Reading the I Ching

Reading the I Ching – what’s the mystery? Strange patterns of broken and unbroken lines, the tossing of coins and seemingly obscure meanings all add up to reading the I Ching, which translates as ‘Book of Changes’.

I have used this oracle many times and find it is best suited to ‘deep’ questions.

You will get answers to ponder on and think about – simple yes or no answers are not what you get with the I Ching!

Reading the I Ching Tips

The authors of this ancient Chinese oracle are believed to be Fu Hsi, King Wện, the Duke of Chous and Confuscious. It was written and formulated over 5000 years ago.

It is still widely used which would indicate there must be something to it!

I Ching Coins

I Ching Coins

The basic concept of reading the I Ching consists of eight trigrams (trigram: three broken, unbroken or mixed lines).

Each of these lines has a name, an attribute, an image and a family relationship link. The I Ching, as we know it, has 64 hexagrams consisting of two trigrams put together, forming six lines. Are you confused yet? Don’t be – it really is very easy to use! Before going any further, it would be wise to invest in a book on the I Ching to have pictures of your 64 hexagrams at your side.

To consult the I Ching have your book of hexagrams ready, a pen, paper and three coins of the same type (pennies are considered to be the luckiest coin). Heads on coins represent Yang, that is, a solid line, and tails represent Yin, a broken line.

Pick up your coins, hold them in your hands and concentrate on your question; it can be about anything! When you have your question clearly in your mind, toss your coins. Remember you will be tossing them six times to get your hexagram.

Now for the fun part! When consulting the Book of Changes (I Ching), the first toss of the coins represents the bottom line, and you build up your hexagram like a ladder.

  • Two heads = a solid line
  • Two tails = a broken line
  • Three heads = known as a ‘changing’ solid line (more on that below)
  • Three tails = a ‘changing’ broken line.

Back to the changing lines! A reading is all about change and that is the one thing we can be sure will happen during our lifetime. If your hexagram has changing lines, you need to create a new hexagram by changing the ‘changing’ line into it’s opposite.

The answer to your question can be taken from the two hexagrams read together.

I Ching aficionados differ on the 2nd hexagram meaning. Some feel it shows new possibilities or avenues for your question. Others say it shows the eventual outcome.

Go with your instinct on this one.

When you have your hexagram built, that is the answer to your question, you can look up your hexagram in one of the many excellent books available.

Above all, have fun! If you’re not ready to try reading the I Ching just yet, try this great automated version to get a taste of the real thing!

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