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.

Wind Question Assignment


  • How does the trigram describe a situation?
  • …a cause (origin, root)?
  • …a person?
  • How does it tell you what to do?
  • What does it tell about how to do something?


    Trigram Wind by Adele Aldridge


“It is communication, exchange, lasting progress, gradual & subtle change, curiosity, asking questions, playing the journalist, research, investigation, never give up, work on the long term, gentle pressure, small steps, walking, attention to details, writing detailed descriptions.” –Harmen


It is characterized by the effects that come from slow moving progress. Writing a story. Building and maintaining. Always there and never lost: influencing, forming, and changing perceptions. It affects the way of seeing the world and making choices. Elements manifest over time. There are visible effects from unseen beginninstairs-1627424_1280gs. It is quantity and quality of work. Little bits add up. It is a garden, a work of art, and tree roots growing through the sidewalk.

Research, slow, detailed work. It influences the approach taken. It is considering elements and attributes. It seems to be a diversion. Movement of the wind is unseen but effective. By the time the actual effects are seen time has passed. It is contemplation on deep levels, and daily tasks that are all adding up. Acceptance of a destination. Following a pattern.


Wind as a cause is easier to consider, because that is what we see anyway. The wind causes swirls and eddies, it causes leaves to dance, deserts to shift, and mountains to move. It causes a shift, which can be in perception. It has effects on mood and  creative expression and communication. Changing effects. The wind shifts the desert sand or the clouds and they appear completely different by the same cause. It is like influence of the Yi. The affect of 10 years ago is different than now, though it is the same cause.japan-956073_1280

In a more negative sense, a cause of a situation like the wind would be looking at things through only the details, the research, the long term pressure. This kind of cause might lead to a situation where time was spent on these things rather than other approaches. Could cause an imbalance in feeling release or joy in the present.


breeze-1578424_1280Someone who is detailed, curious and never ending in their research and investigation. Questioning, and going step by step in the ongoing learning process and accumulation of knowledge to a useful approach that can be seen and felt.

There are people who spend their lifetime on projects and great works of art. There are also people who have toiled through life but have managed to support a family or build a business or have a farm. It is someone with inclination to continue doing.

What to do

Pay attention to the details with a questioning mind. Expect long term effects that cannot necessarily yet be seen or felt. Do not give up because things are happening on an unseen level. Don’t rush things or expect that it will go quickly. Consider the bigger picture. Approach the situation step by step. Consider the possible influence of things already put in motireed-1666746_1280on or that move more slowly. Use investigative techniques with a sense of curiosity. Do things with patience and an acceptance that some things take time. Be alert to subtle changes or affects. Exert a gentle pressure. Pay attention to the subtleties in communication, exchange, and music. Do a little bit consistently and continuously.

How to do it

Slowly. Gently. Curiously. Unceasingly. Investigatively. Patiently. With alertness to detail. With continuance. With subtlety in action and influence. With faith in small actions. With a sense of awe in noticing small things. With a sense of the grander vision within the details. With a sense of accomplishment in small steps.long-1245787_1280

Stupid Questions

woman-1733891_1280I say  this to myself after I get an answer I do not like or understand. I say it as if I am scolding the question that would illicit such a response. Inherent in this feeling is that I perhaps don’t want to know the answer. Questions are only stupid when the answer is obvious, impossible, or one that you don’t want to hear. Now that I have seen the answer, I am hesitant to explore what it means.

This happens most when I receive a scary hexagram. There may be no bad hexagrams, but there are scary ones. I have found that I approach answers like thunder. I get frightened and startled at first. Oh my God! Baton down the hatches, coral the ponies, and run for cover…a scary hexart-1295282_1280agram has come to town! What could that mean and what the hell was I asking in the first place? The rumble of thunder scares me to 100 li on the inside. Will there be lightning to follow? I peep at the hexagram and laugh at myself. The three little lines of the trigrams are not so scary. It is safe to come out of hiding. Ah, it was only thunder and the storm has passed. I take up the sacrificial spoon and study the trigram images.

Q: Communication with Harmen

A: H47 Confining. Movement at lines 2 and 3.

It feels like one of those scary hexagrams, all about confinement and being dried up. It’s not exactly the thing I was expecting in imagery for communication with a teacher. So I do not do much with it at first. I rest with the images. It is an ongoing subject anyway, and it may take a bit for the storm to pass in my negative associations.

I give more thought to my question. There are limitations to discussion and communication when it all must be done on the internet and through varying time zones. We use different apps for different things. I have found FB messaging near impossible for scrolling back through and finding things. I have to remember to copy and paste or bookmark things as they come up. It is useful for casual chat and short questions and humorous associations (GIF’s stickers, and emoji’s). I have lost attachments of feedback there and found that frustrating. Email is OK for attaching things, but is not conducive to back-n-forth chatting. I have lost things there too.

Recently I joined Clarity forum:

I like the format of the discussion board. It is interesting that there are the various schools of thought about interpretation. When people hear a little about Harmen’s way of teaching using the hexagram, I find agoats-692660_1280 bit of defensiveness about it. I feel the tension. People seem to think it discounts or diverges or goes in some opposite direction from their experience and use of the Yi. There is discussion about it on the forum, and I came on too strong in defense of it. I am still a novice at the methods, but I can see the advantages of learning it in order to enhance whatever other methods are used.

It was from this experience, that Hilary mentioned inviting Harmen as a guest teacher on her forum. She opened a thread for trigrams by Harmen. It has been a mode of communication that I would never have thought to suggest. I find that other people’s questions are ones that I had not considered. It opens up the learning for me to be able to see others involvement in it. Even if people approach it with doubt or take it other directions, it provides thoughtful commentary.

It got me to thinking that the forum style that Hilary has so well perfected on her website has many advantages. This (and the reading about communication and H47) prompted me to ask Harmen if there was something like that on his website that I could use for assignments. He was very accommodating in creating such a space.

After these positive experiences that came out of receiving this answer, I decided to tackle the stupid question and scary hexagram with a more in depth look at the imagery. I also followed the example provided by Harmen of looking at the hexagram and starting with the idea or phrase: “Hmmm, that is interesting…” This also helps  take away the stupid question / scary hexagram syndrome. So I begin again in earnest:

Q: Communication with Harmen

Water below. Lake above. Arousal at lines 2 and 3. 

Hmmm, that is interesting…2 lines excited in the lower trigram. The upper trigram is lake and one I often associate with discussing the Yi with Harmen. Thatoilet-42802_1280t is good, right? Well, at least it brings a little hope to the scary feeling I get when I see water underneath the lake. Weird, I just flashed on an image of a toilet flushing into the pipes below. Hmmm, interesting, but is that helpful?

Seeing the water being drained out of the lake into the river below has me questioning my question. I think: “Oh my Gaaawd, I am draining the lake and drying it up! Arrrghh.” There I go approaching every reading like thunder: “Ahhh!” Then “oh?” Then “Ok, that was kinda funny.” And then, “ah, cool, look at the growth that was caused by the scary, rumbling shock.”

Surely, I was thinking of ways to improve or deepen communication, though perhaps from a place of feeling the obstacles and limitations about it. Yeah, I will go with that question. Is that allowed…asking the question after seeing the answer? I am playing Jepbanner-1090830_1280ord-Yi: “I will take Communication for $1000.00 Alex.”

Hmmm, so the lake representing communication with Harmen isn’t so bad….er, uh scary: weee, communication at the lake of Yi with Harmen. It’s that lower trigram with its warning lights and flowing through danger that is giving me the rub. “Don’t focus on water being danger, it is more than that,”  I can hear Harmen saying.

I wish I could get that toilet and sewer pipe image out of my head. Though, it does occur to me that the FB chat app is a bit like a toilet bowl. What you see is what you get. Once you move past it, it is gone. It is flushed. But the bowl fills up again with new chat, as long as everything is working properly and everyone participates. I also feel that I try too hard to capture and recall everything, when it is Ok to simply absorb what I can in the moment.

River water can be diverted into a pond. The situation takes thought and care. The river feeds the pond, but only of it is guided and directed that way. Hmmm, that is intfountain-958269_1280eresting. Does it relate to my question somehow? Am I allowed to construct a pond from the river? I think so, since they are both
there already.  I decide to look up ways that water can be diverted upwards: siphoning, pumps, damns, water locks, and capillary action. In any case, diverting flow upward takes unusual measures and some ingenuity. That fits this situation.

The lake has no areas of imbalance. That sounds like Harmen, just enjoying the communication and oblivious to my concern. The communication itself is fine. There is joy and all the qualities of lake in it. It does have the attribute of a downward flow, draining into the river. This feels like an image of the challenges of time, distance, day-to-day stresses, and internet apps. I see the communication as a joyful interlude from the stresses of everyday life. A pond is a precious kind of oasis, but is dependent on environmental factors.

Line two:

It is yang. The old dragon is coming into being, and expressing himself. Here it should be a yin line. I don’t have to communicate everything or be ‘in your face’ about it. It gives me the feeling of not trying to control or force things too much. There is nothing to prove and no standard to meet.

I would say that I do struggle with what to share, how much to share, within the bounds of the conditions of the environment: the time, the distance, the student / teacher relationship, and the friendship. I question things too much. Water would not do that. Ah, it’s where I get into trouble. It’s a fear and resistance to just going with the flow. 179872_164970316884426_1018286_n

Line 3:

Line three is yin when it should be yang. It is making decisions about the next move, but not passively waiting. If the pathway between river and pond is too solid the pond won’t get any water from the river. If it is too giving, the water in the pond will merge with the river. It’s like that all important flapper in the toilet bowl.  Be responsive to environmental conditions. Who hasn’t had to adjust the water flow valve in the commode?

A yin line at three has got to be really bad in the text. I can feel that. But it’s more of a bad like me thinking it is bad then really being a bad situation. It’s  a warning to to be flexible and adapt to conditions. I am in the danger of catching myself up by being overly concerned or trying to control something that does not require concern or control. It takes a bit of work and attention but the whole thing is worth it. Just enjoy it.

Nuclear Trigrams:

Water envelops fire on the inside and wind on the outside. The inherent challenges make it  interesting.  If there was no river, no challenge and difficulty, there would be no pond. The forum that Harmen created on his website is like a pond in the river of the internet. It is the same with the blog, and the thread on Clarity. They are diverted little ponds fed by the river and quite precarious too. It is fun and a kind of wizardry in the ways people have found to teach and to learn and to communicate. Inside, my fire clings and needs the environment and the fuel of this learning. I seek it in the midst of the challenges. Communication with Harmen is wind and work over the long term where the effects are manifested over time.


I may be pollyannic when it comes to interpretation of scary hexagrams and stupid questions. I use the images to my advantage for sure. Instead of focusing on the idea that the pond could dry up, I can see thtree-1648524_1280at there are ways to keep it going. If one pond dries up, like it did in another forum recently, then we will make another pond. Worry or control  will only hinder the flow and the balance.

A bonsai tree will never be full grown tree, but it is just as interesting and alive. It takes a special kind of focus. Necessity and desire is the mother of invention. Wanting a pond, a place for communication, has led to inventiveness.

Ah see, I have come to the place of laughing and smiling after the initial shock. It’s all good. Silly girl, there are no stupid questions.

Bad Hexagrams

In consulting the Yi there are those line combinations that seem to carry negative associations.woman-520052_1280

The Question: “I consulted the I Ching recently about a woman”

Answer: H29. Water below and water above. Arousal in line 6.

I think it is best to let go of pre-conceived notions about the meaning of hexagrams as much as possible. After all, each new question – answer combination is a completely new situation even if the question is similar to others. I like to go to the trigrams and their meaning and attributes when I feel bogged down with overwhelming text from hexagrams. The attributes of the trigram represent that element in balance, doing what it does naturally. There are no bad trigrams, though there may be some imbalance.

Running water is following its course and meeting every twist and turn and drop by flowing through. Depending on the environment, it may eddy and swirl, or increase in speed, or splash at the banks. Water flows downwards. Consideration of these kinds attributes and comparing them to my experience in nature tends to calm my nerves about the overall hexagram.

The idea of two running streams on top of one another is interesting to consider. What would that mean? To me it says there are two different flows, each reacting to the environment and each flowing downward. If I was to consider kayaking such a double stream, I would take great care indeed. It would feel unpredictable. The surface may look one way and the under currents quite another. Such a situation would be dangerous and even with fore thought, the unknown factors could take me under. It would take work and skill and hyper vigilance to make it through.

Water is also associated with emotions. This makes perfect sense to me. Emotions are ever flowing and changing and subject to be influenced by the environment. In considering relationships and communication with others, there is a great deal of emotional current. The trigram of water has a yang line in the middle, where emotions are more controlled, the flow is more steady. The outer lines are yin and more subject to the environment.

Line 6 in a very general way carries the meaning of being at the end of a situation. It is the place of looking back over what you have been through and also preparing for new beginnings. It can be the place of the sage or the outcast, one who is in it but not of it. I get the feeling from this line of one who is trying to stay out of the dangerous flow of the two rivers, and gets entangled on the banks of his own emotions.

If I were to get this line in regards to advice about a relationship, I think I would see it as a warning that I was letting my own emotions be pulled by the emotions of another. I would look back over similar situations and relationships and consider them. I would consider the emotional qualities that helped or hindered and be on alert for them in dealing with the other person. I would recognize it as a challenging situation where it was important for me to stay true to myself and not get caught up in rushes of emotions. But neither can it be avoided. To do so would only put me in another kind of tangle. It is not necessarily an image of how things will turn out.


I am reminded of a story my late husband told. He was a guitar player and singer and song writer (among many other talents). He told that when he was playing frequently to audiences, he said before every song: “This is a song about a woman.” It was a line we used over and over.

I would venture to say that a high percentage of questions are about how to get along with, or figure out, the other perspair-707506_1280on. I once heard a story about a ship of refugees who had been through very difficult struggles. The experiences they had were traumatic and unimaginable. A therapist volunteered to meet with each individually. They did not want to talk about the struggles through life and death and dignity. They wanted to talk about the interpersonal relationships aboard the ship. They wanted to ask about a woman (or a man). It is human. It is our shared experience.

No one is alone in wanting to understand. Also, it is quite possible that, in 2500 years (of people using the I Ching), this question has been answered with every single possible hexagram and line combination. There are other instances of people receiving  H29.6 in response to that question.

The dialogue with the Yi is internal. It is a personal understanding of the images provided. That is why some dude 2500 years ago asking the same question, about a woman, and got the same answer, could also relate to it.

How can two rivers be good? I thought of a double river waterfall with two
rivers at different heights meeting the same cliff. I am standing on a bridge over looking them. It’s an objective view. However, if I were in the waterfalls it would be different. If I were at the top of the upper waterfall I might be hanging on for dear life to the ropes or vines. But I am not. I am considering it. A hexagram is not bad if it gives a good idea about how towaterfall-1549639_1280 make a decision or act or approach something. It can’t be bad if it gives good advice.

How is a relationship, a woman, like standing at the top of a double waterfall? Hey, that would be a good song: This is a song about a woman. Relationships are the hardest thing. There is nothing more challenging. Water takes the plunge. It encounters risk without reserve. Are you entangled in the past of other relationships and caught in the future of what this one could be? Are you the sage, the outcast, the person at the top of the waterfall? Only you can say.

I mentioned before my husband. He reminds me of H29. It was the most difficult and challenging relationship of my life. He transitioned two plus years ago after a long bout with cancer. The difficulties and challenges of that experience changed me. I do not regret one single moment.


Allen Shapiro

I am the last person who should give advice on relationships. I know that the most difficult and challenging ones, in my experience, are also the most rewarding. On the other hand, a relationship is its own path. When you commit to caring about another, your life will change. It is not wrong or right. It is only different.


Purple Moon & Other Sychronicities

“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 noimg_20160916_191002233t 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:

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.dscn5425 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 outsidedscn5427, 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 weidscn5433rd 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.”

Following Through

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.


Stone Morris, stylist and photographer.

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 blogimg_20160916_190739414 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?

Harmen’s Feedback:




I think I deserve an A+ in Yi school, plus points.



Hexagram-ese: Predicting Rotten Apples

A kind of short-hand has developed in my communication with Harmen, over time zones and internet and in our discussion of the Yi. We sometimes refer to a situation as being ‘he500_f_62396567_egiytwftq79wadhpm4ieuehhf55xfwm9xagram-ish.’ A pleasant exchange could be called “H58-ish.” Likewise, I might feel pretty “trigram-esque” about something and approach it “mountain-y.” I might also feel it as a verb, as in: “I H5-ed all day.”


In a recent experience with the Yi, I had a trip planned with some friends. I was to ride with them and split expenses. It became apparent that this couple was not getting along. Things were brewing that would make a trip for them extremely unlikely. I did not see how I could accomplish it on my own.

I asked the Yi: “direction of cancelling my vacation.”

I received: H13, unmoved. It is the image of fellowship and union.

Granted, I went in with the bias of not seeing how this trip could possibly work out, but I also did not want to cancel. The answer seemed to be giving a picture of how I hoped things to be. The image so clearly related to friends and fellowship and even crossing the water.14040060_1066541470060635_8345774298183971287_n

It was to be a trip to the beach and an island and to visit a favorite friend.  Fire below is about clinging and clarity. Heaven above is about movement and, like the light of the sun, continuing until something stops it. There were no moving lines, no arousal, disruption, or turbulence. It gave me the feeling of being definitive.

I also considered that my question was about cancelling, so maybe it was somehow an affirmation to the cancellation. That seemed a bit far-fetched. However, Harmen consistently points me in the direction of making sure to answer the question. It is a Yi school 101, so to speak. Make sure the images relate back to the question. It should all be an answer.

I pondered whether the Yi was being ironic. I asked Harmen about the possibility of the image of H13 being a description of the situation of cancelling. He said something like if I asked the YI “should I not eat the apple pie” and the YI gave me an image of eating an apple pie, then the answer would be to eat the apple pie. (Harmen really has a thing for apple pie, at least in metaphor). What if Snow White had consulted the Yi? I  also wanted to know which hexagram is an image of eating apple pie? I have so many questions.


I still feel a bit confused about this idea of posing the question without bias and relating the answer to the exact question posed. It feels pretty tricky at times. I have spent a good deal of time and effort at posing questions with directions and without directions or as situations or as what I want to accomplish…talk about loaded questions. Harmen did not think the Yi was being ironic in giving me an image of the situation of the trip going favorably, or not cancelling. He advised me not to cancel the trip. So I did not cancel my hotel reservations or my time off of work.


I then wanted to know about the Yi and predictions for the future. Harmen said that it is not a fortune telling tool. It is a way to understand the current environment and what decisions to make now. It is an image of the present situation in regards to the question. I want to know now, what is to be next? Hexagram 13 is given as a positive image of what decision I make in this moment. I asked him: ‘What if I do take the trip and it is all H13-ish?’ Then does that mean it is a prediction? He said no, but I am not entirely convinced.

It turns out that the couple I was to travel with was ensconced in a personal crisis and upheaval. They both backed out. My friend, whom I was to visit, asked me to consider other ways of getting there. It was to be a real opportunity staying in an historic place with the benefits of accommodations with her, as she is a volunteer park ranger. I looked up alternative plans like renting a car, or taking a bus or plane, etc. It seemed more and more impossible. Still, I kept the image of H13 and its clear description of fellowship and crossing the water, clinging to friends and moving forward. It felt so clear and even purposeful. I also decided to trust in Harmen’s apple pie metaphor. The Yi said to eat the apple…didn’t it?


It was less than a week from my departure date. The couple texted me and said that I could borrow their car for the trip. They did not want me to have to cancel just because they were not going. This was a real surprise. It had not occurred to me as an option. So I did take the trip. It was a lovely week of fellowship. We crossed the great river (the Intercostal) by ferry to Cumberland Island which is a wilderness and full of history. Was it a foretelling? Was it that my own intention and belief allowed for it to happen?  Is it my trust in the Yi? Though perhaps I have more questions than answers, I will consider this example again and again as I move forward in my learning process. I was worried the apple was rotten and asked about not eating it. Because of the image, I took a bite. The trip was fantastic. I was H13-ing it to the maximum.


Line Analysis: Earth, Wind,Thunder, & Mountain

Harmen gives me assignments, but we do not always find the time for feedback sessions. I am putting forth a disclaimer, in a sense, that this is  my response and may or may not represent Harmen’s ideas on the subject. In any case, I learn by doing them and reviewing them.

Assignment: Give a description of the following moving lines/trigram combination: – 1st line in Wind – 2nd line in Earth – 3rd line in Mountain – 1st and 3rd in Thunder.

  1. 1st line in Wind. A yielding line in the first place is considered in an incorrect position. The general meaning of the place of the first line is the beginning, or first step, or having not yet entered the situation. Whether it is favorable or unfavorable would be determined by the situation and the time, but is considered to be coming, as opposed to going.

Wind is a gentle, unseen force, which has affects over time. The yielding line, at the beginning is like the gentle, unseen part, and the other firm two lines are the affects. Arousal in the first place of wind would be an indication to pay attention to the beginnings of the gentle forces put in motion. It is a call to consider what is not seen, the thought processes, the intentions and motivations. Look at the thoughts coming, that which is unseen and inside, in reference to their affects over time.


  1. 2nd line in Earth. A yielding line in the second place is considered in the correct position. It is also central, in that it is in the middle line of the trigram. The general meaning is expression, engagement, visibility. It is also associated with the fifth line (which is undecipherable in this assignment). It is said to be the official in the country who is in connection with the ruler in the fifth place. Being central and correct generally or usually means that is also favorable.

Earth is nurturing, yielding and open. All lines being yielding characterize the imagery. Arousal in the second place is an indication to consider what and how the outward expression is taking place. The situation and time and fifth line would give more information on whether to increase firmness or to continue to give way. It is a place characterized by adaptation on an inner level and in a favorable way. In any regard it is place to consider these inner qualities and how they are expressed outwardly.


  1. 3rd line in Mountain. A firm line in the third place is considered in the correct position. The general meaning is a place of decision or indecision. Its placement at the top of the inner trigram means to look back and / or inwards and also means to look forward or outward towards the situation of the upper trigram.

Mountain is representative of restraint, stillness and the ending and the beginning. The lines form the image of a gateway. Arousal in the third place calls for an intense inward focus on the decisions involved in the situation. The intensity and the inward focus of it come from the line position, the meaning of the trigram, and the placement of the trigram in the lower place.  All are factors which call for inward consideration of a decision. Look at the path leading there and the path going forward. Movement in this line suggests instability in the decision. Whether it is favorable to firm up the original intent or give way to other considerations, and which is favorable, depends upon the situation and the time.


  1. 1st and 3rd in Thunder. 1st: A firm line in the first place is considered to be in the correct position. It indicates a solid first step or beginning. It is a firm foundation in that which approaches. That is not to say it is necessarily favorable, which would depend upon the situation. For example if the inquiry was concerning an unwanted situation, then the stage is set for movement in that direction, which would be unfavorable.

Thunder is about action and movement in a burst of exploding effort. The firm line at the bottom gives rise to open growth in the upper two lines. The attributes of thunder speak of rising up from below and a rumbling down under. Arousal in the first line and also in the lower trigram, connect with the overall meaning of the trigram. They all speak to the importance of focus at the beginning and inwardly. A moving line in this position indicates a need to think about the action, because once it is begun there is no stopping it, according to the attributes of thunder. Its favorability depends on the situation being considered, for example whether it is a cause or a choice to be made or an understanding the motives and intentions within a situation.

3rd: A yielding line in the third position is considered incorrect. It is in the place of making a decision and considering inner factors, and if what was begun is to be continued. Its placement at the top of the lower trigram also calls for a focus about the implications of moving forward or outward.

The yielding line at the top is a place to consider a decision while looking at the intentions of the beginning. It is a place to consider the decision in term of its place moving outward and forward. Arousal in this place indicates a possibility of re-considering the current affects that were begun with a burst. In applying it to thunder it is looking at the startled environment and deciding about the favorability of the situation. A startling shock can get things moving or it can arouse too much fear to continue.


Moving lines in both the 1st and 3rd place of the trigram thunder indicates instability in the characteristics of thunder. Thunder is not about hesitation, and the movement in these lines call attention to this characteristic. The situation is marked by instability and a contrast to the attributes of thunder. If both lines were changed into their opposite, then the trigram becomes its inverse, which is mountain. It is as if the arousal and focus on the first and third lines in thunder quiets it into the attributes of mountain. This consideration of opposites heightens the instability of the situation. The favorability of these lines depends upon the situation which would dictate whether it is a cause for concern, or it is advice, or a description of the movement through time.

Forbidden Books & Turbulent Water

“Ok. From now on I FORBID you to read the text of the Yi. You are allowed to open the book only when I say so. Every time you open the book means two steps back in your progress. Don’t do it. Satisfying your curiosity is not worth it.” –Harmen Mesker

This was an actual direction from IMAG0174the teacher. I just wanted to start this post with what I am dealing with here. This is from a guy with 300+ Yi books, 1000+ books on (and in) Chinese and he edits Wilhelm by reading every, single word, and he likely has most of the text, lines and judgements memorized. I have been thinking that I am a guinea pig for this “Apple Pie – No Sugar” approach, given that a person who has memorized it all cannot really test his own theories of a bookless method. Be that as it may, I asked for it. I will stare at hexagrams until they reveal their truth to me

I am using this method as best I can, but I find ways to cheat (“You are only cheating yourself” says Harmen). I do so by using my past assignments, and quotes, corrections, and feedback from Harmen, and asking friends familiar with the Yi, and so on. In my defense, this is the information age, and being resourceful is in my nature. On a recent trip, I was feeling the need for a consult, and I had no access to my notes or connections. I decided to eat that pie raw, and choke down the bitter-sweet fruit.

My husband died two and a half years ago after a long bout with cancer. We met late in life and were married only six years. I have a step daughter, who lives in another town. During my husband’s illness there were many challenging decisions to be made. These created tension within the family, but in the end, we all loved and respected each other.

On this recent trip, where I was to go travel with friends to Cumberland Island, I first met with my step daughter. It had been 2 years since we spoke. During our meeting, it felt like six years of emotion was restrained on the head of a pin. After lunch, I pulled over at a park. I felt physically ill and off balance: dizzy, nauseated, and my head ached.

I wrote a question in my journal:

“Just met (step daughter) for lunch. Stirring emotions. I am sitting with them. Feeling a bit out of sorts. What next?”

I received: H63. H56

Hexagram 63 is easy enough to recognize. It is Completion, and the one just before Not Yet Completed.  I see that the lower trigram is fire and the upper trigram is water. I182899_166825873365537_2031806_nn the course of learning with Harmen, he said that the lines do not change. They move. In my effort to understand these lessons, I thought that the lines might be excited or even aroused, like molecules jumping about. So, that is how I mostly think of them now, as lines of arousal. It is a place of focus and indicates an imbalance in the hexagram.

Right away, with 4 moving lines, I could see that my hexagram was mighty aroused. In noting that all of the lines of the upper trigram of water were moving, it came to me to call them lines of turbulence. I experienced an immediate resonance and reading with this. The trigram in the upper place is the outer situation. Water is emotion, and mine were turbulent indeed.

Down below, inside, is my fire clinging to family and the flame blazing at the first step. This meeting was a beginning of a new place of whatever it will mean to be a family without our mutual connection (her father, my husband) who is passed on to the other sDSCN5115ide. On the inside, the lower trigram, fire at the first place clings to connections, but on the edge, and with a pull to the new phase at line 6. I am looking back and looking ahead at the same time. In all of these endings and beginnings, there is completion too, H63. We say hello, to say good bye, knowing we have both moved on, and meeting up is painful. There are turbulent emotions; water is gurgling and bubbling over fire.

For the lines I wrote: “Line 1:  First step; take your time in consideration.  Line 4:  Stay aware of assistance.  Line 5: Acknowledge good fortune, blessings. Line 6:  Look ahead and remain open.”  I noted that when all of the lines of water ‘change’ to their opposite, it becomes the trigram of fire. Since the lines are ‘turbulent’ or indications of what is unbalanced, then it is the attributes of fire that are called for in the balancing. I can steady my flow by clinging to clarity, passion, and soul family: my close friends.

Though Harmen does not teach that lines ‘change’ and hexagrams ‘become,’ it is an old habit and one I cannot easily let go. I give a nod to H56, which is Sojourn, the traveler. I am on a road trip, after all. Soon it will be time to leave this place I tarry for a consultation, and to continue my vacation. I also will not stay long in these emotions or put down roots in this place of family ties. I begin to feel stabilization in the completion of this moment. My vision clears as my inner fire burns and clings in first steps of new directions. My flow is steady, ready, for the twists and turns.

“Well I’ll be damned,” I thought. Here I am staring at hexagrams and eating apple pie without a drop of sugar.