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 translation. Somehow, 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, Coupling
– an anthology.