Ancient Symbols & Signs

I Ching Divination Techniques

I Ching Divination Techniques

There are several variations in i ching divination techniques.
In ancient times it was said to have been done by casting a tortoise shell onto a fire and waiting for it to crack, the crack-lines were then interpretated. Nowadays especially in the west we prefer to use coins, interpretating the I Ching based on the number of heads or tails that occur (sometimes people prefer to use chinese coins). Those of a more dedicated nature prefer to use Yarrow stalks – a much more recognised ancient form of divining. Below I will describe the process of both the coin method and the yarrow stalks.

Chinese I Ching Coins

To divine using coins first you will need 3 coins, a sheet of paper and a pen. The three coins are cast and a note is made to whether they are heads(yang) or tails(yin), this is carried out 6 times to obtain our six line hexagram. Each of the lines is checked for the dominant face, the lines are then read from the bottom up as this is the traditional way of writing chinese characters (it follows the natural order of things always growing from the ground upwards). There is a variation on this method which brings in an added insight this is known as the changing line – where yin is changing to yang or vica versa. When changing lines are encountered we are advised to make up another hexagram and read this seperately as an indepth view of the changing forces. e.g. if we cast 2heads+1tail this would be an old yang line, in our first hexagram it would be read as yang but for our indepth hexagram it would change to yin. If it was 2tails+1head the primary line would be yin but as it is an old yin it would change to yang in the second hexagram.

Yarrow Stalks Divination

The traditional way to generate the hexagrams was by using yarrow stalks. You would begin with 50 stalks and take one away leaving 49 these are then divided randomly into two piles. Four stalks are then removed from each pile we continue to do this until there are either 3, 2, 1 or 0 stalks left in one of the piles. The remaining stalks are then counted to reveal whether they are yang, old yang, yin or old yin. This process is repeated another 5 times to form our hexagram.