I Ching, or Book of Changes

The I Ching was  used for many thousands of years as a book of enlightenment and wisdom, long before its use in divination.

I Ching CoinsEight trigrams of alternating solid and broken lines combine to form 64 hexagrams. As each trigram has its own image and meaning, the hexagrams are combinations of these images.

By studying these combinations over many hundreds of years, many wise men developed interpretations of the hexagram and each of the six lines within.

In addition, some lines are 'changing. One seeks to understand not only one set of hexagrams, but also the one that is produced by the evolution of the changing lines within it. Even the position of the changing lines are meaningful.

Clearly, the I Ching is the most complex of all the oracles. Their study can be most compelling and challenging.

There are two basic methods for developing hexagrams. Both are designed to build the hexagram from the bottom (1st) line to the top (6th) line. Both are basically mathematical in structure.

The oldest technique is counting through 49 yarrow stalks. This method takes longer and the repetitive nature of the counting produces a calm, meditative state.

A quicker method uses three of the same type of coin. Each side is arbitrarily assigned to be yin or yang, which each have a numerical value of 2 or three.

Using the I Ching
The Coin method is the easiest to learn and use. Select three coins of the same type, such as the Chinese coins shown above or any other coin that feels comfortable to shake in your hands.
     Traditionally, when using the Chinese coin, the inscription side had the value of 2, the blank side value was 3. Values can be assign to other coins, such as 3 to Heads and 2 to Tails, but should be consisent.
     Shake the coins and throw them down to build the bottom line of the hexagram. Continue until all six lines have been built.
     Add the numeric value of the visible faces of the coins. A total of 9 is a changing yang (solid line changing to broken). A total of 6 is a changing yin (broken line changing to solid). A total of 7 is a young yang (solid), and a total of 8 is young yin (broken).
     The hexagram resulting from six throws of the coins is your image. Compare that image to the interpretation.

Content © copyright 1996-2009
By Gerry Starnes • All rights reserved.