Bagua Birthday

img_0797The room was decorated with streamers of paper flowers, Chinese lanterns, candle light and party favors.  The table of presents looked like an art installation with paint and decoupage wrapping and unique bows. The cake was homemade with hand-made decorations suited for a princess.  A small, but enthusiastic group of friends attended the party that I call the artistic event of the season.

I am blown away and deeply nourished by the creative force of the friendships that surround me. Harmen has inspired and encouraged in me a keen interest for all things related to learning to see the world through the lens of the trigrapresentsms. In one of his many suggestions of things for me to try, he mentioned creating a workshop. In sharing this with my friends, ideas were seeded and tended into a unique and creative expression of the attributes of the trigrams.

baguanapkinWe started with little more than diagrams on napkins and vague explanations of the meaning of the bagua. Stone and Michelle decided to take on this project in secret preparation to present on my birthday. I was aware that they were working together on it, but robeI was not allowed to see the progress. Before this, neither of them had even heard of a trigram. They did the research and worked together to gather the materials and assemble the many parts.

stoneThe stories they tell of the collaboration are inspiring. In the fabric store they imagined the movement of materials through the focus of the attributes of each trigram. As they considered weight, color, and form, they asked people in the store if the chosen material resembled fire or water or earth. They asked friends to guess the trigram represented by the combination of the material chosen.

Art is invention and a concept imagined can be differmichelleent in actual application. The paint chosen doesn’t adhere or the fabric shows more light then expected or the glue won’t hold the weight of something. Stone and Michelle are both strong, independent women with different styles and varying approaches. They balanced and flowed with alternating deference to the other in the process of this lovely collaboration.

Each present I opened was something thoughtful and wonderful: an etymological dictionary, a framed and matted print of me painted purple with parasol, a Chinese silk tai chi outfit in a jeweled color that shimmers, a box of little surprises that were funny and sweet, and a handmade beaded bracelet.ston-cake_0792
One gift was a pair of gloves with blue lights. My sourmagg-ball14ces of inspiration follow from three deep influences: tai chi, puppetry, and the Yijing. One crazy morning I told Stone I wanted to find a way to have lights on my palms to illuminate the imaginary ball of energy in the movements of tai chi. She had seen something the day before on the internet and ordered them after she heard my idea.

The magnum opus was a big box. I felt overwhelmed. It was as if I was in a dream to be the recipient of such love and caring. I opened the box to folds of tissue paper encasing 8 panels depicting the bagua. I could not continue in revealing them and asked that Michelle take over. I took a seat and watched in awe as she brought out each panel made of black and white silk and painted in shimmering gold.

m-earthEach panel presented contains a pocket. Inside the pocket is a magic wand that captures the meaning of the trigram presented on the panel. Michelle was animated and engaging in acting out the attributes of each. It was an original performance art piece which was informative, imaginative, beautiful and hilarious all at the same time. By the end there were panels and bagua and colors and fabric and glitter everywhere.


(Special thanks for the photos by Sylvia Cross @

I now have the panels hanging on a wall in the middle of my apartment and arranged in the sequence of later heaven. The magdscn5584ic wands are hidden in the pockets. It is a sight that inspires, comforts, and nourishes my soul. Words and pictures cannot capture or express the craftsmanship, creative originality nor the
joy and delight I feel inside. I am rich, and I am thankful.


Delicious Destiny

blood-1813410_1280It is a vein, a heart source flowing red with blood and is bigger than life size. I can see it in my mind’s eye like a big worm, a leech, a throbbing damp tunnel of beliefs and boundaries and an internal, unconscious spasm. I am seeing it as a 3D autopsy. It is a part of me and inside of me too.  I am a scientist seeing it from the perspective of a coursing, bulbous thought system that has been so relevant, both hidden and glaringly apparent, in my life. The perspective is visual and visceral: a giant tube of red capillaries and dark veins. Every visual has a corresponding internal emotional place, a pang.drawing-730778_1280

In seeing it as an image: I am holding this veiny corpuscle, like a fire hose of an aorta.  It throbs on the inside of me too, touching my raw nerve. It is part of me and yet now it is outside and revealed. It is my doing and my un-doing. I understand it completely. It is unfathomable. Un-fuckingbelievable. “Oh yeah. I see that.” I say and squirm.

Johannes looks like a poet, beatnik philosopher with a disarming charm and natural good looks. He is the artist and the muse.snapshot-2-final-edit-11-20-2016-1-48-pm I have no idea what he just asked me: for one thing the Dutch pronunciation of Chinese words is new to me. Oh, and, excuse me, my insides are leaking out. But please do go on. I insist. It is an ache that is good like squeezing out blood from a cut or scratching an itch or sex. It feels like that Roberta Flack song: “Strumming my pain with his fingers. Singing my life with his words.”

Well, on second thought, it wasn’t as heavy as all that. Perhaps a Doors tune would be more fitting:
snapshot-4-edit11-20-2016-1-50-pm“Yeah! Come on, come on, come on, come on. Now touch me, baby
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?”

I recognize it because I have been living it my entire life. This is what I thought repeatedly as Johannes eloquently gave my reading. I can honestly say that every word resonated in some way. Some things he said were so succinct that I felt uncovered, revealed, and understood all at the same time.  His in depth renderings of life long issues, with which I have grappled, were related plainly and clearly. This was so much the csnapshot-3-11-20-2016-1-49-pmase that it made me laugh at times. And Johannes would ask me “What is that smile Maggie? Why are you laughing?” “If you only knew,” I think, and keep it to myself. It was as if it was all so simple now to see.

Johannes asked me for my birth date and from that he derived four hexagrams that represent different areas of my life path. Johannes describes the categories of each hexagram:

“The bottom hexagram is called the Dao-hexagram. It shows the main theme in your life. It’s the central pivot, the root. The second hexagram, called the relation-hexagram, is the one on the left of the model. It represents the way an individual presents himself in the outer world. It speaks to our relationships and also how the individual ‘sees’ tjohannes-reading-2heir mother connection. The third hexagram, the one on the right, is called the individuation hexagram. It symbolizes the lessons someone had (or has) to learn in life in order to become more balanced. It shows what a person finds difficult in life. It also represents the energy of the father. The upper hexagram, the fourth in the model is called the abundance hexagram. It shows how a person can come to the field of flow, of abundance. If someone feels lack of abundance in life, this is the pattern which shows him the way to get there again. When the Dao-hexagram is the root, this one is the crown.”

I recorded our session and took notes, which I am glad I did because it was quite a lot to take in. Amusingly my part of the conversation did not record except for sounding like the muffled voice of a Peanut’s character authority figure. “Wonk wonk.” It is just as well that I do not have to suffer the sound of my stammering. I think it helps to have some understanding of hexagrams, trigrams, and elements, but the information he provides is very detailed, relatable, and specific.

candy-bar-1331585_1280The hexagram I received in the place of Dao and main life theme is H25. I noted the irony of this hexagram which is often translated as “Innocence.” It has been a life theme from all sides: the loss of it, the quest for it, the regaining of it. The theme also captures my need or desire to fit in, to find approval, and do what is right which seems to contrast with a natural response in the moment.

Johannes explained that it is not uncommon for the hexagram received in this place to be an irony and a kind of inside-out perception. He explained that Hitler’s hexagram is H11 which is commonly translated as “Peace.” Donald Trump’s hexagram is H41 commonly translated as “Decrease” or “Loss” and where the judgment says: “The superior man controls his anger and restrains his instincts.” But it is not merely advice on the best way to deal with the issues of life, it also explains the underlying motivations and the nature of the challenges encountered.

You can read his article on Donald Trump here:

It is with some dismay that I discovered that Donald Trump and I have the same hexagram in the area of “relations and how we present ourselves to the world.” However, there is a struggle with issues related to heaven, patriarchy and rules that define my particular life path. None-the-less, it is interesting to consider. I know the type all too well.

Johannes made a time for the call, which figured in our time zones and schedules. Then, two hours before the scheduled time, he asked that we start early, because he was ready. Damn, I was still in my pajamas. It is in my nature (as Johannes would later tell me) to seek harmony and follow along, so I asked for 15 minutes to pull myself together. This is another reason I was ill-prepared to answer questions about the bagua and their arrangements. I am prepared with excuses, if nothing else.

I have this way of approaching life that is romanticized and I feel things as if it is an epic tale. The global I Ching community is ripe witclint-eastwood-394536_1280h wizards, scholars, teachers, artists, and all sorts of deep thinkers. People I meet on the internet feel famous to me. Screens make them look like movie stars. I find video calling to be intimate. This person is in my living room, so up close and personal. It is wonderful and intimidating all at once. I felt shy and a wee bit tongue-tied. Johannes then goes unraveling my life issues, challenges, weaknesses, and fears like he is the ghost writer of my unpublished memoir. He put it all matter-of-fact and with details that had me moving backwards, at least metaphorically… like “what?” This is interspersed with his view of the workings of the universe that is compelling and familiar.

In writing this I struggle with the very issues discussed. How do I express and reveal myself without being shocking? How can I transform the shock into creativity? Is there a way to express it helpfully, innocently, and without embroiling? My life path has been fraught with challenges with patriarchy “father bound” with heaven on top, and I am thunder and wood: following and stirring things up and yearning to grow.lightning-962789_1280

The quick version of my life story is to experience an unrelenting thunderstorm. So I won’t tell it until I gain clarity on how best to come from innocence. Johannes’ reading has sparked a renewed vision and understanding that I will endeavor to incorporate in my creative pursuits.

The reading has provoked thought, but that, Johannes says, is what I do too much. I can think it through on all sides, but it is earthy action I need to take. His comprehensive, accurate, and precise reading has done much more for me than simply make sense of the past. It has given me new tools and confidence to move forward. I feel more sure footed in my direction and how to achieve my goals. My destiny is indeed nourished.

I will conclude with a song that has been stuck in my head since this reading. It may well be my anthem for writing my story. “All I gotta do is act naturally.”

I highly recommend contacting Johannes:

(The website isn’t in English yet. There is an automatic translation-button for English on it that gives spotty translations).



I Ching Meet Ups

Q: Best way to gather people for I Ching Meet Ups

A: Wind below. Mountain above. H18.

In order to gather people for meet ups I wimonks-1077839_1280ll have to keep working at it and not give up because I am gathering introverts and hermits. That is my one sentence interpretation overview.

I have been inspired by seeing on the internet groups, symposiums, and workshops devoted to the Yi in Europe, and especially The Netherlands. The air feels pretty stagnate here in the deep south of the USA. Perhaps it is projection on my part. My own history of interest in the I Ching has gotten me called a witch and once someone threw my book out the window of a moving car. It came back to me some weeks later though. Someone found it and hid it in order to give it back to me. There I found a person with a hidden interest that I had the opportunity to nurture.

The hexagram of H18 got me thinking about the history of the Yi: imprisonment, secrecy, factions, etc. Perhaps its own legacy is one of wind and mountain. Most people I encounter have never heard of it. When I try to explain, it is often dismissed as strange or anti-Christian. I do live in the Bible belt. Those who have heard of it though, brighten at the mention and want to know more.

Like many people interested in the Yi, I check for books in every bookstore. There is not much new to be found here. It is relegated to the New Age even though it is not new at all. The internet has allowed for the hermits and introverts to gather more. Though, my search for interpersonal sharing leaves something to be desired.

Perhaps H18 is a picture of my own approach and attitude to sharing in experiences of the I Ching. I am used to being outcast and isolated in it. I don’t feel like I know enough to be any kind of leader. I am waiting for someone else to do it, so I can follow. I am working on repairing my own limitations. I admit that I almost can’t even imagine it. I am the epicenter of the I Ching community in Atlanta, which is only me, just now. I remain inspired by what I have seen is possible.

Inspiration comes in the form of following that which interests me. Without the interest, the step by step work over the long term would not be possible.  It’s not only that I like the I Ching. I like the way its images shape my thinking and my approach. I like the way considering the lessons has taught me about myself. It is a tool that works. It is a philosophy that helps. There are many ways to be like-minded with people, but I find that interest in the Yi is closest to my heart. I am in for the long haul through any resistance and restraint. I will holler up the mountain and in the caves and I will do so with continuance.