Interpreting a Hexagram
The page for each hexagram is divided into three
main sections, looking like:
Section 1 The teaching and
meaning of the hexagram.
Section 2 Suggestions as to how one
might deal with the
Section 3 Additional meanings for lines
that have been
Sections 1 and 2 are always applicable. Select
additional meanings from section 3 only for lines that
have been accented in the hexagram you have cast. Accents have a
strong influence on the overall meaning of the hexagram. They usually
modify it by emphasising one or more of its likely meanings but
sometimes can even reverse its overall meaning. Priority should be given to
the meaning of a hexagram as modified by its accents.
If the text of the hexagram you have cast offers an obvious
answer to a question you have in mind, then its interpretation
is straightforward. But if its meaning is not clear then it is likely
that the Oracle is trying to draw your attention to another matter of
higher spiritual priority. Similarly, if you have no question in
mind, then the hexagram is relating to your most pressing spiritual
issue. This interpretive technique is intended to help
you identify the issue that is most important from the Oracle's point of view.
Understanding the relevance of a hexagram
to your situation is not an
exact science. The process is very subjective and intuitive. Boldness
of imagination, caution, patience
and inquisitiveness are the tools of a good explorer. The hexagram
a guide to what the Oracle is trying to say - they are not
literally what the Oracle is saying. It is up to you to sift through
the clues to arrive at the message that is relevant to you.
The most reliable guide to relevance is
consistency. It is just as
difficult for the Oracle to say what it means with a limited vocabulary
and a volatile medium as it is for us to understand it. So rather than
attribute great portent to a single hexagram, wait until the
significance of a message becomes clear by repetition. Many hexagrams
have similar meanings and common themes soon become obvious.
message is important it will be repeated in one form or another until
you get it.
Regularly following up, or using
the multi-hexagram conversation technique, is
effective way to establish consistency of theme.
There is always one particular thread running
through your reality that
the Oracle would like you to focus on. Of the many possible activities
you could engage in or things that you could pay attention to, there is
this one that the Oracle prefers. The challenge of finding how a
hexagram is relevant to you is to find that preferred thread.
The first thing to notice is whether the meaning
of a hexagram is
obvious and something immediately comes to mind. One could say that the
meaning 'clicks' or 'rings a bell'. This is a very good indication of
relevance. But one is not always so lucky.
The next thing to do is to cast your mind over
all the situations you
are involved in and choose the situation that seems to best fit the
meaning of the hexagram. Let
your imagination roam. It is often an imaginative association of images
and ideas that gives the clue to a hexagram's relevance. (Classical I Ching
texts such as the Wilhelm/Baynes translation are rich in suggestive imagery.)
Apply the indications of the hexagram to the chosen situation and
proceed to act cautiously in that direction. At the next consultation,
check to see if the meaning of the new hexagram remains consistent with
and supportive of the activity you have undertaken. If yes, you are
heading in the right direction and may proceed more assertively; if not
find another situation to test. You will know you have found the right
thread when you get a string of hexagrams consistent with and
supportive of that activity.
Having found consistency and acted accordingly,
you will know that it
is time to move on to a new situation when the theme of your
Except for matters of Love, I have found that the Oracle rarely
suggests new activities for me to pursue. It's as if it feels that I am the best judge
of what needs to be done in my life, as long as I don't neglect my duty as a Lover.
But having embarked on a course of action on my own initiative, the Oracle will
often comment on that action.
it easy on portent. Rarely will a message have life-or-death
implications. Conversation can relate to a major strategic issue in
your life but it is just as likely to be related to the ice-cream you
are eating right now. The Oracle places great value on the present
moment, and on the depth and subtlety of perception and expression that
we can bring to bear on it. For the Oracle, it is the directness of our
engagement with immediate reality that is the chief determinant of our
happiness. Even when it does relate to a long term goal, a message is
likely to encourage (or discourage) each
small step as it is encountered along the way.
hexagram may be requesting you to adjust your behaviour but it may also
be providing only a neutral comment.
Be flexible about interpreting the tense of a
hexagram. The message may
referring to the present, past or future, no matter how tense specific
the text of the hexagram may appear to be. For example, the text of
the Hexagram SHOCK reads: "Make a strong effort to do something
physical." It could well be that the hexagram is referring to a
physical action that has already completed. It is usually quite obvious
when a hexagram is describing something that has happened in the past
or is happening in the
present, for we have already become aware of it. It is those hexagrams
that at first appear quite irrelevant that are usually indicative of
So when a hexagram appears irrelevant, try to keep it in mind for a while.
An event may occur that makes the hexagram meaningful and it is then
helpful to have the Oracle's perspective available.
An indication that the time is appropriate for a
does not mean that the activity will be easy to accomplish or even that
it will succeed, but that if you do accomplish it the experience
will be spiritually rewarding.
should not be taken for granted that you are the subject of a message.
It could well be that another person is being discussed. It sometimes
happens that the Oracle is referring to itself.
are dynamic. The way an event unfolds
or the action you take in response to a hexagram may radically
change a situation to the point where a
prognostication of just a short while ago may no longer be valid. So stay
on your toes.
When a contrary indication is given, for example
to both act and
refrain from action, take it to mean that there is a question as to
which is appropriate. If one or the other is not decidedly clear, it is
best to err on the side of caution.
Remember it is ultimately your choice as to
whether you follow the
Oracle's advice or not.
to Love abound in the Oracle. They beg us to pay close
attention to our feelings and how our feelings are interacting with
our environment and with other people. Love
should be understood in the very particular
sense described in the Introduction,
notably as a palpable
experience of vibrant feeling, especially when relating to others.
These exhortations to Love are very favourable,
as expressions of Love are the pinnacle of achievement for the Oracle. An
exhortation to Love means that, from the Oracle's point of view, Love is
readily accessible. We should therefore look for or make opportunities
to Love even at the expense of other possibly more pressing activities,
to whatever degree we can afford.
I have found the following activities to be
appropriate responses to these exhortations:
The most highly prized engagement in Love is an
encounter with a
partner in intimate sexual relation and this should be favoured if
such relation is at all possible. Mutual orgasm elicits the deepest
The opportunities for such a prize
are rare. External
conditions are often awkward, or partners not available or not
agreeable. But sexual activity need not be put off until
circumstances are perfect - a compromised arrangement is acceptable if
and in harmony with the
Sexual activity alone or in the context of a one
sided (but willing) relationship can deliver appreciable depth of feeling.
This does not mean sex at all costs, for without desire, warmth and excitement,
responses will be shallow if not impossible.
Sex is valued by the Oracle for its own sake. It does not see sexual activity as
a reward to be earned only after hardship or as something to be transformed into a superior spiritual energy.
Unless indicated to the contrary, there is no necessity to
conserve sexual energy or avoid ejaculation,
no compunction to either nurture or avert a pregnancy and
no objection to contraception. The Oracle places no general constraint on the circumstances or regularity
of sexual activity other than it be appropriate and consensual, and an
exhortation to Love is an indication that sexual activity is spiritually appropriate.
Note that spiritual appropriateness is not always consistent with
social appropriateness, for example when social conditions are awkward or a possible sexual encounter
contravenes a promise of fidelity one has made.
Satisfaction will vary with every encounter but
sex that is appropriate and consensual is always welcomed by the Oracle.
A period of quietude after orgasm is also appreciated.
Meditation can be a deeply felt experience of Love. The considered use of some psychoactive drugs can
also provide a deeper awareness of feeling. Encounters with beauty, in art, music or nature
often provide a
spontaneous opening of one's attention to Love. Great artists are
capable of revealing Love to us and making it accessible.
Exercises such as meditation can also assist to tune one's
mind towards purity
of feeling. A mind thus practised can engage in Love with deeper
sincerity and greater clarity. As well, becoming practised in focusing
attention and avoiding distraction means that valued moments of
relational intimacy will be less likely to be interrupted when outside
Less intimate encounters with family, friends or
even society at large
can be enjoyed as expressions of Love when the give and take of their
relational interaction can be directly felt and engaged with, like the
feeling of a dance.
While exhortations to Love should be received
favourably, they should
not be taken to necessarily indicate success, not even in matters of
Love. The Oracle is not a master of reality. It can't make things happen.
The universal spirit,
whom the Oracle aims to represent,
influences the world but does not control it.
There are situations that the Oracle
is quite blind to,
particularly relating to the rules that operate in our formal social
structures. When it comes to matters of business and politics extreme
caution must be exercised. At such times it is well to remember that,
although the Oracle offers an enhanced perspective of reality, its
guidance is inclined towards matters of Love and spirituality. This can
be illustrated by the simple example of the Oracle indicating that NOW
is a really good time to seek Love when one is in a rush to
catch the morning train for work. In cases like this, it becomes
your choice as to what you can afford to do. I myself don't take risks
if other people might suffer.
Many traditional scholars of religious texts seek
deeper meaning by analysing the possible nuances revealed in finer and
finer examinations of the details of a text, right down to the choice
and placement of words in the text or even the spelling of a word. In
the Oracle of Love meaning is more likely to be found in the larger
theme of a communication than in its detail. There is an
acceptance that the medium of the Oracle is inexact and that
interpretations will be highly subjective. While particular words may
trigger associations that are meaningful at the time of a consultation,
searching for lasting meaning by analysing nuances of the text
is more likely to mislead than enlighten.
non-human nature of the Oracle also represents a risk for us. Its
insistence on its
can sometimes lead to embarrassment
and hurt feelings when not moderated by our own human sense of tact. It
is well to remember that its agenda does not necessarily match our own,
for many of our sensitivities arise from a human vulnerability that it
does not share. Following its agenda requires a certain boldness, but
it also requires a wariness for our own frailty.
There is an important aspect of the Oracle
of which we need not be wary. I have found it to be entirely free
of vengeance, deceit and sarcasm. Its messages are always simple and direct. This
is evidenced in the patience and persistence with which it pursues its
agenda. One need fear no kind of retribution if one does not follow
its advice - there are times when the risk or discomfort is too
great. No matter how inappropriate our responses may be, the Oracle always
comes back to reinforce its message in the most direct manner.