The I Ching Oracle

What a blessing…a miracle…fate? Somehow, the I Ching Oracle made the cut and survived the great book burning of 213 B.C., perpetrated by Ch’in Shih Huang ti, the first Chinese emperor. I Ching became the only existing divination tool, earning its place in history as the oldest Chinese oracle.

The “I” is pronounced “E” and speaks to both the intellect and imagination. Also, “I” refers to “change”, which clarifies why the I Ching is dubbed The Book of Changes in the English language. It denotes “simplicity”, indicating a profound connection with the natural world.

Today, the I Ching serves as an oracle and tool to explore the changes of life. Excepting the Bible, the I Ching is the most translated book. With the passage of time, its devotees have added commentaries. Like the Bible, we can’t be positive about who wrote the main text. We do know Confucius wrote the latest commentary, “Ten Wings”.

The I Ching Oracle

Fu- Hsi (Fuxi), a mythic ruler, was a Divine being with the body of a snake. Traditionally, he receives credit for developing the “Eight Forces of Nature and their Trigrams”. The idea was to classify all phenomena under heaven and on earth. Fuxi placed the eight forces in a circular arrangement, surrounding the Tai Chi symbol.

Called Pa-Kua, it became the precursor of I Ching.  In the 12th century, Wen Wang, ruler Hsi-Chou Dynasty, refined the Pa-Kua to the point it metamorphosed into 64 hexagrams, completing the complex oracle/divination tool we use today.

Each hexagram is made up of six horizontal lines, solid or broken. A solid line represents yang; broken lines signify yin. Yang is the masculine force – positive, virile, dominant. Yin is the feminine force – negative, passive, nurturing.


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Hexagrams are arranged in a stack, which is separated into an upper half and lower half. The stack forms the heart for I Ching prophetic readings.

How to Consult the I Ching Oracle

For a test reading, you will need a reference book on the I Ching, (I like the Wilhelm translation the best) a pen, paper and three coins of the same type. Designate yang as one side of the coins and the other as yin. The yang side of every coin has a value of 3; yin side is valued at 2.

Now, relax yourself and ask I Ching a question. Then, toss the three coins and note the numerical value. For instance, if your first throw was three yins. The value of yin is 2 x 3 coins = 6.

Consult your reference book for pictorial examples of how to draw the lines. The total of 6 castings of the coins shows which number hexagram to study to “tell your fortune”. 

Never think of the I Ching as a quick study. But, if you stay with your practice, it is said there is no question I Ching can’t answer.

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