Hilary Barrett, I Ching

Recurring hexagrams

November 12th, 2014

reload symbolI’d been planning on writing a devastatingly insightful post about some rarefied, recondite connection you can find between readings with the Resonance Journal. Maybe the karmic significance of a repeated nuclear hexagram emerging as primary when you ask a Big Question – something deep and meaningful like that. Only when I actually started looking through my own journal, there was something much simpler calling for my attention: nine readings, on largely unrelated topics, all with the primary hexagram 38. What’s that about?

I think anyone who’s spent a few years with Yi has had this experience: there’s a hexagram, or sometimes a line, that sticks. No matter what you ask about, it keeps coming up. It reaches the point where you cast the first couple of lines of the hexagram and are already saying, ‘Not that one again…’

So what does this mean?

Sometimes, when you take a long look, it becomes clear that the readings with the same answer do all share a theme, even though they’re about parts of life that belong in quite different ‘boxes’.

An example from a few years ago: readings about both work and volunteering came up repeatedly with Hexagram 12. It was obvious the two situations had nothing in common: six days a week spent at home toiling over a computer keyboard; one day spent at a day centre for the elderly, mostly stacking/unstacking the dishwasher and making the tea. The 12-ness of the voluntary role was evident: I wasn’t happy with the situation (rules took precedence over people at every turn), but there was nothing I could do about it. But it wasn’t until I developed some insight into that situation in the light of the reading that I started to see the similarities with how I was running my own work. (As I said, that was some years ago – I made changes!)

So the ‘not this again’ reading can be a gift. ‘Look!’ it says, ‘See how this situation in your life is an image for that one?’ And if – as with my little volunteering role – one situation is relatively simple and clear, then it almost becomes like a ‘reading’ itself, a parable offering you a way to understand a larger story.

But there are also times when the readings don’t share a theme. My nine 38-readings? Two about the Flow of Change project, clearly related; three about purchase decisions, one about a productivity system, and one sort-of connected to that, I suppose, about asking someone to become an accountability partner. And two readings cast as examples with no question in mind when trying to reproduce a bug in the journal software so I could describe it accurately for Justin to fix.

Not only are most of these not remotely important questions, some of them were barely questions at all – the software-testing readings, and one or two ‘What if…?’ questions about things I didn’t really intend to do (like buying a more expensive phone). This recurring hexagram seems to be about something other than the things I was asking about.

It’s not unlike the experience of seeing the same number everywhere – every time you look at the clock it’s 11 minutes past, your car mileage ends in 1111, your reservation is for seat 11… that kind of thing. I always think those just mean ‘Hello.’ They’re reminders that synchronicity happens, the cosmos resonates, your world is ready to talk with you – here it is, where are you? Could recurring readings mean much the same – a simple ‘Hello’?

Perhaps. But then again, this is Yi; it has a wider vocabulary.

Here’s what I’ve found. When I start looking at these not-very-important, not-very-related readings, searching for a connection, it takes me out beyond my original questions. Those questions were answered: I had good advice when I needed it about keeping this somewhat dodgy old computer (not a robber, a marital ally!), about changing how I looked at my work, and so on. Answering questions is something Yi does. Only it also goes beyond the questions and invites me (if I’m even half-awake) to follow along.

It’s not that I’m about to see some life-changing connection between software debugging and to-do lists. But I have spent some time mulling over ‘outsider’ status, the perspectives it opens up, the emotional triggers it activates and so on. Just the act of reviewing the readings together gets me to pay attention to something outside the ‘boxes’ of the original questions.

Yi described this process with Hexagram 13 – experiencing harmony out in the wilds, beyond the walls that circumscribe my routine daily concerns. Life-as-to-do-list turns into a series of minor battles: fix the bug on that web page, solve this customer’s Paypal problems, catch up with those emails, move onto the next thing. And Yi – even if I rarely ask about more than the next thingtodo – says, OK, put the weapons away for a moment, come up this hill and take a look around…

The distance of line 6

October 18th, 2014


Image © Freeteo
Image © Freeteo

I’ve taken to thinking just about the position of a changing line, as a starting point for looking at its imagery and connections – and it’s surprising how often this provides the key to a reading.

Line 6, for instance. We’ve passed line 5 – the culmination, the place of the ruler, the adult in her or his prime, autonomous and choosing. What can come next?

Well… retirement comes next. Line 6 is often said to be ‘outside’ the situation – like grandpa sitting in the corner, or the sage on the mountaintop, while life moves past them. You can compare line 1, the small child’s line, and how children are outside and unaware of most adult concerns. Grandpa sits in one corner and the children play in another: he understands what’s going on in a way the children don’t, but they’re equally uninvolved.

Except that, of course, the real world is not remotely like that. I think line 6 is better described as having an overview or being at a distance. Incidentally, the retired people I know tend to be utterly involved, with a degree of unreserved commitment inaccessible to those who are busy making a living.

‘No business with kings and lords,
Honouring what is highest is your business.’

Line 6 as the line of distance? This is not the single principle that’s going to make all line 6s clear – we wouldn’t need 64 of them if it were – but I’m finding it does help.

The thing is, ‘distance’ can work out in many different ways. It can mean someone with an overview, who’s therefore more in touch with the whole reality of the hexagram-situation. Or it can mean being detached and ungrounded.

Hexagram 60, for example. This one needs human involvement, because human experience (whether the measures taste bitter or sweet) is the only way of getting to something that works. Line 6 tries to persist in ‘bitter measures’, which I’ve known to be a kind of abstract moral principle, unconnected to any human reality. 21.6 is a bit like that, too – putting on the cangue, blocking your ears, shutting out the real world. (Sometimes because – zhi 51 – it’s just too much.)

Or take 8.6 –

‘Seeking union without a head.

How can you seek union if you’re not personally involved, with your own feelings and natural affinities to guide you?

Or 55.6 –

‘At Feng, in his hut,
Screening off his home,
Peeping through his door.
In solitude, without people,
For three years sees no-one.

I think of this one as the imaginary scenario: what if Wu, instead of taking up the mandate, had stayed in his hut to do the strictly-correct thing and observe the full ritual period of mourning? 55 calls for the king to be at the centre taking the decisions, but what if he distanced himself and shut the door?

That’s an interesting one, because Wu would have been distancing himself from the needs of the time, while at the same time indulging his own emotions. That’s another way line 6’s distance can go wrong. In human terms it looks like almost the opposite problem – overweening principle out of touch with humanity, or all-too-human emotional intensity out of touch with reality. But the basic dynamic is the same – it’s still an issue of distance from reality.

This problem starts at 1.6:

‘Overweening dragon has regrets.’

Harmen Mesker had an interesting article about this a few years ago, describing it as the ‘Chinese Icarus’ - not arrogant, simply flying too high:

“If you do not know your limits, or do not accept them, you will have unavoidable misfortune. Not from arrogance, but from recklessness. It’s often the kind people, and not the arrogant people, who have to learn their lessons like this.”

There are several other line 6s whose emotional commitment seems to go too far – away from any place you could be effective. Like immersing yourself too completely in 57, 63 or 64 – utterly absorbed in researching or imagining. Or the pure animal drive of 34.6, the charging ram – certainly not interested in understanding the whole picture, only in getting to the other side of the hedge. (Though sometimes that pure unthinking drive to get through or take control is what the situation calls for, at least for now – think of 35.6 or 44.6.)

The most powerful example of a line 6 where desires go beyond effectiveness would be in hexagram 24:

‘Confused return, pitfall. There is calamity and blunder.
Using this to mobilise the armies: in the end there is great defeat.
For your state’s leader, disaster.
For ten years, incapable of marching out.’

The time for recapturing and returning has passed; this is an immovable truth. Not to accept this means unmitigated disaster.

Other examples – 56.6 (desires out of control becoming self-destructive), and even 42.6:

‘Absolutely no increase in this,
Maybe someone strikes this one.
The heart’s foundation is not lasting,

That’s frequently interpreted as simple selfishness, but I don’t think that’s necessarily right, just as 1.6 isn’t necessarily arrogant in the sense of being self-absorbed. At the extreme of 42, this one doesn’t want ‘more for me!’ – just ‘more!’ – growth, increase and flourishing. But without a grounding in human relationships, there can be neither receiving nor giving.

That’s quite a catalogue of disastrous ways to be distanced from reality, or completely divorced from it. But sometimes line 6’s distance translates instead into overview – a complete understanding that makes action particularly effective. Think of 15 –

‘The call of integrity.
Fruitful to use this to mobilise the army,
And bring order to city and state.’

– we can be sure that someone with Integrity will be fully in touch with the whole reality. With Clarity, too –

‘The king uses this to march out,
There are honours.
He executes the chief – the captives are not so ugly.
Not a mistake.’

The king ‘uses this': he can engage the full power of this particular moment, grasp the whole picture, prioritise. The prince of 40.6 (another one ‘using’ the moment) is similar.

On another level altogether, though, it’s worth noticing that 24.6 is not just about the extreme, disastrous divorce of human ambition from the real nature of the time. The one who speaks the line is looking far into the future – great defeat ‘in the end’, ‘for ten years, incapable of marching out’ – and so this line is also about long term perspective.

Line 6 often is. Think of 12.6 or 36.6 – or 6.6, or 38.6, or 56.6… – how they tell you about before and after. First it’s like this, then it’s like that. There’s the immediate human emotion (‘I got the leather belt!’ ‘That looks suspicious, bows at the ready!’), and then there’s also knowledge of how this pans out. Or there are line 6s for pausing and taking stock, as in 9, 49 or 51. And look how nuanced the comment is for the horn-charge of 35.6:

‘Advancing with your horns.
Holding fast, use this to subjugate the city.
Danger, good fortune, not a mistake.
Constancy: shame.’

This will be dangerous, but it’s a lucky course of action applied for this specific purpose, it’s not wrong, unless you make it a guiding principle, and then it’s shameful. The line takes a step or two back from the immediate objective, the excitement of charging and winning, and observes that the moral of the story is not what you might think in the heat of the moment.

That shift of perspective is one of the most striking and baffling things about line 6s. These two, for instance:

‘Exceeding in wading the river, head underwater.
No mistake.’

‘Bitter measures: constancy, pitfall.
Regrets vanish.’

I’ve written about 28.6 (and the Lorelei) before. Someone goes under the waves; someone attempts the impossible, constancy to the bitter measures that do not allow constancy. Of course this means absolute misfortune for them. ‘No mistake’, ‘regrets vanish’ – these come from some other perspective, out at a distance from the experience. Maybe if line 5 is the ruler, line 6 could be the story-teller.

When Yi is neutral

September 30th, 2014

A couple of months ago I wrote about ‘Essentials for Yijing readings‘ and included that old favourite hobby horse of mine: the commentary is not the answer, along with some examples of commentary – Wilhelm’s, Karcher’s and mine – that was decidedly not what the oracle said.

All three examples I came up with were from lines where Yi’s original words were strictly neutral – no value judgements at all: 9.3, 17.2 and 28.5.

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

‘Bound to the small child,
Letting the mature man go.’

‘Withered willow sprouts flowers,
Venerable woman gets an upright husband.
No blame, no praise’

It seems especially hard to talk about these lines without adding our own value judgements, even without noticing we’re doing it.

‘Withered willow sprouts flowers,
Venerable woman gets an upright husband.
No blame, no praise’

Yi clearly and specifically says no blame, no praise – that this is not a situation that can be judged. And yet it’s fantastically difficult for us not to judge. The older woman is not going to have children – so this renewal and rejuvenation isn’t productive, and unproductive things are bad. We even make unfavourable comparison between the withered willow’s flowers and the shoots of line 2: this may perhaps not be doing any harm, but it isn’t going anywhere; flowers may be nice, but they’re not productive. Which is, of course, not true – but in any case, who decided productivity was an absolute standard?

Or take 17.2  –

‘Bound to the small child,
Letting the mature man go.’

‘A mistake’ says Karcher; ‘throws himself away on unworthy friends’ says Wilhelm. Maturity and respectability, they assume, are always Good Things. And, naturally, they usually are; this is the same ‘mature man’ who brings good fortune and no mistake to the Army, in the oracle of Hexagram 7. But the line doesn’t say ‘misfortune’ or ‘shame’ or ‘constancy means regrets’ – it only describes holding to the child and letting the mature person go.

I recently saw this line describe a situation where ‘letting the mature man go’ was unquestionably the right course of action: the established confidence of an elder was not required; spontaneity and the ability to learn were.  This is probably an unusual application – maybe next time I see the line, I’ll need to change tack and cling to the mature one. The thing is – I don’t know which way will be right, and the line doesn’t say.

And back to 9.3 –

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

Maybe I’m the only one who turned this into a sign of ‘total collapse’ – and that would be because I set a high value on clear and open communication, so its absence seems to me to be obviously a Bad Thing. Only… again… the line doesn’t say so; it doesn’t say ‘pitfall’ or ‘shame’ or even ‘constancy, regrets’. It just describes a situation where connection is lost and progress cannot be made (because the wheel without spokes won’t turn).

Here are two (originally public) readings from my logs of experiences with this line:

He has started a new company, asked for someone’s business, and is awaiting their decision. How to act until they decide?

She’s in a long distance relationship, and he’s asked her to move in with him, leaving her family and job behind to become dependent on him. She only wants to take such a big step if it’s likely to lead to marriage, but doesn’t want to ask him his intentions. Would moving in with him lead to a proposal?

You can see the basic dynamics of the line in both these situations. There is a great weight of emotion and need – for new business, for relationship security – and it’s not being communicated. We might think that in the first case it’s better not communicated (‘I really need you to decide, I have bank loans to repay!’ – true and sincere but unlikely to help matters…), while in the second, communication is vital before she even thinks about acting. But the line doesn’t say either of those things.

And that, I think, is part of what it means to get into conversation with Yi and respond to a reading: finding our own emotional-moral-intuitive response to the images it offers. Jumping to the commentary can mean missing that moment of connection altogether.

Anyway… when my publisher kindly gave me permission to include my translation/commentary in the journal software, I leapt at the opportunity to make a few changes. The commentary on Hexagram 9, line 3 now reads,

“Things come apart. The spokes are such a small component of the cart, yet when they’re lost it comes to a halt. Husband and wife avoid one another’s gaze: where you would expect communication and rapport, there is an inner disconnection.

There is more strain than the spokes can hold; there may be more truth, more emotional intensity, than the structures for communication can sustain. Sometimes it’s wise to break the connection and let the wheels stop turning.”

I hope that’s better…

© Depositphotos.com/urban_light

photo © Depositphotos.com/urban_light

Living Connection

September 8th, 2014

Thinking about why we’re creating the journal software,  I found myself writing a sort of personal creed. Here it is –

Living Connection

Nothing definitive – of course – but heartfelt. If you like it, please share it freely.

Danger – good fortune?

September 5th, 2014

I’m just coming to the end of the ‘omens’ section as I revise and enlarge ‘Words of Change’, my Yijing glossary. This involves testing out ideas by looking at every instance of each omen, along with all the example readings I can find. Since I’m going into more detail this time around, I’ve been looking more at contexts and associations – for instance, how ‘danger’ quite often appears as ‘constancy, danger’, but sometimes as ‘danger, no mistake’ or even ‘danger, good fortune.’

So… you have a new course of action in mind, and you consult the oracle: ‘What about doing this?’
And the oracle says, ‘Danger.’

That’s a clear and helpful answer. This seems like the kind of thing that should be in the job description for oracles: warn the unsuspecting querent when they’re running into danger, so they can back off.

Only Yi may also say, ‘Danger, no mistake’ or ‘Danger, good fortune,’ and what are you to make of that?

35.6 for instance, has both:

‘Advancing with your horns.
Holding fast, use this to subjugate the city.
Danger, good fortune, not a mistake.
Constancy: shame.’

li, dangerFirst, what’s ‘danger’? The old forms of the character clearly show a hidden scorpion. It also has the early meaning of pain and illness (Richard Kunst suggests that’s illness that’s like being in bed with a scorpion), and the angry ghosts that cause illness.

The Dazhuan makes a connection between ‘danger’ and the plight of the Zhou people struggling with their more powerful opponent, the Shang. (Confusingly, the name of the last Shang king is also transcribed as ‘Zhou’.)

“Did not Yi arise at the end of Shang,
when Zhou was at the peak of its powers,
when King Wen strove with Zhouxin?

Thus, the statements speak of danger.

Danger encourages peace,
complacency provokes downfall.

This dao is very great:
no possibility is omitted.

Caution from beginning to end
looks for No misfortune.”

Richard Rutt, Zhouyi.

This makes clear why Wilhelm often translates ‘danger’ as ‘aware of danger’ when it’s coupled with a positive omen. (In 35.6. he has ‘to be conscious of danger brings good fortune.’) Whether you’re considering military perils or hidden scorpions, the most important thing is to be aware of where and what it is. (The same is true for disease demons, where the first task is to identify which ancestor is angry so they can be pacified.)

It’s natural that you’ll sometimes encounter dangerous circumstances even when your proposed action is ‘not a mistake’. A strong implication of ‘not a mistake’ is ‘there’s nothing wrong with this idea in principle.’ It may be the right thing to do; it may have the potential to yield real results – it just doesn’t go smoothly. Take 44.3, for instance –

‘Thighs without flesh,
Moving awkwardly now.
No great mistake.’

I believe that refers to Yu the Great, the Chinese flood hero, whose work is the supreme example of something worthwhile that’s also perilous. ‘Danger, no mistake’ is a time to weigh up risks against possible benefits, without losing sight of either. (One unfortunate response to these lines is to dismiss the danger – ‘Oh, now I’m aware there’s a risk I can go ahead anyway, it’ll be fine.’)

Another example, 38,4:

‘Opposed, alone.
Meet an inspiring man.
Joining together in trust,
Danger, no mistake.’

The dangerous element here (as in 24.3) is the emotion involved: loneliness and the yearning for connection. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with longing to ‘join together in trust’, nor that there’s necessarily anything wrong with the man or the relationship. It’s simply a moment to be aware of how that longing affects your choices, and how much you’re willing to sacrifice (zhi gua 41).

Danger is about immediate circumstances, which, in a way, is why it’s often associated with ‘constancy’. Danger requires you to be aware of what’s around you; constancy is being true to something within you – an insight, a commitment, sometimes (as with rams and rats) your own nature. It’s how you can endure and persevere despite encountering difficulties, and more often than not, in the Yijing, that’s a good capability to have. Only, sometimes, there’s a fine line between loyalty and bull-headedness, and you need to find a new balance between inner conviction and sensitivity to your surroundings. ‘Constancy, danger.’

When Yi says ‘danger, good fortune,’ at least it’s clear that it will be worthwhile to continue: you can survive this one. In practice, the good fortune seems to come with the increased ‘awareness of danger’ and willingness to take on present, personal responsibility. (The phrase comes in 18.1, 27.6, 35.6 and 37.3, and the assumption of responsibility is a theme in all four.)

So back to 35.6, and its long list of omen words –

‘Advancing with your horns.
Holding fast, use this to subjugate the city.
Danger, good fortune, not a mistake.
Constancy: shame.’

Advancing with the horns – with bullish determination. This is the basic ‘make hay while the sun shines’ mindset of Hexagram 35 taken to an extreme – ‘I’ll make this happen no matter what – chaaaaarrrrge!‘ This energy can well be applied to a specific, big task, like subjugating a city. It’s dangerous in all the ways that ‘no matter what’ mindset always is; it’s ‘good fortune’ because it can achieve something substantial that you might not accomplish any other way, and ‘not a mistake’ when the goal to which it’s applied is good in itself. But constancy – promoting this from a tactic to apply in a specific case, to a rule to live by or way of being – would be shameful.


Example reading after a dream

August 26th, 2014

Since I wrote about ‘Four ways Yi works with dreams’, I’ve been on the alert for how this conversation’s working for me. Here’s an example from my journal.

I’d been divining – and worrying – about how I was going to promote the journal software. I’ve never been very good at selling things, not so as to make actual money – and if I fail to do so this time, I’ll be letting Justin down (not to mention all the people who would benefit from the software and won’t know about it). So – I worry, and divine, and read up on ‘product launches’.

There’s a ‘guru’ for those: a highly successful expert who advocates having your product available for only a few days so it becomes ‘urgent’ for people to buy it, having  a huge build-up to that, and also emailing people umpteen times during those few days – three times on the last day, he says. Well, this is not exactly my style – there is really no universe in which I would inflict that on people, and I can’t imagine fabricating some kind of specious time limit – but (I thought/worried) there must be something I could be learning from him about using the power of urgency to motivate people…

That night I dreamt,

“The setting: a grim tent encampment, the ground all rocks and mud. (It’s astonishing I have somehow managed to keep clean.) I am watching the leader talking. He displays CCTV film of a house’s front entrance and says, ‘Let’s listen to the music in this house.’ The sound is heard of a happy, light-hearted counting song – in English, though the listeners recognise it as Brazilian or maybe Catalan. The local language, anyway.

I think this song sounds much too happy for the regime; they won’t like it. Sure enough, they don’t. The leader says this is how the evil imperialists undermine the nation, with their corrupt languages, and this must be replaced by our own great language.

I know this episode (it’s become a TV show) is about teaching Russian, or enforcing it, so this must be how it starts. It’s somewhere between sinister and ridiculous.”

I titled the dream ‘Russian Regime’ – and then I thought that my unconscious was probably making an atrocious pun, and this was about a totalitarian regime of rushing. The whole dream makes a lot of natural sense that way – keeping clean in the mud, suppression of natural language, of light-heartedness, especially light-heartedness about numbers. So I went straight back to Yi and asked specifically,

‘What do I need to understand about using urgency in the software launch?’

Yi answered with Hexagram 35, Advancing, changing at lines 2 and 4 to Hexagram 4, Not Knowing.

‘Advancing, Prince Kang used a gift of horses to breed a multitude.
In the course of a day, he mated them three times.’

…is there a joke in here about the ‘three email day’ of the guru’s launch model?

Probably. The thing is, both these hexagrams have a feeling of urgency. In 35 it’s ‘make the most of the opportunity you’re given’ – a positive, celebratory kind of urgency. In 4 it’s altogether needier. In fact…

‘Not knowing, creating success.
I do not seek the young ignoramus, the young ignoramus seeks me.
The first consultation speaks clearly.
The second and third pollute the waters,
Polluted, and hence not speaking.
Constancy bears fruit.’

…those repeated consultations look uncomfortably like ‘portrait of insecure person repeatedly asking people to like what she’s selling’. (Back in 2012 we did a ‘first consultation’, a survey, and received some 250 responses that did indeed ‘speak clearly’.) And there’s certainly an allusion here to the three email day, isn’t there?

So… asking is good, doing your best and making the most of the moment is good; anxiously pestering people is counter-productive. I already knew the second part of that; what I needed to see was the distinction between 35 and 4.

And from the lines –

‘Now advancing, now apprehensive.
Constancy, good fortune.
Accepting fine armour,
Blessing from your ancestral mother.’

I recognise the ‘apprehensive’. I’m most comfortable when vanishing into the background; running a business is really not like that – and nor’s Hexagram 35. The gift and blessing of the armour… yes, I think I know it. (One of those understandings that’s too involved and personal to share.)  It becomes very clear to me that the point of the armour is not to avoid being afraid, but to make it possible to be constant anyway.

‘Advancing like a long-tailed rodent,
Constancy: danger.’

I’ve always thought the key to this line is that the rodent spoils the stored grain. From the rodent’s perspective, as it scurries round the store picking up one grain at a time, it’s making great progress. Which is quite true as far as it goes; it’s just that the rodent can’t see the true scale of the store. Constancy in rodent-mind is dangerous. I can’t think of a better image for using dodgy ‘urgency tactics’ on people I have a real connection with.

(Looking simply at the line positions, taking a cue from something LiSe said on the last Change Circle call: it’s good to have constancy when I’m centred on relationship and how I’m connected – the focus of line 2. It’s not good to have constancy when I’m thinking line 4 thoughts about ‘what I can do here’ – that is, about marketing tactics.)

So there it is – questions prompt dream; dream prompts reading; reading brings encouragement, reassurance and some key distinctions – and so it goes on.


Line positions and the moment of divination

August 15th, 2014

Talking about ‘line positions’ sounds painfully dry and academic. (Not least if it makes you think of the formulas about line correspondence and so on.) What to call them instead? ‘Hexagram layers’? Too much like a trifle. Maybe ‘line voices’, or places to stand, ways to engage…

What I’m trying to say (!) is that looking at the positions of the changing lines, just seeing where the action’s happening, is a way they can come to life for you. It can get you started thinking of them as different voices, different people or parts of yourself. I’m more kinaesthetic than visual, so I’m likely to look at a line 3 changing and feel its energy and tension around the diaphragm.

In preparation for our next Change Circle gathering (coming up on August 23rd) when we’ll be looking at readings in the light of which lines are changing, I started running searches in my own journal. I’d bring up all the readings with line 1, or lines 1 and 5 (and so on…) changing, and see what patterns I could recognise. One thing became clear quite quickly – it’s no use looking for patterns in this as you might for a specific hexagram or line text. There’s no situation or theme that all line 1 readings have in common. But it does seem that, each time, the line-1 self is asking the question, or the question arises in a line-1 kind of moment: the positions of the changing lines describes what’s active in the moment of the question.

And this makes sense, because that’s how I would describe the yang pattern of change (the one where you represent each changing line as yang and the unchanging ones as yin): how you enter into the reading, some truth about the moment of divination.

Line 1 questions – for instance – are about things barely beginning. Or, as A.A. Milne put it, ‘When I was one, I had just begun.’ We toy with possibilities, feel our way in – have inklings, don’t analyse them, try something on for a day – more gut feeling than thinking things through.  (The yang pattern of change with just line 1 changing: 24, Returning and the Turning Point, closing the borders at winter solstice to listen for the first whispers of germination.)

Line 2 questions seem to me to be about connecting – its attitude reminds me of a toddler’s arm reaching up (and up!) to find an adult’s hand. A lot of these readings happen in the middle of an ongoing relationship – to a person, an issue, an organisation, or even an oracle. The change patterns with line 2 moving are yang 7, the Army, and yin 13, People in Harmony – each in their own way about connections with a purpose.

Instead of plodding on through lines 3-6 one at a time, let me take a detour – what if I have lines 2 and 5 moving? Then – in the examples from my own journal, anyway – I seem to be searching for a balance between what I feel, or what I’m spontaneously drawn to, and what I choose. I have quite a few .2.5 readings about people I read for or support in other ways, and how far to commit myself. Then there’s also one about buying and using a business book from an author I like and admire, when I was wondering how far his ideas would be useful in my (quite weird) business.

The change patterns for a .2.5 reading are yang 29, yin 30: Repeating Chasms and Clarity. I think the key here is ‘holding your heart fast creates success’ – or ‘the connected heart makes the offering.’ The heart is active at line 2, but there also needs to be a deliberate, autonomous choice, connecting lines 2 and 5. Perhaps this begins to weave that net of understanding of Hexagram 30.

So here’s a beginning (a line-1-changing kind of post!) for looking at readings in terms of line positions. More on the 23rd! We spend these calls looking at a few readings people bring along through the lens of one particular interpretive tool. If you’d like to bring a reading, please post it in advance to the call thread. (And if you’re not a Change Circle member, there is of course still time to join!)