How to use the yarrow stalks

1 - Take a single stalk from the bundle of 50 and lay it crossways in front of you. This symbolizes the Wu Chi - the unchanging ground of being.

2 - Divide the remaining stalks into two piles. Set down the pile in your right hand.

3 - Talk one stalk from that right-hand pile and place it between the 4th and little fingers of your left hand (while still holding the left pile in your left hand)

4 - Count off the left pile by fours, setting the fours in a pile separate from the right-hand pile. When you have 4 or fewer left from the original left pile, tuck them between the 3rd and 4th fingers of your left hand.

5 - Now put the right-hand pile into your left hand and also count it off by fours until four or fewer sticks remain.

6 - If you counted correctly (ie. got fours not threes or fives each time you removed stalks) you now have a total either 5 or 9 sticks in your left hand. Think of 5 as a small number, equivalent to heads or yang in the coin method, and think of 9 as a large number, equivalent to tails or yin in the coin method.

7 - Lay these 5 or 9 stalks across the one you removed in step #1.

8 - Repeat steps 2 through 7 twice more. You will get either 4 or 8 stalks each time (not 5 or 9 as in the first time).Here 4 is small, yang or heads; 8 is big, yin or tails.

9 - Now look at the three piles that are lying across the single stalk. There are only four possibilities:

All are small (4 or 5 stalks) -- This is a changing yang line -- solid becomes broken
All are big (8 or 9 stalks) -- This is a changing yin line -- broken becomes solid
Two are small and one is big -- This is an unchanging yin line -- broken
Two are big and one is small -- This is an unchanging yang line -- solid

This is the first (bottom) of the six lines in your hexagram - remember it or write it down.

10 - Pick up all the stalks except the single one from step #1, then repeat steps 2 through 9 five more times.

The whole process takes about 10-15 minutes -- much longer than the six quick tosses of three coins in the coin method. While it may feel awkward at first to use the yarrow stalks, with practice it becomes a nice "hand-dance meditation"


There are two major differences between the coin and the yarrow stalk methods:

By taking longer you have a chance to become quietly focused on your question and more receptive to what the oracle will mirror to you.

The probability of getting a changing yin line is much smaller than with the coins, because there is only a one in four chance of getting a 9 on your first division, whereas with the coins it is always 50-50. The I Ching was created with for the yarrow stalk method and gives different readings with the coins.



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