Monday, February 8, 2016

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Today is the Chinese New Year, and congratulations and prosperity to all those reading this who celebrate it.

In the context of the I Ching, the Chinese calendar is significant in a number of elements related to I Ching study and practice.  There are many systems of Chinese Astrology that make use of the Hexagrams of the I Ching in relation to the houses and processes of the Chinese Zodiac, for example. 

Within the practices of the Yi Fa Society, the most significant aspect of the Chinese calendar is in the macrocosmic calculations of the Plum Blossom Oracle.  The Plum Blossom Oracle system is a completely different method of calculating I Ching hexagrams, based on a numerological system by which you can generate a Hexagram (with a changing line and resultant hexagram) that corresponds to a specific date and time. This is particularly useful to determine divination related to events related to particular points in time.

Some English-language books on the Plum Blossom system (and there are not many) suggest that you just use the western dates to calculate the oracle, but in fact this would result in completely different hexagrams. Western dating is not based on a cyclical calendar of years, but rather on a date from a fairly arbitrary starting point (the supposed birth year of Jesus Christ, although historians agree that this date is in fact incorrect by several years!).  The Chinese system works like a set of wheels, it calculates time along 60 year cycles.  It is representative of a macrocosmic process, based on the cycles of time and the Five Processes (sometimes incorrectly referred to as the 'five Chinese elements', although in fact they are not meant to represent elements equivalent to the five pentagram elements in the west).

In The Magician's I Ching, chapter 5 is dedicated to explaining the system of the Plum Blossom Method, and how to generate a Plum Blossom Oracle hexagram; and it uses the original Chinese calendar method.  In this year, the Year of the Monkey, the numerical value associated with the year now changes from 8 (Year of the Goat) to 9 (Year of the Monkey).  Yi Fa students (or purchasers of The Magician's I Ching) should take note of this when working with the Plum Blossom system from this point on.

For more information on the Plum Blossom system of Chinese Numerology, please consider purchasing The Magician's I Ching,  or joining the Yi Fa Society (if you are interested, please contact me in the comments, on Facebook or on Google+).

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