Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I Ching: The Four Staves Casting Method

This is a new method I have devised for myself, after having felt dissatisfaction with the imperfect mirroring of change from the more popular “three coin” method, while at the same time finding the complexities of the traditional counting method using 50 yarrow stalks to be often too impractical. While it is called “four staves” and my own preference is to use four wooden sticks, you could in fact use any four two-sided objects; these can be coins, or flat sticks, or anything else, where the two sides are distinguishable from one another (coins with a "head" and "tail", for example, or sticks that have a mark on one side). In my own case, I use four carpenter's pencils (which are two-sided) and have marked one side of each with a black line to delineate the “Yang” side.

To perform a reading, begin with the ritual procedure delineated in the Magician's I Ching.

You should be prepared with paper and pen, to note the results, and then you toss the devices. For simplicity's sake, assume one side of the device is the “yang” side, and the other is the “yin” side; If you are using something other than coins, its a good idea to mark only one side to allow for quick and easy distinction as to which side is which.

When you throw the devices, you have to see how they each came up:

If all four come up Yin, the result is a broken changing line. Draw a split line and put a mark or an “x” next to it, to note it is a changing line.

If three come up Yin (and one yang): the result is a broken line. Draw a split line.

If they are tied (2 and 2) you have to look at the one that fell furthest to your left:
if that one is a Yin: the result is a broken line (draw a split line)
if that one is a Yang: the result is a solid changing line (draw it and put a mark or an “x” next to it, to note that it is a changing line)

If three come up Yang (and one Yin), OR if all four come up Yang: the result is a solid line. Draw a straight line on your page.

As usual, you do this six times to generate the hexagram.

The reason this method is preferable to the “three coin method” is that in that latter method there is an equal chance of getting a solid or broken line; and an equal (lesser) chance of getting a solid changing or broken changing line. But in the “Four Staves” method it is most rare to get a broken changing line (1/16 chance); slightly less rare to get a solid changing line (3/16); less rare still to get a solid line (5/16), and most common of all to get a broken line (7/16).

These odds match those of the oldest method of I Ching divination, the complicated counting method of 50 yarrow stalks. The odds with that method are almost exactly the same as in this method. And it is important because this method more accurately reflects the probabilities of Change. It is more probable in reality that something be in a state of weakness than in a state of strength; and more probable that something strong will weakening, than something weak strengthening.

This is the nature of reality; so by using this method you get the most accurate approximation of the laws of nature.

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