Archetype 22: Elegance

CR P02 C22 A01

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”...When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

—Matthew 2:1–11

The Reading

This reading describes the birth of Jesus using a number of rich metaphors. There are wise ones coming from far-off lands to meet a newly born king. There is a star rising, as it seems, from the secret depths of the earth and illuminating and beautifying the earth. And there are three gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh) associated with divinity (e.g., 1 Kings 6:22), lovers (e.g., Song of Solomon 5:13), and priests (e.g., Leviticus 2:15). These gifts are made in homage to the baby who will eventually reunite the human race with God.

The Hexagram

CR P02 C22 A02

The lower trigram is Christ, whose image is Fire. The upper trigram is Stillness, whose image is Mountain. Thus we have Fire lighting up the Mountain with its shining presence.

The Archetype

There is a time...

  • To appreciate the graceful beauty that ornaments something of importance.
  • To recognize the limitations of ornamentation.
  • To remember that the ornamentation is ultimately not what is important.
  • To realize that ornamentation used indiscriminately loses its value.
  • To recognize that while the ornamentation adds beauty, it cannot resolve important questions.
  • To gain Wisdom by observing the forms existing in nature.
  • To not be distracted by ornaments when deciding important matters.

Now is that time.

Moving Lines

Moving Line in the First (Bottom) Position

A moving line in the bottom position describes a subordinate who needs to advance. There may be sleazy opportunities offered for advancement, but this is not the path of Wisdom. It is best to advance with humility and honesty.

Moving Line in the Second Position

A moving line in the second position advises us not to confuse form and function. The contents of the book are what give it value, not its fancy cover. It is vain to focus on ornaments at the expense of content.

Moving Line in the Third Position

A moving line in the third position cautions us that we may be falling under the intoxicating spell of ornament. Ornaments can make things beautiful, but ornaments can also weigh things down. Now is not the time to fall into frivolity, but to remain constant in perseverance.

Moving Line in the Fourth Position

 A moving line in the fourth position points to one who is struggling with a choice between ornamentation and simplicity. The answer is already known. Confirmation from the outside points to simplicity. Renouncing the comfortable life is difficult. But in the end, the choice of simplicity will enable a deep and satisfying friendship.

Moving Line in the Fifth Position

A moving line in the fifth position suggests one who withdraws from those who value superficiality and instead seeks solitude. In the process, one finds another whose friendship is tempting. One feels that the gifts one has to offer are unworthy. This line reminds us that we have something even more valuable to offer: the depth of our being.

Moving Line in the Sixth (Top) Position

A moving line in the top position describes the highest stage of development, at which time ornamentation is no longer needed. A thing of value can now be fully revealed and the simplicity of its form made manifest.

Other interpretations of Archetype 22:

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