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The Moon, time and the I Ching

In global terms, the Chi is expressed as two structuring and polar principles (yin and yang). It does it through Heaven, Man and Earth, in beings and things, cyclicly (seasons) and causing events that, for instance, can be represented in the hexagrams of The Book of Changes. According to comments attributed to Confucio, the I Ching is the most ancient book in the world because its basic structure was developed in prehistory and was the basis for the order installed by the mythological sovereigns in ancient Chine before XXI century B.C. (the Three Augustes and the emperors Five Augustes).

Around the year 2200 B.C., in the era of Xia dynasty (the first one), fortune-telling was practised through fire impressions (piromancy), cracking turtle´s shells with red hot iron (escapulomancy). With this method, fortune-tellers emitted heat (fire) and thus cracks appeared translating Chi in everything, as a revealed. To read these cracks they used a system derived from Fu Hsi´s trigrams by associating them to pictograms but apparently there were no consensuated patterns for interpretation, and each practicioner was free to interpret in their own way, as with this shell from Shang dynasty´s era (1600 – 1046 B.C.).

Tortuga - Consultar al I Ching

Later, another method was used: 50 rods of yarrow. Lenght, straightness, durability and lightness of dried stems make them especially adequated for random handling. And, as happens in any fortune-telling, they´re used as a receptive mean to «context» irradiations, the Chi circulating in all beings and things, intentionally perceived by who´s asking (the other receptive mean).

This method with rods is about operations representing the cosmic characteristics of a year (cosmic return) with the Moon and its phases, and the interspersed time.

In a reading, stems are counted three times but we start separating one of them, putting it aside. 49 stems remain, as they´re 49 Moon phases, plus a fraction. The separated stem represents that fraction, and the remaining 49 represent the whole lunar phases.

Then, the remaining 49 stems are grouped again, dropped and separated in groups of 4, because 4 stems represent a lunation. As they´re grouped in sets of 4, rests remain. Theses rests symbolize the interspersed time, «the time out of time»: it´s fortune-telling´s time in which we go back to zero point because linearity in the topic of interest is no more. It´s a way of symbolizing that a fortune-telling is a new beginning because installs by itself a new start in the reading´s topic, letting play chance as rods are grouped again and again according to the Chi in the situation.

If you´re interested in asking with rods, read these steps:

Contenido del acordeón
Varillas de milenrama - Consultar I ChingSeparate one of the 50 rods and leave it aside. Group the rest of the remaining 49 stems and divide them into two groups, more or less similar. Place one of them on the right, and the other on the left.
The left hand takes one of the stems in the group on the right, and put it in between the pinky and ring fingers.Then the right hand forms groups of 4 stems each one, on the left side. When remaining 4 stems or less, they´re put in between the ring and middle fingers in the left hand.Varillas de milenrama - Consultar I Ching
Varillas de milenrama - Consultar I ChingSimilarly, groups with 4 stems are also separated in the group on the right side until it remains 4 or less (1, 2, 3 or 4). This remanent is placed in between the middle and index fingers in the left hand.
Varillas de milenrama - Consultar I ChingCount all the stems in the left hand (3 groups between fingers). Results may be: 9 (1 + 4 + 4) or 5 (1 + 3 + 1, or 1 + 2 + 2, or 1 + 1 + 3). Write down the result and place the groups aside. This is the first stems´ counting.
Repeat the process from the beginning, two more times. During these repetitions, results in each counting may be: 8 (1 + 3 + 4, or 1 + 4 + 3) or 4 (1 + 1 + 2, or 1 + 2 + 1).
Results are transformed two times. The first stem placed in between the pinky and ring fingers should not be taken into account, so: 9 turns into 8, and 5 into 4. At the same time, 8 turns into 2, and 4 turns into 3. In resume: a total of 9 transforms to 8 and turns into 2, and a total of 5 transforms to 4 and turns into 3.
Varillas de milenrama - Consultar I ChingSum the results of the three countings, and there will be 8 possibilities: 9 (3 + 3 + 3, old yang), 6 (2 + 2 + 2, old yin), 7 (2 + 2 + 3, or 3 + 2 + 2, or 2 + 3 + 2, young yang) or 8 (2 + 3 + 3, or 3 + 3 + 2, or 3 + 2 + 3, young yin). With this final result, you get the first line in a reading. Only the old lines change (6 and 9), while the young ones rest (7 and 8).

Repeat all the previous steps 5 more times to get the other five lines forming a hexagram.

Fu Hsi, Wisdom Incarnated

He was the one who invented the calendar in Ancient Chine,  brought writing and social organization, and invented the 8 trigrams while observed phenomena in Heaven and Earth.

  • Yang (heat, the expansive) is represented in trigram Chien (Heaven)
  • Yin (cold, the contracted) is represented in trigram Kun (Earth)
  • the Chi (vital energy) is represented in Chen (Thunder)
trigramas del I Ching
  • Metal is represented in trigram Tui (Lake)
  • Earth in Ken (Mountain)
  • Fire in Li (Fire)
  • Wood in Sun (Wind)
  • Water in K´an (Water)
elementos del I Ching
Chi´ s fluctuations cause the 5 elements, and from their interactions come up all things

After Fu Hsi, King Wen of the Chou dynasty wrote his own sequence of signs in the XII B.C. century adding descriptions for the 64 hexagrams when considered in pairs, which allowed a better representation of the rhythmic structure of an always elusive and changing present. His son Tan, the famous Duke of Chou, wrote the judgments we currently know for each line.

 

Sources: IKching, Oráculos chinos: 7 históricos sistemas de adivinación orientales, Yi Jing: Oracle of the moon,  Chinopedia, Wikipedia.

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