Blog

Question to I Ching: What opportunity does COVID-19 present to humanity?

Those of us lucky enough to survive the COVID-19 pandemic will always remember this time, these days and weeks and months when much of human activity closed in upon itself, sheltering blindly against the invisible SARS-CoV-2 assailant, not knowing whether we were keeping it out, or keeping it in. 

The threat or reality of infection has affected the health, livelihoods, activities, choices, and relationships of nearly every person on the planet; never has such a broad swath of humanity consciously faced such a collective experience during the same few months.

At the same time, the pandemic is a deeply personal, private lived experience, affecting no two people alike. For some, tragically, COVID-19 has cut life short, and brought on a miserable death. Or they have lost loved ones. For others, recovery has been miraculous, bringing on congratulatory cheers from health care workers as they are wheeled out of the hospital. Many, many others have lost their jobs, bringing on deep economic insecurity. Children and teenagers wonder and worry about the ultimate impact of their interrupted schooling, and miss seeing their friends while they enjoy binging on TV shows and social media. And some of us just worry and wait, scrutinizing every cough, pondering the risk-benefit ratio of every trip out of the house.

And then there are those who are genuinely enjoying this pause, this momentary freedom from white-knuckle commutes and tedious afternoons under fluorescent lights at office desks, from the myriad social and otherwise obligations ranging from hitting the gym to visiting Aunt Margaret every Sunday. And there are those who dig the cleaner air and the quieter streets, where the sounds of nature’s birds and bees and other myriad creatures can be heard again, springing to life. What COVID-19? We’ve got mating and feeding to do.

It is said the I Ching contains guidance for any situation a person could encounter. As such, it is singularly suited to provide precise guidance for how each of us should individually act within this universally shared experience. Yet, as the book of divination that gave advice to emperors for centuries, it can also speak to the meaning and lessons these times hold for us collectively. The question I thought might capture that was: “What is a key opportunity that COVID-19 presents to humanity?”

Like most (but by no means all) readings, the I Ching returned two hexagrams in response: “Family” changing to “Limitation.” When the I Ching was developed, family was (and, arguably, still is) the most important unit of social organization in China. Its well-being and functionality were considered even more important than that of its individual members. Men, women, and children were assigned distinct roles and responsibilities for maintaining the cohesiveness of the family: father, the outward-facing head; mother, the inward-facing manager; sons and daughters, the charges who owed their parents filial piety and the fulfillment of prescribed life milestones.

Of course, the model and metaphor of the family can be applied to other groups to whom members are committed and for which they fill specific roles – and it can be applied to nations as well. Confucius is quoted in an ancient text as saying: “From the loving example of one household, A whole state becomes loving. From the courteous manner of one household, A whole state becomes courteous.”*

This reading seems to indicate that COVID-19 is providing a potent reminder that the cliché applies: we humans do, indeed, belong to one family as we collectively face the invisible threat of this virus. Certainly the virus behaves so! 

The “changing lines” of this reading give more specific guidance about the process we may go through in defining and consciously engaging this notion of one human family. The first and second lines to appear in the reading (at the second and third places, per below) suggest that a couple of different approaches are both essential: a narrow, nourishing, focused stance and one that can be critical, judgmental, prone to punish. We need to attend to our health and healing while also being willing to call out and reprimand unproductive, unethical, or even frivolous behaviors. The third changing line (at the top place) indicates success: faced by the threat of COVID-19, certain leaders of the human family will prove themselves capable of rising to the challenge and setting an example of love and integrity for the rest of us. 

The reading then resolves into Limitation, which indicates the need to set limits on expenses and behavior. We have never lived in a world of unlimited resources but now the options have necessarily narrowed about what actions will promote health and survival. A lack of restraint now will cause unhappiness and, yes, more sickness and death.

Looking at the reading as a whole, COVID-19 is presenting an opportunity for humanity to come together as a family, a cohesive unit that not only is united in protecting itself, but also capable of forming empathic bonds. At the same time, the I Ching affirms the need to punish errant or selfish behavior that threatens the health of the collective, which in this case could be interpreted as violations of social-distancing guidance and related protocols. And it suggests that during this crisis the human family will be successful at recognizing and promoting ethical leadership that will prioritize maintaining the health and strengthening the ties of the human family.

As we currently navigate the tension between the need to re-open the economy with the need to reduce (and hopefully eventually eliminate) the virus spread, the I Ching is advising us to err on the side of restriction, “otherwise calamity will ensue.” But we should also be reasonable as too much restriction brings its own problems, such as the quarantine fatigue many are now experiencing that drives them to openly flout social-distancing guidance and put everyone in danger. Our challenge is to find that balance between excess and insufficiency and walk in the central path of the new normal that COVID-19 has thrust upon us.

The I Ching can provide you specific guidance to help you and your family through the pandemic. Contact me today to set up a phone or Skype meeting. 

The I Ching readings:

To make these blogs more immediately digestible, I provide the commentary first, followed by the actual readings, so that readers acquainted with the I Ching can check my interpretation. 

Hexagram 37 (title: “Family” **) changing to Hexagram 60 (“Limitation”). There were 3 change lines in the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th positions.


*Words and passages quoted in this blog are from Huang, A.  (1998).  The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang.  Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.  

** Titles vary by translation. For this blog, I used those developed by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in one of the first authoritative I Ching translations to appear in English, The I Ching, or Book of Changes, (1950/1967).  (R. Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes, trans.).  Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press.

What is the I Ching Saying About COVID-19?

Certainly humanity has suffered plagues before, but no one alive today has faced quite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presents.

COVID-19 has been called the “perfect” virus. It is more contagious than the cold and flu, and much more lethal, killing about 1-3% of the people it infects (compared to .1% of people who contract the flu). But it is not as lethal as SARS or Ebola, meaning that it also infects many who do not themselves become sick, but can spread the disease to others. And it presents as “only” mild respiratory, flu-like illness in about 90% of the symptomatic cases. For the other 10%, the risk of death is real, and they will probably require hospital care. If there are too many of these sick people in a given community, their needs have the potential to strain local health care delivery services to the breaking point.

As a “novel” virus, nobody has immunity from it. The problem, owing to the lack of availability of testing, is that we currently don’t know who is actively spreading the virus (until they become sick), and who has developed antibodies against it (even if they never get sick).

Given the lives this virus has already taken, the damage that has been inflicted on public health, the overwhelming burden it has presented to our hospitals and medical staff, and the potential for these ravages to continue and multiply, our country’s governors have wisely issued shelter-in-place orders, and shut down much “non-essential” economic activity. And so we wait.

In times of crisis like these, the I Ching can provide especially potent wisdom for how to act and what attitudes to hold.

This is because the I Ching was developed over 3,000 years ago, during a time when ancient China was going through much turmoil as its “warring states” vied for resources and power, and it was considered one of the six books of wisdom that rulers used to guide their actions when many options were available but none seemed optimal. For decision making, it was considered the most important book, because it could read the unseen “mandate from Heaven” that spelled out the course of action appropriate for that moment in time that would ultimately spell enduring success for peoples and their rulers. And, when the inevitable hard times came, the I Ching offered wisdom for navigating the attendant dangers and uncertainty. 

However, is its advice still relevant for issues we in the U.S. face today, in the 21st century? 

Given that it is the oldest surviving divination system on the planet, the I Ching has continued to offer people across time and cultures actionable, sage advice, even though interpretation can sometimes be tricky. 

I first asked the I Ching for its general guidance on how U.S. residents should manage their health and finances during this time, and received readings that certainly spoke to the situation. For health, the I Ching indicated that there will be no easy fix; we are in a pattern that will remain in place for some time. The 2 readings indicated that we are being called to be creative and conceive innovative responses, while also not kidding ourselves that we can do too much. We need to be like birds when they’re nourishing new life: stay close to our nest. As the I Ching can be read on so many levels, I interpret this metaphor to mean both that we do literally need to be staying home at the moment, and that game-changing advances in treatment for the virus will probably not immediately occur. Only “small steps” will be effective at this time. As for finances, the I Ching indicated we will be in trouble for awhile, but that gradually we will rebuild. “Any kind of development should proceed in an orderly way and advance step by step.” *

But, given such broad diversity across communities and peoples of this country, this guidance seemed to only affirm what we’ve already been told; it did not present actionable guidance for navigating our next steps. So, today (Sunday, March 29, 2020), I decided to ask the I Ching a more pointed question: “What is U.S. society’s highest priority right now in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic?”

With the trouble we are encountering right now, the I Ching had 2 pieces of advice: restrain the negative forces by keeping to ourselves (“It is not appropriate to let it approach the guests”) but not accept a situation “with no friends gathered around.” During these times, we need to be accepting of others. “If one is magnanimous and tolerant toward others, then one can receive support from them.” To confront and overcome this peril, we need to embrace the paradox of keeping to ourselves while staying in touch with – and being accepting of – our community in all its diversity and differing views. If we allow ourselves to become too isolated, misfortune can result. Thankfully, we are already seeing this modeled on the national stage as Trump and his administration are working with Democratic and Republican governors alike to bring support and relief to afflicted communities across the country. And we saw it with the bipartisan support behind the stimulus bill that was signed into law on Friday, March 27.

Interestingly, the I Ching returned the same response for how this priority question will resolve as it did on my background question regarding finances: Gradual Development. The situation will improve, but it will take time, like the growth of a tree. No steps can be missed in this process; there will be no fast-forward.

Watch this space as I report on more readings each week!

The I Ching can provide you specific guidance to help you and your family through the pandemic. Contact me today to set up a phone or Skype meeting. 

The I Ching readings:

To make these blogs more immediately digestible, I provide the commentary first, followed by the actual readings, so that readers acquainted with the I Ching can check my interpretation. 

Background (health) (2 readings): Hexagram 1 (title: “The Creative” **), stable. Hexagram 62 (“Taming Power of the Small”), stable. 

Background (finances): Hexagram 29 (“The Abysmal”), changing to Hexagram 53 (“Gradual Development”). There were 3 change lines in the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th positions.

Highest priority: Hexagram 44 (“Coming to Meet”) changing to Hexagram 53 (“Gradual Development”). There were 2 change lines, in the 2nd and 4th positions.


*Words and passages quoted in this blog are from Huang, A.  (1998).  The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang.  Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.  

** Titles vary by translation. For this blog, I used those developed by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in one of the first authoritative I Ching translations to appear in English, The I Ching, or Book of Changes, (1950/1967).  (R. Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes, trans.).  Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press.

Who Will Prevail in the Congressional Elections?

Fueled by dug-in, fiercely held convictions by folks on both the right and the left, there is no mistaking the fact that this Congressional campaign has been white hot. “The most important election of our lifetime,” some have called it.

Will enough progressively oriented young people, concerned minorities, and pissed-off suburban women voters turn up to retake (at least) the House for the Democrats? Or will the Republicans, re-energized by the messy Kavanaugh confirmation process and running scared of the marauding hordes heading steadily toward our southern border, be able to turn back this threat from the “radical left”?

Republicans are still favored in most district maps, and certainly are favored to retain control of the Senate, where they have to defend fewer seats, and where the dispersed votes of their rural base count more than those of liberals concentrated in urban centers.

So, of course, I asked the I Ching. And, again, the wise old oracle returned sensible answers.

My questions:

  1. What is the likelihood that the Democrats will win enough seats in the House in tomorrow’s election to regain the majority (and, hence, take control)?
  2. What is the likelihood that the Republicans will win enough seats in the House in tomorrow’s election to retain control?
  3. What is the likelihood that the Democrats will win enough seats in the Senate in tomorrow’s election to regain the majority (and, hence, take control)?
  4. What is the likelihood that the Republicans will win enough seats in the Senate in tomorrow’s election to retain control?

The I Ching readings:

Will the Dems win the House? Hexagram 8 (title: “Holding Together”*) changing to Hexagram 3 (“Difficulty at the Beginning”). Hex 8 concerns cohesive communities, such as what would constitute an electorate, especially one that’s locally based, such as a Congressional district. And the changing line discusses sincerity as a means for uniting that community. “People will join the union.” Hex 3 concerns birth – of a person, an idea, a circumstance. In other words, something becoming a reality on the physical plane. So, this reading seems to indicate that enough people in Congressional districts will believe in the sincerity of their Democratic candidates, and vote them into office, thereby creating a Democrat-controlled House, i.e., the birth of a new circumstance. This is an exciting time, the beginning of something new, as the inchoate but boundless creative energy of Heaven coalesces into physical form on Earth. However, the I Ching does warn that new circumstances are also inherently difficult owing to their fragility (“tiny sprout”), so caution must be exercised. However, the final text in the judgment does indicate it is a favorable time to “establish feudal lords,” an ancient reference to government.

Will the Republicans retain the majority? Hexagram 13 (“Fellowship”) to Hexagram 49 (“Revolution”). Hex 13 also refers to a group of people, but it tends to refer to a closer-knit group, i.e., people who hold the same interests. The only change line, however, discusses “seeking harmony in the countryside” with an unfavorable result: “One’s ambition is not yet fulfilled.” By “countryside” the I Ching is referring to places where there are few people, and we can see how this would readily hold true in this election in that rural voters are the most reliably loyal to Trump and the politicians that he supports. This reading seems to indicate that there will not be enough of these voters to defeat the Dems. And the resulting Revolution hexagram does indicate a change of government.

Prediction: The Democrats will win control of the House, and will face the customary challenges in assuming power.

Will the Dems win the Senate? Hexagram 49 (“Revolution”) changing to Hexagram 17 (“Following”). The one change line is not favorable: The text mentions adversity because the change that the Dems wish to bring about has not yet been adequately articulated to the American people. In a word, we as an electorate are not yet ready to embrace a Democrat-controlled Senate; the Democratic candidates have not yet made a sufficiently compelling case to move the masses. Hex 17 completes the reading by advising the Dems to “follow the time” and accept the results.

Will the Republicans retain the Senate? Hexagram 6 (“Conflict”) to Hexagram 18 (“Work on What Has Been Spoiled). While this sounds like a “bad” reading, it actually is better than the one above owing to the text in the 3 change lines – all of which are giving advice of how to deal with adversity. One line indicates that the Republicans will benefit from their “inheritance,” which is most likely an allusion to their incumbency. The next line advises them to change their position, a strategy we are seeing, especially with respect to the health care debate. (Suddenly, Republican candidates are acknowledging the value of plans that cover pre-existing conditions!) And the third line indicates that “supreme good fortune” will prevail because the candidates have displayed “fairness, justice, and reasonableness.” Finally, Hex 18 is also quite positive, because it indicates that the querent will have a chance to transform what has been spoiled. So, it’s possible that, owing to the fact that the Republicans are forecast to lose the House, they will need to transform their tactics for exercising power in the Senate, displaying more “fairness, justice, and reasonableness” in the process. One can only hope!

Prediction: The Republicans will retain control of the Senate, but will need to work on “what has been spoiled” in their relationship with their Democratic colleagues and, by extension, the liberal base.

*Titles vary by translation. For this blog, I used those developed by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in one of the first authoritative I Ching translations to appear in English, The I Ching, or Book of Changes, (1950/1967).  (R. Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes, trans.).  Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press.

Quotations are from Alfred Huang’s book, The Complete I Ching. (1998). Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

Will Judge Kavanaugh Be Confirmed to the Supreme Court?

The I Ching Weighs In.

It seems the whole country is now caught up with this burning question, one that should be resolved with the Senate vote on Saturday. The nomination process – intensified by the recent allegations that Brett Kavanaugh committed sexual assault at least once when he was in high school – has divided Americans so deeply that it seems like everyone has taken a side and dug in.

Full disclosure: I, too, have taken a side. I want this nomination to go down in flames, and what he may have done to Christine Blasey Ford and other young women is only a small part of my rationale.

Regarding the allegations, I agree with the Democrats that the FBI investigation was probably insufficient, and with the Republicans that without corroborating evidence, this really is an instance of he said, she said.

Instead, I’m concerned about adding another conservative vote to the court that will tip the balance. And I’m especially concerned that he appears to advocate for greater powers for the President, as well as immunity from prosecution when that person is in office, and I’m thinking that is probably why he landed on the short list for this nomination to begin with. He wasn’t on the previous two lists of potential nominees given to Trump, but now with the Mueller investigation closing in, Trump needs a defender more than ever.

I also hated his comportment during last Thursday’s public hearings – how he ranted and interrupted the Democratic senators, how he denigrated the whole process while loudly proclaiming his unequivocal innocence. He even tried to deny he was much of a teen drinker, even though such a confession would probably have been viewed as fairly benign in these circumstances. To me, he came off as a bully, and a dishonest one at that.

Given this bias, I’m sure some of you would expect me to announce that the I Ching affirmed my heartfelt, almost desperate, wish regarding the outcome of Kavanaugh’s nomination. But this is what makes the oracle so great: it is not a mirror of your thoughts or wishes, and the process for casting a reading does not seem to be subject to unconscious manipulation.

While it is true that some readings are so puzzling that you can project your desired meaning upon the text, the reading I received for this question allowed for no doubt or tricky interpretation: Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

My questions:

What is the likelihood that the Senate will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court?

What is the likelihood that the Senate will vote to not confirm Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court?

The I Ching readings:

Will Kavanaugh be confirmed? Hexagram 16 (title: “Enthusiasm”*) changing to Hexagram 2 (“The Receptive”). Generally, Hex 16 discusses favorable conditions and energy moving in the seeker’s direction. There was 1 change line, in the fourth position. A part of the original text of that line reads: “One’s will is bold enough to fulfill great aims.” Another reads: “Great accumulation obtained.” However, the line does advise the reader to not be “suspicious.” That could either be interpreted as a warning to me that he won’t be as damaging to the court as I think he’ll be, or an advisory to Kavanaugh that allaying suspicion – both his and the liberal public’s – will be one of his challenges as he settles into the court. Instead, his charge will be to gather others, to seek out connections and work to the greater good. Hex 2 is pure yin, symbolizing Earth, and heavenly manifestation of events on Earth initiated through the action of Heaven, while also indicating that friends will be won and lost.

Will Kavanaugh not be confirmed? Hexagram 52 (title: “Keeping Still”). Does that say it all? This position is a non-starter.

*Titles vary by translation. For this blog, I used those developed by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in one of the first authoritative I Ching translations to appear in English, The I Ching, or Book of Changes, (1950/1967).  (R. Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes, trans.).  Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press.

 

Interview on XM Radio

Last week I was honored to be a guest on Dr. Bernard Beitman’s “Connecting with Coincidence” radio show which will be aired with affiliates over the XM Broadcast Network. Among other topics, I describe how the I Ching can support decision making that is in sync with the unique confluence of factors that are at play at the moment you are asking your question.

Check it out:

https://www.spreaker.com/…/…/ccbb20170615ep25emmarykaylandan

How Can the I Ching Help You Make the Right Decisions in the New Year?

Happy New Year everyone! Regardless of your political bent, you are probably expecting that the new Trump administration will shake at least a few things up in the U.S. and world in 2017 and beyond — changes you may dread or eagerly anticipate, or any of the complicated emotions in between.

For the New Year, I thought of asking the I Ching for an overarching “lay of the land” prognostication of what’s in store, but then thought better of it. As I discuss on my Using the I Ching page, such “weather reading” questions can be very difficult to interpret because they are not grounded in a topic. When you receive a reading such as: “Establishing the New, Supreme good fortune. Prosperous and smooth,” * what does it refer to? Relations with Russia? The repeal and replacement of Obamacare? End of the Syrian conflict?

You get my drift.

Instead, I thought it time to leave politics aside and blog about something useful for a change. In other words, for the New Year, I want to demonstrate how the I Ching really can be a valuable guide for making personal decisions by discussing a recent example from my own life.

Last summer I was laid off my job. Since that time, I, an introvert by nature, have had to crawl way outside my comfort zone to apply for jobs, go on interviews, reach out to people I hardly know for advice and ideas, attend workshops, join new organizations, and confront roomfuls of strangers. Losing my job was also the impetus for going more public with my 35-year I Ching practice and, hence, founding Decision Point.

So the decision that confronted me one recent day was whether or not to go to a local networking event. As this one was hosted by a local Chamber of Commerce with the focus on business ownership, I would need to present myself not so much as a person seeking her next opportunity in research project management, but rather as the owner of Decision Point.

I was terrified at the prospect, and not only because I’m an introvert. I felt this Chamber event was probably the wrong venue for my I Ching consultation business because other attendees would probably be “straight” business people who wouldn’t be receptive to an oracular system such as the I Ching, even though it has been venerated in China as a philosophical system for, literally, millennia. If this were California, I might find a receptive audience, but certainly not in the outer suburbs of Boston.

But the inclination to go kept nagging me, so naturally I decided to put the question to the I Ching during the morning of the event. My questions were:

What is wisdom of…

  1. Attending the networking event this evening?
  2. Not attending?

Even though I do tell my clients that the I Ching is very capable of not supporting their ego’s position on a decision or stance, over the years the oracle has generally supported me in my desire to stay home from events, especially if I’m not going to know anyone there.

Not this time.

For going, I received the hexagram indicating standstill (or stagnation) changing to the hexagram for progress. And, what’s more, this “progress” was probably the best I could have received for this question, because it refers to progress specifically relating to being promoted in a professional or political — as opposed to romantic, family, or spiritual — setting. Moreover, the reading changed into this progress from a stagnant state of affairs, which certainly described my “progress” thus far in promoting Decision Point.

By contrast, for staying home I received the hexagram for shock, changing to that for avoidable conflict. If I stayed home the I Ching was telling me I could unnecessarily be exposing myself to some danger and contention.

This interpretation — unlike many — was a no-brainer.

So, still uncertain, I went.

At first, it was what I expected: a bunch of people in business attire talking among themselves. It didn’t seem like meeting anyone would be easy. So I sat myself down at the bar, alone, and began eating some pizza, while two men carried on an animated conversation next to me. But, after a bit, one of them left, and the other turned to me. We started talking, and he critiqued my business card. Then his wife came over and she, as it turned out, regularly attends a local holistic center where I’d been meaning to introduce myself. She sees a psychic there, and knows the owner well. So that conversation was off and running.

Then she flagged down another woman, who owns a day spa. After discussing the I Ching with her a bit, I could tell she was very receptive to the idea of introducing it to her clients. I took her card, and subsequently followed up with her, which resulted in a meeting where I provided her a demonstration of how the I Ching works. She was impressed, and I will probably participate in some sort of spa day for women in the New Year!

Without the I Ching’s push, I probably would never have attended this event—but I came out of it with four connections, a presentation opportunity, and possibly at least one job! Because it reads the “seeds” of upcoming events, the I Ching can guide us in making the “right” decision, i.e., the one that will yield the most beneficial (or ethical) result among the options available.

The I Ching can help you make the right decisions in the New Year as well! Contact me today to set up a phone or Skype meeting.

The I Ching readings:

To make these blogs more immediately digestible, I provide the commentary first, followed by the actual readings, so that readers acquainted with the I Ching can check my interpretation.

Wisdom of attending the networking event: Hexagram 12 (title: “Standstill” **) changing to Hexagram 35 (“Progress”). There was 1 change line, in the fifth position.

 Wisdom of not attending the networking event: Hex 51 (“The Arousing [Shock, Thunder]”) changing to Hex 6 (“Conflict”). There were 4 change lines, in the first, second, fifth, and sixth positions.

*Words and passages quoted in this blog are from Huang, A. (1998). The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

** Titles vary by translation. For this blog, I used those developed by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in one of the first authoritative I Ching translations to appear in English, The I Ching, or Book of Changes, (1950/1967). (R. Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes, trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

My Readings of Election Results Were Inaccurate: Why?

Of course I need to own up to this. Both of the predictions I made concerning election results, based on I Ching readings, were wrong. I inaccurately predicted that Kelly Ayotte would hold onto her Senate seat in New Hampshire and, most notably, I wrote in my most recent blog that Hillary Clinton would take the presidency.

Does this mean the I Ching is not such a reliable tool for prognostication after all?

Based on the fact I have received mostly valuable guidance from the I Ching for both myself as well as friends and clients over the past 35 years on all kinds of topics, I still trust in its timeless wisdom and capacity to give sincere people the answers they need to successfully navigate life and make the best decisions possible.

So, what happened?

Readings express probabilities, not declarations of fact. First of all, we really don’t know how the I Ching works. Chinese philosophers have posited that the I Ching faithfully represents in microcosmic form the organization and functioning of their three-part cosmos of Heaven, Earth, and Man. As such, it touches the seeds of future or unseen events that exist in the heavenly realm, and can relate them through readings.

However, the answers given in readings are probabilities; there is still a degree of indeterminacy in how events will actually manifest. To give an obvious example, weather reports are not always accurate, especially during times when numerous factors (e.g., geographic features, pressure systems, temperature, wind and water currents) are converging to influence atmospheric conditions.

In the case of the Ayotte–Maggie Hassan contest, this race was decided by 1,000 votes. So there was indeterminacy in the heavenly seeds of this situation, which was reflected in the fact that both candidates received so-so readings when I asked about their likelihood of winning. The I Ching’s “final answer” to the question of Ayotte, however, probably provided the ultimate clue: “Misfortune comes.” * But I didn’t interpret this to mean she would definitely lose this election because the hexagram obtained in this reading generally refers to a longer time span, and Hassan’s reading indicated some stagnancy. In other words, this election turned out to be too close to accurately predict.

But I don’t have such a handy excuse for missing the outcome of the Clinton–Trump contest.

Interpretations can be tricky. There’s a reason why the I Ching hasn’t caught on like Tarot cards or runes in the U.S., even though I would argue it can be much more specific and, hence, accurate. It’s complex, and challenging to interpret. In addition, after spending years in relationship with this ancient oracle, I have discerned (dare I say) a personality that does favor certain questions and situations over others, and can deliver different responses at different times or to different people who are inquiring about pretty much the same situation. (As a quick example, it is so weary of being asked about my relationship with my wayward boyfriend that it is now basically refusing to answer these questions directly, and instead is telling me to start spending that energy cultivating my spiritual self!)

The I Ching’s responses to the likelihood of Clinton winning and the likelihood of Trump winning were both positive. As my question did not specifically state “electoral college,” this symmetry could have reflected the fact that Clinton won the popular vote while Trump won the electoral college. However, I must admit I had a dog in this fight; I did want Clinton to win. So, because her reading more directly addressed the matter of strength, I quickly interpreted that to mean she would be the winner because I wanted it to be so.

But, Trump actually had the “better” reading. If my client, whose life I was not invested in or had knowledge about, had received these two readings about a course of action she was considering, I would have steered her in the direction of the Trump reading. For, though the reading began with a declaration of “Decrease,” ** it contained two very propitious messages. The first indicated that Trump would be able to overcome his shortcomings with help and support; the second pronounced “supreme good fortune.” These messages provided the bridge to the final outcome of “The Creative.” This is the first archetypal situation presented in the I Ching, and it represents no less than the original generative power of Heaven.

Clinton’s reading, on the other hand, started with the baked-in warning that one can too easily overplay their great strength. But I misinterpreted the specific message that she would “not blindly proceed further with force and strength” to mean she would be able to accept victory graciously, and be kind to her opponent. The final outcome was “Peace,” which promises “Good fortune.” Here, if my own biases toward this election had not clouded my judgment, I would have recalled that usually this hexagram indicates rather tepid success, i.e., nothing compared to The Creative, whose judgment consists solely of Heaven’s four primary attributes: “Sublime/initiative,” “Prosperous/smooth,” “Favorable/beneficial,” “Steadfast/upright.”

As I stated in my last blog, usually the appearance of The Creative indicates great potentiality, but the rubber has not yet met the road. However, as I mention above, the I Ching can express itself differently in different situations. Here, clearly, it was expressing that the way was open for Trump to take the presidency. The force of Heaven was at his back.

So, what have I learned? When The Creative appears in other readings, especially as an outcome springing from positive change lines, I will take greater notice. This is another reason I love the I Ching; there are no masters of this ancient, wise oracle, only students.

The I Ching readings:

Once again, the readings I received when asking about the election were the following:

Likelihood that Trump will win the election: Hexagram 41 (title: “Decrease”) changing to Hexagram 1 (“The Creative”). There were 3 change lines, in the third, fourth, and fifth positions.

 Likelihood that Clinton will win the election: Hex 34 (“The Power of the Great”) changing to Hex 11 (“Peace”). There was 1 change line, in the fourth position.

*Words and passages quoted in this blog are from Huang, A. (1998). The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

**Titles vary by translation. For this blog, I use those developed by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in one of the first authoritative I Ching translations to appear in English because they are apt to be most familiar to readers. The I Ching, or Book of Changes, (1950/1967). (R. Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes, trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.