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I ching

Lu (The Wanderer)

I Ching Hexagram 56
Lu (The Wanderer)

Action: Explore

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 28 Critical Mass: Adjust

Zong Gua (underlying cause) 60 Limitation: Regulate

And the still deeper secret of the secret:
the land that is nowhere, that is your true home.

He had the uneasy manner of a man who is not among his own kind,
and who has not seen enough of the world to feel
that all people are in some sense his own kind. – Willa Cather

Reading at a Glance: It is said that the greatest Wanderer does not know where they are going. This is the openness required to follow the Way. After the zenith of the previous hexagram, there usually follows an anti-climax where the atmosphere becomes uncertain again. Lu symbolizes the message that it is the journey and not the destination that is important. Something is changing and you will need to be flexible to adapt. Familiar routines and comfort zones will no longer do. The hidden influence of Critical Mass shows the importance of not becoming too complacent where stability can lead to stagnation and even collapse. The underlying cause of Limitation shows the opposite condition, where we hold to the familiar and abide by rules. For now, the vistas open before you and like the Fool in the Tarot deck, it is time for an adventure. Taking the road less traveled or leaving the ordinary behind is the only way to invigorate your sense of discovery. Wandering or traveling is an opportunity to examine the baggage you carry with you. Perhaps it is time to lighten your load? You may be changing residences or careers and an open minded attitude will serve you well as you approach the changes. You can be a gardener of people and yourself by acknowledging how individual differences can lead you to experience something different about yourself. Your way is only one way so be open to what Wandering into the unknown can teach you.

farmer crouched in field with vietnamese hat on

The greatest traveler

has no itinerary.

When traveling,

be a gardener

of every new experience.

“Whatever greatness may exhaust itself upon, this much is certain: it loses a home. Hence follows the idea of the wanderer.” You may follow the path of the Wanderer, mastering the art of living in a place without boundaries: “This is the deeper secret of the secret. The land that is nowhere, that is the true home. When some people travel, they merely contemplate what is before their eyes; when I travel I contemplate mutability.” When you wander in the land of Te, all of life is a place of discovery. You push onward toward new horizons because “the greatest traveler does not know where he is going.” If you follow, there are no limits to what you might become.

When far from home, you take your inner treasure and ritual along. “When the heart is uneasy, we support it with ritual.” Your daily ‘ritual’ is more obvious when you are forced to pack it for a long journey. To travel with companions, much energy is wasted in fortifying the dynamics of familiar routines. When you are traveling alone, you are more authentic and free to discover your real capabilities.

Some part of you is active during dreaming, where you access an awareness that becomes a postcard sent to awaken the one who sleeps by day. Each night, you travel back and forth from a strange land to understand the real essence of who you might become. When you dream, you access a place “as though there is no home to go back to.” When morning comes, you travel “across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.” Yet, you are always traveling across a tapestry that transcends boundaries. This is the openness required to be a Wanderer.

In the image of people loyal to a home that is far away, the Wanderer points to an endless expanse of sky, and shows you how the horizon is an illusion and that there are no real boundaries to your capabilities. The seed of self-realization is unfolding regardless of where you are. The current situation will not linger, and you will soon travel onward, although you have developed a sense of loyalty to carry with you. Everywhere you go, there you are, in a giant tapestry of your unfolding.

To approach the mystery of Tao, “you cannot take hold of it, but you cannot lose it. In not being able to get it, you get it. When you are silent, it speaks; when you speak, it is silent. The great gate is wide open to bestow alms, and no crowd is blocking the way.” When you discover the great gate, you may lose a paradigm, but will discover your true home.


The Wanderer is not home = enjoy the road less traveled. Receiving the Wanderer unchanging can show a current lack of commitment or an undecided situation similar to the Hanged Man in the tarot deck. Its message that all things become softer in time shows that if you give the situation time and remain flexible it can change in your favor. The Wanderer symbolizes the unknown period that follows any zenith so while you are seeking a definitive answer there is much that is evolving in the situation. Separations or an unplanned change can be on the horizon. You may have the opportunity to experience an entirely new way of life. Unchanging, the message is to let go of preconceived thoughts and remain open to the unfamiliar.

Line 1:

The wanderer is caught up in trivial things = this leads to misfortune. Changes to (30) Clarity. You are in a situation where others may not understand your actions. Respect the needs and routines of others and seek more to understand rather than be understood. Pushing your agenda on others can only annoy them. This is a time of learning from an unfamiliar situation so remain open to how you might change your way of thinking or responding.

Line 2:

The wanderer arrives carrying possessions on the back = winning a committed young servant. Changes to (50) Cauldron. Although you are operating in an unfamiliar environment you are respected for being modest and flexible. This leads others to help you. The Cauldron can show sacrifices made for the benefit of the group. In this situation life can be reduced to bare necessities so that your sense of value can go through a transformation and lead to a stronger partnership.

Line 3:

The wanderer's inn burns down and the young servant is lost = danger. Changes to (35) Progress. Rather than appreciate the kindness of others in a situation where you are being aided, your behavior is not winning you friends. This line is a warning not to bite the hand of those who feed you. Beware of impulsive responses that burn bridges in a way that you lose the support of others.

Line 4:

The wanderer rests in a shelter and obtains property and an ax = but the heart is not glad. Changes to (52) Keeping Still. While you have arrived at a comfortable situation and your basic needs are met, the overall atmosphere is not fulfilling. Respecting others and biding your time leads to greater opportunity in the future. Examine what is missing in the current situation and whether it is just your attitude that requires adjustment.

Line 5:

The wanderer shoots a pheasant with an arrow = this brings praise and an opportunity for advancement. Changes to (33) Retreat. There are behaviors required in this situation that you may not be comfortable with but are necessary in establishing a connection. Because you demonstrate a willingness to abide by the accepted norms others open to you. Retreat shows how strength and character can be asserted in a peaceful way. Shooting a pheasant was a customary introduction when foreigners visited new territories and offered it as a gift so a sacrifice may be in order.

Line 6:

The nest burns up, at first the wanderer laughs and later weeps = losing the cow in the process leads to misfortune. Changes to (62) Small Exceeding. Through carelessness or selfishness one loses their resting place. In the beginning it may not seem so bad but later one feels remorse and realizes the consequences of their actions. Rather than appreciating what one had and remaining modest like a cow, selfish motives lead to misfortune. There will be plenty of time for regret and repentance.

*This page provides insight on the following combinations: Hexagram 56 unchanging Hexagram 56.1 Hexagram 56.1.2 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 56.2 Hexagram 56.2.3 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 56.3 Hexagram 56.3.4 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 56.4 Hexagram 56.4.5 Hexagram Hexagram 56.5 Hexagram 56.5.6 Hexagram 56.6