Floods, I Ching and the Return of the Isle of Glastonbury
|Port Meadow, Oxford this morning. The water level is still rising.|
First rain and snow, then floods. The old gods.
Thousands of years ago, we’d have thrown iron into the water to propitiate them, or maybe sacrificed a white bull.
Today we gaze at screens. There’s awe but surely it’s not the same. We have insurance claims to think of and planes to catch.
We’ve had a lot of extreme weather in the last decade – and much of it has been a reminder of the fierce power of water on our blue planet – Katrina, the tsunami, Fukushima.
This country has old and accurate records of weather going back to the 17th century. But the Met Office only compares from 1914 onward. According to them the wettest years in the last 100 are.
Here in Oxford, the Met record began in 1853 — Neptune was in Pisces back then too, of course. In January 1853, there were 62.8mm of rain recorded here; this past December we’ve had 112mm or so. And it just keeps on coming.
You could argue that this year was bound to be wet, with Jupiter, the planet of expansion, in watery Cancer, and currently retrograde, Neptune the god of the sea in his home sign of Pisces, and Saturn, the god of retribution, in Scorpio the third water sign. The North Node is there too, of course, and Lilith, she of the wilderness, is also in Cancer.
But if you check the ephemeris for all these years, it’s hard to link up anything astrologically. You can probably imagine a whole array of watery combinations that might bring floods. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. In 2000, which was sopping, none of the outer planets were in a water sign, nor were Lilith or either Node.
|Nebamun fowling in the marshes. The High Dam|
at Aswan has done away with this sport.
Not so long ago the wild was oceans, forests, deserts, mountains — and marsh. The marshes are almost gone, but looking out at Port Meadow, which lies on the edge of Oxford, one of the last pieces of common ground left in England, I couldn’t help wondering if marsh could make a comeback. That would make Ely and Glastonbury islands again. Holland would be Swampland. There’s a thought.
But it’s not just in Europe that marshes have disappeared. According to the WWF, half of the world’s wetlands have vanished since 1900. The recent typhoon in the Phillipines wrought such havoc partly because so much of the coastal wetlands in that archipelago have gone in the last 30 years, so there was nowhere to soak up that water.
The Chinese Book of Changes, the I Ching, uses combinations of eight trigrams to answer any question you choose to pose it. These trigrams describe, among other things, the ancient Chinese view of the division of the known world.
They are often translated thus
Marsh or Lake
As soon as you start playing with esoteric systems, it’s hard not to start matching them with astrology. With eight trigrams, you can see that you might be able to attribute a particular planet to a trigram, say thus:
Sun, Moon and Earth are actually attributed to these trigrams within the I Ching. The rest are up for debate. Click here to read an excellent attempt to match I Ching to Western Esotericism. Personally, I find the I Ching too rigid and Saturnian to be relevant – all that talk of princes and submissive spouses. I wonder what would happen though if one recast the system in the light of modern astrology.
Ooo that would make the purists cross!
|The Thames at Wolvercote on Christmas Day.|