All 64 hexagrams of the I Ching can be read in positive and constructive ways.
There are lessons, meditations and predictions to take away from each and every 6 line masterpiece — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few hexagrams that readers dread during an I Ching reading. Some hexagrams point to painful lessons, difficult situations and rough waters ahead.
An iFate reader recently asked “What’s the worst hexagram in the I Ching?” and I had to admit, it’s not a question I had ever thought about in those terms.
Rather than pick a single “worst”, I think it’s easier to pick 3 that are all a bit scary in their own way. Which one of these represents “the worst” will probably depend on your specific situation, and on what you least want to hear at any given time.
Ok, let’s get dark…
The three “worst” hexagrams in the I Ching
The word “Exhaustion” is pretty bad all by itself. And whether this hexagram points to feeling worn out, defeated or a state of feeling emotionally depleted, it’s often the last thing anyone wants to hear.
The important thing about Hexagram 47 is that it represents a passing phase. Pull back, regroup, recoup and prepare for regrowth.
Division, conflict, instability and destruction. There’s a whole lot to be concerned about here. This destructive hexagram could definitely take the title of “worst” — especially if you’re asking for relationship advice or inquiring about business partnerships.
Then again, there are also some situations when “Splitting Apart” can herald something positive: With destruction often comes opportunity and new possibilities.
If you had to pick a gloomy sounding name for a hexagram, “Darkening of the Light” sure is up at the top of the list. This ominous hexagram which foretells a darkening of the spirit, and a “diminishing of one’s brightness” is definitely a scary one.
On the other hand, the real lesson of this hexagram is that you are the light. When your perceived radiance fades, remember that the truest light burns within you. Ultimately, it’s a very empowering hexagram — but there’s no doubt it’s a scary one.
Are any I Ching hexagrams really “bad”?
The truth is, all I Ching hexagrams are meditations. They sometimes come with sober warnings, but they’re never apocalyptic. The entire idea behind the ancient Book of Changes is that it’s cyclical. All things must pass — both good and bad. The I Ching hexagrams that are painful, are there for a reason: To force us to internalize our energy and our spirit — and to focus on improvement.
No one wants to see a negative hexagram when asking for advice. But sometimes it’s the tough advice that’s the most valuable of all.
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