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Blog post: 23 as relating hexagram


Apr 8, 1970
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This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Hexagram 23
I wrote about a core message of Hexagram 23 when it’s your cast hexagram: how it demands a true*tabula rasa, not just a ‘rethink’. What about 23 as relating hexagram – what can that mean?
Of course, there are 64 different ways a reading can change to Hexagram 23, but here are the six ways that involve just one line changing:
‘Giving up your own spirit tortoise,
Gazing at me with jaws hanging down.
Pitfall.’ (27.1)
‘Embracing the ignoramus, good fortune.
Receiving a wife, good fortune.
The son governs the home.’ (4.2)
‘Stilling your waist,
Dividing your back,
Danger smothers the heart.’ (52.3)
‘Advancing like a long-tailed rodent,
Constancy: danger.’ (35.4)
‘Seeing my own life.
The noble one is without mistake.’ (20.5)
‘Dragons battling in the open country.
Their blood dark and yellow.’ (2.6)
If we can see what these lines have in common, that might (perhaps) offer a guide to the more complex, multi-line readings.
The first thing I notice is that they all seem to involve separation and divergence: explicitly or implicitly, there are two directions present, and the distance between them is important.
Gazing at the hanging jaws means giving up your sacred tortoise. Accepting the child’s new authority means moving away from the certainty of the father’s rule. You keep your waist still, but natural movement continues and pulls you apart. The humans want a grain store, but the rodent’s idea of ‘advance’ takes things in another direction. The noble one’s detached vision pulls up and away from involvement. The dragons of winter and spring fight to pull the year in opposite directions.*It all shows the influence*of 23 as*Splitting Apart.
In a lot of these – all except 20.5, perhaps – there’s rivalry between two authorities, or two agendas, pulling in opposite directions. (And perhaps you could even construe 20.5’s overview as an alternative ‘authority’.) The line is tending to split apart from an original structure, vision or flow – pulling away from the situation’s dominant direction.
That divergence can show up as an inner division that becomes self-sabotage: pushing out that solid sixth line can amount to separating from your own motive force, your natural insight, desire, greater purpose or creative direction.
In relationships between people, the growing distance stretches communication to breaking point. People pull too far apart to connect with one another, or with an idea.
Separating from the yang sixth line can also feel like ‘getting off the train’ – separating yourself and your perspective from the onward march of things. Is that ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or feasible? It depends what you think of the onward march. Wondering whether to accept the upgrade to Windows 10, I asked Yi about declining, and had 2.6 – resisting the change, separating from the trajectory of ongoing upgrades and updates Microsoft has laid out for us.
Every now and then, Stripping Away as relating hexagram has a paradoxically creative effect, opening space for more responsive action.*You can recognise this in the moving line texts – 4.2 or 20.5, for instance. And the same’s true of multi-line readings.
Decreasing and Stripping Away, 41.1.2 to 23 –
‘Bringing your own business to an end, going swiftly,
Not a mistake.
Considering decreasing it.’
‘Constancy bears fruit,
Setting out to bring order: pitfall.
Not decreasing, increasing it.’
Your own agenda is stripped out, cleared out of the way of increase.
Gradual Development’s Stripping Away, 53.3.5 to 23 –
‘The wild geese gradually progress to the high plateau.
The husband marches out and does not return,
The wife is pregnant, but does not raise the child.
Fruitful to resist outlaws.’
‘The wild geese gradually progress to the ancestral grave-mounds.
The wife is not pregnant for three years.
In the end, nothing can prevent it.
Good fortune.’
– and Already Across, Stripping Away, 63.2.4 to 23 –
‘Your wheels dragged back.
Constancy, good fortune.’
‘Constancy, good fortune, regrets vanish.
The Thunderer uses this to attack the Demon Country.
Three years go round, and there are rewards in the great city.’
In both of those readings, what’s stripped away seems to be your own*timetable: you might expect to have arrived by now, but no. That can eb experienced*as a great loss.
Or 12.4.5 to 23, a reading I had once for what to do with a decaying wisdom tooth. I think those lines –
‘There is a mandate, no mistake.
Work with clarity, fulfilment.’
‘Resting when blocked.
Great person, good fortune.
It is lost, it is lost!
Tie it to the bushy mulberry tree.’
– are a way of separating one’s own efforts from the outcome. I used raw garlic to cure the infection (not for the faint-hearted); then I had the thing extracted, and was finally able to concentrate on something else. Stripping Away can*even be a relief…

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