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55, Abundance, as relating hexagram

lightning bolts in a dark sky

Abundance, the citadel

Hexagram 55 is Feng, Abundance – which is also the name of the Zhou interim, military capital city where they prepared, gathered allies and resources and watched the heavens for signs of their mandate to overthrow the Shang dynasty. So its themes include having an abundance of resources and also an abundance of demands made on you – being at the centre of it all.

‘Abundance [Feng], creating success.
The king is present to it.
Do not mourn. A fitting sacrifice at noon.’

The king (or the querent) is called on to be present, take command, and translate the signs of heaven’s mandate into action on the ground. The ‘fitting sacrifice’ is most likely one made to the earth before marching out.

So this is crunch time – where the rubber meets the road. You can see the same message in the hexagram’s trigram dynamics: fire and light, clear vision, on the inside, translating outward into thunder, swift action, on the outside, setting it all in motion.

As a relating hexagram

How does this feel as a relating hexagram in readings? I ran a ‘cast history search’ for 55 relating (this post, amongst others, is brought to you by the Resonance Journal) and found a pattern of asking myself, ‘Who’s in charge here, anyway?’ In charge of my inner realm, that is – my choices, my responsibility – whether or not I had any power to influence the outcome.

55 came up as relating hexagram again and again when I was asking about a big, long-term goal where I had an overwhelming, fierce sense of purpose. A representative quote: “I am at the centre, I have my resources here, and no-one else is going to do this. Do not mourn, get the **!@! on with it.”

It also showed up three times where I was asking about reading for someone else (usually a ‘what could I give x if I read for them?’ question, one I sometimes ask when I can’t read for everyone who applied and need to choose whom I can best help). I think that’s partly because I would be gathering in all my resources and concentrating, and also because part of a diviner’s work is ‘joining heaven and earth’ by helping the querent see where the reading applies and what change it creates.

Themes and patterns

I’ve been looking through all the single line changes to 55, and also all the two-line changes, in search of patterns. Here are some patterns I found…

Insight in motion

The trigrams of 55 show inner light becoming outer action. As the Tuanzhuan puts it,

‘Clarity in movement, hence abundance.’


This often means that when 55 is relating hexagram, the moving lines carry the insight of the primary hexagram through into action. Shock, infused with Abundance, can wake you up and set you straight:

‘Shock revives, revives.
Shock moves without blunder.’

Hexagram 51, line 3

Brightness Hiding at Feng will set out on a campaign to grasp and draw out the inner light:

‘Entering into the left belly,
Catching the heart of brightness hidden
And going out through the gate from the courtyard.’

Hexagram 36, line 4

This movement tends to come with incisive presence of mind, independence and autonomy –

‘Great person transforms like a tiger.
Even before the augury, there is truth and confidence.’

Hexagram 49, line 5

‘The king uses this to march out,
There are honours.
He executes the chief – the captives are not so ugly.
Not a mistake.’

Hexagram 30, line 6

Actually, in my experience 34.2 zhi (changing to) 55 has that same quality, even though the line doesn’t mention it.

Practicalities and ideals

When there are two changing lines to make the connection with Abundance, you can see more clearly how insight combines with action. There will often be one line about practical, ‘boots on the ground’ implementation, and one invoking the higher perspective, confidence – and perhaps the relationship with heaven, too.

For instance…

‘A great chariot to carry loads.
With a direction to go, no mistake.’
‘From heaven comes help and protection.
Good fortune.
Nothing that does not bear fruit.’

Hexagram 14, lines 2 and 6

…14.2.6, where the cart wheels meet the road with the help and protection of heaven. 63.4.5 is similar:

‘The leaks are plugged with clothes of silk
For the whole day, on guard.’
‘The neighbour in the East slaughters oxen.
Not like the Western neighbour’s summer offering,
Truly accepting their blessing.’

Hexagram 63, lines 4 and 5

There’s one line about the practicalities of making progress, one about a true and confident relationship with heaven. Or look at…

‘Embracing emptiness.
Use this to cross the river.
Not distancing or leaving behind,
Friends disappear.
Gaining honour, moving to the centre.’
‘Fluttering, fluttering.
Not rich in your neighbours.
Not on guard against truth and confidence.’

Hexagram 11, lines 2 and 4


‘Repeated returning.
No mistake.’
‘Walking in the centre, returning alone.’

Hexagram 24, lines 3 and 4

One line is very much ‘on the road’ (or in the river); the other needs to find its confidence and commit to independent action.

Translating vision into action doesn’t, of course, always work out so well – more on that in a moment…

Do not mourn

Especially if the primary hexagram might be reluctant to act, lines changing to 55 can be full of encouragement to get past the obstacles. Hexagrams 36 and 51 are good examples: the situation inspires fear, but the response (36.4, 51.3) is clear, focussed action.

More generally, I think 55 relating can have a hint of ‘Stop faffing about.’ Stop worrying. Stop mourning – which includes the way we can mourn our failures in advance, to explain why we’d better not try.

‘Embracing emptiness.
Use this to cross the river.
Not distancing or leaving behind,
Friends disappear.
Gaining honour, moving to the centre.’
‘Fluttering, fluttering.
Not rich in your neighbours.
Not on guard against truth and confidence.’

Hexagram 11, lines 2 and 4

Cross the river, accept the loss, make the leap of faith, join the Flow.


‘People in harmony first cry out and weep, and then they laugh.
Great leaders can bring them together.’
‘People in harmony at the outskirts altar.
No regrets.’

Hexagram 13, lines 5 and 6

Travel on through the shared emotions and out beyond the walls to the outskirts altar – a story in two lines very reminiscent of…

‘Entering into the left belly,
Catching the heart of brightness hidden
And going out through the gate from the courtyard.’

Hexagram 36, line 4

When abundance is too much

Abundance means there is a lot going on, a lot to handle. Its nuclear hexagram is 28, Great Exceeding, where the ridgepole is starting to buckle under the weight. And sometimes, 55 relating is just too much.

‘Bird in flight means a pitfall.’

Hexagram 62, line 1

We know from the Oracle of 62 that the bird would do better to stay low. If you’ve ever wondered why, this (which Stephen King described as the first horror movie he ever saw) explains a lot:

So translating your awareness into immediate action may not be such a good idea.

(We don’t always do this for the same reasons as the pheasant: there can be too much pressure, or too strong a sense of duty, or just a tendency to take on too much.)

In the two-line changes, there’s 32.1.2 to 55 – infusing the patterns of your daily round with a deep sense of mission and responsibility:

‘Deep into lasting.
Constancy, pitfall.
No direction bears fruit.’
‘Regrets vanish.’

Hexagram 32, lines 1 and 2

Line 1 is altogether too committed (‘I’m the kind of person who always…’), but perhaps line 2 could leave that behind, and we could move on from bull-headedness (line 1 zhi 34) to a more nimble practicality (line 2 zhi 62).

56.1.6, on the other hand, is an unmitigated disaster:

‘The traveller – fragmented and bitty,
Chops up his place and courts disaster.’
‘The bird burns its nest.
Travelling people first laugh, afterwards cry out and weep.
Lose cattle in Yi.

Hexagram 56, lines 1 and 6

That reads almost as a parody of 55’s directed action and independent thought.

There is another possible reaction to Abundant overload: avoidance. Insight doesn’t always become motion. 21.3.6 tells a story:

‘Biting into dried meat,
Coming on poison.
Small shame,
No mistake.’
‘Shouldering a cangue so your ears disappear.

Hexagram 21, lines 3 and 6

I bit in with purpose, I did not like what I found, and now I can’t take quite so much reality.

And 16.1.3 seems to be the perfect exception to the ‘insight and motion’ pattern:

‘Enthusiasm calling out,
‘Enthusiasm gazing upward, regret.
Procrastination brings regret.’

Hexagram 16, lines 1 and 3

Honestly, this was the most perplexing of the line combinations I looked at. Whatever happened to not mourning, becoming present, marching out, taking responsibility and getting on with it? All exactly what doesn’t happen in these lines.

Maybe… it’s the very specific quality of Hexagram 16 that is activated and set in motion: anticipating, imagining and preparing. So all the energy is directed into calling out and gazing upward, and none of it into doing anything. ‘This is big! Am I ready? Have I got the feudal lords I need? How can I tell? Hello? Anyone?’ – and off I go to look up some more things, consult some more experts, just to make sure, because this is important. In other words, this could be another reaction to the overwhelming nature of Abundance.

I Ching Community discussion


3 thoughts on “55, Abundance, as relating hexagram”

  1. Hi Hilary, I notice that your examples all focus on the idea of taking action or not. But what about when 55 is just describing an outcome? I have one practice reading with 21.3.6 about being taken to a buffet and it just meant that I ate too much, I stuffed myself. Line 3 meant that I already could foresee the unfortunate result and line 6 was about the incorrigible greedy little self in me that won’t listen and won’t stop. Regardless of insight action was taken and 55 simply described an outcome where there was too much of something.
    Can you see any of your examples leading to a simple outcome of excess?

    1. Well, there’s always the possibility of a relating hexagram becoming the outcome – but it’s normally more useful to see how it’s present and a factor in the situation now. 55 is actually a nice picture of being at a buffet: surrounded by abundance, everything available at once, being at the centre of All That Food! (I can relate – I’ve just come back from a lovely local food festival with entirely too much cheese – but it was *there*… 😉 .) In other words, your 55 was not just an outcome either.

      (A hexagram I would associate with eating too much, generally, is 28. I think Diana ffarington-Hook had an example of someone asking about weight gain and getting 28. It does follow from 27, after all…)

  2. Excellent post Hilary – I learned a lot from it and I would love to see more of that.

    My two cents to the story … I have challenged myself with the following question – “What hexagrams in I Ching will transition to Hexagram #55 after some transformation operator applied to them?” In other words – where from I could come to Hexagram #55 as a related hexagram? And this is what I’ve got.

    I have found that Hexagrams #56, #31 and #21 transition to Hexagram #55 after a so-called “Swap Operator” was applied to them in the monogram- (single-line), digram/bigram- (pair of lines) and trigram levels respectively.

    #21 Biting Through — Trigram Swap —————– \
    #31 Influence ———- Bigram Swap —————– | == > #55 – Abundance, Prosperity
    #56 Journey ——– Monogram Swap —————–/

    What is the interpretational value of this, one might ask? By definition, swap operator exchanges the beginning with the end in the hexagram and with that change it swaps beginning and the end of corresponding situation described by the hexagram itself. So, we get a picture of what will happen if the top and the bottom in our situation replace each other (go “up-side-down”, some would say).

    Let’s show this in more details in a bigram-swap of Hexagram #31. Like each hexagram, #31 can be presented as 3 bigrams (digrams), where top bigram (top 2 lines) represents Heaven, bottom bigram – represents Earth, and middle bigram – Mankind, which connects Heaven to Earth. So, what will happen if Heaven and Earth in Hexagram #31 exchange the positions of each other? Situation of Influence (#31) will transform to Abundance, Prosperity (#55)! In other words – Material Entity (Earth – a bottom digram) moves and stays on the top fueled by Energy of Heaven now in the bottom.

    This is only a small excerpt of results I’ve got around Hexagram #55. For example, other groups of hexagrams, which have #55 as a related hexagram are #18, #60, #21 (Rotated Transformation), #46, #41, #3 (Evolutional Transformation) , #56 (Flip Transformation) etc. Providing the full answer here will take us far beyond the format of regular comment to the post.
    If you are interested in experimenting with hexagrams transformation at your own, you can found more info about hexagram transformation types in “I Ching Basics / Gua Transformations” section in site. You can also check other online resources – you will be amazed on how reach and resourceful each hexagram can be. Or, alternatively, suggest a new, your own, original view on hexagram relationships – there are a lot of uncharted territories there.

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