I Ching — The Book of Changes
The Chinese I Ching, or “Book of Changes,” consists of sixty-four archetypes that result from all the possible six-line combinations of yin and yang lines, called hexagrams. Yin/yang is the fundamental duality of the Universe whose dynamic tension gives shape to all phenomena and the way they change. Examples of yin/yang polarity are female/male, earth/heavens, dark/light, in/out, even/odd and so on.
The interpretations of the sixty-four hexagrams use words to describe the energy patterns of human life divided into sixty-four types of situations, relationships or dilemmas. Each hexagram can be analyzed in a number of ways. Divide the six-line forms in half and you get trigrams (three yin or yang lines) that represent the Chinese version of eight fundamental elements: sky, earth, thunder, wind, water, fire, mountain, and lake. These eight trigrams, known as “Hua,” also serve as the compass points in the ancient art of placement known as Feng Shui (pronounced fung-shway).
The Visionary I Ching, which is fully presented on this website, is Paul O’Brien’s non-patriarchal version of the ancient oracle, with original I Ching-inspired art for each of the hexagrams. Paul O’Brien’s modern version renders this revered divination system useful as a useful enlightened decision-making aid in modern times. We offer this section of the website as a resource for I Ching users, including instructions to help beginning users easily learn how to use three coins to consult this repository of timeless wisdom.
O’Brien‘s discovery of the I Ching as a teenager in San Francisco — followed by three decades studying the oracle as well as Carl Jung’s work on the Synchronicity Principle — ultimately resulted in the composition of his modern but faithful I Ching interpretation. The text was originally written for use in a very early multimedia program — the first interactive I Ching program, which was called Synchronicity (1989). Later came the more immersive Oracle of Changes CD-Rom (adding a meditative sound track and original art for each hexagram in 1997), and after that the creation of I-Ching.com and Tarot.com interactive websites (2001, sold in 2007).
As of 2014, the Visionary I Ching became available as an illustrated ebook for Kindle or iPad, as well as an app for Apple or Android and Amazon smartphones—the elegant and easy-to-use Visionary I Ching APP!
- How To: Give Yourself an I Ching Reading
- Interpret: I Ching Hexagram Lookup and Interpretations
- Photo Album: Hexagram Artwork
- Article: History of the I Ching
Other I Ching Books and Resources
Like any ancient text, there are I Ching books on the market today that offer an assortment of translations. A few have modernized the text, removing gender bias and archaic language. Others have elaborated on the explanations, and only roughly paraphrase the original text. There is a range of quality in translations. Although the Wilhelm/Baynes version by Princeton Press, with its forward by Carl Jung, is the most popular, it is tainted by the politics of the Chinese 19th century and tends to be stilted in a slightly Germanic way (translated into English from German). It does, however, faithfully preserved the militarism and sexism of patriarchal China going back to the time of Confucius and before. Another version that is also faithful to the original Chinese, but far easier to digest, is The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang, a modern I Ching scholar, former dean of Shanghai University (imprisoned for criticizing Mao).