Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Dancing like Elephants

This weekend my Sweetheart and I went for a walk along the River Wandle, to Merton Abbey Mills. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful walk.

When we got to the Mills, there was a hot five-piece band playing on the bandstand. They were good enough that people were dancing. Toddlers were bopping around. A woman shimmied across the square to the café. A father jiggled a pushchair in time to the rhythm. A young man – a terrific dancer – boogied with uninhibited enthusiasm, cranking up the volume of the smiles on everyone’s faces.

This phenomenon, of something moving people in an easy and pleasurable way, is described in Hexagram 16, YŰ. The character YU is formed with the image of an elephant, standing on its rear legs, on the right. On the left is an ideograph showing two hands, with something between them; it is an image of giving and receiving, of passing back and forth. Taken together, it’s a dancing elephant! It’s heavy and solid, but at the same time light and active.

This is a happy hexagram. YU means happy, easy movement – joyful, lighthearted enthusiasm. It can also mean pleasure, to be at ease.

Wilhelm translates Yu as Enthusiasm, Huang as Delight; Wu as Easy Movement, Pleasure.

The hexagram is formed of Thunder over Earth. Earth is stable and strong, but it can get too stable – heavy and stagnant. It’s the archetypal feminine, fertile and receptive and responsive, but it can also manifest as weakness and servility. Thunder, on the other hand, is always about activity: something bursting out, opening, releasing.

Here, the active, stimulating power of Thunder is awakening the Earth. It’s like Spring, when life bursts out of hibernation and rediscovers the joy of movement. The hexagram contains references to music and sacred dance; there is surrender internally, and expansive power externally. It’s about enjoying your own Earth, which is your life.

In the context of business or government, this is a hexagram of motivation – someone who can lead through inspiration, sweeping people up into his or her enthusiasm. The lines warn against short-term joy, getting excited and flaring brightly, but not being able to sustain it…or of falling into smugness and self-satisfaction. There’s an implication that such pleasure is fleeting.

But this weekend at Merton Abbey Mills, no one seemed to be concerned. They were just frolicking like elephants to jazz on a Summer’s day…

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