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The Meaning of Hexagram #3

Also called "Trouble at the Start"

I Ching Hexagram #3

Hexagram #3: Water over Thunder

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I Ching Hexagram #3

Hexagram number 3 indicates progress after a difficult or delayed beginning. New projects or ambitions should be carefully planned before beginning. Consider the help of close friends or a trusted associate: their help will guarantee your success in the matter at hand. Storms may also be indicated here.

NOTE: Want to know how I Ching hexagram #3, "Thunder below Water", is interpreted for questions about relationships? See our popular Love I Ching interpretation for hexagram #3

Changing Lines in Hexagram #3

Changes in Line 1

"Hesitation and Burdens"

I Ching hexagram 3 shown with changing-line #1 highlighted

Initial setbacks often throw the weak willed from their course. Stay true to initial goals, but do not force your way forward if it is blocked. Instead, carefully consider the situation before advancing. A clear path will eventually present itself.

Changes in Line 2

"Difficulties Pile Up"

I Ching hexagram 3 shown with changing-line #2 highlighted

Even those who offer good-hearted assistance can sometimes be detrimental to your goals. Be careful of accepting assistance with strings attached. A clear path will eventually present itself freely.

Changes in Line 3

"One who hunts without a guide, becomes lost"

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

A person who enters a strange forest to hunt, without the guide of the forester, will eventually become lost. A wise person knows when to give up the hunt. Not all things are possible at all times.

Changes in Line 4

"Strive Towards Union"

I Ching hexagram 3 shown with changing-line #4 highlighted

Making the effort to assist someone will be beneficial to all. Changes in this line denote a "coming together" and a giving (or accepting) of generous help. Good things come through the acceptance of such offers.

Changes in Line 5

"A little does a lot. A lot does little"

I Ching hexagram 3 shown with changing-line #5 highlighted

There are times when small gestures work better than large sweeping moves. Be conscious of doing the right thing rather than the thing that is most impressive. A change in this line may also indicate an inability to express oneself due to the interference of others.

Changes in Line 6

"Tears flow"

I Ching hexagram 3 shown with changing-line #6 highlighted

A retreat is forced. There is no way to move forward. Tears are represented here. A time has come to pull back and reconsider the situation. Pain and sadness are indicated.

The Two Trigrams Inside Hexagram #3

Hexagram #3 is made of two 3-line trigrams mounted over and under one another. The lower three lines of hexagram #3 make up the trigram for Thunder, while the upper three lines make up the trigram for Water.

Vector image of lower trigram Thunder in hexagram #3
Lower Trigram of Thunder
Vector image of upper trigram Water in hexagram #3
Upper Trigram of Water

NOTE: A quick rule of thumb is that the upper trigram represents external forces or energies, while the lower trigram represents internal forces or energies.

Hexagram #3's Lower Trigram of Thunder

Image of hexagram #3 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 #3's Upper Trigram of Water

Image of hexagram #3 with upper trigram highlighted

The fluid and forever-changing trigram of water is also sometimes called the trigram of the 'Gorge' or of the 'Abysmal'. Water itself is shapeless and liquid — symbolizing shifting realities and random outcomes. This fluid trigram is often an indication of uncertainty or sudden shifts. The water trigram is associated with the moon's cycles and with the direction north.

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List of all possible changes for hexagram #3

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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