Archetype 3: Hard Beginning

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Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.

—Luke 4:1–2

The Reading

This reading describes Jesus at the end of his forty days in the desert. Forty is a mystical number in the Bible. It is used to signify a period of hardship and testing resulting in new birth. Forty is the number of days and nights it rained during the Great Flood before the earth was reborn. Forty is the number of years the Israelites wandered through the desert before being reborn as the Nation of God. Forty is the number of days Moses fasted before returning with the Ten Commandments.

Forty captures the tension between what was and what is about to be. Something is about to die, and something, if it is able to surmount the difficulty, is about to be born. It is the moment the blade of grass pushes against a rock, struggling to spring forth onto the earth. It is the moment the newly formed bird beats against the eggshell, straining to be hatched. It is the moment the caterpillar pushes against the cocoon, struggling to emerge as a butterfly.

The Hexagram

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The hexagram consists of the Word trigram below and the Chaos trigram above. The image of Word is Thunder, with an upward energy flow. The image of Chaos is Water, with a downward energy flow. Thus the energies of the two trigrams are in opposition to each other. Thunder and water fill the air. It is a frightening time. But eventually the rain ends, and new growth emerges from the parched earth.

The Archetype

There is a time...

  • To recognize that the darkness and chaos before birth is a difficult time, and even more difficult because something great is struggling to be born.
  • To remember that nothing can be born before its time. If the chick emerges before its struggle is complete, it will not have the strength to survive.
  • To seek support from those who are wise in the ways of birth.
  • To actively participate in the birth process.
  • To take the time to sort through the chaos; to arrange and organize; and to separate and unite.

Now is that time.

Moving Lines

Moving Line in the First (Bottom) Position

A moving line in the bottom position reminds of the danger of prematurely pushing past that which blocks birth. This does not mean giving up. It does mean taking the time to pause, reflect, and regroup. Good helpers are needed. Finding such helpers requires humility. With the right help, the blockages can be overcome.

Moving Line in the Second Position

A moving line in the second position gives hope. In the midst of difficulties and blockages, one appears who seems to offer an irresistible solution to all our problems. Although this seems too good to be true, the offer is genuine. That does not mean, however, that the offer should be accepted, at least at this time. The line cautions that obligations we take on could later cause new problems. There is no rush; patience is called for. Time needs to work its course. Eventually the chaos will dissipate and the goals will be achievable.

Moving Line in the Third Position

A moving line in the third position cautions that when wandering in a strange place without a guide, it is easy to get lost. The wise one closely observes the present to know how the future will unfold. Sometimes one must step aside from one’s goals rather than risk failure by relentlessly and forcefully pursuing them before the time is right.

Moving Line in the Fourth Position

A moving line in the fourth position suggests that it is our duty to act even though we lack sufficient power. We can use this opportunity to make connections. This is not the time for either Ego or false humility. Wisdom will show when it is time to take the first step, even when that step requires letting go of things. Finding the right helper will make everything much easier.

Moving Line in the Fifth Position

A moving line in the fifth position warns that this is not the time to try to express our intentions. In these conditions, our intentions will be distorted and misunderstood. We are warned to be cautious, methodical, and unobtrusive. This is not the time to force our agenda. We are to use this time for faithful and methodical work carried out unobtrusively. This work will build trust and confidence over time, and once this happens, the obstructions will disappear.

Moving Line in the Sixth (Top) Position

A moving line in the top position encourages us not to give up. Some are not strong enough to face the difficulties at the beginning of a project. They get hopelessly stuck and give up. This is unfortunate, because they will not realize their goals.

Other interpretations of Archetype 3:

Internal Links:

  • Return to the Hexagram Index Table [click here].
  • Return to Consulting the Christian I Ching [click here].
  • Purchase a printed copy of Wisdom's Way; The Christian I Ching [click here].
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Reproduced with permission from Wisdom's Way; The Christian I Ching copyright (c) 2015 Roger Sessions.