So your readings represent a priceless resource, and reviewing them is an extremely good idea. Of course, you’re more likely to get the opportunity to do so if your reading is recorded somewhere you can find it.
Not brain surgery, I know. But it’s remarkable how often readings do get scrawled on the back of an envelope, or just cast online and not recorded at all. So then Yi has answered the question… but after a while, no-one can quite remember what it said. (Possibly the only thing worse than a lost reading is a partly-remembered one. Can you piece it together, or do you ask Yi the same question again?)
Of course, you may not want to record every reading. I know people who’ve evolved (over the decades) to such complete familiarity and friendship with Yi that they no longer feel the need to record readings at all. And if you’ve left a part of your life behind, then leaving the readings connected with it behind as well might make a certain kind of sense. But until then, an I Ching journal is a very good idea.
My first reading journals were big hardback notebooks, where I would scrawl page after splotchy page of notes. They’re not all that useful to me nowadays, and not just because deciphering my handwriting requires concentration. What they lack is an index, so I could look at all the times I received hexagram 15 in 1999, or whatever. Six of them sit in a drawer, and I don’t tend to get them out much.
R.L. Wing’s I Ching Workbook offers a very well thought-out system to index readings. There are blank pages at the back of the book for a ‘hexagram journal’, but more importantly, there are columns in the text itself for you to record when you received the hexagram unchanging, what hexagrams it’s changed to, and the date and subject of the reading when you received each changing line. Some people have worked their way through many copies of this book!
Nowadays, of course, we have digital options. Even if you’re more comfortable recording your readings on paper, you might still consider indexing them on your computer, so you can search them quickly and easily. If you just note down date and hexagrams in a word-processing document, you can use ‘Find’ to run through every instance of a particular hexagram (or keyword, or moving line number…).
Of course, you can do even better. There are free ‘dendritic’ organisers that could have been designed for storing readings: my favourite is Keynote, which allows you to create your own templates for readings, and review a clickable list of search results. And, of course, there is I Ching software that actually was designed for casting and storing readings (just like those oracle bones). The best of the bunch at present is San Shan Yi Jing: you can read my review of it here.
I have to admit I don’t use San Shan myself: I never got used to navigating around its user interface. Nowadays my readings all go into the same organiser program that I run the rest of my life from, so I can move freely between readings and other notes and resources.
How do you record your readings and make them accessible? Please add a comment!