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I Ching/The Modified Yarrow Stalk Method

I Ching | 64 Hexagrams | Core Hexagrams | Yarrow Stalks | Explanations | Hosts | Interpretation | Moving Line


The Modified Yarrow Stalk Method of Casting a Hexagram

In the modified yarrow stalk method, as described by Alfred Huang in "The Complete I Ching", fifty yarrow stalks are used. (This number is the same as that used in the ancient yarrow stalk method.) If it is hard to find yarrow stalks, substitutes such as bamboo skewers, wooden sticks, etc may be used.
The procedure of the modified yarrow stalk method to obtain a hexagram is as follows:

Casting The HexagramEdit

  1. Remove a yarrow stalk from the fifty stalks, and put it in front of you, in a direction parallel to your body.
  2. Randomly divide the remaining 49 sticks into 2 piles, with one hand holding each pile. Put the 2 piles on both sides of you, pointing away from you, in a direction perpendicular to your body.
  3. Pick up a yarrow stalk from the pile on the RIGHT, and put it between the little finger and the ring finger of the LEFT hand. Let's call this the 2nd stalk.
  4. Pick up the remaining yarrow stalks from the pile on the RIGHT with your LEFT hand.
  5. Remove 8 stalks at a time from the LEFT hand, and put them on the table, in individual piles of 8 stalks each. (For ease and accuracy of counting, 4 stalks are usually removed at a time, but the total must be 8 stalks for each pile.) This process is stopped when there are less than 8 stalks left (excluding the 2nd stalk).
  6. Put the remaining stalks (should be 7 stalks or less) held on the LEFT hand between the ring finger and the middle finger of the LEFT hand. Add this number to the 2nd stalk. This final number will be any number between one to eight inclusive.
  7. The lower trigram is obtained by matching the final number of yarrow stalks with the trigram number in the Early Heaven Circular Arrangement as follows:

[1] ☰ (乾) Qián (Heaven)
[2] ☱ (兌) Duì (Lake or Marsh)
[3] ☲ (離) Lí (Flame or Fire)
[4] ☳ (震) Zhèn (Thunder)
[5] ☴ (巽) Xùn (Wind)
[6] ☵ (坎) Kǎn (Water)
[7] ☶ (艮) Gèn (Mountain)
[8] ☷ (坤) Kūn (Earth)

For example, if the final number of yarrow stalks is 4, then the lower trigram is Thunder.

The above 7 steps are repeated to obtain the upper trigram. Combining the upper and lower trigrams will give us a hexagram. For example, if the lower trigram is Thunder, and the upper trigram is Mountain, we will obtain hexagram 27 (䷚) 颐.

Finding The Moving LineEdit

The process to obtain the moving line with the modified yarrow stalk method is as follows:

  1. Remove a yarrow stalk from the fifty stalks, and put it in front of you, in a direction parallel to your body.
  2. Randomly divide the remaining 49 sticks into 2 piles, with one hand holding each pile. Put the 2 piles on both sides of you, pointing away from you, in a direction perpendicular to your body.
  3. Pick up a yarrow stalk from the pile on the RIGHT, and put it between the little finger and the ring finger of the LEFT hand. Let's call this the 2nd stalk.
  4. Pick up the remaining yarrow stalks from the pile on the LEFT with your LEFT hand.
  5. Remove 6 stalks at a time from the LEFT hand, and put them on the table, in individual piles of 6 stalks each. This process terminates when there are less than 6 stalks left (excluding the 2nd stalk).
  6. Put the remaining stalks (should be 5 stalks or less) held on the LEFT hand between the ring finger and the middle finger of the LEFT hand. Add this number to the 2nd stalk. This final number will be any number between one to six inclusive, and this is the number of the moving line, counting from the bottom of the hexagram. For example, if the final number is 5, then the moving line is the 5th line counting from the bottom, and this is the same as the 2nd line counting from the top. In the case of hexagram 08 (䷇), this will be the only Yang line in the hexagram 比.