explicitClick to confirm you are 18+

Book of Changes / I Ching

Akronos MagoFeb 26, 2018, 5:06:18 AM

The Book of Changes, also known as the Classic of Changes, the I Ching or Yijing, has been around for over 3000 years and many say a simplified version of it was started 5000 years ago. It is generally accepted as the second oldest form of cleromancy or divination. It has also been known as the “a mirror of the mind” or the “underpinnings of reality.”

I first heard of the I Ching only last week and after five OCD days of research must admit it is fascinating.

History of I Ching / Book of Changes

The I Ching (pronounced ee-ching) has spread around the world and is translated to over 100 languages. Books on the topic are amongst the most sold with counts nearing those of the bible. Many religions and philosophies have been based or heavily influenced by the I Ching.

Over time the symbolism of the I Ching, explained by thousands of Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist commentaries, provoked an avalanche of creative work in realms such as philosophy, religion, art, literature, science, technology and medicine. The I Ching has served for thousands of years as a philosophical taxonomy of the universe, a guide to an ethical life, a manual for rulers, and an oracle of one’s personal future and the future of the state. It was an organizing principle or authoritative proof for literary and arts criticism, cartography, medicine, and many of the sciences, and it generated endless Confucian, Taoist, Buddhist, and, later, even Christian commentaries, and competing schools of thought within those traditions. In China and in East Asia, it has been by far the most consulted of all books, in the belief that it can explain everything. In the West, it has been known for over three hundred years and, since the 1950s, is surely the most popularly recognized Chinese book.  [1]

The origins of I Ching is based on concept that everything could be reduced to eight trigrams, each composed of three stacked solid or broken lines, reflecting the yin and yang, the duality that drives the universe. The trigrams themselves represented heaven, a lake, fire, thunder, wind, water, a mountain, and earth. Later the trigrams were doubled into hexagrams (six-lined figures), numbered and arranged to come up with all 64 possible combinations.

People of Interest

Of course in China and East Asia the list is extensive. Hero Fu Xi, Emperor Wen, his son the Duke of Zhou, and it was said five hundred years later Confucius himself wrote ethical commentaries explicating each hexagram, which are called the “Ten Wings” (“wing” in the architectural sense). Confucius supposedly said that if he had another hundred years to live, 50 of them would be devoted to studying the I Ching.

German Richard Wilhelm as a missionary to China and humanitarian translated I Ching to German and called it the Book of Changes. From that some translations to English were made. Others translated from Chinese to Latin to English. Still others have translated directly from Chinese to English. So many “English” versions currently exist.

Carl Jung, surprisingly, was a big proponent of I Ching. He thought synchronicity and I Ching definitely had some connection. Carl Jung said, “It [I Ching] had uncommon significance in understanding the unconscious. For more than 30 years I have been interested in the I Ching."

Terence McKenna found that the I Ching geometrical patterns mirrored the “chemical waves” produced by hallucinogens.

Bob Dylan said he always consulted it and was once quoted he thought I Ching was "the only thing that is amazingly true”.

DNA comparison to I Ching

What originally caught my attention was a brief mention in a non-related video that said DNA genomes have almost the exact same design as I Ching. Now I Ching was outlined 3000 years ago as a 64 hexagram design and the DNA genome was only defined 50 years ago. Thus the rabbit hole obsession to learn more…

DNA contains genetic material and the processes by which to form the biological physical body of not just humans but everything alive.

The I Ching contains the philosophical and psychological processes by which to form the changing and transitional states of the human mind and spirit. This also includes the changing transitional state of the Universe, because the human mind is the microcosm of the microcosmic universe.

I won’t go into more detail than that. There are two books that review this in extensive detail:

DNA and the I Ching: The Tao of Life by Johnson Yan

I Ching and the Genetic Code: The Hidden Key to Life by Martin Schonberger

This video does an interesting 13 minute review in great detail.

General Description of Divination Process

Any type of question can be asked.  Health, business, family, relationships, etc.

The different aspects of the answer to your question are given in four stages:
1)  The "Cast Hexagram" explains the situation you are now in, or what has gone before.

2)  The "Changing Lines" (if there are any) are the lines that move into their opposite.  These offer clues on how to change.

3)  The "Transformed Hex" describes the future situation, after the lines have changed, and if you follow the advice the I Ching has given.

Science that Makes Divination Work (spoiler alert)

The general instructions for any divination methodology can be broken down as follows:

*  define your question
*  clear your mind of all clutter and focus solely on the question

*  create a ritual which ideally includes multiple senses (sight, sound, smell, touch)

*  maintain focus as you do the divination process whether that be tarot, I Ching, coffee readings, etc.

*  use your intuition while reviewing the results to discern the answers

On a purely scientific psychological level, what this does is obvious. The first step of “defining your question” is HUGE. That one thing alone is a game-changer. So many times people are discontent and yet they never define why or what they want. If you do not define what you want changed in your life then the likelihood of change happening in the direction you want is miniscule.

Next the divination process makes the individual focus. Using multiple senses helps connect and activate multiple areas of the brain. Going through whatever ritual you feel justifies potential for success raises confidence and gives the mind time to focus on solutions. Using your intuition then becomes easier because you have your entire brain focused and activated and thus more in tune and likely to see interconnectivity and creative options.

So whether you believe in “divination” or not, the ritual of the process is undeniably beneficial. Plus the placebo effect is well documented and thus if people believe it will help, then it helps.

What is fascinating about the Book of Changes or I Ching is that it is highly structured as a binary mathematical design combined with a philosophical and moral set of descriptions. The fact that it has 64 hexagrams which exactly match our DNA design is a nice synchronicity of which “coincidence” seems like a weak argument.

For a metaphysical, consciousness or quantum physics description I would theorize that there is no such thing as randomness since our consciousness creates all reality. Thus whether rolling dice or picking yarrow sticks, the hexagrams will be the same and then the only challenge is dropping our ego long enough to properly interpret the results. One of the most interesting things I heard while watching endless videos about I Ching was from Carol K. Anthony. She stated if she asked the same question multiple times it would always give her the same answer in hexagram. Sometimes it would take her days to understand and interpret the hexagram, but the I Ching result did not waiver. From a strictly mathematic review, the odds of randomly receiving the exact same hexagram multiple times in a row is extremely unlikely. Thus if true (and why would Carol lie?), then perchance there is validity to I Ching!

Mathematics, Probabilities and Methods for I Ching / Book of Changes

Cleromancy is the divination practice of generating random results and reading insights from them. This could be done by throwing bones, picking random cards from a tarot deck, casting sticks, rolling dice, etc. For I Ching there are several different methods with the oldest and considered the most accurate being the yarrow sticks. This method generates odds of 6.25% up to 43.75% depending on the “line” but takes many minutes to generate each hexagram. Another method is flipping 3 coins and generating counts based on whether they are heads or tails. However this method does not have the same randomness percentages.

The Wikipedia article does a great job outlining the different methods and their percentage of likelihood for each type of line.

Akronos Mago Method of accessing the Book of Changes

Since the Yarrow Stick method is considered the most accurate, that is the method I will replicate. The actual mathematics of throwing the yarrow sticks works out to 16 possibilities which are unevenly distributed between four different results. Half the results are “yin” and the other half are “yang”. So a 16-sided dice works ideally, but if you do not have one of those then a combination of an 8-sided dice with a coin or another dice works just as well.

I ordered some 16-sided dice but until those arrive, this 8-sided and secondary coin or dice will do the trick.

Websites for I Ching

A quick search online will find many I Ching references and a few free online I Ching “readings”. Here are two which offer methods of letting their site generate the I Ching randomness or you can enter the hexagrams manually.


http://www.homebrew.net/ching/index.html (UC Berkeley based code, less features but more descriptive text results)

https://ichingonline.net/  This site has a great description of general methodology and allows saving your readings.

Book Recommendations

It is important to pick a book or resource which has the I Ching Judgments written in a way that makes sense to you. After some research I purchased this book by Carol K. Anthony and Hanna Moog, but there are many others available.

I Ching, The Oracle of the Cosmic Way

There are several excellent I Ching book reviews by Brandon Gilbert at: https://youtu.be/CVoPl0tZ06Y

Plus of course if you are interested in the DNA correlations, check the books listed above in the DNA section.


Yesterday out of curiosity I chose four questions to test the I Ching. I focused on the question, rolled the dice and wrote down the hexagrams. Then did the same process for the second, third and fourth questions. Then after generating each of the hexagrams I used both the websites mentioned above (I preferred the Homebrew one overall). All four questions had answers which rung true. I can see why some people praise I Ching. It can be used for divination but it can also be a valuable tool for self-discovery and philosophical pondering which can be equally rewarding.

If you are interested in experimenting with I Ching then I suggest you do so. You can pick up an 8-sided dice from any gamer geek or hobby store. Or you can purchase a 16-sided dice (see link below). You don’t need to purchase an expensive book for your initial experimentation but rather can use one of the websites listed above or do your own search online for I Ching hexagram meanings. Do note that not all interpretations are the same and some are frankly too “foreign” or erudite to be meaningfully worthwhile.

Don’t waste your time if you are not going to make a sincere attempt. Define your question. Focus. Create a ritual (light incense, light a candle, turn off the lights, meditate for 2 minutes on your question, etc.). Then roll your dice or flip your coins to generate your hexagram. When you read the results really contemplate how it can apply to your question. If the first results you read don’t make sense, put the same hexagram into a different website or online interpreter.

If your initial experiments have value for you then you may want to do some more research online or even buy one of the books and really get a deeper understanding of I Ching.

Follow Up

My books arrived as well as the dice.  After a little use of sharpie markers on the dice they work great.  My first I Ching resulted in a hexagram 24 (Returning) transitioning into a hexagram 2 (Nature).  The question is personal but I'll say the Sage's answer was excellently appropriate and insightful.


1. Excellent article:  What Is the I Ching?

Good overall description on I Ching:   https://youtu.be/nrbXY3Bjn2k

Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Ching_divination

16 sided dice purchased for Akronos Mago method
The Dice Shop

Books that link I Ching and the Genetic Code / DNA.