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‘DIY’ tips for I Ching divination

Not interpreting the I Ching

Not interpreting the I Ching

This is a challenge I set for Change Circle members in the first week of our Imagery Class: to find a way to respond to a reading without interpreting it. The idea is to create a space where we can interact with all the layers and facets of the Yi’s imagery from the ‘inside’. Instead of dry theorising about the various things an image might represent, we can have an immediate, visceral experience of the reading. Then the imagery-experience resonates with our lived experience, and the oracle gets to work.

For me, this is a way to escape from the trap of ‘knowing what it means’. This hexagram is about overwhelm, that line is about defensiveness… yes, maybe (and also maybe not), but what is it saying to you now? It’s horribly easy to slip into doing a ‘what I already know this means’ reading instead of a Yijing reading.

For a comparative newcomer to the oracle, the same strategy – respond first, interpret later – might be a way to escape reliance on commentaries. That’s just another variety of ‘knowing what it means’ before you have time to respond to the reading, only with the idea that someone else knows when you don’t. Any such advance knowledge, yours or a commentator’s, puts distance between you and direct experience of your reading.

So Change Circle members have been coming up with ways to connect with a reading and defer interpretation. First you experience the imagery in its own terms, from the inside; then you start to ask what this experience reminds you of.

This week’s experiment involves telling the story of a hexagram or line, in the first person, from the inside – without trying to apply it to the question. For instance…

‘The disaster of disentangling
Maybe someone tethered a cow –
Travelling people’s gain,
Townspeople’s disaster.’

Hexagram 25, line 3

‘I promise you I tied Daisy up to this post just like I always do, I used the same good old knots that my father taught me, and now she’s gone! How was I supposed to know something like that could happen?’

‘People in harmony at the outskirts altar.
No regrets.’

Hexagram 13, line 6

‘Well, here we all are! Look at that great dome of sky… it’s so good to get outside. Spread out, now, there’s plenty of elbow room for everyone. Bring the sacrifice! Start the singing!’

‘The vessel with upended feet.
Fruitful to get the blockage out…’

Hexagram 50, line 1

‘What am I doing? I’m cleaning out this vessel is what I’m doing. Yes, I know it’s not exactly ritually correct – OK, so it’s unspeakably disrespectful – but that gunk stuck in the legs was making everything smell odd, and do you think the ancestors appreciate that? No, nor do I. Now if I just give it a couple of sharp taps with this wooden spoon…’

Your stories will be different, of course, and different again each time you come back to a line – and that’s as it should be. The oracle is alive, and there’s nothing set in stone to tell us what its words mean.

I Ching Community discussion

News about Resonance Journal for Mac

Long, long ago, when Justin (the programmer) and I started incubating the idea of Yijing journal software, we settled on building it in Java so it would work for Windows and Mac. And thanks to much attention and TLC from Justin, that’s what it does. However… it all turned out to be a little trickier… Continue Reading

Gathering readings, overturning the block

Gathering readings, overturning the block

Here’s a lovely message I had last year from PeterS, getting on well with his Resonance Journal: “I should note that a pressing reason for me to adopt Resonance Journal is the sense that I was building up a collection of readings for which I was taking careful notes (in a MS Word doc) but… Continue Reading

Skip or symphony

Skip or symphony
This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series Hidden gems

Lately, I’ve been noticing differences between approaches to the Yi. We might describe what we do in the same words – we all ‘consult the oracle’ – but what actually happens next is not at all the same thing. And I think these differences come down to how we conceive of the oracle we’re consulting.… Continue Reading

New Resonance Journal version

New Resonance Journal version

If you’ve opened your Resonance Journal today, you’ll have noticed the ‘Update available’ button is active. Click it! Your journal will update to version 2.5.1, which includes some nifty new features. If you don’t have a copy of the Resonance Journal, you can download a trial from here. It’s available for Windows or Mac computers… Continue Reading

Trusting your reading

Trusting your reading
This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Part of the furniture

It’s one thing to consult the Yijing; finding the confidence to act on what it says is something else. (What if I’ve got this wrong?) Yet readings without this, without change, are theoretical at best, and at worst… maybe something more serious than a mere waste of time. We need to recognise the reading’s authority… Continue Reading

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 – 37.1.2.5.6 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?… Continue Reading

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