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Yarrow Stems or Coins?

larryfroot108

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Hello, good people of Clarity.

I'm hoping if anyone can advise on the best tried, tested and accepted method of consulting the I Ching, please.

I currently use Yarrow Stems.

If coins are in any way preferable, why?

Thank you very much for your kind consideration on the matter.
 

IrfanK

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If coins are in any way preferable, why?

Coins are preferable because they are quicker. Yarrow stalks are preferable because they are slower.

Some people like the idea of sitting down and contemplating their question while playing with the stalks. Personally, I'd rather sit for a while, perhaps with my eyes shut, contemplate the question and then throw the coins. Or do a bit of journaling on the issue at hand, then chuck the coins.

Forget the thing about the yarrow sticks being the original, pure, genuine means of consulting the Yi. There isn't much evidence to support the idea that the way that people use the stalks dates back much farther than the coins.

The odds of getting moving yin and moving yang lines are different with the coins and the stalks. It's more symmetrical with the coins (1/8 of getting moving yin, 1/8 of getting moving yang) than with stalks (1/16 of getting moving yin, 3/16 of getting moving yang). Some people mutter something about that being justified because "yin has more inertia" or something like that. I don't like the idea. I haven't seen any real evidence for it in any of the wings, it sounds like a post hoc rationalization to me.

If you do like the idea and don't want to spend the time with the stalks, you can look around for the "16 marbles" method, which reproduces the yarrow stalks odds. I tried it once. I liked playing with the beads and marbles, but I didn't like the idea of the asymmetry. In fact, I just used beads this morning, but with 6/6/2/2 instead of 6/6/3/1. They are pretty and colorful and I like the feeling of rolling them around in my hand.

So long as it's random, use any method you like.
 
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Freedda

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So long as it's random, use any method you like.
Ditto!

Just for fun I have come up with three of my own methods for generating Yijing images/hexagrams. What I like the most about these - beside the fact that they are the best methods ever! (care of D.Trump) - is that I don't know at all what the 'probabilities' or 'percentages' are for them! I only know they are random.

All the best ....
 

michuco

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Coins are preferable because they are quicker. Yarrow stalks are preferable because they are slower.

Some people like the idea of sitting down and contemplating their question while playing with the stalks. Personally, I'd rather sit for a while, perhaps with my eyes shut, contemplate the question and then throw the coins. Or do a bit of journaling on the issue at hand, then chuck the coins.

Forget the thing about the yarrow sticks being the original, pure, genuine means of consulting the Yi. There isn't much evidence to support the idea that the way that people use the stalks dates back much farther than the coins.

The odds of getting moving yin and moving yang lines are different with the coins and the stalks. It's more symmetrical with the coins (1/8 of getting moving yin, 1/8 of getting moving yang) than with stalks (1/16 of getting moving yin, 3/16 of getting moving yang). Some people mutter something about that being justified because "yin has more inertia" or something like that. I don't like the idea. I haven't seen any real evidence for it in any of the wings, it sounds like a post hoc rationalization to me.

If you do like the idea and don't want to spend the time with the stalks, you can look around for the "16 marbles" method, which reproduces the yarrow stalks odds. I tried it once. I liked playing with the beads and marbles, but I didn't like the idea of the asymmetry. In fact, I just used beads this morning, but with 6/6/2/2 instead of 6/6/3/1. They are pretty and colorful and I like the feeling of rolling them around in my hand.

So long as it's random, use any method you like.

Hi,

Actually, the odds are different for both static and moving lines using coins and stalks (M. Gardner, Scientific American, 230, 108 (1974)). You can have the same odds using coins if you throw twice (E. A. Hacker, Philosophy East and West, 30, 535 (1980)).

Cheers,

Michuco
 

Liselle

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I have a terrible memory and am very prone to making dumb mistakes, so methods that require me to remember anything, or write things down and make conversions from objects to hexagrams, don't work well for me. I'm much more at ease letting computers do it, mostly Resonance Journal. There's also Clarity's free online reading, or LiSe has a few casting options on her site.

Having said that, I recently had quite an interesting coin-tossing experience. Slightly off-topic since I wasn't casting a Yi reading. Found myself out of the house, needing to make a spur of the moment spending decision, and decided to toss a coin. "Should I do this?" with a certain dollar amount in mind. Heads yes, tails no. The darn coin rolled on its edge for quite a while, and when it finally came to rest, it was still on edge but with a slight lean towards heads. I decided it meant do it, but only spend half as much! :eep:
 

larryfroot108

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Thank you all very much for your thoughtful and condidered replies.
 
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Freedda

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Care to tell us about them?
* Two coin method. Toss to coins; one lands on the right, the other on the left. One indicates if the line is solid or broken; the other whether that line is stable or moving. You do this six times to create your hexagram. You have to decide ahead of time what the left and right coins; and what the head and tails will indicate.

* 8 card method: take eight cards and have each one represent one of the trigrams (I use eight Tarot cards, but it makes no difference). Four times, shuffle all the cards and select one card out of the deck, which gives you four trigrams. You decide ahead of time, how to create the Hexagrams out of these: first card is bottom of principle hexagram; card there is bottom of resulting hexagram, etc. and from the differences in the hexagrams you get your changing lines.

* 42-stone (pebble) method: I borrowed this from a Tibet divination method, though that is a far different oracle tradition. This is a bit complicated to explain - though much easier to actually do. It involves dividing the 42 pebbles into three stacks and then with two of the stacks you remove 4 pebbles at a time until you are left with 1,2,3,4 pebbles. Each of these numbers represents a solid/broken/stable/moving line. You do this three times to create your Hexagram (3 tries X two stacks of pebbles = six lines = a hexagram.

And as in the previous method, you have to pre-determine some things: which stacks you'll use (1 and 2 or 1 and 3); what the four numbers (of pebbles) will stand for (1 pebble = a stable, broken line, etc) how you will 'build' your hexagram: first round with the stack no. 1 gives you the top line of the lower trigram, etc.)

The 42-stone method may take a slight bit more time than the coins (but not by much), but I like the fact that I collected the pebbles myself and I like the visual and tactile experience of using them.

all the best ....
 

Liselle

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Thanks for writing all that down! (When I asked, I didn't stop to think how much work it would be.) You've gotten good answers from all of them?

What's the point of the 3rd stack in the last one? (On second thought - don't explain it just for me... I'm unlikely ever to use it.)
 
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Freedda

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You've gotten good answers from all of them? .... What's the point of the 3rd stack in the last one?
I can't really compare these methods to say which one is giving me the better or 'good' answers. We get the response we get. I do think that with 8-card method i may end up with more moving lines, but besides that ....

For the 42-stones, if I only had two stacks to start with, then the number from the second stack would be partially predetermined, e.g. if the first stack yielded an even number than the second one would too, or if I got an odd number the second stack would also be an odd number - because the two stacks always have to add up to 42.

But if I divide the pebbles into three stacks (but only select from two of them), regardless if I get an even or odd number with the first stack, I still get an odd or even number with the next stack.
 

Liselle

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Oh I see. Makes sense - thanks.

Not quite sure what I meant by "good" answers, actually! "Meaningful," maybe. If some method consistently produced answers that seemed not to be speaking to you, there might be something wrong with it.

I'm not adventurous with casting methods so I don't know if or how that would happen.
 

IrfanK

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* Two coin method. Toss to coins; one lands on the right, the other on the left. One indicates if the line is solid or broken; the other whether that line is stable or moving. You do this six times to create your hexagram. You have to decide ahead of time what the left and right coins; and what the head and tails will indicate.

Hey @Freedda! If I'm not misunderstanding your two coins method, it would result in a high number of moving lines: fifty-fifty chance. Maybe I'm like @Liselle with that, a bit unadventurous. I don't really think the traditional three coin method is the best or most pure method or anything like that, but it's the way I learned to do it and I'm used to the idea that most of the time I only get one or two moving lines. It feels right. I have started playing with beads and marbles, which is fun. But even then, I arrange it so that I get the same odds as with the coins (6/6/2/2)

As I just said on another thread, I'm going through a stage where I get a lot of Unchanging hexagrams, and I'm not sure I really like it -- but I have this weird feeling that I shouldn't just tweak my personal system to get readings that please me more, so I've resisted the temptation to use systems that guarantee changing lines.

Even the thing I said earlier about "so long as it's random": I had a friend, a psychologist, who used tarot cards sometimes. She asked the querent to look through the pack, pick out the cards that they decided to pick out, then to arrange them in any pattern they chose. Then they talked about what it might mean. I found that a bit weird, too, but she had her reasons. There are no binding rules.
 

Liselle

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I didn't really mean there's anything wrong with being adventurous, or that I particularly had statistical reasons. As long as a person is getting meaningful readings, I guess.

It's a long time ago now, but I've tried a couple of different methods in the past - marbles, which I enjoyed, but I can't say the readings seemed any better or worse from the ones in Resonance Journal (3-coin simulation). Also a method from a different computer program that always gave one line - was really surprised to find they weren't any easier to understand!

(I mean, if there was some casting method that guaranteed crystal-clear readings... :lol: )

What I think Irfan said in post no. 3 - methods that produce hexagram 2 relating a lot more often (yarrow odds?) - those don't really seem right to me offhand, but I don't know enough to discuss it.

Here's a little thread I found the other day, in which Bradford Hatcher had a brief conversation with Harmen Mesker and said he thought the "original" (now lost) yarrow method had 3-coin odds, not current-yarrow-method odds. There's also a link to a really nice collection of casting methods put together by someone named Remo Dentato. https://www.onlineclarity.co.uk/friends/index.php?threads/why-throw-3-coins-when-2-is-enough.22409/
 
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Liselle

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...it's probably true that the marbles have the same 2-relating thing, and I just said (a) when I did readings that way, they seemed perfectly fine, but also (b) the 2-relating thing doesn't seem right to me somehow.

:spinning:

I just really don't know enough to discuss it. (And am probably not interested in the statistics enough to dig into it...)
 
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Freedda

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... your two coins method, it would result in a high number of moving lines: fifty-fifty chance. I don't ... think traditional three coin method is the best or most pure method ... but it's the way I learned to do it and I'm used to the idea that most of the time I only get one or two moving lines. It feels right.
If you like the 3-coin method then I say use it. It is likely the oldest method we have, and I too use it quite often.

My point in coming up with my own 'methods' was to have a bit fun with it, but I never intended that these were meant to replace coins, or any other method for that matter. And again, I think that working with a method that is based on random (or as Harmen calls it 'meaningful') chance is the only criteria that I care about.

I'm going through a stage where I get a lot of Unchanging hexagrams, and I'm not sure I really like it -- but I have this weird feeling that I shouldn't just tweak my personal system to get readings that please me more.
Yes, I agree, that's not a very good reason to seek out another 'better' method.

I had a friend ... who used tarot cards sometimes. She asked the querent to ... pick out the cards that they decided to pick out, then to arrange them in any pattern they chose. Then they talked about what it might mean.
I know nothing about Tarot. A woman once gave me a very Tarot insightful reading that was almost scary in it's accuracy and detail. The thing is, as someone who knows nothing about Tarot, I had no opinion about what card spread or what method of interpretation she used. I was only concerned with the results and outcome.

I suspect that similar to the types of conversations we're having about 'methods', that Tarot readers might do the same thing: discussing if a certain spread, or a specific deck of cards, or a certain school of interpretation gives the best or most spiritual, or most accurate results. These might be meaningful conversations for us Yijing diviners (and Tarot readers) to have, but we should not lose sight of the larger 'meaningful response' forest through the specific 'means and methods' trees.

I was recently in a discussion on another site where a Yi author was insisting that the current yarrow stalk method gave the most accurate results because it was more 'in tune' with the changes in the universe (or some such rot), though he could never really explain it;

... and there was another conversation here quite a while ago where someone was saying that ALL of the methods are skewed because they all included human involvement (someone has to toss the coins, or pick the yarrow stalks, or push a computer button ....) - whereas I thought 'human involvement' was sort of the point.

But all that seems a bit besides the point I think.

FYI: here's a YouTube video from Harmen Mesker - 'how (not) to consult the yijing', and Rule No. 6 discusses the yarrow stalk vs. coin debate.


all the best, d
 
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IrfanK

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FYI: here's a YouTube video from Harmen Mesker - 'how (not) to consult the yijing', and Rule No. 6 discusses the yarrow stalk vs. coin debate.

Hehe. Yes, it's quite funny. Harmen has a sharp sense of humor.
 

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