THUNDER³ nonagram, smudge studio 002020

THUNDER³ : 002020. A collection of works on paper (16 wood-block prints) in which the forces of change represented by the original eight trigrams of the I Ching join with limit case human and planetary events of 002020.

Eight trigrams serve as the dynamic roots of all 64 hexagrams in the traditional I Ching. They are: THUNDER, FIRE, WIND, WATER, MOUNTAIN, LAKE, EARTH, DRAGON* These trigrams express eight elemental energies that manifest as the ongoing transformation of the cosmos — as observed and storied by humans more than 2000 years ago. 

For our project, THUNDER³ : 002020, we repeated each root trigram three times. This created eight 002020 NONAGRAMS. We offer them as poetic sensations of the compounding transformational events and forces of 002020. 

Each 002020 NONAGRAM is paired with a KARMA’S WISE RETURN NONAGRAM. Composed of two hexagrams that share a central trigram, each KARMA’S WISE RETURN NONAGRAM arises from the transformation signaled by its mate. Trigrams are not labeled on the woodblock prints, inviting continued interpretation and evolving experiences. 002020 has incited many wishes and learnings. KARMA’S WISE RETURN NONAGRAMS convey them into the new realities of 002021 and beyond (a graphic key for each can be found at the bottom of this page).  

Offered as graphic design, poetry, visual stories from within human lives lived during a pandemic year. 

Communications from the Tao—or preferably, and without separation—the Tao imaging itself.  

The project consists of a series of eight pairs:  8 "002020 themed" nonagrams paired with 8 "karmic wise return" nonagrams.

THE 8 002020 NONAGRAMS:  Eight graphic, poetic sensations of compounding transformational forces. Image-sensations of 002020. Shape-shifting configurations of materials. A respectful riff on the I Ching

THE 8 KARMA'S WISE RETURN NONAGRAMS: Eight wishes and teachers taking shape out of  the changes storied by the 002020 nonagrams. Glints of karmically re-shaped, potential  futures. Invitation to unrealized wisdoms. A Taoist bow to transformation's nuanced complexities.  

The "002020" themes appear on the left, and the "wise return" themes appear on the right in each pairing (images posted below).

THUNDER, THUNDER, THUNDER      002020      |      002021







LAKE, LAKE, LAKE    ZOOM                                |      LIVELIHOOD ASPIRATIONS RECAST 

The eight traditional trigrams and their connotations: 

THUNDER ☳ Powerful voice of the ever-changing, roiling cosmos. Arousing and shaking, what disturbs and unsettles, and therefore triggers transformation. A force that can be destructive as well as constructive. 

EARTH ☷ Forces of change that are related to darkness, interiority, receptivity. The active, generative field that gives rise to what humans and nonhumans need to survive (three yin lines). 

WATER ☵ Abysmal, the gorge. Water insists on flowing downwards, seemingly forever. Water heads for the abyss. It strives to go underground. Very deep. Pit, hole or trap. Crisis. 

*DRAGON ☰ Creativity, mightiest forces. Dry warming sun after winter. Inciting force of emergent formation and configuration (3 yang lines). 

MOUNTAIN ☶ Stillness, seemingly forever. The mighty reach of a mountain. Earth upon earth (all yin) until the sky (yang) is reached. May also refer to stopping. 

FIRE ☲ Consuming energy. Clinging and radiant, while at the same time breaking free and departing. Boost of potency to the earthly yin. Earth is consumed by Dragon’s inciting forces. Transforming into another state of being. Separation. 

WIND ☴ Gentle and obedient, but also the ground, which is where the wind is felt. Great powers from above affect everything on earth. Wind is capable of rounding and re-shaping any object. 

LAKE ☱ Primordial sea. Beneath. Seemingly the origin of everything. Dragon forces sleep, hidden, below. A great body of water and the nourishment it conceals. 

* For this project, we have relied on David Hinton's translation of the I Ching — but we have chosen to use DRAGON to refer to the dynamic forces that Hinton (and many others) refer to as HEAVEN. 


Open Edition Variable (OEV) woodblock prints are available as:

"Chance" Set: In the spirit of the I Ching, one randomly chosen paired set (two "5x7" woodblock prints, including one 002020 nonagram and one associated "karmic wise return" nonagram). 100% cotton 140lb paper, hand-typed text $30 / 50 sets available      

002020 Tri-Set: set of three "5x7" woodblock prints (002020 nonagram, 002021 "karmic wise return" nonagram, and the 002020 nonagram rendered entirely in manual typewriter text (the word THUNDER typed nine times). 100% cotton 140lb paper, hand-typed text: $45 / 10 sets available

If interested in aquiring a complete limited edition of all 16 nonagrams as 5" x 7" or 8" x 8" prints (eight 002020 nonagrams paired with their "karmic wise return" nonagrams), please email  

*orders ship around January 1, 002021

THUNDER³ 002020


Related FOP post:

THUNDER³ : 002020, December 8, 002020 


Selected connotations for the WISE RETURN hexagrams:


THUNDER³ WISE RETURN card is composed of:
HEXAGRAM 3: BIRTH THROE Birth will be long, hard work. A weaving of order from the loom of origins.
shared central trigram: THUNDER
HEXAGRAM 32: MOON-DRIFT CONSTANCY Enduring on and on, inhabiting one’s own Way. Finding in every end a new beginning.

EARTH³ WISE RETURN card is composed of:
HEXAGRAM 2: EARTH The power and generosity of the earth and its landscapes.
shared central trigram: EARTH
HEXAGRAM 15: HUMILITY A sharing of things equally everywhere, reducing excess. 

WATER³ WISE RETURN card is composed of:
HEXAGRAM 18: MAGGOT BOWL Stirring people into action, fostering heart-sight clarity.
shared central trigram: WIND
HEXAGRAM 42: ENRICHMENT Dragon’s inciting forces moving together as an offering. Recognizing trespass to transform it. 

DRAGON³ WISE RETURN card is composed of:
HEXAGRAM 13: KINDRED SPIRITS Relying on how things are the same to see how things differ.
shared central trigram: FIRE
HEXAGRAM 30: RADIANCE Sun and moon, fire and fire — using the beauty at the hinge of things, transforming and perfecting all beneath the heavens. 

MOUNTAIN³ WISE RETURN card is composed of:
HEXAGRAM 5: ANTICIPATION Finding stillness and joy in simply breathing, eating and drinking.
shared central trigram: DRAGON
HEXAGRAM 33: SOLITUDE Solitude following its proper seasons, inexhaustible. 

FIRE³ WISE RETURN card is composed of:
HEXAGRAM 23: STRIPPING AWAY Lofty enriching the lowly, everyone dwelling in peace.
shared central trigram: EARTH
HEXAGRAM 11: DEVOTION Lofly and lowly weaving together, sharing the same purpose of moving in accord with the ways of the cosmos. 

WIND³ WISE RETURN card is composed of:
HEXAGRAM 8: CONFLUENCE People from lands in turmoil coming flocking, flowing together.
shared central trigram: EARTH
HEXAGRAM 19: LONG VIEW Mastering the long view, boundless care for the people results. 

LAKE³ WISE RETURN card is composed of:
HEXAGRAM 20: HERON’S EYE GAZE Reverent, vast, devoted, attention sweeping across the earth.
shared central trigram: EARTH
HEXAGRAM 24: RETURN Turning back. Traveling one’s own Way, without anxious longing. 

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