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hilary

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The moon almost full

almost full moon
Some of the Yi’s most interesting phrases come in threes. The advice not to chase what’s lost, for instance, or ‘not robbers, marital allies’. This is another of those: ‘the moon is almost full’.

‘Already rained, already come to rest.
Honour the power it carries.
The wife’s constancy brings danger,
The moon is almost full.
Noble one sets out to bring order – pitfall.’

Hexagram 9, line 6
‘King Yi marries off the maidens.
The first wife’s sleeves are not as fine as the younger sister’s.
The moon almost full, good fortune.’

Hexagram 54, line 5
‘The moon almost full,
A horse’s yoke-mate runs away.
No mistake.’

Hexagram 61, line 4

What’s the significance of an almost-full moon?

The moon over China​


I’ve taken a quick dive into early Chinese ideas about the moon. There was the lunar calendar, of course, but from all I’ve been able to find out, the phases of the moon had no particular astrological significance.

The moon and sun have poetic significance, though. In the Book of Songs, women who are unhappy in love call out to sun and moon, and a man compares his beloved’s beauty to the moon:

‘A moon rising white
Is the beauty of my lovely one.
Ah, the tenderness, the grace!
Heart’s pain consumes me.’

Song 143 from The Book of Songs

There’s also a woman who lives in the moon: Heng E, the beautiful wife of Yi the Archer, stole the elixir of immortality from him and fled to the moon. Yi is the hero who shot at the ten suns when they all came out at once and scorched the earth, so he and his wife are connected with sun and moon. Of our three Yijing lines, two mention wives, and the third a pair of horses.

Let’s look at them one at a time…

9.6​


Hexagram 9, Small Taming, starts with the frustration of dark clouds that bring no rain. But by line 6, the rain has finally come – which makes it perhaps a little odd that this line changes to Hexagram 5, Waiting. Yet it does seem to counsel patience:

‘Already rained, already come to rest.
Honour the power it carries.
The wife’s constancy brings danger,
The moon is almost full.
Noble one sets out to bring order – pitfall.’

Now it’s rained, the ground is fertile – the seeds will germinate and grow. (In the garden after rain you can almost hear them stirring and waking.) The ‘moon almost full’ is part of the same atmosphere: nights are getting brighter, energy is on the rise. This is no time for the noble one to set out to war, not least because he needs to stay home and farm.

Why does the wife’s constancy mean danger, though?

An easy solution to this is to revert to the ancient meaning of zhen, ‘constancy’, as ‘divination’. With the yin, moon energy on the rise, the wife’s divination might be especially accurate, and she prognosticates the disaster if the man sets out.

Still… if there were such a thing as ‘wife’s constancy’, what could it be? Constancy means knowing truth and holding to it, carrying something through. And the wife governs the inner space, is the home-maker. So in my 2010 book, I imagined this as dogged persistence in creating and securing your own space. The man setting out to bring order was simply the externalised, male version of the same impulse – and while the wife’s constancy might avoid the pitfall of trying for too much certainty, a military expedition surely wouldn’t.

Only it occurs to me now that the wife’s role is also to bear children. Could this line be saying she’s conceived? Honour the power she carries; the moon is almost full. He really should stay home. And this would make for a strong connection with the zhi gua 5, Waiting.

When the moon is full, it will be fully opposite the sun – they face one another. That creates a strong contrast between 9.6 and 9.3:

‘A cart losing its wheel spokes.
Husband and wife avert their eyes.’

With the moon almost full, this line’s on the verge of that perfect partnershp. Its rising energy has to do with relationship, turning towards one another and coming into alignment – a terrible time for him to turn his face away from the home and set out to war.

54.5​


An interesting fact about Hexagram 54: in the Guicang, another ancient hexagram oracle of which only fragments survive, it is still called ‘Marrying Maiden’, and says,

‘Heng E stole it [the elixir of immortality] to flee to the moon. When she was about to go, she had the stalks divined by milfoil by You Huang. You Huang prognosticated them and said: Auspicious. So soaring the returning maiden, alone about to travel westward. Meeting heaven’s dark void; do not tremble, do not fear. Afterwards there will be great prosperity.’
Edward Shaughnessy, Unearthing the Changes

(On arrival, Heng E was transformed into the striped toad, which makes you wonder about You Huang’s refund policy.)

So this hexagram and the moon have history.

Here’s its fifth line:

‘King Yi marries off the maidens.
The first wife’s sleeves are not as fine as the younger sister’s.
The moon almost full, good fortune.’

The younger sister’s finer sleeves are understood to represent her greater fertility: she would become the mother of Fa, the future King Wu. We might say her star is rising; Yi says her moon is waxing. Shang and Zhou are coming into partnership; the Lady of Shen is coming into her own; the Mandate of Heaven is coming a little closer to the Zhou people. The moon is almost facing the sun, but for now, all we have are subtle omens and the sense of future promise. It’s a moment to celebrate what is to come.

61.4​


Hexagram 61 is full of pairs and partnerships – the crane and its young in line 2, the counterpart in line 3, and in line 4 a pair of horses:

‘The moon almost full,
A horse’s mate runs away.
No mistake.’

Unlike the previous two lines, this one puts the waxing moon first – emphasising that the light is getting brighter, we’re almost there, on the cusp of alignment and perfect rapport.

And… one of the horses runs away and disappears. (The verb used means ‘flee’ and also ‘disappear, lose, die’.) This certainly seems like a disaster, especially at such a moment, but we’re reassured that it’s not a mistake. Why not?

Line theory has an answer: the fourth line is yin, a ‘pair’ with the other yin line at line 3, but runs away from that one to support the yang fifth line, like someone who follows a higher path. That’s persuasive, but I’d find it even more so if only it said the horse’s mate runs free, or ascends, or finds a new master, instead of just saying that it’s gone.

We’re at the threshold between trigrams, of course, so there’s certainly a sense that line 4 is pulling away from line 3 as the wind moves freely over the lake. This seems to me to have an opening effect. The waxing moon is a time for partnership, but both the vanished horse and the one left behind are open now to new pairings, as free to respond as the mare of Hexagram 2. There’s a great sense in this line of opening up to invite new experience, and maybe even a walk with tigers.

Summing up…​


The ‘moon almost full’ becomes a lot more resonant when I realise that it’s the moon almost perfectly opposite the sun, just coming into full relationship with it. The theme is one of rapport, partnership and alignment – in potential, almost there. A time of anticipation, a good time to turn towards one another – or, in Hexagram 61, towards some mysterious new energy out beyond what we know.

almost full moon
 

Gmulii

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Every month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar starts with the New Moon.
And since everything in there is a cycle, every part of the calendar has meaning, either as increasing or decreasing of branches/stems(that being Fire and Wood vs Water and Metal).

In Divination and other types of systems, people usually use the Solar Calendar. The only systems that are heavily imprinted on the Lunar I can think of are ZWDS and QMDJ(of the ones I know, at least).

And they also work in very different way.
Anyway, the Lunar Calendar is used same as the Solar, only the month pillar is different. But it is connected to the Moon, that is how its calculated. Since it has a whole leap month every 2-3 years its very unreliable, however, so wiser to use the Solar if unsure.

If someone wants to see it in practice in our calendar site:

Can click Settings > Calendar
And choose Lunar Calendar.
That will show the elements for the Lunar Calendar that year.
 

hilary

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Thanks, Gmulii. Do you know of any qualities attributed to the phases of the moon - this phase is a good time for journeys, that one a good time for marriages - that kind of thing?

(The old sources I found described particular auspices and qualities of time attributed to where the moon was, but not its phase.)
 

Gmulii

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Thanks, Gmulii. Do you know of any qualities attributed to the phases of the moon - this phase is a good time for journeys, that one a good time for marriages - that kind of thing?

(The old sources I found described particular auspices and qualities of time attributed to where the moon was, but not its phase.)
I haven't seen the phase of the Moon used directly anywhere other then the month pillar in the lunar calendar I think.

As you mentioned, there is a lot focused on where they are (The 28 Lunar Mansions 二十八宿圖) I can post meaning based on that... But in practice that isn't accurate, as its just 28 values rotating every 28 days, so since everything drifts off with time I'm guessing the positions are different for hundreds if not thousands of years already.

In general, the Five Arts systems are awesome, but when it comes to precise astronomical calculations, western astrology works a lot better. As some people are worried that the stuff is not perfectly aligned with astronomical math(many examples for that all over), yet we can see in practice it doesn't slow them down, it still works great. But practitioners may need to accept that much of it, may not be entirely connected to a real phenomenon(some of the bazi pillars have drift off so far from what they are suppose to show that its silly to see them as still connected to Jupiter or other planets at this point).
 

dfreed

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The ancient Chinese kept track of time in different ways: using both a solar calendar and a lunar calendar (with it's 12 moons or months); and also using ten-day 'weeks' and 60-day cycles. I assume that certain tasks or rituals were assigned to, or carried out during specific moons (or months); perhaps others were done at a time that was divined to be 'auspicious'. And even without being tied to a specific month or moon, there were times within a month's cycle (new, waxing, waning, full) when certain tasks were best carried out.

For example, in Bio-dynamic Gardening, the phases of the moon play an important role: "they suggest the best times to do ... jobs, such as planting and pruning (is) when the moon is descending; or harvesting when the moon is ascending. Sowing seeds just before the full moon is always a winner ...."

I think the ancients knew this, and were well-attuned to these changes. So, when I think about the moon and it's phases, what comes to mind are the notions of time, cycles, the correct or appropriate timing of things, and the elemental forces which pull on us.

One takeaway (or story) for 9.6 might be:
Hex. 9 - farmers have been waiting for the rain to come, but so far they only see 'the signs' - clouds on the western horizon. At 9.6 the rain comes (and then stops) at just the right time - just before the full moon - so that (depending on the translation), farmers can now sow their seeds in the damp soil, or the full moon forces can now begin to 'pull on' the seeds and get them to grow. This is not a time for more auguries or omens, and not a time to travel, but instead it is a time to attend to the task at hand.​

The Shang and Zhou were inland states, but the Qin, Han and later dynasties were very aware of the pull of the moon (and the sun), which created high tides, which in turn could affect flooding and navigation - as they still do.

*******

I looked at Wilhelm's commentaries for a deeper dive. He starts off his commentary for 9.6:

'Because the (6th) line moves, the trigram Wind (Sun), becomes the trigram 'rain and moon' (Moving Water, Kan). The line stands at the top of Sun - gentle and devoted - which has gradually accumulated within itself the powers of the Creative (Heaven, lower trigram), so that the desired effect has been achieved ....'

Bringing this into modern times, another reading (story) for 9.6 might be:
In the Thames River in East London is the Thames Barrier which was built to protect London from flooding when a combination of high tides and a storm surge from the North Sea can flood and inundate the city.​
9.6: All the 'sign's are in place: the moon is full, the pressure is dropping, the wind has come up, along with the rain - and all these forces have come together - Wind, Rain, Moon, Tides - and could potentially flood London.​
The Thames Barrier Gatekeeper has canceled her 'gatekeeper's holiday' - which this year, because of COVID restrictions was going to be a tour of the 'gates' of London: Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Moorgate, Cripplegate, Aldersgate, Newgate, Ludgate. She's not going to linger over breakfast as she usually does - reading her horoscope or doing a Tarot reading - but instead she needs to get to the Barrier to attend to the task at hand - closing the gates so the city does not flood!​

Best, D
 
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hilary

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I like the point about growing with the phases of the moon - one thing that won't have changed in the past 3,000 years.
 

dfreed

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.... Wilhelm's .... commentary for 9.6: 'Because the (6th) line moves, the trigram Wind, becomes the trigram 'rain and moon' (Moving Water). The line stands at the top of Wind - gentle and devoted - which has gradually accumulated within itself the powers of the Creative (Heaven, lower trigram), so that the desired effect has been achieved ....'

I like the point about growing with the phases of the moon ....
Thanks. I apologize for my early morning (pre-coffee) ramblings about the Thames Barrier ... it made 'sense' at the time (and I still find it interesting), but looking back I realize that it was based on Rutt's translation, and are perhaps confusing in this thread - which I didn't want to turn into a Rutt / anti-Rutt discussion.

Unfortunately, when I went back in to edit some of this out, I could no longer do so.

I'll say however, that what I shared about how the ancients (may have) used and understood the moon's cycles - and how we still do so today - are valid (if that's the right word?); and I can envision different forces at work in line 9.6: moving water, rain and moon, gentle wind, the creative Heavens (as described by Wilhelm's discussion of the trigrams) - and I assume this can be true with other lines about the full or almost full moon.

Regards, D
 

hilary

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Why edit? All ramblings welcome here.
I can envision different forces at work in line 9.6: moving water, rain and moon, gentle wind, the creative Heavens (as described by Wilhelm's discussion of the trigrams) - and I assume this can be true with other lines about the full or almost full moon.
Yes, for the natural associations, but not so much for trigrams. Wilhelm points out that 9.6 changes to kan and that 54.5 is in a nuclear trigram kan in the original hexagram; for 61.4, with no kan anywhere in sight, he doesn't mention trigrams.
 

dfreed

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.... he doesn't mention trigrams ....
Hilary, I’m not sure what you mean here? (Or am I taking this out of context?)

I just looked at a few different hexagrams in Wilhelm’s Book III. I found many instances (in each hexagram I looked at) where he talks about the hexagrams or the changing lines in term of the attributes of the trigrams - and in some cases, the nuclear trigrams ...

Ex. “ ... here the lower nuclear trigram is ...”. “The yielding line of the inner trigram ...” “The nuclear trigram Ken means brightness and light.” “Here we have standstill (Ken) outside and clarity (Li) inside” ....

And I’m seeing dozens of these, which I was surprised to find. (I can’t easily copy and paste right now but I can tomorrow if you want more specifics or details.)

This makes me think that trigram attributes and meanings have been a part of theYi for a long time, from perhaps as early as the Zuo Commentaries (560-487 bc) up to Wilhelm and beyond.

Best, D.
 

dfreed

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Wilhelm points out that 9.6 changes to kan and that 54.5 is in a nuclear trigram kan in the original hexagram; for 61.4, with no kan anywhere in sight, he doesn't mention trigrams.

Yes, out of context.
Thanks for clarifying this. I was looking at Wilhelm's (and I assume the Confucian's) use of trigrams, whereas you were referring to one Line 61.4 - and I missed that detail.

As I said above:
... in Wilhelm’s Book III, I found many (but not in all cases) instances ... where he talks ... (about) the attributes of the trigrams - and in some cases, the nuclear trigrams ....
Best, D
 
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rosada

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I see 9.6 as a "let go and let God" line. You plant the seeds, the rain comes, you have faith your good intentions will manifest so you give it all a rest. You know better than to worry and go out and dig the seeds up to see how they're doing. Rather you 5. Wait to see what results the full moon brings.
 
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rosada

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"Rather you 5. Wait."

9.6 changes to 5. Waiting

I'm seeing 9.6 as meaning that time when you've done all you can do and you have to stop fussing with the project and just wait to see what the response is. Like you tell someone a joke and then you have to wait to see if they get it. If you have explain it too much it wont get a laugh.
 
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my_key

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"Rather you 5. Wait."

9.6 changes to 5. Waiting

I'm seeing 9.6 as meaning that time when you've done all you can do and you have to stop fussing with the project and just wait to see what the response is. Like you tell someone a joke and then you have to wait to see if they get it. If you have explain it too much it wont get a laugh.
You mean 'Trust the process' ?
 

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