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The Meaning of Hexagram #12

Also called "Stagnation"

I Ching Hexagram #12

Hexagram #12: Heaven over Earth

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I Ching Hexagram #12

This ominous hexagram symbolizes heaven and earth out of balance. Creative energies are flowing the wrong way, and little is accomplished. Ideas and projects stagnate, and enthusiasm disappears. Those who are not worthy of accomplishment are on the rise. Lesser men and women dominate the scene. Wise men note that the situation is dangerous and withdraw into introspection, modesty and meditation. Very little of value can be accomplished at this time.

NOTE: Looking for answers about how I Ching hexagram #12, "Heaven over Earth", is interpreted for questions about relationships? See our popular Love I Ching interpretation for hexagram #12

Changing Lines in Hexagram #12

Changes in Line 1

"When Grass is Uprooted, Other Plants Follow"

I Ching hexagram 12 shown with changing-line #1 highlighted

A change in this line at the base of the hexagram reminds us that forces that affect one person, also affect surrounding people. In difficult times, many are affected.

Changes in Line 2

"They Suffer and Endure"

I Ching hexagram 12 shown with changing-line #2 highlighted

A change in this line suggests that the only course of action is to "stick it out". Many will seek alternate paths, but they are equally dangerous. Those who are both wise and great will give no outward sign of discomfort or duress. They will walk bravely through this time and await a change in fortune.

Changes in Line 3

"The Shame is Theirs"

I Ching hexagram 12 shown with changing-line #3 highlighted

This changing line has an interesting meaning and suggests that one who has risen to power illegitimately will become shamed. The shame will either be a direct result of their climb to success, or will come about during their time at the top. Once shamed, lesser people who have risen to great heights, will quickly fall.

Changes in Line 4

"Act With the Command of the Highest"

I Ching hexagram 12 shown with changing-line #4 highlighted

This changing line reminds us that the way to move forward from a period of stagnation is to stick to one's core beliefs and principles. If one acts with the highest of intentions at all times, one will turn the course of the tide and begin to move forwards again.

Changes in Line 5

"Stagnation Gives Way"

I Ching hexagram 12 shown with changing-line #5 highlighted

All things must come to pass, and this fortunately true of times of stagnation as well. This changing line suggests that an individual (a man or a woman) will break the stagnation, and bring about a period of positive change.

Changes in Line 6

"Motion Resumes"

I Ching hexagram 12 shown with changing-line #6 highlighted

After a long period of standstill there is new movement. The ice is thawing and new life is emerging where there was none before. A period of rejoicing as energy returns, creativity blossoms and relationships flourish.

The 2 Trigrams Inside Hexagram #12

Hexagram #12 is structured out of two 3-line trigrams stacked over and under each other. The bottom 3 lines of hexagram #12 form the trigram for Earth, while the upper 3 lines form the trigram for Heaven.

Vector image of lower trigram Earth in hexagram #12
Lower Trigram of Earth
Vector image of upper trigram Heaven in hexagram #12
Upper Trigram of Heaven

NOTE: Generally speaking, the hexagram's upper trigram references external forces, while the lower trigram references internal forces.

Hexagram #12's Lower Trigram of Earth

Image of hexagram #12 with lower trigram highlighted

The evenly divided trigram of Earth sometimes known as the trigram of the Receptive. Its characteristic traits are powerful devotion and a resilient bowing to external forces. The trigram of Earth may also reference the state of 'motherhood' or traditional female forces. The three unbroken lines may also indicate the direction of southwest

Hexagram #12's Upper Trigram of Heaven

Image of hexagram #12 with upper trigram highlighted

The supreme trigram of Heaven is also sometimes known as the the Creative. It is a trigram of unadulterated, perfect creative force. The trigram for Heaven is a representation of pure truth and power. The trigram may also point to a father figure — or the direction of the northwest.

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List of all possible changes for hexagram #12

A note on iFate's I Ching translation: This is not a direct translation of the original "Book of Changes" from 1000 BC. While multiple translations of the original text are available, they include many archaic references and can be difficult to understand for 21st century readers. iFate uses our own modern rewritings (two different editions) of the "Book of Changes" which makes interpreting I Ching readings far simpler. For iFate's additional contemporary re-writing of the original text, see our "Love I Ching" translation.

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