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The family of Hexagram 37

Every hexagram can be said to have a ‘nuclear hexagram’, formed by taking its inner lines and ‘unfolding’ them. From the original hexagram’s lines 123,456, you build a new hexagram with 234,345. The effect is like a seed germinating, and the nuclear hexagram’s often interpreted as a latent potential within the original. Here’s what could emerge, or a core possibility this situation could be expressing.

The way nuclear hexagrams are formed means that there are ‘families’ of four hexagrams, all sharing the same core possibility, differing from one another only in lines 1 and 6. It’s possible to see them as four different ways to experience their shared nuclear hexagram – ways it can unfold and express itself in the world.

So to take Hexagram 37, People in the Home, as an example…


these four contain it in potential:


hexagrams 58, 10, 6 and 47.

Oppression and entrapment, joyful Open Communication, Treading carefully behind the tiger, Arguing with indignation… what’s the common theme? What’s hexagram 37 really about? I’d suggest it’s about a powerful organic structure of relationships and connections, rooted in shared interest and a shared way of seeing. Each person in the Home knows where they fit in this structure and finds their individual completion there.

The hexagram can talk literally about families, about friendships, and also often about workplaces: the ‘Home’, literally a roof over a pig, is an economic unit. And it can also be a structure of organically connected concepts within which each new experience finds its place, or the relationships between aspects of a single personality. The basic idea is the same, though: energy stored in bonds, a safe haven and a springboard for individual expression.

(The nuclear hexagram of 37 itself is 64, Not Yet Across – an intriguing hint that perhaps the stability of these relationships rests on something other than rigid finality.)

It’s easiest to see this theme expressed in the exuberance of Hexagram 58. There’s open communication, free exchange between people, mutual help and development. This by itself doesn’t amount to the strength found among ‘People in the Home’. It could be all talk; it could have people forgetting themselves rather than remembering. But it makes sense that the potential for the home is born in the midst of lively communication.

Then comes Hexagram 10, Treading. Someone walks close behind the tiger, drawn by the promise of power and fertility, treading with great care to avoid having that power swallow them whole. They must be able to ‘differentiate above and below’, know where they end and the tiger begins.

In fact, the character ‘Treading’ shows a still more daunting closeness to power: the person who would embody the spirit of a deceased ancestor at the ritual meal. Treading is a time when you must know the correct way (hence the translation as ‘conduct’). How to join yourself with something greater, but not lose yourself? Somewhere at the heart of this precarious, adrenaline-powered hexagram, there’s also a robust knowledge of rules and relationships.

The next expression of People in the Home – the one that Stephen Karcher in his time cycle might call its Harvest – is Arguing.


I think of Hexagram 6 as the moment when you come up against the way it is. Amidst thunder and lightnings, the voice from the heavens booms, ‘Because I said so.’

Very interestingly, LiSe actually describes this one as the individual versus society’s authority and wisdom: brave hero and wise judge. Perhaps it’s not so surprising that the family unit is ‘germinating’ in the heart of this, as a balance point, or a microcosm where these forces can be brought into harmony. If it weren’t there, we might be in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World: a dystopia where humans come from production lines tailor-made for their social role, and the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ are obscene.

And finally, Hexagram 47, Oppression, where the seed of 37 has shrunk in on itself as far as it can go. 47-ed relationships are neither organic nor secure: they can be characterised by horrendous mistrust. But what does grow from here is self-reliance: inside the walls, looking inward for resources and even for connection, ‘the noble one carries out his mandate, fulfills his aspiration.’ Knowing yourself, in here, might be the seed of knowing your place, out there; independence holds the potential for interdependence.

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