The I Ching (the "Classic of Changes"; also spelled as Yijing in the pinyin system of romanizing Chinese words) is 3,000 years old. Chinese officials, scholars, and mystics have used the book to analyze the present and foretell the future. It became part of the Confucian canon of "Five Books." Today, some see it as a tool for divination; however, others see it more as a profound work for understanding the universe (philosophy) or the self (psychology).
Interpreting the Changes' ambiguous and evocative text is a highly subjective process; it draws on the questioner's personal experiences, motivations, and unconscious desires. That is why the book appears to speak directly to the questioner. In fact, the book does not speak. Only the person who consults it speaks. People use the book to talk to themselves, to jostle their unconscious and stimulate their intuitions. The real oracle always lies within. ...
The key to confidence in the oracle is not belief in supernatural entities but a sincere devotion to the cause of enlightenment and self-examination. Even a thorough-going atheist can use the book with profit. (Balkin, pp. 33-34)
In order to use the I Ching, one must use some random method to generate a six-line diagram called a hexagram. The most common methods involve using 50 stalks of the yarrow plant or three coins. The lines are generated from the bottom up and can be yang lines (unbroken lines symbolizing the active, or male, principle) or yin lines (broken lines symbolizing the receptive, or female, principle). The lines may also be moving (also called "old") or stable (also called "young"). If the hexagram thus generated has any moving lines, the user makes another hexagram in which the moving lines are converted to their opposites (yang to yin, yin to yang).
The user then consults the text of the I Ching to find:
Think of a question, then click on the button below.
I used the following books for background on the I Ching, names of the hexagrams, and the yarrow-stalk method of casting the I Ching.