Jiě/ Relief 解 Spring I Ching

May Trigram

I Ching Interpretation & Meaning Hexagram 40 - Jiě

The hexagram associated with the fourth month of the Chinese lunar calendar or May on the solar/Gregorian calendar is Jiě 解/ Deliverance or Relief (#40). In the sequence of the gua, Jiě 解 follows Jiān 艱/ Difficulty or Hardship because things cannot remain in hardship without end. Many of us have been ill, many have lost friends or family, and nearly all of us have been frightened. Certainly, the isolation has engendered anxiety, depression, or feelings of loneliness. The I Ching promises Deliverance or Relief from these conditions.

This Spring has been full of starts and false beginnings. A friend remarked that March came in like a lion and went out like a bigger lion. It seems like it has been unusually windy, wet, and cold, with reports of snow on the dogwood and forsythia blooms. Some would say that it has been a long winter with over two years of hardship and that we all have been waiting for relief. This cycle of change promises relief from the causes of distress. Certainly, everyone seems ready to move on from this recent period of contraction, withdrawal, and obstruction regardless of the lingering signs that difficulties may not be over. But then again, when in history have difficulties ever been completely over?

The image is Thunder above and Rain below, signifying a thunderstorm. After a thunderstorm, darkness passes, the heavens clear, the earth is ripe and nourished, and birds begin to sing. When this is timely, the sprouts of fruitful plants and trees open and prosper. The past is forgotten, transgressions are forgiven, and renewal is at hand. The superior person focuses on nourishing the present moment and anticipates prosperous times ahead.

Three of the major world religions have recently celebrated important annual holidays. Each one, in its own way celebrates hope, renewal and a refreshening of the human heart, mind, and spirit.

The Judgement
Relief/ deliverance
Favorable in the southwest.
Nowhere to go?
Come back, return to normal: Good fortune.
Somewhere to go—
Do not delay: Good fortune.

Spring I Ching image

The southwest refers to Earth and a return to ones roots. Going back to the conditions of normal times before the hardship challenged our very being will result in good fortune. Relief is at hand, so roll up your sleeves and get back to your work. Everyone, everything is ready for a renewal of health and success. The Tao supports return.

On the other hand, many people have no plans to go back to the office or their former livelihoods. The Judgement suggests that having made decisions to create a different life is also a path forward to success if one acts with haste. Consolidate the changes that have been contemplated or initiated quickly and good fortune awaits. Do not dawdle or waver, just do it. The Tao, in this case, supports change. Going back or moving forward are both auspicious in this unique circumstance.

This May augurs Relief from hardship and obstruction. It is time to take a deep breath, recognize the joy of being in this moment, find your center, and begin again with the next breath, which is coming as surely as summer follows spring. Do not let this opportunity of relief pass without returning to the previous conditions where things were “normal” or moving forward to a new situation that meets your present needs and serves your spirit. Fortunately, the past is over. Let it go into the dustbin of history, where it belongs. Relief is at hand.


  • Blofeld, John, I Ching The Book of Change, Penguin Putnam Inc., NY, NY (1965).
  • Cleary, Thomas (trans.), The Taoist I Ching, Shambala Press, Boston, MA (2012)
  • Huang, Alfred (trans.), The Complete I Ching, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, VT (1998).
  • Legge, James (trans.), I Ching Book of Changes, University Books, New Hyde Park, NY (1964).
  • Ou-i, Chih-hsu (Thomas Cleary, trans.), The Buddhist I Ching, Shambala Press, Boston, MA (1987)
  • Siu, R.G.H., The Portable Dragon, The Western Man’s Guide to the I Ching, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (1968).
  • Wilhelm, Richard (trans.), The I Ching or Book of Changes, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ (1950).

Bio: Skye Sturgeon, DAOM

Skye is the Quality Assurance Manager and Special Consultant for Mayway, USA. Skye was the former Chair of Acupuncture & East Asian Medicine and core faculty member at Bastyr University, core faculty member and Faculty Council Chair at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and President and Senior Professor of the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College, Berkeley. Before making Chinese medicine his career choice, Skye held various positions in the Natural Foods Industry for 12 years and prior to that was a clinical biochemist and toxicologist.
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