The Twelve Tidal Hexagrams


The brilliant image above shows the twelve tidal hexagrams – I believe these are attributed to Wang Bi, the remarkable 3rd-century scholar who compiled the standard version of the Dao De Jing.  This particular image was not developed until much later, as the classic “double-fish” taiji diagram in the middle was developed by Zhou Dunyi in the Song Dynasty.

To understand this image, note that the classical Chinese fengshui map orients south as “up” and north as “down”.  It also serves as a clock, with midnight at the bottom and noon at the top (completing one circle per day).  So if we are in the northern hemisphere facing south, Earth is below our feet and Heaven is above our head, and north is behind us and south is in front.

From this vantage, notice that the sun traverses the sky in a clockwise motion.  At the depth of midnight there is no yang, just yin; at the height of noon there is no yin, just yang – but these don’t last long.  Note that the hexagrams shown here are written with the bottom lines facing the center of the circle.

These twelve hexagrams match the Twelve Earthly Branches, or zodiac animals.  In this image, Pig is shown at the bottom (all yin lines), Snake at the top (all yang lines).  Tiger is at the left (east), Monkey at the right (west).  Rat (the first animal) extends out from Pig, with one yang line at the base and the rest yin.  From here, yang gradually swells until it reaches the apex at Snake, and then gradually recedes back to Pig.

There is so much we can study based on this chart.  I share it here simply with regard to the twelve moons, as these hexagrams describe the quality of each moon in the context of the rise & fall of the year.  For example, Tiger Moon is the third moon (technically considered the first moon of the new year).  The associated tidal hexagram is #11 (Grandeur), showing three yang lines below and three yin lines above – a state of perfect balance and harmony, thus an auspicious time to start the new year.

These tidal hexagrams are a different system from the bazi hexagrams we are covering in our Dark Moon Newsletter.  I honestly don’t know how these systems relate to one another or their respective applications.  But I think we should keep in mind that from the perspective of annual qi, Tiger (the third of the 12 tidal hexagrams) always relates to Hexagram #11, while Monkey (the ninth of 12) always relates to Hexagram 12.  The numbers 3 & 9 relate to yang and are considered very auspicious, but as with yang, both Tiger & Monkey also come with great potential danger.

Tidal hexagrams notwithstanding, in terms of the Sexagenary Cycle of 60 moons that we use in the bazi, the various signs have different hexagram correspondences.   The current moon for instance is Yang-Metal Tiger, which in the bazi relates to Hexagram #12, while Yang-Metal Monkey corresponds to Hexagram 11!

So as we continue this 60-moon observation, keep in mind this separate system of the Twelve Tidal Hexagrams governing the annual qi of each moon, and then within that context look at the bazi hexagram.  Subscribe here to join me in this 60-moon project.

Author: Wuming Chuan