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The Meaning of Hexagram #33

Also called "Retreat"

I Ching Hexagram #33

Hexagram #33: Heaven over Mountain

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I Ching Hexagram #33

Advantage can often be gained by moving backwards temporarily, before again moving forward. This is a time to take a break, go on vacation or spend time alone. Step away from the "battlefield" for a time. Be willing to survey progress as well as losses. Cut losses and allegiances that hold you back from your goals. Reevaluate everything. Retreat can be a sign of strength here. This type of retreat is not the same as surrender; this is a regrouping of your forces.

NOTE: Want to know how I Ching hexagram #33, "Heaven over Mountain", applies to questions about love, marriage and dating? See our special Hexagram #33 Love I Ching interpretation.

Changing Lines in Hexagram #33

Changes in Line 1

"Retreating without Hesitation"

I Ching hexagram 33 shown with changing-line #1 highlighted

Why wait until the last minute to retreat? If the signs are pointing to a beneficial retreat, the wise person pursues their escape route immediately. If your current situation has hit a rough patch, take some time to look at it from the sidelines.

Changes in Line 2

"Deciding Deliberately"

I Ching hexagram 33 shown with changing-line #2 highlighted

Once retreat is set as your course of action, don't look back. Activate your decision with a sense of fervor and trust. Don't let your decision go astray. Tie yourself to your decision as if you are tying up a trouble

Changes in Line 3

"Handling Blocks"

I Ching hexagram 33 shown with changing-line #3 highlighted

People and circumstances may attempt to block your retreat. Don't let this happen. Keep strong your intention to retreat. Don't let other's opinions alter your plans

Changes in Line 4

"Retreating With Honor"

I Ching hexagram 33 shown with changing-line #4 highlighted

This line is a reminder that once you have decided upon retreat, good fortune will come your way. Stay decisive and there will be advantages all around. For the ambivalent one who cannot make up their mind, this is a time of missed opportunity

Changes in Line 5

"Valuing Retreat"

I Ching hexagram 33 shown with changing-line #5 highlighted

Withdrawing attention and energy from a person or situation that no longer serves you is noble and brings happiness. The wise person recognizes this moment for what it is: a chance to regain inner peace

Changes in Line 6

"Cheerful Retreat"

I Ching hexagram 33 shown with changing-line #6 highlighted

The weight from one's shoulders will lift as retreat unfolds. You've made the proper decision.

The 2 Trigrams Inside Hexagram #33

I Ching hexagram #33 is composed of two 3-line trigrams stacked over and under one another. The lower 3 lines of hexagram #33 form the trigram for Mountain, while the top 3 lines form the trigram for Heaven.

Vector image of lower trigram Mountain in hexagram #33
Lower Trigram of Mountain
Vector image of upper trigram Heaven in hexagram #33
Upper Trigram of Heaven

NOTE: An easy way to think about the two trigrams is that the hexagram's upper trigram points to external forces, while the lower trigram points to internal forces.

Hexagram #33's Lower Trigram of Mountain

Image of hexagram #33 with lower trigram highlighted

The looming and majestic trigram of the mountain represents stillness and something immobile. The trigram of mountain is powerful, silent and eternal. Simultaneously, its effect is calming and non-combative. The trigram of mountain may also represent a 'third son' or the direction of northeast.

Hexagram #33's Upper Trigram of Heaven

Image of hexagram #33 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 #33

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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