I Ching Reading: Who Will Win the 2020 Presidential Election?

The I Ching doesn’t answer “yes or no” questions directly, but usually describes a pattern of thinking. So I asked the I Ching two questions. The first question was “Will Trump Win the 2020 Presidential Election?” I received hexagram 11 (Peace) with the second, fourth and fifth lines changing. The new hexagram is #49 (Revolution).

The second question was “Will Biden Win the 2020 Presidential Election?” I received hexagram #12 (Standstill) with the first line changing. The next hexagram is #25 (The Unexpected).

Peace and Standstill exact opposites of one another. As you can see, in Peace three unbroken lines are on the bottom and three broken lines are at the top; in Standstill, the three broken lines are on the bottom and the three unbroken lines are at the top. The I Ching seems to be impatiently saying, “You already asked that question. Of course Trump and Biden will get opposite hexagrams. They’re competing for the same job!” These patterns repeat again and again, not only in the I Ching but in the Tarot and other oracles. But on to the interpretation!

The I Ching seems to be a Trump supporter. Peace is one of the best hexagrams, and Standstill is one of the worst. But as always, the devil is in the details. The first detail is that the I Ching is an ancient oracle, about 3500 years old, from a time of kings who claimed to be descendants of the gods. The I Ching doesn’t understand our modern custom of elections. John Michael Greer at Ecosophia.net has similar comments about astrological charts for countries; the astrological tradition understands kings and epidemics but elections are too new for the tradition to incorporate.

The Peace hexagram can be summed up by saying that peace is achieved when the strong put themselves at the service of the week, with the warning that times of peace are unnatural and fleeting. The changing lines emphasize how much Trump honors the weak. One line mentions “bearing with the uncultured in gentleness.” Another says, “High rank comes close to low rank.” Trump has consistently favored both the working class and the capitalists. His tax cut clearly favored capitalists, and his immigration policy favors the existing working class by limiting competitors for their jobs.

The changing fifth line represents the ruler, and the text for it is revealing. It says even the emperor’s daughters are required to obey their husbands during a time of peace. To the I Ching, this is the greatest absurdity. The world of the I Ching is one where the powerful rule unapologetically. An emperor’s daughter will always be more powerful than their husband, and in any sensible world, these daughters will order their husbands around. Only in the upside-down world of peace would an emperor tell his daughters to obey their husbands. To the I Ching, this unnatural world must change to the more natural world of power taking all.

To the I Ching, an lost election in an inconceivable thing; the emperor is too powerful to care about what the people think. It’s closest analogy to an lost election is a revolution. (That’s why Trump was ranting a few days ago that Biden and the other Democrats were planning a coup. Emperors don’t do elections.)

Standstill, being the opposite of Peace, is a time when the strong place themselves above the weak and ignore them. Nothing useful can happen. The only changing line is the first, representing a peasant, in which a man with blocked ambitions goes back to his family farm in retirement. It indicates Biden, who came out of retirement, looking rather frail. The I Ching gives him little hope, except that the Unexpected hexagram means that a petitioner can reasonably hope for a miracle, as long as his intentions remain pure and he doesn’t sully himself with base politics. Biden has played that part to perfection, being careful not to relay on the support of specific factions, but pointing continually to Trump’s failures. Most people hardly know what’s in Biden’s platform, because Biden is playing the common man to Trump’s imperial friend of the common man.

This is a complicated reading, where I have to work around the I Ching’s potential weaknesses as a guide, which makes me wonder if I’m twisting the I Ching’s evident meaning to fit my anti-Trump beliefs.

My job is to give a clear answer, so I’ll give one. The I Ching commends Trump for his consideration of the common man, but says that he’ll lose. There may be significant violence surrounding the election.

Yet I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve misinterpreted everything.

I Ching Reading: Why are there riots in so many American cities after George Floyd’s killing?

I received #45 (Gathering Together) with lines 2 and 3 changing. The new hexagram is #28 (Preponderance of the Great).

In Preponderance of the Great, all of the middle lines are strong, with only the top and the bottom line weak. The hexagram “represents a beam that is thick and heavy in the middle but too weak at the end… The ridgepole sags to the breaking point.”

Last night, my two daughters were in downtown Chicago at protests that turned violent, with cars burned and liquor stores looted. Through the quick thinking of the older girl, they got away unharmed and weren’t arrested. In the last hour, I’ve received two emails, one from the head of the Chicago Public Schools and the other from a local theater. Both were written by black women and speak to their refusal to accept any more needless black deaths at the hands of police. The ridgepole is indeed sagging to the breaking point.

But we are now in the period of the first hexagram, Gathering Together, which talks about groups forming. The second line says that it’s good to be drawn into a group. The third line says that if a group forms without you, it’s okay to ally with a person on the periphery though it may feel humiliating. Both are about the process of individuals gathering into groups.

This reading answers my question; the riots are part of a process of groups forming to respond to oppressive violence with rebellious violence. Because I didn’t ask, the reading doesn’t say if widespread violence will break out, but it suggests that it’s quite possible.

I Ching Reading: Should Chicago open slowly after Coronavirus?

Opening up after coronavirus depends on the specific of the place, so I’ve asked the question about the city where I live. It’s May 31, 2020.

I received #36 (Darkening of the Light) with lines 3, 5 and 6 changing. The new hexagram is #42 (Increase).

Three lines changing is unusual and indicates a dynamic situation. They are the last lines, which suggests that they will happen late in the process the hexagram describes.

Darkening of the Light is one of the worst hexagrams in the I Ching, representing the complete victory of darkness. The sixth line says, “The dark power held so high a place that it could would all who were on the side of the good and of the light. But in the end it perishes of it’s own darkness, for evil must itself fall at the very moment when it has wholly overcome the good, and thus consumed the energy to which it own its duration.”

This remarkable image suggests that evil needs good, because good has energy; when evil has consumed all the energy that good has, it can’t sustain itself and it fails. While metaphysically interesting, it’s also a good description of a viral infection. Viruses need uninfected hosts, and when it has infected most people, then herd immunity arises and the virus can’t propagate.

The sixth line suggests that coronavirus won’t stop until it has infected everyone, and that we are re-opening too soon. This is supported by the third line, which says, “Their great leader is captured. One must not expect perseverance too soon.” We seem to have defeated coronavirus but it is too widespread now to be eradicated.

The fifth line is as dark as the sixth line. It refers to a legendary Chinese prince who was related to a tyrant, so he couldn’t leave the court. He faked insanity and was treated as a slave, but kept his integrity, never having to participate in tyranny. In my inquiry it suggests another period of sheltering, possibly with a greater wave of illness.

The reading says that Chicago will experience a second wave of illness that may only be stopped by herd immunity. If so, then we should expect about 100,000 deaths, rather than the 3500 deaths we’ve had so far.

I Ching Reading: What Will Be the Longer Term Effect of the Covid-19 pandemic be?

I threw Gathering Together (45) changing into Dispersion (59).  It represents a process of people gathering together, then of dispersing.  The Judgments for both hexagrams are very similar, suggesting that the two hexagrams belong together, like an in-breath followed by an out-breath.  It suggests there will be no longer term effects, and simply one of the things that happens to mankind.

Gathering Together is an image with multiple meaning.  We are gathering into our houses, into our families.  We are gathering together as a nation to meet an unexpected challenge.  The gathering is not hierarchical; every person matters and every link in the chain has to hold together.  The young and strong can get Covid-19 and not even know it, while it kills the weak, so the gathering is to protect the weakest among us.

When the pandemic passes, all of this gathering will disperse and we will go back to our usual ways.

I Ching Reading: Who Will be the Democratic Presidential Candidate in 2020?

I asked this question on February 8th, and now it’s time to ask it again, now that all candidates except Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have left the race.

I received hexagram 33 (Retreat) without changing lines.

Having not changing lines means that the situation will not change, and that all decisions have already been made. There’s also an implication that my reading was frivolous. Biden will be the nominee; there are more Democratic moderates than progressives.

As before, the I Ching can’t tell me who will be the candidate, but can only comment on the process and the meaning. Hexagram 33 describes a retreat from an exposed position into a more defendable position. It emphasizes that retreat is a calculated bet, not flight in the face of a superior enemy.

The Democrats were in an exposed position. Sanders was leading in the primaries, and it looked like it would be a contested convention. The Democrats feared that a Sanders candidacy would be too far to the left for victory. They also could not use hidden tactics, as they did in 2016, because of the criticism of those tactics.

Instead the Democrats retreated. All of the moderates stopped their campaigns, throwing their support to Biden. The only other progressive candidate, Warren, also stopped her campaign, though she hasn’t given support to another candidate yet.

Since politics is a form a warfare, it was a correct decision. Biden has relatively few supporters, but is supported by moderate voters across the South. While he isn’t exciting to progressives in the West and Northeast, he is acceptable to them. He represents the best defense. The Democrats showed remarkable discipline in their retreat. They will live to fight another day.

I Ching Reading: Who Will be the Democratic Presidential Candidate in 2020?

On the eve of the Iowa caucus, I did a this disappointing reading. I got #37 (Family) changing into #31 (Wooing.) There were three changing lines (1, 4 and 6).

I didn’t expect the I Ching to answer directly, or how it even could. Oracles can’t tell the future; nothing can. Oracles inform you of, or stimulate you to look for, the subtle lines of force in the present. Neither Family nor Wooing suggested any specific candidate. The large number of changing lines indicate that a lot will change over the course of the campaign, but none of the changing lines are in ruling (important) positions, so the changes may be much ado about nothing.

Family (#37) represents all the members of a Confucian family and their network of duties and responsibilities, but I think the meaning is that at the start of this campaign, all the Democratic candidates are part of a family that shares many values. The last four years have taught them how different Republicans are, and the Democrats are going to stick together as tightly as a family. In a sense, it doesn’t matter who the candidate is; all the Dems will vote for him or her.

Wooing (#31) has trigrams for the youngest son and the youngest daughter, and represents a man wooing a woman. I think it represents the general election, where the Dems will be like a young man wooing the electorate, a woman. The I Ching says “In courtship, the masculine principle must seize the initiative and place itself below the feminine principle.” When the Dems decide on their candidate, they will switch over to a completely different mode, targeting the moderates. In past elections they’ve had to focus on keeping all the Dems on board, but in this election they have the luxury of focusing outward, on the moderates. Strident progressives will instantly become much more huggable. Republicans may jeer about the transformation, but the young lady will be impressed.

I Ching Evaluation: Will the U.S. and Iran go to war?

On January 10th, I wrote that Soleimani’s killing changed the dynamics of the US-Iranian confrontation, and that war seemed unlikely.

Since then, Iran fully abandoned its treaty with the US. and re-started uranium enrichment. It also scored an own goal by shooting down a Ukrainian airliner.

Unfortunately shooting down airliners happens during moments of international tension. The US shot down an Iranian airline in 1988 at the same time an Iranian patrol boat was attacking a US warship. Though regrettable, no one blames Iran for its action. Iran initially tried to deny the attack, but the clear records from US satellites forced Iran to acknowledge it.

The attack shifted the focus of the Iranian people from Soleimani back to their poor economic situation and their anger at the Iranian government.

Paradoxically, these developments may make it easier for the US and Iran to come to an agreement. The US punished Iran for its cultivation of client states in the area, and Iran’s people didn’t defend it. The Iranian government is weaker, and the reformist elements in the government are stronger.

I’ll score a win for the I Ching.

I Ching Evaluation: What should Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) do in Response to the Turkish Attack?

On October 19th, I wrote

Given the nature of the world, where the strong take what they want, Rojava’s will certainly disappear as a state, and may suffer under re-imposed Syrian rule.

This has turned out to be true. When Turkey took control of areas near Manajir and Tell Abyad, Rojava turned to an alliance with Syria and Russia. Syria has taken control of Hasaka and Kobani. Syria and Rojava share control of highways linking these Syrian areas, which strikes me as tacit admission that Syria controls the highways with Rojavan acquiescence.

Rojava hasn’t disappeared yet, but has lost populated areas and is in a much weaker position.

I’ll score one for the I Ching.

I Ching Evaluation: How will the Trade War between the U.S. and China go?

On September 11, I wrote:

A changing first line suggests that the trade war will end soon, and that after that, easy, rapid progress will be made.

This turned out to be only half-true. A truce in the trade war war signed but it took almost a year. China pledged to change its trade behavior and pledged to buy a lot of U.S. products, so it appears that China has accepted blame for its behavior.

At the same time, tariffs remain in place on both sides. The U.S. seems to be waiting for China to follow through on its promises before it drops tariffs. This suggests again that the U.S. is punishing China, and is withholding exoneration until it seems that China has changed.

I’ll score this as a win for the I Ching, but may revise that score later depending on China’s actions..

I Ching Evaluation: How Will Brexit End Up?

I wrote on September 15

I wrote in December 10. 2019, 

Wilhelm says, “An able man is available… but no use is made of him.”

There are many people in the UK able to lead it through an orderly leaving of the EU, but none of them are the actual leaders. Instead, the UK has people like May, Johnson and Corbyn. The Brexit mess is a failure of leadership.

Because of its poor leaders, the UK faces the Abysmal, where danger is doubled. The danger is probably not the immediate danger of famine or plague, but the problem of finding good leaders who can clean up the mess. At this moment, it looks grim.

The I Ching was right that the problem in the UK was leadership.  The able man turned out to be Boris Johnson, who was able elect an absolute majority in  Parliament and will lead the UK out of the EU shortly.

I was wrong that I thought Johnson was one of the leaders who created the Brexit mess, not it’s solution.  I was misled by my liberal political beliefs.  Perhaps I am still misled, but I will note that Johnson’s mandate is for Brexit, and doesn’t not extend to the entire Conservative agenda, as Thatcher’s mandate did.

I will score a win for the I Ching, and a loss for myself.