归妹 Guī Mèi Union Marrying Maiden [hexagram 54]
Month 9 ; Host or Controlling line : 5
归妹: 征凶, 无攸利. Guī mèi: zhēng xiōng, wú yōu lì.
Gui Mei indicates that (under the conditions which it denotes) action will be evil, and in no wise advantageous.彖传: 归妹, 天地之大义也. 天地不交, 而万物不兴, 归妹人之终始也. 说以动, 所归妹也. 征凶, 位不当也. 无攸利, 柔乘刚也. Tuàn zhuàn: Guī mèi, tiān dì zhī dà yì yě. tiān dì bù jiāo, ér wàn wù bù xīng, guī mèi rén zhī zhōng shǐ yě. shuō yǐ dòng, suǒguī mèi yě. zhēng xiōng, wèi bù dàng yě. wú yōu lì, róu chéng gāng yě.
By Gui Mei (the marrying away of a younger sister) the great and righteous relation between heaven and earth (is suggested to us). If heaven and earth were to have no intercommunication, things would not grow and flourish as they do. The marriage of a younger sister is the end (of her maidenhood) and the beginning (of her motherhood). We have (in the hexagram the desire of) pleasure and, on the ground of that, movement following. The marrying away is of a younger sister. ‘Any action will be evil:’ - the places (of the lines) are not those appropriate to them. ‘It will be in no wise advantageous:’ - the weak (third and fifth lines) are mounted on strong lines.象传: 泽上有雷, 归妹; 君子以永终知敝. Xiàng zhuàn: Zé shàng yǒu léi, guī mèi; jūn zǐ yǐ yǒng zhōng zhī bì.
(The trigram representing the waters of) a marsh and over it that for thunder form Gui Mei. The superior man, in accordance with this, having regard to the far-distant end, knows the mischief (that may be done at the beginning).
The first ‘nine’, undivided, shows the younger sister married off in a position ancillary to the real wife. (It suggests the idea of) a person lame on one leg who yet manages to tramp along. Going forward will be fortunate.象传: 归妹以娣, 以恒也. 跛能履吉, 相承也. Xiàng zhuàn: Guī mèi yǐ dì, yǐ héng yě. bǒ néng lǚ jí, xiāng chéng yě.
‘The younger sister is married off in a position ancillary to that of the real wife:’ - it is the constant practice (for such a case). ‘Lame on one leg, she is able to tramp along:’ - she can render helpful service.
The second ‘nine’, undivided, shows her blind of one eye, and yet able to see. There will be advantage in her maintaining the firm correctness of a solitary widow.象传: 利幽人之贞, 未变常也. Xiàng zhuàn: Lì yōu rén zhī zhēn, wèi biàn cháng yě.
‘There will be advantage in maintaining the firm correctness of a solitary widow:’ - (the subject of the line) has not changed from the constancy (proper to a wife).
The third ‘six’, divided, shows the younger sister who was to be married off in a mean position. She returns and accepts an ancillary position.象传: 归妹以须, 未当也. Xiàng zhuàn: Guī mèi yǐ xū, wèi dāng yě.
‘The younger sister who was to be married off is in a mean position:’ - this is shown by the improprieties (indicated in the line).
The fourth ‘nine’, undivided, shows the younger sister who is to be married off protracting the time. She may be late in being married, but the time will come.象传: 愆期之志, 有待而行也. Xiàng zhuàn: Qiān qī zhī zhì, yǒu dài ér xíng yě.
(The purpose in) ‘protracting the time’ is that, after waiting, the thing may be done (all the better).
The fifth ‘six’, divided, reminds us of the marrying of the younger sister of (king) Di-yi, when the sleeves of her the princess were not equal to those of the (still) younger sister who accompanied her in an inferior capacity. (The case suggests the thought of) the moon almost full. There will be good fortune.象传: 帝乙归妹, 不如其娣之袂良也. 其位在中, 以贵行也. Xiàng zhuàn: Dì yǐ guī mèi, bù rú qí dì zhī mèi liáng yě. qí wèi zài zhōng, yǐ guì xíng yě.
‘The sleeves of the younger sister of (king) Di-yi, when she was married away, were not equal to those of her (half-)sister, who accompanied her:’ - such was her noble character, indicated by the central position of the line.
The sixth ‘six’, divided, shows the young lady bearing the basket, but without anything in it, and the gentleman slaughtering the sheep, but without blood flowing from it. There will be no advantage in any way.象传: 上六无实, 承虚筐也. Xiàng zhuàn: Shàng liù wú shí, chéng xū kuāng yě.
‘(What is said in) the sixth ‘six’, (divided),about there being nothing in the basket’ shows that the subject of it is carrying an empty basket.
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.