The I Ching
The I Ching is one of my root teachers. What’s that to you? Good question. The I Ching welcomes all manner of good questions and will even entertain some terrible ones.
There are only so many ways a dandelion can flower and there are only so many responses to causes and conditions possible in a human life. They’re all here, in the systems map that is the I Ching.
Throw the coins. Random speaks its own vast tongue. Listen. You’re not a victim of fate, you’re its co-creator.
How willing are you to be fully alive?
What are you willing to know?
Let’s find out.
The Collective I Ching Readings Are Here
For the remainder of June and the start of July please email email@example.com to book.
“I recently had an incredible two part I Ching reading with Rei Hance, whom I highly recommend. She is an exquisite space holder and a wellspring of wisdom. The fear that we sat with together was deeper than my fear of not belonging. It was the fear of belonging and being left behind…”Scout L.W.
Meet the I Ching
Here’s an excerpt from my book Oracle of Emergence: An Evolutionary I Ching:
This is a book of philosophy.
This is a book of ecology.
This is a book of advice.
This book is a good spiritual friend.
Don’t use it to stalk certainty.
Nothing here is written in stone. Everything is subject to the ecology of erotic emergence. Meet and metabolize the myriad things—the wind, the mushrooms, the crows, the smiles—with your whole body. Let them touch your body before they penetrate your mind.
This is how you are being renewed in this moment—if you allow it, if you don’t turn away. Sometimes, when you don’t turn away, people will turn away from you. Sometimes, miraculously, they won’t.
Being fully alive is risky. At times, it feels unbearable. Not everyone is up for it. If you are, this book will be a useful guide.
There are only so many ways a dandelion can flower and there are only so many responses to causes and conditions that are possible in a human life. They’re all here, in the ecological systems map that is the I Ching. No matter which layer you’re looking at—underground or higher than sky or mostly in between—the intersections still intersect. The questions you ask co-create the conditions for the answer you will receive.
Random speaks its own vast tongue.
You’re not a victim of fate, you’re a participant.
Notice how flux moves through your body. How you surrender to flux within the natural cycles—day and night, four seasons, new moon to full moon—is how you plant the seeds of freedom in yourself and others.
Understanding that ease isn’t found in certainty, but the welcoming of uncertainty, will be helpful. Abide in uncertainty, act confidently in good time, and ease will follow. Understanding there is no separation, only coalescence and deliquescence of form—coalesce, deliquesce, repeat—will also be helpful.
Balance is of a moment. It emerges from reversals. Grabbing it and begging it to stay will not be helpful. Surrender to being rocked back and forth by all forms of weather and tend emergence, tenderly.
This is the gardener’s task. This is the embodied human’s task. To tend the human and more-than-human world wholeheartedly. The tender tender tenderly tends. This book is, in many ways, a gardening guide.
A garden exists in a limited space, but is subject to boundless forces. It often has gates that latch and unlatch. A garden is rooted, but moves through time. Each plant in the garden can only express its own essence and is encouraged to do so completely. Calendula doesn’t suddenly swap blossoms with a peony. The plants in a garden are influenced by their companions and storms and natural law.
The lilacs bloomed ten days early this year. Everything did. A garden is contained, but not separate—just as you are enveloped in skin, which, like reality, is a permeable membrane. A garden contains not only flowers, shrubs, and trees, but countless soil microbes, insects, and fungi. It’s a whole universe, just like your gut, just like your mouth, just like you.
You are mostly made of what you can’t see.
You are mostly made of cells that don’t share your DNA.
They participate in you.
You don’t have to plant seeds at the new moon and transplant at the full, but your garden will grow better if you do. The I Ching is a sort of Farmer’s Almanac for all layers of our ecosystem: A map of the human condition amid cosmic conditions. You can try to separate yourself from ecology, but the gardener is aware this is a fool’s errand. The good gardener notices everything, within and without the gate.
If you want to keep believing what you want to believe, you have room to do that here. The I Ching will reiterate your preferences until you discover you are clutching only one possibility. The reaction you’re having to your reading? That’s exactly the energy for you to work with right now. How does it align with your preferences? How much are you willing to suffer for that preference?
When you feel certain, the I Ching will often do you the favor of returning you to uncertainty. When you are leaving one phase behind, you are already turning toward a new one. Don’t forget this. Phases are entwined and emerging one out of the other. Nothing is lost, only reformed. When summer is turning into fall, we may feel a slender sadness even as the trees explode into color. Becoming is not always that spectacular, nor the shedding so complete, but it can be, naturally. Let the wind blow right through you.
This book is essentially a cover version, a heretical revision of Confucius, not a translation. The I Ching far predates the Confucian influence that has come to define it. Some measures put the oracle at 5,000 years old. It is said to have been written down for the first time when China was shifting from a matriarchal to a patriarchal society. One might imagine that before then, there was no reason to write it down. Before then, it was carried by bodies, passed along by mouth, on breath. It’s hard to know exactly how far back it first showed its spark. Let that notion be. There are many ways of knowing.
Nothing here is certain. Not the history. Not the order. Just the persistence through time. The I Ching has been in use for at least 2,500 years. That’s a long time. Particularly in the context of human history. There must be a reason we keep coming back to this well. I know why I do.
My relationship to the I Ching is long and intimate. And like all enduring relationships, it has changed much over time. I’ve grown up with her. She’s my mystery mom. She’s reliable, even when she’s wily. She is forever turning me back on myself, showing me my preferences, especially when my preference is to keep an old pattern in place. She taught me how to open when I wanted to close. She still does. She held me as I recovered from abuse. She held me when I was living in my car. She held me when I became sober. She held me through rejection. She held me through success. She held me on all fours, birthing grief babies on the beach. She held me when my boy died. She held me as I came back to my body after rape. She held me when I started teaching. She held me when I almost died. She held me when I fell in love. She held me when I got engaged. She held me through the breakup. And the next one, and the next. She held me when I swung my sword like a feral animal. She held me when no one else would, including me. She held me at every point when I lost faith that I could hold myself. She is the common denominator of all my life’s passages. She is my wisest, oldest friend and teacher and not above fucking with me. I have been devoted and consistent and often a pain in her ass. She restored me to confidence, to live with fidelity to all that is, always changing. She taught me how to be a pretty good human being.
The I Ching is a field. An entity. An energy. A being and a guide. Like so many fields of being, our intimacy with them has long been mediated by priests and priestesses, poets and painters, shamans and saints—until it’s not. Until we cultivate that relationship, that intimacy, ourselves.
I wish you this intimacy.
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Are you not clear on your question? It’s anything that can’t make it from your intuition, past your preferences. It’s anything that can’t quite bridge the gap between your life force and your life.
Why’s that chasm so big anyway?
The most important consideration when formulating a question for an I Ching reading is: What are you willing to know? This is the foundational question to ask yourself before formulating your more specific question. Really. Be honest with yourself.
The I Ching will drive you deeper into the root of your doubt, deeper into your preferences if that’s what you need to see them clearly. If that’s what you need to release them.
Notice how what you are willing to know is different from what you already know and would rather not.
The I Ching will tend to fuck with you when you ask questions from preferential greed. Like any good spiritual friend, the relationship attunes you to your inner knowing. The I Ching is not a substitute for your intuition, but a trainer of it.
I usually throw the coins each morning before meditation with the very simple question, “What is my correct path for today?” A reading is a snapshot of what you might be missing. It can provide insight into your next right action. Form your question accordingly.
Remember that you are the human asking the question, and the answer will be for you. The I Ching doesn’t generally tell you other people’s business. If you keep asking anyway, the I Ching will often go into trickster mode and check you for what you’re avoiding and assigning to another.
Avoid yes or no questions.
Questions about your correct response to a situation are useful. When asking questions about relationships, sometimes you will get guidance about a pattern that is keeping you from deepening your connection, rather than about the person. Is it the pattern or the person that wants to be released? Try the pattern first, cut the person some slack.
Some possible questions:
What am I not seeing in this situation?
What’s my best approach to this situation?
How can I best serve _____?
How can I best lead this group?
What would it be like if we lived together?
What is my correct relationship to __?
How can I win this battle?
Why can’t I shake this pattern?
What is my correct path with this job offer?
What needs to shift for me to have a more beneficial livelihood?
How can I best release this trauma?
How can I best deal with my boss?
How can I deepen this friendship?
Who am I right now?
Who am I becoming?
How can I best approach this becoming?
What is this moment trying to show me?
Why am I bringing this question to the oracle?
What would happen if I said fuck it all and moved to Barcelona?
What is my correct path for the new year?
You get the idea. If you ask a broad question, you’ll get a broad answer. If you ask a specific question, you’ll get a more specific answer. Ask for clarity around what’s in front of you. Don’t ask the I Ching to collude with you future-fucking yourself. At least not regularly.
Be respectful, always.
If you are interested in a reading, but it’s financially out of range for you at this time, you can have your reading recorded for an episode of the F*ck Suffering podcast. If you schedule here without payment, you’re consenting to be recorded for broadcast. Interested in hearing other episodes?