Sunday, October 21, 2007
My description of the casting of the stones and the layout pictured may have given an inaccurate impression as to the exact method of casting the dreamstones. It is important that each draw from the dreamgourd be from a full set of 16 stones. Only in this way will each element of the casting be completely random. The illustration may have given the impression that the stones are laid out in the pattern shown as they are drawn. This is not correct. The illustration was “posed” following the casting of the stones. To cast the stones properly, take out the first stone. This is the lower trigram. Jot down on the dream page or in your notebook the stone that was cast. Then replace that stone in the dreamgourd. Now draw out a second stone. This is the upper trigram. Note it and then replace it as well. Each subsequent drawing (for determining the line state) requires the dreamgourd to be full before the next draw is made. After this procedure, I like to lay out the stones in the manner of the illustration and to spend time reflecting on the stones—particularly before launching into the work on the I Ching hexagram resulting from the cast.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
What is a gourd? A gourd is the fruit of a climbing or trailing plant similar to the pumpkin, squash and cucumber. Typically the rind of this fruit is hard and when the fruit is dried and the interior is hollowed out, the gourd can be made into a variety of useful objects, such as a drinking bowl for water or wine, or a musical instrument, or even a replacement for bone (as in the skull) as was common in Neolithic time. The word derives from the Latin cucurbita, which bears the root image of "cup." Even two-thousand years ago, the word also carried the slang connatation of "blockhead," which we see surviving in modern times as in the expression to be "out of one's gourd," an image of craziness or madness. The gourd was the first plant domesticated by early humans and used long before clay or stone. Every gourd is "unique" in shape and one of nature's outstanding spontaneous feminine art forms.
The picture shows the two halves of the Dreamgourd. The main bowl holds the Dreamstones, and the smaller bowl holds the dream written out on a piece of handmade paper, scrolled and tied. Consulting the I Ching oracle is a mantic ritual and the more one partakes in the ritual aspect the more one will be "prepared" to reach deeply into the result of the casting of the stones. Following tradition, when one consults the I Ching, one should face south leaving the oracle itself facing north as befits something revered.
Part of the ritual process involves what I call the "bowl of imagination." It is important to fill the bowl of imagination with the dream, just as the smaller gourd bowl is filled with its written version and the larger gourd bowl is filled with the stones. Only when the dream fills the imaginal vessal should the first two stones be drawn to create the hexagram.
The picture shows the results of drawing out the first two stones to form the lower and the upper trigrams. This hexagram is then recorded on the written dream. The stones are then drawn in turn to determine whether the line is a fixed or changing line. The result is recorded on the written dream. As can be seen, this first casting resulted in hexagram 51, in which the lower and upper trigrams are the same: Zhen, which means "shock" and is symbolized by thunder, in this case, thunder above and thunder below.
The changing lines bring forth the hexagram 42, Yi, meaning "profit," "benefit," "increase." The resulting hexagram is formed from the lower trigam of Zhen, "thunder," and the upper trigram Xun, "wind."
In my next post, I will comment on the etymology of the hexagram ideographs and begin my commentary on this first use of the Dreamgourd.