Harmen Mesker, my teacher, says (actually forbids) that I use books / text in my assignments and readings. I sometimes feel like a kid with a box of crayons in comparison to others who know the Yi so well. Not using books has me feeling like I need AA meetings: “Hi my name is Maggie. I am a text-a-holic. It has been 2 months since I opened a book.” Anyway, these lessons and this blog are inspired by Harmen and his method. It is a way for me to see and share my progress and to learn.
Here is how these lessons began:
I have been studying the Yi for 25 years mainly as a personal divination tool for decisions and also in generating ideas in my writing. I started a writing project that I have been carrying around in my head and heart for quite some time. I worked on an outline for a story about Mary Magdalene. It is the hero’s journey and she is a freedom fighter. After I completed the outline, I worked with the Yi to decide my next direction. I then began working on writing the Gospel of Matthew from the perspective of my principal character Mary Magdalene. Not surprisingly, her perspective is much like my own. It is a feminist view with a dose of cynicism, humor, and Yi imagery.
As I worked on the gospel, I found my research bogged down by translations, commentaries, and translations of commentaries. Anyone has worked with the Yi is familiar with this dilemma. I have a keen interest in etymology, so I was going back to the root of individual words. At the same time I joined a Facebook group about the Yi. I have been an isolated Yi user living here in the Southern US, where I have been called a witch for my interest. I was happy to discover like-minded thinkers. However, that is not what I found. I felt outcast in the dogmatic approaches, and had resigned to stay in the shadows.
Then along comes Harmen with his apple pie (metaphor). He was advocating NOT using the text to interpret a hexagram and lines. The group members disagreed with him vehemently. Of course, that only interested me more. I asked Harmen to do a sample reading, so we could see what he was talking about. Really I was thinking: ‘put your money where your mouth is buddy.’ So he invited me to ask a question. I asked about the method (I will share the question and answer in another post). Well boy howdy (as we say here in the South), I was blown away by the reading.
Since Harmen mentioned that he takes students sometimes, I sent a private message to see if he would take me on. It seemed to me he was hesitant maybe because of the distance or the time involved. Soon after he agreed and outlined how it would work. Since I was involved in a writing project, besides a fulltime job, I wanted to be sure about taking this on myself. So I consulted the Yi. I received H44. I have used a website for a few years for all of my castings and as a part of my readings: http://www.yijing.nl/ despite my misgivings about H44, I looked more closely for meaning. Within the answer on the website was a link that said: ‘Harmen about 44.’ I was thinking ‘What?’ Is this the same Harmen? The link was in Dutch, so that was a big clue.
I thought whatever the hell H44 means, I am doing it. Of course it is the same Harmen, and he and Lotti (the creator of my favorite Yi website) are friends. I teased Harmen that he is like Oprah of the Yi world and needs only one name. Harmen’s method (for lack of a better name to call it) has dovetailed nicely with my work on re-writing the Bible. The blog, double lake, represents the joy of discussing the Yi.