I Ching Divination
Among the many forms of divination is a bibliomancy method using the I Ching (易經) or Book of Changes. The book is structured as 32 pairs of hexagrams, divided in half after the first 30. The text was a subject for civil service exams in Imperial China. To aid in learning these 64 hexagrams, an 8x8 matrix of the 64 hexagrams in terms of all the hexagrams having the same top three lines, called a trigram. Throughout China's region of cultural influence (including Korea, Japan and Vietnam), scholars have added comments and interpretation to this work, one of the most important in ancient Chinese culture; it has also attracted the interest of many thinkers in the West. (See the I Ching main article for historical and philosophical information).
The process of consulting the book as an oracle involves determining the hexagram by a method of random generation and then reading the text associated with that hexagram, and is a form of bibliomancy. Confucius said that one should not consult the Oracle for divination until over the age of 40.. This work discourages compulsion (i.e., asking the same question over and over in hopes of either a different/better answer or some kind of enlightenment as to the meaning of the answers one gets). The Hexagram 4 description talks about the problems with "the youthful and inexperienced" asking the same question three or more times.
The text is extremely dense reading. A list of English translation can be found in the main article --- I Ching#Translations. It is not unknown for experienced soothsayers to ignore the text, building the oracle from the pictures created by the lines, bigrams, trigrams, and final hexagram.
Each line of a hexagram determined with these methods is either stable ("young") or changing ("old"); thus, there are four possibilities for each line, corresponding to the cycle of change from yin to yang and back again:
|old yin||yin changing into yang||6|
|young yang||unchanging yang||7|
|young yin||unchanging yin||8|
|old yang||yang changing into yin||9|
Once a hexagram is determined, each line has been determined as either changing (old) or unchanging (young). Old yin is seen as more powerful than young yin, and old yang is more powerful than young yang. Any line in a hexagram that is old ("changing") adds additional meaning to that hexagram.
Taoist philosophy holds that powerful yin will eventually turn to yang (and vice versa), so a new hexagram is formed by transposing each changing yin line with a yang line, and vice versa. Thus, further insight into the process of change is gained by reading the text of this new hexagram and studying it as the result of the current change.
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