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Category Archives: Divination tips

‘DIY’ tips for I Ching divination

The importance of the question

The importance of the question

I’ve mentioned this before, and no doubt will again… the question you ask the Yi matters.

It’s important to understand that this isn’t about choosing the right wording for your question. The words really don’t matter. ‘Argh – help!’ can be a perfectly-formed question for the Oracle, leading to a perfectly helpful conversation, provided you know what you’re asking.

This is why, when I read for people, I like to spend time talking with them – and, more important, listening to them: partly so I can understand what they’re asking, partly so I can help them clarify that for themselves.

And this is why the second module of the Yijing Foundations Class, after we’ve recapped the essentials like translation, journal and how to cast a hexagram, is all about question choice. (It builds on the section about questions in the beginners’ course.) Then comes connecting with the answer, and then the essentials of structure.

What do I mean, ‘know what you’re asking’? That’s probably easiest to explain with an example (an imaginary one) of someone who doesn’t know.

Let’s visit her inner monologue:

‘This relationship doesn’t seem to be going anywhere – everyone says I should just move on, he’s not worth it – I suppose they’re probably right, but… – I feel as if circumstances are dividing us – we don’t get to see one another – it would be different if we moved in together, wouldn’t it? – if only I knew what he really felt – I want to do a reading…’

Imagine she does a reading about her relationship, and receives Hexagram 59, Dispersing.

‘Dispersing, creating success.
With the king’s presence, there is a temple.
Fruitful to cross the great river,
Constancy bears fruit.’

Hexagram 59, Dispersing

Our imaginary querent is familiar with the Yijing; she knows Dispersing has to do with ice melting, and floods, and the wind blowing over the surface of the water and turning it to water vapour. She has a clear sense of the ‘energy pattern’ of Hexagram 59: evaporation and scattering.

She can imagine herself as the king in the temple, finding the connection that flows through dispersing. And she knows that ‘crossing the great river’ implies a commitment, probably something irreversible.

So… would that commitment be moving in with him, or leaving him?

Is this advice to disperse the relationship, make it less close?

Is it saying, ‘You’re right, the relationship is being damaged by distance, it’s dispersing, and so you should cross the great river and move in together, and that really would make all the difference?’

Is it predicting that the relationship will, in fact, disperse, no matter what she does?

Or could it be responding to her wondering about what’s going on in his head, and describing how his attention is scattered and not at all focussed on the relationship? (After all, 59 is the opposite hexagram to 55: it’s not inclined to step up and take decisions.)

In short – she can do everything right: get inside the imagery, study text and trigrams, even reflect on related hexagrams, and she still won’t know what this reading is telling her, because she didn’t know what she was asking for in the first place.

The reading’s like one of those mystery photographs you sometimes find on your camera, one you took by mistake without pointing the camera at anything: it shows someone’s foot, and some floor, and you have no idea where you were or what this is.

Or – if you can remember map-reading in the days before satnav – she’s trying to read a map with no landmarks in view and no compass. She doesn’t know how to relate to it or where to start.

To avoid this blurry mess, all she needed to do was decide – before casting – what she wanted the reading to show her. She could ask for a picture of what’s happening, or for what best to do – in other words, for a picture of herself following the best path. Or she could ask for a picture from a possible future: ‘What if we moved in together?’ or ‘What if I let him go?’

And in each case, she’d know which way the ‘camera’ of the Oracle was pointing, and hence what was in the picture she was looking at. You can imagine how she might experience ‘Dispersing’ as an answer to each of these questions in turn.

So there’s a simple picture of why the question’s important. But there’s more to question choice than just clarity or confusion – there’s the deeper issue of the intent of your reading, and the ways you can deepen and expand your relationship with Yi by questioning your question habits. More on this in module 2 of Yijing Foundations…

Yijing Foundations Class Waiting List

Every year or two, I teach an online Yijing Foundations Class.

If you’re interested, please join the notification list so I can let you know when it’s next available:

New in the Resonance Journal: reading insights

New in the Resonance Journal: reading insights

The Yijing doesn’t just talk to you one reading at a time: it communicates a lot through the patterns and themes that recur through many readings. The Resonance Journal has always been brilliant for finding these patterns in your readings: they’re a click or two away, via the Cast History feature (the easy option, my… Continue Reading

How do you cast your readings?

How do you cast your readings?

Does computerised casting work? From time to time, someone will ask me whether it’s acceptable to cast the I Ching – that venerable, 3,000-year-old oracle – by tapping a button on a screen. And quite a bit more often, I’ll hear from someone how they received an answer that spoke to them with complete clarity… Continue Reading

Haven’t I seen this reading before?

I’m going to be sharing a few mini-videos of some of my favourite Resonance Journal features. Here’s one about the ‘Cast History’ search. The point of this is that Yi doesn’t just communicate one reading at a time; the connections between readings can be quite eloquent, too. And sometimes it just makes its point by… Continue Reading

An oracle for all kinds of mind

An oracle for all kinds of mind

All kinds of mind, all kinds of entrance The Yijing can speak to all kinds of people – I think this may be one way in which it’s unique. Tarot, for instance, is undoubtedly a multi-faceted system, but to use it fluently you’d better be moved by its images and able to imagine yourself inside… Continue Reading

The joy of ROQs and making sense

The joy of ROQs and making sense

ROQs, as you may know if you came to June’s ‘Connecting with Imagery’ workshop, are Really Obvious Questions. They’re the simplest, most child-like questions you can think of: what’s this? what do you do with one? what’s it like? These are the key to getting unstuck at pretty much any stage of a reading. Making sense… Continue Reading

How I imagine primary and relating

Following up on my last, long post with the example reading, I thought it might help to share this tiny excerpt from Yijing Foundations, where I explain how to imagine the structure of a reading without falling into the trap of pigeon-holing the second hexagram as ‘future’: Sign up for the Yijing Foundations Class waiting… Continue Reading

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