Archetype 33: Retreat

CR P02 C33 A01

After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.

—Acts 9:23–25

The Reading

This reading describes the early days of the career of Saul, better known to us as Paul. Saul has had a conversion experience. He has become transformed from a persecutor of the early Christians to one of their great evangelists. But in this reading, his forward momentum has been thwarted. The power of the darkness is upon him. The only way he can remain safe is to retreat.

The Hexagram

CR P02 C33 A02

The upper trigram is God, the attribute of which is Strength. The lower trigram is Stillness, the attribute of which is Resting. The pictogram represents a period of withdrawal and resting for gathering strength.

The Archetype

There is a time...

  • To recognize when the forces of darkness are gathering strength and advancing.
  • To withdraw into safety instead of being drawn into an exhausting struggle with darkness.
  • To maintain resistance while retreating, thus hindering evil’s ability to advance.
  • To understand the retreat not as a surrender, but as a preparation for a later advance.
  • To respond to adversaries not with hatred, which serves the purpose of evil, but with dignity and courage, which serves the purposes of God.

Now is that time.

Moving Lines

Moving Line in the First (Bottom) Position

A moving line in the bottom position indicates one who, while in retreat, is in immediate contact with the enemy. This is particularly dangerous, and nothing should be undertaken. More than ever, stillness must be embraced.

Moving Line in the Second Position

A moving line in the second position indicates a pursuer who holds tightly to the wise one who is in retreat. The pursuer cannot be shaken off. The wise one must remain strong, and in doing so will reach the goal.

Moving Line in the Third Position

A moving line in the third position counsels how to deal with the unpleasant and dangerous times when one’s retreat is held back. The best course is to create allies of those who are preventing the retreat. This is not ideal, because such allies are not trustworthy. But it is the best one can do under the circumstances.

Moving Line in the Fourth Position

A moving line in the fourth position describes the difference between a wise one and an inferior one in how they approach retreat. The wise one retreats voluntarily and without anger. Thus there is no conflict between actions and convictions. The inferior one retreats in anger and frustration, separated from the counsel of the wise.

Moving Line in the Fifth Position

A moving line in the fifth position counsels that the timing of retreat is critical. If the timing is right, the retreat will be carried out without violence or even acrimony. But even though the retreat is done in a positive manner, it still requires resolve. Without resolve, one can be distracted from what needs to be done.

Moving Line in the Sixth (Top) Position

A moving line in the top position suggests that the time is right. Wisdom has spoken. The wise one has listened. The time to depart is now, without doubt, without sorrow, and with clarity of vision.

Other interpretations of Archetype 33:

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