Sunday, September 2, 2007

Dreamgourd pictures

This picture shows the Dreamgourd. The color is close to what it was in the dream.

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.

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