Thursday 7 February 2008

The trousers of change

It being Chinese New Year I decided to learn a bit about the I Ching, otherwise known as The Book of Changes, so I took down something I've had on my shelf for some time, but never previously read called Introduction To The I Ching by Tom Riseman.

It is a slim volume with a short introduction describing how you use the I Ching and then 90 or so pages describing what each of the hexagrams means.

The I Ching is an ancient system for divination with its roots in Taoism. The idea behind it is that change is a constant force. To understand a given situation, it is necessary to understand the forces of change at work, otherwise known as the complementary yet antagonistic principles of Yin and Yang.

To use the I Ching you throw three coins (or, traditionally, yarrow stalks). Heads are Yang and have the value three; tails are Yin and have the value two. You throw them six times, adding the numbers each time. Six is old Yin, seven is young Yang, eight is old Yang, nine is young Yin. You draw a line to represent each number and the set of lines drawn is called a hexagram.

Then, you look up the hexagram and can read its meaning. You are supposed to carefully think of a question before throwing the coins. I must admit, I didn't. The hexagram I got was Ku or Reparation of the Spoiled. It meant destruction was imminent but hard work can correct it.

At that moment, the button popped off my waistband. I guess, without realising it, I must have just done a reading for my trousers.

Later, I foretell, I will put away the I Ching and I get the sewing box out.

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