I Ching (Yi King or Y-Kim)
The ancient Chinese Book of Changes, attributed to the emperor
Fo-Hi in 3468 B.C.E. It expounds a classical Chinese philosophy
based on the dual cosmic principles of yin and yang
and claims to elucidate the outcome of any given situation by
a technique involving interpretation of 64 hexagrams, each
composed of two groups of three lines. These lines are each either
broken or solid.
Predicitions are traditionally ascertained by a detailed process
of selecting sticks or yarrow stalks to indicate the appropriate
hexagram and the interpretation associated with it. A bundle
of 50 sticks is used. These should be kept wrapped in clean
silk or cloth. When the I Ching is consulted, it is traditional to
face south and incorporate the divination procedure into a ritual.
Prostrations are made, then incense lighted and the sticks
passed through the fumes. The question to be answered should
be straightfoward, usually related to the favorable or unfavorable
auguries of a given project. One of the 50 sticks is taken
out and put on one side. The remaining 49 are bunched together
then quickly divided into two heaps by the right hand.
The inquirer then takes one stick from the right-hand pile and
places it between the last two fingers of the left hand. He then
pushes away four sticks at a time from the left-hand pile until
only one, two, three, or four remain. This remainder is placed
between the next two fingers of the left hand. Next, four sticks
at a time are pushed away from the right-hand pile until only
one, two, three, or four remain. The left hand should now contain
either five or nine sticks, thus 1 + 1 + 3; 1 + 2 + 2; 1 +
3 + 1; or 1 + 4 + 4. These sticks are laid in the second heap.
The process is then repeated with the remaining sticks from the
first heap, which are pushed together with the right hand and
then divided as previously. This will yield a total of either four
or eight sticks, thus 1 + 1 + 2; 1 + 2 + 1; 1 + 3 + 4; or 1 +
4 + 3. These four or eight sticks are then placed on the first
pile, but kept slightly apart from those already there.
The process is repeated with sticks remaining on the first
heap, resulting in either four or eight, as in the second phase.
After these three counts, the second heap will contain (5 or 9)
+ (4 or 8) + (4 or 8). These three figures indicate the bottom
line of the appropriate hexagram (i.e., unbroken or broken),
and whether ‘‘moving’’ or not. The 49 sticks are then bunched
together again and the whole process repeated to discover the
second line from the bottom of the hexagram, and so on until
the six lines have been found. A table of interpretations of the
upper and lower trigrams can then be consulted.
A quicker system of divining the appropriate hexagrams involves
tossing six coins; a set of I Ching playing cards has been
marketed in the United States, permitting an even more rapid
There are several translations currently available, and it is
advisable to study more than one, because the interpretations
of the ancient Chinese concepts and symbols sometimes vary.
For parallels between the I Ching and Western occultism, see
Y-Kim, Book of.
Baynes, C. F., and R. Wilhelm, trans. The I Ching or Book of
Changes. Princeton, N.J. Princeton University Press, 1967.
Blofeld, John, trans. I Ching The Book of Changes. New York
E. P. Dutton, 1968.
Legge, James, trans. I Ching Book of Changes. Edited by Ch’u
Chai and Winberg Chai. New Hyde Park, N.Y. University
Books, 1964. Reprint, New York Causeway Books, 1973.
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. I Ching
Liu, Da. I Ching Coin Prediction. New York Harper & Row,
Reifler, Sam. I Ching A New Interpretation for Modern Times.
New York Bantam, 1974.
Schoenholtz, Larry. New Directions in the I Ching The Yellow
River Legacy. New Hyde Park, NY University Books, 1975.
Wincup, Gregory. Rediscovering the I Ching. Garden City,
NY Doubleday, 1986.