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Yijing Method Explained

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick,alt.divination,alt.lucky.w,alt.philosophy.taoism
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Re: Yijing Method Explained
Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2003 22:00:14 GMT

The Natural Philosopher wrote:
> catherine yronwode wrote:
> > xiwangmu wrote:
> >
> > > for example, you may have a question about the future of a
> > > particular cast resin figure of Hello Kitty that you are
> > > trying to decide whether to give to your nephew or to hold
> > > onto for a future use. you can derive a hexagram composed
> > > of the letters of the words "Hello Kitty" or "resin cat"
> > > and also one for today's date and see what the eddies of
> > > the universe portend as the best decision at this point
> > > in time.
> >
> > Maneki Neko, this i know, for Sanrio tells me so, 
> > is the cat who beckons me, Hello Kitty on tv! 
> > Yes! Maneki Neko! Yes! Maneki Neko!
> > Yes! Maneki Neko! Sanrio tells me so!
> Is this Cat-erwauling really productive?

Well, actually, that depends on your interest in Asian religio-magical
traditions, i think. 

Since siva (xiwangmu) is my husband, i happen to know exactly the
"resin cat" statute to which he was referring, since i was with him
when he bought it. It is not actually a statue of the Sanrio cartoon
character Hello Kitty, although he called it that in jest. It is a
statue of Maneki Neko, the Japanese Beckoning Cat.

Many people recognize the Sanrio anime Hello Kitty, but not as many
(especially not Americans and Europeans who lack experience with Asian
cultures) know that the name Hello Kitty is a hyper-literal
translation of Maneki Neko -- a Japanese phrase also translated as
Welcoming Cat, Beckoning Cat, and (far too loosely; not really a
translation but a description) Lucky Cat and Fortune Kitty. 

Maneki Neko was a female calico cat who, in the 17th century, was in
part responsible for the spread of Buddhism into the upper classes in
Japan. Her tomb is located at her former home, a Buddhist temple
outside of Tokyo. A large statue of her, with her paw held up in the
welcoming position, stands over her grave, a popular site for
pilgrimages. You can read about her role in the dissemination of
Buddhism in Japan at this web page:

Because of this cat's sanctity and role in Buddhist religious legend,
you can get a good cultural handle on the Sanrio Hello Kitty anime
character if you think of her as the Japanese cultural equivalent to
Santa Claus: 

In each case there was a real being (the Bishop Nicholas, the calico
cat) with a strong connection to a developing minority religion
(Christianity, Buddhism). 

The being, while alive, was known for his or her monetary helpfulness
to those in need (the Bishop gave the poor girls a dowry, the cat drew
wealthy Lord Li to the poor Buddhist temple). 

After death, the being became an icon of material generosity,
underwent a name-change (Saint Nicholas, Maneki Neko), and acquired an
iconographic emblem of prosperity (Saint Nicholas is depicted with a
bag of gifts, Maneki Neko is depicted with a large gold coin at her

In each case, folk magic and folk religion customs then became
associated with the entity (the performance of Saint Nicholas plays in
the Europe, pilgrimages to the grave of Maneki Neko in Japan). 

By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, images of the entities
became popular home and shop decor motifs (Old Saint Nick as a sales
device in December, Maneki Neko as a sales device in Japanese shops,
especially restaurants). 

Then, in the mid to late 20th century, each of these religio-magical
icons evolved into a highly merchandised cartoon form, as a short,
round, cute, roly-poly character associated with gifts, money, joy,
and prosperity (Santa Claus, Hello Kitty). 

Just as any intelligent European or Euro-American person can see the
Christian Saint Nicholas beneath the cartooney Santa Claus, so can any
intelligent Japanese person see the Buddhist Maneki Neko beneath the
Hello Kitty anime image. The little song fragment i posted (a spoof of
the Christian hymn "Jesus Loves Me") was my homage to the Buddhist
under-stratum beneath Hello Kitty.  

The influence of Maneki Neko has spread far beyond her native Japan.
Most notably, the indigenous Thai Animism rice-and-prosperity goddess
Nang Kwak (whose worship  predates the life of Maneki Neko) has, over
time, undergone a shift in imagery so that, whereas Nang Kwak always
used to be shown as a beautiful kneeling woman with a sheaf of rice
over her shoulder, she is now more often depicted with her hand up in
the Maneki Neko pose and a bag of money in her lap. 

I have in my collection several statuettes of the contemporary
Buddhist form of Nang Kwak in which she actually has been given a
cat's tail, linking her even more firmly to the Buddhist Maneki Neko.
You can see one such  statuette -- a reproduction of a brass
gold-weight -- in which Nang Kwak has become a "cat-woman," tail and
all (and in which Nang Kwak also has been given a penis glans for a
hat -- an iconographic reference to the incorporation of an earlier
level of Hindu Shaivism into Thai Buddhism) at my page on Thai penis amulets:

You asked, "Is this Cat-erwauling really productive?" I think it is,
in that it demonstrates how CONNECTED everything is. 

This CONNECTIVITY is the basis of much Jungian-derived synchronicity
theory with respect to religious experience and divination, most
particularly with respect to how Westerners approach the Yijing. 

Siva was describing a divination method using bibliomancy (divination
by book) in which the Yijing (I Ching, Yi King, whatever) itself was
used to determine the lines that were to be selected for a divination.
He also described a form of Jewish-influenced Gematria in which the
letters that form the words that describe an object could be
manipulated into numbers to select what hexagram to read in order to
determine what to do with that object. 

His choice of a sample object to use while describing this
Gematria-influenced method -- a resin statue of Maneki Neko, which he
chose to call Hello Kitty, as a joke -- led me to create a Christian
hymn parody, and to refer to the Buddhist origins that undergird the
reverence and affection for this cat in Asia. 

Your query prompted me to describe the cat, to bring in a Catholic
saint as further reference, and then to describe the indigenous Thai
Animist religion and the modifications made to it by admixtures of
Hindu Shaivism and Buddhism.

Since the Yijing contains layers of commentary supporting a variety of
religious perspectives, including Chinese Animism, Taoism, and
Confucianism, this brief series of four posts has so far touched on
the following religious, magical, philosophical, and cultural traditions:

     Chinese Animism (Yijing)
     Taoism (Yijing)
     Confucianism (Yijing) 
     Judaism (Gematria)
     Christianity (Jesus, Saint Nicholas)
     Thai Animism (Nang Kwak)
     Hindu Shaivism (Penis Amulets)
     Buddhism (Maneki Neko, Nang Kwak, Penis Amulets)
     Jungian Psychology (Synchronicity) 
     Folk Religions (Saint Nicholas plays, Maneki Neko pilgrimages)
     20th century mercantilism on tv (Hello Kitty, Santa Claus)
It's a short road from animism to anime -- and don't you forget it! 

cat yronwode 

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