Archetype 12: Despair

CR P02 C12 A01

Then he [Jesus] said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping.

—Matthew 26:38–41

The Reading

This reading describes Jesus at his darkest moment. He knows he is about to die a horrible death. He has no idea if the seeds he has sown have fallen on fertile or barren ground. His closest disciples have shown over and over again how little they understand of his message. Very soon, it will fall on their shoulders to carry on his work, yet he can’t even trust them to stay awake and keep him company in his hour of despair.

The Hexagram

CR P02 C12 A02

This hexagram has the same trigrams as the previous hexagram (Peace), but now the trigrams are reversed. The energy of God is upward, and that of Wisdom is downward. Whereas before their energy was directed toward each other, thus reinforcing each other, now their energy is pulling away from each other, and a great emptiness is left in between.

The Archetype

There is a time...

  • To exist in a dark night of the soul, a time when it seems even God has deserted us.
  • To feel abandoned, empty, and desolate.
  • To understand that in times of darkness and confusion people are unable to hear Wisdom.
  • To disengage from the darkness and build the light within.
  • To realize that the weak and the harsh are now coming to power and to resist both their influences and temptations.

Now is that time.

Moving Lines

Moving Line in the First (Bottom) Position

A moving line in the bottom position counsels that when it is impossible to make one’s influence count, the best thing to do is to simply withdraw. Others may follow. God is with those who hold true to their spiritual core.

Moving Line in the Second Position

A moving line in the second position describes the way to deal with gridlock. Lesser people adjust by attempting to flatter and endure those in power. The wise one does not act this way. The wise one withdraws from the riffraff and is willing to suffer to remain true to principles.

Moving Line in the Third Position

A moving line in the third position describes those who have risen to power despite ineptitude. Eventually they will recognize their inadequacy. Humiliation tames Ego. Once Ego has been brought under control, improvement can begin.

Moving Line in the Fourth Position

A moving line in the fourth position is auspicious. The time of gridlock is coming to an end, and positive progress is once again possible. What is needed now is a leader who is inspired by God rather than inspired by Ego. God’s inspiration will lead to order, whereas Ego’s inspiration can only lead to further disorder.

Moving Line in the Fifth Position

A moving line in the fifth position announces that the chosen one has arrived. The possibility of restoring order exists. But periods of transition are precarious, and success requires great caution. Caution is appropriate; failure would be terrible. There are still many risks, each of which requires a contingency.

Moving Line in the Sixth (Top) Position

A moving line in the top position reassures us that the period of gridlock does not last forever. But it also tells us that it will not end by itself. A wise one is needed to bring it to an end, and ongoing effort is required to bring about peace. But through creativity and Wisdom, the negative energy can be reversed, and despair can be transformed into peace.

Other interpretations of Archetype 12:

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Reproduced with permission from Wisdom's Way; The Christian I Ching copyright (c) 2015 Roger Sessions.