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The shape of Hexagram 23

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Hexagram 23

In a little post on hexagrams and scale I wrote,­

Just on this blog, I found three readings I’d shared with Hexagram 23. They were, in order:

  • auspices for using a certain technology during a webinar. (I persuaded myself I could use it anyway, and it failed impressively.)
  • foreshadowing my mother’s death after a debilitating illness
  • describing turning out my wardrobe

This kind of list is one reason why it’s not sensible to worry about receiving Hexagram 23 – or 29, or 47. They tell you the shape of things, not their size.

So… what is the shape of things, in a time of Stripping Away?

This is one hexagram shape that’s simple enough for us to see in the pattern of lines:


If you look at this shape, and remember that energy always rises through a hexagram, then you can see that the solid line is on its way out. The hexagram does look like a process of ‘stripping’ or ‘peeling’.

Someone looking down on this hexagram – from the ‘outside’, as it were – would see only the top line, and might think it was solid all through. But because we see it in cross-section, we can see that it’s hollow. That outermost layer might seem to be almost detached from the rest of the hexagram – ungrounded, disconnected, coming unmoored. Or you might see a rising tide of open lines pushing out that last bit of solidity, and hence pushing on the wheel of change and turning it towards regrowth from the roots. (I touched on this in my post about 2.6 – which changes to 23 – and its fighting dragons.)

Another way to see the shape is as trigrams – especially in the light of the Sequence. In the preceding hexagram, 22, an inner fire cast light on the outer mountain and brought it to life. In 23, the light’s gone out; there’s only earth, or perhaps ash, under the mountain.


(Just as I was writing the above, the phone rang and I heard that an elderly friend had died.)

Stripping Away is a specific kind of change, with this specific shape – a shape that can describe death, or clearing out old clothes. Seeing those two readings reminded me of an account I read as a teenager in a book by a close family friend, Faith Bowers, Who’s this sitting in my pew?

A woman attending her funeral with her handicapped sister, looking for a way to explain, said that what was in the coffin wasn’t the person they’d known, but something like an old, worn-out coat:

‘What do you do with a coat when it’s worn out?’

‘Throw it away,’ replied her sister, ‘put it in the dustbin.’

‘That’s right. The coffin is a kind of dustbin.’

3 responses to The shape of Hexagram 23

  1. So many references to a bed in hexagram 23, and even line 5, the consorts, are supposedly in the process of being “bedded.” But a bed can be a symbol of a number of things, among which, as has been noted, a place where children are created. But the foundations have to be correct for a pregnancy to take place, and often no pregnancy takes place.

    Carol Anthony speaks of a bed as a symbol of what we believe, as beliefs are foundations we lean on. I would tend to agree and carry it even further and see it as a symbol of any kind of a foundation. Whatever we lean on or depend on can be symbolized by a bed. So it is a place of creation, a place of beliefs, and a place of dependency.

    As far as beliefs go, “there is still a large fruit uneaten.” Much of the fruit falls on the ground and cannot be eaten, but it creates new life, (pregnancy) But also, as much as we learn, about the I Ching or any philosophical or spiritual study, there is still the sweetest portion that goes undetected. And often, when we start out our spiritual journey, we are incomplete and do not fully understand things, (including our readings). If we do not understand, the foundation fails.

    We also have to “prune” our understandings so that they properly take root. Another way of saying it is we can literally understand what the words say, know the correct meaning, but if our spiritual understanding is not fully developed, we can still be totally wrong. There is a sense in which a reading can be literally true, and yet totally wrong.

    The implications are enormous. Our foundations constantly have to be shored up and we need to develop our inner being so that we have not just knowledge but wisdom. Only with wisdom can we find the “uneaten fruit.” Knowledge is not enough.

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