Here’s a story I’ve heard, with variations, several times;
“The I Ching? Yes, I did try that when I was in college… yes, it was fascinating, I’d almost forgotten…
These days? I draw a card, maybe tarot, maybe another oracle deck, and look up the meaning in the book. I don’t use the I Ching any more, it takes so long…”
And on the one hand, these people are absolutely right. When you want just a quick message or insight, a swift renewal of your sense of connection with the reality beyond the routine, then the I Ching isn’t an obvious place to go.
True, an experienced diviner can get the essentials from a reading almost instantly, but the same experienced diviner will go away with the awareness that there is loads more to discover, and it would really be a waste – a discourtesy to the source that’s offering you so much, in a way – not to come back later and explore more.
So compared with simply drawing a single card or a rune, looking up its meaning in the book, and taking a few key phrases or images away with you – yes, the I Ching takes too long. (And yes, I know there are I Ching card decks – but I’d regard those as another option you could use instead of the I Ching. A single hexagram and a meaning from a book is not the essence of what it offers.)
It’s not as if these people were in search of a ‘quick fix’, impatient types who don’t want to spend time on spiritual work. Quite the opposite. So what is happening here?
I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with mental boxes. Divination is in one; practices that naturally take time – like meditation, or journalling, or even talking with one’s coach – are in another. The I Ching gets put in the divination box, where it vanishes from sight amongst all those quicker methods.
For people who’ve got to know the I Ching, those mental boxes are comprehensively Dispersed. We cast a hexagram for a swift, sure reconnection, which might unfold into a long conversation with the oracle as a coach and spiritual mentor; our reading journals merge quietly into dream and personal journal; our daily awareness is woven through with the imagery of readings.