I-Ching has become increasingly popular – but how much do you know about it? Our guide will tell you all you need to know.
What is it?
I-Ching is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese books of philosophy which is also called The Book of Changes. It tells of the developments of every happening and phenomenon in the universe and has been used as a philosophical guide for thousands of years. The beliefs of the book are based on the balance of opposites, evolution as a continuing process and the necessity to accept that change is inevitable.
The art of feng shui (furniture and object placement in the home and at work to increase positive energy flows) is based on some of the teachings of the I-Ching.
The most commonly used English translation of the I Ching (also called the Yi Jing) was by Cary Baynes in 1951. This was translated into English from a German translation by Richard Wilhelm in 1923. Wilhelm was a devout Christian and this affected his translation when working with the Confuscian text. Baynes’ version is highly poetic and beautiful. However, it suffers from being a translation of a translation.
A good translation that avoids these pitfalls is one by James Legge in 1882. However, there are now many other I-Ching books available. If you want to stay close to the original meanings of the I-Ching book, check out the book that you are interested in to see if it says which translation it has been based on.
How was the book used?
In China, it was used in two main ways. First, as a collection of ancient cosmic principles and beliefs and second as a text for divination.
The educated Chinese used it to confirm that our personal virtues affected the future results of any or all of our current actions. The poor used it for ‘fortune telling’ at home or for money in the marketplace. Strangely, the most highly literate Chinese didn’t rate it as a work of divination and in their collected works, there are hardly any references to it being used as such.
How was it used for divination?
The person who desires the reading tosses three coins, six times. Throughout this process, the reader notes down the fall of the coins into six lines. The pattern is called a hexagram.
The lines are numbered from 1 to 6, with 1 being the top line.
Each line of the hexagram is either a divided line with the passive, feminine energy of Yin or an undivided line with the active, masculine force of Yang.
Some lines are ‘black’ and ‘new’ which means that they are unchanging. Some are ‘gray’ and ‘old’ which means that they are about to change from Yin to Yang, or vice versa. By inverting each changing line, a hexagram is generated which shows the immediate future of the sitter.
Once the hexagram is complete, it is then looked up in the I-Ching book. This will give a description of what each of the six lines denotes.
Interpreting the I-Ching
Readings can be challenging because they show such a complete picture of a given situation. Each of the six lines of the hexagram describes a specific person as well as the outcome of their ‘dilemma’.
With Tarot or Rune readings, you will gain an understanding of your circumstances whereas the I-Ching gives you an understanding of those as well as the options that face you.
I-Ching is popular as a form of divination because it is easy to do and only requires a coin and a book to interpret the fall of the coins. It is not shrouded in the spiritual mysteries of tarot or runes and yet it can be every bit as powerful – if not more so! Give it a go. You might be amazed at the results!