In Search of the I Ching

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This from Gary Dickinson…

I am very pleased to see that Matthew Levi-Stevens article ‘Aleister Crowley & The Yi King’ is now being made more widely available. By curious co-incidence, my own Warp & Weft – In Search of the I Ching, written under the name ‘William de Fancourt’, has just been re-published by Capall Bann. Chapters 5 & 6 may also be of particular interest to Lashtalians.

At the time of Warp & Weft’s original publication in 1997, a plethora of new ‘translations’ of the I Ching were in circulation. Most devoted some space to the history of the Chinese classic, often using it to ‘authenticate’ dubious interpretations of the ancient text. The level of accuracy varied. At best this historical background was partial; at worst, misleading. Warp & Weft was an attempt to summarize for the non-specialist reader the best scholarly material then available.

Chapter 6 has a brief summary of Crowley’s Qabalistic approach to the I Ching, linking him with Canon McClatchie, a late 19th century translator of the text. McClatchie’s work, including his original attribution of the primary trigrams Qian & Kun to Lingam & Yoni, is discussed in some detail in Chapter 5. Ironically, Crowley may have been inspired by McClatchie through the vitriolic attacks on the Canon by James Legge in the notes to his own translation, from which we know Crowley worked.

Canon McClatchie links Crowley’s ‘Yi King’ directly to the18th century Jesuit ‘figurist’ interpretation of the Book of Changes aimed at converting China to Catholicism. Strange bedfellows but, as Crowley was once told ‘whatever one hears, however extraordinary, is true in China somewhere or other!’; or at least at some level.

Gary Dickinson

Warp & Weft
In Search of the I-Ching
William de Fancourt
Capall Bann Publishing
ISBN 1 86163 011 9

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