Hilary Barrett, I Ching

Using the Sequence in readings, part 2

October 6th, 2015

The changing lines

Continuing from my previous post: Yi’s answer to ‘How to use the Sequence in readings?’, 25.4.6 to 3…

´There can be constancy.
No mistake.´

Line 4 is just across the threshold between inner and outer; it’s just stepped out into the world. So – in any hexagram – it tends to ask questions like, ‘What can I do here?’ – which is very much what I was asking. You can imagine that ‘What can I do here?’ might potentially be an awkward question to ask in the midst of disentangling. But the answer’s very simple: you can persist; you can be steady and carry it through.

Also (and originally), zhen, constancy, means divination. Hence the line also means ‘divining is possible’ or ‘there is consent for divination’. As an answer to this question, of course, the two meanings converge. How to use the sequence in readings? To allow divination; to allow you to carry a reading through steadily.

I can recognise the significance of the sequence ‘allowing divination’, because it’s often essential to help the querent recognise where they are. Without that recognition, without being able to orientate and find oneself in the reading, divining is not possible.

This line is how Without Entanglement joins with Hexagram 42, Increase and Blessing. If you look across at the oracle of 42, or if you trace the line pathway (25.4, 42.4, 41.3, 26.3) you’ll see that, although both hexagrams of this reading warn against having a ‘direction to go’, this line opens the way for it eventually to become fruitful after all (in 26.3).

How could that happen? Through independence of movement (41.3, 26.3), you can move to the centre (42.4) – where you have the best view of the whole periphery – and inspire the trust (41.3, 42.4) necessary to create your own direction (42.4, 26.3). This makes me imagine the cast hexagram as a ‘centre’ from which you can survey the surrounding Sequence-landscape – not with a view to seeing what must follow (better to walk alone, and train your horses to separate from the herd), but to build that understanding that makes divination possible.

Line 6 is quite different. Sixth lines in general, with their lofty vantage point, may be somewhat removed from the action. But that can go too far:

‘Without entanglement. Acting brings blunders.
No direction bears fruit.’

If that had been the only line in my reading, I wouldn’t have spent the past month working on the Sequence! But as it is, it stands in straightforward contrast to line 4: do that, don’t do this.

I associate this line with ‘disentangling’ taken to excess, so it becomes completely disengaged. A favourite personal example: the time I forgot all about the stock I’d left boiling on the stove to reduce. Acting completely without entanglement, so disengaged from the action that you’re not aware of what’s going on at all, means blunders. (Also one smoke-filled kitchen, one charred, gelatinous lump, and no stock.)

What would be the equivalent blunder in using the Sequence in readings? I think that would be using it to disengage from the reading’s present reality. The zhi gua for this line is hexagram 17, Following, which suggests things unfolding as if on a pre-ordained course – so we can just follow along. But you can follow along without divining; divination is for something else.

Another way to say this: the Sequence might be used to tell stories, but when you divine, you’re the protagonist, not the narrator.

This line’s pathway – 25.6, 17.6, 18.1, 26.1 – has a theme of attachment and inevitability (in 17.6) but also of being able to break the pattern (18.1, 26.1). The Sequence shows how the hexagrams are connected, how they naturally unfold one after another – but it does not tell you about the future; you do the telling. And if it leads you to distance yourself from the divinatory crossroads-moment, then acting brings blunders and no direction bears fruit.

Coda: what can I learn from the Sequence about this reading?

Without Entanglement follows from Returning: ‘Returning, and so truly Without Entanglement,’ says the Xugua, as if this were too obvious to need explanation – which, to the authors of that Wing, I dare say it was…

Perhaps being able to turn round – or simply to be still at the turning point for long enough to sense your right direction – is tantamount to being disentangled. Returning travels freely to and fro, going out and coming in, meeting partners and turning round at the right time. It’s a combination of free movement and knowing where and when you are – which is itself reminiscent of the Sequence.

Another way to look at this Sequence is through the trigram change: from thunder under the earth, to thunder joined with heaven. The inner zhen (initiative, creativity, will to act, spark of life…) is first nurtured within the earth – so you can be receptive to its guidance in your going out and coming in – and then becomes a means of connecting with spirit. (That yang line at the root shares its nature with the outer qian and naturally moves with it.)

This actually reminds me of the idea that intuition as a bodily awareness might be the beginnings of a connection to the divine – or at least that it depends on the same inner ‘wiring’. The Sequence offers more than one way of knowing where you are.

This inner zhen is also part of a bigger pattern in the Sequence. You could say its prologue is in 17 (thunder in the lake), its grand opening is in 19 (which is like the trigram zhen writ large, with each line individually doubled), and then its development travels through 21 (thunder below fire), 24 (thunder in the earth) and 25 (thunder under heaven), to culminate in 27 (thunder joined with its inverse, mountain).

That’s a very interesting pattern, but what does it tell us about Without Entanglement?

Faced with a question like that, I like to keep it as simple as possible. Inner thunder is experienced through a range of different outer trigrams, so this region of the Sequence might explore questions like,

  • How does the spark of life interact with different contexts?
  • How can it be guided and respond to them?
  • How can you be present from the inside out? (The theme that appears larger than life in Hexagram 19, Nearing.)

All this still has to do with knowing where you are.

A good question to ask to get back from these generalisations to the specific reading received: what’s different and new here? What does Hexagram 25 do that wasn’t done before? Well… 25 specifically connects zhen, the life impulse, with qian, the absolute. From the Foundations Course:

“When qian is the outer trigram, there might be a sense of coming face to face with How It Is and being challenged by absolutes of nature (including human nature). These hexagrams ask questions like, ‘What does this truth require of you? How can you respond to it?’ As you recreate your relationship to How It Is in accordance with the inner trigram, you might also be able to reconnect with its power, becoming a wiser leader, more influential ruler, more awe-inspiring hermit, and so on.”

And in Hexagram 25, you might have a much enlarged and deepened sense of where you are. Joining inner thunder with outer heaven turns out to mean spontaneity and true alignment.

And Hexagram 3? According to the Xugua, this is where the Sequence begins. Hexagrams 1 and 2 are the ‘gates’ into the narrative; they’re not part of the story, more like the stuff it’s made of.

‘There is heaven and earth, and so the ten thousand things are born.
To fill the space between heaven and earth to overflowing, the ten thousand things.
And so Sprouting follows:
Sprouting means filling to overflowing;
Sprouting means the beginning of things’ birth.’

And, of course, Hexagram 3 also has thunder as its inner trigram. Thunder is the ‘firstborn’ trigram of heaven and earth, where the story begins. I’ve described 25’s inner thunder as the culmination of a kind of story whose prologue is in hexagram 17 – but if you keep looking back through the Sequence for the origin of this story, you find the only preceding inner-thunder hexagram is 3.

Using the Sequence in readings

October 1st, 2015

I’m working, bit by bit, on an advanced Yijing course – sharing ideas with Change Circle members as I go along. I’ve started with the Sequence of Hexagrams.

On the one hand, this is a nice, simple place to start, as using the Sequence is about as un-technical as you can get. You look at the preceding hexagram to see where you’ve been on the road, or what you need to travel through to arrive at the cast hexagram. It’s intuitively obvious, straightforward, and works well.

And on the other hand, there turns out to be a lot more than that to the Sequence. The Gritter grid, vessel casting patterns, little trigram changes and long trigram sequences, not to mention all the patterns Scott Davis has found… a whole complex fabric of reflections and connections. Should I try to take all these into account in readings, too? It’s all very beautiful… but then again, it’s not ‘facts about the hexagram’ but ‘facts about how they’re arranged’, so how intrinsic is it, really?

…and so on. So in addition to going through volumes of past readings to see how/ when/ whether this kind of awareness might have helped, I also asked Yi:

How to use the Sequence in readings?

Yi says 25.4.6 to 3: Without Entanglement, its Sprouting.

(I’ll talk about the two hexagrams now, and the moving lines in my next post.)

Primary hexagram 25, Without Entanglement

|::|||Use it without entanglement. What’s entanglement? Involvement with something barren and futile: anything unfounded. An ‘entangled’ claim is pretentious, an action foolhardy, a belief deluded. It’s why the oracle of 25 insists on uprightness or correctness: the character shows a foot stopped at the line, in the right place. The Shijing speaks of the turtle oracle making a new town ‘correct’, meaning founded in the right place.

‘Without entanglement.
Creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit.
One who is not upright commits blunders,
And it is fruitless to have a direction to go.’

Without Entanglement, you are in touch with the creative force all the way from origin to fruition: yuan heng li zhen. But if you are not upright and correct – which has a lot to do with being grounded, as well as morally upright – then you blunder. That is, your vision is clouded, and you make errors because you don’t understand where you are. Setting intentions to be elsewhere is not going to help.

In readings, I’ve often found that 25’s entanglement is with past or future – or both. To be Without Entanglement is to be fully grounded in the present moment, fully aware. ‘Direction to go’ is unlikely to help because it tends to distract from the here and now. The ancient kings nourished the ten thousand things in accord with the seasons, not with a Five Year Strategic Plan.

That’s odd, because the Sequence certainly looks like a way to consider past and future. But using it without entanglement would mean using it as a way to be more in touch with where you are – not to become preoccupied with all the other places you might be, or might have been (but aren’t). It’s only useful in answering the question, ‘What time is it now?’

The Sequence doesn’t work as a formulaic story: ‘You have hexagram 49? Then you must have been building and exploring your way of interacting (outer dui trigram 43-49), and now you must be about to found a new way of living (50), and then spend time processing and integrating the changes (51-2) and ‘marrying into’ the world (53-4) and…’ That would be entangled: plunking the reading into a formula and the querent into a chain of inevitability – and in the process, forfeiting the spontaneous, individual connection that makes a reading real.

Relating hexagram 3: Sprouting

|:::|:The second hexagram is Sprouting and Beginning: putting out roots, establishing feudal lords, getting a feel for where you are by growing connections to your surroundings. How to use the Sequence in readings? Use it, without entanglement, to begin a reading – to become well-rooted in the themes and possibilities of your hexagram environment and start to weave order from chaos.

The xugua, the Wing that describes the Sequence, actually begins at hexagram 3. Sprouting is also the opening of the whole vessel casting process: the complex enterprise of creating a container (an understanding, a reading) begins with setting up those feudal lords.

Feudal lords provide lines of connection, communication and support through territories much too big to grasp on your own. They look to me a lot like the structures and landmarks of the Sequence: ‘You have hexagram 49? Then the lake-series of the 40s might bring you messages about this dui on the outside, that now you’re finally lighting up from within; the great casting-mould from 3 to 50 might lend support to your sense of creating something new…’

 Primary and relating hexagrams together

´Without entanglement.
Creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit.
One who is not upright commits blunders,
And it is fruitless to have a direction to go.´

Creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit.
Don’t use this to have a direction to go,
Fruitful to establish feudal lords.’

These oracle texts have two things in common. The first is yuan heng li zhen, ‘creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit.’ The four characters only occur together like this in a select few hexagrams. They point to a creative essence and its power and drive towards realisation. To me, seeing this formula twice in the reading suggests that use of the Sequence is a way to connect with that essence – with the heart of the oracle. The Sequence is something potent and real, telling us how things connect and unfold.

And the second thing they have in common: a distinct wariness about ‘having a direction to go’. Direction (intention, purpose, narrative…) may emerge from fully understanding where you are and being in right relationship to it – from being upright, from establishing feudal lords. It’s certainly no use to you without that.

This reminds me – intensely – of divination. It happens when a reading gives someone a way into the true nature and potential of the present moment. Then they can join their own initiative with the full reality, just as, in 25’s trigrams, inner thunder joins with heaven.

This oracle isn’t called the Book of The Inevitable, with the hexagrams chained together in fixed sequence: its defining characteristic is that any hexagram can change into any other. The real, actual connections of any reading are found in its changing lines; we know that the message of a changing line takes precedence in a reading.

So when using the Sequence, the message seems pretty clear: don’t try to use it to see where you’re going; use it to understand where you are. As a starting point, the Sequence contributes to your awareness of how you got here, what’s different about this moment, what your choices are – your feel for the moment as crossroads.

(Moving lines – and a bit more on the Sequence – to follow!)


thunder under heaven

Hexagram 57 in the Sequence

September 16th, 2015

The Sequence – for all the remarkable patterns it contains – is about the simplest ‘tool’ you can add to your interpretive repertoire. No complicated operations are required to find the preceding hexagram, and no concept more profound than steps along the road: ‘You pass through this to reach here.’

To reach Hexagram 57, Subtly Penetrating, you pass through 56, the Traveller. The Sequence (a Wing full of insights – do not let dismissive commentators tell you otherwise) says,

‘The Traveller has no place where he is accepted, and so Subtly Penetrating follows. Subtly Penetrating means entering in.’

The contrast is clear enough. A traveller is ‘waterproofed’ against what he travels through: he doesn’t start thinking in the native language, or adopt the local culture as his own. The locals don’t accept him as one of them; he preserves his own ways and his own purpose, which is somewhere further along the road – not in this temporary halt. Neither the traveller nor his hosts will be much changed by the encounter. But with Subtly Penetrating, you are part of the environment; the environment is part of you. Full mutual permeability.

This doesn’t show why Subtly Penetrating would follow – but if you consider Hexagram 56 as a whole, especially its climactic fifth line, you see that this integration is what the Traveller is looking for. He wants to come home; 57 is how he can.

While it’s easy to relate to this through comparing a tourist with a local, it’s worth stretching the imagination to encompass the ancient perspective. Hexagram 56 refers to the story of King Hai, leader of a nomadic people, who spectacularly broke the rules of the place where he stayed and suffered the consequences. Hexagram 57 is named for those seals of office, received from the ruler as signs that you are trusted to partake in his authority. And that authority in turn comes from heaven – is part of the harmonious order of all things. So the move from Travelling to Subtly Penetrating is also a move from the nomadic to the fully civilised life – integrated and in harmony with heaven and earth.

This is actually a particularly interesting ‘corner’ of the Sequence, if you look at it in terms of paired hexagrams. 55-56 moves to 57-58. First there are two hexagrams with strong and clear historical resonance: the garrison city of Abundance, Feng, where Wu assumed responsibility for the mandate; the travels and misadventures of Hai, the nomadic king. Then a pair of doubled-trigram hexagrams, xun and dui – doubled wind/wood and doubled lake.

This pattern’s actually occurred once before: hexagrams 49-50, the revolution and establishment of the new dynasty, followed by 51-52, doubled thunder and doubled mountain. The theme there, I think, is of handling and integrating the tremendous change that has just occurred, by finding and holding to the unbroken line of what is sacred. The ‘trigram helpers’ (as Stephen Karcher would call them) come to support the change.

Again at 55-58, a hexagram pair describing major historical moments is followed by a pair of doubled trigrams. The theme for 49-52 is change and continuity; I think that for 55-58, it’s individual responsibility and integration into context. Hai’s behaviour at Yi, seducing the local ruler’s wife, was beyond the pale, but Wu’s at Feng was really no less shocking: he planned to overthrow a dynasty, and took it on himself to forego the prescribed period of mourning for his father.

Both Wu and Hai stepped outside the laws of their environment, breaking the harmony of individual and context. Both ‘took a lot on themselves’ – the nuclear hexagram of both 55 and 56 is 28, Great Exceeding, with its powerful image of the beam that buckles under the weight it carries. Where is the supporting structure that could sustain it?

small xunSo in this context, the work of 57-58, Subtly Penetrating and Opening, seems to be one of reintegrating and reconnecting – finding a place for individual identity and purpose. In Hexagram 58, that happens through explicit, lively interaction and exchange between separate entities; in 57, it’s ‘hidden away’, a matter of individual nature coming to expression and finding its place as part of the whole. That inner nature can be described as your seal – as in the ancient character xun – and the seal itself is how you receive your own mandate in life.

The Image says,

‘Wind follows wind, Subtly Penetrating.
A noble one conveys mandates and carries out the work.’

Mandates are not just a private communication between heaven and the individual, but how the world works; mandate flows through and between people and gets things done.

It’s no longer ‘the individual against the world’ (56) or ‘the individual who must carry the world’ (55) – it’s more that what you carry within you becomes part of everything, and everything carries the message – or meaning – or direction. ‘My seal’ or ‘the ruler’s seal’ – it’s the same seal. You don’t become less ‘you’; you simply notice that your essence is as much ‘out there’ as it’s ‘in here’. Subtly Penetrating means entering in.

(Afterword: I just noticed that the relationship between 49-52 and 55-58 is even more elegant than I’d realised.

Hexagrams 49 and 50 combine the trigram li, first on the inside and then the outside, with dui/xun. Then they’re followed by the hexagrams of doubled zhen and gen.

Hexagrams 55 and 56 combine the trigram li, first on the inside and then the outside, with zhen/gen. Then they’re followed by the hexagrams of doubled xun and dui.)

A Hidden Pattern in the Sequence of hexagrams

September 4th, 2015

The King Wen Sequence of hexagrams (who knows who really created it or how old it might be?) is a source of endless fascination. People keep on finding patterns in it.

The first to catch my interest was Danny Van den Berghe’s discovery of a ‘landscape’ of trigrams (download the articles ‘King Wen’s Order’ and ‘The I Ching Landscape’ from here). There are 660 pages on Classical Chinese Combinatorics by Richard Cook. (I haven’t read that one; my maths isn’t remotely up to it.) Scott Davis has recently elucidated some beautiful patterns that combine text and structure in his The Classic of Changes in cultural context. (Huge, fascinating, and not light reading.) I’ve been captivated by sequence patterns myself – and no doubt there’s a lot more good work I’ve omitted to mention.

I’ve read claims that the arrangement of the pairs through the Sequence is random – that if you want regularity and pattern, you need to turn to an alternative arrangement such as Shao Yong’s. This strikes me as bizarre, since the problem’s almost the opposite: there are so many interwoven patterns and connections that it seems impossible to find a single pattern running through the whole sequence.

Except… that it isn’t. The King Wen Sequence makes a single, perfectly simple pattern that you can understand at a glance. You’ll find it in this unassuming little pdf by Gert Gritter, The Hidden Pattern in the Classical Sequence of the I Ching. In the course of reading it I went from ‘Oh, pretty…’ (on page 7) to ‘Wow‘ (by page 10) – I expect you’ll do the same. How could we have failed to notice this?

…and now, how do we use this in readings?

Hexagram 57 in readings

August 28th, 2015

(Continuing a series on hexagram 57, because it makes sense to approach this hexagram of all hexagrams incrementally!)

What does Subtly Penetrating mean in readings? Well… like any hexagram, it means what it says and what it is, and no amount of commentary changes that. But I have noticed a couple of messages that Hexagram 57 seems to give quite consistently.

First – and this is a big one – xun says this is a process and this is part of a whole. Very often, the querent is asking about what they conceive of as a single action or occasion or attainment, something they’ve separated out in their mind.

‘How can I achieve x?’

‘X is part of something much bigger. It doesn’t really exist as “x” on its own.’

The subject of your question is larger-scale and longer-term; it’s deeply interconnected, and imagining it as a separate ‘thing’ actually makes no sense.

(If you look at 57.5 –

‘Constancy, good fortune, regrets vanish.
Nothing that does not bear fruit.
With no beginning, there is completion.
Before threshing, three days.
After threshing, three days.
Good fortune.’

– that certainly is a specific moment of success, but it’s a lot like those people who become an overnight success after 30 years of work. It doesn’t come out of the blue – and also, it’s not the end of the work; it’s just part of the farming cycle.)

So the question might be about some specific health issue or part of the body, and then 57 would point you back to the whole. Or about making an announcement or sending a proposal, in which case 57 indicates that this has to be part of ongoing communication – and more than that, ongoing relationship and presence. And I’ve also noticed 57 coming up when people ask about ‘finding love’ or ‘finding happiness’ – which is a really strange use of ‘finding’, isn’t it? As if happiness and love were something like lost car-keys.

And secondly, 57 sometimes describes a process of being moved by the many influences and inputs in your environment, like the branches by the wind – how all that becomes part of who you are and what you do. Sometimes that leads us to try to please all the people, all the time, research everything, accommodate and fit in with everything and everyone – and we risk losing touch with the essential, with our own inner seal. It’s still important to have a ‘direction to go’, as the oracle says. So 57 can ask the question, ‘Do you know your direction?’

xunI don’t believe this casts your direction as your Chosen Purpose, in need of reinforcement against outside influences. It might not be chosen at all: those seals of authority on the table, in the character xun, originally depict someone kneeling; compliance and submission are core meanings of xun the trigram.

The direction isn’t so much something you decide on as an emergent property of the whole environment: something you can perceive through the mutual penetration of inside and outside. It comes from your inner seal, which represents your relationship to the whole. Perhaps seeing the great person (who can be a diviner) helps to reveal it.

In a reading I cast some 10 years ago, with 57 as the primary hexagram, the short answer to ‘Do you know your direction?’ was, ‘No, not a clue.’ I’d been playing in a concert – I’m an amateur orchestral ‘cellist – and had not done very well. Miscounted rests, wrong entries – ugh. What happened?

Being in an orchestra, at least for this amateur, is always 57-ish: being completely immersed in and penetrated by the whole, every part of my awareness connected and ‘tuned’ to pick up cues – from the conductor, principal violinist, other ‘cellists, other string section leaders, other parts moving and interacting with ours, currents of the music, memory of the music, muscle memory of how to play the notes in front of me, what sounds right, the vibrations I’m sensing in my fingertips (which sometimes tell me whether I’m in tune when I can’t hear the sound I’m making)… and so on.

When I’m playing well, all these influences flow together into a single ‘direction to go’, and I’m reasonably confident and competent. On that occasion… not so much. I was blown in all directions at once. For instance, the conductor had given cues (looked and gestured to show us when to start playing) in rehearsal, and then in the concert he sometimes did and sometimes didn’t. So I would think, ‘We come in here – don’t we? – but now he isn’t bringing us in – wait, perhaps I’m too early – oh, perhaps I should have come in three bars ago…’. That’s a classically 57-ish case of indecision. (And not the conductor’s fault: if I’d done sufficient practice, or listened to the music enough, those entries would have been ingrained in me, second nature – influences naturally becoming ‘direction to go’ in the moment.)

But with 10 years’ hindsight, I think that other aspect of 57 was also present, and Yi was challenging my idea of this concert as a single occasion I could isolate and ask about. It’s part of an altogether longer story, one that extends back through everything I’ve picked up along the years, and all the practice I have or (ahem) haven’t done, and also out into the future. Ten years on, I’m still a member of the same orchestra, and still learning.

The elusive hexagram 57

August 23rd, 2015

‘No one can tell me,
Nobody knows,
Where the wind comes from,
Where the wind goes.’
AA Milne, ‘Wind on the Hill

Xun has to be the most elusive hexagram. It’s awkward to translate (you need one word that means penetrating, interpenetrating, subtly, imperceptibly, gently, submitting…) and really tricky to pin down in readings. But then this is only its nature: it’s made of the wind trigram, doubled, and the wind isn’t known for being easily pinned down.

Most hexagrams can be read partly as verbs, partly as nouns. Hexagram 19 – Nearing, and an Approach. Hexagram 37 – the home and its people, and also home-making of all kinds. But Hexagram 57 feels like pure verb, or sometimes like pure adverb: not even a thing you do, but a way you might do many different things. Hopefully this comes across in how I described it for my book:

‘Subtly penetrating, creating small success.
Fruitful to have a direction to go,
Fruitful to see the great person.’

Subtly penetrating means becoming part of something, or someone. It describes all-pervading influences, like the wind shaping the landscape.

You penetrate subtly by feeling your way into things, yielding gently to their nature. You shift your own ideas and expectations, and come to understand the situation from inside, on its own terms. And so, as you allow things to shape you, you also reach a place where you can shape them.

The old Chinese character for ‘Subtly Penetrating’ shows a stand bearing the official seals a ruler would bestow on those he trusted. Someone who bows down and accepts a seal is submitting to the order of things, entering in and receiving his place within it. Then his seal, sign of personal authenticity, endows him with influence and the power to ‘make his mark’.

Whatever penetrates subtly becomes influential – not by acting on situations or people to change their nature, but by becoming part of their nature and acting in them. Because it never acts as an antagonist, it never creates resistance and permeates everywhere…”

It’s about getting inside, being inside, being part of something and having it be part of you. This can be a way of understanding (non-analytically), or a way of influencing. I think of it as the opposite of waterproofing: becoming mutually permeable with your environment, and hence completely at home.

That experience can show up as synchronicity. Many years ago, someone at the I Ching Community asked what a string of synchronicities was and received hexagram 57: life inside the current, where the inner nature of things is apparent.

Xun is also your own inner nature becoming apparent. LiSe’s description of this is brilliant:

“The blueprint or the seal that one carries, decides all what one is or does. It penetrates every action like wind or roots can enter anything. It has no name, often its existence is not even known, but it is always there and directs everything one does or thinks. It decides the way one listens or looks to the world.”

We have a tendency to think of inner nature and the influences of the environment as being in opposition – not necessarily conflicting, but as two separate and contrasting things: ‘Am I being myself, or am I being influenced? Is this part of my true nature, or a product of conditioning?’ But this self-evident distinction evaporates like dew when you consider that your identity and authority, the way you show who you are and ‘make your mark’ on the world, is the seal bestowed on you as you submit to your place in the whole.

(Of course there are other hexagrams in which the distinction between self and environment is very real – essential thinking-material. 64 hexagrams: 64 different ways to see the world.)

Xun the hexagram shares its name with the doubled trigram that composes it: xun, the trigram of wind or wood. The elusiveness continues. Other trigrams have multiple associations but are identified primarily with one thing: fire; lake; mountain. Why, for xun, do we have to cope with ‘wind or wood’? Granted, you can see the similarity of movement between the draft under the door and the roots coming up through the tarmac… but still, they’re clearly two different things.

Except that, in fact, they aren’t. To demonstrate, let me ask you a question: is it windy, where you are? Have a look.




So you just looked for the wind – and unless you’re in a pitilessly barren urban environment, I’m guessing you looked to see how the plants are moving. You looked for xun, for wind-wood – as a single, indivisible thing. (Try looking at plants without seeing the movement of the air…) Xun is the trigram ‘blowing-in-the-wind’ – we just call it ‘wind/wood’ for short, and because we’re used to labelling things with nouns rather than verbs.

Here’s a very tiny snippet from module 2 of the Foundations Course (the one that’s becoming available now in Change Circle), on xun the trigram – click the big ‘play’ button first, then the ‘full screen’ one at the bottom right –

So there’s a quick summary of that adapting-is-influencing, outside-is-inside way of xun. In the hexagram it’s doubled: both inner and outer trigram.

‘Wind follows wind, Subtly Penetrating.
A noble one conveys mandates and carries out the work.’

The authors of the Image conveyed a great deal within their modest little formula. 隨 風 , wind following wind – that’s ‘following’ as in the name of Hexagram 17 (another hexagram about that ‘current’ we sometimes experience as synchronicities), and so it’s a word pregnant with meaning. (It isn’t used in any other hexagram’s Image.) Inner nature – or received mandate – naturally and inevitably flows outward, where it translates into work done. The mysterious intangible becomes wholly practical and tangible.

‘…So then I could tell them
Where the wind goes . . .
But where the wind comes from
Nobody knows.’
A.A. Milne



Change Circle changes & the Yijing Foundations Course

August 15th, 2015

For updates…

If you’d like to be kept updated on these changes, subscribe to the associated forum thread.

Where I start from…

Yi is pretty extraordinary.

I know, this isn’t exactly breaking news. But I keep noticing it all over again: partly because I keep looking at more complex structures and finding more meaning and beauty than ever (the fractal oracle?); partly because I’ve been looking more at the simplest questions (like ‘why do these lines embody this concept?’) and finding myself completely overwhelmed; and mostly simply because I see it at work in readings.

Yi engages people in real conversation. It offers not only answers to questions, but a deep awareness of being truly connected. When you have confidence in your readings, so you know from experience that something as random as tossed coins or shuffled stalks will speak to you personally – well, then you know you’re fully at home. In the end, the conversation isn’t only a Q-&-A, to-and-fro: it’s a state of being.

So… the ever-present question for Clarity is how I can help people towards this experience. I write stuff, I sometimes do individual readings, I help develop and sell the Resonance Journal, I provide courses and classes – always based wholly on personal readings, because there is no way to learn the art of conversation with Yi except by talking with it (also not news!) – and I run Change Circle.

Change Circle is for people who want to get into this conversation and explore it together – something that’s easier to do freely in a private space, where you don’t have Google looking over your shoulder indexing every word! It’s also a natural place for study, because if you’re interested in going deeper with Yi then you’re also interested in learning more about it – that’s almost tautological.

Which is fine… except that it’s left me spreading myself rather thin, trying to look after course or class people in one place and Change Circle people somewhere else. Balls get dropped.  And it occurs to me that I’m creating a lot of unnecessary complication.

So I decided –

I’ll give everything to Change Circle people

Starting with the new Foundations Course, and continuing with all the Yijing learning materials I create in future (modules on more advanced techniques are in the works), everything to do with learning Yijing divination will be included in Change Circle membership.

You won’t have to decide between membership or a course or an ebook – you just come in under the Change Circle roof and find it all waiting for you there, with as much or as little support as you want, from me and the community as a whole. Reading Circle, WikiWing, the Foundations Course and its forum, more advanced modules to come (developed inside the Wiki so you can access them as works in progress), and the option of chatting with me for half an hour each month about any Yi-related puzzles you may have.

What the changes will look like

The course I currently have on sale is going into an honourable retirement; the Foundations Course is just better all round. (As well it should be – it’d be pretty sad if I couldn’t produce something better now than I wrote about a decade ago…) The ‘Words of Change’ mini-glossary will be retired, too, because the enlarged-and-improved Language of Change is also available inside Change Circle.

So the Clarity ‘shop’ will contain:

  • personal readings (sometimes) for £150
  • the Resonance Journalstill only £20!
  • the Foundations Course on its own (for anyone who’s completely allergic to forums and tutoring and just wants to study on their own) for £50
  • WikiWing membership – pay what you want, starting at all of £1/month
  • the newly expanded Change Circle membership – pay what you want, starting at £10/month

(Later, I’ll add a special version of Change Circle membership with personal support/ tuition for a limited number of people. Later still, as I complete the more advanced course, I’ll probably raise the price of basic membership. And one day I’d also very much like to provide tuition, support and certification for people who want to read for others professionally.)

When they’ll happen: 1st September

– or as close to that date as I can. (Technology may happen to me at any stage, of course. It often does.)

Why I’m telling you this now

Because the price of Change Circle is going up substantially to reflect all the new additions – it’s currently £40/year – and existing members will be ‘grandfathered’ in at the original price while still having full access to everything. Whatever price you pay when you sign up for Change Circle is the price you will continue to pay for as long as you remain a member.

So… you might want to join now. Or ask me any questions you have to help you decide whether to join now.

ripening blackberries

(To stay updated on these changes, subscribe to the associated forum thread.)