革 Gé Revolution Renewal [hexagram 49]
Month 3 ; Host or Controlling line : 5
革: 巳日乃孚, 元亨利贞, 悔亡. Gé: sì rì nǎi fú, yuán hēng lì zhēn, huǐ wáng.
What takes place as indicated by Ge is believed in only after it has been accomplished. There will be great progress and success. Advantage will come from being firm and correct. (In that case) occasion for repentance will disappear.彖传: 革, 水火相息, 二女同居, 其志不相得, 曰革. 巳日乃孚; 革而信也. 文明以说, 大亨以正, 革而当, 其悔乃亡. 天地革而四时成, 汤武革命, 顺乎天而应乎人, 革之时大矣哉! Tuàn zhuàn: Gé, shuǐ huǒ xiāng xī, èr nǚ tóng jū, qí zhì bù xiāng dé, yuēgé. Sì rì nǎi fú; gé ér xìn yě. wén míng yǐ shuō, dà hēng yǐ zhèng, gé ér dāng, qí huǐ nǎi wáng. Tiān dìgé ér sì shí chéng, tāng wǔ gé mìng, shùn hū tiān ér yīng hū rén, gé zhī shí dà yǐ zāi!
In Ge (we see) water and fire extinguishing each other; (we see also) two daughters dwelling together, but with their minds directed to different objects: - (on account of these things) it is called (the hexagram of) Change. ‘It is believed in (only) after it has been accomplished:’ - when the change has been made, faith is accorded to it. (We have) cultivated intelligence (as the basis of) pleased satisfaction, (suggesting) ‘great progress and success,’ coming from what is correct. When change thus takes place in the proper way, ‘occasion for repentance disappears.’ Heaven and earth undergo their changes, and the four seasons complete their functions. Thang changed the appointment (of the line of Xia to the throne), and Wu (that of the line of Shang), in accordance with (the will of) Heaven, and in response to (the wishes of) men. Great indeed is what takes place in a time of change.象传: 泽中有火, 革; 君子以治历明时. Xiàng zhuàn: Zé zhōng yǒu huǒ, gé; jūn zǐ yǐ zhì lì míng shí.
(The trigram representing the waters of) a marsh and that for fire in the midst of them form Ge. The superior man, in accordance with this, regulates his (astronomical) calculations, and makes clear the seasons and times.
The first ‘nine’, undivided, shows its subject (as if he were) bound with the skin of a yellow ox.象传: 巩用黄牛, 不可以有为也. Xiàng zhuàn: Gǒng yòng huáng niú, bù kě yǐ yǒu wéi yě.
‘He is bound with (the skin of) a yellow ox:’ - he should in his circumstances be taking action.
The second ‘six’, divided, shows its subject making his changes after some time has passed. Action taken will be fortunate. There will be no error.象传: 巳日革之, 行有嘉也. Xiàng zhuàn: Sì rì gé zhī, xíng yǒu jiā yě.
‘He makes his changes when some time has passed:’ - what he does will be matter of admiration.
The third ‘nine’, undivided, shows that action taken by its subject will be evil. Though he be firm and correct, his position is perilous. If the change (he contemplates) have been three times fully discussed, he will be believed in.象传: 革言三就, 又何之矣. Xiàng zhuàn: Gé yán sān jiù, yòu hé zhī yǐ.
‘The change (contemplated) has been three times fully discussed:’ - to what else should attention (now) be directed?
The fourth ‘nine’, undivided, shows occasion for repentance disappearing (from its subject). Let him be believed in; and though he change (existing) ordinances, there will be good fortune.象传: 改命之吉, 信志也. Xiàng zhuàn: Gǎi mìng zhī jí, xìn zhì yě.
‘The good fortune consequent on changing (existing) ordinances’ is due to the faith reposed in his aims.
The fifth ‘nine’, undivided, shows the great man (producing his changes) as the tiger (does when he) changes (his stripes). Before he divines (and proceeds to action), faith has been reposed in him.象传: 大人虎变, 其文炳也. Xiàng zhuàn: Dà ren hǔ biàn, qí wén bǐng yě.
‘The great man produces his changes as the tiger does when he changes his stripes:’ - their beauty becomes more brilliant.
The sixth ‘six’, divided, shows the superior man producing his changes as the leopard (does when he) changes (his spots), while small men change their faces (and show their obedience). To go forward (now) would lead to evil, but there will be good fortune in abiding firm and correct.象传: 君子豹变, 其文蔚也. 小人革面, 顺以从君也. Xiàng zhuàn: Jūn zǐ bào biàn, qí wén wèi yě. Xiǎo rén gé miàn, shùn yǐ cóng jūn yě.
‘The superior man produces his changes as the leopard does when he changes his spots:’ - their beauty becomes more elegant. ‘Small men change their faces:’ - they show themselves prepared to follow their ruler.
Then the association of the gua to the annual cycle is shown - this is the Chinese lunar month number (not Western month). The controlling or host ‘yao’ is considered the most important line in the gua and is highlighted in the hexagram.
The main description for the hexagram is then followed by a section for each of the six possible changing lines which indicate the transformation into another, related gua. The text uses ‘nine’ to refer to a yang line and ‘six’ for a yin line. The pure yin and yang hexagrams have, however, a different text structure as they are so important.