Across the imaginary distance of culture and borders, I honor your contribution to the Beginning Times.
A dying oak tree, its trunk split and branches breaking, does not in any way resemble an acorn.
The new beginning—despite growing directly out of the remains of the old—does not resemble what it replaces.
While it is imperative to recognize endings before they arrive, it is self-defeating to dwell on them: Endings serve to direct our attention to the new beginning already starting to unfold. The Book of Changes is not simply about the art of avoiding misfortune—its deeper intent is to instruct us in the art of arriving ahead of time at the meeting place of good fortune.
An acorn, bright and gleaming in the palm of a hand, does not in any way resemble the giant oak tree dominating the forest clearing hundreds of years later. And this is a critical lesson of the I Ching—one of context and chance and perseverance. For, the same acorn that falls in a level fertile field and grows to great height and prominence will grow stunted and gnarled should it fall among rocks on the crags of a cliff face. The same acorn.
Everyone recognizes that the old is ending. Everyone. Worldwide. The question of concern is, What kind of ground are we preparing for this seed of the new?
The ancients had an accurate sense of the length of time that the pendulum of change takes to swing out to its extreme and reverse the passions of human nature. Across numerous cultures, the ancients accurately foresaw that this time, the historical epoch in which we are living, would be the turning point for civilization to realize the dream of a Golden Age of peace and prospering for all.
That these are The Beginning Times.
Among those prophesies is the Mayan calendar, whose 5,000-year Long Count of 13 baktuns comes to an end on the Winter Solstice of 2012. Because the Mesoamerican calendar itself was not in use 5,000 years ago (it is perhaps 3,000 years old, imaginably 4,000 years old), it means that the Maya chose a symbolic starting date for their calendar that would end on a specific date.
A specific symbolic date.
A date that would get our attention.
This accomplishment of the ancients, to accurately set their calendar to end on the Winter Solstice several thousand years in the future, is a testament to their care and concern for the future. It is like a message in a bottle washing up on the shore of our island of the present, reminding us of the dreams that our common ancestors carried in their hearts for the coming generations.
It is a symbolic date, not one to be taken literally. As the old saying goes, Don’t look at the finger pointing at the moon—look at the moon. It is meant to get our attention, not to become the object of our attention. As I have noted previously, the actual turning point began to first show itself in 1998. The reversal of direction that the Mayan calendar points to is this space of time, wherein the old regime of conflict and competition withers and falls, collapsing under its own weight, no longer supported by the beliefs or actions of those it subjugates. This reversal of direction is predictable because the seasons of human nature are knowable—it is not the direction of outer conditions that the 2012 date points to but, rather, the reversal of beliefs and values within human nature. When the collective conscience of humanity can no longer be cowed into accepting the desecration of its own nature, then what emerges from the ashes of its old beliefs and values is a united humanity bent on no longer desecrating its relationship with nature and spirit.
Those who cannot believe that sudden and rapid change can, nearly overnight, reverse the course of whole nations simply do not understand the unconscious longings of the human heart. The longer that people’s true desires are repressed by force and intimidation, the more sudden and more profound the reversal of beliefs and actions. The dying giant is split and cracking—but what we need to focus on is finding the common ground within which to plant and nurture civilization’s new beginning.
As I write here on my little hilltop in Southern Oregon, the Winter Solstice of 2010 has arrived. It is an auspicious event because it is the first Winter Solstice in centuries to coincide with a lunar eclipse. For those who have been trained to sense the Qi of the world, the extreme of yin is sinking to its utmost depths, just on the cusp of the turning point back toward yang. At the apogee of the eclipse, the earth’s shadow moves on and the full moon’s light begins to wax again. At the height of Winter’s cold and dark, Spring’s warmth and light is born.
A full season ago, on the Autumnal Equinox, I consulted the Oracle, asking this question: What can humanity expect with the approach of 2012? In the Oracle’s answer, the events around the 2012 turning point predict a time of growing authoritarianism that, once transcended, will usher in a prolonged period of global reconciliation.
More specifically, it points to a crisis that we, as humanity, have confronted before and failed to resolve in a beneficial way for all. With the approach of 2012, we have the opportunity to face that collective dilemma again. Although the official reaction will reflexively try to repeat the same mistake as before, a groundswell of enlightened goodwill that transcends borders will unite people everywhere in a positive and constructive response—one that overrides the authoritarianism of religions and governments and sets in motion those metamorphic forces of nonviolence and noninterference that give rise to the harmonious and creative civilization our collective ancestors dreamed for us.
In my ongoing effort to expand on this message and present its ramifications as transparently as possible, I have executed the classic transformation of the reading’s hexagrams into their nuclear hexagrams. This transformation produces a new pair of hexagrams that represent the underlying forces at work beneath the surface of events. The hidden motivations, the unconscious currents, the dreams demanding expression.
The primary hexagram of the 2012 reading is #54 Repeating Test. Its nuclear hexagram is #63 Awakening Self-Sufficiency.
This is interesting because this same hexagram appeared as the future outcome in my June 2009 reading as the answer to my question, At what crossroads does our global civilization stand now—and in what direction does good fortune lie?
For those not yet familiar with the Toltec spirit warrior, it is defined as a woman or man who trains to defeat their own enemy-within (which is in turn defined as their self-defeating habits of thought, emotion and memory). We can see that there is a growing movement of individuals worldwide who have taken up such training—which appears under different names—in order to restore humaneness to our collective life. It is this metamorphosis of individuals that is striking the spark to the kindling-nest so that the phoenix might arise more glorious from its ashes.
As a nuclear hexagram, #63 speaks to the unconscious desire to free ourselves from those baser instincts that divide us as a people from ourselves, nature and the sacred. As its text illustrates, this hexagram seeks autonomy from that which trivializes human nature by seeking to restore its full creative power. It is a nuclear hexagram that overcomes outer conflict by understanding that the instincts dividing us are universal to all people and, so, constitute the very source of our inevitable unity.
Image: A great feathered serpent hatches out of the earth as if from an egg. Its feathers are adorned with conch shells and it senses its surroundings with its bifurcated tongue.
Interpretation: This hexagram represents the great forces released by the accumulated efforts of spirit warriors over the ages. The feathered serpent symbolizes the collective intent and vision shared by spirit warriors in every time and every place. That it hatches from the earth as if from an egg means that the community of spirit incubating within the material world emerges as a living, dynamic force of creation. The conches adorning its feathers symbolize the call for all to join the community of spirit. Its bifurcated tongue symbolizes the duality that is one. That it uses its bifurcated tongue to sense its surroundings means that you are attuned to the universal presence of the masculine and feminine creative forces. Taken together, these symbols mean that you align yourself with those whose only need is to bring benefit to their surroundings.
Action: The spirit warrior reverses the flow of power, channeling it inside instead of outside: by storing up power internally rather than expending it externally, we are able to both free ourselves of habits and gain control over our actions. This inner autonomy also extricates us from social influences that strive to mold us into obedient marionettes even as it allows us to be more tolerant of the deeper motives of those social influences. From the spirit warrior’s perspective, the original intent of religion is to awaken the higher soul to its potential freedom while purifying the lower soul of fear, greed, envy, and hate—just as the original intent of government is to awaken the higher soul to its responsibility to others while instilling in the lower soul the capacity for self-control. From this perspective, the fact that religion and government acquire ulterior motives over time and begin to act in their own self-interest merely demonstrates that they are managed by human beings and must be viewed accordingly. Similarly, the fact that all religions and governments strive to awaken the higher soul and purify the lower soul—even when they have forgotten how and why—simply demonstrates that the quest for metamorphosis is a universal and irresistible force. Just as our inner autonomy releases us from the trap of depending on social influences for our sense of self, in other words, it also releases us from the trap of not seeing how those social influences contribute, however unintentionally, to the gradual unification of humanity. Reversing the flow of power, we gain inner autonomy and, paradoxically, become one with the universal civilizing force.
Intent: The wise become independent even from what they revere. Like children who are grown up and independent of the parents they love and admire, spirit warriors take their place among the community of spiritual equals. Because you use this lifetime to bring the most benefit to others, you incubate the higher soul that is preparing to hatch from the lower soul: joining in the collective labor shared by spirit warriors in every time and every place, you contribute directly to both the fulfillment of humanity’s destiny and the creator’s vision. Becoming part of the universal civilizing spirit, you contribute directly to the founding of a free and harmonious world of equals right here within this world.
Summary: Only the body marks the passage of time—for the soul, there is only this everlasting moment of growing. Let five rivers of energy come in through the senses, let them run together into a sea of growing power. Do not expend it on petty thoughts, moods, or goals. Send forth your rain clouds only to water the valuable. Condense intent into actions that foster peace and prosperity for all. Your success is inevitable.
The derived hexagram that appears in the 2012 reading is #2 Sensing Creation. Its nuclear hexagram is #39 Reviving Tradition. As the future outcome, #2 Sensing Creation is profoundly inspirational. It presages a time of worldwide reconciliation and heartfelt collaboration towards an emerging vision of what civilization might become.
As its nuclear hexagram, #39 Reviving Tradition reminds us that our common ancestors lived closer to the time of creation than we do. It shows that the underlying forces of #2 Sensing Creation are part of the emerging reversion to values and beliefs grounded in a more traditional—and meaningful—lifeway. This could have evolved into a time in which the reversion to traditional values and beliefs led to greater conflict and confrontation, but the movement into #2 assures us that the mistakes we have made in the past will no longer be repeated. This is because the general amnesty and forgiveness of past wrongs is based not upon the surface differences between traditions but, rather, upon their shared foundation in the sacredness of everything.
Image: The ancient spirit of fire takes the form of a male warrior, who is made part of the land by the roots growing like veins through his body and the earth. His arm is raised, greeting the long line of people in shadow that approach him. Another line of people, their torches rekindled, depart in light.
Interpretation: This hexagram depicts the ancestors’ inheritance passing from individual to individual and from generation to generation. The ancient spirit of fire symbolizes the universal tradition of fire-making, whose timeless ritual unites all people in a common heritage. The male warrior symbolizes the self-discipline and training needed to stand against greed, ambition, and materialism. That he is made part of the land means that you find your spiritual home in the site of your own lifetime. The long line of people in shadow is a symbol of those seeking to find their way back to a balanced and harmonious way of life. The line of people departing with torches rekindled is a symbol of those who find the light of the ancestors inside their own hearts and carry it through the darkness of their own time. Taken together, these symbols mean that you resist spiritual erosion the way a mountain of righteousness stands against the wind of corruption and the rain of meaninglessness.
Action: The masculine half of the spirit warrior views everything as a buried treasure left behind by the spiritual ancestors for their descendants. It is a time for holding fast to what lasts rather than getting distracted by the novel or overwhelmed by the fleeting. Avoid participating in the fads and fashions of the day, seeking instead to uphold the values and world view of a more spiritual time. This means, first and foremost, respecting and honoring all that is not human: when matter is seen as devoid of spirit, then nature can be desecrated without a second thought; when one form of nature is seen as devoid of spirit, then all forms of life can be desecrated without a second thought; when one form of life is seen as devoid of spirit, then human beings can desecrate one another without a second thought. For this reason, the spirit warrior sees the world as the divine homeland shared by the living and the dead and those not yet born. Recognizing that meaningfulness is hidden from those who attack it, you look into the secret heart of things and see the One Spirit of creation everywhere you look. Recognizing that meaningfulness is an open secret to all but the greedy, ambitious, and materialistic, you bury the treasure again in your own turn so that your descendants will find their secret heart.
Intent: Even though you feel out of step with the wounded spirit of the time, you are actively involved in healing it: recognizing that its illness is meaninglessness, you feed it the medicine of meaningfulness day and night throughout your life. Just as the fire of light and warmth must be fed wood and air to continue burning, the spirit of the time must be fed the joy and insights born of meaningfulness if it is to continue living: without the tradition of meaningful consecration to feed it, the spirit of the time will eventually die and be replaced by that of meaningless desecration. For this reason, the spirit warrior keeps alive the ancient tradition of training every thought and feeling to reflect the hidden sacredness of every moment.
Summary: The more you put the world view of the ancients into practice, the more you have to offer others. Be generous with what you have learned but do not stop learning: just as people depend on a well for their water, the well depends on the invisible river below ground for its water. Assume that you will understand matters better in the future and act with a corresponding degree of humility.
The 2012 reading, with all its associated meanings, reminds us to reject utterly the paranoiac heart-mind of this wounded age that would have us dwell in the irrational belief that unseen forces are conspiring to do us ill. Rather, it reminds us to keep in mind the definition of the word Pronoia: the irrational belief that unseen forces are conspiring to do us good. It is irrational only in the sense that spirit warriors do not confine their efforts to the rational world.
It is two years exactly now until the Winter Solstice of 2012 arrives. Priest-diviners everywhere are focusing the generative energy of their intent on plowing the field of the World Soul to receive the rain of spirit seeds already falling and taking root in the open heart of human nature.
Across the imaginary distance of culture and borders, I honor your contribution to the Beginning Times.
The Toltec I Ching, by Martha Ramirez-Oropeza and William Douglas Horden has just received a Silver Award in the 2010 Nautilus Awards. 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 hints at its focus on the ethics of the emerging world culture.