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Hexagram 44, insect bites and nuclears

Here is a remarkable article from Alexa over at the Quotable I Ching, about Hexagram 44 and desire – and, yes, insect bites. Remarkable for how she captures the spirit of the hexagram – and without mentioning the ‘powerful woman’ even once.

:|||||She says the ‘encounter’ of 44 is like the encounter with a biting insect that leaves an itch – an irritation, invitation, temptation and chaotic force. ‘Trouble brewing under the skin’, she says – and you can see that in the shape of the hexagram, I think, with its insignificant-looking little opening in line 1 .

So where does ‘the woman is powerful, do not take this woman’ fit in? Perhaps she represents the strength of desire and the object of desire, and taking the woman is like – well – scratching the itch. It misses the point, because she has further to go. Trying to bring her under control in this way not only works just about as well as scratching the mosquito bite, it also misses the potential, fails to see where this could go. Alexa writes, ‘Often, what we want right now is a scratchy shroud over what our soul longs for.’

Actually, the beginning of her post reminded me of Hexagram 31 as much as 44. Which is interesting, because 44 is the nuclear hexagram of 31 –


– folded within it as potential, so that 31 shows one way in which the challenge of 44 can be worked out in living experience – through opening to influence, creating space and being moved.

And the other hexagrams of which 44 is the nuclear – the other ways of living it out?

In Hexagram 49 – through radical change, changing the form of government, changing skin. Hidden at the heart of such change is the force that demands it, with an implicit warning that it might not be quite as under control as you think.

(I think Rilke wrote about the 49-experience of 44 in his Archaic Torso of Apollo. Here’s the German original, and an English translationSomehow, an intense encounter with a work of art – that ‘glimmers like the hide of a predatory animal’ – becomes an extraordinary imperative: you must change your life.)

In Hexagram 13, through going out beyond the familiar walls and into the wilds to meet strangers-and-allies. (What if they’re completely different from us? What if they aren’t?)

And in Hexagram 33, through retreating – up the mountain, away from the threat, but still carrying the inner itch with you. (You never know what might visit you, up in the cave.)

Hexagram 44 ebook cover

Hexagram 44, Coupling

– an anthology.

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3 responses to Hexagram 44, insect bites and nuclears

  1. Hilary,

    Thanks so much for this commentary on the Hexagram 44 post! Can’t believe I didn’t see it until now.

    so fascinating, all the interlinks amongst the hexagrams — they really could go on into infinity. That is certainly one of the beauties of the oracle …

    Hex 44 as the nuclear of 31 — no surprise! Attraction … Desire. And the lines of 44 — one yin line at the bottom, as if that’s the first layer of skin that the itcher has gotten under …

    Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo” — that last line still gives me chills, 31 years after I first read it.

  2. I know this is a rather old post ~ but a poem that carries a lot of what hex 44 suggests certainly to me is this…. Advice by Bill Holme……

    Someone dancing inside us
    learned only a few steps:
    the “Do -your- Work” in 4/4 time;
    the “What- do -You- Expect” waltz.
    He hasn’t noticed yet the woman
    standing away from the lamp,
    the one with black eyes
    who nows the rhumba,
    and strange steps in jumpy rhythms
    from the mountains of Bulgaria.
    If they dance together,
    something unexpected will happen.
    If they don’t, the next world
    will be a lot like this one.

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