Hilary Barrett, I Ching

Casting the Vessel – so…?

… what does it mean for readings?

That’s what an aggravatingly clear-sighted friend asked when I started enthusing at her about the beautiful ‘casting’ structure between hexagrams 3 and 50. And I suppose it’s not an unreasonable question… ;)

Maybe one day it’ll mean I routinely consider the matching hexagram from the other side of the metal as part of a hexagram’s meaning, so no reading with 39-40 is complete without giving thought to 13-14… but not as yet, certainly!
So far, all it means for me is a difference in how I see individual hexagrams that seem particularly important in the pattern. For instance, in the liquid centre of the metal, Hexagram 26, Great Taming –

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– takes on a new dynamism if I think of it as the interaction between the power of liquid metal within and the clay mould outside. The mould is light, dull, perhaps brittle; the metal is vivid, mobile, too dangerous even to get close to – and yet, like the accumulated strength of human cultural knowledge, the mould contains and shapes the metal and turns it to use.

The central (median) point between 3 and 50 is, strictly speaking, 26 and a half, so the ‘centre’ is Hexagrams 26 and 27. And 27, Nourishment –

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– looks to me now like the creation of the empty mould: strength on the outside that determines the shape that will emerge. Better take a good, long and imaginative look at that mould now, to form a clear mental image of what will emerge from it.

Then hexagram 28, Great Exceeding or Great Transition –

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– is – aptly enough – just off-centre. And that looks to me like the strong liquid metal taking shape within the mould, or maybe threatening to overflow it, or through excess pressure to crack the thin layer of clay at lines 1 and 6. The marriages at lines 2 and 5 do seem to be pressing hard into the mould of expectations.

6 Responses to “Casting the Vessel – so…?”

  1. bonnie Says:

    The final transition to Hexagram 28 , visually says to me..the form has done it’s work in a balanced fashion to the fluid metal and now it is released to BE ..without the constriction or rigidity of form.

  2. Hilary Says:

    That sounds something like…

    ‘The lake submerges the tree. Great Exceeding.
    A noble one stands alone without fear,
    Withdraws from the time without sadness.’

    – doesn’t it?

  3. bonnie Says:

    yes..and the tree will arise from the lake and the noble one will meet the others and the withdrawn will reunite …always a turning towards…
    the Book of Changes

  4. Tay Says:

    Thank you VERY much Hilary for the recent posts. There are many points in your discussions. Hex 27 is shaped like a MOUTH. The Chinese character for ‘mouth’ is shaped like a box. This shape as you’ve mentioned has many meanings from ‘nourishment’ to ‘verbal outpouring’ to ‘enclosure’.
    Transitions in our physical world is circular movement like the workings of a clock ie 60 secs in one minute. With regards to the other 4 Hex… they seem to be ‘out of the ordinary’.

  5. Hilary Says:

    Thanks, Tay. Hexagram 27, especially its Image, emphasises awareness both of what goes into the mouth and of what comes out from it, ‘words in conversation’. So maybe ‘mould’ imagery is not that far away.

    I’ll be interested to see what you make of my next post on these patterns!

  6. Tay Says:

    There are many similarities between the ancient mystics and the IChing. Hex 27 is representative of the WORD in St John’s Gospel’ s opening passage .. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. Pottery making and Art were sacred activities of our ancestors.
    I have been too busy to contemplate in full your last work/ research. Will let you know in time ….Meanwhile I think you are on the right track with regards to transitional changes – inner and outer. There are no ‘right or wrong’ interpretations because our visions are never ‘correct’. The critical thing is that we are participating and in this event, we are ‘co-creating’ the process of ‘transitional change’.
    A brief study of Chinese hieroglyphics would be useful as the elements of ‘fire’ and ‘water’ are commonly portrayed in the IChing. Thank you again for your work.
    PS The ‘mould’ is as ‘best’ you can describe in your own way. It is shaped like a mouth and the text has indicated ‘nourishment’ etc. We need however to EXTEND our imagination/ vision to include more than a physical ‘mould/ mouth/ nourishment/ verbal exchange etc’. Everyone has a different interpretation. And that is why this world is BEAUTIFUL.

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