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Blog post: Sharing the I Ching

hilary

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Sharing the I Ching

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Have you ever tried to explain your relationship with the I Ching to someone? Maybe explaining how you took a decision, solved a problem, reached an insight?

Or do you find it simpler just to avoid the subject altogether?

Naturally, I find myself mentioning the oracle more often than most: more or less every time someone asks the ‘What do you do?’ question. And then there’s usually perfect befuddlement, and then I need to try to explain – at least a little – which I always used to find quite awkward and embarrassing. I’m sure you know the feeling. But… why is that?

Of course, there’s always the chance that the person you’re talking to will hold a religious conviction that divination is the work of the devil, you are inviting in evil spirits, and so on. (More of a chance if you’re in the US, I imagine.) Then, I think, you have to respect that this person is genuinely, altruistically afraid for you – and hope to change the subject soon.

This isn’t the source of the awkwardness, though, or not for me. I think that stems from another religion, one that seems to permeate our culture more completely: scientism. Divination, it says, is obviously not real. Why not? Because it can’t be: there is no scientific explanation for how it could work, therefore it can’t. This is obvious; everyone knows.

It follows that anyone who believes otherwise is obviously nutty, totally fruitcake, several sandwiches short of a picnic. Divination is present in popular culture as a bit of a joke (headscarf, crystal ball and so on) – ‘for entertainment purposes only’ – but to admit to doing readings and taking what an oracle says seriously is tantamount to admitting that you have a whole colony of bats in the belfry.

(A few weeks ago I had the ‘what do you do?’ conversation with a new friend, and watched his face as I told him. The ‘Oh, just as I was starting to think you were intelligent’ reaction was written there clearly enough, though he hid it very politely as he changed the subject. Ah well – never mind.)

The thing is… you don’t have to be a dogmatic believer in scientism to feel its influence. Twenty-four years ago, if someone asked what I did, I was liable to respond with an embarrassed mumble – something along the lines of

‘It’sthisthingyouwon’thaveheardofandyou’llthinkit’smadwhichisnotaproblematallniceweatherwe’rehaving.’

I suppose that’s because I grew up in a world – and a family – where everyone knew divination wasn’t real. It’s taken me a while to be able simply to tell people what I do and how it helps people.

And – who knew? – it turns out some people are actually interested. I’ve found myself sitting down drawing hexagrams on the back of an envelope in a coffee shop, or asking, ‘Imagine you were asking about taking on another voluntary role and someone told you that the house’s main roof beam was bending under the strain – what would that mean?’ Maybe scientism is only a slightly brittle layer over the surface of an older knowing?

Incidentally… one of the most open, interested people I’ve talked to about this, a woman who asked excellent questions about what kinds of things people ask, and what the answers are like, and how they help, and why I value the oracle and what I believe it reveals about the nature of reality… turned out to be a vicar. (I didn’t find this out until later, when there was an opening for me to ask what she did.)

I’ve also had a couple of lovely encounters with people who know the I Ching themselves, and remember a reading that might have changed the course of their lives. The oracle, it turns out, is a big part of the reason why my local greengrocer moved to this (southwest!) part of the country. And there was this encounter I wrote about in the ‘Aha!’ answers thread back in 2008:

I’d gone into Oxford to buy something specific, and after a lot of hunting round I found what I was looking for. But for some reason I decided to walk on and look at the next shop I’d been going to visit anyway, where I happened on a pot of minute beads that I thought would make the ultimate portable set of 16.


When I took my beads to the till and explained what they were for, the shopkeeper was fascinated. She didn’t know you could consult with beads, but she had a history with the I Ching. She remembered there was a time when she ‘wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning without casting,’ and she remembered vividly how the oracle could give her a firm kick when needed.
But most of all, she remembered the time in the 70s when the oracle talked her out of carrying cocaine through customs. She’d already agreed to carry it, but still asked the I Ching for its comment. It said something about the small fox that soaks iits tail in the water and can’t complete the crossing; she changed her mind.

(You see what I mean about a reading that might have changed the course of a life!)

This hardly ever happens: most people have never heard of the I Ching. (Someone should make a website about it or something.) But you never know…

Anyway, I’d encourage you to be unafraid to share. Yes, some people might think you’re deranged, and you certainly can’t make anyone change their mind (about anything, ever, but particularly not about their religion). And if you’ve learned from a reading what to say to someone else to help them, it might help them more if you can conceal your sources. I’ve seen Hexagram 36 in this connection a few times –

‘Brightness enters the earth’s centre. Brightness Hiding.
A noble one, overseeing the crowds, uses darkness and light.’

Hexagram 36, Brightness Hiding, the Image

But by speaking up, you might have a delightful encounter with a fellow-fruitcake – and you might even spark someone’s interest and the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
 

rosada

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Yeah, words like “divination” and “oracle” tend to freak people out. I used to try introducing the ic as the world’s oldest self-help book but that sounded kinda boring. Now I say the I Ching is the original AI and suddenly folks think it’s cool and want to know more.
 
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Liselle

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Now I say the I Ching is the original AI
:rofl: Interesting! Good AI, though, not the kind that gives you pictures of two-headed chipmunks. (Although I suppose sometimes we feel like our readings are two-headed chipmunks.)
 

surnevs

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Yeah, words like “divination” and “oracle” tend to freak people out. I used to try introducing the ic as the world’s oldest self-help book but that sounded kinda boring. Now I say the I Ching is the original AI and suddenly folks think it’s cool and want to know more.
Artificial ? The I Ching ? As strange as the AI phenomenon is as weird it is that the I Ching should be artificial... On the contrary, our thoughts or Minds could be counted as artificial.
Or?
 

Liselle

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I don't think Rosada meant any disrespect, and I don't, either. I mean, "a book that answers you when you ask it questions" isn't entirely different from AI (again, when AI is worthwhile, and that's iffy - Yi is always worthwhile, but then it has divine intervention and a few thousand years on AI).
 

Liselle

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Of course they're meant for completely different things - I don't think Google Gemini would be much help with "how to broach this awful subject with my friend" and I wouldn't ask Yi how to cook a pot roast. It's a lighthearted comparison, is all.
 

surnevs

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Oh, yeah. Could be me too hasty on here... Sorry
 
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my_key

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Sharing the I Ching
......which I always used to find quite awkward and embarrassing. I’m sure you know the feeling. But… why is that?
You are right to identify the taboos that have grown up around I Ching and other outlets for magick that make the speaking of our own truths difficult to embrace. There are a myriad of familial, social and cultural norms that call on us to be a star that fits neatly into their routinely accepted constellations. That is not to mention ancestral considerations that may create a fear in us a risk being different: events like the Salem Witch Trials or the Spanish Inquisition cast long shadows.

Somewhere, in choosing to engage with the I Ching we have chosen a life on the edge and with it comes the risk of living the life of an outcast. We adopt the mantle, either knowingly or unknowingly, of the shaman, the witch, the high priest or priestess, who stand astride two worlds. We become the healing woman, or the medicine man who have built their altars just outside the village, and that can be a lonely place, when the labels have been firmly attached by others and when what we experience and feel is that no-one else wants to live nearby or play with our toys.

From a family perspective, in my experience it does not have to be the negative press given to divination that fouls the water but, the more invidious distress created by no mention at all: this carries potential for a wound inflicted by a deep neglect rather than just the living with the 'Keep Out ! Danger! ' warnings that we most face. This sense of 'something's missing but I don't know what it is' can also be mirrored in social, cultural and even ancestral settings.

At an early age we all 'know' and 'feel' these connections. We have our feet, with those cute little toes, in two worlds and in time the fears or ignorance of authority figures in our lives, shape the nature of the relationship we have to all things. While the town may be moved by this, the rope cut short, the pitcher broken or the channels blocked with silt, the well is always there waiting for us to return.

Scientism has, I agree, contributed greatly to the disconnect that exists in our modern world however I believe the rot set in way before that. Human development has taken a long but persistent path away from nature and the interconnectedness of natural phenomena. For many, logic now holds the power over art and craft; proof over faith. Living without proof means, by extension, that you have to embrace 'not knowing' and that is one of the larger assailants on the wellbeing of individuals and of the human collective.

Fear of not knowing is a deep wound and easily breeds many of the modern day mental and emotional ailments. Being open and honest about who you are and what you believe is like shining a light or holding up a beacon that will guide or attract others, as deep down everybody whats to shine.
Anyway, I’d encourage you to be unafraid to share. Yes, some people might think you’re deranged, and you certainly can’t make anyone change their mind (about anything, ever, but particularly not about their religion). And if you’ve learned from a reading what to say to someone else to help them, it might help them more if you can conceal your sources. I’ve seen Hexagram 36 in this connection a few times –

But by speaking up, you might have a delightful encounter with a fellow-fruitcake – and you might even spark someone’s interest and the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
There a element of 36 in the reasoning of many who eschew or belittle divination and, I agree, they can only be met in the safety offered by their own back yard. This does not mean that is where we always have to play our games. There are always other yards where the element of 'should I, shouldn't I speak up' about the things I hold as bright can be given a free reign.

More than that, the personal journey that Yi invites anyone on is one of not just public disclosure, but one of personal disclosure. It offers a pathway from the attachments that hold us bound through to unashamedly displaying our authentic self; one, perhaps, significantly aligned with Hexagram 15.

The noble young one, accordingly, diminishes the excessive and adds to the deficient Appraising things with fair allocation (Bradford Hatcher)

Despite all the risks and associated feelings of not safe, what reasons are there for not sharing?


Good Luck
 

ChrisLef

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Sharing the I Ching

Have you ever tried to explain your relationship with the I Ching to someone? Maybe explaining how you took a decision, solved a problem, reached an insight?

Or do you find it simpler just to avoid the subject altogether?

Naturally, I find myself mentioning the oracle more often than most: more or less every time someone asks the ‘What do you do?’ question. And then there’s usually perfect befuddlement, and then I need to try to explain – at least a little – which I always used to find quite awkward and embarrassing. I’m sure you know the feeling. But… why is that?

Of course, there’s always the chance that the person you’re talking to will hold a religious conviction that divination is the work of the devil, you are inviting in evil spirits, and so on. (More of a chance if you’re in the US, I imagine.) Then, I think, you have to respect that this person is genuinely, altruistically afraid for you – and hope to change the subject soon.

This isn’t the source of the awkwardness, though, or not for me. I think that stems from another religion, one that seems to permeate our culture more completely: scientism. Divination, it says, is obviously not real. Why not? Because it can’t be: there is no scientific explanation for how it could work, therefore it can’t. This is obvious; everyone knows.

It follows that anyone who believes otherwise is obviously nutty, totally fruitcake, several sandwiches short of a picnic. Divination is present in popular culture as a bit of a joke (headscarf, crystal ball and so on) – ‘for entertainment purposes only’ – but to admit to doing readings and taking what an oracle says seriously is tantamount to admitting that you have a whole colony of bats in the belfry.

(A few weeks ago I had the ‘what do you do?’ conversation with a new friend, and watched his face as I told him. The ‘Oh, just as I was starting to think you were intelligent’ reaction was written there clearly enough, though he hid it very politely as he changed the subject. Ah well – never mind.)

The thing is… you don’t have to be a dogmatic believer in scientism to feel its influence. Twenty-four years ago, if someone asked what I did, I was liable to respond with an embarrassed mumble – something along the lines of

‘It’sthisthingyouwon’thaveheardofandyou’llthinkit’smadwhichisnotaproblematallniceweatherwe’rehaving.’

I suppose that’s because I grew up in a world – and a family – where everyone knew divination wasn’t real. It’s taken me a while to be able simply to tell people what I do and how it helps people.

And – who knew? – it turns out some people are actually interested. I’ve found myself sitting down drawing hexagrams on the back of an envelope in a coffee shop, or asking, ‘Imagine you were asking about taking on another voluntary role and someone told you that the house’s main roof beam was bending under the strain – what would that mean?’ Maybe scientism is only a slightly brittle layer over the surface of an older knowing?

Incidentally… one of the most open, interested people I’ve talked to about this, a woman who asked excellent questions about what kinds of things people ask, and what the answers are like, and how they help, and why I value the oracle and what I believe it reveals about the nature of reality… turned out to be a vicar. (I didn’t find this out until later, when there was an opening for me to ask what she did.)

I’ve also had a couple of lovely encounters with people who know the I Ching themselves, and remember a reading that might have changed the course of their lives. The oracle, it turns out, is a big part of the reason why my local greengrocer moved to this (southwest!) part of the country. And there was this encounter I wrote about in the ‘Aha!’ answers thread back in 2008:



(You see what I mean about a reading that might have changed the course of a life!)

This hardly ever happens: most people have never heard of the I Ching. (Someone should make a website about it or something.) But you never know…

Anyway, I’d encourage you to be unafraid to share. Yes, some people might think you’re deranged, and you certainly can’t make anyone change their mind (about anything, ever, but particularly not about their religion). And if you’ve learned from a reading what to say to someone else to help them, it might help them more if you can conceal your sources. I’ve seen Hexagram 36 in this connection a few times –



But by speaking up, you might have a delightful encounter with a fellow-fruitcake – and you might even spark someone’s interest and the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
In my therapy practice I've often found that I would love to introduce clients to the Oracle, but whenever I've asked whether I should do that for a particular client, more often than not, I've had a rather 'mmmmm....' reply from the Oracle. Over the years I've come to the conclusion that the I Ching really doesn't like being 'foisted' onto people by exuberant therapists. These days I tend to think that it comes into people's lives by the grace of God (or something similar).

If someone I'm working with finally 'gets' that the unconscious is the 'unknowable other' and asks me how I cope with that, my first answer would be through the symbology of my dreams, but then I'll mention the I Ching and possibly astrology (which is my other fascination). If the person expresses a definite interest I'll teach them the coin method - and sometimes recommend an online website for casting - and advise them to use Anthony's 'Guide to the I Ching' as a first resource, along the Jim Dekorne's 'Gnostic I Ching' as a second suggestion. The Gnostic bit always puts them off a bit until I explain they can ignore that if they want - it's just a really good resource. The astrology I usually keep well away from - people really do find it somewhat weird and, I guess, frightening. Free will is rather a comfort blanket I'm afraid.
 

hilary

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It may be one of those things - like diets - that you can't introduce to anyone unless they're asking. Interesting that astrology is more frightening than Yi. I know tarot can be - I remember my own mother, learning what I was taking up for a living, expressing relief that at least it wasn't tarot!
 

my_key

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It may be one of those things - like diets - that you can't introduce to anyone unless they're asking. Interesting that astrology is more frightening than Yi. I know tarot can be - I remember my own mother, learning what I was taking up for a living, expressing relief that at least it wasn't tarot!
This is a good point. From my own experience I was unable to resonate with tarot. I would even say that I feared it. Yi, though, provided a gentle pathway into divination. Only after years of working with Yi was I able to embrace working with tarot with it's roots in the teachings of the Kabbalah. Astrology is still a maze, without a map, for me.

Perhaps it is the roots of each of these pathways that determine a person's acceptance of how, or indeed whether, they choose to communicate with the divine.
 

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