This is one of the many forms of divination. I Ching has 64 hexagrams, structured as an 8 x 8 matrix. The hexagrams represent the dynamic relationships of the eight elements. I Ching, or the Book of Changes, is one of the most important works to come out of the ancient Chinese culture, and has had a great influence on the countries within the Chinese sphere of cultural influence, such as Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, among others.

As the process involves consulting the book as an oracle, and determining the hexagram by random generation, I Ching has been associated with the bibliomancy form of divination.

The Methods

Traditionally, I Ching is performed in two ways – by casting the yarrow stalks or sticks; or by tossing the coins. Tradition dictates that certain measures, such as washing your hands, lighting incense, and facing the south direction, be observed.

• The Yarrow Stalks Method – Though this method is considered more complicated and time consuming than the second method of tossing the coins, this method is more accurate. All you require are 50 stalks or sticks of yarrow, and paper and pencil. The stalks need to be around 8 inches in length.

You start by relaxing and meditating on your questions in a quiet place. Hold the 50 stalks in your hand and put one aside. Divide the remaining 49 stalks into two, and place them side-by-side.  These two bunches, placed on the right hand side and the left hand side, are then taken up and the stalks in each bunch are placed down or held between the fingers in a prescribed manner. Certain steps are repeated three times, and the formed into various groups.

Then again in a prescribed manner, a hexagram is drawn on the paper. The meaning of the hexagram is looked up in the Hexagram Table.   

• The Coin Method – This is quite simple and quicker than the yarrow stalks method. You need three coins, a paper, and a pencil. The ‘head’ of the coin is the Yang, and the ‘tail’ is the Yin. Tossing the coins generates the sides of the hexagram. The yin is 2 points, and the yang, 3 points.

You start by relaxing and meditating on the question you want answered. The three coins are tossed up and allowed to fall randomly. This is done six times, and the result of each throw recorded. Add the values of the sides that come up – 3 for heads, and 2 for tails. Throwing the three coins six times will generate six numbers – which will either be 6,7,8, or 9.

Starting from the bottom, a hexagram is drawn in a prescribed manner. The first hexagram represents the present. Certain conditions allow you to generate a second hexagram, representing the possible future outcome. 

There is a third – the I Ching computer hexagram method. This is, of course, the easiest way to generate a hexagram. Due to the speed of the computer, one may not be able to reflect on the question, and could lead to inaccuracy. One may need to focus on the question, before clicking the mouse, and the results may be as accurate as with the other two methods.


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