Trigrams and Hexagrams in “A Hex, With Bees”

In my Aurora-nominated poem, “A Hex, With Bees”, I had incorporated the meanings and structure of I Ching trigrams and hexagrams into it. The poem was inspired by two early memories of Taiwan, one of smoking out a beehive in my grand-uncle’s farm in the mountains, and one of my grandmother going for a reading in a temple.

I’ve had some questions from readers about how to do the I Ching interpretations. Here’s a very basic guide to deciphering them. I will not get too deep into the rich history behind the I Ching here (there are many websites that go into depth), but hope that this will add to the reading experience for “A Hex, With Bees”.

The I Ching (Wikipedia) is an ancient divination text. Fortunes are told by casting yarrow stalks or coin tosses to generate unbroken or broken lines. These lines are grouped into three (the trigram), which is paired with another trigram to form a hexagram. There are eight possible trigrams, and thus sixty-four possible hexagrams, each with their own imagery and meaning. You would consult the I Ching to find out the meanings of these fortunes.

For example, in “A Hex, With Bees”, the first stanza is a set of three broken lines. That is the trigram symbolizing Earth. tri5

You can look up its meaning in this article, which is also a handy guide for the other trigrams.

The second stanza is two solid lines followed by a broken line. That is the trigram Wind.tri6

Thus, the hexagram formed by the first two trigrams is Earth over Wind, or Hexagram 46: Pushing Upward. 

tri5tri6You can look up the meaning of this and other hexagrams using this chart.

That should be enough to guide you through the other layer of meaning and imagery in “A Hex, With Bees”. So grab a copy of the poem from Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen and decipher the hexagrams!

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