The I Ching, or Book of Changes, is the most ancient book in China and perhaps in the whole world. It represents Chinese culture, and philosophy. It has been one of the most studied books by great Scholars, including Confucius, which gave to it more meaning to the symbols. In the west, it was introduced by the Jesuits, and much later studied by Carl Jung (Swiss psychotherapist and psychiatrist who founded analytical psychology).
It is actually an Oracle, just like the Delfos Oracle.
According to Wikipedia:
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to interface wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination.
The word oracle comes from the Latin verb ōrāre “to speak” and properly refers to the priest or priestess uttering the prediction. In extended use, oracle may also refer to the site of the oracle, and to the oracular utterances themselves, called khrēsmoi (χρησμοί) in Greek.
Oracles were thought to be portals through which the gods spoke directly to people. In this sense they were different from seers (manteis, μάντεις) who interpreted signs sent by the gods through bird signs, animal entrails, and other various methods.
The I Ching is a book that may give you knowledge to predict a situation.
Carl Jung in his prologue to Richard Wilhelm´s I Ching Translation expresses:
“For more than thirty years I have interested myself in this oracle technique, or method of exploring the unconscious, for it has seemed to me of uncommon significance. I was already fairly familiar with the I Ching when I first met Wilhelm in the early nineteen twenties; he confirmed for me then what I already knew, and taught me many things more…In the I Ching, the only criterion of the validity of synchronicity is the observer’s opinion that the text of the hexagram amounts to a true rendering of his psychic condition.”
How to do an I Ching reading?
Traditionally, you would have to use Yarrow sticks, and the method of counting with Yarrow Sticks took a lot of time. I have done I Ching readings using that method, but it takes too much time, and it takes an oriental mentality to have patience. Our occidental mentality wants everything fast, and because of it, one of the fastest methods of reading the I Ching is with the use of coins. This method is the most common method known, and it is very simple.
1. You only need THREE coins. They don´t have to be special, any penny will suffice.
2. Focus on your QUESTION or dilemma you want the answer to.
3. You will only draw a line (Yang), or a broken line (Yin). You have to do the same process for each line, so you do it six times.
4. Hold the coins in your hands, shake them briefly, and then toss them, and at the same time think about your question. The line you draw is determined by assigning a number to the heads and a number to the tails, then adding the total. For practicality, lets say each head is assigned a 3, and each tails is a 2. So, if for example, you throw one head and two tails (3+2+2), you add them up, and you get a number 7. Your starting line would be a 7.
5. Odd numbers are a Whole Line (Yang). Even numbers are drawn as a Broken Line (Yin). You may only get in numbers a 6, 7, 8, or 9. If you get a 6, you have three tails. If you get a 9, you have three heads. When you get one of those, you draw an X on the middle of the line, or the middle of the broken line.
6. All of the above is done just to get ONE line, so you need to do it FIVE more times, drawing each new line on top of the other. So you draw the Hexagram from the bottom to the top.
The I Ching has 64 Hexagrams in Total.
The Hexagram you get is called the “Present Hexagram”. It will give you the answer or speak to you about your present situation. It is the answer to your question.
Changing or Moving Lines
The I Ching is called the Book of Change, because it deals with Change. You may get an I Ching reading where the current situation or “Present Hexagram” has various lines of change. These lines may be Yang or Yin, but they have to be a 6 (Yin) or a 9 (Yang). Whenever you get a 6 or 9, you have Changing Lines.
This lines are going to change the current situation to a new situation. This helps you to know HOW a current situation will develop into the future.
When you draw your Present Hexagram, usually you will have a few Changing Lines (6 or 9). If it is a 6 (Yin) it will change into a YANG. If you have a Yang (9) it will change into a YIN or broken line.
So the next step is to Draw your Future Hexagram. In order to draw your Future Hexagram, you take your Present Hexagram and you reDraw it exactly like it is, but the Changing Lines you need to draw them already Changed. This will make a new Hexagram.
So in the end of the I Ching Reading, you will have a Present Hexagram, and a Future Hexagram.
When you have finished with these steps, you have to look up your Hexagrams in a Table.You may use this table online.
If you have any questions, please don´t hesitate to ask. The I Ching is a great source of Knowledge.
I learned to use the I Ching when I was 15, and later I used it more when I learned Traditional Feng Shui at the American Feng Shui Institute in L.A. with Master Larry Sang. I can tell you that it is very powerful, and it really helps you get to your unconscious mind.