What is I Ching?
I Ching is thought to be the world's oldest oracle
which is considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic opinion,
predictions or precognition of the future, and is probably the most
revered book of Chinese wisdom.
It's the accumulated experience of over 2,500 years of diviners and
sages, and beyond that of unimaginably ancient oral traditions; it's the
voice that has been offering people help and wise, genial guidance for
In ancient China I Ching had two distinct
functions. Firstly as a compendium of ancient cosmic principles and
secondly as a tool for forecasting the future.
As a forecasting
tool the world of I Ching was that of marketplace fortune tellers
and roadside oracles. These individuals preyed on the illiterate
peasantry. Apparently the educated Confucians had little or no use for
I Ching as a forecasting tool.
I read somewhere that in the
collected works of the countless educated people of ancient China there
are actually very few references to I Ching as a forecasting
tool - but then again, history has always been written by the winning side.
Eyewitness accounts of traditional Chinese society, such as
Samuel Wells Williams
The Middle Kingdom, seem to support this basic distinction.
The text of I Ching is a set of oracular statements
represented by 64 sets of six lines called
Each hexagram is a figure composed of
six stacked horizontal lines, each line is either
Yang (an unbroken, or solid line), or
Yin (a broken or open line with a gap in the centre).
With six such lines stacked from bottom to top there are 64 possible combinations.
Possibly the best place to view a lot of the derivations of I Ching
hexagrams is on this
Wikipedia page. This also saves us from having to republish numerous charts and tables.