Hexagram Setting

Hexagrams can be set in a journal entry either manually or by semi automated method of generation. Once you have created a new journal entry or opened an existing one in edit mode, you can navigate to the hexagram setting area by clicking on the navigation link. In edit mode two hexagrams are always displayed. The one on the right represents the result of any changing lines. In viewing mode the second one is omitted if no lines change. By default the hexagram of a new journal entry is set to hexagram number 1 with no changing lines.

Manual Setting

After you have performed a divination ritual using coins, yarrow sticks or any other method you might prefer, you can enter the results of the oracle into My Ching in two different ways.

1. Mouse Clicking

Once your journal entry is open in edit mode, clicking on any line of a hexagram flips it's state, yang to yin or yin to yang. First click on the hexagram lines on the left to set the primary hexagram, and then if there are any changing lines, click on the right hand hexagram to set them.

2. Speed Dialing

A faster method is to use the text box to the left of the hexagrams. Enter the results of your oracle by entering the numeric values of the coin or yarrow stalk method from the bottom line up. These numeric codes are as follows:

  1. Six sets a changing yin line.
  2. Seven sets a static yang line.
  3. Eight sets a static yin line.
  4. Nine set a changing yang line.

Divination by Mouse

There are two semi-automated ways to generate hexagrams that still have a high level of human interaction like the traditional rituals. One method simulates the coin method of divination and the other the yarrow stalk method. The main difference between the two methods lies in the mathematical probability of obtaining a changing line. In the case of the coin method the probability of getting a changing line is 1 in 4 and this is the same whether the line is yang or ying.  In the case of the yarrow method the probability of a yang line changing is 3:16 and a ying line is only 1:16.

To do an automated casting, select the hexagram page in entry edit mode and click on either of the buttons with representations of Chinese coins or a bunch of yarrow sticks. The casting starts by clearing the hexagram area except for the bottom lines of the both left and right hexagrams. The line will be seen to shimmer in a state of flux. Clicking on the line 3 times will resolve the line into either ying or yang. Each click represents either a coin toss or a division of the yarrow stalks. As you resolve each line a new one appears above it and so on until your hexagram is completed. As in the traditional rituals you should contemplate your question to the oracle while resolving each line in flux.

How Mouse Divination Works

The author of My Ching felt it was important to retain the element of human interaction following the traditional methods. Before they started using sticks and coins the ancient Chinese used turtle shells heated in a fire until they cracked. By a curious twist of fate, computer mice bear some resemblance to turtle shells and even have cracks in them.

So what is important to understand is that the computer is not tossing the coins or dividing the yarrow stalks for you using some algorithm. It is the precise moment you decide to click the mouse that determines the reading. You can think of it like this: imagine you have a stop watch accurate to thousandths of a second. After letting it run for a while, you stop it and look at the fine seconds count (thousandths). If the number is odd that can be equated to a coin toss coming up heads, and an even number as tails. When you start the hexagram casting, an invisible stop watch is activated inside the My Ching program. Clicking on a shimmering line stops it randomly on an even or odd number. This gives you a heads or tails result. Repeating this 3 times determines the line.

This can also be applied to representing the random division of a bunch of yarrow stalks. Say the number of stalks in the pile is 29 and the stop watch is showing 501 thousandths of a second. You can use modulo arithmetic to obtain a random division of the sticks. Modulo means the remainder of 501 after division by 29 which is 8. If you assume that you always want at least 1 in the resulting left pile you add 1 to the result to get the count of the left pile or 9. The right pile then contains 20. But what happens if the remainder is 28 and you add 1. There won't be anything in the right pile. It is better to subtract 1 first and use modulo 28.

For those who understand computer code here is the actual code in My Ching used to determine the resulting number of yarrow sticks in the left and right pile.

left_pile_count := 1 + counter_thread.value \\ (sticks_remaining_count - 1)
   valid_pile_division: left_pile_count >= 1 and left_pile_count < sticks_remaining_count
stick_pile_count [Left] := left_pile_count
stick_pile_count [Right] := sticks_remaining_count - left_pile_count

The "counter_thread.value" variable represents the "stop watch counter" that is stopped when the user clicks on a line. This formula ensures there is always at least one stick in the left or right pile after dividing. You could argue that when dividing a real bunch of sticks you are generally dividing somewhere close to the middle so perhaps the formula could be adapted to reflect this. But mathematically the probabilities come out the same and in theory there is no reason why you couldn't divide the pile so only 1 remains in the left or right.

Advanced Hexagrams

By default My Ching only displays the primary and resulting (relating) hexagram in a reading. This is sufficient for a basic I Ching consultation that will satisfy most people. However for those who desire a more in-depth reading, there are a number of auxiliary hexagrams that can be derived from the basic reading by analyzing the placement of changing lines. My Ching provides the ones described by I Ching scholar Stephen Karcher in the introduction of his I Ching translation "Total Yijing".

To activate the advanced hexagram views, goto to application preferences and check the boxes in the Advanced Hexagram section. Each one checked will be added to the bottom of each journal entry page.

A description of each advanced hexagram is as follows:

Steps of change

This is a sequence of hexagrams found by considering each changing line in isolation from the bottommost to the topmost. Each changing line can be considered to form a new hexagram by changing only that line. For example if you change the 2nd line in hexagram 11 you will obtain hexagram 36, and changing the 5th line in isolation will result in hexagram 5.

It is said that the hexagram resulting from each changing line represents a stage the enquirers situation will pass through. You may notice that the text associated with the changing line often echoes the meaning of the hexagram formed.

Hidden Possibility

This hexagram is derived from the primary hexagram by taking the trigram formed by lines 3 to 5 and placing it on top of the trigram formed by lines 2 to 4 (Counting from the bottom line)

It has been said of the hidden possibility hexagrams that: "They're like a kernel at the heart of the hexagram that might yet unfurl and become manifest through the situation it describes."

Change Operators

There are two kinds of change operator. The first is called the Inner Change Operator and is said to: "describe the place through which Change occurs and it's inner trans-formative aspects. It offers an inner stance or strategy towards the inner world." -- Karcher

It is derived from the primary hexagram by putting a yin line in each line position where change occurs and a yang line in each static position. It is also referred to as the Yin or Context change operator.

The other kind is called the Outer Change Operator and is said to: "describe the actions through which Change occurs and it's outer trans-formative aspects. It offers an outer stance or strategy towards the outer world." -- Karcher

It is is derived from the primary hexagram by putting a yang line in each line position where change occurs and a yin line in each static position. It is also referred to as the Yang or Energy change operator.

Symmetrical or Rotational Pairs

In the classic King Wen sequential arrangement of the hexagrams, each hexagram belongs to a pair of hexagrams that are related by either a rotational or inverse line relationship. These pairs are said to form "a subtle interpretative tool, for the two figures interact as, light and shadow, inspiration and manifestation, agonist and antagonist." -- Karcher

The rotational pairs are observed whenever one hexagram is rotated by 180 degrees to form the other hexagram. However some hexagrams are perfectly symmetrical between top and bottom so when rotated you still have the same hexagram. These hexagrams are instead paired with their inverse opposite found by flipping each line to it's opposite. These symmetrical pairs are said to "represent zones of radical discontinuity where the stream of time is disconnected, turned, and re-connected in a different way." -- Karcher