Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Book of Changes

Today we look at the I-Ching, in this wonderful article brought to us by Patrick McCleary, better known as Pagan Dad. Make sure to check out his blog if you haven't already, and you can find him on Facebook as well!

The I-Ching, dating back to the beginning of recorded history, this book from the Chinese Taoist system has been turned to for it’s wisdom and as a divination tool. In true Taoist fashion the book speaks of how in the beginning there was the Tai Chi, the Great Ultimate, and from it springs the Yin and the Yang. In the Book of Changes (as the I-Ching is often referred to) the Yin is a broken line and the Yang a solid line.

With this the I-Ching can represent a relationship between the forces of Yin and Yang.  Now at first glance this way seem to be a limited system with only four relationships expressed. But the I-Ching takes this a step further by grouping three of the lines together, creating a trigram and then even further by pairing two different trigrams together.

According to Chinese lore this was done by the mythic ruler Fu-Hsi. This king, with the body of a snake, provided many gifts to mankind. The least of which was the system of hexagrams that comprise the I-Ching. His goal was to unify all things under heaven and earth into a simple framework.

Before we move onto how to cast the lines for the trigrams. I wanted to take a moment and dig a little deeper into the system. In each trigram there is a line for heaven, for earth and for humanity. And each hexagram is grouped into one of eight houses, representing the eight primal forces of nature. It is the interaction between these forces, paired with your own intuition that help to predict the shape of things to come.

And although there are many ways to cast for the paired trigrams, but the easiest way is the use of three coins. You toss all three coins for each line and add up the totals as such. Heads counting for three and Tails for two.

The math to do so is as follows:

a 6 is an old yin (broken) line
a 7 is a young yang (solid) line
an 8 is a young yin (broken) line
a 9 is an old yang (solid) line

Where there are old (6 or 9) lines, the statements for those lines are read. Additionally, those lines should be converted into their opposites and the proverb for the new hexagram that results should be consulted as well. Meaning if you get a 6 on one line then you would create an additional hexagram, exactly the same just with that one line solid instead of a broken one.

You will also notice that I referred to these lines as old and young. Like the universe the I-Ching ebbs and flows constantly. An old line is reaching its end preparing to change into its opposite. Yin into Yang and Yang into Yin. Not it is changing but that will sometime soon.

Now that you have created a hexagram, what do you do next? Well that is easy and well not so easy. First you look up the hexagram(s) in the Book of Changes and then you use your intutition in determining how it fits into your life. Each line is paired with a small piece of text which you must meditate on.

There are many books available and of course the internet that will help you to interpret the different trigrams and hexagrams. I have included some links below to get you started.

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