I Ching, or the Book of Changes, is an increasingly popular fortune-telling oracle. Learn about the origins of this divination system and the meaning of the eight trigrams.
I Ching, Yi Jing, Book of Transmutations or Book of Mutations, is an oracle for fortune telling. Originally from China, the I Ching compiles a large body of ancient teachings. People have always looked for answers that give them an idea of their future. From this need, myths, practices, and oracles have been born over millennia that seek to answer what so many want to know.
The Origin of the I Ching
The I Ching is based on the principle of change. Everything changes; everything flows. Despite the human need to master the present and anticipate the future, there is only one security in life: the only constant changes. However, there are patterns in Nature: day turns to night, and night turns to day; death gives rise to life, and life inevitably leads to death; the seasons of the year invariably follow one another year after year.
It was on these patterns that the shamans of ancient China relied upon when they were called upon to advise on future divine events. And this was the origin of the I Ching. With the passing of time, the ancestors began to recognize that the wisdom of this oracle was like a matrix to understand how the Universe works.
The I Ching was created from the observation of the natural world, by the ebb and flow of the constant cycles of Nature. Changes bring evolution and new changes. The I Ching advocates a more balanced approach to life, with awareness and respect for all things that influence the energies of the Universe, including Humanity.
Origins of the I Ching - Yin and Yang
The I Ching can help clarify some more practical aspects of life, but its great teaching is the awakening of consciousness as a means to reach a higher level of knowledge. His teachings have been compiled by various Chinese philosophers over time, containing the fundamental laws of cosmic movements, which include the life and destiny of Men. It is also a philosophy that seeks harmony between all things as a means to find inner peace and spiritual development.
The Yin and Yang are symbolized as a circle divided into two equal segments, one white and one black. These are the complementary opposites that are present in all things: one cannot exist without the other.
While Yin is dark, Yang is clear, while Yin is weak, Yang is strong, Yin is female, Yang is male, and so on. Yin and Yang are transitory states of being, and the interaction of these two elemental energies or forces gives rise to creation.
Inspired by the observation of Nature, the basic symbols of the I Ching are reflected in the eight trigrams (Pa Kua) and correspond to the eight possibilities of combining Yin Yang in three lines. These eight trigrams structure the book I Ching and represent the eight fundamental forces of Nature.
Two types of compositions are used: the Harmony of the First Heaven (attributed to Emperor Fu Hsi) and the Harmony of the Last Heaven (attributed to Wen, the first emperor of the Chou dynasty):
Li / Fire
K’un / Earth
Tui / Lake
Ch’ien / Heaven
K’an / Water
Ken / Mountain
Chen / Thunder
Sun / Wind
The 64 Symbols or Hexagrams
Wen, the first emperor of the Chou dynasty, expanded and improved the I Ching with the creation of 64 symbols or hexagrams. These reveal in great detail the 64 stages of the universal cycles, just as the sages observed in heaven and on Earth. Each of those hexagrams has:
A symbolic meaning
A text (also called “judgment” or “oracle”) reveals in symbolic language the meaning of the hexagram. Traditionally, the text is short and is accompanied by comments and interpretations added over the centuries, whose function is to help in the interpretation of its teaching.
An image or symbol that carries an additional message, such as a role model or advice to help deal with the situation indicated by the hexagram.
The I Ching as Oracle in the West
Despite being used millennia ago by Chinese culture, as an art of divination and order of the natural world and cosmic forces, the I Ching only in the 19th century became known in the West. Later, psychologist Carl Jung saw in this oracle a confirmation of his theories about synchronicity and the subconscious. From here, it became popular, being more and more sought after, offering further advice on some problems and inner development.
Symbiology and Interpretation of the 8 Trigrams
Li / Fire
Symbolism: The fire, the faithful. It is bright, warm, and limpid, corresponding to beauty and intelligence.
Family: Middle daughter
Human body: Eyes
Representation: Peacock, dry and fragile trees, fiery orange color
K’un / Earth
Symbolism: Earth, the receptive. It is kind and passive, representing the three Yin lines, eternal sustenance, and devotion.
Human body: Abdomen
Representation: Black, cow, tree trunk, chariot, which transports everything without making distinctions
Tui / Lake
Symbolism: The lake, the merry one. Affectionate and sensual on the outside, it becomes attractive and inviting. Has a heart as hard as stone
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