We have had a spiritual revival in the West dating back to the 1960s, maybe before. Ideas from the East – Buddhism, primarily – ideas of acceptance, of being part of all existence, without posing values and making judgments – were brought to the West by pioneers during this time. The idea of oneness, a basic unity among all things was the foundation of these new ideas. The Taoists of ancient China, formulators of the I Ching, called it the Tao or the Way.
This idea has made its way into the culture of the West. New generations have a more neutral, less ambitious and less neurotic attitude toward the material world. Or, I hope they do.
The Tao or the Way is a gateway through which we are constantly passing. We are never before the gate nor beyond it. Nothing exists except there, with us, at that moment, in the gateway. We are always on the path, on the Way, even if we don’t know we are.
The Yin and Yang symbols reflect the constantly changing, dying and rejuvenating universe more perfectly than does Darwin’s theory of survival. By discovering these deeper meanings for ourselves, we discover more of the totality of experience. This is the secret behind all systems of magic or divination. The Tarot, astrology and the I Ching are each a microcosm of the range of human experience.
Hesitation, anxiety, dissatisfaction are to the Taoist what sin is to the Christian. To dispel them and to clear the mind of confusion, the I Ching is devoutly cast. The resulting hexagram indicates to the questioner his Tao, his Way, his natural direction with regard to the problem he is facing.
The belief is that just as the question is a part of you the answer you seek is part of you. With the help of the I Ching you can bring forth the answer you already possess.
A bundle of 50 sticks is used. Yarrow sticks cut the same length are traditional for the oracle. Sometimes coins are used. The casting of the sticks or throwing of the coins is not thought to be magic, only a mechanical means whereby the pattern of the forces that shape the Tao can be determined. It takes between half an hour and an hour to cast off the yarrow sticks. There is much time for meditation during this time.
The result will be 64 hexagrams – 64 examples of different ways of life that cover the entire range of human experience. Through interpretation of the hexagrams, the Way is revealed to the questioner.
There are many books explaining the method of casting the sticks or coins, how to record the resulting hexagrams and how to interpret the results. The I Ching or Book of Changes (Bollingen Series General), Hellmut Wilhelm, C. G. Jung, Richard Wilhelm, Cary F. Baynes is a great book for the serious seeker. A lighter weight version is The I Ching or Book of Changes by Brian Browne Walker.
Working with the I Ching, like the Tarot or astrology has the potential to open you to your own innate intuition and wisdom. You might consider giving it a try?