Chinese Astrology/I Ching

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The I-Ching(易经), or Book of Changes, is an ancient Chinese oracle book that deals with philosophy and divination. Inquiring souls pose a question to the oracle in the hopes of receiving an answer. Simply put, the tossing of coins helps you form a group of lines (trigrams and hexagrams) that lead to a better understanding of one's present and future situation. Trigrams are a series of three lines (either solid or broken lines) while hexagrams are comprised of six. Once a pattern of lines is formed, the oracle book is consulted for answers to the question posed to it.

Dating to the Chou dynasty (1100 BC), the I-Ching was heavily influenced by Confucius, who used his considerable scholarly abilities to help form the Ten Wings -- the commentary that offers explanations of the hexagrams. Later scholars melded principles of astronomy and astrology (the five elements and the twelve zodiacal characters) into the I-Ching. Known as The Book of Changes to Westerners, the resulting oracle book is a comprehensive text covering ideas, images and natural laws that can provide answers to specific questions.

In the I-Ching, the hexagrams used for the purpose of obtaining answers are formed by the tossing of coins. Using three like coins (say, quarters), each side is arbitrarily pegged as either yin or yang. For example, heads might be yin while tails is yang. In this scenario, heads would be assigned a value of three while tails counts as two. Center yourself, be calm and ask a specific question of the oracle. Follow this by shaking and then tossing the coins. As they land yin or yang, total the value of the three coins and jot down that number (the only possible sums are six, seven, eight or nine). Toss the coins a total of six times and note each corresponding value.

These values will dictate whether each line drawn is a solid or broken line, and the lines are always drawn from the bottom up. Two trigrams (sets of three lines) will be combined to form a hexagram (the six-lined figure). At this point, you need to consult the I-Ching's text for commentary on the specific figure drawn to determine the answer to your question. There are a total of 64 possible hexagrams in the I-Ching.

Experience certainly counts when using the I-Ching. It will take some time to master the variations of the lines, but it will take much longer to feel comfortable with what the oracle book is trying to say. Vague questions are not likely to be addressed by the oracle. Specificity, such as Is X business the right one for me? or Will a trip to Paris be fortuitous?, is generally rewarded with an answer.

The text of the I-Ching deserves careful study by interested practitioners. While this methodology may seem a bit esoteric to Westerners, it is revered by educated men and women of the East. A comprehensive book on the I-Ching is key to reaping the benefits of this age-old art.

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