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:
and read as a broken line as it flickers to darkness -
and 'all night' is written:
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"