When we do I Ching readings for other people, it’s because we want to help. We know what I Ching can offer, and we want to share that. But when you read for someone else, you don’t naturally recognize how the answer is speaking for them. It may not even happen at all. You may be uncertain if you actually recognize the querent in the answer, or if it’s your own baggage and preconceptions. Sometimes you’ll recognize the answers as things you yourself needed to hear.
Listening to the querent you’re reading for, and taking enough time to make sure their questions are good ones, can help a lot.
In your personal relationship with I Ching, you may have become relaxed. You may be able to ask for a “yes” or “no” answer with the understanding that I Ching will address the questions behind your stated question. You probably recognize when I Ching is addressing deep, underlying concerns that you should be asking about instead.
But none of this is likely to work when reading I Ching for somebody else. To hear I Ching’s answers, beginners must hear the question that’s being asked. Hearing the conversation is also crucial for you, the reader: it gives you a solid foundation to separate your preconceptions from I Ching’s answer.
When you analyze a reading, you likely see complex layers of meaning: there’s hexagram text, hexagram shapes, trigrams, nuclear hexagrams, associated history and myths, as well as vivid, emotional experiences of your own.
It’s tempting to hop on the “easy I Ching for modern users” bandwagon, saying “making a change” instead of “crossing the great river,” or “be very careful” instead of “treading the tail of the tiger.” But don’t hop on. Simplifications are forgettable. Tigers’ tails are not.
You need to escort your querent into the vivid imagery. Help them make themselves comfortable in a realm where nothing will travel quicker than a horse, where tigers are protective spirits but occasionally eat people, and where wading across rivers is treacherous. You might have to choose just one image from among all that you can discern in trigrams and text. But giving readings will always involve imagery.
One more tip: have clarity in your own mind regarding readings’ basic structure. Know what’s represented by the primary and the relating hexagram. Understand the working relationship among the diverse moving lines. This is essential to the interpretive skills you use to draw out the meaning of readings.
Don’t Burn Out
About six years ago, I burned out. I didn’t know if I could do I Ching readings ever again. I’d been available to do readings for more than 10 years, except for a random week off here or there for family emergencies and responsibilities. I ran out of the essentials and needed to hide away. I spent long, long hours sitting in the shade of a maple tree with no plans at all.
Divination differs considerably from coaching or counseling because the actual source of answers is not the diviner. It’s the I Ching. But serving as the conduit for I Ching’s help definitely is work. So, don’t do what I did. Don’t make yourself unconditionally, absolutely available to carry anything and everything for anybody or everybody indefinitely at any time!
Like most people, you probably would have enough common sense to not put yourself in a situation like that in the first place. But even if you’re only available for occasional readings for friends or family, you’ll still bear the weight and responsibility of their expectations.
I don’t have any one-size-fits-all solutions to this. I think the best I can do is share some of the helpful answers I’ve found to my own personal questions. Your answers will probably be different, but you should probably seek them before you do a lot of readings.
I learned I need to care for myself by spending time outdoors. I need to take time off from doing readings full-time. I need trees and sunshine in the sky. Occasionally, if I worry about a specific querent, I seek out somebody I trust and confidentially share about my worries. I understand my responsibility as a diviner in that I’m responsible to give the reading as thoroughly and as expertly as I possibly can.
If my querent doesn’t understand it, I have to try different ways of communicating, and continue until they get it or I run out of ideas. If the querent resists what I Ching says at the time, I make the information memorable, so they can benefit from it later. If they don’t answer my calls, I write out my notes and email them. If somebody requests a refund before the interpretation, I’ll send it, but I’ll also send the interpretation. Doing readings for others is a sacred undertaking. I do everything I can to deliver it to them. If the zombie apocalypse begins while I’m working on somebody’s reading, I guess I’ll have to type it out before I get on my bike and skedaddle!
But I don’t bear responsibility for the outcome. I’m not responsible for how the querent interprets the reading. And I’m absolutely not responsible for what they choose to do. I trust I Ching to do its thing, and I trust the querent to choose their own path. At least, that’s what I keep striving to do!