Archetype 27: Nourishment

CR P02 C27 A01

As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.”

Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all.

And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish.

—Mark 6:34–43

The Reading

This reading describes the Feeding of the Five Thousand. This is the only miracle described in all four of the gospels. Jesus is offering the people two types of nourishment: spiritual and physical. His disciples are happy to offer spiritual nourishment (Jesus is, after all, doing all the work), but when it comes to offering physical nourishment, this sounds too much like real effort. We don’t have enough, they say. We can’t afford to feed them, they whine. Send them away to find their own food, they plead. Jesus replies emphatically, “You give them something to eat!” This reading is not denigrating spiritual nourishment. It is only pointing out that giving people spiritual food is not helpful if they are physically starving. Both spiritual food and physical food are necessary for people to thrive.

The Hexagram

CR P02 C27 A02

This hexagram is composed of Stillness above and Word below. When Stillness is stacked above Word, the resulting hexagram looks like an open mouth, with the solid upper and lower lines representing the lips.

The Archetype

There is a time...

  • To provide nourishment to others, both to their bodies and to their souls.
  • To choose carefully the people who are to be nourished. If one cares for those who will care for others, one’s care is magnified.
  • To offer only that which is truly nourishing and only as much as is really needed.
  • To remember that one can only nourish others if one also nourishes oneself.
  • To observe how people care for themselves and others and thus learn how to best nourish their inner nature.
  • To not confuse nourishment with indulgence.

Now is that time.

Moving Lines

Moving Line in the First (Bottom) Position

A moving line in the bottom position describes an independent person who has turned away from self-reliance and is now consumed by envy of those who have more material possessions. Others have no sympathy for such a person. Why should they?

Moving Line in the Second Position

A moving line in the second position describes one who is not willing to be self-reliant and instead accepts favors from those higher up. This creates a feeling of guilt, since self-reliance is integral to being human. This is a bad situation and must be ended.

Moving Line in the Third Position

A moving line in the third position describes one who craves nourishment but does not offer nourishment to others. This leads to a spiritual emptiness that one seeks to fill with material possessions and pleasure. But this is a vicious cycle. The goods and pleasure temporarily dull the pain but soon leave one even emptier. Now a larger fix of goods and pleasure must be sought. The only way to break this cycle is to turn back to God.

Moving Line in the Fourth Position

A moving line in the fourth position describes one who occupies a high place and is striving to do God’s work. This requires the right helpers, since the work that needs to be done is beyond the capacity of a single person. This person may be over-zealous, but at least the goals are worthwhile.

Moving Line in the Fifth Position

A moving line in the fifth position describes one who should be there to serve others but is incapable. This can be resolved by seeking counsel and help from one who, though grounded in Wisdom, seems from the outside unremarkable. This is not the time to try to reach for lofty goals, but instead to learn and gather.

Moving Line in the Sixth (Top) Position

A moving line in the top position describes one who is truly wise and able to help others. This is not an enviable position, since it carries such heavy responsibilities. But if the one is able to stay focused, the greatest goals will be achieved and many will benefit.

Other interpretations of Archetype 27:

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