The rains have returned to the Pacific Northwest, the morning mists float above the town below. The dense air dampens sound—and light. They are gray sounds that climb the hill to my little hermitage, it is gray light that falls through the overcast sky. The Spring Equinox arrives with the promise of a lush year full of widespread growth.
I cup the coins in my hands and ask the Oracle out loud, What future is developing for humankind out of the end of the baktun coming this Winter Solstice?
The Oracle answers like an echo floating out of a valley—
This strikes me immediately as a profoundly significant reply. Last year, in a group divination in Ithaca, New York, the Oracle ended with this very hexagram. It was a particularly meaningful answer, given that the question touched on the fate of humankind and that this hexagram recapitulates the story of how the great Toltec hero, Quetzalcoatl, gave birth to the next generation of humanity when the current Age began.
As the last coin falls and I see the hexagram emerging, it seems clear to me that this reading is taking up where that one left off. That one addressed the question of humanity’s disappearance and the end of an Age with an ambivalence, as if the issue had not yet been decided. This one, however, seems to be expressing an unambiguous optimism, as if some tipping point in the unseen forces has been decided fortuitously.
Matters may be precipitous still, but the underlying current of danger appears to have turned in the direction of worldwide well-being.
Hexagram 17 Guiding Force
Image: Above, a male warrior descends through twilight, reaching for the light of the daytime sun. Clinging to his back is his shadow, who he carries with him. Below, his shadow reaches for a black sun as he walks through a bright place of scattered bones and approaches a living skeleton. In this place, the warrior clings to the back of his shadow, who carries him and guides him through the unfamiliar landscape.
Interpretation: This hexagram depicts a journey into uncharted territory. The male warrior symbolizes the way of testing and training human nature that increases its versatility and fortitude. Descending through the twilight means that you take leave of the world of known and familiar experience. Reaching for the daytime sun means that you begin the journey believing that past experience can guide you through this new time. Carrying the shadow means that you have another half, a twin, that accompanies you everywhere, yet is so close and familiar to you that its presence is taken for granted. The shadow reaching for the black sun means that your other half is guided by a different, invisible, kind of light. Walking through a bright place of scattered bones means that your other half feels at home in the land of the ancestors, whose nocturnal sun turns the night to light. Approaching the living skeleton means that your other half visits with the spirit that does not die in order to return to the realm of the daytime sun with new knowledge and understanding. Being carried and guided by the shadow means that you increasingly trust the mysterious and hidden half of yourself to lead the way through unfamiliar and unforeseen experiences. Taken together, these symbols mean that you keep your bearings in even the most disorienting and confusing of times by believing in the strength, wisdom, and resourcefulness of your companion spirit.
Action: The masculine half of the spirit warrior follows the guide when passing through times of crisis and change. While our day-to-day practice involves honing our ability to make insightful judgments and far-sighted decisions, there are times when the trials facing us are greater than the strength and knowledge we have accumulated over the course of this lifetime. At times like this, it is necessary to change our orientation: rather than pursuing our conscious decisions and goals, now is the time to follow up on coincidences and listen to our dreams. Facing in a new direction is not easy, however, since it means breaking habits of thought and feeling that have accrued over a long time. For this reason, it is necessary to rely on the transcendent intelligence of your spiritual ally, whose assistance is proof that selflessly benefiting others is the path of the evolving individual. By following your spiritual twin into new arenas at this time, you reach the goal you would have missed had you sought it directly.
Intent: When a situation is beyond our control, our unconscious connection to spirit keeps us from getting lost. External change transforms us internally—and because change is constant, we are in a perpetual state of transformation. There is, however, another part of us that never changes, an essence that leaves the body just as it entered it. Difficult to find when sought, it emerges spontaneously when most needed: we look through our guide’s eyes when we see the unchanging harmony underlying the world of appearances. Independent of the social and cultural upbringing that determines so much of how we experience the world and respond to it, this essence is like a spark of the spiritual sun—arrived here from the source of light and life and love, it guides us through dark times, comforts us in fearful times, and draws us closer in solitary times. External change transforms us internally—and because every transformation forces us to consider leaving some part of ourselves behind, every change reminds us of the great leave-taking at death. It is our spirit ally who maintains contact with the spirit world, providing us with the means to experience the wisdom and love of our predecessors. The closer we move to leaving this realm and entering the realm of the ancestors, the better we understand the importance of the two realms being governed by the same vision of universal peace and well-being: we feel with the twin’s heart when we know that the realm of the living and the realm of the dead are in reality one and the same realm of spirit.
We do not always know what decisions are being made nor do we always know what forces are at work in those decisions. Hexagram 17 speaks to this issue in regard to our question about the future of humankind—it shows that our collective fortune has been changed for the better by spiritual forces beyond the threshold of the five senses.
The specific transition point that leads to the future that is developing out of the end of the baktun on the coming Winter Solstice is found in the fourth line change of Hexagram 17—
Things are stable and going well but do not take them for granted. Maintain good relations with those around you, treating each with politeness and warm-hearted affection. Do not sow the seeds of your own hardships by treating others poorly.
—which is a particularly illuminative aspect of the reading, the part that posits the positive swing of the pendulum. Its pointed advice to us to maintain good relations with those around us could not be more to the point: everywhere, we will begin to see a deescalation in tensions between and among peoples. We have danced up to the brink of self-destruction in a state of giddy intoxication but now the positive backlash sets in and we move forward into the future situation, symbolized by Hexagram 25 Radiating Intent—
Hexagram 25 Radiating Intent
Image: A male warrior inscribes symbols onto a stone for the pyramid upon which the whole community is working. On his shoulder is perched a sacred bird, whose outstretched wing directs all this activity.
Interpretation: This hexagram depicts the way purposefulness moves outward from the center, manifesting itself in ever-widening spheres of activity. The male warrior symbolizes the way of testing and training human nature that increases its versatility and fortitude. Inscribing symbols onto a stone means that you find your voice and perform acts of lasting meaning and value. That the stone fits into the pyramid means that your actions are part of a greater design of harmony, symmetry, and balance. The whole community working together on the same project symbolizes people united by a common vision. The sacred bird perched on the shoulder means that your spirit guide accompanies you everywhere and is always nearby. The wing directing all this activity symbolizes the guiding spirit’s creative intent, which inspires both individuals and groups to devote their energy to something greater than themselves. Taken together, these symbols mean that far-reaching accomplishments can be achieved by conscientiously attuning yourself to your spirit guide’s intent.
Action: The masculine half of the spirit warrior joins with others in order to advance as far as possible during a time of progress. The difficulty here is deciding which group to ally yourself with, since there are many competing for members. In a time when cooperation and collaboration produce great benefit for many, there still remain groups committed to authoritarianism and the control of resources: it is essential that you avoid groups serving only their own narrow interests and consider only those serving the widest possible good. In particular, avoid those repeating familiar catchwords and phrases in an attempt to hold their members to outworn ideologies and practices. You can recognize constructive and progressive groups by the startling aspects of their speech and action, which reflect your own emerging way of looking at the new and untried alternatives to failed solutions. Work with egalitarian groups whose wider vision is demonstrated by what they accomplish locally. Incorporate everyone into the work, include everyone who wishes to contribute: together, you can make changes that bring benefit to others far beyond your sphere of activity. Above all, follow the spirit of intent: do not hesitate to change groups if yours betrays its original and fundamental principles.
Intent: Times of progress emerge from times of stagnation, times of advance follow times of hardship: a common vision emerges from shared adversity. When people no longer seek guidance from those with all the trappings of power and authority, then they create projects that are supported by their peers because they provide a meaningful outlet for people’s pent-up energies. Because such projects are conceived from the ground up, they are the collective work of the community, made up of all the lives and talents and efforts and contributions of its members. It is a time when greatness is defined by community spirit, the totality of individual expressions bound together by a common purpose and shared lives. In an atmosphere of equality and creativity, people undertake altruistic projects voluntarily because they feel responsible to contribute to the whole of which they are a part.
Summary: Your influence is growing, take care what you think. Act as though your every thought was being inscribed in stone. Live as though every moment is a stone upon which you are inscribing a wish. Dedicate each of these spirit-stones of your intent to the living pyramid of Creation.
Overall Summary of Reading
Hexagram 17 Guiding Force: Something profound in our collective will has shifted. The reading augurs a constructive backlash to the perpetual state of crisis and conflict of the past. Like the time lag between light being emitted by a distant star and our seeing it, deep structural changes in the World Soul are not immediately apparent. The tide, however, has turned. The collective unconscious of humanity has responded to the waking nightmare of hunger, poverty, war and environmental degradation. The World Soul awakens, shrugging off the age of darkness like the Morning Star leading the sun into the new age of light.
Line Change in Fourth Place: The specific transformation we are undergoing resolves the long-standing tendency to unquestioningly accept the conventional wisdom of maintaining the very precedents that have brought us such sorrow. A universal movement toward independent thinking is emerging from the collective unconscious—as is a casting off of past hatreds, fears and desires for revenge. This shift away from ready-made answers of artificial authorities will express itself in a move away from fundamentalist religions and fetishized nationalism, to be replaced by a sense of universal respect for all life and a conscious goodwill toward all.
Hexagram 25 Radiating Intent: The collective work of building a great pyramid symbolizes actual transformation of human civilization in the approaching age of light. It depicts the profundity of change that can occur when a great catharsis releases all the pent-up repressed grief, guilt and fear that makes real reconciliations not just possible but serve as the foundation for a new and lasting equilibrium. This hexagram builds on the transformation set in motion with the line change in the fourth place, amplifying it by positing a time when “people no longer seek guidance from those with all the trappings of power and authority”. What arises out of this maturing of the human spirit is a new question: What do we wish to build together? Not what do governments want us to build, not what do religions want us to build, not what do self-proclaimed experts want us to build. Just simply, What do we wish to build together? This metamorphosis of human civilization occurs within the chrysalis of inevitability—having finally outgrown the obsolete inclinations toward free-floating anxiety, dominance and aggression, we have planted the seeds of the predestined Golden Age of Humanity.
Nuclear Hexagram: The driving force behind the profound changes indicated by this reading can be found in its Nuclear Hexagram 12 Seeing Ahead. This hexagram symbolizes the act of projecting into the future and making life-altering decisions based on that glimpse of what is to come. Like all Nuclear Hexagrams, Seeing Ahead has four derived hexagrams, one of which, of course, is Hexagram 17 Guiding Force. The other three hexagrams springing forth from Seeing Ahead are: Hexagram 39 Making Individual; Hexagram 64 Safeguarding Life; and, Hexagram 21 Cultivating Character. The overarching theme of all four derived hexagrams is that of the profound transformations—on both the individual and collective levels—that spontaneously arise when people look ahead to the inevitable consequences of their present course of action.
Toward a Universal Love of Land and Life
Toward Peace and Prospering for All
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Toltec I Ching, by Martha Ramirez-Oropeza and William Douglas Horden, is published by Larson Publications. It recasts the I Ching in the symbology of the Native Americans of ancient Mexico and includes original illustrations interpreting each of the hexagrams. Its subtitle, “64 Keys to Inspired Action in the New World,” alludes to its focus on the ethics of the emerging world culture.
Two companion volumes, The Five Emanations, and The Spiritual Basis of Good Fortune, have recently been published that expand on carrying the practices forward in the modern world. E-book versions can be found on my website: http://williamdouglashorden.com/