I Ching Archetype of the Iron Lady

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Written by TANG Xipeng  Translated by YAO Yuan

The death of Margaret Thatcher came as a shock for me and many Chinese who reveled overnight to celebrate the return of Hong Kong in 1997 and closely followed the Falklands War in 1982. In this article, we use I Ching to interpret the personality of Thatcher to pay tribute to the “Iron Lady” and the bygone era.

Using the appraisal methods of I Ching, we find the personality of Thatcher matches the jin hexagram.

The text of the hexagram says: Jin predicates advance. The honorable lord is awarded with a large number of horses and granted audience three times a day.

The hexagram describes the image of a lord who was richly rewarded for his good governance of his enfeoffed state. The king bestowed great honor on him by granting him audience three times in a single day.

Thatcher was the only female prime minister in the history of the United Kingdom. With 11 years in the office, she was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century. The part of the text that says the lord was “granted audience three times a day” also seems to imply her three consecutive terms.

The personality of the jin hexagram is motivated by the pursuit of advance and development, like the way the sun rises above the ground to illuminate the world (Editor’s note: The figure of the hexagram has the fire trigram at the top and the earth trigram at the bottom, symbolizing the rising sun.). The hexagram suggests one have a just cause for his pursuit, so he will not be guilt-ridden when failures occur. People of this personality are advised not to be overwhelmed by gains or losses at the moment. To seek advance, he must seek trust and support from the public. He should also wean of greed, plan carefully and act cautiously, while avoid scrambling to lock the stable door only after the horse bolted. Such situations will bring shame even if they do not lead to fiascoes.

People of this personality often triumphs and stumbles in the same cause, and Thatcher is no exception. The sight of her tearfully leaving No 10 Downing Street in 1990 met polar reactions from the British public. While supporters lauds her for steering the country out of the economic mire and defending the country’s status as a global power, the opponents called she an arrogant dictator who pushed the country’s welfare system to the verge of collapse.

Unlike other enterprising personalities, the personality of the jin hexagram has an intrinsic affinity to women.

The second line of the hexagram says: Progress accompanied by worries. Perseverance brings good fortune. Obtain blessing from the royal mother.

The most powerful woman of the UK for 11 years, Thatcher has indeed incurred a love-hate feelings in the country, but people outside the country generally respect her. In the eyes of many women, Thatcher is among the greatest females of the 20th century, as she proved that women are no less competent than men. She always appeared in public in suits. As her daughter recalls, Mrs Thatcher had not casual clothes as she never had a moment of leisure.

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