Preview image for "The Eight Trigrams of the I Ching: Later Heaven" Spray Paint on metal design and art by Sacred Square Design.

“The Eight Trigrams of the I Ching: Later Heaven” Art and Symbols of the I Ching

The eight trigrams are the building blocks of the 64 hexagrams of The I Ching. In this piece, which is a pretty straight forward design piece, I used yin and yang lines that I made from the large wet on wet spray paint art pieces I’ve been creating as of late. The yin lines are the shorter, or broken lines. These represent the receptive, or feminine energy. The larger yang, or unbroken lines represents the creative, or male energy. The varying combinations of yin and yang lines, when grouped in threes, create the eight trigrams of the I Ching.

For this piece I wanted to show the eight trigrams which are associated with eight natural states or eight features of the physical world, in what is known as the “Later Heaven” arrangement developed by King Wen. There is also an “Early Heaven” arrangement of the trigrams developed by Fu Hsi. Same trigrams, but in a different order. Later Heaven represents the flow and energy of life once it is created. It represents created energies in a human being. I’ve put a link to a very detailed and informative description of the trigrams by Dan Miller from the Qi Journal website at the bottom of this post.

In short, Later Heaven begins at the 9 o’clock position, which is East (yes, east, as the Chinese symbols are reversed from our western patterns) and represents the trigram for Thunder. Thunder is recognized as being the arousing. It’s the spark, the initial energy that gets life or events flowing. Moving clockwise Thunder gives way to Wind which nurtures the spark and moves it along. Next is the trigram for Fire. The spark, the consciousness first seen in Thunder and then nurtured and carried by Wind now finds realization and maturation in Fire. The Fire trigram is representative of the South and thus the attainment of adulthood, or a full realization and maturity. Here there is the exploration of the spark or idea. As the idea or thought is further formed it is moved to the trigram for Earth. This trigram is made entirely of yin, or receptive lines and is the place where the idea grows and is internalized. The explorations and play conducted under the heat and flame of Fire is now brought inward to the receptive.

From the receptive, the thoughts and knowledge move to the contemplative nature of the trigram for Lake. In many ways this transformation is one from the physical to the spiritual. The Lake trigram is also representative of the West and the time of harvest, the autumn. One could look at it as an internal harvest of the knowledge which was originally sparked in Thunder.

Once the knowledge moves into the trigram for Heaven, which is made up of all yang lines and stands for the creative, the knowledge moves towards an even deeper contemplation and integration and then moves to the trigram for Water and also for winter. the time of deep inner contemplation. From here it moves to the stillness and solidity of the trigram for Mountain. And then the cycle is ready to begin again. The great circle of life energy endlessly repeating.

Here’s the image, “The Eight Trigrams of the I Ching: Later Heaven”. Original size is 18″x18″

"The Eight Trigrams of the I Ching: Later Heaven" An I Ching Art and Design piece by Sacred Square Design.

Now, I confess that the above explanation is probably lacking. I’m not a writer by trade, lol, although I often am mistaken for one. Here’s a link to the Qi-Journal article by Dan Brown I mentioned earlier. It’s in-depth and informative and covers a lot of ground concerning the eight trigrams and their development.

The Eight Trigrams by Dan Brown

As always, comments and thoughts are welcome as is outright outrage, lol…

yours in possibility,

P.S. My thanks and love, as always to my treasured and cherished Zen Girl for all she does and all that she inspires.

7 thoughts on ““The Eight Trigrams of the I Ching: Later Heaven” Art and Symbols of the I Ching

  1. why dont you view early heaven and understand that is the back of a cast as the later heaven the front of a cast. example mountain of early gives you the heaven of the later heaven . will love talking about this front and back to each cast. every front has a back

  2. Sheldon, the reason is simple, I never thought of it or saw it that way. That’s damn interesting. So clarify for me, when you speak of fronts and backs are you saying the upper and lower trigrams that would form the hexagram? You’ve given me an interesting idea for a visual piece, but I may not have the skill to pull it off like I see it. But thank you, and please, tell me more of how you see these two arrangements interacting.

  3. later heaven is the front of a cast. put early heaven behind and look through later to see matching triagram. heaven in later matchs up to mountain. so as the old man answers your question the spirit of his mountain is keeping still and as his answer flows out to your cast you see heaven is born out of mountaim. early reflects the spirit and later reflect this physical world of your cast

  4. Sheldon, thank you for the clarity. I saw the two heavens in Miller’s piece. Let me reread the Miller and the Wilhelm pages and yes, I’d love to talk about this and benefit from your education and knowledge on these. Thank you again. I’ll send you a private email later today.

    • please do send the e-mail. you still dont understand how to use the two views of the heavens. if you look at later you see the early heaven shows a bwck of mountain keeping still gives birth to creative

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