I Ching interpretation

An intuitive method

With the changing lines and relating hexagram, you have all the words of your reading in front of you, and you can get started with interpretation. As I'm sure you've guessed, this is the most individual and intuitive part of the process. It rests on your individual experience, your honesty with yourself, and your faith in your own intuition - three things which grow together as you work with the I Ching. But a solid, straightforward approach like the one outlined on this page helps to provide fertile ground for that growth.

In the first place, read what you receive as a straightforward answer to your question.

'What should I do in the meeting?'

'Hide your brightness.'

'What would it be like to invest in the house?'


Of course, you will go on to find greater depths and subtleties in your answer, but it is important to begin simply with the I Ching's own words and your natural response to them.

The next stage is to read through all of the texts of the primary hexagram, any moving lines you have received, and the relating hexagram, if any. This helps to counteract the natural tendency to concentrate on only a small part of your answer (or, worse, of a translator's commentary on the hexagram) and thus to discover only the answer that you wish you had received, or were afraid you might receive.

As the significance of your answer begins to become clear to you, you might find it helpful to look through the hexagrams of context and change surrounding your answer. Don't feel that you have to understand all of these texts at once, or even read them at first. While they can certainly add to your answer's depth of meaning, it is important not to drown your understanding in a sea of images and relationships!

(Click here for help with multiple moving lines, another place it's easy to feel adrift.)

When you have read through all the I Ching's words, you will probably find some of the available interpretations and explanations helpful - but do bear in mind that these do not take into account the question you have just asked, so that any specific advice they deduce from the hexagram may be misleading.

If the answer makes no sense to you:

Don't think 'It hasn't worked!' and try again.
The I Ching may be addressing aspects of your question that had not occurred to you. It's been working for millennia; it deserves your respect.
Give it time:
absorb the images and live with them. If your answer is a prediction, come back to it after a while to see how the patterns it describes are beginning to unfold in your life.
Re-read the words of your answer, live with them, dream about them...
...answers come when you are ready for them, often when you are least expecting it...
Ask a fresh question
If you have some idea of what the answer might be about, consider asking a new question to explore the possibilities. For example, an answer to 'what about accepting the job?' might lead you to such follow-up questions as 'What effect would it have on my relationship with x if I accepted?' or 'What would the workload be like?'.
Could it be about something else?
If the answer obstinately refuses to be related to your question in any way, consider the possibility that the I Ching is speaking to you about a different issue from your question, and a more important one. This only happens extremely rarely, so it is definitely the last possibility to consider. One of the most wonderful things about the I Ching is the precision with which it will answer the question put to it, and to build a productive relationship with it you do need to trust in this.

If you feel you need some help:

Try a different translation.
Yes, the I Ching's answer is relevant to your question - but that doesn't mean that one individual's interpretation of it will be! Click here for reviews of the best I Ching books.
Get some personal help
...from a more experienced reader. Naturally, I hope you'll choose to do this by ordering a reading from Clarity! Readings are available by phone or email, and you can be fully involved in unfolding your answer (even turning your reading experience into a miniature 'coaching session' on interpretation if you like). I give a lifetime money-back guarantee on every reading, so you have absolutely nothing to lose.
(Click here for more details of Clarity's I Ching reading services.)
Join as a Friend
...and a community of friendly I Ching diviners will give you help and input on your readings.
Become your own I Ching diviner
The advanced I Ching Course is designed specifically to develop your practical divination skills, so that you can become fluent and confident in your own interpretations.