Upper trigram: K'un The Receptive, Earth
Lower trigram: Chên The Arousing, Thunder
Going out and coming in without error.
Friends come without blame.
To and Fro goes the way.
On the seventh day comes return.
It furthers one to have somewhere to go.
Thunder within the earth:
The image of The Turning Point.
Thus the kings of antiquity closed the passes
At the time of solstice.
Merchants and strangers did not go about,
And the ruler
Did not travel through the provinces.
These texts apply only for the lines that were marked, when the hexagram was cast. Note that the lines are counted from the bottom up.
The bottom line marked means:
Return from a short distance.
No need for remorse.
Great good fortune.
The 2nd line marked means:
Quiet return. Good fortune.
The 3rd line marked means:
Repeated return. Danger. No blame.
The 4th line marked means:
Walking in the midst of others,
One returns alone.
The 5th line marked means:
The top line marked means:
Missing the return. Misfortune.
Misfortune from within and without.
If armies are set marching in this way,
One will in the end suffer a great defeat,
Disastrous for the ruler of the country.
For ten years
It will not be possible to attack again.
The interpretations above and comments below are from Richard Wilhelm's version of the I CHING.
Comments on the Hexagram
The idea of a turning point arises from the fact that after the dark lines have
pushed all of the light lines upward and out of the hexagram, another light
line enters the hexagram from below. The time of darkness is past. The
winter solstice brings the victory of light. This hexagram is linked with the
eleventh month, the month of the solstice (December-January).
After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has
been banished returns. There is movement, but it is not brought about by
force. The upper trigram K'un is characterized by devotion; thus the
movement is natural, arising spontaneously. For this reason the
transformation of the old becomes easy. The old is discarded and the new is
introduced. Both measures accord with the time; therefore no harm results.
Societies of people sharing the same views are formed. But since these
groups come together in full public knowledge and are in harmony with the
time, all selfish separatist tendencies are excluded, and no mistake is made.
The idea of RETURN is based on the course of nature. The movement is
cyclic, and the course completes itself. Therefore it is not necessary to hasten
anything artificially. Everything comes of itself at the appointed time. This is
the meaning of heaven and earth.
All movements are accomplished in six stages, and the seventh brings
return. Thus the winter solstice, with which the decline of the year begins,
comes in the seventh month after the summer solstice; so too sunrise comes
in the seventh double hour after sunset. Therefore seven is the number of
the young light, and it arises when six, the number of the great darkness, is
increased by one. In this way the state of rest gives place to movement.
The winter solstice has always been celebrated in China as the resting time of
the year - a custom that survives in the time of rest observed at the new year.
In winter the life energy, symbolized by thunder, the Arousing, is still
underground. Movement is just at its beginning; therefore it must be
strengthened by rest so that it will not be dissipated by being used
prematurely. This principle, i.e., of allowing energy that is renewing itself to
be reinforced by rest, applies to all similar situations. The return of health
after illness, the return of understanding after an estrangement: everything
must be treated tenderly and with care at the beginning, so that the return
may lead to a flowering.
The bottom line marked
Slight digressions from the good cannot be avoided, but one must turn back
in time, before going too far. This is especially important in the development
of character; every faintly evil thought must be put aside immediately, before
it goes too far and takes root in the mind. Then there is no cause for remorse,
and all goes well.
The 2nd line from the bottom marked
Return always calls for a decision and is an act of self-mastery. It is made
easier if a man is in good company. If he can bring himself to put aside pride
and follow the example of good men, good fortune results.
The 3rd line from the bottom marked
There are people of a certain inner instability who feel a constant urge to
reverse themselves. There is danger in continually deserting the good
because of uncontrolled desires, then turning back to it again because of a
better resolution. However, since this does not lead to habituation in evil, a
general inclination to overcome the defect is not wholly excluded/
The 4th line from the bottom marked
A man is in a society composed of inferior people, but is connected spiritually
with a strong and good friend, and this makes him turn back alone.
Although nothing is said of reward and punishment, this return is certainly
favorable, for such a resolve to choose the good brings its own reward.
The 5th line from the bottom marked
When the time for return has come, a man should not take shelter in trivial
excuses, but should look within and examine himself. And if he has done
something wrong he should make a noblehearted resolve to confess his fault.
No one will regret having taken this road.
The top line marked
If a man misses the right time for return, he meets with misfortune. The
misfortune has its inner cause in a wrong attitude toward the world. The
misfortune coming upon him for without results from this wrong attitude.
What is pictured here is blind obstinacy and the judgment that is visited
Here I add some perspectives on this hexagram, as well as other methods to read its meaning, in additon to what Richard Wilhelm derives from it above.
Meaning of the Trigrams Combined
Each hexagram combines two trigrams, making one the upper and the other the lower. The meaning of the hexagram is mainly derived from that combination. Here's what it means for this hexagram:
Earth upon Thunder
Thunder under the surface of the earth - that's an earthquake about to happen. So, this is a hexagram of imminent fundamental and dramatic change.
Earth weighs heavily on its chaotic interior, keeping the turmoil contained. But it can only do so up to a point. Sooner or later, the ground will shake and break. The surface will change, whatever we do in an effort to prevent it. The natural forces are not tamed.
Any big change has a similar scenario, whether caused by nature or by man. At first, status quo seems to persist, but the rumble from below grows. Revolution may be postponed, but not cancelled. Not all changes, but some of them, are irresistible at length. As they are suppressed, they build momentum and force. At a certain point, this breaks through any resistance.
This heaxagram speaks of such changes - at the moment before they break through. The expansive force of the thunder penetrates earth to expand across the sky, the open space that pacifies any force by accepting it instead of trying to suppress it. Things return to a state of of balance, once the forces involved are are allowed to got their way.
Yin and Yang Significances
In this hexagram, only the bottom line is Yang (full), whereas all the five lines above it are Yin (broken). Yin is the earthly, the dark, cold and moist. Yang is the heavenly, the light, dry and warm. So, the tremendous excess of Yin is resisted by just one Yang - although in the key bottom position. That gives it strain, but also potency. This line may - against all odds - transform all those above it, as it strives to rise to its natural higher position. It represents a turning point, indeed. In spite of how it looks, anything can happen.
Read more about the polarity of Yin and Yang here:
Yin and Yang
Compare to the Reversed Trigrams
It's common to compare a hexagram to the one where the lines are the opposite: a full line is broken and a broken line full. But I find it much more interesting to compare hexagrams with the trigrams reversed: the upper trigram becomes the lower, and the lower trigram becomes the upper. That deepens the understanding of the trigrams at work - when they're not identical. Click the image to see what it means for the two trigrams of this hexagram:
The hexagram with the trigrams reversed
Compare to the Reversed Lines
You can also compare this hexagram to its opposite according to the six lines, where each broken line is full, and vice versa. In some cases it leads to the same hexagram as the one where the trigrams are switched. Here is the hexagram with reversed lines (click it to get to its webpage):
Hexagram with opposite lines
Click the header to read more about the eight trigrams that are combined into the 64 hexagrams.
The 64 I Ching Hexagrams
An I Ching hexagram is composed of two trigrams. Each of the 64 hexagrams has its own name, meaning, and divinatory text. Here they all are, in the traditional order. Click on the image of an I Ching hexagram to get to its webpage.
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