Prophetic readings of the I Ching hexagrams are based on the classical names of each hexagram rather than on its imagery or the lines. They comprised the second part of my treatise on the I Ching that I had written many years ago.
Hexagram 1: Qian Heaven over Heaven
This hexagram advises going ahead with all pursuits. There will be success and the future is bright.
Hexagram 2: Kun Earth over Earth
This hexagram advises going to the southwest. One will meet with friends there. It advises against going to the northeast. There one will lose friends. It also advises following nature’s course. One who has patience will prevail, and one who relies on what the Earth and what Nature provide will have peace.
Hexagram 3: Zhun* Water over Thunder
This hexagram advises difficulty. One will encounter difficulty in his endeavors. There is a feeling that one does not dare advance with his pursuits. It therefore advises patiently waiting it out for a more opportune and auspicious moment.
*In the standard English translations, the name of this hexagram is phonetically rendered as “tun” and its meaning is translated as “difficulty.” This Chinese character has two meanings depending on its pronunciation. Read “tun”, it refers to a military camp, temporary barracks of an army with horses and all, a stockpile of grains and food for the army on the go, and by extension, it means to store grains. Read “zhun”, it means difficulty, as in the term “zhun zhan” which means “in difficulty and not daring to advance.”
Hexagram 4 Meng Mountain over Water
This hexagram suggests that the true nature of the current situation one is faced with cannot be seen clearly. There is deception and one is ignorant of what is really going on.
Hexagram 5: Xu Water over Heaven
This hexagram suggests that there is a need that needs to be fulfilled. It advises taking action to fill that need.
Hexagram 6: Song Heaven over Water
This hexagram suggests that there will be litigation, lawsuits and contention over some matter.
Hexagram 7: Shi Earth over Water
This hexagram advises taking the lead as a teacher or a commander in battle.
Hexagram 8: Bi Water over Earth
This hexagram suggests one should compare the pros and cons before taking action.
Hexagram 9: Xiao Chu Wind over Heaven
This hexagram suggests that one has sufficient means to pursue one’s goals but one should be prudent.
Hexagram 10: Lu Heaven over Lake
This hexagram suggests treading lightly and carefully. Progress will be made in small steps.
Hexagram 11: Tai Earth over Heaven
This hexagram suggests that all will be peaceful.
Hexagram 12: Fou Heaven over Earth
This hexagram strongly advises not to take any action. Goals will not be achieved. Taking action will be disastrous. The Chinese name “fou” literally means “to negate”.
Hexagram 13: Tong Ren Heaven over Fire
This hexagram suggests togetherness, that cooperation with others will be advantageous.
Hexagram 14: Da You Fire over Heaven
This hexagram suggests that there is great abundance of resources and that a great abundance of wealth and benefits will be obtained.
Hexagram 15: Qian Earth over Mountain
This hexagram advises modesty and humility.
Hexagram 16: Yu Thunder over Earth
This hexagram suggests happiness and harmony.
Hexagram 17: Sui Lake over Thunder
This hexagram advises obedience. It suggests following current trends and not digressing.
Hexagram 18: Gu Mountain over Wind
The name of this hexagram is “gu”, and it is the name of a legendary venomous insect. When two are placed together in a vessel, they will fight and kill each other until only one is left. That one would then be used as a source of poison to commit murder. This hexagram indicates that internal chaos and decay will come to an end and a strong contender, perhaps the enquirer, may emerge triumphant after a hard fight or a difficult struggle.
Hexagram 19: Lin Earth over Lake
This hexagram suggests that the time is right for good things to arrive.
Hexagram 20: Guan Wind over Earth
This hexagram advises one to observe the situation before taking action.
Hexagram 21: Shi Ke Fire over Thunder
This hexagram describes the sound of mastication. “Shi” is the sound of slurping and “ke” is the sound of chewing on a hard walnut shell. It infers cacophony, malicious gossip, polemical argument, debate and contention.
Hexagram 22: Bi Mountain over Fire
This hexagram means adornment, being recognized and honored.
Hexagram 23: Bo Mountain over Earth
This hexagram means stripping away, losing, wasting away, exposed and unprotected.
Hexagram 24: Fu Earth over Thunder
This hexagram indicates a return, repetition, revival and resurgence.
Hexagram 25: Wu Wang Heaven over Thunder
This hexagram indicates that one’s behavior is correct and appropriate. There is no fault.
Hexagram 26: Da Chu Mountain over Heaven
This means large animals, either wild or domesticated. The classical text says: “It is auspicious to not eat at home but to seek to eat away from home. It is auspicious to cross the great river valley.” In ancient times, this infers auspiciousness in hunting wild animals for food. Its modern inference would be auspiciousness in seeking employment elsewhere away from one’s home turf or seeking employment with another company.
Hexagram 27: Yi Mountain over Thunder
This hexagram means keeping fit, taking care of oneself, and nourishment. “Yi” is the first character in the name “Yi He Yuan”, the Chinese name of the Forbidden Garden in Beijing. “Yi” also means makeup and putting on makeup.
Hexagram 28: Da Guo Lake over Wind
This means big errors and big excesses. The name of this hexagram, as explained in the classical text, came about because the hexagram ideographically portrayed a beam of a house breaking and this was a big error in judgment and in the use of wood for the beam by the builder. The hexagram indicates there is a big error in judgment. Big excess, like gluttony, over indulgence and greed are considered big errors and grossly erroneous and improper behavior.
Hexagram 29: Kan Water over Water
This hexagram indicates a pit, a ridge, an embankment, all of which convey the idea of hidden danger where the depth over the water cannot be fathomed.
Hexagram 30: Li Fire over Fire
Fire in classical interpretation symbolizes prosperity. The character itself means to leave, going away, to separate, to quarantine. Classical annotations that queried the origin of this name state that the original character for this hexagram was not the character meaning “to separate” but another character meaning “beauty.” In the classical Annotation of Historical Reference it says”: Li (to leave) is li (beauty).” In Er Ya, an ancient book on etymology, it says: “Li (beauty) means attachment.” In the classical Annotation of Contextual Interpretation, it says: “Li (benefit) zheng (to divine) heng (auspiciousness.)” This is interpreted to mean: “The attachment or addition of beauty enhances the way of man.” (See Zhou Yi Da Zhuan Jin Zhu, page 213, and Appendix (1), page 216, ibid.)
Hexagram 31: Xian Lake over Mountain
This means all, inclusiveness, comprehensiveness. If one queries about whether to include or exclude someone from a guest list, for example, this hexagram would advise inclusion.
Hexagram 32: Heng Thunder over Wind
This means perseverance and permanence. Longevity is indicated by this hexagram. It also advises one to hold one’s course.
Hexagram 33: Dun Heaven over Mountain
This advises retreat, escape and fleeing.
Hexagram 34: Da Zhuang Thunder over Heaven
Great strength and power, very strong, these are the indications of this hexagram. Great success and prosperity will come.
Hexagram 35: Jin Fire over Earth
This hexagram refers specifically to advancement in official millitary rank, a bureaucratic or official promotion.
Hexagram 36: Ming Yi Earth over Fire
The classical meaning of this hexagram is the demise of the sun and to kill the brightness of the sun. “Ming” is brightness and refers to the sun. In ancient times, the sun (ri) was called (ming). “Yi” means a barbarian, a barbarian land, and it also means complete destruction by massacre and eradication by force. The classical text states: “The sun sinks into the ground.” In its imagery, fire is hidden inside the Earth, a dormant volcano. the interpretation of this hexagram would refer to a demise of some situation, some wish or some plan. The indicated result would be complete devastation.
Hexagram 37: Jia Ren Wind over Fire
This means the family. When the family is together, there is prosperity, and traditionally, there will be many children and grandchildren.
Hexagram 38: Kui Fire over Lake
This means to stare, to gaze and to peep. It advises looking carefully, clearly and intensely at a situation before taking any drastic action. It suggests intense scrutiny.
Hexagram 39: Qian Water over Mountain
This means being tied down, being stuck, being unable to progress. The character consists of a thatched roof farm house with bales of hay under the roof, and under the bales of hay is the character for a foot, thus the inference to immobility. The Chinese character for the cold of winter (han) depicts a thatched roof farm house with bales of hay under the roof, and under the slanted roof are two dots representing falling snow flakes.
Hexagram 40: Jie, Xie Thunder over Water
The Chinese character for this hexagram means to undress, to disrobe, to untie, to loosen, to solve, to resolve, to encounter a solution, to find a resolution, to dissolve a treaty or an agreement.
Hexagram 41: Sun Mountain over Lake
This means loss, damaged, to lose and to become damaged. Prophetically, it indicates incurring losses and being harmed.
Hexagram 42: Yi Wind over Thunder
This means benefits, beneficial, beneficial increases, and that which is beneficial.
Hexagram 43: Kuai Lake over Heaven
This is an ancient character meaning a firm decision made with conviction and determination without regret and without doubt.
Hexagram 44: Gou Heaven over Wind
This refers to intercourse and copulation. The imagery of this hexagram is that of many men on top of a lone woman, and many men “mounting” one woman. Prophetically it indicates that danger is lurking everywhere, and that there are strong forces working against one’s attempts.
Hexagram 45: Chui, Ts’ui Lake over Earth
This means a gathering of branches and brush and objects, things in a pile, things gathered together. The modern meaning of the character means outstanding, standing out from the crowd.
Hexagram 46: Sheng Earth over Wind
This means rising into the sky, the raising of a flag, lifting upwards by itself like a balloon.
Hexagram 47: Kun Lake over Water
This means being surrounded and being stranded. The Chinese character conveys the image of a tree completely encased on four sides by a fence. It also means being incarcerated.
Hexagram 48: Jing Water over Wind
This is a well. It symbolizes an available resource that can sustain life.
Hexagram 49: Ge Lake over Fire
This means revolution, to revolt, to bring about a dramatic and drastic change. The Chinese term for a revolution is “ge ming”, i.e., “to change life”. The October Revolution is “shi yue ge ming”. Another modern term using the character “ge” is “gai ge” which means “to reform”.
Hexagram 50: Ding Fire over Wind
This is an ancient cooking and drinking vessel with two lop handles and three or four legs, a tripod, a quadripod, a small cauldron, a vessel often used as an incense holder on altars in temples and shrines. Because of its placement, it has come to mean apex, zenith, peak, utmost height, a pinnacle, standing alone on top.
Hexagram 51: Zhen Thunder over Thunder
This is thunder, the name of the trigram that represents thunder. Thunder refers to loud noises in the sky, an inference to widespread reputation or distant threat, and the harbinger of beneficial rain.
Hexagram 52: Gen Mountain over Mountain
This is the mountain, the name of the trigram that represents the mountain. Mountain is a barrier and thus infers blockage, difficulty, and that the way forward is blocked.
Hexagram 53: Jian Wind over Mountain
This means gradual advance and gradual progress. The Chinese character of this hexagram conveys the image of an ancient wagon with a very heavy load going through a puddle of water and splashing and spraying the water onto the sidewalk and passers-by. It also means to approach gradually.
Hexagram 54: Gui Mei Thunder over Lake
The Chinese character “gui” traditionally conveyed a very specific meaning, that of a maiden being married off and thus to come to belong to her husband’s family. Her husband’s family is considered her home where she belongs, be it an arranged marriage or not, predestined when two people fall in love or otherwise. The concept also stems from the ancient practice of kidnapping maidens as brides.
Hexagram 55: Feng Thunder over Fire
This means abundance and a full harvest, having plenty, having an abundant supply and abundant resources.
Hexagram 56: Lu” Fire over Mountain
This means to travel, indicating a long trip away from home.
Hexagram 57: Xun Wind over Wind
This is wind, the name of the trigram representing wind. The classical text says wind conveys two meanings. First, it refers to the “influence of the emperor” and second, it means “to penetrate.” Many Chinese proverbs illustrate these two meanings of wind. People are called to arms after being informed that the “winds of change” are coming, and that the wind “penetrates every nook and cranny.” Its prophetic meaning indicates spreading far and wide, or rising up like the wind. A modern term “feng sheng”, the “sound of the wind”, can mean “hearsay”, “rumor”, “heard from the grapevine”, or “message”.
Hexagram 58: Dui Lake over Lake
This is the name of the trigram representing lake. According to the encyclopedia Tzu Hai, the Chinese character “dui” is the name of the hexagram that ideographically represents a lake. It also refers to a young maiden, thus conveying the notions of an “opening”, an “exchange”, “to please others”, and “to be pleasing to others.” The “opening” referred to the female anatomy, “exchange” referred to ancient social custom, and “to please others” and “to be pleasing to others” were the duties of the maiden. Its phonetic variation conveys the meaning of something in the form of a sharp point, a dagger, thus something dangerous and evil. This hexagram advises one to be pleasing to others, to be tranquil like the lake, to hide any sharp edges in personality and in temper.
Hexagram 59: Huan Wind over Water
This means dispersion as in water flowing away. The imagery of the Chinese character conveyed is wind blowing the water and dispersing it. It also indicates flooding. The classical text says: “Huan means water flowing incessantly.” It also says: “It is advantageous to cross the big river valley.” The prophetic meaning of the hexagram suggests that all things will go well like water flowing without stopping.
Hexagram 60: Jie Water over Lake
This means restraint. The Chinese character “jie” classically refers to a knot used in ancient times to record an account. It also refers to a holiday, like Christmas, a day of mourning like April 5, the Chinese Tomb Sweeping Festival, and November 1, the Mexican Day of the Dead, and holidays of celebration like the August Moon Festival (the 15th day of the 8th moon). It also means being obedient, following established rules, refraining from mischief. A prophetic interpretation of this hexagram advises restraint in one’s endeavors.
Hexagram 61: Zhong Fu Wind over Lake
This means being trustworthy. The classical text explains: ” Zhong Fu means having shot an arrow and hit a dolphin, the dolphin with an arrow through its belly floats on the surface of the water. And that even though one sees this while crossing the big river valley, one does not pick it up and claim it to be one’s own.” The hexagram advises trustworthiness and showing trust.
Hexagram 62: Xiao Guo Thunder over Mountain
This means small errors and small excesses. The hexagram advises that one can engage in small pursuits but major projects must not be launched at this time. Misfortune will befall major endeavors initiated at the moment of query.
Hexagram 63: Ji Ji Water over Fire
Meaning that which has passed, that which has now come to pass, it conveys an image of water dowsing a fire. A query may be deemed no longer valid as indicated.
Hexagram 64: Wei Ji Fire over Water
Meaning not yet passed, that which has not yet come to pass, it conveys the image of a burning fire on the surface of a lake, a miraculous sight in ancient times but in modern times, we know that methane gas escaping from a lake bed rises through the water to the surface and if ignited, provides a scene where fire burns over water. A prophetic reading of this hexagram indicates that there are yet hidden resources that can be utilized and that maybe a new cycle and a new order is about to begin. The Chinese characters “wei” means “not yet” and the character “ji” means full, arrived.
[The I Ching, Book of Change, New interpretation of the I Ching hexagrams by Victor Chen]