Hilary Barrett, I Ching

Casting the Vessel, so… (part 2)

I’ve been looking at the patterns that take shape within the ‘container’ formed by hexagrams 3 and 50, and wondering what they might mean. Here’s a bit more wondering.

It looks as though hexagrams 3 and 50, living energies and vessel, form a mould, within which an individual life (or culture, or way of living) can be cast: become embodied, take shape, become real.

So then… what might be said about the nature of the stuff that takes shape? It seems to make sense to look at the parts of it nearest to the mould, where the traces of its imprint are more distinct:

  • Hexagrams 5 and 6 mirroring 47 and 48 (differing by a single line at the outer boundary, 1/6)
  • Hexagrams 7 and 8 mirroring 46 and 45 (again, differing by a single line, this time at the inner threshold of lines 3/4)
  • Hexagrams 9 and 10, mirroring 44 and 43 (exchanged trigrams, with the single open line at 3/4 or 1/6)

Hexagram 5, Waiting5/6 and 47/48 share a very simple theme: the need for water, when and where it can be used. Without this, nothing can be created. On the outer edge of this set in particular, there’s water everywhere: in the name of Hexagram 5, where the character shows falling rain; underfoot in bogs, sands and mud, in the Well, and of course in the trigrams themselves. 6 and 47 have more to say about deprivation and struggle for resources. To be able to work with earth – to grow crops or shape moulds – we first need water. So we start at 5.1 – the line that connects with 48 – by going to the altar mound on the outskirts to make offerings for good weather.

Hexagram 8, Seeking Union7/8 and 45/46 deal with human resources, choice and will. The army, the chosen union, the gathering, the concerted effort to push upward; kings, generals, hunts, offerings, emotion. The overarching theme is of bringing the power of humanity to bear. 8.4 ‘seeks union outside’ to find the breadth and depth that’s needed, and reaches out as far as 45 – where in 45.4 its desire to belong and be of service contributes to ‘great good fortune, no mistake.’

9/10 and 43/44 are connected in a different way: not by a single changing line, but by an exchange of trigrams. Xun (wind/wood) and dui (lake), mediators and messengers, move around the trigram qian, heaven, seeking to create a relationship with the great heavenly powers. We need the clouds to bring rain, we try to get close to the tiger or the ancestral spirits; try, perhaps, to live like Yu the Great with the exigencies of heaven’s command. Following tigers, or maybe wrestling with angels – not easy. It’s far from obvious how to cope with 44′s powerful woman, or even with the frustrations of Small Taming.

Well… in a book of hexagrams, it seems good to pause after three sets of two. In a single hexagram, there are three sets of two lines: the first two for earth, the central two for humanity, and then heaven. And what about the themes of these three sets of two pairs within the casting mould? Hmmm…

It seems to me that thesethree sets of hexagrams evoke the three great resources needed for a successful casting: natural resources, human commitment, and spiritual connection. That would suggest that receiving one of these hexagrams in a reading carries a distinct significance: you’re engaged in creating a whole, and at this time you need to work with this resource as a part of the whole.

The nature of this depends on where you are, of course: the first decade of the Yijing shows a much simpler experience than its fifth. Everything from hexagram 5 to 10 has that sense of a first encounter, whereas the 40s show the depths and subtleties of an established culture. It’s the difference between rainfall and the well, or between Yu’s first gathering after the floods and the great offerings at the temple, or between the dangers of following a tiger through the forest and standing up in the king’s court.

What can come after earth, humanity and heaven? Hexagrams 11 and 12: the first big natural ‘punctuation mark’ of the Yi, the first complementary and inverted pair (what Schorre and Dunne call a ‘River Crossing’), and the mixing of hexagrams 1 and 2. And towards the other face of the casting, hexagrams 41 and 42, Decrease and Increase. Maybe what comes next is the dance of relationship through ritual, and an awareness of cycles?

(More questions than answers from this mould-casting pattern, in the end…

Do all the lines connecting those outer layers – 5.1, 48.1, 6.6, 47.6, 7.3, 46.3, 8.4, 45.4 – have more in common? And what about the hexagrams outside the mould, 1-2 and 51-64? Are they simply ‘outside’, beyond? Are they shaping rather than shaped?

What are the chances they’ll run out of questions about Yi any time in the next 3,000 years?)

7 Responses to “Casting the Vessel, so… (part 2)”

  1. Tay Says:

    The Hexagrams are illustrative of the seasons and more. Can you arrange 60 hexagrams in a circle to represent the seasonal year/ or clock ? Hexagram 11 PEACE is the first of the circle (at 12 o’clock); Hexagram 1 at three o’clock; Hexagram 12 at six o’clock; Hexagram 2 at 9 o’clock. You can see the transitional changes of the lines round the clock, if you work out the line changes within the clock. Perhaps tie-ing in with your work above??
    There will be four hexagrams that are not within this circle (our normal time frame). The four are Hexagram 17, 18, 63, 64. Hexagrams 17, 18 represent the past. 63 is unstable; 64 is Spirit breaking through (Fire over Water). I think somewhere in the Bible quotes that our world will not be destroyed again by water ?? The new world will be built with Spirit (Fire) over Emotions / Materialism (Water). Purification of one’s soul through Fire (Spirit)… It is a lot condensed into a paragraph here.

  2. Hilary Says:

    Thanks for this, Tay. I’m not sure whether what you describe would tie in with the ‘casting’ pattern; I think there are many, many patterns waiting to be explored. Interesting that you include hexagrams 1 and 2 within your cycle of time. Is there somewhere people could read more about it?

  3. Tay Says:

    All information is in the IChing. Identify the time aspects of the hexagrams according to the seasons/ astrological indications. Hexagram 1 points to the East ; its counterpart Hexagram 2 to the West. Hexagram 11 in North; Hexagram 12 points South. The inner lines move according to the seasons of transformation/ changes.
    I do not know of any book/ papers with the time aspect study. The casting pattern you have worked on should tie in with the time aspect.
    However with the casting pattern method, I feel one needs to be in abstract mode and know some ancient Chinese hieroglyphics esp on the elements ie water, fire, wood, earth and the basic shapes eg box (for mouth and its extensional meanings). These are essentials and starting points.
    What is your favoured IChing manual ?

  4. Hilary Says:

    What is your favoured IChing manual ?

    Depends what you mean by ‘I Ching manual’. For translations: Bradford Hatcher, LiSe Heyboer, Wu Jing Nuan, Richard Rutt (mostly for the Wings), and picking my way through the Chinese one character at a time. For relationships between hexagrams I mostly lean on Stephen Karcher, who’s an unfailing source of new connections that bear fruit in divination – though in practice the tool I end up with after a few readings may or may not be anything he’d recognise.

  5. Tay Says:

    Your work on the Casting the Vessel is ‘pure unadulterated gleeful Yeekery’. This is important and crucial. I have located Hex 50 as Fire Dragon and its counterpart Hex 3 is Water Dog. Hex 27 is Wood Dog and 28 is Metal Dragon. Hex 26 is Wood Ox; Hex 27 is Wood Dog; Hex 28 is Metal Dragon. I am using the Chinese Lunar cycle and their associated elements. What can you deduce from the imagery of a Dragon, Dog, Ox? And the elements Wood, Fire, Water, Metal ? It is most beneficial if you can contemplate by yourself on the workings of the universe, as you have done with the casting of the vessel.

  6. Hilary Says:

    I don’t have the knowledge of Chinese astrology to see how you’ve made these identifications, let alone to deduce anything further. But I’m glad you’ve posted your comments here for others to read.

  7. Scary readings | Answers I Ching blog Says:

    [...] small farmer under the dark clouds, knowing something is coming, but it’s not time yet. In casting the vessel, Hexagram 9 (with Hexagram 10, and facing 44-43) has to do with creating the relationship to heaven [...]

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