Sitting at our home in Santa Fe in May, I had a big decision on my hands. Was this the time to up root, shake off that wondrous New Mexican earth, sell the place and move on?
That home and its land have been elemental in our lives – part of its story appears in my book On Sacred Mountains. A very dear friend in Santa Fe, Colleen Kelley, offered guidance around the decision. She offers I Ching divinations based on Stephen Karcher’s readings of that ancient Taoist text.
For an oracle, the reading was remarkably unambiguous. Here’s an opening line: ‘The Way of dwelling comes to an end. Turn away.’
For me, taking care of those 11.4 acres of land became my spiritual practice in what was a very challenging time – it was a deal, I cared for the land and it cared for me. The I Ching expressed this, opposing ‘the safety of the hearth against the dangers of wilderness, and the spirit world outside the boundaries’. Leaving that home, it advised, opened up the possibilities of ‘founding a noble house’ and becoming ‘a member of a noble family’. (My own take on this, inevitably, takes that in a literary context.)
So leaving that home was risky but inevitable, the process already underway. I enjoyed the language of Colleen’s divination. Leaving my refuge of companionable spirits I would meet with ‘the Hidden Lord of the Crooked Path’, a spirit energy that empowers one’s doing things outside the norm.
A fable came into the story, an ancient tale, which I have as yet to fully place in my own life though its purport is clear. A young man, whose father died, was sent to the mourning hut for three years. Omens appeared in the sky telling him it was time to renew. He ‘broke out of the prescribed grieving and set out to overthrow the tyrant and renew time’.
A fresh hexagram brought meaty language, like ‘biting through obstacles’ and ‘eating ancient virtues’. It was grand to have Colleen there to steer me through to understanding each time.
Just coming up with your I Ching question is a strong first step in the process. The divination process started from Colleen’s conjuring my question into fresh language. How does it then work.? Colleen writes: 'One approaches this "portable altar" with a question. It is in the process of inquiry and submitting the question to the 'Yi' that the "larger knowing" reveals itself in the ackonlwedgement of invisible forces operating along with invisible ones.' She calls what then follows 'an intimate conversation.'I took notes throughout, and found true encouragement in the fact that, while its message was unequivocal, the reading went far beyond any ‘yes / no’ decision. It homed in on the elemental nature of the question, and the mythic nature of its response took full account of the fact that life is a journey. Yes, it said, it’s time to up sticks and move on. But then it bothered to explain all the ways that this, scary though it is, is an advance and not a retreat.
Look down through my May 2007 entries and you can see why selling the land was such a big issue. It is a wondrous place to be. On my first morning back home in Santa Fe, my current ongoing novel kicked in. The place is extravagantly supportive of creativity. My stay was a time of loving and detaching. Set on an earthen street that we named, Madre de Dios, it’s now on the market.
I have my own copy of the I Ching, and have thrown my own hexagrams in my time. Colleen Kelley guided me into whole new depths of the experience. She is a fabulous artist, and also highly intuitive, her work based on a whole raft of traditional spiritual trainings and a long history of profound practice. She has trained and studied this system of delivering the I Ching with Stephen Karcher. Though we were sharing the same city, our consultation took place by telephone. Should you have a big question revolving around your life just now, I know of no finer way and less intrusive way of resolving it. Colleen Kelley’s professional work comes with my full-hearted recommendation. For details of costs and how to proceed, you can contact her by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.