What is I Ching?
I Ching is thought to be the world's oldest oracle which is considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic opinion, predictions or precognition of the future, and is probably the most revered book of Chinese wisdom.
It's the accumulated experience of over 2,500 years of diviners and sages, and beyond that of unimaginably ancient oral traditions; it's the voice that has been offering people help and wise, genial guidance for generations.
In ancient China I Ching had two distinct functions. Firstly as a compendium of ancient cosmic principles and secondly as a tool for forecasting the future.
As a forecasting tool the world of I Ching was that of marketplace fortune tellers and roadside oracles. These individuals preyed on the illiterate peasantry. Apparently the educated Confucians had little or no use for I Ching as a forecasting tool.
I read somewhere that in the collected works of the countless educated people of ancient China there are actually very few references to I Ching as a forecasting tool - but then again, history has always been written by the winning side.
Eyewitness accounts of traditional Chinese society, such as Samuel Wells Williams The Middle Kingdom, seem to support this basic distinction.
The text of I Ching is a set of oracular statements represented by 64 sets of six lines called hexagrams.
Each hexagram is a figure composed of six stacked horizontal lines, each line is either Yang (an unbroken, or solid line), or Yin (a broken or open line with a gap in the centre). With six such lines stacked from bottom to top there are 64 possible combinations.
Possibly the best place to view a lot of the derivations of I Ching hexagrams is on this Wikipedia page. This also saves us from having to republish numerous charts and tables.