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The Meaning of Hexagram #8

Also called "Union"

I Ching Hexagram #8

Hexagram #8: Water over Earth

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I Ching Hexagram #8

Hexagram number 8 represents the binding force, or commitments that exist between two people or organizations. Through union we become more powerful and yet we must also remember that to some extent we become less free. Strong commitment and authority is required, but so is a letting go of personal desires for the sake of the greater good. Union is an agreement and a blessing. It is a force for strength, but it must also be nurtured and protected. A union that is not defended will eventually shatter.

NOTE: Want to know how I Ching hexagram #8, "Water over Earth", can be applied to questions about dating, marriage and romantic issues? See iFate's popular Love I Ching interpretation for hexagram #8

Changing Lines in Hexagram #8

Changes in Line 1

"Truth is Like a Full Earthen Bowl"

I Ching hexagram 8 shown with changing-line #1 highlighted

This changing line, at the base of the hexagram references the most basic elements of relationships. Even when they are simple, they are evenly rounded and strong. A full earthen bowl is obviously full. It does not hide its contents. Consider basic things before considering things that are elaborate.

Changes in Line 2

"Perseverance Brings Good Fortune"

I Ching hexagram 8 shown with changing-line #2 highlighted

Since this changing line is part of the larger hexagram of "Union", it is interpreted as a perseverance in personal relationships. Those who stand by others will succeed. Those who move between friends, lovers and associates as if they are disposable will find ruin among weak friendships and broken partnerships.

Changes in Line 3

"Bound Together with Bad People"

I Ching hexagram 8 shown with changing-line #3 highlighted

Frequently we find ourselves associating or even in relationships with those who do not have our best interests at heart. This changing line reminds us that familiarity does not always equal dependability. We are also reminded that fundamental differences between certain people do not change.

Changes in Line 4

"Holding Overtly"

I Ching hexagram 8 shown with changing-line #4 highlighted

There is a point in a relationship in which the solidity of the relationship has become so reliable and strong that it should be visible openly. Loyalties become stronger when they are visible and it is visibility that is called for at this time.

Changes in Line 5

"Three Sides Only"

I Ching hexagram 8 shown with changing-line #5 highlighted

The symbolism here is that three of four possible sides are bound tightly, but a fourth side is intentionally left open -- meaning that relationships and loyalties must be strong, but also relaxed. They must remain open to the outside world and fresh possibilities.

Changes in Line 6

"A Union Without a Head"

I Ching hexagram 8 shown with changing-line #6 highlighted

This changing line at the top of the hexagram is a warning that relationships and loyalties were entered without prior thoughtfulness. Misfortune awaits. The body has acted without the mind. Fools rush in.

The Trigrams Inside Hexagram #8

Hexagram #8 is structured out of two 3-line trigrams mounted on top of one another. The lower three lines of hexagram #8 make up the trigram for Earth, while the upper three lines make up the trigram for Water.

Vector image of lower trigram Earth in hexagram #8
Lower Trigram of Earth
Vector image of upper trigram Water in hexagram #8
Upper Trigram of Water

NOTE: In general terms, the hexagram's upper trigram references external forces or energies, while the lower trigram references internal forces or energies.

Hexagram #8's Lower Trigram of Earth

Image of hexagram #8 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 #8's Upper Trigram of Water

Image of hexagram #8 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 #8

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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