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Monthly Archives: August 2019

Using trigrams in a reading

Using trigrams in a reading

Here’s an example reading of mine, showing how trigrams can cast more light on changing lines.

The background

I was contacted a while ago by someone (I’ll call her S) who wanted to invite me to participate in a project of hers.

Actually, that’s not quite how it happened. S mentioned she was looking forward to collaborating with me on said project – leaving me wondering what on earth I’d committed myself to and why I had no memory of doing so.

We fixed a time to talk, and I asked Yi for a principle to bear in mind during the conversation. Yi gave me Hexagram 31, Influence, changing at line 5 to 62, Small Exceeding:

changing to

The experience

We talked – and no, I hadn’t committed myself to something and forgotten all about it: this was the first time she’d mentioned it to me. Her project was a Very Big Idea – on a grand scale, requiring substantial funding, involving famous names. It would have been easy to dismiss the whole thing as a fantasy, were it not for the fact that S has already achieved a great deal in life, and not all of it ‘realistic’.

She was describing a project that was still entirely theoretical, with the draft of a proposal barely sketched out and scarcely an inkling of how it was all to be achieved – and yet she was experiencing it as if it were already real, in progress, and just a matter of time. S really was looking forward to my participation, much as I might look forward to something happening this weekend and with the same matter-of-fact confidence.

What really struck me was how different this approach is to my own default setting. As soon as I think of something I might like to do, I start researching how it might be possible, and my imagining pretty much stops there unless and until I find an answer to the ‘how’.

The penny drops

I realised that my reading was describing S’s approach for me – bringing it into focus and helping me wrap my head round this quite alien way of working and imagining. I’ve read lots of things about how you shouldn’t worry about the ‘how’, but I’d never really imagined what it would mean or how it would work.

‘Influence in the neck and shoulders. No regrets.’

Hexagram 31, line 5

Hexagram 31: how you are moved by and move with influence and inspiration. That joins with Hexagram 62: how the message is carried across the line from theory into practice, like the bird’s call or the thunder over the mountains.

62’s flying bird says be careful, scale down, do small things. Hence at the ‘Small Exceeding moment’ of 31, influence is felt in the neck and shoulders, the muscles with the most complete range of motion, where the tiniest, subtlest movements translate into very different outcomes.

A memory: I’m about 8 years old and learning to ride a bike without stabilisers. I’m wobbling valiantly along the pavement when, through a hedge, I glimpse some children playing a fascinating-looking game in their front garden. Next thing I know, I’ve fallen off the bike into the hedge. And this is how I learned about steering a bicycle.

Life seems to be a bit like riding a bike: whatever you set your face towards, that’s the direction you go in.

Perhaps 31.5 says ‘no regrets’ in the same spirit that the Oracle of Hexagram 49, Radical Change, says ‘regrets vanish’: it’s looking to the future, headed for something new, unconcerned with what happened or failed to happen in the past.

And trigrams?

(I’ve left them until last, because I find they’re best understood in the context of the hexagram as a whole.)

In Hexagram 31, the mountain below is making space for the lake to gather above, just as the groom makes space for the bride to enter his home (‘taking a woman, good fortune’), and just as you make space for the Influence that moves you.

During my conversation with S I witnessed 31.5, the line at the surface of the lake. Here, the light refracts and the water, stirred by the wind, is on the point of evaporation and ‘crossing over’ (62) into air. There’s S’s lightness of spirit, like water vapour – naturally there are ‘no regrets’.

That evaporation… could this be about transmitting influence, not just receiving it? Moving, as well as being moved?

I think it could. Looking at the other lake-lines, transmission begins at line 4 (‘friends follow your thoughts’) and takes over in line 6 (‘influence in your jaws, cheeks and tongue’). The influence at work in your neck and shoulders determines your stance and the direction you look in – and that also communicates something to the people around you.

The line’s change makes this ‘lake’s thunder’: the communicative lake becoming active and exerting its power to move others.


Will S’s project ever materialise? I can’t tell. Maybe she’s about to face-plant in a hedge whose existence she’d forgotten; maybe she’ll break through all the hedges as if they were barely there at all. All I can be sure of is that if she hadn’t set her face towards this goal, she definitely wouldn’t attain it.

(What’s the optimal approach? Maybe something between her airy disregard for ‘how’ and my habit of being guided by it? In any case, Yi and S have introduced me to a whole new way of thinking.)

mists rising over mountain lake

The Yijing Foundations Class, starting this March

…covers working with primary and relating hexagrams, moving lines and trigrams, all as part of an integrated whole. You can see the full syllabus here.

If you’re interested in joining the Class, please add your name to the waiting list:

How I imagine primary and relating

Following up on my last, long post with the example reading, I thought it might help to share this tiny excerpt from Yijing Foundations, where I explain how to imagine the structure of a reading without falling into the trap of pigeon-holing the second hexagram as ‘future’: Sign up for the Yijing Foundations Class waiting… Continue Reading

Reading structure, and why it matters

Reading structure, and why it matters

As I prepare for the Yijing Foundations Class, I’m realising there are really just two essential elements for dependable readings: being able to connect with imagery, and knowing your way round the structure of a reading. This post’s about structure. At its very simplest, a reading’s structure is just the cast hexagram, its changing lines,… Continue Reading

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