5, would show what it takes to make such a marriage:

‘Trusting in stripping away,
There is danger.’

This is the same ‘stripping away’ as the name of Hexagram 23: the knife that cuts away the surfaces, leaving one feeling flayed, raw and exposed. The normal defences of the personality are stripped away – which is the work done by a shaman’s drugs, drums and dances. Then there is danger – a word that also means there are ghosts and spirits – and no protection to separate the shaman from the spirits.

It’s worth noticing that the line doesn’t actually say that this means misfortune. Sometimes, in the Yijing, it can still be worth going ahead even in the face of danger. Having said that… I can’t remember ever seeing a real-life reading with this line where the trust was well-placed. (I can remember twice seeing it refer to joining pyramid schemes, which is interesting!)

To discover whether this danger is to be braved rather than avoided, you’d need to ask what you are trusting, so that you allow your defences to be stripped from you; what ‘marriage’ you are entering into that warrants accepting the second place and surrendering control; what kind of ‘home’ you are joining. Perhaps a supremely wise and skilled shamaness could trust in stripping away and emerge unscathed?

7 responses to Trusting in stripping away

  1. My own take on this tends to be – what is passing, ephemeral, falling apart or dying probably should fall apart. A behavior that isn’t sustainable should eventually extinguish itself. To try and pressure the world into behaving otherwise is just asking for grief. To hope that the natural selection process won’t act when it impinges on sensitive feelings is bu dao, against the way. The Zhi Gua (54) suggests that what is being trusted in is ephemeral. This anecdote is one of the things that runs through my head when I get this line:

    Spring, 1973, Atlas
    Back on the commune we had a small herd of goats, ranging upwards to 24 in number. Several of the does had just given birth to seven kids in all. Late one evening one of our Nubian does, Honey, was last to give birth, to a pair of kids. The first was healthy and stood up right away. The second was small and had trouble getting to his feet. Honey got extremely agitated. First she started to snort and pace, and then she started trying to kill the second kid. There was a small crowd gathered to watch the birth. The ladies there quickly intervened to save the kid. They took him to the main house, made a little place for him to stay warm, brought him bottled milk and nursed him for a full six weeks until he could stand on his still-shaky legs. They named him Atlas, for all the weight that he had to carry. Finally they decided that little Atlas was ready to rejoin the herd and they set him free in the corral. Socialization wasn’t that much of a problem. Atlas started playing with the other kids right away.
    Within three days, all nine of the kids, including Atlas, were dead from the disease that Atlas was carrying. In trying to kill her offspring, Honey “knew” exactly what she was doing, because she was following her Dao. It was the goodness of the humans that interfered with the Dao here and caused all of the damage.

  2. Yes. 🙂

    Completely different take, and it makes good sense (and fits the pyramid marketing example well). You’ll be telling me next that I haven’t finished working on this…

  3. Other takes are not inconsistent with the Yi’s approach,
    but each take really needs to explain why there is danger in this trust.

  4. Yes. I was thinking of the danger there might be in Ouija boards, or psychedelics taken without guidance or skill – trusting in what strips the self away.

  5. The most common meaning of dui, not as the hexagram but in texts, is loosen, open up (as far as I know about ‘most common’). Like 9.3, where the spokes of the cart “loosen”, dui. That comes very close to pruning.

    I think in 58 the meaning is also in the first place this loosening. Joy feels like loosening, exchange is opening up to others, the shamaness provides an opening to the spirits.

    When I look at line 5 and I put Harmen’s ‘inspiring confidence in others’ there, it is “inspiring confidence in stripping”. The fanyao is about the marrying wife who makes no fuss about her sleeves. She is the primary wife, that brings lots of honor, she doesn’t need more. Less is ok because she doesn’t need it. But in 58 you make others follow you in your ‘less’, maybe that is the danger? It did happen to me, someone making me believe I could do without, I got rid of something and later I regretted it a lot. No idea if that is what it means – just a thought.

    Or it might mean that in all opening up you need a lot of discerning power so you connect only with the right things and right people. Trusting people too easily really is dangerous.
    Don’t show the back of your tongue, play your cards close to your chest.

  6. I like the sleeves connection very much, hadn’t seen that. Also, the sleeves are a surface layer, maybe a protective surface – that seems to be what gets stripped away, as often as not. (Was it for you, when you had confidence in stripping away?)

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