These methods are not so authentic as the sixteen token or two coin methods. Sometimes they are quicker, sometimes not, but their main ‘attraction’ is that they provide an easier result to interpret by restricting the number of moving lines.
I’ve included these methods for the sake of completeness, but as you may have gathered, I’m not convinced that they are a good idea.
I Ching consultation with six coins
This method is described in an unusually good ‘instant I Ching’ book, The I Ching Made Easy by Rod and Amy Sorrell. You need six coins, five identical, one visibly different.
- Throw all six coins at once, scattering them into something like a vertical line in front of you.
- Push them into a column.
- Read off each head as a broken line, each tail as a yang line.
- The one different coin represents your moving line.
This certainly has the merit of simplicity in method and results. It will always give you exactly one moving line – never an unchanging hexagram, never a choice between alternative lines or pictures of the different people involved…
In their book, the Sorrells simplify things still further by reading only the primary hexagram and its one line, ignoring the relating hexagram altogether.
Eight gemstones and a dice
I think this is the most attractive of the three quick methods proposed by Alfred Huang in his Complete I Ching.
- Choose eight polished gemstones, and allot one to represent each of the eight trigrams. Put your trigram stones in a bag.
- Draw out one to represent your lower trigram; note this down and replace the stone.
- Draw out another to represent your upper trigram.
- Throw a dice to discover which line is changing.
Again, very simple, and you always receive exactly one moving line. But I can imagine that choosing the stone for each of the trigrams would be an intriguing and satisfying task.
Consulting the I Ching with eight coins
According to Martin Palmer’s Fortune Teller’s I Ching, this is the method most commonly used in China today. For this you need eight identical coins, one of them marked in some way (for instance with a spot of red paint); you also need a trigram chart in Fuxi’s arrangement (aka the ‘Before Heaven’ bagua):
- Starting with qian at the top and moving anti-clockwise, lay down the coins one by one on the trigrams
- Stop when you lay down the marked coin: this identifies your lower trigram
- Pick up the coins, mix them and repeat the process to identify the upper trigram
- To find your moving line, remove two unmarked coins and lay out the remaining six in a column from bottom to top, representing the lines of a hexagram. The marked coin denotes the moving line.
A note on multiple moving lines
It’s true that multiple moving lines can be the most confusing part of a reading. But they’re also one of the most eloquent, subtle aspects – and so there are better responses to the difficulty than applying these one-line-only straitjackets to the I Ching. The I Ching Foundations Course includes two lessons on how to engage with and understand multiple moving lines.