Thinking about the I Ching Foundations Class has got me thinking about what’s actually necessary to be able to interpret your own readings with some confidence – not with a cast-iron assurance that you’ll never make a mistake, just enough confidence that you can have a useful, creative, supportive, working relationship with the Yi. There are a lot of things it’s fascinating and tremendously helpful to know, a lot of tools that can transform understanding of a reading, lots of insights from long experience – but really, what’s the minimum you need to interpret your own readings? As that’s what I need to include in this class.
This reminds me of a story Jill Bolte-Taylor told, of how – as a grown woman – she found herself utterly baffled by the task of putting together a simple jigsaw. She’d had a major stroke – you’ve probably come across her Ted talk or her book about it – and had everything to relearn. Her mother looked carefully at how she was struggling, and told her she could use the colours to match the pieces. This, Jill says, made her aware of the colours – previously, she hadn’t registered their existence. All at once, jigsaws became a lot more possible.
To put a jigsaw together, you need just a few things: an awareness of the shapes of the different pieces; an awareness of the colours of the picture. Imagine for a moment trying to complete the task with one of those things simply missing from your awareness. But with them, more strategies become available – like putting all the edge pieces together first, or comparing with the picture on the box.
Interpreting a reading is similar. You need to be aware of the colours and the shapes – of how the oracle responds to you in imagery, and how the pieces of the reading fit together. Without either of those, you’re going to be badly stuck; with them, you have foundations on which to build your own style of interpreting and your own relationship with Yi.
I’ve spoken to a few people recently who have both the gifts and the training to understand imagery, but then find their readings look like a jumbled pile of image-pieces: primary, relating, lines, more lines, assorted texts… lots of bits that show no sign of fitting together. The image-pieces can and do still help, but the picture’s missing.
And then there are people who come to a screeching halt when Yi starts talking about kings, feudal lords and marrying maidens, none of which – of course – exists in their world. This is the colour, the imagery – and there are a few simple, learn-able skills to relating to imagery that will make readings a lot more possible.
Is there anything else you need for readings? Probably only some insight into how to ask clear, true questions. (I think this is where my jigsaw analogy reaches the end of its useful life – er, unless having your question in mind is like looking at the picture on the lid?)
How to learn these basics? Some well-chosen reading, years of experience and an abundance of trial and error work fine. I think the Foundations Class will be good, too.
A final note. The stroke survivors I’ve got to know from volunteering at the local Stroke Club are tremendously warm, courageous, ingenious and resourceful people, dealing with ridiculously hard problems. The umbrella organisation to support survivors in the UK is the Stroke Association.