Hilary Barrett, I Ching

Four ways Yi works with dreams

A wise person said to me recently, ‘There’s only one oracle.’ She meant that there’s only one reality speaking to us – so it shouldn’t surprise us when dreams, Yi, guides, synchronicities and all turn out to be working together.

On reflection… this turns out to happen more often and in more ways than I’d thought. For instance, with Yi and dreams, there’s…

1. Reading about dreams

If you’ve never tried asking Yi about a strong dream… ask! I’ve found these readings wonderfully rewarding, in a mind-stretching sort of way, as images talk about images and dreams and reading enter into dialogue.

You can ask simply, ‘What does the dream mean?’ – though I find ‘what to learn from this dream?’ can lead to a more approachable answer, as ‘what do I need to understand about x now?’ readings often do. Sometimes the reading will even offer one changing line as a ‘takeaway’ from each dream scene.

Searching through my journal for an example…

Well… there was the one where a woman had taken on a sort of potato-like vegetable form, and was kept in this form by a regular injection, and she explained that she kept coming – voluntarily – to get the injection because the super-powered robot that had replaced her human form could not be outdone, could not be beaten at this game.

My reading about this dream was 6.2.4 to 29, and I could recognise potato-woman’s words at once in ‘cannot master this argument’ from the two line texts. So the reading gave me images of being stuck, and then the reading went on to talk about what to do instead of trying to compete with the robot, or taking the potato-inducing? injections. (I had a bit of an issue with ‘vegetating’ at the time, and my dreaming mind seems to have thought I needed things spelling out…)

For long dreams full of imagery I might single out just one element that seems to be a key to the whole and ask, ‘What was that?’

Sometimes I’ll ask instead about how to relate to aspects of dreams, especially recurring motifs. (I found that while this didn’t make the recurring stop, as I’d rather hoped it would, it helped to shift the nature of the dream interactions.)

Or in a long, complex dream I might single out the one element that seems to be key to the whole and ask ‘What was that?’ If the dream is one of those epic narratives that range across multiple scenes and teem with pregnant symbols, starting with just one object or event or place can make for a more manageable reading.

In fact… even if you asked about the whole dream, be prepared for the reading to make its connections through a single element. Then you can explore in widening circles from there – out into the larger narrative of the dream, and into the deeper structures of the reading. (Line pathways, especially, seem to act like mirrors for dream images and their meanings.)

2. Yijing imagery in dreams

After a little while with the Yi, its images find their way into your unconscious and settle in – or perhaps images that were always buried somewhere in there start to make their presence known. In any case…

I dreamed of having to clear great quantities of spiders and creepy-crawlies out of the family car – very 18. And of my father as the boatman in a boat loaded with refugees until it was almost sinking – and since Yi gave me 60.5 when I asked about the dream, I think that boat is from the paired line, 59.2.

Sometimes Yijing imagery – or even just hexagram numbers – become a kind of dream shorthand, rather like the references to myth and history in the Yi itself are shorthand. A dream character need only say, ‘That would be 55!’ to evoke the whole of Abundance.? Luis dreamt hexagrams too – along with a pair of axolotl that looked suspiciously like a tai chi symbol.

3. ‘Volunteer’ dreaming about readings

That is, a dream that follows on from a reading – or immediately precedes it – and casts light on it. This happens quite often for me with the dreams that follow a weekly reading. Sometimes the dreams ‘explain’ the reading for me, showing how it applies, but more often they simply make it vivid and immediate.

For instance…

Towards the end of 2006, the year my mother had died, feeling things shifting, I asked, ‘What’s new about me?’ and received Hexagram 25 – Disentangling – unchanging. The following night, I dreamt:

“Someone tells me there is a swan in trouble out in the water. When I look, I see how one swan is somehow caught underwater, so its head will barely reach above water. I see its neck curved and white head under the water. But it’s at the centre of a whole group of swans, two white adult young and a big, dark-coloured – almost mud-coloured – male. He has her head and neck across his shoulders, and is swimming fast against the current, and each time he surges upward her head rises above the water so she can take a breath. There’s a sense of devotion and compassion from him.

But I still feel we should go and do something to help, even though I’m afraid that our approach will make the swans panic, or attack us. But when I look again, I see that he has somehow linked his wings under hers, and he uses the power of his wings to lift her so she’s entirely freed from whatever caught her. This is wonderful – and my help isn’t needed. What impresses me most now is his power.”

And a simpler one from 2007: I asked how not to be depressed and received 27.4 –

‘Unbalanced nourishment,

Good fortune.

Tiger watches, glares and glares.

His appetites, pursues and pursues.

No mistake.’

I kept that tiger in mind, and a couple of nights later dreamt that I encountered two tigers when out walking. I was apprehensive at first, but saw there was a black panther in the distance that wouldn’t dare approach with the tigers present. They came home with me, and in the final scene of the dream I was just waking up, finding I’d slept on the floor next to the bigger tiger with my head almost resting on its leg.

4. Dreams and readings that act

There are plenty of things one can do with dreams and readings?…and plenty more that dreams and readings can do with us.When a reading client had a ‘weird dream’ on the night after our reading and woke feeling a weight had lifted and she could let things be, she didn’t connect this with any particular message from either dream or reading: it had simply happened. In the same way, when 27.4′s tiger comes to me in a dream,?this is not just information. Readings and dreams are real events; what happens in them is real, not just a ‘message’ about a separate ‘real world’. Only one reality – only one oracle.

Getting started

Reading other people’s posts about the exciting dreams or readings or synchronicities they’ve experienced can be pretty demoralising. Personally, whenever I read something really tantalisingly exciting about the possibilities of dreams – crystal clear prophetic dreams, glorious encounters with spirit animals, in-depth conversations with ancestors – my dreaming mind responds with night after night where my total dream wisdom is something like ‘We’re running out of tinned tomatoes.’

Fortunately, to get started, astonishing psychic gifts are not required – we just need to show willing. That can be as simple as

  1. write your dreams down,
  2. write your readings down (journal software coming soon so you can store readings and dreams together), and
  3. ask Yi about some aspect of a dream from time to time

That’s all it takes to open up the flow between dreams and readings so they begin to ‘talk to each other’, and then…

sleeping tiger

(Thanks to Anita Berghoef for the sleeping tiger.)

2 Responses to “Four ways Yi works with dreams”

  1. Topal Says:

    I’ve been doing this a lot over the last year and have achieved some valuable understandings. I think the Yi lends itself particularly well to inner development associated with archetypal imagery. This includes the catalogue of very personal and unique images that the Higher Self uses to communicate with the “I” at this level of existence.

    Sometimes these dreams can be a little complex but the Yi goes to the heart of the matter and gives you a snapshot of the essentials.

  2. Example reading after a dream | Answers I Ching blog Says:

    […] 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 […]

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