12.9.11

Rollé I Ching Sticks

More I Ching stuff.

Ever the experimentalist, I wasn't entirely satisfied with the coin casting method - the most common method for generating the lines of the I Ching hexagrams. For those of us who worry about such things, I found it's a little time consuming, and the math is too symmetrical when compared to the more ancient yarrow stalk method. I would go for the yarrow stalk method but that's way more time consuming/complicated and I would probably end up avoiding divining with the oracle altogether if I had to do all that counting out of yarrow sticks every time I had a question. 

Yet, the math appeals to me because the changing yin lines are less frequent, which mirrors the workings of yin in the universe (it changes less frequently). So, I started using what is known as the marble method - which is mathematically closer to the more ancient yarrow stalk method but relatively easy by comparison: sixteen marbles of four different colours are used; representing stable yin, stable yang, changing yin, and changing yang (1 marble of the first colour, 3 of the second colour, 5 of the third colour, and 7 of the fourth). 

You just draw marble to generate each line. Not too bad at all...

Until I discovered these ingenious I Ching sticks invented by a Swiss man called Dominique Rollé and sold by Anthony Publishing Co. I'm not a mathematician but according to Carol Anthony  the sticks were designed so that the mathematical probabilities are close to the yarrow stalk method - but how cool is this - you generate the primary hexagram, changing lines AND the relating hexagram with a single cast! 

You just roll the sticks in your hands while framing your question mentally...
 Until you feel the moment is right...
Then you roll them onto the table surface....
And presto - the figures and changing lines are generated in a single, easy movement.
The hex on the left is the primary figure, the dot indicates the changing line (here changing from yang to yin) and then on the right we have our relating hexagram. Additionally, you can create small gap by shifting the sticks apart a bit to help identify the trigrams more easily - which of course helps one find the figure in the book but it also helps one to see how it is built up energetically.
I also find these sticks rather aesthetically pleasing. I like passing them through some incense smoke as I formulate my question and then I find the rolling motion in my hands is suitably meditative. In a certain way they kind of remind me of yarrow sticks in terms of their kinaesthetic quality - but with a very modern twist.

There you have it folks - a better mouse trap.

6 comments:

  1. Those sticks are awesome! I'm sure they must give a far superior experience to the ubiquitous coin method.
    I also once suspected that the traditional yarrow stalk method would be too arduous for practical use, but I'd really like to encourage you to try it. If you don't have access to actual yarrow stalks (the plants are really easy to grow) you could even use wooden kebab skewers to get the hang of the system. The Wilhelm translation of the I Ching includes a description of the system, although I had to read it and rewrite it into simpler instructions. After you've tried it just once, it becomes very clear, and I've always found that the yarrow stalk system helps to calm and focus my mind, and adds a good dose of solemnity to the occasion. It doesn't take more than 20 minutes once you've got the hang of it, and it really is a very rewarding practice.

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  2. @ Andrew: I definitely plan on giving the yarrow stalk method a go as soon as I am able to get the stalks together. At the very least I think they would be a nice addition to my altar! Although, I doubt the method would become one i would regularly use, especially considering how convenient these I Ching sticks are...

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  3. and if you remove two sticks, it becomes a very interesting way to cast a geomantic chart.

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  4. @hermes3x3: when i read your comment I didn't think much about it but then it struck me - what if geomantic figures had changing lines?? How would that be interpreted? Interesting idea!

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  5. that is what I was thinking, what if a geomantic figure had a changing line, I mean, just one shift and a figure can become something radically different.

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