For a few thousand years, we were denied access to information on the earlier woman-dominant cultures. Historians simply started “the beginning” of anything by talking about a male in a respectable role of the time. Once again, feng shui lore usually starts with a reference to Fu Hsi, said to be a male who made some important realizations and came up with the first set of trigrams to describe the elements of which the world is made.
However, Barbara G. Walter, in The I Ching of the Goddess, points out that Fu Hsi was not a man but a god coupled with the Universal Muse, the Goddess of Creation, Nu Kua. Chinese traditions, according to Walter, date tales about Nu Kua back to at least 2500 BCE. The “gua” of the bagua are part of her name, “kua.” If the legend of Fu Hsi is as old as has been supposed, then the original I Ching was invented during the matriarchial period. Nu Kua was sometimes portrayed mermaid-like with a fish tail and human upper body. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for viewing the fish as good luck. It is also said that the words of the I Ching are “fish-traps” for the spirit or Tao.
In the well-researched I Ching translation by Rudolf Ritsema and Stephen Karcher, the authors point out that Fu Hsi was a shaman, diviner and magician ruling during the first Golden Age when humans and spirits communicated freely with each other. Fu Hsi, indeed, lived in the “Early Heaven” when the feminine held a position of honor in society. Sometimes the “Early Heaven” trigram arrangement is said to be one of equilibrium, therefore, not dynamic or creative. The “Later Heaven” sequence is referred to as creative, describing a cycle of movement that allows “progress.”
This “Later Heaven” arrangement was invented by King Wen whose name means “King Writing or King Pattern.” By his time, the equilibrium of the Early Heaven was disturbed and troubles were brewing. From his prison cell, King Wen contemplated how to restore balance to a world which no longer seemed to be able to hear the spirit. The hexagrams were created by Wu Hsien, literally the Conjoining Shaman, to describe more thoroughly the processes of life in a way that could be understood and utilized by the common person rather than just the shaman.
We can assume that during the earlier woman-centered cultures, the pattern of life revolved around awareness of the cycles of woman. Perhaps everything was very stable if, indeed, everyone was in tune with nature and spirit. We were not then individualized in consciousness, but acted as one. As individualization began to occur, a part of the evolutionary process for human beings, trouble came too. 500 to 200 BCE was a period of great political upheaval and personal creativity which redefined Chinese culture. Now, as we enter 2018, we see the world again in upheaval, and we see great individual creativity as well. Once more, we are redefining the views we live by.
New interpretations of the I Ching are showing up and feng shui, since coming to America through our great benefactor Master Lin Yun, is itself transforming. As always, those who love it “the way it is” are dismayed, but during each major shift of world energy, it seems all systems of thought must be revitalized. We must speak them anew. Many of us are destined to be these translators of ancient wisdom into re-energized conceptualizations for our special times.
I once again see the Goddess emerging. She is not the ancient one of equilibrium, but a “Changing Woman” who has been fully individualized during the male-dominant creative period of “progress.” In her uniqueness, she gathers support from ancient Goddess lore but re-speaks it in the language of present times. I still see the King Wen “Later Heaven” arrangement of the trigrams as the creative cycle that applies to nature, man and woman. Yet, I am compelled to speak of it in woman terms.
I begin looking at the bagua from the segment called WATER, the gateway where, as in being born from the watery womb, I am given the bodily vessel which shall allow me to flow into my CAREER and LIFE PURPOSE. Moving clockwise around the bagua, I encounter MOUNTAIN where I explore my self, gaining KNOWLEDGE for my journey. Then, I experience the nurturing of my FAMILY at the same time as I sense the push to emerge again from this common ground to find my own place in the world. I feel the THUNDER of my growth.
Casting my lot to the WIND as I leave home, I seek my FORTUNE. Eventually, I become known by my passions as the FIRE of self expression reaches its zenith. This FIRE of FAME burns away unnecessary ego to allow my journey toward ENLIGHTENMENT to proceed.
I make my commitment to EARTH, to home, to partner, to place. Settling into my choices I find the JOYOUS LAKE of creativity and produce children and works of art. I shape my metal, rounded offering bowl, the chalice I shall offer to the HEAVENS. Thus, my final portion of life is in being a HELPFUL PERSON and TRAVELING to give my wisdom to the world around me until such time as I am again empty and can return to the ultimate womb of creation.
This is how the Goddess lives through me, a woman of modern times. As I look at my client’s homes, I attune to the phase they are in on this cyclical journey so that my suggestions and cures assist them in the particular part of their life’s journey through which they are now traveling. One example: a client in the JOYOUS LAKE phase of her life might be someone raising young children or an artist perfecting her craft. In each case, there is both a need to perceive the ideal and, at the same time, to allow for creative chaos.
It would be important to have images such as photos, paintings or symbols displayed which speak to the client of the perfection of her work, the outcome she holds dear. Yet, I would also make sure there was space in her home where messes could be left without concern, places to play and experiment. Someone in this “metal” phase may also need another room that was spotless and felt just right so that she could retreat into a place that felt like a “finished product” because “metal” is trying to form a completion, to create the chalice and offer her gift to the heavens and the world.
I would look for places to use whites, pastels, crystals and gemstones, gold and silver to accentuate the metal phase. I would inquire about works of art or skills the client possesses and make sure these are displayed prominently so that the client is reminded of prior success and can be uplifted during moments of creative lag when it seems like the mess will never amount to anything.