Psychic understanding is deeply rooted in history and has been used for thousands of years by humans to better understand our place in the world and our relationship with everything around us. One notable contributor to these breakdowns of our relationship with everything and one another is the I-ching. A devotee to wisdom since the early days, the I-ching is one of the world’s wisest instruments as well as its biggest mystery.
What Is the I-Ching?
The I-Ching, which is also known as the Classic of Changes or the Book of Changes, is an ancient Chinese divination tool, as well as the oldest of Chinese classics. The book itself is a collection of experiences over thousands of years, pulling from diviners and sages throughout history, incorporating notions of oral traditions, while offering sound advice and guidance to individuals.
When purchased nowadays, the I-Ching offers a conglomeration of imagery and words, often advice, philosophy, as well as poetry. The book is broken up into 64 chapters, which are represented as 64 hexagrams, or six-lined groupings that are either broken or solid in form.
There is a somewhat complex method to reading the I-Ching, but the book’s translations will inform users on the consulting methods, depending on the reading or hexagram at hand, which simplifies the entire process.
While the book itself is an iteration and representation of change, each hexagram is portrayed by an image, showing the way that energy flows throughout each changing situation. Some concepts that the I-Ching touches on and emphasizes throughout its collection include:
- and much more…
Different I-Ching Symbols and Their Meanings
As mentioned before, the I-Ching is broken up into 64 hexagrams, or six stacked horizontal lines that form a symbol. Each individual hexagram takes on a different form, representing a name, image, concept, and interpretation.
Some examples of their names or interpretations include:
- Hexagram 1, named “Force”
- Hexagram 9, named “Small Accumulating”
- Hexagram 48, named “Welling”
Each hexagram’s form is compiled of inner and outer trigrams, which, when placed together, create different meanings and representations. For example, Hexagram 32 is named “Preserving.” This hexagram’s inner trigram is a form connoting ground and wind, and its outer trigram meaning shake and thunder. When joined together, the entire hexagram takes on the shape of its name.
What is interesting about the reading of these hexagrams is the fact that they are read from bottom-up, meaning the lowest line is considered to be line one, and the top line is line six. The form of the lines reflects Yin and Yang, depending on their being solid or broken. Each line is either Yang, which is represented by an unbroken or solid line, or Yin, which is represented by a broken or open line with a gap in its center.
Combining the original eight trigrams in different orders formed the 64 hexagrams we see today. The original eight trigrams can be found in yin and yang representations, as a range of eight interrelated concepts, or fundamental principles of reality.
Each hexagram can be found, paired with often cryptic descriptions, and their images serve as chapters throughout the I-Ching.
How to Learn the I-Ching
Learning the I-Ching requires hands on, one on one, in-depth practice. It’s almost impossible to try and learn the book simply through descriptions or images. The best way to become familiar with its methods is to get ahold of a translation, and begin working through it, asking questions when you can.
One common way that individuals finds works when it comes to “getting to know” the I-Ching is to cast a hexagram for the day, or week, and take the time to truly contemplate it at the close of the period it describes, as well as considering its beginning. This method often leaves readers with a better, more interpersonal relationship with the hexagrams and their interpretation.
This being said, there is a learning curve when it comes to reading the I-Ching. It’s common at the beginning to find difficulty in understanding the answers being provided by the book. Many beginners find it helpful to use commentaries as reading aids, as well as asking another, more experienced reader for help. The most confusing part about reading the I-Ching is the crossover between ancient texts and imagery, and their digitization, or web interpretation.
The I-Ching isn’t designed to provide readers with instant answers about the future, like some other interpretative modes that are utilized. While you don’t have to possess magic powers, be an ancient oracle, or be a psychic to learn to read the I-Ching, diligence and consistency are key to unlocking the text’s meanings.
The more time that you spend working through casted hexagrams and their intrinsic meanings, the closer you will get to understand the ways of the ancient book.