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:
- Qian: Due to its expansive characteristics, I find it reasonable to attribute heaven to the phase element fire (rather than phase element metal). Moreover, in the classical teachings, the heart is also the seat of Shen.
- Gen: mountain (rest, contemplation) corresponds in my opinion rather to the phase element metal (transcendence) than to phase element water.
- Kun: I assign earth to the nourishing phase element earth (instead of phase element fire).
This results in the following associations of the trigrams to phases elements and functional circuits:
|Trigram||Zhen, Sun||Qian, Li||Kun||Gen, Dui||Kan|
|Meridian||GB, LIV||SI, HT||ST, SP||LI, LU||BL, KI|
Here you find an overview of all trigrams, with their meaning and associated meridian and phase element: Trigrams