...life can be translucent

Turning points

Someone, some day, really is going to have to write a huge Yi book that not only describes individual moving lines with their zhi gua in mind – for example, writing about 27.6 with 24 in mind – but also describes groups of moving lines with their zhi gua in mind. They will need to be a fair bit cleverer than I am. (Hm… I can think of a few people to ask…)

Here’s a connection I fell over by mistake the other day when looking at 55.3.4 changing to 24.

Hexagram 55 is Feng, Abundance, and the garrison city, and the place where there is such darkness (perhaps from mists or a dust storm) that portents can be taken from patterns of sunspots. When 55’s two inmost lines are changing, right at the centre of this experience, then we have 55 zhi 24 – literally, Abundance’s Returning, or Feng’s Turning Point.

At line 2, Feng was already ‘screened’, dark enough to observe sunspots forming the shape of the Dipper. Then at line 3 it seems still darker:

‘Feng is flooded with darkness
In the centre of the sun, seeing a froth of stars.
Your right arm broken,
Not a mistake.’

It seems possible to me that now there isn’t just an eclipse, there’s also a thunderstorm. (For one thing, both the ‘flooded with darkness’ and the ‘froth’ characters have the water radical; for another thing, see the zhi gua of this line!) It could not possibly get any darker or more ill-omened – and to add injury to insult, you’re incapacitated. Oh, and this is not wrong. It’s just how it is; doesn’t mean the whole world is broken.

And then, in the second moving line of Feng’s Turning Point:

‘Feng is screened off
In the centre of the sun, seeing the Dipper.
Meeting your hidden lord,
Good fortune.’

Now, again, we see the pattern of the Dipper – the stars we can use to orientate ourselves. We may still not be able to see to move, but we can understand what to aim for. And with this strange kind of inner clarity (again, see the line’s zhi gua), we can even plan to meet with a Yi lord, someone or something we’d never normally connect with, and create good fortune.

We’ve gone from being completely incapacitated to seeing an unlikely, possibly unwelcome way to create good fortune. The darkness has lifted, just by the tiniest increment. Hexagram 24 is the winter solstice, the darkest time of year and the moment when it begins to grow lighter; it’s also the moment when you begin to reconnect with your own inner sense of direction. So these two lines are Feng’s Turning Point – what could be clearer? (Honestly, anyone would think the people who constructed this Oracle knew exactly what they were doing or something.)

So… maybe any line or group of lines changing ‘hexagram x’ to 24 show ‘hexagram x’s turning point’. (And maybe one day I’ll learn to see this!)

With single lines it’s often more visible:

36 gets its turning point at line 3, when you go hunting and take the great leader – from which (just as in those lines of 55) it does not follow that you can instantly turn on the lights.

27 has its turning point at line 6, when you find yourself are at the source of nourishment, rather than seeking it, and so finally can cross the river.

2 has its turning point at line 1, when the season is turning and things are solidifying.

But multiple lines are trickier, and a pattern only starts to emerge for me when the original hexagram describes something – like an eclipse – that I can readily understand as having a turning point.

A couple more examples:

Hexagram 17, Following, has to do with sensing and going with the invisible flow of things (not least your own emotions or desires), and picking up on guidance as it comes. It changes to 24 through lines 4 and 5:

‘Following makes a catch. Constancy, pitfall.
With truth and confidence, holding to the path with clarity,
How can this be wrong?’

‘True and confident in excellence.
Good fortune.’

These are the only two lines in the hexagram to mention fu, truth-trust-confidence (as in the name of hexagram 61). Following’s turning point is when you establish fu, a sense of connection and rapport with your world so you can set your direction truly.

(Aside: this fu is not the same character as the fu that is the name of hexagram 24, but it’s a homophone, and I think I was once told by a scholar that 24’s fu actually replaces the trust-fu in the Mawangdui manuscript. I’m not sure of my memory on this, though, so I’m asking wiser heads for help and this paragraph may disappear if I turn out to be completely wrong…

Update: yes – Harmen confirms that the trust-fu is only used in 11.4 in the Mawangdui manuscript, and in almost all other cases the 24-fu character is substituted.)

Another example: 41 changes to 24 with lines 2 and 6, the only two to include the phrase ‘not decreasing, increasing it.’ Of course the turning point of Decrease would be the moment when it changes its nature and becomes Increase.

(And then 42.5.6 to 24 should be just as clear, and can I ‘get’ that one? Can I thump. Anyone…?)


(Wednesday, July 15, 2015 correction: replacing the eclipse theory with sunspots.)

5 responses to Turning points

  1. A relating hexagram of 24 as the turning point of the primary hexagram. Yes.

    When we are reversing direction, there’s a transitional period of time when we might not be moving very much at all. Activity can be
    allowed to cease at such times:

    ‘Thus the kings of antiquity closed the passes at the time of solstice. Merchants and strangers did not go about, and the ruler did not travel through the provinces.’

  2. Interesting approach. Following what Ginnie said– Solstice literally means “sun stop.” The sun’s procession indeed slows down and appears to stop as the solstices draw near.

    A quick survey — probably incomplete, if not incorrect — turns up the following Hexes that lead to 24 with two changing lines. It’s interesting (and logical) that several pairs should turn up; seeing three in a row several times is quite a surprise, though I’m not sure what (if anything) could be made of it.

    7 +8


    15 + 16 +17

    21 + 22 + 23

    41 + 42

    54 + 55



  3. Nor am I! And I agree it’s interesting. The longer I spend looking at Yi, the more often I seem to find myself waving my hands in the air vaguely and saying, ‘Look! Look! Interesting pattern that must be of profound significance I can’t understand!’ Is this progress??

  4. It could be progress, or it could simply be returning to the old pattern, I suppose. These patterns are fated in our lives …

    Acceptance of fate is valued more highly in the East. In the West we don’t like the sound of that at all. We might take it that we have failed to make any progress, and that would seem most unfortunate to us.

    Especially since we tend to get a relating hex of 24 when we’re sort of low in vim and vigor. At least I have found that to be true in my own life.

    On the other hand, it can be a relief, coming back to our old familiar way. Maybe we were always on the correct path after all?

  5. That would be 24.1. I think my hand-waving state is 30.1, though – which would be a good level finally to attain after naming the business Clarity 11 years ago 😉 .

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