I am a lucky girl. Sometime, at the end of the 60’s I was hired as an assistant art director at New York Magazine, formerly the Sunday supplement to the New York Herald Tribune. Everything was possible. Life was filled with many serendipitous moments, “bashert.” In the office, our drawing boards were set up in rows and I sat in front of Merle Peek, a talented illustrator, who introduced me to carrot soup and the iching. For almost 50 years, I have consulted the i Ching, the ancient Chinese Book of Changes, by asking my question, throwing 3 coins, and receiving a reading about the state of my character in that moment.
There are a lot of scholarly texts, philosophies, and criticisms written about this famous book. I have attempted to read some, but I am mainly interested in the images and their personal meaning that a reading provokes. A window into coincidence and synchronicity in my life, like being seated at the drawing board in front of Merle.
The 64 art pieces from the readings.
The Quest is the Question
Many have used the i Ching as an oracle. Over these many years, I have looked at it like a long relationship. The quest is in the question that you ask and your interpretation of the reading. I have had to learn to be patient and focused about what I want to ask and try to interpret the reading with a sense of objectivity rather than look for an interpretation to support a preconceived idea. The way a good friend would be sincere, enter into a dialogue with me, offer an insight, help me find a productive path or provide a caution. The question or inquiry should revolve around clarifying your feelings in a situation. This isn’t a time for a yes or a no answer. Your questions should be specific about an issue, what is it you need to be aware of, or learn, and how it will affect your life. “Truth, like gold…is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.” - Leo Tolstoy
i CHING #1, Creativity
Harness its power. Actions may lead to new beginnings or create momentum. Align with other influencers, but don’t become distracted. Focus on community by aligning creative goals with personal and societal interests.
i CHING #2, Natural Response
Feeling disconnected. Remain passive and allow what comes to come. Be receptive to surroundings; respond rather than create. Remain modest and show value by being purposeful.
i CHING #3, Difficult Beginnings
You are in a new environment, which you are unable to grasp or understand fully. Your surroundings are hazy. Things are tumultuous and chaotic but like a storm, this will pass and bring prosperity. You must navigate y following your principles and seeking out advice and wisdom to guide you.
i CHING #5, Calculated Waiting
Wait to act and relax in the unknown. You have no control. Anxiety or rash actions will be a waste of your energy. Focus on building strength, confidence, patience, and optimism.
i CHING #7, Collective Force
Harness the power of many people for great accomplishment. To do this requires a strong but generous and inspiring leader dedicated to a cause that resonates with the community. Effective communication, organization, and support unites us to work toward the worthy goal. As well as stamina to overcome challenges comes from knowing the goal is worthwhile for the community.
i CHING #9, Restrained
If you are unable to move forward on any goals but can’t find a reason why, focus on details and small changes, and on improving your image. Be patient and study similar situations for guidance. Loyal relationships will build resources.
i CHING #11, Prospering
This is a time of healthy growth and awakening. Lay the foundation of trust, communication, good influence and partnership to shape the path forward. Harmony between instincts and outer forces will create progress.
i CHING #13, Community
The work of many with unique initiatives merge to further the interests of the community. Placing members where they are effective and satisfied combined with a strong work ethic will yield collective success. Order must be designed selflessly, aligned with the community’s goals.
i CHING #15, Moderation
Strive for equilibrium and self-centering. Act moderately, keep intentions modest, and avoid radical personalities. Broaden your foundations. Perseverance, decisiveness, and balance will bring success.
i CHING #17, Adapting
Surrender control, restraint, and act with the ebb and flow of circumstances. Maintain flexible and receptiveness in this transitional time.
i CHING #19, Promotion
Beginning of spring: bursts of creative energy. This is a time for advancement and new ideas - others will be receptive and supportive of your aims. It would be wise to use this productive energy to build fountains of social influences, inner clarity and confidence, and financial stability to fall back on in times of hardship.
i CHING #21, Reform
Change is needed to conquer obstacles. Rely on order, strong principles, and defined guidelines. Obstacles may be internal so that the challenging task must be met with continuous effort to find success.
i CHING #23, Deterioration
Things may be tumultuous, in decline or splitting apart. Spending energy to resist the deterioration would be a waste. Wait patiently for this time to pass. Focus on self-nurturing and building a foundation of secure relationships.
i CHING #25, Innocence
Let go of any expectations of rewards, so that you can meet challenges. Trust in good instincts and strive for spontaneity rather than cleverness. Act freely and for the sake of action.
i CHING #27, Nourishing
It’s a cycle. You are the product of what your put into your body and mind. Be aware of what thoughts you are allowing into your consciousness and maintain an inner optimism. You are in a good position to be supportive for others - nourish them with inspiration, encouragement, and education. When difficulties arise, examine what you are putting into the situation.
i CHING #29, Danger
Meet conflicts with integrity and strength. Do not compromise on your principles and avoid endless conflicts. You will develop determination, inner strength, and set a good example. Adhering to your ethics will keep you afloat. If your efforts are unsuccessful, wait out the turmoil.
i CHING #31, Attraction
Maintain a willingness to gravitate toward your goals and be influenced by others. Avoid impulsive action. When you start to be compelled in a particular direction, wait until you have some clarity. Allow change to occur and don’t get lost in ideas without action.
i CHING #33, Retreat
At this time you need to follow a natural pattern of advance and retreat. Emulate the moon which begins to recede as soon as it reaches its fullest point. This is a time to withdraw temporarily from your endeavors. You will return when the time is right.
i CHING #35, Progress
The time is right to successfully influence social progress. Strong communication and focus on socially progressive or altruistic goals will create success and significant progress.
i CHING #37, Family
Approach social affairs as you would approach family relations - with duty, respect, and loyalty. The wellbeing of any social unit is just as important as each individual. If you act with a family mindset, with awareness and acceptance of your position, and wellbeing of whole unit in mind, you will find success.
i CHING #39, Obstacles
Just as flowing water meets obstacles in a stream, you face challenges along your path that are inevitable and must be confronted to continue forward. Emulate water as it pauses before an obstacle, building volume/strength until finally flowing past. This is a good time to recruit help and join forces in a unified approach.
i CHING #41, Decline
You are experiencing a time of decrease in resources as part of a natural ebb and flow of things. Accept the decline by simplifying your life and adjusting. This may also be a time of decline in social interactions or passions. Turn inward instead of forcing interactions.
i CHING #43, Resolution
Now is a time to firmly commit to following a path for your own well being. Do not compromise, despite opposition. Examine all aspects of your life to be sure you are living your goals. Focus on positives, benefits, and constructive changes. Your inner resolve must match outer expressions to be successful.
i CHING #45, Assembling
Shared goals drive members of a group to unite. Keeping sight of the shared leader or goal is important at this time. Members must be committed to the goals and strive to keep harmony within the group. Maintain awareness of your social position and don’t force your way into social circles. Allow others to gather with you. When you are firmly committed to your goals you will find success in unions.
i CHING #47, Adversity
You are facing a natural time of adversity, a compliment to a time of advancement. Weather this time with emotional stability and strength. Don’t give power to insecurity. Prioritize, let your actions speak for you, and don’t become distracted by discouragement.
i CHING #49, Changing
A difficult but important path for change is open. Gaining support for change may be difficult because change is often feared. Gauge general feelings to be sure change is necessary. Then approach with clarity and organization. Change what creates problems. Your actions will gain support if you are in the correct position to bring about change. Although the change may be significant, the new situation will not be perfect. Aim for satisfaction and stability, not perfection.
i CHING #51, Shocking
A sudden release of energy or turn of events creates a shocking situation, which spurs fear, awe, and movement. Use this time to learn to maintain composure even in the face of unexpected events. This will help you gain standing, as this is a trait of a good leader. Know that fear during this time will give way to joy and confidence. Maintain control of the elements in your life but don’t fight big changes that occur.
i CHING #53, Developing
Pursue a slow unfolding of events, moving step by step closer to your goal. Progress through traditional, defined means. You may start out as a beginner but don’t rush out of frustration. Trust that your path is secure; don’t seek shortcuts and be flexible with obstacles.
i CHING #55, Zenith
During this brief time all potentials are fulfilled. You are at the maximum. Treat this time of success as a foundation for future growth. Do not try to preserve the situation as it is part of a cycle.
i CHING #57, Penetrating Influence
There is great power of steady influence, like the force of wind carving landscapes. Move in a defined direction with sustained effort. In social affairs, develop relationships with gradual, long-term commitments. Gaining influence requires understanding the spirit of those you want to influence.
i CHING #59, Reuniting
There has been a division in groups or ideas and that has created discord and feelings of isolation. Work to improve your sentiments toward those you have grown distant from. Isolation stunts creative energy; creative endeavors rely on communication for inspiration and flow. Move past isolation and cross divides with traditions. Create things that serve others.
i CHING #61, Insight
Face your goal with an open mind and take a step back to evaluate. Don’t lose sight of your principles, but allow yourself embody your goal from another’s perspective. This yields useful insight which helps you understand and achieve your goal.
i CHING #63, After the End
An equilibrium has been reached after a transition. You may naturally relax and complacency sets in. Don’t try to force the ideal situation to continue - you must accept this natural coming decline. This is the end of a major phase. Preparing for emotional difficulties ahead will soften their impact. Look for happiness in simple elements in your life.
i CHING #4, Inexperience
View this as an opportunity to learn rather than a character flaw. Seek guidelines to direct learning and growth. Approach this project with humility and remain open to the answers you find.
i CHING #6, Conflict
It is unsettling to face obstacles that challenge your views, but this is a time of inner growth. Recognize that your views are subjective and not above others. It will not be solved by argument. Be humble—pride will lead you to conflict. Seek objective advice to find answers.
i CHING #8, Unity
This is a time for productivity that is energized from shared experiences. The key is to find a balance between a strong sense of self and recognition of self as part of the whole. Be honest and gracious and you will gravitate toward the people you need to connect with for progress.
i CHING #10, Conduct
Your behavior will determine if this is a time of danger or inspiration. Be courteous, act with dignity and composure. Avoid overly ambitious goals or drastic emotional decisions. Cultivate inner virtues and motivations that will bring success.
i CHING #12, Stagnation
This is a time of slow or little growth because relations may be difficult, leaders disconnected and ineffective, and communications are disjointed; so withdraw from these stagnant affairs to protect your integrity and rely on your inner strength. Discourse will only bring conflict. Only strong sense of purpose and correct motives will create progress.
i CHING #14, Sovereignty
Great resources and lack of opposition have brought you to a position of leadership. Approach your resources with generosity and modesty; avoid pride and greed. Be a trustworthy leader and loyalty and success in your aims will follow.
i CHING #16, Harmony
Emulate nature following path of least resistance. Tap into the sentiments, lifestyles, and traditions of the people and communities around you to gain influence. Finding inner harmony by attuning to internal rhythms will yield enthusiasm for your aims and success.
i CHING #18, Repair
Things have fallen into a natural state of disrepair and disorder, brought on by complacency. The situation is in your power to repair; assume responsibility for the needed changes and you will find support and efficacy in bringing about growth and improvements.
i CHING #20, Contemplating
Focus on the big picture. Find where your energies might be most worthwhile. Stay open minded and view situations as part of a whole.
i CHING #22, Grace
This is a peaceful and inspiring time. You will be receptive to ideas in the world around you and find creative expression freely. Trust that your self worth will supply external radiance. Be authentic and expressive.
i CHING #24, Returning
A new cycle or phase of growth begins. You may be eager for new developments, but be careful with your energy: build up strength and don’t take on too much yet. Consider the ending of the previous cycle and maintain awareness of the change occurring. You may have been here before and may return again.
i CHING #26, Potential Energy
By waiting, you have built up potential energy. Now, you are strong enough to take on ambitious projects and bring about great progress. Focus this energy on building connections and networks and put your energy toward projects that benefits others.
i CHING #28, Critical Mass
Significant events may be colliding. Your position requires important decisions that cannot be avoided. This may be an overwhelming time but stand strong, resilient, and self reliant. Trust yourself as your own guide. You will need to evaluate all factors coming together so that you base your decisions on the realities of your environment. This is a potentially transitional time in your life.
i CHING #30, Synergy
You and your goal are dependent upon each other for success. Individual elements can achieve far more when working together than they could alone. Collective energy will generate inspiration, ideas, growth. Seek out relationships knowing that cooperation will maximize success. Use this energy to overcome internal or external trouble.
i CHING #32, Continuing
Pay attention to enduring values and consistent traits within yourself. Relying on these traits will help you reach your goals and therefore are self renewing. Enduring social customs and effective policies are secure foundations for further growth. Set realistic goals and continually evaluate.
i CHING #34, Great Power
At this time you have great power, presence, and influence on others. You can take on significant projects. Stay mindful to use power wisely. Your power does not equal strength of character nor does it guarantee success. Follow traditional paths and policies to keep power in check. Take advantage of your ability to influence change at this time but avoid overconfidence.
i CHING #36, Censorship
At this time you don’t have enough power to overcome obstacles. Your perspective is viewed as a threat. This is not a time to assert your opinion. Hide your ideas and blend in. Be outwardly accepting of the times but maintain your inner resolve and opinions.
i CHING #38, Contradiction
Opposing forces are working against each other and significant progress is unavailable at this time. Focus on building bridges between polarized ideas and views. Bridging these gaps has the potential to form a significant union or partnership. Internally your own contradiction views manifest in indecision, but because you can clearly see both sides, you will develop a sense of balance between forces.
i CHING #40, Liberation
You will find a release of tension after a period of anxieties and resentments. Let things go whenever possible. If you face something intolerable that cannot be let go, you may consider leaving the situation. The air is cleared, you are refreshed, and new growth can occur.
i CHING #42, Benefit
A lot of energy is now available. Channel it toward beneficial endeavors or a large task you have been putting off. Be generous in your partnerships, and as a leader seek to serve those you lead. Also, use your energy for personal development or to gain a sense of direction.
i CHING #44, Temptation
You are met with a seemingly harmless but potentially dangerous temptation. Be aware that you may not be able to clearly see the consequences, so be on guard with new relationships, and seemingly risk free deals or situations. Allowing a harmless indulgences may allow it to grow and create conflict, while ignoring this influence will only make it worse. Resolve to reduce the influence and power of temptations in your life.
i CHING #46, Advancement
Your continuous and modest actions are aligned with outer forces, so success is near. You have already been developing a foundation for the coming action and now is the time to approach those in authority with your ideas. You will gain recognition and standing in social and political circles. Your instincts at this time lead to successful endeavors. Work carefully, diligently, and carry out plans thoroughly. This is a good time for progress but don’t rush or move blindly.
i CHING #48, The Source
Tap into deep sources of nourishment and fulfillment that can always be found. Strive to understand deeply the source of others natures. This will create positive interactions and deep human connections. Consider the nuances of humanity and be open to varied perspectives. Interactions are exchanges of nature and insight.
i CHING #50, Cosmic Order
There is harmony between individual needs and greater governing forces. Maintain awareness of your abilities and a receptive attitude, and you will find success.
i CHING #52, Meditation
This is a time to seek stillness and quiet thoughts about the past or future. Use meditation to free yourself from the stress and anxiety brought about by projections, worries, assumptions which are not looking at the present situation. This composure helps you navigate through difficult times so that the decisions you are making are true to you and the current situation.
i CHING #54, Subordinate
You are dependent on a situation or person but the dependence is not mutual. You have less power in the relationship. During this time you find a loss of individuality and have little room for social influence or expression. At this time, overcome your pride to subordinate yourself to another. This is the best move you can take at this time, even though it is a frustrating and unfulfilling position. Turn your thoughts to the future to maintain a sense of purpose.
i CHING #56, Traveling
At this time you are traveling between communities, spaces, mental states, or life situations. You are temporarily observing, learning, experiencing. Don’t try to form foundations or focus on long term goals. Listen and learn for insight.
i CHING #58, Encouraging
Develop great collective aim and cooperation by encouraging others. Be realistic. This is a good time for social activities. Intimidation and criticism of others won’t yield good results. A friendly manner will generate loyalty and pride in work. This is a good time for discussion.
i CHING #60, Limitations
Live minimally within your means. Explore limitations in a constructive way. Limits help direct personal expression. These guidelines help you avoid becoming overwhelmed by too many possibilities.
i CHING #62, Conscientiousness
Be very detail oriented and thorough in your actions. Make sure nothing is overlooked, even if they seem trivial. This is not the time to take on great endeavors; focus on the small things. Be humble. Pride now will lead you in the wrong direction or to seek unrealistic goals.
i CHING #64, Before the End
A long effort is coming to fruition and success is in sight. You will be able to see the path to your goals, but not the path on the other side. Proceed with caution because once goals is achieved you will be entering new territory. You will experience a sense of rebirth such that your past experiences.