Thank you for signing up for This Time with Tea, which will take place on July 25, 002020, 3-4:30 p.m. EDT.  This Time with Tea is Tea #8 of smudge studio's ongoing project Koans for the Anthropocene: Tea in the Dark.

We have created this micro-production in response to the Summer Tea in Prospect Park 2020's call to consider the vital nature of tea. 

We look forward to making and sharing tea while building an I Ching hexagram together with you. These two activities will be our interconnected vehicles for seeking clarity during times of great uncertainty. We will use tea and the I Ching to encounter and creatively respond to our experiences of tea's vital nature.

Making, sharing, and drinking a cup of tea is a transformational process. 

It occurs only once. Each tea time is alive with its own unique difference and unrepeatability. Each sip of tea is the manifestation of singular materials, circumstances, and energies that are co-created and exchanged among its participants. This is the vital nature of tea.

 

To begin our process of designing This Time with Tea, we threw the I Ching coins and received hexagram #45: Composure/Gathering Together:

"Composure is everything gathered together. Opening and delight, yielding and devoted as a river, you abide centered as a steely mountain in cloud. In this you concur with all things, abide in everything gathered together. See everything gathered together with a heron's-eye gaze, and you see into the very nature of heaven and earth and the ten thousand things themselves." — translation, David Hinton

We decided to frame This Time with Tea as an occasion for composing ourselves. Even in the midst of the many uncertainties of the Anthropocene and COVID-19, it is possible to gather our senses and thoughts through drinking a cup of tea with others.

While sipping tea, we will co-create a group hexagram with the intention of further clarifying how we, as individuals and in our social groups, might "concur with all things, abide in everything gathered together." We will consult David Hinton's translation of the I Ching as we interpret our co-created hexagram in light of our theme: "Composure/Gathering Together." 

To prepare for This Time with Tea, please:

- Ready your physical space for enjoying tea (gather tea utensils, tea, and water enough for two steepings). We look forward to learning more about the tea you choose for this occasion.

- Have three coins on hand (copper or bronze preferred). Each participant will throw three coins to create one of the six lines that will compose our collective hexagram. If you happen to have coins with holes in the center, these are traditionally used.

- Arrive at the Zoom with a deliberate intention to explore the concepts of "Composure" and "Gathering Together" from within the many uncertainties resulting from the Anthropocene and COVID-19.

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The I Ching + This Time with Tea 

Tea preparation and tasting gathers together earthenware utensils, water, fire, tea leaves, time, iron kettles. Each of these elements of tea practice, and their co-minglings, are material embodiments of transformation itself.  For 3000+ years, the I Ching has invited humans to actively engage change.

We will not approach the I Ching as a form of divination. Rather, with David Hinton (I Ching: The Book of Change), we will practice it as a medium for reintegrating ourselves into the generative, unfolding tissue of existence. The I Ching can help us do this because, as Hinton tells us, it teases "the mind outside workaday assumptions and linguistic structures, outside the limitations of identity."

The I Ching (The Book of Change) dates to around 1000 B.C. For us, the texts and images of the I Ching are poetic reminders—voices from an ancient consciousness. They are signals of humanity’s evolved abilities and desires to live through change in ways that are interconnected with all things, and move in accord with cosmic principles.

Six times, we will throw three coins during This Time with TeaEach person's throw will generate one line of our group's hexagram. The I Ching's hexagrams are composed of two trigrams. The trigrams diagram the movements of yin (dark, formlessness) and yang (light, form), as they arise and fall away through the seasons, elements, and even through the human body.

After each throw of the coins, the combination of heads and tails determines whether the line is a yin line or a yang line.
Yin states appear as broken lines -- in a trigram. Yang states appear as  solid lines. But these states are far from fixed or solid. Each yang state is already in the midst of dissipating back into formlessness, each yin is already on its way to generating a new configuration of elements and circumstances.

In the days following our event, smudge studio will draw on the group's co-created hexagram as inspiration to design and produce postcard-sized "image-sensations" in response to This Time with Tea. We will send you one of the cards with the invitation to activate it in new ways: share it, pass it on—or, if you attend Summer Tea in Prospect Park 2020 on August 15, 2020—you might use the card to clarify and consider the vital and unrepeatable experience you have of the tea, and the time, of Summer Tea in Prospect Park 2020.

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About the I Ching trigrams:

The original eight trigrams of the I Ching are diagrams of energies and materials that gather and configure momentarily into eight fundamental, yet changing, phases of reality.

These phases are sometimes translated as:

water ☵

fire ☲

thunder ☳

wind ☴

lake ☱

mountain ☶

earth ☷

heaven ☰

The 64 hexagrams of the I Ching trace all possible permutations of the original eight trigram principles/phases. The hexagram for Composure/Gathering Together (#45), for example, is composed of earth ☷ under lake ☱.

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smudge studio's ongoing iterations of Tea in the Dark explore the vibrant, alchemical nature of tea practice: how it transmutes cosmological to earthly; vast to intimate; abstract to embodied; nonhuman to human/human to nonhuman.

Our intention with Tea in the Dark is to re-weave modern consciousness into the continuous transformations and rhythms of the cosmos. We take this re-weaving to be an eco-aesthetic act. It sets the stage for sensing one's self as co-existing within a species that is interconnected with—and co-shaped by—all things and beings.

Such an awareness can deepen our collective ability to meet instability and impermanence, and to creatively inhabit ever-changing planetary conditions.


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