Answers Through Images

How does Yijing spark images to reveal exact answers?

The Clue of the Yellow Rawhide
About 4 years ago, A friend of mine was worried about her partner. They had a heart-to-heart talk, where her partner revealed that he wanted some time to cool-off so he can do some soul-searching. She knew she had to give him space, but she was too scared that he might give up their relationship too abruptly.

So she did her Yijing reading and got Hexagram 49 Line 1 changing to Hexagram 32. While each Hexagram comes with a specific ancient text to reveal what it tells, the most relevant and striking text in this hexagram comes from Line 1 statement itself. It says:

Line 1
Bound with a yellow rawhide*

She was clueless on what this line says to her, so she called me and sought my help to interpret. But when I read the line, I was equally clueless. My question was: What does it have to do with her relationship situation?

Meditating on Images
This Line 1 statement felt like a dead end, but that didn’t stop me. I took my time to relax. I closed my eyes and meditated on the image of the yellow rawhide. In a few minutes, the image of this Philippine 500 peso bill came to me:

Well, obviously this is yellow, but I was not really expecting this image to crop up. I still ended up clueless, so I continued to meditate. Then suddenly an interesting fact struck me: the very reason why this particular bill is yellow.

President Cory Aquino and Senator Ninoy Aquino, whose faces are printed on this bill, are political icons in the Philippines. During the 80s, Ninoy was assassinated and his widow Cory became the face of EDSA People Power that ended the rule of then President Ferdinand Marcos.

Their love story was as memorable as their political story. Ninoy was always out in his political calling, and Cory was left behind waiting for him to come back home. It was told that Ninoy asked Cory to tie a yellow ribbon around a tree, inspired by the popular song back in the 70s, Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree. It has since become the couple’s color, which inspired also the political movement during their time.

After checking the song again, the insight struck me: the answer to my friend’s question is the main story behind the lyrics of this song. It is based on the story of a soldier who asked his wife to tie a yellow handkerchief (later changed into ribbon) to know if he was still welcome to go back home.

So the “yellow rawhide” was about my friend’s patience in waiting and willingness to welcome back her partner even after the cooling-off.

Unpacking the Images
This reading has 2 sets of image:

  1. from the ancient text itself, and
  2. the insightful images sparked by the text

The first set of images comes the line statement itself: yellow rawhide.

  • Rawhide is a “stiff untanned leather”, and also “a whip or rope made of rawhide.”
  • Yellow, huang 黄 is the color of the Emperor, and said to be the color of Earth.

I was clueless of these images, and I could have remained stuck if I only chose to crack the meaning of the text. But these images led me to the second set of images. .

  • 500 peso yellow bill led me to realize the story behind the Aquinos’ color of choice.
  • Yellow ribbon mentioned in the song, along with the first few lines of the lyrics became the exact source of my insight

The insight from the second set of images does not come anymore from the text itself, but came as the result of meditating on the first set. These images sparked the story behind the color and the song, which gave the vital clue to the answer my friend needed to hear.

By now you might be asking, “Rem, how come you have used these images rather than reading the text?” Let me answer that briefly in the next part:

Image = Xiang
I remember Yijing expert Harmen Mesker quoted sinologist Isabelle Robinet about the meaning of the word xiang 象:

The term xiang may be rendered as “image,” “figure,” “symbol,” or “configuration”. The xiang are images that make things apparent; they are part of reality, and inherently contain and manifest cosmic dimension of things and their structure. This is why xiang are often considered to be the “real forms” (zhenxing) of things, or fundamental substance (*ti) of beings. They are visible but lie before and beyond the world of forms. They allow us to understand the world and to get along in the universe; hence they are guides and models of conduct.”

Isabele Robinet, Encyclopedia of Taoism

How does the image guides a reading? Here’s Harmen’s quote from sinologist Richard J. Lynn:

Thus, since words are the means to explain images, once one gets the images, he forgets the words, and, since images are the means to allow us to concentrate on ideas, once one gets the ideas, he forgets the images. Similarly…’the fish trap exists for the sake of the fish; once one gets the fish he forgets the trap.’ (italics mine)

Richard J. Lynn, The Dao Companion to Daoist Philosophy

Let me go back to the sequence of my reading:

  1. I read the image of yellow rawhide
  2. I got the image of 500 pesos and recalled the political couple’s story. I let go of the yellow rawhide.
  3. I was reminded of the song behind the couple’s story, and checked the lyrics. I let go of the 500 pesos
  4. The lyrics of the song was the message.

Yijing might be a mix of texts and symbols, but its great benefit is to bring images that reveal accurate insights to any inquiry. As Harmen simply puts it:

Words are images…All these (Yijing) texts can give you insightful information…

Look at the text as image.

Harmen Mesker

This reading approach on images is what ancient Yijing diviners did in their time. I was amazed by this realization because it perfectly confirms my personal approach to the Yijing reading ever since I started using it. No wonder the Yijing gives clear and exact insights, because it always reveal the hidden power of images.

*translation of Yijing text lifted from Hilary Barrett’s I Ching: Walking Your Path, Creating Your Future (2010)


Need a quick practical reading?
Try Yijing Quick Insight via chat/email.

Or do you need more time for a serious and deep reading?
Try Yijing Decision Clinic.


  1. NanaGSmith says:

    Very well written blog

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rem says:

      Thank you so much, Nana!


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s