Stephen Karcher, Ph.D.
Jung once called us modern man in search of a soul. He maintained that the background to our search is what he called a cultural kairos, a critical moment, a time when things fall apart and the web of fate opens. A shot must be made through this critical opening, Jung said, or we may perish beneath the weight of our own technologies. But this kind of inner soul-making is more than dealing with our personal problems. It turns us away from the prisons of logical thought to the underworld of the psychic image, the living units of the unconscious psyche that are the architects of dreams and symptoms. It opens a place where deep feminine powers can work with the dark river of our pain and sorrow to find our hidden sickness and clear the stream of painful memories. Mothering Change can help us enter this deep place of psychic healing and emerge as true individuals.
This book is the product of a creative collaboration with Julie Chase-Daniel, the director of In the Family Way. It began about a year ago when she contacted me about creating a version of my work with the Classic of Change that could serve the needs and goals of her community. Her creative insights into the birth and parenting process as the emergence into the body of the feminine, the process of being midwife to our creative identity as a connection with the ongoing process of the real, have shaped the book.
Mothering Change is a way of using Change that draws you into conversation with the timeless voices of mother and father in order to embrace personal and family problems as real rites of passage. It is rooted in the principle that when families thrive, communities flourish. It helps us to embrace the flux and fluidity of life not as heroes, but as midwives patiently tending to life as it emerges in the self, family, community and world. By imagining the symbols of Change as ancestral mothers and fathers and spirit helpers, this version of Change emphasizes our capacity to become childlike, open to wonder, discovery and love. It points the way toward becoming parents first to ourselves by harmonizing the feminine and masculine energy that dwells within us all, nurturing rather than directing this mutual process of becoming. In a world weary of approaching change through heroic striving, Mothering Change offers a way to change the way we change, connecting us to the family of the earth that holds us all.
Stephen Karcher, Ph.D.
Ojai , California
Once, as a little girl, I found my grandmother weeping in her coat closet. I never learned the reason for her tears, but I’ve always remembered how she cried out “sometimes I feel like a motherless child” when I wrapped my arms around her waist. With the song in mind, I started setting out an old Jerusalem Bible every night so we could kneel and pray together before bed. It was all I could think to do, although the passages were unfamiliar to me, and my grandmother’s faith had been shaken years before with the death of her young son. I liked kneeling beside her though, and marveled at how space and time seemed to breathe all around us. With all my heart, I prayed that she could feel her mother draw near in those moments, as near as she was to me.
My mother introduced me to the I Ching when I was fifteen, not so long after the nightly prayers I shared with my grandmother, and it has been an ongoing relationship ever since. When Stephen Karcher’s How to Use the I Ching appeared, it quickly became a favorite, only taking second place with the publication of Total I Ching. Stephen teaches that we encounter the I Ching as more of a conversation than a text, as an experience of our beloved parents drawing near rather than an army gathering to protect us. I find in it the conversation he describes, one that is as loving as it is demanding, one that never fails to draw out my best even when I am reluctant to hear the truths it offers. It is the just right conversation that can raise a new song in our hearts.
My life changed dramatically when my grandmother fell ill and I returned to New Mexico as a young adult to care for her until her death. It was this first experience of serving one of life’s most important passages that eventually led to becoming a birth attendant, establishing In the Family Way, and focusing on the transformative capacity of I Ching divination in my doctoral work at California Institute of Integral Studies.
Stephen’s interest in developing customized versions of his translations to serve the goals of diverse organizations opened a natural meeting ground with In the Family Way. His dedication to bringing forth the deep feminine powers within the I Ching resonates with my own passion for engaging the creative feminine in our approach to the process of change. Stephen graciously worked with me to shape his writings into a text that I hope is successful in honoring the integrity of his work with the I Ching and adapting it to serve individuals who wish to cultivate creative, compassionate engagement with transformative change in family life.
Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, In the Family Way is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive by fostering creativity and compassion during family transitions. We work quietly through a limited number of events, publications and programs to honor the ordinary transitions of family life as sacred rites of passage that serve the continuous and mutual unfolding of self, family, and community. It is a privilege to count Mothering Change among the projects of In the Family Way. We offer it as an approach to change in the way of the family, a way of change that cultivates our virtue and belonging among the family of the earth, a way that will never leave us feeling like a motherless child. For more information about In the Family Way, and to consult Mothering Change online, visit www.inthefamilyway.org.
Stephen’s favorite motto is “one yin, one yang, that’s Dao,” and the essence of his teaching is simple: Trust the Oracle. His translation of The Great Treatise offers this commentary on the I Ching, or Change as he calls it:
How things transform and the shapes they take
exist in the transforming lines.
The forces that set these things in motion
exist in the continuing lines.
The light of the spirits exists in the people
who set out Change and the Change they used,
silently completing the Way of Heaven.
It is an unspoken trust that carries and supports us
as we strive for the power and virtue
to become who we are meant to be.
Not surprisingly, the development of I Ching: Mothering Change transformed from a project for In the Family Way into a simultaneous experience of ‘becoming who I am meant to be.’ I am grateful to Stephen for his belief in me, his close mentorship in the art of divination and skill of scholarship, and the significant contribution of his work to In the Family Way. It is my great hope in presenting Mothering Change, to serve Change well, to play some small part in setting it out so that its powerful presence can be easily felt and enjoyed in new ways by all people seeking a connection to the light of the spirits.
Santa Fe, NM