Book of Changes

The I Ching, also known as the “Book of Changes,” is an ancient Chinese divination text and one of the oldest books in the world. It dates back to the Western Zhou period (1046–771 BCE) and is traditionally attributed to the legendary Chinese sage Fu Xi. The I Ching is a foundational text in Chinese philosophy and culture, and it has had a profound influence on various aspects of Chinese thought, including Confucianism, Taoism, and traditional Chinese medicine.

The I Ching consists of a set of 64 hexagrams, which are combinations of six solid or broken lines. Each hexagram has a specific meaning and is associated with a divinatory interpretation. People consult the I Ching by using various methods, such as tossing coins or yarrow sticks to generate a hexagram, and then interpreting the resulting hexagram to gain insights into a particular situation or question.

The I Ching is considered a philosophical and spiritual guide rather than a fortune-telling tool. It offers guidance on decision-making, ethics, and the understanding of natural principles. Many people still use the I Ching today for its wisdom and insights into life’s challenges and dilemmas.

Yarrow stick

Yarrow sticks are one of the traditional methods used for consulting the I Ching, also known as the “Book of Changes.” Yarrow sticks are used in a divination process where they are tossed, and the resulting pattern of sticks determines the hexagram that is consulted for guidance. This method involves a specific set of procedures and interpretations to derive insights from the I Ching.


A hexagram is a six-line symbol or figure used in the I Ching, also known as the “Book of Changes,” an ancient Chinese divination text and philosophical work. Hexagrams are fundamental components of the I Ching and are used for divination and guidance.

Each hexagram consists of six lines, which can be either solid (yang) or broken (yin). These lines are stacked on top of each other to form a unique pattern. There are 64 possible hexagrams in the I Ching, each with its own name and associated meaning. These hexagrams represent various situations, conditions, and archetypal symbols, making them a source of wisdom and guidance for those who consult the I Ching.

When someone consults the I Ching for guidance, they use a divination method (such as tossing coins or using yarrow sticks) to generate a hexagram. The resulting hexagram is then interpreted to provide insights and advice on a particular question or situation. Hexagrams play a central role in the philosophical and divinatory aspects of the I Ching and are rich in symbolic meaning.

Here are the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching, along with their names and some keywords representing their meanings:

  1. Qian (乾) – The Creative
  2. Kun (坤) – The Receptive
  3. Zhen (震) – Difficulty at the Beginning
  4. Xun (巽) – Youthful Folly
  5. Hu (輿) – Waiting (Nourishment)
  6. Song (訟) – Conflict
  7. Shi (師) – The Army
  8. Bi (比) – Holding Together (Union)
  9. Xiao Chu (小畜) – The Taming Power of the Small
  10. Lu (履) – Treading (Conduct)
  11. Tai (泰) – Peace
  12. Pi (否) – Standstill (Stagnation)
  13. Tong Ren (同人) – Fellowship with Men
  14. Da You (大有) – Possession in Great Measure
  15. Qian (謙) – Modesty
  16. Yu (豫) – Enthusiasm
  17. Sui (隨) – Following
  18. Gu (蠱) – Work on the Decayed (Repair)
  19. Lin (臨) – Approach
  20. Guan (觀) – Contemplation (View)
  21. Shi He (噬嗑) – Biting Through
  22. Bi (賁) – Grace
  23. Bo (剝) – Splitting Apart
  24. Fu (復) – Return (The Turning Point)
  25. Wu Wang (無妄) – Innocence (The Unexpected)
  26. Da Chu (大畜) – The Taming Power of the Great
  27. Yi (頤) – The Corners of the Mouth (Nourishment)
  28. Da Guo (大過) – Preponderance of the Great
  29. Kan (坎) – The Abysmal (Water)
  30. Li (離) – The Clinging (Fire)
  31. Xian (咸) – Influence (Wooing)
  32. Heng (恆) – Duration
  33. Dun (遯) – Retreat
  34. Da Zhuang (大壯) – The Power of the Great
  35. Jin (晉) – Progress
  36. Ming Yi (明夷) – Darkening of the Light
  37. Jia Ren (家人) – The Family (The Clan)
  38. Kui (睽) – Opposition
  39. Jian (蹇) – Obstruction
  40. Jie (解) – Deliverance
  41. Sun (損) – Decrease
  42. Yi (益) – Increase
  43. Guai (夬) – Breakthrough (Resoluteness)
  44. Gou (姤) – Coming to Meet
  45. Cui (萃) – Gathering Together (Massing)
  46. Sheng (升) – Pushing Upward
  47. Kun (困) – Oppression (Exhaustion)
  48. Jing (井) – The Well
  49. Ge (革) – Revolution (Molting)
  50. Ding (鼎) – The Cauldron
  51. Zhen (震) – The Arousing (Shock)
  52. Gen (艮) – Keeping Still, Mountain
  53. Jian (漸) – Development (Gradual Progress)
  54. Gui Mei (歸妹) – The Marrying Maiden
  55. Feng (豐) – Abundance (Fullness)
  56. Lu (旅) – The Wanderer
  57. Xun (巽) – The Gentle (The Penetrating, Wind)
  58. Dui (兌) – The Joyous, Lake
  59. Huan (渙) – Dispersion (Dissolution)
  60. Jie (節) – Limitation
  61. Zhong Fu (中孚) – Inner Truth
  62. Xiao Guo (小過) – Preponderance of the Small
  63. Ji Ji (既濟) – After Completion
  64. Wei Ji (未濟) – Before Completion

These hexagrams each have their own unique interpretations and are used for divination and guidance in the I Ching system.


Certainly, here are brief example interpretations of a few I Ching hexagrams:

  • Hexagram 1: Qian (乾) – The Creative
  • Interpretation: A powerful and creative force. This hexagram suggests a time of great potential and innovation. It represents the heavens, strength, and initiative.
  • Hexagram 11: Tai (泰) – Peace
  • Interpretation: A time of peace and harmony. This hexagram signifies a period when conflicts have been resolved, and a sense of tranquility prevails. It encourages maintaining a balanced and harmonious approach.
  • Hexagram 22: Bi (賁) – Grace
  • Interpretation: This hexagram represents a state of grace and beauty. It suggests that elegance and inner beauty can lead to success. It emphasizes the importance of cultivating one’s character.
  • Hexagram 37: Jia Ren (家人) – The Family (The Clan)
  • Interpretation: Symbolizing family and community, this hexagram highlights the significance of close relationships and cooperation. It suggests that working together as a family or group can lead to prosperity.
  • Hexagram 64: Wei Ji (未濟) – Before Completion
  • Interpretation: This hexagram indicates a situation that is not yet complete but is on the verge of reaching its conclusion. It advises caution and patience as the final stages unfold.

Please note that these interpretations are highly simplified.

In a full I Ching consultation, a specific hexagram is typically considered in the context of a particular question or situation, and the interpretation can become more nuanced and detailed.


The I Ching, or “Book of Changes,” is used for various purposes, primarily for gaining insights, guidance, and perspective on a wide range of life’s questions and situations.

Here’s some context for why someone might use the I Ching:

  1. Decision Making: Many people consult the I Ching when facing important decisions or dilemmas. By generating a hexagram related to their question, they seek guidance on the best course of action or the potential outcomes of their choices.
  2. Self-Reflection: The I Ching is also used for self-reflection and personal growth. It can provide insights into one’s character, strengths, weaknesses, and personal development opportunities.
  3. Conflict Resolution: When dealing with conflicts or disputes, individuals and groups may turn to the I Ching for a balanced perspective on the issue and possible solutions that promote harmony.
  4. Spiritual and Philosophical Inquiry: The I Ching is deeply rooted in Chinese philosophy and spirituality. Some people use it as a tool for exploring philosophical questions, seeking a deeper understanding of the universe, or connecting with spiritual principles.
  5. Timing and Planning: It can be used for timing-related questions, such as when to start a project, make an investment, or enter into a new phase of life. The I Ching provides insights into the right timing for various actions.
  6. Creative Inspiration: Writers, artists, and creative individuals may turn to the I Ching for inspiration and to break through creative blocks. The symbolic nature of the hexagrams can trigger fresh ideas.
  7. Problem-Solving: When facing complex problems, the I Ching can offer alternative viewpoints and creative solutions that may not be immediately apparent through conventional thinking.
  8. Moral and Ethical Guidance: The I Ching addresses ethical and moral considerations. It can help individuals navigate ethical dilemmas and make decisions aligned with their values.
  9. Coping with Change: As change is a fundamental theme in the I Ching, it can provide comfort and guidance during times of transition, whether personal, professional, or societal.

The I Ching is not a predictive or fortune-telling tool in the Western sense. Instead, it provides a framework for contemplation and reflection, encouraging individuals to think deeply about their questions and situations.

The value of the I Ching lies in the insights and wisdom it can offer to those who use it as a tool for self-discovery and decision-making.