What is the I Ching?


The I Ching or 'Book of Changes' is one of the most important books in antiquity. This ancient Chinese sys of divination dates back to the 2nd or even the 3rd millennium BC, making it one of the oldest systems in the world.tem The oracle contains 64 sets of six lines each called hexagrams, and combinations of these are used to divine the answers to specific questions. Its structure as a divination system is very similar to many other cultural forms around the world, yet the I Ching remains a unique and almost unchanged oracle that has guided the lives of billions of people across thousands of years.

The interpretation of the I Ching is extremely complex, purely because of the sheer number of possible combinations. However, this complexity gives the I Ching added value as a divination method, as it can give detailed answers to precise questions, rather than the more generalised responses that many other systems offer.

Yin and Yang

As with many Chinese divination systems, Yin and Yang play a crucial role in the interpretation of the I Ching. Depending on the influences, a reading can either be passive or active, indicating that the situation is either in the hands of a higher power or that the questioner can take specific action to influence the outcome. The critical stage is tossing the coins or sticks. In modern I Ching, three coins are usually employed to carry out a reading. The questioner focuses on a question while tossing the coins, and the ratio of heads and tails determines the line's character, and which hexagrams are relevant to the interpretation. The coins are tossed six times in total.

The reader will then often consult a book of interpretations, determining which of the hexagrams relate to the query, and what influences are affecting the reading. From there, advice and guidance can be given. For example, a hexagram with all solid lines represents strength and creativity. This could be considered to be an active reading, where a course of action needs to be determined. Six broken lines may indicate that more information is needed to make the right choice, and that the questioner needs to look deeper for indicators to help them reach their final decision.

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