“Take off all your clothes. Paint yourself purple. Go out in your neighborhood and shout ‘Donald Trump is an alien’.” –Harmen Mesker
The student, that is me, does not question the validity of the assignment from the teacher, that is Harmen. Ok, to be honest, this wasn’t actually an assignment, but he did say it. In the course of our online chats and Yi school lessons, I mentioned that I had decided to do whatever he said. Many things Harmen suggest go against my natural inclination, like not using books for I Ching readings; or, his suggestions may challenge my self-confidence, like starting a blog. I have found that acting on his suggestions work out for me. This reminded me of George on Seinfeld, who found that when he went against his natural inclination things went well for him, i.e. he got the girl or the good job, etc.
A link to the Seinfeld clip: https://youtu.be/cKUvKE3bQlY
When I expressed this idea to Harmen, that I was doing whatever he suggested, he quiped with the painting purple thing. Though I understood he was joking, I did not dismiss the idea. After all, I had just made a statement of strong intention. I did not need to act on it immediately. In fact, it took me some time to actually start this blog after he originally suggested it. I began researching body paint. I found stories of women who overcame negative body image by doing it. In the meantime, it also became a running joke. I responded to Harmen that I was working up to it and waiting for the right timing. I am pretty sure Harmen had no idea just how serious was my intent.
In online conversation with Harmen, he mentioned something about ‘getting points’ in an unrelated topic. I asked how I would get points in Yi school. Another ongoing joke is my grade status and even once I feared I might be expelled. Harmen answered that I could get points by painting myself purple. He also mentioned the disadvantages of procrastination. I ordered the paint that day. I also spoke to my long time friend and neighbor, Stone, about the best ways to accomplish this…er, uh…performance art.
I am also currently working on a project of writing the gospels of the Bible from the perspective of a very feminist Mary Magdalene. On this same day, that I ordered paint and spoke with Stone, I found a passage: “Behold a Canaanitish woman came out from the borders and cried ‘Lord have Mercy on me.” – Matthew 15:22. As is my style, I researched the etymology. I found that the women of Canaan are associated with sacred sexuality and sacred prostitution and performing earth related rituals. Canaan means “Land of the Purple” after the powder of a common shell that colors the area. The women painted themselves purple in the ceremonies. I was blown away by the synchronicity. ‘ I I have some nicknames for Harmen (he detests titles like ‘Master’ for the pretentiousness, so I have a slew of alternates). It is foretold in the Bible and handed down by the Yi-siah. Behold!
Stone and I planned for the upcoming Sunday. I consulted the Yi:
Q: Painting Purple Considerations
A: Hexagram 12. Earth below and heaven above. It is the symbol of yin supporting yang. It carries the meaning of blocked, the yin obstructed, decadence, or impasse.
The lower trigram represents me in the considerations. Earth is submissive and responsive. This reminds me of my original idea to take on this event. The idea to ‘do what Harmen says’ is about being receptive to the seeds of encouraging suggestions. Even though this came as a kind of challenge or dare to my idea to be ‘submissive,’ I have followed through so far. It represents a willingness on my part to experiment with receptivity. Being ‘submissive’ was a tough attribute for me to get over in studying the trigram of earth. I changed it to a ‘willing sub-mission.’ It may mean the same, but carries for me the idea of a willing volunteer for a mission into non-resistance.
I have had plenty of resistance to doing other suggestions Harmen gave me. But when I overcome them, and just do it, things turn out well. I now have some expectation of growth and benefit from being open to his suggestions. Some are more subtle and do not require action. This one, of course, is on the opposite end of that spectrum. I cannot easily pass over the connection of Harmen’s gentle but firm suggestion to go ahead with it. (In his mind, it was part of a running joke). Immediately following, I read Bible information about the women of Canaan. I was sold.
The upper trigram is the outer situation and is characterized by creativity, timing, and moving forward like a beam of light through the universe. This would characterize the consideration of going through with this creative pursuit. At the very least, it suggests the idea to just keep going with it until something hinders or stops it. The timing will reveal itself along the way. Approach the outer situation creatively and with action.
Heaven can also be indicative of the patriarchy, laws, and society. This is in contrast to the Canaanite women and their purple painting sexuality. It is the yin, the dark secrets coming up against the bright light of rules and conforming to structure. Though I do not believe it is illegal, it surely is outside the norm. It is a questioning and a statement about the political scene. It is a consideration of the factors of the current environment.
Hexagram 12. Does no mean no?
Stone is making a skirt and a halter top from fig leaves. It is very nice. She also got me a purple wig and a purple mask with wings. We are looking at Sunday as the day; however the paint has not arrived. Knowing that H12 means ‘no’ or ‘blocked’ (or does it?) I thought maybe it means the paint will not arrive on time, so maybe it means ‘no’ for Sunday. This is a possibility.
I also remember something in the judgement of Hexagram 12 about ‘non-people’ (I am forbidden from reading I Ching books, another one of Harmen’s quirks). This immediately made me think about the phrase that I am supposed to say “Donald Trump is an alien.” That is ‘non-people.’ Silly as it may seem, once I got the Biblical passage, I began to see it as something bigger than myself. It is a strange political environment after all. I have actually seen internet postings that both Hilary and Donald are aliens. So who knows?
I know that earth and heaven are a kind of opposite, a polarity, like yin and yang. In Hexagram 11, when heaven is on the inside and earth is on the outside, it is considered in harmony, or in communication. The opposite is true in this case. I wondered about why this is so, considering the trigrams. I see H12 as not a good situation for outward manifestation, which is
what people usually want. The inner sphere is all submissive with no ability to project it into the outer situation. The outer situation is action with no growth potential, no inner guidance. I can see
that the attributes of earth on the inside are up against some mighty forces on the outside.
I did not ask the YI whether I should do this weird thing. In that case, maybe this would mean ‘NO…don’t do it.” I merely asked for considerations in painting purple. It is a thing not normally
done or accepted by people. It is a kind of ‘no-people’ thing to do. I can approach in willing sub-mission with receptivity. Earth is to do without doing. It seems to be saying to let it happen naturally and don’t press it. I can just be and nurture the willingness. On the outside there is movement and also the patriarchal society. I might consider signs in timing. The world may be saying ‘no’ to such an enterprise. It is counter-intuitive. And that is the point.
Feedback from Harmen on the consult:
“Well done. Many people would indeed regard H12 as a big No! But there is more to it than that. It also means Earth disconnecting herself from the Masculinity; elements taking their proper place.
And of course I never thought you would actually do it.
But the relevance that has come out of it turns to become bigger than the initial funny intended remark that started it.”
As it turns out, Sunday was not a good day for it. That might have been part of the meaning of H12. I re-set the date for Friday 9-16-16. It was to be a full, harvest moon and an eclipse. It turns out that painting myself purple was very nice. It feels good, like a skin or massage treatment. I found purple to be a naturally slimming color. Stone, helped me with putting on the skirt and halter of leaves, the wig, and the mask. Once dressed, or not really dressed, but painted and costumed, we set off for a well-known hang-out spot nearby: Little 5 Points. This area is known for being avant-garde with tattoo parlors, bars, new age book shops, and thrift stores. I figured I would blend in.
I must insert that, being painted purple and wearing leaves did give me the feeling of not being naked. Though, when I look at the photos and video, it seems much more risqué then I had intended. Basically those darn leaves did not cover my boobs as much I had hoped. But hey, I only had one shot, one take. This was it: now or never.
In the process of me posing for photos, as Stone shot away, a number of people approached. One guy said “You got my vote.” Many thought I was a fairy. I explained that it was a challenge, a dare, I had undertaken in the interest of being open to positive suggestions (this became my official full moon intention). One guy proclaimed that I totally owned that dare. The women loved it and thought it was bold and courageous. One woman actually hugged me. We are a society obsessed with body image. I was putting it all out there and this made a statement as well. The experience soaked in for me too. I felt prettier in purple, than I do in my own skin. My concerns about my age, weight, perceived flaws, and exposure gave way to the spirit of the moment.
Another positive thing about the experience, was the artistic collaboration with my long time friend. She is a stylist, a chef, and a wonderful friend. Without her encouragement, creative contribution, and support, I would never have pulled it off. Now we have something we will always remember.
Stone was having trouble getting a good video of me speaking my line. We were about to settle when a young couple approached with curiosity. They said it was fantastic. It turns out, he is a film student, and shot the final take on his phone.
You can see the completed challenge here:
(Video by opynmic, as he is called on youtube and instagram).
I consulted the Yi again about whether to include these photos and video in this blog post. I am feeling a bit shy and well, exposed. I am not sure whether my nudity, even in purple, is appropriate for Yi audiences. The response was Hexagram 57. It is wind over wind. It represents a gentle but penetrating influence; the symbol of bending to enter, willing submission, complaisance. It might also be felt as a devotion to service and acceptance of a seal. Who am I to argue with destiny AND synchronicity?
I think I deserve an A+ in Yi school, plus points.