Traditional Information about the I Ching (The Book of Changes)

The I Ching has survived for thousands of years - through wars and upheavals of all types - Derived from observing the cycles of the natural world, the I Ching counsels a harmonious, balanced approach to life, and having respect for the influences that act on us...

It's most basic part is derived from the most easily recognisable cycle - that of day and night, dark and light, yin and yang - and the balance of opposites.

A method to write down the wisdom of the cycles was devised, with the basis being either a solid line:
---
to represent day or light etc - or a broken line:
- -
to represent night or dark etc.

The constant cycle of movement or Change is also represented by recognising the balance that occurs when total light or darkness is encountered, giving a 3rd aspect.
Thus 'all day' is written:
-x-
and read as a broken line as it flickers to darkness -
and 'all night' is written:
-o-
and read as a solid line as it flickers to day.

Creation is two forces working together - thus, another line is added, to give 4 possible basic combinations - As all things grow, so the lines are read from the bottom up, as a reading grows.  These four new symbols represent the slightly more subtle cycles of life and are generally presented as...
---  - -  - -  ---
---  - -  ---  - -
Summer/Noon/South - Winter/Midnight/North - Spring/Sunrise/East - Autumn/Sunset/West

To give depth and refinement to a reading yet another line is added - giving 8 new possible combinations and symbols - these have many characteristics assigned to them to represent the natural world - colours, animal totems, and body parts are a few  - in general they are described using images from the natural "forces" of nature - the "story of creation" reads:

- -   - -   - -   - -   ---   ---   ---   ---   
- -   - -   ---   ---   - -   - -   ---   ---
- -   ---   - -   ---   - -   ---   - -   ---
Earth - Thunder - Water - Lake - Mountain - Fire - Wind - Heaven

These are called the basic "Trigrams" and are often arranged in a circle or octagon to represent opposite forces....


These 8 basic Trigrams - when combined - give the 64 Hexagrams of the I Ching - representing the influences of combined forces and the effect they have upon us.  They are written down with the first trigram at the bottom and the second on top...  So a reading such as
---
---
- -
- -
- -
- -
would be read as earth under wind - hexagram number 20 - "Contemplation"

 

 

 

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