In my practice, I basically begin with a breathing meditation. These 3 rounds of inhale and exhale remind us of the great opposites of yin and yang, the interplay of 2 complementing phenomena at work with the lines. After this, a round of breath allows the seeker to read and intend his or her inquiry. During casting, I recommend the seeker to breathe in while shaking the coins, and breathe out in releasing them. This is done 6 times.
For each throw, record the coin patterns. You only have 4 patterns to identify (beginning with their shorthand labels):
- 2HT = 2 heads, 1 tail
- 2TH = 2 tails, 1 head
- 3H = 3 heads
- 3T = 3 tails
Each side of the coin has a value, either 2 or 3, and when you add up you’ll come up with any of these 4 numbers: 6, 7, 8, 9. While many Western instructions on coin method designate heads as yang with 3 as value, and tails as yin with 2 as value, I have long learned to follow the reverse; according to I Ching scholar Bradford Hatcher, these values are based on the ancient I Ching tradition of coin method:
- heads = 2 = yin
- tails = 3 = yang
These values are added up based on resulting coin patterns, followed by their equivalent lines:
- 2HT = 2 + 2 + 3 = 7 = straight line
- 2TH = 3 + 3 + 2 = 8 = broken line
- 3H = 2 + 2 + 2 = 6 = broken line changing to straight line
- 3T = 3 + 3 + 3 = 9 = straight line changing to broken line
Simplified, it looks like this:
Recording the Patterns
On a sheet of paper or a page of your journal, write numbers 1 to 6 from bottom to top, on the leftmost side. Numbers 1 to 6 represents the 6 lines of a hexagram. The bottom-up order of patterns during casting is a very important one. It’s like a seed growing up from the soil.
Record the pattern for each throw of coins. Start recording your first pattern at 1, then second pattern at 2, and so on, ending up at 6. Say for example you have completed 6 throws with patterns: 2HT, 3T, 2HT, 2TH, 3H, 2TH. It will look like this:
To generate specific lines, write next to each label the specific line it represents. They’ll look like this:
Note that a hexagram is made of 2 trigrams (3-lines) stacked together. In the example line patterns above, you have:
- lower trigram: 3 straight lines from 1 to 3
- upper trigram: 3 broken lines from 4 to 6
Identify the hexagram number by matching the upper and lower trigram using a hexagram chart below:
Did you find the exact hexagram? The upper trigram is Earth, while the lower trigram is Heaven. This makes Hexagram 11, Peace.
On Changing Lines
Also note that you have Changing Lines. Let’s go back:
Line 2 has 3 tails (3T), a straight line encircled in the middle. Line 5 has 3 heads (3H), a broken line with an x mark in the middle. These lines will change into their opposites (lines in gray lines). The Lines of 2HT and 2TH remain unchanged (lines in black).
This results to a new hexagram, called Secondary or Relating Hexagram. Using the chart, you’ll see new trigrams: upper trigram is water, lower trigram is fire. This is Hexagram 63, After Completion.