It can be really insightful to read the hexagram that’s before the one that you have cast.
Take for example, hexagram 56, Travelling. The decision according to Huang’s translation is “Travelling. Little prosperity and smoothness. Traveller, being steadfast and upright: good fortune.”
The hexagram before it is hexagram 55, Abundance “Abundance. Prosperous and smooth. The king reaches this point. Be like the sun at noon.” It’s like the zenith to me. The peak, the climax of everything.
Unfortunately, according to the book of changes or perhaps indeed, the cycle of life, a condition cannot continue to go up forever. At some point in time, it has to turn the other direction. For example, the housing market that has shot through the roof and then crash. The same goes for the stock market. The same for powerful civilisations in the past. The same for the Irish Celtic Tiger boom. The same for Steve Jobs who was booted out of the company that he set up and by the man that he had hired to take it to the next level. The same for a client of mine, who lost everything in a year and his loved one too.
Here’s another example. The hexagram for a client of mine was Hexagram 40 Relief, Deliverance or Release. The preceding Hexagram 39 is Hardship, Obstruction and Trouble. Huang nicely explained the sequence of Hexagram 40 “Things cannot remain in hardship without end. Thus after Hardship, Relief follows.” The client thought me that she had breast cancer the year before the reading and thankfully, she’s free of Cancer.
It’s amazing how the preceding hexagram describes so lucidly the past situation of a querent. So, it may be wise to read the preceding hexagram the next time you consult the I Ching.