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Ouroboros Bagua

dfreed

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Hello Lucky69, and welcome. There is another recent thread in Exploring Divination, where Yijing teacher Harmen Mesker talks about the age and origins of two well known Bagua (trigram) circles, the Xiantian (early heaven) and Houtian (later heaven). You may find it of interest, though he does not say much about their use or usefulness.

I've never seen the one you are showing us here. Is there anything you care to share with us about it? It's source? It's application?

Best, D
 
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lucky69

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Hi Dfreed. I see the Ouroboros Bagua from a stranger. And he didn't explain much about it. He said I must explore it by myself. Actually I'm not intelligent enough, so I post the Bagua here and hope there would be someone who understands it. Thanks for your attention.
 
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dfreed

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I post the Bagua here and hope there would be someone who understands it.
Perhaps there is someone else here who understands this, but as Bob Dylan wrote, 'it ain't me babe'.

Below is an image I found on the Wiki page about Ouroboros, where it says:
"ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail. Originating in ancient Egyptian iconography, the ouroboros entered Western tradition via Greek magical tradition and was adopted as a symbol in Gnosticism and Hermeticism and most notably in alchemy ...."

I gather then that this symbol's origins are found in a number of ancient (Egyptian, Greek, other European) traditions - and not with the I Ching. And it looks like your 'stranger' copied this image from the Wiki page, and then overlaid the eight trigrams (bagua) on it, using a sequence I've never seen before. (And what's that age-old advice, about not taking things from strangers?)

I am not implying that this symbol is void of meaning; only that I do not know what it means, and that the symbol is unrelated to the I Ching. Perhaps you can find this stranger, and ask him (or her) to join us here, so they can explain what this symbol means. Or someone else here may be able to give meaning to it.

Having said all that, I suggest that if you're interested in the Yi, or Daoism, or another Chinese hermetic tradition that you spend time with the trigram circles that we know are tied to these traditions. Both Richard Wilhelm and Richard Rutt discuss the Houtian (later) and Xiantian (early) trigram circles in their I Ching translations. I find the Houtian (late heaven) circle most helpful in understanding and working with the trigrams.

PS - not that it matters at this point (regarding figuring out this figure), but we can't even begin to know what it means unless we know if the trigrams are read from the inside of the circle out, or the other way. Eg. is the 'East' trigram Mountain or is it Thunder, etc.

Best, D

0000-Serpiente_alquimica1.jpg
 
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bencollver

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As for African connections to the i-ching, a quick search turns up a few interesting links.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belomancy
* https://www.valdostamuseum.com/hamsmith/VodouFA.html#Asia
* https://ayelekumari.com/ifayele-blog/extracting-the-i-ching-principles-out-of-the-ifa-odu/

Regarding Belomancy and African origins:

Korean Games
https://archive.org/details/cu31924023272424

The introduction to Korean Games goes in depth about the history of the i-ching. It talks about using bamboo sticks to cast the oracle rather than yarrow stalks. It says that this arose from using arrows. The
Korean variant has a 50/50 balance of yin and yang, the same as the modern coin method, where the yarrow stalk method favored yang.

See also page 73-75 about the i-ching being used in the game of Nyout. It says that the i-ching is related to the God of War.

I read another interview that said that the i-ching was originally a subset or derivative of the Ifa-Odu and it was intended for divinations to plan war.
 

dfreed

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As for African connections to the i-ching, a quick search turns up a few interesting links.
I never got the idea that this thread is about 'African connections' so I'm not sure why you're bringing it up here?

I looked at some of what you shared: very little of it is based on history or facts - instead, it's a strange hodge-podge, much of it is based on 'possibly' or 'it could be' or 'it might be likely' statements substituting as facts. There is absolutely no evidence that Ifa is 'the mother of all religions' or that there is a 5,000 year old ifa-yijing connection - none.

Just because someone says there's an 'ifa-yijing' connection doesn't make it true. People say lots of stuff.
 
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bencollver

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I never got the idea that this thread is about 'African connections' so I'm not sure why you're bringing it up here?
"I gather then that this symbol's origins are found in a number of ancient (Egyptian, Greek, other European) traditions - and not with the I Ching."

This got me thinking about whether the I Ching had any resemblance to divination in Egypt.
 

dfreed

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I Ching ... any resemblance to divination in Egypt
I don't see that it does. And Ifa is not Egyptian. And aardvarks, alligators, and apples are all different too, even if they all start with the letter 'A'.
 

rosada

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Curious co-incidence: After viewing this symbol I had a very powerful dream last night. The Ouroboros Bagua image appeared to me and as I watched it began to pulsate and spin. I recognize that it was activating deeper levels of thinking in my brain by aligning my ideas more efficiently, like a libraian organizing the files. Then I woke up this morning to read dfreed's comments about putting things in alphabetical order!
 
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hilary

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The resemblance between Ifa and Yi is fascinating - enough to make you wonder if it's a case of common ancestry (like swallows and martins), or parallel evolution (like swallows and swifts).

As for the 'ouroboros bagua', I would really like to know where it comes from. Did the person who showed it you invent it himself, or come across it somewhere?

Rosada, I hope your Ouroboros dream was a good one!
 

Trojina

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Many years ago I did one of my most important readings ever, the thread is in CC somewhere. I always think of it as my 'serpent eats it's tail' reading, it was 24.1.6>23. The 23/24 pair will always have for me that element of the Ouroboros. That's just what it is 24>23 and 23>24 total end and new beginning forever, serpent eating it's tail.

Don't know anything about bagua but in Yi as whole for sure this image must play a part.
 

dfreed

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The resemblance between Ifa and Yi is fascinating
What is this resemblance of which you speak? Ifa is an oral tradition; Yi is written. The 'casting' is done in entirely different ways. The Yi is used for advice and divination; the only example I've seen of Ifa was done for healing. They largely have different numbers of 'parts' like they number of hexagrams (64), lines (386), trigrams (8), possible line types (4) ....

Whereas 'there are sixteen major books in the Odu Ifá literary corpus. When combined, there are a total of 256 Odu (a collection of sixteen, each of which has sixteen alternatives)' ....

And they have no shared cultural or religious history, nor language, nor .... And whenever anyone presents 'evidence' of this so-called connection or their resemblance, it is a usually a jumbled mess of distorted facts, blotted claims, speculation, and nonexistent history.

I'm sorry, but this is the same sort of this 'thinking' that says the Xiantian bagua circle came before the Houtian because it has the word 'early' in it and because it came from Fuxi.

Or ... we know the North Pole exists, and we know reindeer exist, and we know that children all over the world get presents on Christmas, and we know that this could not be done by just one person .... therefore, this is 'proof' that Santa and his elves may, possibly, could exist. And just because no one has ever really seen Santa or his elves, that doesn't rule out the possibility of their existence.

I have no problem with myth or poetry, or with speculation and dreaming, nor with Yi readings or dreams involving serpents eating their own tails .... But we can't just make something real or an historic truth just because it seems like a cool, hip, cosmic, or spiritual thing to do. That lands us squarely back in 5D fantasy land.

(And when someone shares a bagua circle using the exact same image of a snake I found on a Wikipedia page, I take that as pretty strong circumstantial evidence of this picture's 'source'.)

D.
 
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rosada

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Just going with these thoughts from Trojina just for fun...

Thinking about 24/23 serpent forever eating it's tail and how this forever-eating-tail game could be creating a sense of forever going round in circles and not learning anything, a feeling that leads to the 25/26 pair which could stand for the forever re-born innocent fool (25) progressing to wanting to learn (26).

And I'm thinking the wisdom of the elders is past on to us in the symbol of the serpent from the perspective where it appears not as a flat 0 but as a multi-dimensional figure 8.
In other words, growing from chasing your tail - repeating your own story over and over - to seeing things from an alternative perspective.
 
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dfreed

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thinking in my brain by aligning my ideas more efficiently, like a librarian organizing the files. Then I woke up this morning to read dfreed's comments about putting things in alphabetical order!
I was referring to the fact that all these things have a great deal in common - they all start with the letter 'A', but if you drew meaning or inspiration from it, so much the better.
 
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hilary

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What is this resemblance of which you speak?

Both are counting oracles. Both involve the creation of figures based on whether a series of randomly-created numbers are odd or even. As Karcher describes it in his Illustrated Encyclopedia of Divination (which looks like a 'coffee table' book but is actually quite substantial), the Ifa diviner generates the figure by gathering up palm nuts in one hand, taking as many as he can with the other hand, and recording one mark if one nut remains, two if there are two, then repeating the process to draw all the lines of the figure. If you've ever used yarrow stalks to cast a hexagram, this might be ringing a few bells.

In both oracles, there is extensive lore associated with each figure. With the Yi, we have a single written tradition which often alludes to stories from that lore. (But then we also have records of something more diverse and multifaceted: trigram traditions that aren't reflected in the Zhouyi at all, not to mention the fragments of the Gui Cang.) Stories and patterns of experience are 'indexed' by the figures. Ifa divination works when the querent recognises the stories the diviner tells; that's often how Yi divination works, too.

About the history... Karcher also says that the earliest evidence for this form of geomancy comes from 800CE, 'in the Arabic "sand science" called ilm al-raml', and was carried into Africa with Islam and and Europe by translation. As with any oral tradition - including Yi's - it's not clear how anyone could ever know its true age.
 

hilary

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I'm not addressing the rest of that post of Dfreed's here as I don't want to derail the thread - David, please check your private messages. Suffice to say that conversation here is not restricted to topics he finds acceptable.
 

dfreed

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Both are counting oracles. Both involve the creation of figures ...
I appreciate you sharing this. It is the kind of information I look for when someone makes a statement, in this case about how one divination system has common elements with another system. And it's information I didn't see being presented before you shared it here.

I wonder where you got your information? Is it from Karcher's book? I ask only because I may want to pursue it further.

I too do not want to derail this thread. But as I would do with anyone else here, I would asppreciate it if people did not ascribe words or ideas to me that I did not say, nor mean. I never suggested limits on what people can say or topics people can mention in this thread. I only asked questions and asked for clarifications.

Getting back to the topic of Ifa, I found this video, which people may find interesting (and here I see things that are both similar to and very different from Yi divination):

 

hilary

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Yes, from Karcher's book. I think a lot of Ifa knowledge is available only to its practitioners, but I believe he managed to study with some.
 

dfreed

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I think a lot of Ifa knowledge is available only to its practitioners ....
I believe that's true. I read where some traditional practitioners of Ifa do not like how it's being practiced by some, especially in the African Diaspora - the Americans and the Caribbean - because people are using charts, graph, and books with this 'oral' tradition, and are doing it for less than honorable or traditional reasons, i.e - they are doing it only to make money.

I am glad you shared ways in which these oracular traditions have similar elements. One of the main points I am trying to make (but may have been lost in the fray) is about any sense of shared history - or lack thereof - or that one oracle necessarily came from another (e.g. Yi coming from Ifa). So far, all of what I've seen about this aspect is less than convincing, and much of it stretches the truth and history quite a bit.

What you've shared here reminds me of what Bradford Hatcher said about the the Yijing being 'distant cousins' to Qabalah, Tarot, Astrology, Alchemy, etc. And now we can add Ifa (and perhaps others) to the family album. But again, without more proof, confirmation, history or evidence, I am entirely okay letting each of these traditions and oracles have their own sacredness, uniqueness, history, culture, language, and sense of place (China, Tibet, Africa, Europe, the Americas, etc.).

Regards, D.
 
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dfreed

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And there is this - more of the evidence, history and other stuff I like to see when we're making real-world connections:
The Chinese system of I Ching involves ... figures composed of single and double lines. However, as it is based on three items rather than four, there are only eight basic figures or "trigrams" and sixty-four derivative figures or “hexagrams”, ...
... whereas Ifa and the other African systems involve 16 quadragrams and 256 derivative octagrams.
The I Ching figures are obtained by tossing three coins, or by manipulating forty-nine yarrow stalks, which are counted off by fours in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Islamic sand-cutting (Wilhelm, Cary, 1951). As far distant as Micronesia a system of knot divination, which is also based on counting off by fours, produces 16 basic figures and 256 derivative figures (Lessa, 1959).
Ifa Divination: Communication Between Gods and Men In West Africa - William Bascom, 1969​

So, perhaps Ifa skipped China altogether and ended up in Micronesia (consisting of thousands of small islands in the western Pacific) instead. And might this suggest an oceanic water route instead of an overland one? (Offered only half in jest.)

Regards, D
 

bencollver

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I don't see that it does. And Ifa is not Egyptian. And aardvarks, alligators, and apples are all different too, even if they all start with the letter 'A'.
Nor is Egypt an island cut off from the rest of the continent.

I am not finding evidence, but this is not a legal matter. This is food for thought and i find the correlations fascinating. So in my eyes, i have no problem with the juxtaposition of the Ouroboros with a Bagua.

The Urim and Thummim are another binary oracle with roots in Egypt. They can be compared to the Kao Pui oracle in Chinese temples.

"... his view seems to be influenced by his knowledge of the sacerdotal vestments of Egypt. We are told that the high priest in his capacity as judge used to wear a breastplate bearing the image of truth or justice. One such shield has been found, upon which were two figures recognisable by the emblems on their heads: one with a solar disk as Ra, the sun-god or light, the other with a feather, as Maat or truth."
From: https://www.sacred-texts.com/cfu/choc/choc04.htm

Urim = curses, guilty, prohibition, light, revelation, heaven, ra, yang
Thummim = faultless, innocent, command, dark, truth, earth, maat, yin

"Many scholars now believe that Urim simply derives from the Hebrew Arrim, meaning "curses", and thus that Urim and Thummim essentially means "cursed or faultless", in reference to the deity's judgment of an accused person; in other words, Urim and Thummim were used to answer the question "innocent or guilty".

Assyriologist William Muss-Arnolt connected the singular forms--ur and tumm--with the Babylonian terms ūrtu and tamītu, meaning "oracle" and "command", respectively. According to his theory the Hebrew words use a pluralis intensivus to enhance their apparent majesty, not to indicate the presence of more than one. Along these lines the urim and thummim are hypothesized to derive from the Tablets of Destiny worn by Marduk on his breast according to Babylonian religion).

According to Islamic sources, there was a similar form of divination among the Arabs before the beginning of Islam. There, two arrow shafts (without heads or feathers), on one of which was written "command" and the other "prohibition" or similar, were kept in a container, and stored in the Kaaba at Mecca; whenever someone wished to know whether to get married, go on a journey, or to make some other similar decision, one of the Kaaba's guardians would randomly pull one of the arrow shafts out of the container, and the word written upon it was said to indicate the will of the god concerning the matter in question. Sometimes a third, blank, arrow shaft would be used, to represent the refusal of the deity to give an answer.

In accordance with the belief that Urim and Thummim translates to "Light and Truth", the Latin equivalent Lux et Veritas has been used for several university mottoes."
From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urim_and_Thummim
 

dfreed

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This is food for thought and i find the correlations fascinating.
Perhaps true! And I often find history and facts just as fascinating.

Personally, I like to keep the two separate - or at least admit when I'm mixing 'em up. Given the state of US politics and even spiritual matters, I think it's a slippery slope to nowhere if we don't make these sorts of distinctions. Others may not feel that's necessary.
 

Trojina

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I never got the idea that this thread is about 'African connections' so I'm not sure why you're bringing it up here?
Given the state of US politics and even spiritual matters, I think it's a slippery slope to nowhere if we don't make these sorts of distinctions



I'm not seeing the connection between the invitation for ideas about Ouroboros and the bagua and US politics.
 

dfreed

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I'm not seeing the connection between the invitation for ideas about Ouroboros and the bagua and US politics.
Sorry, perhaps that's too obscure or USA-based.

I was trying to address this idea of mixing actual fact and history with myth and non-fact: like talking about ways where Ifa and the Yi have similarities (as Hilary and I have done), versus saying things about their 'history' or 'connections' that don't really exist (or don't exist as far as I can tell), or are at best, questionable (i.e. that Ifa was brought to China 5,000 years ago and was the basis for the Yijing divination system we now know and use).

Similarly, with the ouroboros bagua (in its entirety and not as two separate things): I shared what I know about this bagua circle - that the 'ouroboros' part of it is from a picture I also found on a Wikipedia page, and the trigrams are not in any order I've ever seen before - a.k.a. these are 'facts' that I know about this .... (and add to this is the fact that it is not written in Chinese and we don't know from which direction we should be viewing the trigrams; e.g. are we looking at trigram mountain or trigram thunder?).

... but this is a different matter altogether than what meanings people might derive from, or ascribe to this bagua circle or the ouroboros symbol, in whole or part: they might see it in their dreams, or as part of a Yijing reading, or see these in a mythic / poetic way as Stephen Karcher might, or otherwise find deeper meanings for these symbols ....

And so .... because of my personal experiences and because of the damage I see being done when people mix 'fact with fiction' - as I see with 5D beliefs and Conspirituality (which I talk more about in another thread) and also with current US politics - I like to make distinctions between the two where possible.

Another point I think is worth noting: as Hilary has suggested, this thread is no longer just about one thing - the Ouroboros bagua circle - but it has become more far-reaching than that: others have mentioned Ifa, and particular hexagram pairs, and dreams, and Egypt, and a system of knot divination found in Micronesia, and the Urim and Thummim, and the Kao Pui oracle in Chinese temples, and I guess now politics.

I hope that makes it more clear what I was saying (or trying to say).
 
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IrfanK

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The resemblance between Ifa and Yi is fascinating - enough to make you wonder if it's a case of common ancestry (like swallows and martins), or parallel evolution (like swallows and swifts).
That's the most interesting thing I've read on this thread. One of my intellectual heroes is Joseph Campbell, who wrote many books about the common elements in mythological systems around the world. There's a surprisingly large number of cultures that have stories about god or the gods sending a flood to wipe out all of humanity except a few chosen people, including in cultures where it really would be an enormous stretch to claim that there was some kind of transmission from elsewhere. Campbell has great stories about missionaries preaching to communities in the Amazon, only to find them enthusiastically accepting stories of the flood, because they were so similar to their own myths. But people everywhere fundamentally have the same experiences of birth, living and death all over the world, and their myths reflect that. In some cases, there clearly is direct transmission. Perhaps the people receiving the myths were open to it because it made sense, there was that common basis for it.

Ouroboros is a great symbol: I think there's some Greek text somewhere that describes it: "Out of myself, I am reborn." (Hehe. I have a tattoo of the image, without the text, on my chest - I hope I'm not oversharing!). As Trojina says, very 23/24. Finding these connections is perfectly valid and useful, whether or not you believe that there was any direct transmission involved, or any direct connection (Hilary's swallows and swifts). In fact, to me, it's even more interesting if there are similarities when there clearly isn't a direction connection or transmission. It's evidence that these divination systems, these myths and stories, reflect universal human experience.

Otherwise, without that common basis, the Yi is just some weird fortune telling system from a dead culture from 3000 years ago.

There often is some direct connection. Campbell looks at Dante's Inferno and links it very clearly to some of the Sufi writings about the different levels of heaven and hell. The Flood seems to have come into the Christian myths via Sumeria. There's some tantalizing evidence that the myth of Mary builds on the story of Isis, in the Egyptian pantheon. And so on. You ever seen kids play hop scotch? Some native American groups had exactly the same game, with all sorts of cosmological significance.

I am delighted to read someone exploring these ideas on this forum.
 
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hilary

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In fact, to me, it's even more interesting if there are similarities when there clearly isn't a direction connection or transmission.
Yes.

A related story I've told a few times before: I was presenting 30.1 (I think it was, or it might have been 10.6) to a client, and hesitantly told her about the practice of divination by smoothing out a patch of earth and then reading messages from the animal tracks left across it. Hesitantly, because this was a modern American woman, so this wasn't going to be very relatable for her, was it?

The practice was completely familiar to her from the Native American side of her family. It's a small globe, isn't it?
 

my_key

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An interesting thread.
@ Hilary It is so easy when we use coins, marbles, cards etc in the modern world as the default divination tools to forget the early counting origins of I Ching with the use of the yarrow. A very vlear connection between Ifa and I Ching. The early verbal traditions of Yi also align well with Ifa practices. Divination, spiritual and shamanic traditions in most indiginous cultures were only ever by word of mouth to avoid the 'power' getting into the wrong hands and being abused. The modern day exponents of Ifa do seem to be experiencing examples of the traditions being disrespected still in this day and age.

It always contines to amaze me how the waves of the collective unconscious manifest into the collective conscious - even such a small collective as Clarity members.

To add to the myths of the origin of the Ouroboros, Norse mythology tells of a child of Loki who was a serpent that grew so big it circled the world with it's tail in it's mouth. Aboriginal myths talk of the Rainbow serpent who represents the cycle of the seasons and is the creator of human beings.

For me the 'infinity' shaped ouroboros readily symbolises the everlasting dance of yin and yang: energy that can never be destroyed only transformed one to the other. Similar to the representations of the Taijii symbol.

These are all themes that are echoed in and between the writings of many authors including Joseph Cambell, Carl Jung and even less main stream authors like Erich von Daniken back in the late 60's / early 70's.
 

IrfanK

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The early verbal traditions of Yi also align well with Ifa practices. Divination, spiritual and shamanic traditions in most indiginous cultures were only ever by word of mouth to avoid the 'power' getting into the wrong hands and being abused. The modern day exponents of Ifa do seem to be experiencing examples of the traditions being disrespected still in this day and age.
Quite possibly true. But also, it just wasn't automatic or natural for all knowledge to be recorded in writing. Even much later, in Europe, up until after Gutenberg, a book was a rare and valuable possession. A prosperous middle class family might have owned a family bible, which would have been extremely expensive, and probably no other written materials. Instead, people generally memorized texts, including quite long ones. And the people who could memorize long texts were highly valued and played a special role in society. (You can read about this in the histories of Homer's Odyssey, which wasn't written by a guy called Homer -- in fact, almost certainly wasn't written down at all for a long time).

People had all sorts of weird systems for memorizing, using visual images and mnemonics. Knowing how to memorize was an art and a science, often a closely guarded one. The Franciscans were famous for their system of "memory castles," although they kept the exact methods largely to themselves.

The idea that knowledge exists "in the public domain" is pretty recent.

If anyone is interested in this, I recommend a good pop science book, about mental athletes who do all sorts of ridiculous things, like memorizing pi to 40,000 places (the world record), using these kinds of techniques, called "Moonwalking with Einstein." It has good sections on all the classical history. It inspired me to try to memorize Wilhelm's translation of the Yi, a project still in process (I've got about 24 hexagrams memorized. At this rate, it will take about nine months, with around 30-60 minutes a day).
 

IrfanK

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Incidentally, according to the author of Moonwalking, the Franciscan missionaries offered to teach Chinese students some of their memorization systems, certain that this would be an attractive offer to aspiring candidates for the civil service. Apparently, the response was luke warm, with the Chinese saying that it was easier just to learn by rote than to use the missionaries' techniques. A cultural difference?
 

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The other side of this coin could be the deep significance of what you do choose to fix and preserve in writing. Why do you do that?
 

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