Sunday, August 16, 2009

Book of changes

The day after I wrote my last post in the DMV, I "threw" the I Ching while sitting in the car on the way to North Carolina, to ask why I haven't been able to write this summer. "Threw" is a relative term here. In the past, one would throw three pennies to determine whether the lines in the I Ching hexagram were yin or yang/broken or unbroken; and, in the distant past, one threw yarrow stalks. But I was actually just picking cards from the deck that came with my recently-purchased "The Lost Art of I Ching" set.

Perhaps I should offer a disclaimer here: I approach fortune-telling sources like the I Ching and tarot cards with a creative and open (but hopefully not gullible) mindset. I like how ideas and images can materialize where there was only a blank table before. I think such tools can help people—especially creative people—make decisions, not by any direct advice, but with whatever pops up in the subconscious as a result. If you laugh at the results because they seem ridiculous, that in itself is your answer. Such a reaction can perk up the mind to come up with less ridiculous possibilities.

It's been years since I threw the I Ching. I occasionally threw pennies in my dorm room, hoping for answers to my love life, or lack thereof, but was turned off to the I Ching a few years later when some people I knew in Santa Cruz consulted it day and night, for guidance on every action they were supposed to take. But I liked the look of this small boxed set when I saw it in the bookstore, and I had a hankering to consult something beyond my usual circle about my creative frustrations: at $7.95, it was cheaper than going to a therapist.

My card set advised me to state my question clearly and to select two cards: the first card would be to answer my question; the second would be how the answer would be transformed. Somehow, in my mind (I can't find it in the book now), I thought I was supposed to select a third card, for the question unasked, which I did.

Q. When am I going to have the time to write? What should I be doing right now about that?

Card One:


Bide your time. Attend to necessities.

Card Two (transformation/change):


Create alliances and systems of mutual support. Strengthen bonds, connections, and relationships.

Card Three (the unasked question):


Allow attraction to guide you. Learn from all you encounter.

These results pleased me, and gave me a sense of ease about my busy, errand- and work-filled summer. I am attending to necessities, as I should be. At the same time, I realized I need to start looking for systems of mutual support, which, for me, means attending a writer's workshop and/or meeting other writers as soon as possible.

I have no itch to consult the I Ching again, anytime soon, but I'm glad it's there, in my nightstand, if I need it.

Postscript: I thought that my advice to writers to consult the I Ching for questions about creativity was going to be new and unique; and, I had planned to write a post in the near future about using the I Ching and other forms of randomness/divination (like randomly selecting pages in books) to help writers come up with story ideas. But it turns out that at least two other writers have beaten me to it. I googled "I Ching and writers" just now and found two books on this topic:

(I don't know whether these are worthwhile books or not; I'm just noting their titles.)

There is probably, also, somewhere a published story or a poem based on I Ching hexagrams or a particular I Ching reading, which I've also thought about doing. I suppose that just because it has already been written about or may have been done already, that's no reason not to do it again, or differently. I realize also that the possibility that what you're writing has already been used/discussed/approached is something all writers must face in everything they undertake, but that they're never going to write at all if they think about it too much.

1 comment:

BellBookCandleSupply said...

Tarot reading requires a deep mental exercise and contemplate on the facts and feelings to foresee valuable divination.
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