Thursday, 24 November 2011

Catching Dreams - A Tall Tale

Thinking about presents for friends this Christmas I thought about  buying two friends  Dreamcatchers.  I remembered how delighted I was when I was given one years ago. I would like to try to make some myself but whether I will get time in the next few weeks I am not sure.  I will hedge my bets and buy one and try and make one as well.

The Myth of the Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatchers have been a tradition of Native Indian  culture for generations.  A  Dreamcatcher is  made from  a willow hoop which symbolises strength and unity, on which is woven a loose net or web.  The Dreamcatcher is then decorated with personal and sacred items such as feathers, human hair, or beads.  In to the Dreamcatcher is woven the myth of an old wise Lakkota's vision of Iktomi and his teaching of wisdom of the Dreamcatcher.  This is the story I have.been told...

Far, far back in time when the world was young an old Lakkota spiritual leader had climbed to the top of a high mountain to talk with his spiritual  guides and the spirits of his ancestors.  Iktomi  who was a great trickster and a teacher of wisdom, appeared to him in the guise of a spider.   Iktome spoke to him in a sacred language.  As he talked he picked up the elders willow hoop which was decorated with feathers beads and sacred items, and began to spin a web.

He spoke to elder about the world of time and space, how  the circle of the seasons of the earth and  the circle of  individuals lives fall into similar patterns.  In the Spring  we have childhood and youth as the years pass we reach the Summer of life and maturity with its many accomplishments.   Next we pass in to the Autumn of life to old age, where we may need caring  for as if we were an infant.  Finally we pass into Winter season and meet death.  Spring brings rebirth.

"But"  said Iktomi  as he continued to spin his web,

" in each time of life there are many forces some good some bad.  If you listen to the good forces they will steer you right  If you listen to the bad forces they will steer you in the wrong direction and my harm you. These forces can help or can interfere with the harmony of nature."

While Iktomi spoke, he continued to weave his web.  When Iktomi had finished spinning he gave the elder the web and said,

"The web  is a perfect circle with a hole in the centre. Use the web to  help your people reach their goals, making good use of their ideas, dreams and visions.  If you believe in the Great Spirit, the web will catch your good ideas and the bad ones will slip through the hole".

The elder passed on the vision to the people and now many Indians hang a Dreamcatcher above their bed to sift their dreams and visions. Tthe good ideas and dreams are captured in the web of life and and gently slide down the feathers to the sleeper, but the evil dreams drop through the centre of the web and perish with the light of day.

With Reiki blessing
and I hope many good dreams

Merry B

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The I Ching - The Book of Changes, The Tao of I

Jekka -Achillea millefoliumYarrow, 
Woundwort, Milfoil
I can only write about my personal journey with the I Ching, I am not an I Ching scholar. I came upon the I Ching when I was immersed in reading Jung.  A chance reference to him writing a forward for the Richard Wilhelm translation  of The I Ching was the sole reason I brought the book.  I am very grateful to the person who guided me to the book and for Jung for his wonderful insight into the I Ching.  I have a number of books of The I Ching by different authors but The Richard  Wilhelm translation has remained my favourite  copy of  the I Ching.

The origin of The I Ching Wilhelm believes is "back in mythical antiquity'",  of over 3000 years.  Both the Taoist and Confucian Philosophy have their roots there.  A Chinese sage, Wang Pi in the fourth century BC described the book as:

A book of wisdom not a book of divination.

I ask the I Ching not only about what is the future  but also "what should I do". 

For me The I Ching has become over the years a wise friend that as Jung wrote "insists upon self knowledge" and gives me pause for reflection on what I am doing and the insight into whether to go forward or maybe standstill, to rest, regroup or reconsider a plan or ambition. The spirit of the I Ching  Yi also shows me how I should act in either  a positive or negative situation. I am sometimes wary of approaching the I Ching, because my conscious mind does not always want to be exposed to my inner unconscious mind.  Consulting the I Ching bridges our inner and outer worlds.

The I Ching can mirror the spiritual and psychological forces in our lives. Sometimes Yi can shine a light into the dark psychological places where we are entangled. Yi can reveal the seeds of future development and possible outcomes. Yi shows us a special time unlike the time the conscious mind measures.  It can be the right time to follow an ambition or project. Our action may in time or out of time.   It maybe that this is a moment to take time out or it is the wrong time to push forward. At  a certain time Yi may warn not to proceed with a desired change as to do so may lead to harm or humiliation.

Another name for the I Ching is The Book of Changes. Confucius while standing by a river said:

Everything flows on and on like the river without pause day and night.

If we take our attention from our transitory individual concerns we see changes are unavoidable  Yi's wisdom is only the principle of change never changes.  This truth is the Tao of  Lao-Tse.  Our lives change, the seasons change, our world changes, our dreams change. Even as I prepare the question to ask the Oracle and begin  the casting the yarrow sticks, coins or stones, as I  draw the lines that make up the lower and upper trigrams  change is flowing.   My focus will have sharpened, the problem, ambition or project clearer in outline. Using the oracle gives my guides and helping spirit a way to speak to me and by giving them voice.  Yi speaks with what both Lao-tse and Confucius saw  "as a supreme expression of spiritual authority."
The two Trigrams that I cast combine to form the Primary Hexagram There are sixty four Hexagrams  of six lines.   If  one or more line  is drawn from casting a 9 or 6 it changes to its opposite.  These transform or  moving lines  are the focus of  my reading of the Primary Hexagram  I will read the text of the judgment and image and then text of the lines that the  9 or 6 fall on.   When nine changes to its opposite 6 or yin line and the 6 changes to a 9 or yang line  these changes transform to create the Relating Hexagram.  If the Hexagram is drawn with the only the numbers 7 & 8  with no moving line then that is how the situation is -  stop, reflect, or standstill.  But of course even that has already changed.  For more detailed information  about the I Ching  I  have put references here.

As I cast  the I Ching  my mind becomes tranquil and I approach Yi in dream time, I journey into a symbolic world of  images and wisdom and find harmony between my inner and outer worlds and Yi helps me hear the voices of my guides and I can visualise the way forward and what I must do to fulfill my desired outcome.

I hope this short glimpse of my discovery of the I Ching and my journey with Yi over the years will be of interest and  inspire some of my friends to find the wisdom of Yi.  

Jung at the conclusion of his forward writes:

The I Ching does not offer itself with proofs and results; it does not vaunt itself, nor is it easy to approach. Like a part of nature, it waits until it is discovered. It offers neither facts nor power, but for lovers of self-knowledge, of wisdom -- if there be such -- it seems to be the right book. To one person its spirit appears as clear as day; to another, shadowy as twilight; to a third, dark as night. He who is not pleased by it does not have to use it, and he who is against it is not obliged to find it true. Let it go forth into the world for the benefit of those who can discern its meaning.

With Reiki blessing and  light