I Ching Reading: What Will Happen in California on June 15th When It Opens Fully from COVID Lockdown?

I received #3 (Difficulty at the Beginning) changing into #8 (Holding Together or Union.) The titles of the hexagram tell the overall answer. There will be difficulties at first, but they will resolve and people will join together.

First of all, both hexagrams have low numbers. The early hexagrams are about starker situations, about nature and necessity. The later hexagrams are more about complex situations — about civilization rather than nature. COVID is a life-and-death problem, so it makes sense that the hexagrams are low numbers.

#3 is the first time that the yin and yang principles meet. The changing line is the first line in the hexagram, reinforcing the idea that any problems will rise immediately. The poetic image of #3 is a sprouting seed of grass, encountering a bit of earth in its growth that blocks it. The blocking is natural and will easily be overcome. The text for the changing line says to persevere and to appoint helpers.

In #8, all the lines are yielding except the line of the king, which is firm. It represents a society where authority is natural and all citizens yield to rightful authority. It suggests that California will come together and do the right things to end the pandemic.


I Ching Question: When will the Covid-19 pandemic be over in the United States?

The I Ching usually doesn’t answer questions about timing; it prefers to talk about process. This time, however, I got a specific timeline.

The overall pattern is that in Turning Point, the first line has turned from yielding to firm, a turning point from a time of stagnation to new possibilities. Approach is an evolution of that; firm lines rise while yielding lines sink, so the next step after Turning Point is Approach. The odd thing here is that Approach is the current situation, but what it means is that now is the time to approach the problem and try to fix it.

Approach is for the twelfth Chinese month, corresponding to our December/January, so it’s the present moment. The text for Approach says that we must work with determination to achieve our goals. The text warns that all in nature are transitory, rising and falling, and that we should expect a reversal in the eighth month, or August/September.

Turning Point is associated with the winter solstice.

So the reading gives a clear timeline, with advice. Work diligently now though expect a reversal in September 2021. The pandemic should be over by December 21, 2021, or substantially on its way.

Take those vaccines, folks! That’s the diligent work required. Persuade anti-vaxxer to take them too. That’s the only way we’ll get through this together.

I Ching Reading: What will be the pattern of Biden’s 2021-2025 term?

I received hexagram 40 — Deliverance — without any changing lines.


The top trigram is movement or lightning. The bottom trigram is danger or a river swiftly moving through a ravine. Together the idea is movement out of the sphere of danger. The image is of a thunderstorm that refreshes the air.

The answer seems to be about the first days of Biden’s administration rather than it’s longer term arc. The hexagram says we should make our way back to normal conditions as soon as possible. The commentary cautions to not overdo triumph. The image is “The superior man pardons mistakes and forgives misdeeds.”

The danger has been of Trump’s attempt to establish himself as the leader of a movement that would dominate the country. This movement still has great strength, but it’s flowing quickly away. Attempts to punish members of the movement will only give it strength again. In particular, Mr. Trump should not be punished for any of his official deeds, though he shouldn’t have immunity in his business dealings.

Biden’s administration should focus on re-establishing both internal and external alliances. It should treat Trump supporters with respect, as part of the body politic with legitimate concerns, and use normal political processes to address those concerns.

The key word is “normal”. Even if the times are not normal, they are moving towards normal, and acting like they are normal times will hasten normalicy.

I Ching Evaluation: Should Chicago open slowly after Coronavirus?

I wrote my original post on May 31st and predicted a second wave of coronavirus infections. The infections now are 250% of the peak in the spring.

I’m seeing a leveling off of infections, with about 5.5% of people in Cook County having tested positive for Covid. Our family is in quarantine because one of my wife’s co-workers tested positive.

The only bright spot is that the mortality rate is only 1%, much lower than the 5% rate in the spring, and below the 10% rate that New York City experienced. As long as our health care system isn’t overwhelmed, we shouldn’t experience the 100,000 deaths in Cook County that my original post envisioned.

Grade A, but it’s a midterm grade.

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

On October 9th, my post with this title predicted that Biden would win the election but that there might be violence.

I was right that Biden would win, but wrong about violence. The election had high turnout and was one of the best conducted in years. There was violence through the summer associated with Black Lives Matters demonstrations, but no election violence.

What I missed was how the I Ching described both candidate’s strategies. I was looking for a yes-or-no answer, but the I Ching always describes process.

Trump’s strategy was to treat himself as a king and to treat the election as a rebellion. Violence was his implicit threat. He expressed it brilliantly in the first debate when he was asked to condemn white nationalists. He said, “Proud Boys, stand down but stand ready.” The Proud Boys are a white nationalist group. Trump was complying with the moderator’s demand to tell the white nationalists to “stand down” but he was also telling them to “stand ready” to be violent on his command. Trump was doing his level best to frighten voters; he frightened me enough that I predicted violence.

Biden had to find a way to promise people that the election wouldn’t be dominated by violence. He couldn’t simply promise; that would have frightened people even more, because the forces of violence were more in Trump’s control than in Biden’s control. Biden’s strategy was to pretend that this was an election like any other; that was the meaning of the Innocence hexagram. By pretending it was a normal election, Biden made it a normal election. In the end, the traditional rules applied; votes were counted by the state and Trump’s election challenges were extensively turned down by judges. The machinery continued to work.

Grade: B. I got the main result right, got the secondary result wrong and missed what the I Ching was saying about strategies.

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.