The Holy Place in the Middle- Hexagram 15. Humility 1


A goldfinch dances between branches of the lilac bush as the sun filters through the window in a ballet of moving shapes upon the hardwood floor. My heart twists through waves of grief, permeating the outer edges of limitation- of holding, desire, and resistance. On the other side I land in new soil emptied, open, and filled with a strange kind of peace.

Loss and grief are entrances to a landscape where all that is false falls away. From tumultuous descent, one is returned to the ground of being- down to earth- deconstructed into the raw elements which comprise the very soil/humus/earth of which we are made and from which we are nourished. Humility equalizes. What is full becomes empty, what is empty becomes full.

Limitation can be experienced as a result of being in a body/mortal/human, something outgrown, something which is not within one’s power to change, or from feelings of separation. Surrender moves us through the permeable membrane of limitation, opening to the vast expanse of the ground upon which it lays. Authenticity is born from the level ground of humility. This is our humanity- the humus/earth from which we all originate, are all connected, and are all equal.

The two trigrams which comprise hexagram 15 are the receptive earth over keeping still mountain. Instead of mountain appearing on top of the earth, in this hexagram mountain is curiously beneath the earth. Mountain represents the vertical axis along which the human experience moves from earth toward the heavens, and from the heavens back down to earth. Earth is the horizontal axis, the earth plane of existence which is our humanity.

I move outside to join goldfinch and lilac bush in the grass under the sun. The ancient, creature-like spine of mountains on the horizon before me contain memories of their previous home at the bottom of Salish Sea from which they emerged. I breathe in the solidity of mountain from beneath the earth into belly and spine as my breathing slows and deepens.

I notice acupuncture point ST-25 Heavenly Pivot located on the abdomen on either side of the navel at the center of the body. It is a point of the stomach meridian- part of the earth element. Being in the middle of the body, it is a place where heaven and earth intersect. This point can help one to meet life from a place of center around which one can pivot and orient to whatever life brings. Along this same horizontal axis lateral to ST-25 is SP-15 Great Horizon. This is a point on the spleen meridian- also a part of the earth element. Horizons are where earth and sky meet, providing a broad perspective pointing to the multitude of possibilities which are available if we are open and receptive (earth).

As I rise from the cool tender grass to stand, I notice acupuncture point BL-60 Kunlun Mountain located near the lateral ankle bone which is also shaped like a mountain. It is on the bladder meridian, part of the water element. Snow from mountain tops warmed by the sun become water, which finds its way down to nourish life on earth. Once it completes its destiny on earth, water becomes vapor, then rain or snow. There is a time to climb the mountain for a larger perspective, and a time to come down off the mountain to ground this new perspective in the world- to be worked into the soils of life.

Hexagram 15 points to the possibilities which become available when the vertical and horizontal (heaven and earth) come into proper relationship within and without. Yin/ earth/feminine is supported by mountain/yang /masculine. In this way, the vulnerability of being open and receptive like the earth is supported and strengthened by the solidity of the mountain underneath. Instead of reaching toward heaven, mountain reaches toward earth- humanity- pointing to the divine potential at the heart of the imperfections, ordinariness, and limitations of being human.


“To side with either of these two great realities- heaven and earth- is an error. Over time I came to appreciate that the middle place in which both realms are honored is not only the safest place, it is also the ecstatic place, the holy place. If one works faithfully and patiently at this task of balancing heaven and earth, eventually one may even realize something more remarkable: that the two worlds are in fact one.” 2


1 Wilhelm/Baynes use the word ‘Modesty’ for this hexagram, but I chose ‘Humility’ as translated by Thomas Cleary. Modesty denotes a more superficial downplaying of one’s accomplishments and achievements in order to be socially acceptable, but humility is a deep inward seeing and accepting of one’s limitations and humanity.

2 Robert Johnson, Balancing Heaven and Earth p xii









About the Author:  Monique Gaboury is a licensed acupuncturist, in Freeland, WA, specializing in Alchemical Acupuncture. She loves sharing her passion for natural healing at her clinic and through writing her blog ’Nourishing Change Through Connection’.

Juniper Medicine Alchemical Acupuncture serving the greater Seattle area on Whidbey Island. To schedule an appointment call 360-672-1506 or email


Notify of