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I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

56: The Wanderer

The Wanderer

A seasoned traveler knows that a special decorum is called for when venturing far from home. He or she must develop a more yielding personality, so that the “local contact,” or host, can open doors and prevent unseemly errors. Inwardly, the wanderer knows that it is sometimes impossible to discern the true intentions of strangers. Are they hostile, or friendly, or merely opportunistic?

The twin houses of mystery and discovery rule any journey. Each new day is launched on a fresh landscape, one that reaches out to grab our full attention. Travel is a great teacher, and a great equalizer. There is an art to living on the road. Increased caution and discernment become the keys not only to success, but also to survival.

If you are entering a new environment, be sincere, flexible, and undemanding, rather than stubborn. Get rid of attitudes and habits that could encumber you, or make you overly conspicuous. The onset of a great journey is not a favorable time to enter into binding agreements, or to start new enterprises. And, though being the wanderer offers you a certain freedom from being judged by your history; you also have no history to fortify you. Pay close attention to local customs.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

When you are in a vulnerable position -- as is any wanderer -- do not become involved with trivial matters that are not your concern. Maintain your sense of purpose, and don’t allow yourself to become too distracted. If forced into tempting circumstances, maintain your dignity and reserve; otherwise misfortunes will happen. A traveler preoccupied with petty things is inviting bad luck. As ever, perseverance furthers.

Line 2

Two of the greatest assets of a traveler are modesty and a natural affection for people, even those very different from oneself. Such a warm and open attitude should be cultivated whenever you find yourself in a new environment; great benefit will come from it. Also, the more ambitious a journey, the more beneficial it is to share it with a trustworthy companion.

Line 3

When a traveler in a strange land has no one to trust, the situation can become dangerous. If you meddle in affairs and controversies that do not concern you, you are taking a great risk. If you are careless with those who are willing to help you, you lose their support. Those who become arrogant in the company of pygmies are cut off at the knees. No place is safe for the ill-behaved.

Line 4

Here is the predicament of the traveler who takes up a temporary residence in a strange place: Even though he has managed to acquire a safe haven, he must remain alert, because he is not yet in full harmony with his surroundings. He may like where he has landed, but in his heart he is still unsettled, for this is not yet his permanent home.

Line 5

A skillful traveler shows good manners and wins acceptance. A time of success, promotion and reward is indicated. Those who learn to thrive in new lands will prosper anywhere. Supreme good fortune!

Line 6 (top line)

A changing line in the 6th place suggests a bird whose nest has burned up. The worst mistake a traveler can make is to forget that he is an outsider. Such forgetfulness produces carelessness, and such a traveler becomes lost. Carelessness on the road -- or in any new situation -- inevitably brings misfortune.