The Wedding (Anon)
Nothing went right. The groom wasn't who I thought or wanted it to be. My
bridesmaids were my cousins and the groomsmen was my ex boyfriend of two years,
and all of his friends. They were all sitting among the pews with the family
instead of up at the altar where they were supposed to be. My girlfriend was
wearing a wedding dress too. I hated my hair but loved hers. I couldn't walk
down the aisle because everybody else was. I was just really frustrated. I
dreamed this twice. The first time I was up at the altar the groom and I blew
out some candles at the altar, and
in the second dream, just himself blew out the candles.
Your wedding is supposed to be 'your big day': you look your best, you are
'radiant' and the centre of attention. You are united not just with a man but
with a whole new way of living - before women had the option of living
independently, marriage meant graduating to adulthood. So when you dream that
your wedding day goes completely wrong, this reflects basic discord within you,
and probably with your present way of life.
I asked the I Ching what was going on in this dream, and it replied with
Hexagram 23, Stripping Away, moving to Hexagram 35, Prospering. The second
hexagram represents the broader context - I think it accounts for the wedding
imagery; the first one, Stripping Away, explains what happens to the wedding.
'Prospering, Lord Kang is given a gift of horses, uses them to increase the
herd. He mates them three times a day.' The horses were a sign that Kang was in
favour with the ruler - it was definitely his day. And rather than simply
sitting on the gift, he made it fertile and multiplied it. This is like a
strong, earthy version of the parable of the talents: when you have God-given
gifts, go out and use them, and they will grow. It may be hard work
('Difficulty' is the nuclear hexagram at the heart of Prospering), but it will
The word for 'mating' also suggests 'receiving and reflecting onward': Kang
was receiving the full light of good fortune, and he multiplied it and passed it
on. Hexagram 35 shows the sun rising over the earth, and the growing plants
responding to its light. This is what weddings are supposed to be about: full of
vigour, advancing triumphantly into the light, positively shining with good
fortune. Everything about this hexagram is brightness: it is 'daylight indeed',
and the ideal person 'radiates her own natural light, clear bright virtue.'
('Virtue', by the way, doesn't mean 'being good' so much as 'being what you
personally are meant to be'.)
All this is near enough the opposite of what happened in the dream. Instead of
shining, you find yourself outshone and sidelined - and in the end, instead of
reflecting light onward, you are blowing the candles out. What has happened?
Like you say, 'nothing goes right' in the dream - but surely the biggest problem
is that you're marrying the wrong man! In a way, it's just as well that
everything else goes wrong after that...
You are in the process of Stripping Away: things that no longer belong in
your life are being cleared out to make space for something new. This can be an
acutely painful process, as people, things and ideas that you have been attached
to are cut away - the I Ching represents it as being skinned. Before the process
of transformation can begin, you need to understand that it is no longer the
time to concentrate on appearances: the time for Stripping Away comes when
Adorning (Hexagram 22) is exhausted. You are dressed like a successful bride in
the dream - but it's no use, your friend is, too (and her hair is better!). The
dress can't make the wedding happen. As pretence and illusion are peeled away,
the real you is exposed.
It is not the time for a purposeful advance to the altar: you are obliged simply
to let things happen. As you felt in the dream, being so unexpectedly and
completely disempowered can be very frustrating. In the I Ching, this hexagram
is the opposite of 'Deciding', an active process of driving out what does not
belong. At a time of Stripping Away, there may be many layers of old,
inessential things to be removed, and all you can do is let them go. Dreaming of
a failed wedding is part of this process of separation. 'The ideal person
honours the dissolving pause, filling and emptiness. Heaven acts.' Allow time
and space, and what is right for you will return. But first leave the wedding:
don't try to be united with a past that's wrong for you. Blowing out the candles
that illuminate the altar is the best thing you can do - you need a change of
At heart, this situation is about becoming fertile ground for new growth, like
the open, nourishing earth. You can't know yet what will grow in the new space,
but you can make sure that it is clear and prepared before you try to begin to
build again. The earth is humble, easy to overlook, but it is also the
foundation for life - this hexagram shows how mountains rest on it. 'Generosity
from above creates peaceful dwellings below.' Now is the time to give your
attention generously to your own foundations, creating a sense of peace.
The imagery of the one moving line of your answer indicates that the process
of Stripping Away has reached the critical, painful point. 'Stripping away the
bed, at the flesh. Misfortune. Cutting close to disaster.' Your 'bed' is gone -
the ideas and expectations you rest on, your sense of security, has all been cut
away. Now the knife cuts into you, your confidence and identity, separating you
from them right at the altar. It comes perilously close to cutting into some
vital part of the psyche. The 'bed' here also suggests dreaming - how it can
strip away the comfort of sleep and cut 'close to the bone'.
Stripping Away marks the beginning of an essential transformation - and so, I
think, does this dream. Once you've gone through with this process, and you are
freed from the old ideas and attachments, the bright light, vitality and gifts
of Prospering can become a reality for you.
The I Ching has deep connections with Carl Jung. Many of the translations of the
I Ching available in European languages today are usually reinterpretations of
Richard Wilhelm's 1923 German translation and the later 1950 English
translation. Jung wrote the forward to Wilhelm's book and has stated there and
elsewhere that he was aware of and had used the divining side of the I Ching
prior to 1923. The question is, how deeply was Jung's development of his
theories influenced by these works?
See Wilhelm, Richard (1931/1962). The Secret of the Golden Flower, A
Chinese Book of Life. Commentary by C.G. Jung.
The I Ching is the ancient Chinese oracle of change. For a hundred
generations, it has been answering people's questions, from dream interpretation
to career decisions, across the whole spectrum of human experience. I have been
learning from the I Ching for many years, and founded Clarity, a dedicated I
Ching consultation service, to make the oracle's help readily and simply
available to all who need it.
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