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Category:I Ching

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The title page of a Song Dynasty edition of the I Ching, circa 1100 CE
The title page of a Song Dynasty edition of the I Ching, circa 1100 CE

The I Ching, or Book of Changes, is an ancient Chinese method of divination, widely considered to be a sacred text within the Taoist and Confucian traditions. Fortune telling with this ancient text results in powerful readings that can guide a client toward the best response to any given situation. The responses given by the I Ching are made up of a collection of aphorisms, historical examples or situations with known results, and theoretical outcomes based on moral values and ethical considerations.

The I Ching diviner uses yarrow stalks, coins, or marbles to determine which one of 64 hexagrams defines the situation, with an additional 256 "line" readings potentially offering deeper details. This is a powerful form of consultation when action is required. In fact, those who work with this system of divination often remark on the fact that The Book of Changes seems to have been originated and organized for practical use by readers who work with clients who are actively seeking to accomplish changes in their lives. In addition to its religious or scriptural value, this ancient sacred text has long found popular favour for use in bibliomancy, which is a form of divination or fortune telling conducted by means of a book.

Contents

The Ba Gua and the Trigams

The ancient ba gua symbols are employed by diviners who consult the I Ching and also by those who practice Chinese Feng Shui according to the precepts of the Classical or Compass Schools
The ancient ba gua symbols are employed by diviners who consult the I Ching and also by those who practice Chinese Feng Shui according to the precepts of the Classical or Compass Schools

The Ba Gua ("eight areas") is a diagram that arose from ancient Chinese Lo Shu Square numerology, whose numerical pattern was first observed by the Emperor Yu on the shell of a gigantic Tortoise who emerged from the Lo river. This pattern gave rise to the Ba Gua or Eight Trigram Diagram of the Universe, designed by the Emperor Fu Xi and completed by King Wen and the Duke of Zhou. When the trigrams were doubled they became the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching book of divination. The Ba Gua diagram consists of eight different three-line patterns: Heaven, Earth, Fire, Water, Wind, Thunder, Mountain, and Lake.

The trigrams are identified with the seasons of the year, and with elements of nature. The names of the eight trigrams translate into English as

  • Ch'ien / Quian - Heaven
  • K'un / Kun - Earth
  • Li - Fire
  • K'an / Kan - Water
  • Sun / Xun - Wind
  • Chen / Zhen -Thunder
  • Tui / Dui - Lake / Marsh
  • Ken / Gen - Mountain

The eight trigrams are often depicted surrounding the "Yin-Yang" symbol, and this pattern is called the Ba Gua or Eight Areas. In addition to its connection to the I Ching, the Ba Gua, as an amulet or talisman, is an important element in the folk magic of Chinese Taoism.

The Hexagrams and Changing Lines

The 64 Hexagrams of the I Ching
The 64 Hexagrams of the I Ching

When the reader casts the coins or yarrow stalks, or selects an object from an array of sixteen, a figure will result which is called a "line."

There are two types of lines:

  • "firm," "straight," or "yang" (---)
  • "yielding," "broken," or "yin" (- -)

Combining these two types of lines in groups of 3 gives an array of 8 trigrams.

Casting two trigrams of 3 lines each results in a figure consisting of 6 lines, called the hexagram. Since each line may be either yin or yang, this results in a total of 64 possible 6-lined patterns.

Each of the 64 possible hexagrams has a name and an oracular verse in the I Ching. Each suggests a particular way of dealing with the situation about which the question has been asked.

In addition to the 64 basic hexagram divinations, there are also a total of 256 "line" divinations, one for each of the 6 lines that make up each hexagram. These line divinations are only used if the reading turns up numerical combinations indicating that one hexagram or way of dealing with the situation is about to transform into another. When this occurs, the transformation is made by "changing lines" -- that is, some of the straight lines are replaced by broken lines, or vice versa.

The I Ching hexagrams are built up by the diviner in response to the seemingly random toss of yarrow stalks, coins, dice, or other inanimate objects. These are counted, and the result will either be a single, fixed hexagram, or one with "moving lines," that is a hexagram that transforms into another hexagram.

I Ching Divination with Yarrow Stalks

A bundle of yarrow stalks ready for use in I Ching divination
A bundle of yarrow stalks ready for use in I Ching divination
One of the texts that makes up the I Ching is called the Ten Wings. In it, this description is given of how to build up the hexagram lines by using stalks of the yarrow plant:
One takes fifty yarrow stalks, of which only forty-nine are used. These forty-nine are first divided into two heaps (at random), then a stalk from the right-hand heap is inserted between the ring finger and the little finger of the left hand. The left heap is counted through by fours, and the remainder (four or less) is inserted between the ring finger and the middle finger. The same thing is done with the right heap, and the remainder inserted between the forefinger and the middle finger. This constitutes one change.
Now one is holding in one's hand either five or nine stalks in all. The two remaining heaps are put together, and the same process is repeated twice. These second and third times, one obtains either four or eight stalks. The five stalks of the first counting and the four of each of the succeeding countings are regarded as a unit having the numerical value three; the nine stalks of the first counting and the eight of the succeeding countings have the numerical value two.
When three successive changes produce the sum 3 + 3 + 3 = 9, this makes the old yang, i.e., a firm line that moves from yang to yin.
The sum 2 + 2 + 2 = 6 makes old yin, a yielding line that moves from yin to yang.
Seven is the young yang, and eight the young yin; they are not taken into account as individual lines for the purpose of divination, only for the formation of the hexagram.

I Ching Divination with Coins

A set of three old-style Chinese cash coins ready for use in I Ching divination
A set of three old-style Chinese cash coins ready for use in I Ching divination
During the Han Dynasty (202 BCE – 220 CE), the method of reading the I Ching by means of three coins began to replace the older yarrow stalk reading method. In this method, there is equal probability of getting each of the four variants of types of lines.

To read the I Ching with coins, the diviner selects three coins that can be distinguished heads from tails. Old-style Chinese cash coins are the favourite of many, but any coins will do. A value of 2 is assigned to one side (say, heads) and a value of 3 is assigned to the other side (say, tails). For each line of the I Ching Hexagram, starting at the bottom, the three coins are thrown one time, simultaneously, and the numbers are added up. In the above example, the results would be as follows:

  • Three tails = 2 + 2 + 2 or 6
This is called old yin, yin changing into yang, or moving yin.
It is represented by a broken line that changes to a straight line.
  • Two tails and 1 head = 3 + 2 + 2 or 7
This is called young yang or unchanging yang.
It is represented by a straight line.
  • Two heads and 1 tail = 3 + 3 + 2 or 8
This is called young yin or unchanging yin.
It is represented by a broken line.
  • Three heads = 3 + 3 + 3 or 9
This is called old yang, yang changing into yin, or moving yang.
It is represented by a straight line that changes to a broken line.

I Ching Divination with Marbles

Four types of marbles can be used to create an I Ching Hexagram
Four types of marbles can be used to create an I Ching Hexagram
More recently, the "16 marble method" has been taught as an alternative to the use of three coins, as it more closely resembles the probabilities of the older yarrow stalk method.

To read the I Ching with stones, beads, marbles, or other small tokens, you will need 16 items of similar size, weight, and texture, and they must be divided into four different colours or patterns as follows:

  • Seven of your marbles will represent a non-changing yielding line.
This is also called young yin or unchanging yin.
It is represented by a broken line: - -
  • Five of the marbles will represent a non-changing firm line.
This is also called young yang or unchanging yang.
It is represented by a straight line: ---
  • Three of the marbles represent a changing firm line.
This can be called old yang, yang changing into yin, or moving yang.
It is shown using a straight line that changes to a broken line: -o-
  • And the final marble represents a changing yielding line.
This is called old yin, yin changing into yang, or moving yin.
It is represented by a broken line that changes to a straight line: -x-

The sixteen objects are placed in a small bag and shaken, then one is withdrawn blind from the bag. Its corresponding line is written down, and it is returned to the bag for the next pull.

This methodology clearly shows the "bias" inherent in the oracle toward YIELDING or yin. Ten of the lines are either outright yielding or changing into yielding. Inaction is thus counseled a majority of the time.

Bibliomancy with the I Ching

The Wilhelm-Baynes translation of the I Ching into English
The Wilhelm-Baynes translation of the I Ching into English

For more information, plus a list of AIRR Certified Bibliomancers, see the page on Bibliomancy.

Although the I Ching is traditionally regarded as a repository of divinatory parables which are interpreted by a skilled reader, it can also be used as a volume of sacred lore and kept on or near an altar, where its advice may be consulted via Bibliomancy, that is, by reading randomly selected passages in the book itself.

This method is not found in China, but has been adopted by American hoodoo psychic readers who are familiar with using the Bible for Bibliomancy. It became popular in America during the 1960s, when the Wilhelm-Baynes English translation of the I Ching was widely disseminated. This edition, containing the core text and all of the traditional commentaries on the hexagrams, as well as interpretive explanatory matter, is about the size of a conventional King James Bible, which may help explain why, to Americans, it became the edition most commonly employed in this manner.

See Also

Divination

  • Divination and Fortune Telling by the I Ching or Chinese Classic Book of Changes

AIRR Readers & Rootworkers Who Perform This Work for Clients

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The Association of Independent Readers & Rootworkers (AIRR) is here to help you find gifted, sincere, and honest spiritual guidance, successful counseling, and professional magical spell casting and ritual conjuration. Every independent member of AIRR has been certified for psychic ability, magical skill, and ethical reliability. Every AIRR psychic, reader, seer, diviner, scryer, root doctor, and spiritual practitioner has completed a year-long program of training in conjure, hoodoo, witchcraft, rootwork, making mojo hands, and casting powerful magick spells. All of our psychics have served the public professionally for a minimum of two years -- and in many cases, significantly longer. Certified AIRR Readers & Rootworkers who will perform this type of work to help you find love, money, protection, and luck are listed below.
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