Monday, November 19, 2018
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I Ching And The 64 Hexagrams

Introduction To I Ching & The 64 Hexagrams

The muse for both Confucian and Taoist philosophies comes from the Book of Wisdom or Yi Jing or Zhouyi. This book, which is considered to be over 3,000 years old, contains 64 hexagrams which represents a system of knowledge and ever changing divination.

The I Ching is also called the Book of Changes because these symbols don’t have one set meaning but represent the universal characteristics of Yin and Yang and the ever changing possibilities of the cosmos.

What Is A I Ching Hexagram?

It is said that 64 hexagram symbols came into existence when the Chinese ruler Fu His copied them down from the back of a turtle while the meaning of each symbol was later given through divine visions received by Chinese philosopher-priests. The symbols have names such as Sojourning, Confining, Displacement, and Polarizing with vitiating forms of each word.

The hexagram meanings are part oracle with influence of mythology from the time period. The interpretation of these symbols represents a process but also shows possibility for change. There is no regard for the past or the future but instead a cause and effect flow of events in an every changing universe.

Yin & Yang:

The understanding of the hexagram system is based off the balance of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang represent a dynamic where Yin complements Yang and vice versa. Popular examples of the Yin-Yang concept would be fire and water or light and darkness.

Together, Yin and Yang are more important than their individual parts as they work together to bring balance to the universe. Too much Yin or Yang can often lead to problems or disasters. That is why traditional Chinese medicine focuses on the balance of the body’s Yin and Yang.

yin yang
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What Are Trigrams?

Each hexagram is made up of six lines that are either unbroken to represent Yin or they are broken, to represent Yang. The number 64 is the exact possible combination of this system of lines consisting of both broken and unbroken. Each hexagram is read by reviewing the upper three lines, called the inner trigram, compared to the lower three lines, called the outer trigram.

These 64 combinations represent the eight parts of nature: Fire, Water, Mountain, Lake, Wind, Thunder, Heaven, and Earth. This system of divination is more powerful and more influential than any other form of future prediction as it is considered in the East for its wisdom and not just its oracle characteristics.

I Ching Prediction Methods:

The universe is constantly in change and Yin and Yang must change in order to create balance. In order to understand the philosophy of I Ching, the understanding of the hexagram must be made during its cast. There are a few ways this is done. Traditionally 50 yarrow stalks were used but in modern times dice, beads, and coins are used to cast the hexagram symbols.

In the West, coins are most commonly used to cast the symbols with a variation of I Ching predictions due to the heads and tails of a coin. Heads represents the number three while tails has a value of 2, so during each cast the totals will always be either 6, 7, 8 or 9. These totals represent the type of line which can be a Young Yang, Young Yin, Old Yang, and Old Yin.

The three coins are flipped for a total of 6 times in order to gain the six lines. And from these six coin tosses, a hexagram will be calculated according to its number. If the hexagram contains any Old lines, a second hexagram can be read based on these moving lines.

It is important to understand that each symbol is neutral and has neither a good or bad meaning. Instead, the possibilities of events can be either favorable or unfavorable. Each 64 hexagram has a different meaning and sometimes can be difficult to read or to understand the divination.

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Similar to Tarot cards, each symbol when cast must be understood not only for its meaning, but also how it applies to life. To cast an unfavorable symbol does not necessarily mean death of a person but instead an ending to a process. To cast for a hexagram will not explain the future or give meaning to the past.

It will instead prepare the reader for possible changes and current processes that are at work in the person’s life.  So when casting for divine wisdom in your life, remember to ponder deeply about the meaning of the cast hexagram and see how it applies to your life.

The 64 Hexagrams:

  1. Hexagram 1: 乾 “Force” – Ch’ien
  2. Hexagram 2: 坤 “Field” – K’un
  3. Hexagram 3: 屯 “Difficult in the Beginning” – Chun
  4. Hexagram 4: 蒙 “Youthful Folly” – Meng
  5. Hexagram 5: 需 “Waiting” – Hsu
  6. Hexagram 6: 訟 “Conflict” – Sung
  7. Hexagram 7: 師 “Integrity” – Shih
  8. Hexagram 8: 比 “Holding Together” – Pi
  9. Hexagram 9: 小畜 “Attention To Detail” – Hsiao Ch’u
  10. Hexagram 10: 履 “Correct Conduct” – Lu
  11. Hexagram 11: 泰 “Peace” – T’ai
  12. Hexagram 12: 否 “Stagnation” – P’i
  13. Hexagram 13: 同人 “Fellowship” – T’ung Jen
  14. Hexagram 14: 大有 “Abundance” – Ta Yu
  15. Hexagram 15: 謙 “Humbling” – Ch’ien
  16. Hexagram 16: 豫 “Enthusiasm” – Yu
  17. Hexagram 17: 隨 “Following” – Sui
  18. Hexagram 18: 蠱 “Correcting” – Ku
  19. Hexagram 19: 臨 “Nearing” – Lin
  20. Hexagram 20: 觀 “Observation” – Kuan
  21. Hexagram 21: 噬嗑 “Biting Through” – Shih Ho
  22. Hexagram 22: 賁 “Grace” – Pi
  23. Hexagram 23: 剝 “Splitting Apart” – Po
  24. Hexagram 24: 復 “Returning” – Fu
  25. Hexagram 25: 無妄 “Innocence” – Wu Wang
  26. Hexagram 26: 大畜 “Great Accumulating” – Ta Ch’u
  27. Hexagram 27: 頤 “Nourishment” – I
  28. Hexagram 28: 大過 “Preponderance of the Great” – Ta Kuo
  29. Hexagram 29: 坎”The Abysmal” – K’an
  30. Hexagram 30: 離”Radiance” – Li
  31. Hexagram 31: 咸”Courtship” – Hsien
  32. Hexagram 32: 恆”Constancy” – Heng
  33. Hexagram 33: 遯 “Retreat” – Tun
  34. Hexagram 34: 大壯 “Great Invigorating” – Ta Chuang
  35. Hexagram 35: 晉 “Progress” – Chin
  36. Hexagram 36: 明夷 “Darkening of the Light” – Ming I
  37. Hexagram 37: 家人 “The Family” – Chai Jen
  38. Hexagram 38: 睽 “Opposition” – K’uei
  39. Hexagram 39: 蹇 “Obstruction” – Chien
  40. Hexagram 40: 解 “Deliverance” – Hsieh
  41. Hexagram 41: 損 “Decrease” – Sun
  42. Hexagram 42: 益 “Increase” – I
  43. Hexagram 43: 夬 “Displacement” – Kuai
  44. Hexagram 44: 姤 “Coming to Meet” – Kou
  45. Hexagram 45: 萃 “Gathering Together” – Ts’ui
  46. Hexagram 46: 升 “Ascending” – Sheng
  47. Hexagram 47: 困 “Exhaustion” – K’un
  48. Hexagram 48: 井 “The Well” – Ching
  49. Hexagram 49: 革 “Revolution” – Ko
  50. Hexagram 50: 鼎 “The Cauldron” – Ting
  51. Hexagram 51: 震 “The Arousing” – Chen
  52. Hexagram 52: 艮 “Stilling” – Ken
  53. Hexagram 53: 漸 “Gradual Progress” – Chien
  54. Hexagram 54: 歸 妹 “The Marrying Maiden” – Kuei Mei
  55. Hexagram 55: 豐 “Abundance” – Feng
  56. Hexagram 56: 旅 “The Wanderer” – Lu
  57. Hexagram 57: 巽 “Ground” – Sun
  58. Hexagram 58: 兌 “Open” – Tui
  59. Hexagram 59: 渙 “Dispersion” – Huan
  60. Hexagram 60: 節 “Limitation” – Chieh
  61. Hexagram 61: 中孚 “Center Returning” – Chung Fu
  62. Hexagram 62: 小 過 “Small Surpassing” – Hsaio Kup
  63. Hexagram 63: 既 濟 “After Completion” – Chi Chi
  64. Hexagram 64: 未 濟”Before Completion” – Wei Chi


One comment

  1. Before I even picked up a coin to cast, I purchased the Wilhelm/Baynes I Ching translation at a 2nd hand store. Intrigued but found it hard to understand. Later, I found a “beginners” book which clarified certain things but found it a bit simplistic. This site has proved to be a good resource to bring the two extremes together. many thanks.

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