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The Meaning of Hexagram #21

Also called "Jaws"

I Ching Hexagram #21

Hexagram #21: Fire over Thunder

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I Ching Hexagram #21

Hexagram number 21 which is formed of the two powerful trigrams "Fire" and "Thunder" suggests something that is caught between two powerful forces. When that thing which is caught between the two forces is "chewed up", a positive union of two powerful forces will occur. There may be something that stands between you and your goal. It will not vanish by itself -- instead it will take constant and repeated pressure to remove this obstacle. This hexagram may also symbolize a lawsuit, legal action or legal penalties.

NOTE: Looking for answers about how I Ching hexagram #21, "Fire over Thunder", can be applied to questions about relationships? See our popular Love I Ching interpretation for hexagram #21

Changing Lines in Hexagram #21

Changes in Line 1

"Feet are Fastened"

I Ching hexagram 21 shown with changing-line #1 highlighted

A change in this line at the bottom of the hexagram reference a mild penalty. A brief restriction of movement or a time of waiting may be involved. Such inconveniences are important indicators of what may lie ahead should transgressions continue.

Changes in Line 2

"Delicious and Tender"

I Ching hexagram 21 shown with changing-line #2 highlighted

When an obstruction is weak, it is easy to become carried away when removing it. Remember that beneath easy tasks, sometimes lurk much more difficult tasks. Be cautious of "biting off more than you can chew".

Changes in Line 3

"Difficult to Chew"

I Ching hexagram 21 shown with changing-line #3 highlighted

The task of removing an obstacle has fallen to someone who may lack sufficient power to be effective at this time. The problem persists. Failing to remove the problem leads to embarassment. However the course of action is still valid. Persistance is recommended.

Changes in Line 4

"Arrows of Steel"

I Ching hexagram 21 shown with changing-line #4 highlighted

The obstacle in your path is resistant to all your efforts. It is proving to be as resilient as it is annoying. Examine your obstacle more carefully. It has a weakness which you may not have perceived. When you have seen what you must do, you must use stronger tactics against this vulnerable place. Persistance is recommended.

Changes in Line 5


I Ching hexagram 21 shown with changing-line #5 highlighted

Perseverance against an obstacle yields gold. This changing line may represent a financial victory or a favorable settlement. One must be cautious here. The difference between success and failure will ultimately rest with the decisions of someone else. Diplomacy and perseverance are called for.

Changes in Line 6


I Ching hexagram 21 shown with changing-line #6 highlighted

It appears a judgement will not be in your favor. Someone will decide against you. A penalty of some kind may be coming your way. This line may also represent someone who breaks the law or who defies the rules. For this person, the result will not be favorable.

The Trigrams Inside Hexagram #21

I Ching hexagram #21 is structured out of two 3-line trigrams mounted above each other. The bottom three lines of hexagram #21 form the trigram for Thunder, while the upper three lines form the trigram for Fire.

Vector image of lower trigram Thunder in hexagram #21
Lower Trigram of Thunder
Vector image of upper trigram Fire in hexagram #21
Upper Trigram of Fire

NOTE: Generally speaking, the hexagram's upper trigram references external forces or energies, and the bottom trigram references internal forces or energies.

Hexagram #21's Lower Trigram of Thunder

Image of hexagram #21 with lower trigram highlighted

The enigmatic trigram representing thunder is an energetic mix of power and mystery. According to Chinese lore, thunder is often associated with the might and mystery of dragons. The trigram of thunder is also called the "The Arousing" and points to intent, motion and initiative. It is a building block of unbridled energy and forward progress. It may also refer to an 'eldest son' or the map direction north.

Hexagram #21's Upper Trigram of Fire

Image of hexagram #21 with upper trigram highlighted

The warming trigram representing fire is sometimes known by the more classical names, 'Attachment' or 'Dependence'. The fire trigram is associated with illumination and something that is both adapted and a source of warmth and security. Fire may also point to a 'second daughter' or possibly the compass direction of 'south'.

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List of all possible changes for hexagram #21

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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