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Hexagram 48: the Well

Story from Diana Ffarington-Hook, 'The I Ching and its Associations'. She lost an important set of keys, and asked the I Ching where to look. Answer: 48, no moving lines.

The keys turned up in the airing cupboard - fitting as a place where water is stored, and from which people are always coming and going. Also, the nuclear trigrams perhaps suggest finding metal (associated with the upper nuclear trigram, Li) inside.

The interesting thing about this reading for me is what else it might have been saying. The I Ching so often uses Hexagram 48 to describe reaching truth - often through consulting it. But it also suggests that drawing this truth isn't easy, and there's misfortune if what you use to draw it isn't up to the job. I wonder whether the message here wasn't greater than the question...


This is the second part of an account that begins at Hexagram 49

Not the first or last time Hexagram 48 will represent the I Ching... Hexagram 49 represented the human need; Hexagram 48 shows how the I Ching answers it. Always there, unchanging despite the enormous changes around it, constantly available if we can manage to draw its water successfully... . This is the context for all our renewals and revolutions! But this isn't just a simple contrast of changing people versus unchanging oracle. The Sequence from 48 to 49 actually says 'The Dao of wells cannot help but involve Radical Change.' So it's not just that we call on the I Ching for help when we face change - its truth is where the change originates. It must be something in the water...


It's late autumn, the days are short and dull, and seasonal depression is setting in. I was feeling quite proud of how well I was keeping on top of this, when two more very depressing emotional pressures were added. All the control I was so proud of seemed to evaporate. Panic, this can't be happening... How am I going to cope with this?

Answer: Hexagram 48, unchanging. I simply sat and looked at this in huge gratitude. You will cope out of the wellspring of strength and life that has not gone away - it has not changed or diminished just because your circumstances are difficult. When you are restricted and oppressed outside, you turn within to the Well (Sequence from 47). The only difficult question is how you will reach the water - can you find a long enough rope, can you preserve your fragile vessel? Rather than rushing from one task to the next and 'coping' busily, I need to stop, and spend the time it takes to reach the water.

This made me think more about the hexagram itself. Imagine the sheer miracle, for the writers of the I Ching, that life-giving water can emerge from a dark, muddy pit. This is not the same as water from a tap, or even rain water - you have to dig and reach into the darkness for it, but it will be there.


A 30 year old woman, recently divorced and diagnosed with CIDS (Epstein-Barr virus), had a series of readings over a period of six months. Basically it said at first to make use of bad time and work on drinking from the well. After she asked about her career path (she was thinking about changing from a career in radio as a DJ), the answer said to stay with the radio and not go back to school. When she saw a job on the internet, the Yi Jing said go for it, or 48,5: you receive clear water from the well. She persisted with the company about the job for several months. Then she was hired at double her old salary. Oh, and the perk, her job is on a Caribbean Island!!

Mary Halpin
Midaughter's I Ching site