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What Is the I Ching?

Learn about the world's oldest oracle

By Tarot.com Staff

What is the I Ching?

The I Ching is the oldest and wisest oracular system in the world. Some 3000 - 4000 years old, it is also the oldest known book: The Book of Changes. Used for centuries by sages and emperors of China, the I Ching is a profound system that tracks some 322,560 possible permutations of 6-line yin/yang combinations, called hexagrams. Each one of these represents a particular kind of human characteristic or situation.

How does the I Ching work?

The I Ching is best understood through the work of Carl Jung, the founder of depth psychology, who studied the I Ching oracle for 30 years. He defined two psychological terms to explain how it works -- to stimulate the intuition and help answer questions that logic cannot handle, with the help of the subconscious mind. The first is "archetypes," which could be defined as pure qualities of human psychology that energize all of our personality characteristics. Each of the I Ching's 64 hexagrams can be considered as one primary archetype. (Similarly, the Tarot divides things into 78 archetypes, represented by each of the 78 cards in a Tarot deck.)

The other factor is what Jung called the "Synchronicity Principle," which stipulates that all things are connected in time as well as in space. The patterns of how things happen together may not conform to the laws of causal logic, but they do follow a higher logic of "meaningful coincidence." Thus, the way the coins land, the way the lines are cast, is reckoned to be related to everything else happening -- specifically related to whatever you were concentrating on while you were casting the coins.

Consulting the I Ching is like asking the advice of a wise friend or teacher.

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Can the I Ching tell the future?

A full I Ching reading, which includes the Future hexagram, can give you a keen sense of the probabilities inherent in a situation, but the specific way that things turn out are, in the end, up to you. It depends on how well you adapt to the ever-changing conditions that your reading reflects. An I Ching reading gives a snapshot of what is going on in the present, the time you are tossing the coins, but it also gives you what are called "changing lines," which reveal things that are in flux, leading to a new future.

An authentic I Ching reading can help you see aspects of a situation that have been invisible to your ego. In contrast to popular opinion, the I Ching is a valuable form of meditation on the present moment that returns insight and advice. Although it does reflect probabilities, it is NOT a form of fortune telling.

How is online I Ching authentic and accurate?

Tarot.com's I Ching readings are so energizing because they are the only interactive I Ching experience that makes sure that YOU, not the computer, toss the coins. The energetic connection between the reader and the coins is what creates synchronicity. In our online I Ching, the computer only helps; it doesn't take over or get in the way.

What kinds of questions is the I Ching well-suited for?

I Ching is excellent for receiving clarity on problems or issues that logic by itself simply cannot handle. Relationships, negotiations, work dynamics, office politics, family matters, spiritual well-being -- the I Ching can provide insight for all of it.

Have a question? The I Ching has answers! Get the guidance you need now...

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