Tag Archives: hexagram #38

Chuck’s Place: Reconciliation Of Retrograde

Trickster energy… - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Trickster energy…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

It’s 6:21 AM. I’m driving slowly along the windy hilly roads to work. My mind is preoccupied with the experience Jan and I had last Friday at the VA Hospital in Albany. We’d been invited to present on PTSD. We decided to give an experiential presentation for which I’d brought my EMDR light bar. There was a delay getting into the conference room, as a prior meeting was spilling over into our time. Our presentation time was compromised, as another presenter was to follow immediately after us.

Once we finally entered the room, I quickly attempted to set up the equipment. Suddenly we entered a cartoon-like dream. Everything we touched, although meticulously packed, fell apart. The tripod literally fell into pieces, impossible to reassemble.

“Okay,” I resolve, “I’ll hold the light bar without the stand.” As I go to clip the control switch into the bar I discover that the clip is broken. There is no salvaging the equipment now! That’s it, I decide, the trickster shaman’s world trumps. The Magical Breathing Pass of Recapitulation will have to be the main experiential feature. And so, about 25 people learned and experienced this ancient Magical Pass and it’s application to PTSD.

As I continue to drive to work, I recall that the time crunch of the presentation also precluded a brief group hypnosis that Jan was to give at the close of the talk. Suddenly, my awareness is abruptly drawn back to the present moment: a young deer is staring at me, frozen in the road. I slam on the brakes—a near miss!

The symbol for Mercury...
The symbol for Mercury…

What does it all mean? For the past several days, I’ve been experiencing and observing opposition and retrograde. We exist and are composed of fields of competing energies. Mercury, the trickster energy, is indeed in retrograde. At the VA we experienced the ancient shamanic energy opposing and trumping the modern mechanical/technological world. At the moment I recalled the opposition of time and trance—no time for a group hypnosis—I was awoken from my own highway hypnosis to not kill a deer. Here was the opposition of time and timelessness: being present in this moment to not kill a deer vs being lost in the timeless world of the mind’s meanderings.

We all struggle with oppositions within the self. Carlos Castaneda relates in Magical Passes how don Juan Matus explained this in a metaphorical sense: “…that we are composed of a number of single nations: the nation of the lungs, the nation of the heart, the nation of the kidneys, and so on. Each of these nations sometimes works independently of the others, but at the moment of death, all of them are unified into one single entity.” (pp. 103-4)

Our challenge in this life is to reconcile those oppositions within us, the trickster included, into an integrated whole, in a process that Jung termed individuation.

Sometimes the nation of the stomach craves that which the other nations of the body reject. Sometimes the neocortex—our rational brain—rejects the impulses and needs of our limbic system—our animal brain.

When my neocortex confronted the frozen limbic response of the deer in my headlights, it managed to direct my body to hit the brakes. My own limbic system worked in concert with my neocortex to supply the rapid response to react physically to the crises at hand. This is an optimal response—nations of the self unified, acting in concert.

In times of retrograde, Mercury, the trickster, can confound all attempts at collaboration. Mercury laughed as I fumbled with the equipment at the VA. Rather than fight, I read the signs and immediately shifted. Acquiescing, I flowed with the energy of the moment and instead taught deep bodily knowledge.

Opposition is within us all...
Opposition is within us all…

When I asked the I Ching for guidance regarding this period of retrograde, it once again, not surprisingly, produced the hexagram of Opposition, #38. The moving lines—in the third and fourth places—depicted a wagon with oxen being dragged backwards. Now there’s a retrograde image! The guidance reads: though humiliation might occur, sit tight, wait, align with a likeminded person who can be trusted. In the case of the faulty light bar, I turned to my neocortex, which acted in concert with spirit: Go with the flow, trust the Magical Pass.

In shaman’s terms, the guidance is to suspend judgment, to look beyond the impasse. Reconciliation lies in the deeper meaning of the trickster’s intent—to reveal a deeper truth: The ancient Magical Pass of Recapitulation is all you need to be freed of PTSD.

We can reconcile with all our retrograde energies if we accept their opposition with patience and perseverance, not falling for the trap of self-blame. The deeper meaning of Mercury’s retrograde lies in the wings of Mercury—our freedom to fly—achievable if we don’t get caught in the heaviness of opposition.

Flowing on the wings of Mercury,

Chuck’s Place: Guidance For Shutdown

Today, Chuck offers his blog, in alignment with the energy of the world around us. Jan’s weekly blog, A Day in a Life, will appear later in the week.

The old sage stands firm and waits... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The old sage stands firm and waits…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Over the past few weeks I have tracked the energy permeating our world in consultation with the I Ching. Two weeks ago, I was advised that restoration of order—the Tao—required acquiescing to the respective needs of the day, afternoon, and evening. Last week, I asked how this can be accomplished when one part of the self tries to infringe on the needs of the overall self. The I Ching advised that the adult self follow the guidance of the sage, leaving behind the demands of the child self. This week, the child self has rebelled with a fury, seizing control by shutting down the US Government and the world economy as it tries desperately to subvert the implementation of a law it dislikes.

Today, I pose to the I Ching the question of how to deal with such an absurd and obvious coup. The I Ching responds with hexagram #21, Biting Through, with a moving line in the second place.

Biting Through depicts an open mouth with an obstruction stuck in the middle of its teeth as it bites down. “Incorrigible people and situations must not be allowed to impede progressive development,” says the I Ching.* A firm adult stance must be taken here. Furthermore, the moving line in the second place depicts a piece of tender meat in the mouth. Here the discrimination between right and wrong is as easy as biting through tender meat. In fact, the wrongness of the behavior displayed is so obvious that it might lead one to overreact with retaliating anger. This is not advisable.

The antidote prescribed for this opposition is indeed hexagram #38, Opposition. “When people live in opposition and estrangement they cannot carry out a great undertaking in common; their points of view diverge too widely. In such circumstances one should above all not proceed brusquely, for that would only increase the existing opposition; instead, one should limit oneself to producing gradual effects in small matters. Here success can still be expected, because the situation is such that the opposition does not preclude all agreement.”

“…So the cultured man is never led into baseness or vulgarity through intercourse or community of interests with persons of another sort; regardless of all commingling, he will always preserve his individuality.” **

The guidance is clear, stay grounded, stay firm but avoid losing oneself or spending one’s energy in futile battle. What is needed is firmness of conviction with compassion for the folly. Ultimately the child self is dominated by fear of change. The root of its act of sabotage is to find safety in the familiar and unchanging. With firm perseverance the adult takes charge and calmly enacts needed change.

The value of the coup played out before us is the obviousness of its tactics. Mature adults are catering to the power demands of a child self to the detriment of all. When this condition emerges within the personality decisions are impulsive and dangerous. The outcome is generally one of stagnancy, defeat, and depression. This condition comes about when the adult self knowingly or inadvertently accedes its power to the child self.

The antidote to such an inner coup is to suspend negative judgments about the self, but with clarity energetically face the truth of what has occurred and restore order and control as soon as possible. It’s not about self-ridicule or blame, there needs to be total acceptance of self, with firmness in realigning with the guidance and truth of the sage self, always present to clarify and guide.

Assuming adult responsibility for self and outer world requires the clarity and firmness of Biting Through coupled with the steadiness of Opposition, as conditions will gradually return to order.

Let’s see what happens,

* Excerpt from The I Ching Taoist Book of Days, 1983; p.152
** Excerpt from The I Ching or Book of Changes Richard Wilhelm translation, pp.147-8