As one of the originators of the Earth Day concept, José Argüelles founded the first Whole Earth Festival in 1970, held at U.C. Davis, California where he was teaching at the time.
José Argüelles died in Australia on March 23, 2011. I learned of the death on March 27th when I saw the post on Rob and Trish MacGregor’s synchronicity blog. I had been in the middle of writing the last Chapter, an Afterword for my new book, I Ching Prescriptions, when I read this shocking new of José’s death. This Afterword includes a discussion of my I Ching reading with all six lines changing as it related to completing this book, as well as a dream about José just 4 days before he died.
I first met José shortly after he and his wife Miriam had published their beautiful book, Mandala. I had painted a series of Mandalas in 1968 but at that time I had no idea these circular paintings had a name. I began reading the works of Carl Jung and found his reference to Mandalas and discovered that what I was painting had a name as well as a psychological purpose. Since I was painting Mandalas I decided to write a paper about them for an art history class. I could find only one reference book on the subject of Mandalas in my library in 1968. There was no Internet or Wikipedia to make research easy. So four years later when I saw the Argüelles’ book, Mandala in the front window of a book store on West 57th street in New York City I exclaimed, “Where was this book when I needed it?” I ran into the store and bought the book. I wrote to José and Miriam about the possibility of doing a workshop on Mandalas for Magic Circle Press. That never happened but I subsequently met José in early 1973 in his mother-in-law’s apartment when he was on a trip to New York.
I have an old photocopy of an article called, Compute and Evolve by José Argüelles. The re-print states that it originated in, Main Currents in Modern Thought , Jan-Feb 1969. The subtile of the article is, Some reflections on the I-Ching as a prelude to a post-scientific system. I was just beginning my I Ching journey so finding a person who created and wrote about Mandalas, art and the I Ching was a nourishing gift for my psyche.
Five more years passed before I would encounter José again. I had moved to California where I figured the intellectual atmosphere would be more in tune with my interests. I was not disappointed. On January 24,1978 I found myself in a two week colloquium at The Union Graduate School where José would be my core faculty working towards a Ph.D. in Art and the Personal Symbolic Process. January 24th was also José’s 39th birthday.
My relationship with José began before I ever met him through his art and writing. He reflected in his creative projects the embodiment of my own interests. José’s knowledge of the I Ching would sometimes pop up in mundane situations. For example, I remember a time in a building at the Oakland air port. José was on his way home to Boulder. We were in an elevator where there was a glass box on the wall with a big tortoise shell exhibited inside. José pointed to the display and said, “Adele, hexagram twenty-seven, line one.” Only another I Ching geek would know that he was referring to the hexagram of Providing Nourishment and the line that says, “You let your magic tortoise go.” And no one other than another I Chinger would even want to know this form of “magical thinking.“
I came from a family that either ignored anything that truly interested me or worse, they put me in their negative camp they referred to as “magical thinking.” No matter how I was defined, these attitudes were less than nourishing. So José, just by his existence, was a validation that I needed, enjoyed and appreciated. Long live José Argüelles!
If anyone reading this posting about José knows of any one who studied with him, please pass on this link. It would be wonderful if José Argüelles’s former learners post something about what creative project they worked on with José or anything they would like to share.
I am posting a link for a free download of that Afterword I wrote that tells about my amazing I Ching reading where I had six changing lines and issues of synchronicity, dreams, and José.