The I Ching or Book of Changes, is one of the oldest known forms of divination on the planet that is still practised today, dating back at least 3000 years. It is especially interesting because its hexagrams were not only the first form of writing in China, but also because it was considered both a science that explained the cycles of flux in nature, and also simultaneously an exalted divinatory medium through which the humble seeker could ask for omens or advice from the spirits of fate, as well as maintain a relationship with the wise ancestors.
Within our family, the I Ching has become a source of guidance - a sophisticated and wise oracle that is consulted when in the throes of a moral or ethical dilemma, or for very important matters, where sage but practical advice is required in order to make key decisions.
I know I am not alone in saying that consulting it is rather like having your own personal Mr Miyagi. Stephen Karcher has written of the oracle in terms of a relationship with what he calls shen ming - a 'friendship with this clear and loving spirit' that he describes as 'a helping spirit (shen) the inner voice that helps us on our way.' It is a bit like having a kindly but firm Buddhist monk on your shoulder, guiding you, sometimes chiding you, but nearly always offering the most practical and startlingly incisive answers to your questions which often open up your perspective and enable you to see the opportunity hidden in every situation.
It was therefore to the I Ching that I turned for answers on Friday evening post Brexit results when., reeling from shock and numbness, I sought to make sense of what was happening. Although I have lived through many historic events in my lifetime, from the freeing of Nelson Mandela in 1990 to the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, and even the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997, Friday 24 June 2016 certainly counts as one of the most dramatic of days in my life when I found my foundations being rocked to their very core.
The hexagrams I got seemed to me so profoundly radical that I thought them worth sharing with the world.
The first Hexagram is:
Hexagram 23 - Splitting ApartEven the name sounds appropriate, given the situation! Not only is the UK potentially about to split with the EU, but the UK itself may disintegrate if Scotland and Ireland decide to opt for independence because of their desire to stay within the European Union. Furthermore, there is also the possibility that the EU itself may disintegrate if other member states decide to hold similar elections, so this is really very appropriate.
The Judgement: Splitting Apart. It does not further one to go anywhere.
If you read Confucian interpretations of this, the image of a house is often used in which the roof has split apart due to shaky foundations (perhaps because of an earthquake? This certainly felt - and was described by many - as just that - a seismic political event). Within the context of British politics, could this be seen to represent the House of Commons, and therefore, indirectly, the British government?
The Wilhelm translation describes this hexagram as being about the rising up of the dark powers of yin energy:
The dark lines are about to mount upward and overthrow the last firm, light line by exerting a disintegrating influence on it. The inferior, dark forces overcome what is superior and strong, not by direct means, but by undermining it gradually, so that it finally collapses.
This metaphor gets even more interesting if we look at the image and changing lines in more detail.
The mountain rests on the earth:
the image of splitting apart.
Thus those above can ensure their position
Only by giving generously to those below.
Wilhelm then describes a mountain/structure (like a government) resting on the foundations of the earth and remarks that: 'Its position is strong only when it rises out of the earth broad and great, not proud and steep. So likewise those who rule rest on the broad foundations of the people.' The suggestion here is that Cameron and his Tory government will only stay in power as long as they are in touch with the people and have not become too elitist (or arrogant) to listen to the concerns of the electorate.
Many have taken the outcome of this vote to be a sort of rebellion, a cry for help from those people who have been left behind by growing automation and globalisation, who feel neglected by government and who therefore make easy pickings for rabble rousers offering simple solutions to what are essentially quite complicated issues.
But the oracle goes further, suggesting that the people also need to keep their end of the bargain:
They too should be generous and benevolent, like the earth that carries all. Then they will make their position as a secure as a mountain is in its tranquillity.
In other words, support your elected leader and go about things constructively - don't be like an earthquake and open up the ground beneath everyone's feet so that the entire structure disintegrates.
Of further interest is the time period given for this - October-November - which is when the Tory party conference is and fits with the three month timetable to elect a new party leader (and Prime Minister) outlined by Cameron in his resignation/concession speech.
The changing lines provide some insights into the development of the situation:
Six at the beginning:
The leg of the bed is split
Those who persevere are destroyed.
The description of this changing line seems rather appropriate, given all the political plotting that seems to be going on post-Brexit:
Inferior people are on the rise and stealthily begin their destructive burrowing from below in order to undermine the place where the superior man rests. Those followers of the ruler who remain loyal are destroyed by slander and intrigue. The situation bodes disaster, yet there is nothing to do but wait.
Well, I can certainly think of a few inferior and duplicitous politicians (not to mention unelected spokesman) whose reckless, self-serving and frankly, dangerous, actions have managed to unseat the ruler - David Cameron - and possibly even the entire British government - from power. No doubt, as the days go on and people begin to take sides in the Tory leadership contest, we will hear more mudslinging through the media aimed at various ministers and David Cameron. Interestingly, the contagion also seems to have spread to the Labour Party - we can definitely see various people vying for position and attempting to climb the greasy pole of political ambition.
However, what about the country, in the meantime? Does that just slide off the edge of the cliff, into the abyss, as the first changing line seems to predict? Or is there some hope of salvation?
Well, here the I Ching provides us with a ray of hope in the form of the second changing line:
Six in the 5th line:
A shoal of fishes. Favour comes through the court ladies.
Everything acts to further.
Wilhelm now makes a very pivotal point:
Here, in immediate proximity to the strong, light-giving principle (yang) at the top, the nature of the dark force undergoes a change. It no longer opposes the strong principle by means of intrigues but instead, submits to its guidance. Indeed, as the head of the other weak lines (so, the chief opponent or troublemaker - is this Boris?) it leads all of these to the strong line, just as a princess leads her maids- in-waiting like a shoal of fishes to her husband and thus gains his favour.
Does this suggest that Cameron's position (and indeed, the Remain position) may yet be salvaged through an intervention by either one of his female subordinates or indeed, his wife, Samantha? It seems to me that the Boris camp may well be coming to realise the enormity of what they have done and what is at stake for the country. He certainly seemed very sheepish when he gave his post-Brexit vote speech last Friday, and others in the campaign have also looked rather shell-shocked since the results were announced.
We know that Boris has waivered on Europe in the past (with one MP perhaps unkindly suggesting that he has had more positions on Europe than the Kama Sutra). Could he yet have a change of heart? His column in the Telegraph does seem to suggest that is really, at heart, a 'remainer'.
Or could this line also be referring to the electorate? Some people are already expressing voter's remorse now that it is emerging that they have been lied to by the 'Leave' campaign. Could a groundswell of support for a second referendum actually gain momentum and become a reality now? Submitting to the higher line does seem to suggest coming round to the Prime Minister's way of thinking, and not the other way around.
So could some of the Remainers change their minds and admit that Cameron may have been right after all, even if only privately, and then take steps to reverse this potentially destructive situation, a move possibly brokered by his wife or someone like Theresa May?
Indeed, as if to confirm this, I find it fascinating that David Cameron has Hexagram 23, line 6 active in his Human Design chart in the unconscious North Node, which in astrological terms, sits at 23-24 degrees of Taurus. In his natal chart, this point sits opposite his natal Neptune in the 8th house of joint agreements and alliances. Furthermore, it is interesting that transiting Jupiter in Virgo, which has just come off of a very dramatic trine to Pluto in Capricorn (= big changes to institutions, dramatic reforms of the establishment) is now heading for a trine with this point. So, could we see these developments occurring in keeping with this timing? i.e. could this agreement be struck when Jupiter reaches this degree, which is mid-August 2016? There is no doubt that Cameron is facing a personal crisis - like me, his Sun has been under siege from a square by Pluto - which does explain the considerable personal pressure he has been under since December 2015 and which he will continue to feel until mid August 2016. This transit seems to call on a personal transformation in the way we respond to major crises, especially those triggered by outer events, so in many ways, this whole experience does seem to be a test of some kind for David Cameron - one that forces him to let go of ego and submit to higher principles. Indeed, some have criticised him for becoming too arrogant and out of touch with his electorate - hubris which may have led to his current downfall. (remember the steep mountain image from the beginning?) So some form of adjustment was clearly needed, which the poll result may well have indirectly yielded.
And yet, at the same time, transiting Jupiter has been heading for a conjunction with his natal Pluto in Virgo (which is also conjunct his natal Uranus) which suggests that, from bad can come good - there is the potential to rise like the phoenix from the ashes of this personal tragedy and become not only a better man, but also a force for good in the world. We will see these themes echoed in the next hexagram, which hints at servant leadership and a need to rid oneself of character flaws in order to become what the I Ching terms 'central and correct' - that is, a better person and a role model.
Of course, much depends on whether he chooses to gamble again - usually he is lucky because of his natal Moon-Jupiter conjunction in the 10th house, which sextiles his Ascendant, which is why he has become known as the 'lucky politician' but I think his luck temporarily ran out as a result of Pluto. Uranus rules his 5th house of gambling, so it could well be that he decides to opt for another roll of the dice. Jupiter's upcoming positive transits to the North Node and Neptune do suggest that Fate may yet have plans for him and that he hasn't quite finished playing his hand. So let's see. The next Hexagram certainly hints at this, so let's get back to the I Ching.
Hexagram 42 - IncreaseAs a result of the changing lines, this Hexagram then metamorphoses into - Hexagram 42 - Increase. Now here is where things REALLY get interesting.
Increase. It furthers one to undertake something.
It furthers one to cross the great water.
Although this sounds as though it will ultimately produce a positive outcome, I do wonder whether this will be a after a period of struggle?
In one of the commentaries about this hexagram, it is suggested that '...continuous decrease finally leads to a change into its opposite, Increase' as is mirrored in nature by 'the waxing and waning of the moon and in all of the regularly recurring processes of nature. Does this suggest that the UK needs to sink to an all time low before it is ready to ascend again? Possibly, although I do not like the sound of from the perspective of the UK economy, I have to say! With the Pound (and share prices already in free fall, I don't fancy another recession; nor, I am sure, does anybody else who has to earn a crust on this little isle, especially given that we have just come out of the lost global recession, brought to us care of the greedy bankers. (If it does happen, then it will be the deceitful and avaricious politicians who will mainly have to take the blame).
However, there is another way of looking at this. It can also be seen as the leader making personal sacrifices that benefit the whole. In I Ching terms, this is because the hexagram for 'Increase' is formed from the previous one as a result of the to line dropping to the bottom of the hexagram.Thus, Wilhelm writes:
A sacrifice of the higher element that produces an increase of the lower is called an out-and-out increase: in indicates the spirit that alone has the power to help the world.
This spirit, of course, is embodied in the qualities of humility and service and in the concept of servant leadership, which is a fundamental idea central to the Confucian interpretation of the I Ching. Indeed, in the first paragraph concerning this hexagram, Wilhelm writes:
To rule truly is to serve.
We have all recently been reminded of this concept by the tragic death of Jo Cox, in the aftermath of which David Cameron himself spoke movingly about how politics should be about public service. Many MPs saw her death as a wake-up call to politicians to stop putting spin and ego before public service - something that many feel was lost on both camps during the EU Referendum campaign - and may well have led to the divisiveness we see now in the aftermath of the vote.
It does therefore seem to imply that Cameron needs to pull himself together, put aside his ego and feelings of betrayal and defeat and be prepared to roll up his sleeves and do what he can to redeem Britain's economic situation and position in the world for all concerned. In doing so, he may find that this new humble approach wins him favour once again with the people.
It is therefore interesting that Cameron's natal Neptune, a planet firmly associated with both sacrifice and philanthropy, happens to rule his 6th house of work. Traditionally, this house is also the house of servants, so this all seems to have a poetic ring to it.
According to Wilhelm:
Sacrifice on the part of those above for the increase of those below fills the people with a sense of joy and gratitude that is extremely valuable for the flowering of the common wealth. When people are this devoted to their leaders, undertakings are possible, and even difficult and dangerous enterprises will succeed.
Such enterprises are implied in the action of 'crossing the great waters' mentioned in the Judgement - could this include getting a new deal for Britain from the EU? We'll have to wait and see. It certainly does seem to suggest that his career in politics is far from over.
However, there is a warning about seizing the moment:
The time of increase does not endure, therefore it must be utilised while it lasts.
Now, here we have two possible indicators of time. The involves transiting Jupiter, which is due to sextile Cameron's natal Neptune between mid-late July 2016 - a transit that only occurs a few times every 12 years.
Alternatively, it is also worth noting that Increase is generally associated with the abundance of late Spring (so around May) when everything is growing like the clappers. This is usually when the UK tends to hold elections of all kinds, so could this hint at a general election, as some politicos are suggesting might happen if the Labour party also self-destructs?
We'll have to wait and see. But for now, this divination is enough to reassure me that 'all's well that ends well.'