27.1 > 23, Where is my turtle?

Some explanation is due to those that are new to the I Ching. The first line of Hexagram 27 talks about a subject parting with his “magic tortoise”. Now, we don’t really know if the animal was given away, misplaced, just walked out of sight, etc. The thing is that the subject is regretting, or will regret, not having it anymore.

Tortoises were always considered “special” in ancient China, attributing them many qualities, not the least of them, magical qualities. Legend has it that the Lo Shu diagram was found on the shell of a magical turtle that emerged from a river. One important use–and the turtles take exception to this fact, I’m sure–is that their plastrons were used for divination. The procedure was to make small shallow incisions on the shell and then applying a red-hot iron to them. The cracks produced by the sudden temperature differential were read as forecasts, auspices and omens.

The text of the line (27.1) also gives the impression the Yi (our colloquial way of naming the classic known as “I Ching”) is talking directly to the subject and prognosticating “misfortune” for him:

Nine at the beginning means:
You let your magic tortoise go,
And look at me with the corners of the mouth drooping.


In a humorous way, I’m trying to picture a “Royal Diviner” as being the subject of the line and having misplaced his “tool” just before an important divination session for the Emperor…


34.6 > 14, A Matter of Stubbornness


10.2.6 > 17 A case of being right and lonely…