Though there are 64 hexagrams in the I Ching, there are only 8 trigrams, and understanding the trigrams makes reading the hexagrams potentially rather easy. But first let’s explore a simple element of the symbolism.
How would you explain warmth in the yin/yang symbolism? Yang is hot, yin is cold. Remember the hexagrams and even trigrams are read from the bottom up, so warmth would be shown as yin then yang, cold but getting warmer, and the concept of cool would be those lines reversed. Hot would be double yang, and cold would be double yin, but just as the taijitu symbol isn’t just a swirl of yang and yin, neither are the trigrams. So you actually need three lines.
In this symbol of the taijitu the red and white dragons are alchemical symbolism, and that is a whole other topic, but that symbol without the dragons is the core of the I Ching. Notice the two fields? Black and white, but in the center of each field is a core of the other color?
The reason behind that is this. Even new yang is innately also yin as it cannot exist by itself, and new yin is innately also yang. The element of change is built right in even from the start. So to show any state of being completely, you have to have three lines.
Now the Book of Changes has a cosmology built into it, a sense of order. It’s very concerned with the balance between heaven and earth, and they see everything in the world as an interplay of changes not only on the earth but in the universe as well. Earth is depicted as three yang lines. Heaven is depicted as three yin lines. The earth being solid and persistent. The sky being changing and receptive.
In a hexagram, the bottom three lines are the trigram symbolizing the state of earth, and the upper three are symbolic of the state of heaven. So each trigram is a mark of the perceived behavior of nature and natural states of change. Fire might be symbolized as yang because it starts out as fuel, then yin because it breaks down with heat, then yang again because it’s untouchable. That is the general gist of how the symbols are read.
So the nature of any element or condition is a three way mix of yin and yang? Yes, and a picture of any complete state is composed of a thumbnail of the state of both earth and heaven at that place and time.
The universe is kinky. Yes. Everything comes down to sex, which is the Latin name of the number six, which is the number of lines in a complete I Ching reading.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.