This is an embarrassingly ‘first world problems’ kind of reading, but happily Yi doesn’t judge – and it was tremendously helpful at the time, so I thought it would be a good one to share.
How were things for you in March 2020? Round here, they were just getting weirpd, and my husband had become too worried about infection for either of us to enter any shop at all, not even the amazing little farm shop where I normally bought fresh vegetables.
This might not have bothered me had supermarket deliveries been available, but they were at capacity providing for the very elderly and vulnerable. Somehow I had to put food on the table – and preferably without creating any more stress.
It seems ridiculous with hindsight, but at the time I was really worried about this. Suddenly my tried-and-trusted, familiar ways of doing things were gone, and I genuinely had no idea how I was going to get hold of things like vegetables, or fresh milk.
Hence the anxious question: ‘How can I manage this?’
Yi’s answer: Hexagram 59, changing at lines 1, 2 and 5 to 27
Primary and relating hexagram
When a reading has moving lines, I always like to start by getting a feel for how its two hexagrams work together. I find this sets the scene and context for the whole reading. In Yijing Foundations, I compare it to a tent frame: it lends structure to the whole and shows you where everything goes. Also, reading the two hexagram names together can give you a very useful, memorable summary of the reading.
How to cope with this? Dispersing Nourishment. One of the first things I wrote in my journal was ‘Disperse your hunger.’ (I do enjoy my food!)
59, Dispersing, was obviously what had happened to my weekly routine: I’d cycle to the farm shop on Friday mornings, and the supermarket on Friday afternoons after volunteering. This kept us in fresh food, and had the added benefit of giving me some much-needed exercise, as I creaked and rattled my way along with panniers full of shopping. Now all that had been swept away down the river.
From my journal:
´Dispersing, creating success.
With the king´s presence, there is a temple.
Fruitful to cross the great river,
Constancy bears fruit.´
My habits need to go downstream. I need to stop trying to hang on to my usual sources of nutrition and my usual enjoyment of food. Release it, let it dissolve and evaporate.
…Dispersed Nourishment. Where do I find that sense of being supported and nourished by the world when I can´t have fresh food from the shops? Disperse, look for it elsewhere, from more diverse sources. The garden, the woods, the ´cello, Yi.
Yes, this is why I find it so distressing. I´m not going to be lacking calories, but I´m going to miss out on the frying pan full of orange, green and purple which tells me my health is supported, the earth loves me, I belong. Vegetables from Worton have been a key way I get that input. This is the 27 hunger at work.(Journal entry, March 2020)
In other words, 27 as relating was comically-obviously about food, but it wasn’t just about food – it’s the need for balance and stability in 27, and all kinds of nourishment.
Then inside that framework, the moving lines…
‘Rescuing with a horse’s strength,
‘Dispersing, flee to your support.
‘Dispersing sweat, his great proclamation.Hexagram 59, lines 1, 2 and 5
Dispersing the king’s residence / granaries
Line 5 was the first one I could recognise clearly:
Actually literally laughing out loud at that. Getting to the bottom of the king´s freezer & using up the venison stewing steak that´s been there since 2016 (or 15).
(It was 2015. Emptying our freezer was an archaeological expedition.)
Then I began to realise that all three lines were – amongst other things – step-by-step, calming guidance to keeping us fed.
‘Rescuing with a horse’s strength,59, line 1
Deliveries! Supermarkets didn’t, but the local butcher did, and after a week or two I found a small local firm that would do milk and vegetables. Having carrots, no less, arriving on our doorstep really did feel like a visit from a rescuing horse.
‘Dispersing, flee to your support.59, line 2
I realised this meant finding other ways to get in touch with my sense of nature-as-support – but I only learned gradually how many there were.
The day after the reading, I cycled up the road to see if eggs were still on sale at the farm gate. (They were!) And on the way, by someone’s front gate, I spotted a cardboard box – like people use in autumn to share their windfall apples. This one was full of sprigs of sage:
What a delight. From the journal:
Sage. As in ‘Cur moriatur homo, cui salvia crescit in horto?’ and as in smudging, and the best tea for throat infections. Magical.
I took a sprig, with profound gratitude. After a day or so, I thought to put it in water, in the hopes it might last longer that way.
I also headed out into our garden, which contained exactly no useful vegetables, but in those early spring days did have…
- ground elder
- yellow archangel
- primroses, violets, violet leaves, hawthorn buds, the first shoots of marjoram and the occasional dandelion to make salad.
…all of which were perfectly edible. Heading into the garden for a morning forage became a new routine. And I found that the ancient puy lentils lurking in the back of the pantry would still sprout.
‘Dispersing sweat, his great proclamation.59 line 5
Dispersing the king’s residence/ granaries
I excavated all the way to the bottom of the freezer, which turned out to contain enough meat and fish to keep us going for at least a week, supplemented by some beans and rice from the depths of the pantry.
After ten days or so, the rescuing horses arrived with fresh food – and if I’d had the sense to take the lines in order, I might have arranged that rather sooner. But in any case, all was well.
After the moving lines, I naturally circled back to the primary-relating framework – something I normally do, as it often looks different. It did this time.
From the journal:
The difference now: I feel absolutely provided for; no need to go hungry at all. Dispersing/ scattering the appetites = disperse among all the options, broaden your focus. We are sitting in the middle of plenty, even this early in the year.
Things I learned…
Dispersed nourishment comes from everywhere, and is all the more robust for that. Instead of feeding us with a settled routine, I found myself drawing on all sorts of odd bit of knowledge I’d picked up over the years: how to sprout seeds, how to forage, how to cook dried beans, how to make kefir.
There’s more support in line 2 than you knew, if you only take a step back and See. (59.2 zhi 20.)
A whole new appreciation for supermarkets! (I’m back to them now, post-vaccination).
And… when you put a sage sprig in water, it grows roots. You can pot it on and plant it out, and then look what happens…