I Ching, Yijing or Zhou Yi
"Oracle of the moon": © 2000 LiSe

  Yi Jing, Oracle of the Moon


The Masculine and Feminine Colors
The Later Heaven Arrangement of Trigrams

by Connie Achilles

Connie: "Electricity is the servant of the God-Mind. Electricity expresses the desire in the God-Mind for creative expression by seemingly dividing the One still light into transient waves of spectrum. Divided positive-negative colors of light". [1]

Traditionally, in Western culture,
three colors have been considered as primary: red, yellow and blue.
Today, in current color theory and practice there are six primary colors: red, yellow, green, cyan, blue  and magenta Technically, these are the six primary chromatic colors. There are also the two achromatic colors of black and white so altogether there are a total of 8 primary colors in the color octave.

red, green, and blue are often called the "additive" primary colors, and refer to light. These are the positive masculine colors. Cyan, magenta, and yellow are often called the "subtractive" primary colors, and refer to inks or pigments. These are the negative feminine colors.

Our eyes are sensitive to three areas of lightnesses[2]. These areas are termed long-range waves, medium-range waves, and short-range waves. The length of these waves runs from 400 to 700 nanometers - the range of the visible light spectrum. In other words, the visible light spectrum is made up of those waves that our "eye-brain computers" translate into what we see, just as the audible spectrum is made up of those waves that our "ear-brain computers" translate into what we hear.

Our eye-brain computers translate the long-range waves into the color red, the medium-range waves into the color green, and the short-range waves into the color blue. If we see red, this means that the long-range waves are "on" and the medium and short-range waves are "off". If we see the color green, medium-range waves are "on" and short and long-range waves are "off."

If we see blue, short-range waves are "on" and long and medium-range waves are "off." But "on" and "off" are fundamental vocabulary words of the binary code, so our brains are really making binary calculations over a three-range area (the long-, medium-, and short-range waves). Figure 1 demonstrates.


A solid white line is used for "on" and an open white line for "off." (A white line is used here because when red, green, and blue light are combined, they create white light.) Long-range waves are set in the bottom position, medium-range waves in the middle, and short-range waves at the top.

The colors don't even have to be identified with words. The white solid lines (the lines that are "on") can simply be filled in with the color that fits that wave length, as shown in Figure 2.


This is actually a binary code (using the solid and open lines as "on" or "off"), overlaid onto a trinary code (the long-, medium-, and short-range waves). When this particular code of two and three combine, color is born! Amazingly, our end result also happens to be expressed in four of the eight trigrams of the I Ching, the 5,000-year-old form of binary in China.

King Wen, who lived around 1100 BC and was one of the great sages of the I Ching, called the four trigrams in Figure 2 the masculine trigrams. He labeled the red trigram as eldest son, the green trigram as middle son, and the blue trigram as youngest son. Solid lines are yang (masculine) lines. Open lines are yin (feminine ) lines.

A masculine trigram has an odd number of yang lines, either one yang line as is the case with the trigrams for eldest, middle and youngest sons; or three, as is the case with the trigram for "father". Just as a father is in different relationship to his sons than the sons are to one another, so white, as an achromatic color, is different from the three chromatic colors of red, green, and blue. red, green, blue and white - RGBW - form what musically is called a "tetrachord", but in the color octave, [3] rather than the traditional musical scale octave.

The feminine colors are often referred to as the three primary ink or pigment colors. They are cyan, magenta, and yellow, forming the second tetrachord which completes the "color octave".

With the feminine colors, the trinary code of long-, medium-, and short-range waves remains, but this time in the binary code a yin line indicates "on" and a yang line "off". Also, black is used instead of white to color the lines, because when cyan, magenta, and yellow pigments are combined, they create black pigment. This is just the opposite of combining red, green, and blue to create white light.

Figure 3 shows the trigrams with color words, and Figure 4 shows how the pigment colors look when the yin lines are filled in with the appropriate colors.

Again, by combining a code of two and a code of three, color is born. King Wen labeled these four trigrams feminine. He labeled the cyan trigram, eldest daughter; magenta, middle daughter; and yellow, youngest daughter. A feminine trigram has an odd number of yin lines, either one yin line as is the case with the trigrams for eldest, middle, and youngest daughters; or three, as is the case with the trigram for “mother .” Just as a mother is in different relationship to her daughters than the daughters are to one another; black, as an achromatic color, is different from the three chromatic colors of cyan, magenta, and yellow .

Obviously we see light in more colors than red, green, and blue, and obviously we see pigments in more colors than cyan, magenta, and yellow . It turns out that the secondary light colors are the primary pigment colors, and the secondary pigment colors are the primary light colors.[4] This is where the additive and subtractive processes come into play. Figure 5 shows the additive process.

Figure 5

If green light is added to blue light, cyan light is generated, as shown in the example on the left. If red light is added to blue light, magenta light is generated, as shown in the middle. Finally if red light is added to green light, yellow generated, as shown on the right. This additive process uses emitted light, creating all the colors seen on color television or viewed on computer color monitors. (This is why color monitors are called “RGB” monitors.)

With pigments, if magenta and yellow are overlaid together as they are in color separations, the medium- (green ) and short- (blue ) range waves are absorbed or subtracted, leaving only the long-range waves, which we perceive as red, as shown on the left in Figure 6.

Figure 6

The overlay of cyan and yellow absorbs the long- (red ) and short- (blue ) range waves, leaving green, as shown in the middle . The overlay of cyan and magenta absorbs the long- (red ) and medium- (green ) range waves leaving blue as shown on the right. This subtractive process uses reflected light to create all the colors we see

in printed materials (if you buy ink cartridges for your color printer—the cartridges are always in CMY or CMYK).

In Figure 7 all eight trigrams are combined in color with the familial relationships King Wen assigned to them.

The trigrams can be used as a visual language of pattern to describe the symmetry of complimentarity and reflection. The symmetry of the patterning is the same whether we are talking about relationships between men and women, relationships between yang and yin lines, or relationships between “masculine” and “feminine” colors. This system or pattern of relationships is so universal that it is even used to describe the relationships between subatomic particles. Figure 8[5][5] shows that the “color force” of quarks and antiquarks follows exactly the laws of color theory. and is intuitively a wonderful interweaving of the numbers two and three.

Figure 8 
Color Force/ color light analogy


proton and its relatives 

(three-quark combinations)


anti-proton and its relatives

(three-antiquark combinations)

mesons (quark/antiquark combinations)

(The permitted combinations of quarks match the laws of color-mixing precisely.  The quarks are not really colored.)

Mixing colors and anti-colors

Mixing colored lights
Mixing anticolored lights

There are three combinations of two (the quark/antiquark combinations of red and cyan, blue and yellow, green and magenta), and each of these three pairs creates white light. There are also two combinations of three (the quarks of red, green, and blue, and the antiquarks of cyan, magenta, and yellow), and each of these two triplets creates white light.

For behold, My imaged universe is mirrored to infinity;
it is repeated to the endless end;
yet there are but multiples of three in all My universe.
And again I say to thee,
two of those very three are naught but My imaginings,
for My Trinity is but One.  (TSOL p. 138)

A union is formed between male and female polar complements. White light is created by the pairing of a masculine and a feminine color. Each masculine trigram finds its feminine complement by the exact interchange of yang and yin lines. Eldest son marries eldest daughter - red and cyan are complementary colors and together create white light. Middle son marries middle daughter - green and magenta are complementary colors and together create white light. Youngest son marries youngest daughter - blue and yellow are complementary colors and together create white light. 

In summary, a masculine primary color is a color that peaks in one of the three areas of lightness. A feminine primary color is a color that peaks in two of the three areas of lightness. Then, very simply, the combination of any two masculine colors creates a feminine color, and the combining of any two feminine colors creates a masculine color. The four masculine primary colors - RGBW - correspond exactly to the four masculine trigrams of the I Ching. The four feminine primary colors - CMYK - correspond exactly to the four feminine trigrams of the I Ching.

Separating the 8 trigrams into 2 logical sets of 4 - one masculine and one feminine - is one of the logical sets of trigrams investigated by Dr. Frank Fiedeler in his books Des Monde des I Ging, Yin und Yang - Das kosmische Grundmuster in den Kulturformen Chinas, und Yijing, Das Buch der Wandlungen.

[1] (TSOL) refers to “The Secret of Light” by Walter Russell. (This article was originally written for “Fulcrum”, the scientific journal of the University of Science and Philosophy, formerly the Walter Russell Foundation.) (back to text)
[2] Lightnesses is a term used by Dr. Edwin Land in his research on color vision. (back to text)
[3] The connections between the sound and color octaves are discussed more fully in “The Metapattern of 8” also by the author. (back to text)
[4] This pattern of reciprocity appears again and again in Nature. (For example, in music, the same four notes are both the lower tetrachord of one scale and the upper tetrachord of another scale.) (back to text)

last update: 12.08.2023


© LiSe April 2000