Trigrams, Elements, Functional Circuits

Daoism advises us to get to know the basic principle of continuously changing, phenomenal forms through observation of nature and to realize the Dao by harmoniously adapting to them. The I Ching, the Book of Changes, is a textbook for this process.

Traditional acupuncture, with its five-element theory, is also a teaching of change and transformation – and makes it tangible on our human body. For the trigrams of the I Ching and the five phases elements (Wu Xing) there are different systems of attribution. Within the scope of my research I learned about King Wen’s Later Heaven, which shows the trigrams in the chronological order of their emergence in the course of the year.

However, this system is not fully compatible with the five elements theory, because King Wen’s Later Heaven only considers the classical four seasons, and ignores late autumn as the fifth season and corresponding fifth phase element earth. After careful consideration, I have made a few changes to the order of King Wen’s Later Heaven:

This results in the following associations of the trigrams to phases elements and functional circuits:

WoodFireEarthMetalWater
TrigramZhen, SunQian, LiKunGen, DuiKan
MeridianGB, LIVSI, HTST, SPLI, LUBL, KI

Here you find an overview of all trigrams, with their meaning and associated meridian and phase element: Trigrams

Trigrams consist of three solid or broken lines, hexagrams of six lines. How hexagrams are formed – and also read – is explained in more detail here: Interpretation model