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The king’s presence

The king’s presence
This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Part of the furniture

(The story so far: I asked what to write about, and Yi’s response – to 46 – gave me the idea of writing about what makes for a friendly, domestic, quotidien, integrated relationship with the Oracle. I’ve written about lines 1 and 2; here’s line 5.)

What makes for an integrated relationship with Yi? Boundaries, nourishment at the centre – and the king’s presence:

‘With the king’s presence, there is a home.
Do not worry. Good fortune.’

Hexagram 37, line 5

This is a perfect echo of line 1: ‘With barriers, there is a home.’


xian you jia: ‘barriers there-is home’


wang jia you jia: ‘king presence there-is home.’

To make a home, you need these two things: a barred door, and an authority inside. Looking at a relationship with the Oracle: there has to be someone inside who takes responsibility and makes choices – and that’s you.

This reminds me of two important things about readings…

You’re in charge

First, the Yijing doesn’t take any decisions. That’s what humans do. The oracle will show you pictures of your options, and yes, that may make the right course of action so devastatingly obvious to you that it feels as though the decision is made for you – but it really isn’t. You’re still the king.

(This becomes clear when you see how different people can receive the same reading and take the opposite decision. Some people see Hexagram 46, Pushing Upward, and know in their bones they don’t want to climb any more mountains, not even one step at a time. Some see Hexagram 29, Repeating Chasms, and are ready to dive into its deepest, darkest pits, trusting they’ll learn to swim on the way down. And this is why there’s no such thing as a ‘good hexagram’.)

Decisions inside readings

And secondly, the king has to be inside the home for this to work. That is, you have to bring your decisions inside the reading relationship. Tentative, experimental, ‘I wonder what it’ll say?’ readings – maybe with the decision already taken before casting – aren’t the same. A relationship with Yi means being prepared to jettison cherished plans, or take risks when we’d really rather not. Basically, it means being willing to change your mind.

Royal visibility

One other thing – the king is naturally visible; there’s no such thing as a king no-one’s heard of. And this line changes to Hexagram 22, Beauty. This line’s about the clear and visible sign of People in the Home: something that solemnises the relationship, in a way. Remember the Sequence from Hexagram 21, Biting Through:

‘Things cannot carelessly unite and be completed, and so Beauty follows. Beauty means adorning.’

Hexagram 22, Xugua

The king in line 5 is demonstrating the solidity of the home, sending the message that you can have confidence, do not worry, he has chosen to hold this space.

I think there are ways to do this for readings, too. ‘Carelessly uniting’ with an oracle is not complete: you need some degree of formality, some clear sign – if only to yourself – of what this is.

As you may know, I’m no great enthusiast for elaborate ceremony around readings, but I do believe in whatever enhances awareness and focus for you. For me, this means keeping a journal and writing down my intent for each reading. The reading itself can be quick and chatty, but I still want this visible reminder of what I’m doing when I divine.

‘Do not worry’

You can also look further into Hexagram 22 to understand why Yi advises us, here, not to worry. The king’s presence should banish worry, that much seems clear, but why does it need mentioning? Where might the worry come from?

The fan yao – reverse line, the one changing back from 22 to 37 – often answers this kind of question about a line’s emotional context. Here’s 22.5:

‘Beauty in a hilltop garden.
A roll of silk: small, so small.
In the end, good fortune.’

‘Beauty in a hilltop garden.
A roll of silk: small, so small.
In the end, good fortune.’

Hexagram 22, line 5

Here’s a suitor who wants to create a home, but worries about the inadequacy of his own contribution. Or… here’s someone who wants the Yi to be part of their life and their decision-making, but I’m not an expert, and what if I’m doing it all wrong? Don’t worry, says 37.5: you are present in the reading, and that makes it real. (I think line 6 has more to say about that – coming in the next post.)

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