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I Ching Hexagram 54 - Kuei Mei / The Marrying Maiden

hexagram 54
  • Above Chen the Arousing, Thunder
  • Below Tui the Joyous, Lake


Above we have Chen, the eldest son, and below, Tui, the youngest daughter. The man leads and the girl follows him in gladness. The picture is that of the entrance of the girl into her husband's house. In all, there are four hexagrams depicting the relationship between husband and wife. Hsien, Influence, (31) , describes the attraction that a young couple have for each other; Heng, Duration (32), portrays the permanent relationships of marriage; Chien,Development (53), reflects the protracted, ceremonious procedures attending The Marrying Maiden (54), shows a young girl under the guidance of an older man who marries her.

See the James Legge translation of this hexagram.

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The Marrying Maiden. Undertakings bring misfortune. Nothing that would further.

Judgement Commentary

A girl who is taken into the family, but not as the chief wife, must behave with special caution and reserve. She must not take it upon herself to supplant the mistress of the house, for that would mean disorder and lead to untenable relationships. The same is true of all voluntary relationships between human beings. While legally regulated relationships based on personal inclination depend in the long run entirely on tactful reserve. Affection as the essential principle of relatedness is of the greatest importance in all relationships in the world. For the union of heaven and earth is the origin of the whole of nature. Among human beings likewise, spontaneous affection is the all-inclusive principle of union.

The Image

Thunder over the lake: The image of The Marrying Maiden. Thus the superior man understands the transitory, in the light of the eternity of the end.

Image Commentary

Thunder stirs the water of the lake, which follows it in shimmering waves. This symbolizes the girl who follows the man of her choice. But every relationship between individuals bears within it the danger that wrong turns may be taken, leading to endless misunderstandings and disagreements. Therefore it is necessary constantly to remain mindful of the end. If we permit ourselves to drift along, we come together and are parted again as the day may determine. If on the other hand a man fixes his mind on an end that endures, he will succeed in avoiding the reefs that confront the closer relationships of people.

The Lines

Nine at the beginning means: The marrying maiden as a concubine, a lame man who is able to tread. Undertakings bring good fortune.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 40 - Hsieh / Deliverance. This line needs to understand and respect the separation between public and private life. We may find ourselves in a position inappropriate for our abilities or social status but we can still achieve something, even if only minor by acting within these limitations as best we can. Legge has it thus "Notwithstanding apparent disadvantages, an able officer may do his ruler good service" despite his lowly status. The outcome hexagram is 40, Deliverance, which shows us in this context that we can expect "a time in which tensions and complications begin to be eased."

Nine in the second place means: A one-eyed man who is able to see the perseverance of a solitary man furthers.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 51 - Chen / The Arousing (Shock, Thunder). This line is required to endure its situation and do the best that it can. Legge describes this sad situation thus "...devoted loyalty in an officer will compensate for many disadvantages" despite the invidious position he finds itself in. The resultant hexagram 51, The Arousing (Shock, Thunder) indicates a shakeup is coming to this lines life, stay calm, things will improve soon.

Six in the third place means: The marrying maiden as a slave. She marries as a concubine.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 34 - Ta Chang / The Power of the Great. Sometimes we need to accept what we feel is a less than optimal outcome in order to have any outcome at all. If we seek unrealistic goals and take shortcuts to get them can the outcome be good? Legge also thinks that this lines misfortune is self inflicted "She turns out to be of so mean a character and such a slave of passion that no one will marry her. She returns and accepts the position of a concubine." The outcome hexagram is 34, The Power of the Great, which suggests that even if we do make our dreams come true, we will still need to act properly "greatness and justice must be indissolubly united."

Nine in the fourth place means: The marrying maiden draws out the allotted time. A late marriage comes in due course.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 19 - Lin / Approach. Here we see that this line waits patiently for the right opportunity to present itself. Eventually its patience is rewarded and its goal is attained. In Legge's example this line subject "...is in no haste. She waits, and the good time will come." The resultant hexagram 19, Approach, predicts supreme success but cautions that all that comes also goes. "If we meet evil before it becomes reality before it has even begun to stir, we can master it."

Six in the fifth place means: The sovereign I gave his daughter in marriage. The embroidered garments of the princess were not as gorgeous as those of the serving maid. The moon that is nearly full brings good fortune.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 58 - Tui / The Joyous, Lake. This line willingly accepts subordination to an inferior as part of its duty of place. Legge says "A wife ought not to eclipse her husband!" Even if the wife comes from royalty! This line is counseled to accept its place. The resultant hexagram 58, The Joyous indicates that such submission in this particular case will be very happy.

Six at the top means: The woman holds the basket, but there are no fruits in it. The man stabs the sheep, but no blood flows. Nothing that acts to further.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 38 - K'uei / Opposition. Going through the motions is a waste of time and effort. If you don't really believe why pretend? Legge sees empty offerings and insincere promises as being productive of nothing good. The resultant hexagram 38, Opposition reinforces this outcome. "When people live in opposition and estrangement they cannot carry out a great undertaking in common."

See the James Legge - I Ching Hexagram 54 - Kuei Mei / The Marrying Maiden translation of this hexagram.