Warp & Weft (縱橫)


In honor of my Taiji teacher’s wife, Stephanie Hoppe, I want to say something about warp & weft in the textual tradition of Daoism.  When I was going through my Taiji training, every time I would visit Frank’s home, there was Stephanie, weaving at her loom – her careful, relaxed yet intent presence was always humbling and somehow part of my training.  Her work process and finished products alike remain an inspired teaching presence for me.

The Chinese character for sacred text (jīng, 經) shows silk (糹) with a river flowing down (巛) from Heaven (一), and the character for work or practice (工).  Sacred texts such as the Dao-De & Zhou-Yi have a vertical quality of revelation – flowing down from Heaven.  Jings are thus considered “warp” (縱) texts – referring to the vertical strands in a loom.  Weft (橫) strands snake horizontally through the warps to tie them together and complete the fabric.  In Daoism, “weft” texts are not scriptures but works like commentaries that allow us to work with the jings and cross-thread them with one another.

My wuweidao lineage teacher, Liu Ming, insisted that the Dao-De is a manual for meditation, but it needs to be “opened up” for us by a person who is “in the practice” of non-conceptual meditation.  Otherwise, it is warp without weft, an incomplete fabric.  This is what we do in our Wuweidao Cultivation Group – give our participants a fresh translation along with a look at the Chinese etymology of the warp, along with a weft commentary to connect Laozi’s teaching with the actual practice of meditation.

Similarly, this 60-moon observation is tying together the warps of the Heavenly Stems & Earthly Branches with the separate warp of the Zhou Yi hexagrams to obtain a meaningful image of the qi-quality of each moon – a weft enabling us to work more effectively with either warp.

Check out Stephanie’s loom below!  And I suggest you take a moment to appreciate some of her works at: www.stephaniehoppe.com.

Stephanie Hoppe Working the Loom - Estuary