I Ching #30 – Brilliance


This is an actual photo I took at sunset. No editing. Just RED. A big ole fireball in the sky.







This post is #30 of 64 hexagrams in a series of posts about the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text that has many ties to the Tao Te Ching. For those of you new to this series, you may want to start by reading my post called “What is a Hexagram?” that helps to explain more about the general idea of the I Ching. If you are just starting this series, you may want to take a look at some of my other posts on the I Ching.

If you’ve been following my blog lately, you may know that a few weeks ago I told the story of my yarrow sticks and offered up some I Ching readings. I ended up getting more than I bargained for, but doing these readings has been super fun! I am still trying to catch up from that, but if anyone else wants one, let me know. It may just take me a while to get to you, so if you are cool with that I can let you know when I’m a bit more freed up.

This hexagram is Fire over Fire. That’s a lot of fire! Fire represents passion – it represents the mind and ideas coming up. Fire is warmth and light. It’s our spiritual essence.

In several of the translations, the commentary for this hexagram mentions taking care of the cow. Now, you have to realize that this book was written thousands of years ago in Ancient China! So what is “taking care of the cow” in today’s speak?

In Ni’s version, he talks about the Fire representing the mind and Water representing the body. He goes on to discuss how, in the later version of the trigram arrangements, the “Post-Heaven Phase”, Fire and Water were considered the forces that every other energy was based from – replacing Heaven and Earth as the main bases! This is how important Fire and Water are to us! We are made of water but it is our passion (fire) that fuels us.

So this hexagram is double fire, AKA Brilliance. If Fire is the mind, this hexagram represents the brilliance that we are capable of achieving with the right circumstances. We have great spiritual potential. But we must take care of the cow also. Chop wood and carry water. Take it slow and don’t burn yourself out.

Fire is strong and powerful but it can also be destructive. If a fire is too strong, it will burn itself out. Better to simmer things and let them last. Better to share the light with others and let them carry it on. Better to focus your light within and regenerate your being. Our brilliance is internal – not just external. What light is there within you that you can let shine out for others to see? What light can you uncover in others?

With the power of fire comes responsibility. How best can we tame our fire so that it can serve us as long as we would like?


Tell us what you think. What do you think of when you think of FIRE? How about double fire?


  1. This is so awesome. Fire over fire. Brilliance. But at the same time, take care of the cow. Bill and I have talked about ho this year of local is such a universally shared topic. We all need food. I’ve had so much interest which thrills me and brings enthusiasm, but at the same time I must take care of the cow. Who will listen if I forget that I’m eating from the ground, which takes care and more concentration. Thank you Amy. I love that my sisters are brilliant. You inspire my to greater things. AND you forgot to publish this to Inspired Blogging! They need it too. love you.
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  2. Amy, I may be jumping ahead a bit, but after I started reading your I Ching comments, I asked the I Ching what I should expect to get out of them. The answer I received was #41, “Sun” or “Decrease,” with the fourth and fifth lines moving. In the Wilhelm/Baynes translation, those lines say: “If a man decreases his faults it makes the other hasten to come and rejoice. No blame.” and “Someone does increase him. Ten pairs of tortoises cannot oppose it. Supreme good fortune.”

    Clearly, I was told that your insights would be good for me. I almost always read what you have to say, even though I only comment occasionally. I want to comment here because I really like how you have presented this hexagram. The I Ching’s admonition to “care for the cow” is very much like the Zen recognition that life is to “chop wood, carry water.” The image of fire repeated can represent the sun as it moves across the sky – as another day goes by. We don’t want to cling to the brilliance of the moment (a single fire) but to recognize that as life goes on we do chop and carry and care.

    Good post!
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  3. I think one of the things I enjoy most about the I Ching is that it’s so ponderable – I enter the hexagrams knowing I have to carry them a while to really feel into them.

    Associating fire with thoughts, I think of how our mental body vibrates more quickly than our physical body – things move at the level of thought much more quickly than they do in the denser body. But to strive to live only in the fire is to quickly dissipate – no thought becomes anything without anchoring it into the physical. I think taking care of the cow is an apt reminder.

    The idea of double fire feels like true passion to me – to keep fueling the thought fire – so even as the thoughts dissipate, they are ever replenished. And isn’t that what we do when we’re passionate about something? And isn’t it our passions that make us brilliant?
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    • I was doing a reading this weekend for someone and I came across an “aha” moment with one of the principles. This work is so deep that it can even be overwhelming at times. I don’t know how many times it’s made me cry from its suggestions. Every time I learn something new, which is nearly always, I am so grateful for this work in my life.
      amy recently posted…I Ching #30 – BrillianceMy Profile

  4. I understand the concept here of balance and the importance of it, however when I look at the photo I see pure beauty. So it makes me think that even though too much fire (or passion) may not be the best thing for us…look at the beauty that comes out of fire on fire!
    Elda recently posted…When Family Lets You DownMy Profile

  5. I love the idea of taking care of the cow. To me that means taking care of the source of my nourishment. I imagine that the cow, in ancient times, would have been the source of milk, the promise of future generations of livestock, and the seat of a family’s wealth. In modern terms, that would seem to mean our health, our future, our prosperity, the inner, energetic source of all these things. I do love fire as a reflection of this energy — bright, brilliant, dynamic, hot, and ever-changing — but, when tamed, life-sustaining.

    Thank you for putting together this exploration of the I Ching. I think I’ve commented in the past that The Book of Changes has always intrigued me, but puzzled me beyond all measure. I’m so glad to read your reflections on the hexagrams, bit by bit here on your blog. 🙂
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