In 2014, Sheffield’s half marathon was cancelled. It was some kind of last minute organisational shambles: not until the spectators were lining the route and the runners waiting at the start did the organisers report that their water supplies hadn’t shown up, so they couldn’t go ahead.
The runners started running anyway – and as word of the missing water supplies spread along the 13 mile course, spectators started fetching water. Bottles they bought themselves (until the shops ran out), cupfuls from coffee shops, even rinsed-out milk cartons… hands reached out offering water, all along the route.
Well… of course they did. We know what it’s like to be thirsty, and we know runners need water.
Wanting to give someone a reading is very much the same: we know what it’s like to be stuck and adrift, and once you have the experience of what Yi does and gives, you want to share that.
So wanting to share comes of wanting to help, as anyone would. But what we’re giving with Yi is not so easily bottled, I think.
Certainly you start with the fundamental human gift of presence, attention and empathy – yet even that seems to me to take on an added significance in a reading. A (the?) core experience of meeting Yi is the sense that you’re being heard by the oracle. When someone meets Yi through you, then your listening is the first they experience, as a sort of place-holder. (Which is a fearsomely daunting thought.)
And then… Sheffield’s spectators did not line the route with banners reading,
‘You Must Be Really Thirsty!’
We don’t only want to listen, but to help – to make change possible for this person. But giving a reading is not ‘helping’ in any way we’re used to. It’s not offering our advice or sharing our opinion – it’s not even, ‘I really want this outcome for you, so let me help you get it.’ (Although we almost certainly do want something for them, so this part is tricky…)
In fact, I think part of giving a reading is to help the other person to take a few steps back from looking directly for solutions – to move instead towards an overview, finding how things flow, and escaping from problem-wrangling. Which is also not easy, because when someone’s in mid-wrangle it’s natural to want to line up with them, pitch in and help them work it out. ‘What are the pros and cons?’ or ‘Have you thought of this?’ or ‘Maybe he didn’t call because he didn’t realise you’d expect him to, so maybe you should call him,’ or ‘Look, he’s just not that into you and you really need to move on.’
Sharing a reading bypasses all of that. After all, if I were sure I knew the solution this person needs, what would be the point of involving Yi? I need to find my starting place in curiosity and openness – loosening my grip on anything I ‘know’ until it becomes only something I’m wondering about. Yes, that is a real puzzle; no, I don’t know what’s happening, I don’t know what’s true, I don’t know the way through… I wonder what’s true; I wonder what Yi will say.
(One of the joys of reading for others: finding more and more worlds of experience I know nothing about. After listening to a querent and helping them find their question, before they cast their reading and email me the results, there is a beautiful long moment for sinking into not knowing, wondering what Yi will say, looking forward to seeing the picture unveiled.)
Then you give the reading – and what you’re giving is the power to break out of problem-wrangling altogether. A reading can carry someone out of the traps in their thinking, away from the places where they’re stuck, into a bigger and more real world. (I think that’s just as true when the reading says, ‘This is falling apart; there is nothing you can do.’)
How does it do this? (What is the experience of a reading that we want to share?) I’ve heard so many descriptions, but I think the core of it is reconnection. Reconnecting with a wider reality, when your field of vision’s narrowing and your world’s shrinking; reconnecting with your own strength and confidence; restoring your awareness of connection with a cosmos that speaks with you. Which is probably, in the end, all the same reconnection.
And what makes this possible? What gets someone to ‘escape velocity’ from the gravity of their problems?
Trust in the oracle, of course – there’s no reading without the willingness to listen that first opens a channel of communication. But really, that’s something the querent already has; that’s how they could ask the question.
No… I think what the reader brings is smaller and subtler: the sure knowledge that this works. In interpreting someone else’s reading, you lend them your relationship with Yi – a relationship that’s made of practice and hindsight, of ways of engaging with and understanding a reading, of individual experiences with hexagrams and lines. This will hold the reading together, so it can carry the querent through.
Behind the scenes…
…there are a couple of reasons why I’m sharing this now.
First because I’ve been doing readings, and reflecting on what I’m doing. Then because I asked Yi the question, ‘When someone gives someone a reading, what are they giving?’ and received 126.96.36.199.4 to 2 – an answer you’ll probably recognise in the post above…
And also because all this is part of preparing for the Reading for Others class next month.
It’s going to be especially important for this class to get together a group of people for whom it’s a good fit – people for whom my approach to the Yi resonates, and who can happily work together and bounce ideas off one another as we share readings and feedback. So another reason for sharing this post is as another step towards finding that ‘good fit’ group – to see whether it makes sense to you and whether it describes something you want to do.
If this resonates, and if you’re interested in next month’s class, then do make sure you’re signed up for notifications. (The next steps will probably be an ‘Is this for you?’ questionnaire followed by a conversation.)
Reading For Others
– an anthology.