PRACTICE: Using the I Ching for Divination

The practical aspect of working with the I Ching begins with formulating the question and determining the oracle’s answer.

How to formulate the question to the I Ching

When you approach the I Ching oracle for consultation, take a brief moment to reflect on the problem or situation you are inquiring about, being as precise as possible. Visualize the entire case vividly and focus only on what actually IS, without assumptions or potential solutions. The answer to every problem usually lies within the overall situation, and the I Ching oracle helps you uncover interconnections that you may not have previously noticed.
(Sometimes, it is helpful to write down this part.)

How to Determine the I Ching‘s Answer

There are various methods you can use to determine the I Ching’s answer to your question. The traditional divination methods involve using yarrow stalks, or, in a simpler manner, coins. Alternatively, you can determine the answer online at


Each cycle of these oracle methods produces either a yin line (broken line; numerical value 6 or 8) or a yang line (solid line; numerical value 7 or 9). The oracle method is performed six times in total (the line, which has either yin or yang quality, is determined six times) and the hexagram is built up in this way from bottom to top.

Excursus: Depending on the oracle method (yarrow stalks, coins, electronic oracle) different numerical values are obtained. Further details about this, along with an example, can be found in the article on the oracle method.

Changing Lines

One final detail to note is about changing lines. The I Ching distinguishes between non-changing (numerical value 7 or 8) and changing (numerical value 6 or 9) lines in the Textus receptus. However, over time, various commentators have abandoned the practice of considering changing lines in interpretation because it often confuses the inquirer instead of providing clarity (Cf. Hertzer, 38). In my research, therefore, I also do not take this aspect into consideration, even though some purists may criticize this. In my experience, every single hexagram, if properly interpreted, provides such a rich statement even without changing lines that one can confidently forgo this additional information.


Hertzer, Dominique. 1996. Das Alte Und Das Neue Yijing. Die Wandlungen Des Buches Der Wandlungen. München: Diederichs.

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