For some years, I’ve been ‘drumming’ the I Ching from time to time. Not properly or skillfully, generally just on the nearest tabletop. I take a yang line as a single beat, and a yin line as two half beats, and set out through the Sequence in compound duple (six eight) time.
It turns out I’m not the only one. Here’s a blog post on rhythmic changes: a woman encountering the I Ching (maybe for the first time?) through drumming. And following the links she provided, I came across a whole site dedicated to drumming I Ching patterns. It seems that the drumming becomes a kind of divination in itself – where do you stumble as you drum through the sequence? – and a kind of healing.
I drum my way through the Sequence from memory. It creates a particular quality of concentration, way beyond an intellectual ‘memory exercise’: if I try consciously to remember each hexagram pair while I stay in rhythm, rather than simply allowing the next one to come to mind, it all comes apart. And travelling right through the Sequence is… well, something you need to experience for yourself. If you don’t want to do this from memory, there’s a chart of the hexagrams in order, with the trigrams helpfully colour-coded, at the drumming site above.
Drumming is also another way to engage with a reading. You can remember your hexagram as rhythm as well as words, and carry it in your awareness through the day. It’s a completely different way of remembering and being aware: words and images are always flowing into our minds; rhythm’s always being created within our bodies. So an I Ching reading doesn’t only give particular words and images from that constant inundation an added glow of meaning; it’s something we can walk and breathe.