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Category Archives: Interpreting hexagrams

Comments on whole hexagrams, individual lines and so on

Hexagram 3 and the very beginning

Hexagram 3 and the very beginning

Hexagram 3 is the first hexagram where the two kinds of line mingle, and so it’s associated with the very beginnings of life. The Sequence says,

‘There is heaven and earth, and so the ten thousand things are born.
Overflowing the space between heaven and earth, the ten thousand things.
And so Sprouting follows: Sprouting means filling to overflowing;
Sprouting means the beginning of things’ birth.’

Hexagram 3, Xugua

The long-standing ‘primordial soup theory’ of the origins of life on earth says that lightning strikes in surface water created more complex proteins that were the beginning of RNA.

If you squint a little at the trigrams of Hexagram 3 –

zhen inside kan, or thunderbolt/ shock in the water, you might imagine this as the generative moment.

However, a new theory is catching on, that life began in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. Seismic activity in the depths: a perfect match to zhen within kan.

underwater image of hydrothermal vent

Layer cake imagery (and Hexagram 53)

Layer cake imagery (and Hexagram 53)

The Yijing’s full of imagery. Even though the first impression when you open it is one of wall-to-wall text, it’s also a picture book. In last month’s ‘Connecting with Imagery’ workshop I put a reading on the screen and asked people to mark all the images they could see. They saw quite a few… There’s… Continue Reading

Hexagram 5, and rain-making (a rethink)

Hexagram 5, and rain-making (a rethink)

What are we Waiting for? Wilhelm says Hexagram 5 is about waiting for it to rain. SJ Marshall says it meant waiting for rain to stop. So too does Stephen Field: the hexagram name means ‘to stop for the rain’, but originally would probably have had the ‘water’ radical added and meant simply ‘drenched’. In… Continue Reading

Hexagram 51, Shock

Hexagram 51, Shock

Thunderbolt and earthquake The name of Hexagram 51, zhen 震, means Shock, Quake, and encompasses both thunder and earthquake. (Nowadays there is a specific word for earthquake made of the components ‘earth’ and ‘zhen’.) The old character has two components: rain, and chen, the name of the fifth Earthly Branch in the Chinese calendar – which… Continue Reading

Understanding marriage imagery

Understanding marriage imagery

Marriage is one of the Yijing’s most-used recurring images – and in relationship readings, it’s one of the easiest to relate to. Hexagram 54, the Marrying Maiden, has told a lot of women, quite straightforwardly, that she’s not the most important thing to him. (Maybe another woman is, or maybe it’s his career, or any… Continue Reading

Hexagram 44, Coupling

Hexagram 44, Coupling

The ‘powerful woman’ problem In Hexagram 44, we are encountering, meeting or ‘coupling’ with a powerful woman. ‘Coupling, the woman is powerful.Do not take this woman.’ To ‘take’ her means to seize, as one might seize a criminal, but in this usage it’s something like the old-fashioned English, ‘taking a woman in marriage’ – maybe… Continue Reading

Hexagram 52, Stilling

Hexagram 52, Stilling

Looking away Hexagram 52 is called gen, 艮, and so too is the trigram that’s doubled to make the hexagram. It translates as ‘looking away’: in the ancient character, you can see a reversed human figure with a great eye. Nowadays, it apparently also translates as ‘tough, hard to chew’ – something that resists. The trigram gen is… Continue Reading

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