I Ching #36 – Darkening of the Light


Dark Horror Spooky tree. Halloween Dark Night Background.



This post is #36 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.

I tried to create some distance from the election results by posting a new I Ching post, but it seems that I cannot avoid it. Sigh.

Here is a poem, written by Deng Ming-Dao, about this hexagram. (From The Living I Ching):

Buried in cold
and airless dark.
This as a kite;
weighted with iron.
Chained with my head
near the latrine.
  You never speak.

Once every day,
one ray shines through
the crumbling brick,
and then I squint
at cockroaches
and floating dust.
You have no friends.

I will not speak
to the jailers.
Refuse to know
their lowly names.
Instead I think
of old poems.
  You cannot last.

I hoard those words,
will not voice them.
I will keep them
one verse longer
than the sentence
that cages me.
  You will die soon.

One verse longer.

If you read the entry by the JamesDeKorne website for this hexagram, you will see that dark times are most definitely ahead. This is the darkest time that I’ve known in the United States in my lifetime – much darker, even, than the 9/11 tragedy. The I Ching suggests here that we maintain our dignity, but that we must be very careful to “exert our influence, only in the most subtle ways.” It is hard to say how Trump will deal with those who oppose him. I remember during the early Bush years, it was scary to speak out against Bush. I imagine that Trump will be much worse. This hexagram suggests that we are careful with how we exert our influence and I have thought about this a lot. If he is as bad as many of us believe that he is, he could be very harsh with those who oppose him.

If you read Deng Ming-Dao’s version of The Living I Ching for this hexagram, he reminds us of a story of a prince who was dealing with a tyrant. His closest advisors encouraged him to go into hiding (AKA: Canada) rather than try and fight the tyrant and possibly be killed. I thought about all those people who are planning to go to the rally in Washington for Trump’s inauguration. I am tempted to go myself, as angry as I am that he has been made our new president. But I am also scared of what this man will do when he becomes president.

The tyrant in this story had a guy’s heart cut out to determine if his heart was different than other people’s hearts. Trump talked about bringing back waterboarding. Pulling out someone’s heart might actually be more humane. I am hoping that the Republican Party can keep him in check, but my hope is dwindling as I see many who were deeply insulted by his rhetoric during the campaign are now embracing him, including Republican leaders like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and even Ted Cruz. Although, Ted Cruz does at least looked pained about it.

The image of this hexagram is Fire under Earth – or the hiding of your “bushel of light” under a pile of dirt. Yeah. The I Ching suggests that we work to maintain our health and our dignity and wait it out for good times ahead.

This hexagram also is like a volcano about to erupt. This hexagram suggests caution in going against the dark forces. In these times, it may be important to conceal yourself for protection. If you get a chance, pick up an I Ching book and read this hexagram. It is very interesting that this (of course) should be the one that I chose to highlight today, even though I am doing these in numeric order! Perhaps that is my very good excuse for having these posts be so far apart! I can blame “correct timing” of the I Ching! Ha!

Let me know what you think in the comments!


  1. Amy, first let me say that I have always regarded this hexagram with a sense of dread. Every time I have got it in answer to a question, the results have been less than pleasant.

    Nevertheless, now you should realize that you are considering this hexagram not in response to an inquiry, but because it was the next in your chronological consideration of the hexagrams.

    I decided to ask the I Ching what we in the US could expect over the next couple of years as a result of Trump’s election. I didn’t ask about any farther into the future because I do not expect that Mr. Trump will be able to serve longer than that. I also inquired about his health (since I assumed that everything he said about being in good health was a lie), and I got Hexagram #23, with moving lines in the first, second and fourth places. Read those and the resulting hexagram (#38), and you will see that he does not appear to have a healthy and rosy future.

    With respect to the question about the next couple of years, my answer was Hexagram #18, with moving lines in the 4th, 5th and 6th places. Its name is Ku, which means having painful or troubling work that must be done. It shows a period in which everything is going to ruin and describes how the problems can be resolved so that progress and success will come about.

    The fourth line shows a son considering problems caused by his father, with the admonition that he will have cause to regret if he moves forward.

    The fifth line shows a son dealing with the problems caused by his father and says that he will win praise and support if he handles them properly.

    The top line tells us that those who would retain their integrity do not serve kings or princes.

    The judgment for the hexagram tells us that there will be great advantage in “crossing the great stream”; but any action taken should be weighed for “three days” before the turning point and for “tree days” afterward.

    I take this to mean that now is the time for the superior person ( the person of “jen”) to take some time to consider how our country and political system have come to their present condition and what positive changes can be made. Mr. Trump and the Republicans will be judged on how well they deal with the problems that exist now. If they can solve them, then all the better. If not, then there should be a grassroots movement organized and in place to take the country forward in spite of the political rulers.

    It seems that the Republican approach is not going to work, since my resulting hexagram, after changing the moving lines, is #28, which represents excessive weight. It shows an building supported by a beam that is too weak.

    You are not old enough to remember the Vietnam era. It was a time when grassroots movements were successful. For instance, they caused Lyndon Johnson to support the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts and then to choose not to run for reelection. They brought an end to the Vietnam War and ultimately to the Nixon presidency. The time may be right for such movements once again.

    Then we would have to deal with Mike Pence, but that is a topic for another time.
    Louis Weltzer recently posted…BOULDER SKIES (BY PURE PRAIRIE LEAGUE)My Profile

    • Thanks for your thoughtful inquiry, Louis, as always! I know that these are all done in order, which is not standard protocol for the I Ching, but they are also far apart so I read them as a sign for the current state of things. At least I can say that each one that I have done has ended up being perfect for that moment in time and some of these posts have been months (sometimes MANY months) apart!

      Your responses sound very interesting. I will dig into them and let you know what I think.
      amy recently posted…Has Hatred Gotten the Better of Us?My Profile

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