Hexagram 49 – of Volcano Islands, Smithery and Cat Fights

07 April 2015  Guest Post-I-Ching Hexagram

Guest Post by Arne Ziems, Switzerland, http://blog.fengshui-labor.ch

Let me shortly introduce myself: my name is Arne Ziems, my home is in Switzerland and I am a Yi Jing practitioner.
Recently I found Yh Pakus Blog, which I find a genuine and original source for good
spiritual advice. Yh Pakus reflections on the Yi Jing spring from his own insight, they are backed by his own experience and contemplation.  Thus, he becomes an inspiration for other seekers of wisdom and truth.

One of my own ways of approaching the Yi Jing is to look for images in nature, craft and society which reflect the 64 hexagrams of the Yi Jing to gain insight into the nature of the 64 hexagrams as ever changing images for all the different phenomena which can be encountered in our Universe. I feel grateful for the opportunity to write an article for his Blog in the form of a guest post. I like to share with you some of my thoughts on Hexagram 49 – Revolution (Molting).

Hexagram 49 – of Volcano Islands, Smithery and Cat Fights

Hexagram 49, , “Revolution (Molting) describes the course of events of revolution from an old and withered to a completely new Order. The example given within the Yi Jing is the violent revolution from one state order (e.g. like democracy) towards another (e.g. monarchy).

As mentioned before, one thing I like to do with the hexagrams of the Yi Jing is to find analogies and equivalents which can be observed in nature or society. The constituting base trigrams for this hexagram are Dui, the lake, on top of Li, fire.
Dui among many other things stands for marsh, happiness, talk, singing, storing, small metal, ore – or the youngest daughter within a family and many more.
Li finds equivalents in fire, anything adhering, restlessness, the sun, the middle daughter and many more.

This is what the resulting Hexagram 49 looks like:

Fire is hot, its direction is upwards, it strives for the above, it wants to transform and achieve.
The lake is cool and heavy, it has stored what it could store over the years and centuries and would like to pile up more.
As long as the lake finds its position beneath the fire there are controversies and discrepancies and perhaps suspicion, however usually little turmoil or fight. The middle sister commands the younger sister, which is in line with the order of nature. How different is it when the fire goes under the lake! Now the younger sister wants to command her older one. That means the fire is in danger of getting quenched to death! This is the time when the fire needs to strike back to ensure its survival – and to restore the natural order.
A violent reaction is going to ensue…

Lets view the relationship between the two trigrams by comparing their elemental phases. They are Dui (metal with a little water) and fire. Fire melts metal and water quenches fire. This is a relationship of fighting and destruction.

Images of Hexagram 49 – Lake above Fire

At the end of 1963 molten magma from the depths of the earth rose up to meet the cold water of the North Atlantic in the region of Iceland. 

Formation of the Volcano Island of Surtsey, Iceland 1963

Banging thunder, rumpus, quakes, fumes of brimstone, violent explosions and deafening noise was the result. The reaction of the hot magma coming from within the earth discharged over the weeks and months in ever a new barrage of explosions. The sea water got boiled within a blink of an eye and exploded over and over again. A plume of ash and vapor rose into the sky. After some time of action and reaction, a new island emerged from the sea, a new border and order had been established. The duration of this revolution was about 3 years. Ocean made room for new land – or better: the ocean was forced by the molten earth to make room for an island. By cooling down the fluid magma, earth was the result.

Images of Hexagram 49 – Metal over Fire

To be a Smith has become a rare profession nowadays, however they use the same principle as described in Hexagram 49 for their work now as they did a 1000 years ago. A cold and dense piece of metal is put over hot fire until it either melts or becomes ductile enough for shaping by hammering it.

The process applies and is the same for a small smithy to produce horse-shoes like it is for the biggest blast-furnaces producing giant steel-girders for sky scrapers.
The metal under the heat of the fire will have to abandon its old and useless form in favor of a new and useful form. The energy for the transformation again comes from the hot fire. The point here, as in the classic example of a state revolution is, that you got to have an idea of the result before you start forging. It is a difference
whether you forge a spoon or a knife or just waste the metal! When the day is over and the work is done, the metal hopefully will find itself in a new form, ready to be used in a new situation – one image of Hexagram 49.

Images of Hexagram 49 – Dui above Li – Cat Fight!

Now let us see which possible image within society there is for this Hexagram:

We have a fight between the younger and the middle sister for the same fiancee or boyfriend. The younger sister has the audacity to try snatching away the boyfriend of her next elder sister! 

Dui wants to marry before her time and her elder sister Li is not at all happy about that. Li will do anything within her power to restore the natural order and put herself into the place she knows to deserve. Meaning nothing less than putting her younger sister Dui in her place (Dui will not like that!). The result is an epic catfight. We can expect the older sister will at the end have the upper hand.


Hexagram 49 is about the idea of a revolution from an old towards a new order. This new order, after some time, will be subject to the attack of another new order and thus the cycles go on. 
The principle stays the same, you can also take a pot of food to be cooked or the burning of the middle age witches, or 10.000 other things. The
principle stays the same, no matter which opinion we attach to it.

The revolution goes on with struggle and fight and lots of action, it is possible to become violent. In case you encounter a situation in your own life which requires revolution then do not postpone it. After you made your mind up and the idea for the new order is clear, tackle the situation and turn it over!

Best greetings from Switzerland 

Arne Ziems


From YH:  Thank you for Arne’s guest post. It is a vivid explanation of I-Ching Hexagram 49 Reform.    

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