The 64 hexagrams of the I Ching are composed by
combining 8 basic trigrams which represent 8 natural elements.
The Upper and Lower trigrams make up the structure of a hexagram.
The eight elements are; Heaven, Earth, Wind, Thunder,
Fire/Sun, Marsh/Moon, Rain/River, and Mountain.
The qualities of each trigram are as follows;
- Heaven - The Heavens are the source of creative
energy. They are that which
is unchanging Truth. They are also the empty canvas upon which
we paint the stories of our lives. It is best to approach heaven
open to the truth without making up stories to lull the fears.
The central line represents the core of heaven. The outer lines
can either mean the outer limits of heaven or that part of heaven
closest to the earth, depending on how the lines connect with
other aspects of the hexagram. This trigram is also represented
as Force and its symbol is the Dragon. This spirit is a dynamic
shape changer. It symbolizes creative strength. In the family
it is the Father. On the body it is the head. Its colour is white.
The qualities represented by this trigram are active, creative,
strength, power, ruling, and reason.
K'un - Earth
earth is the receptive, or feminine principal which is penetrated
by the creative principal of Heaven. All heavenly potential is
birthed on the earth.
The secrets of life may be found in following the cycles and rhythms
of Mother Earth. If one follows the cycles and rhythms of nature
than one will know intuitively when to rest and when to be active.
Earth's relationship with Heaven is an extremely intimate, but
temporary one. Just as a child sooner or later matures and lets
go of the mother, so one ultimately leaves the earth and rises
to heaven. The earth trigram may be seen as a metaphor for the
human body. The upper line of the trigram symbolizes outward behaviour,
The lower lines represent the inner being or the roots of one's
past. This trigram is also represented as the Field; the womb
that gives birth to all things. As a spirit it is nourishing and
yielding. In the family it is the Mother. On the body it is belly.
Its colour is black. Its qualitities are passive, reactive, nurturing,
devoted, flexible, sustaining.
Sun - Wind
wind blows from Heaven as indicated by the strong upper lines
of this trigram. The weak lower line may indicate speaking or
the spoken word. Wind
symbolizes breath, a very important aspect in most eastern spiritual
and philosophical traditions. Breath means life. One's breath
indicates one's state. When one is agitated the breath is shallow
and rapid. When one is calm the breath is deep and rhythmical.
Conscious breathing exercises puts one in tune with the infinite
depths of heaven. The Wind symbolizes as well, thinking and speaking.
Depending on other aspects of the hexagram, the Wind may indicate
strong inner calm, or outer agitation. In Chinese Medicine, Wind
carries pathogenic agents into the body. Wind itself is relatively
harmless but it may carry with it stronger pathogenic agents.
Once inside the body if it has no way of excape, it may rush around
inside the body causing disharmony. In a like manner Wind carries
good or ill upon the earth. The spirit of the wind is subtle,
gentle and beautiful, and brings things to maturity. It is associated
with marriage, and presides over a new house. In the family it
is the First Daughter. On the body it is thigh. Its colour is
green. Its qualities are gentle, flexible, influential, obedient,
Li - Fire/Sun
- The Fire
Trigram represents inner sight, inner light, or insight. Like
the Sun it shines on earth. However, as the Sun is often obscured
by storm clouds, one's inner sight is often
obscured by doubts, second guessing, and dark thoughts. On a stormy
day we might think that the sun has stopped shining, but it really
hasn't. In the same way your inner light continues to shine no
matter what darkness the conscious mind brings into your life.
This trigram is also presented as Radiance, the spirit of fire,
light, warmth and magical awareness. It can give one the power
to illuminate, understand and articulate. It holds things together
in a subtle fashion, as the weak inner line holds the two strong
outer lines of the trigram. In the family it is the Middle Daughter.
On the body it is the eye. Its colour is orange. Its qualities
are bright, elegant, beautiful, intelligent, clinging, and agitated.
K'an - Rain/River-
Water is the cycle of life. Rain falls from
heaven to feed the streams and rivers that run to the sea where
the sun evaporates it back into the
air to form rain clouds and the cycle begins anew. The strong
line in the centre of the trigram represents heaven or the sun
which transforms salty sea water into life giving rain. Rain represents
fertility and growth since without if crops fail and famine ensues.
This trigram can also signify dark rainclouds depending on its
position. Dark clouds block the sun as dark thoughts block wisdom.
The Rain trigram can represent a deep pool of knowledge and indicates
growth in wisdom as well as in life. This trigram is also presented
as the Gorge, or the spirit of rushing water. It dissolves things,
carries them forward and cannot be stopped as rushing water cannot
be stopped. This spirit gives one energy to take risks, to focus
energy, and to overcome obstacles. In the family it is the middle
son. On the body it is the ear. Its colour is blue. Its qualities
are, abysmal, cunning, difficult, profound, instinctual, wise.
Tui - Marsh/Moon
/ Mist- This trigram represents
balance. Both in the way the moon receives light from the sun
and reflects it to the earth and in the way a marsh is a balanced
ecology. Too much or too little water and it becomes a hostile
environment for its denizens. The moon has a profound affect on
the earth and particularly on water. Tides are governed by the
moon's rotation about the Earth. The moon, it is said, awakens
sexual desires which elevates the physical over the spiritual.
There is the connection between the full moon and insanity. The
word lunacy comes from the french word for moon. In many practices
the full moon is a very powerful time of the month. In many ways
this trigram represents what is veiled or hidden. This is often
taken to mean heaven which is hidden from us by our own physical
nature. The marsh also has the imagery of veiled and hidden things
beneath the turbid, murky surface. This Trigram also represents
the spirit of open water; the vapours that rise from lakes, ponds,
and marshes and in many commentaries is seen as representing friendly,
stimulating and even joyous human exchange. In the family it is
the Youngest Daughter. On the body it is the mouth. Its colour
is red. Its qualities are jouyous, pleasing, tender, gossipy,
soft, and open.
Ken - Mountain
mountain is a place for solitary retreat. The top of the mountain
is the interface between heaven and earth. Rainwater collecting
mountain top is seen as creating a deep reservoir of knowledge
and wisdom. The mountain itself is a solid, impassive, and imposing
presence. It symbolizes stability, and a sense of trustworthiness.
It is also a challenge. In Chinese philosophy, longevity tends
to equal wisdom. The mountain therefore would be seen as a place
of longevity and great wisdom. One often climbs the mountain to
receive enlightenment. The Mountain symbolizes that things are
coming to a conclusion. Time for recap and evaluation. In the
family it is the Youngest Son. On the body it is the hand. Its
colour is violet. Its qualities are quiet, calms, still, obstinate,
Chen - Thunder - The upper
weak lines of this trigram represent the movement of the thunder
and the strong lower or heavenly line is its invisible, often
All terrestrial and celestial bodies are in continuous motion.
One cannot always determine what the idea is behind an action.
The thunder may represent the continuous motion of the human heart,
or the force that is driving the moon and the earth on their unfaltering
courses. The upward movement of the thunder may also indicate
the inner energy that powers the development of a being's ideas
and ideals. This is much like the struggle of a germinating seed
that sprouts in the soil (or inner being), breaks through the
surface or into the outside world and grows upward in the direction
of the sun. The sun represents clear insight and having an overview,
so the upward direction of the thunder can imply an attempt to
develop these qualities in the inner being, which naturally has
this drive for completion. Chen is the Thunder spirit who bursts
forth to arouse and excite, and bring things out of hiding. It
can give one the energy to undertake difficult tasks. In the family
it is the First Son. On the body it is the foot. Its colour is
yellow. Its qualities are; forceful, angry, energetic, growth,
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