In ancient times people used yarrow sticks to consult the I Ching. It was a complicated process in which changing lines occured less frequently. Gradually people switched over to the coins, which is what everybody uses today. I have three wheatback pennies.
To consult the I Ching you first think of your question, and then you will cast the three coins six times. After each toss of the coins, you mark down what came up, starting at the bottom & working up to the top. These may be yin lines or yang lines, and they may also be changing lines, or not. Changing lines are lines that change from yin to yang or yang to yin. These are the most important, because they show you the critical points in what you are dealing with in the answer to your question.
3 heads are a yin changing line. -x-
2 heads and a tail are a yang line ---
1 head and two tails are a yin line - -
3 tails are a yang changing line. -o-
The way people have been doing this for thousands of years, is that when you have changing lines you end up with two hexagrams. The hexagram you threw is written down first. Then you write down the second one beside it. The lines that were not changing remain the same in both hexagrams, but the changing lines will become the opposite of what they were in the first hexagram.
The first hexagram will tell you what to do, and the second hexagram will tell you what you can accomplish. The changing lines will guide you through the important parts of this process. This is what I like about the I Ching. The Tarot is great for explaining what is going on in a situation, but the I Ching tells you what to do about it.
The KEY hexagram completes the process, because it explains why you should be following the advice given in the first & second hexagrams. In all of my years of research, I've never seen that anyone has ever written about this idea, so I will assume that it is my own innovation. It is really quite a simple concept, but the KEY hexagram has shed light on everything that I use the I Ching for. If you consider that lines that do not change are yin, and that lines that do change are yang, then you can write down a third hexagram. This is what I call the KEY.
The KEY hexagram shows the relationship between the first & second. Now if there is a theme that runs throughout the entire I Ching, it is all about relationships, and the leverage to make things happen. Consequently, understanding the relationship between the two hexagrams you get when you consult the I Ching is essential. It is like a sentence has been constructed : You should do this (1st hexagram), in order to accomplish this (2nd hexagram), BECAUSE of this (the Key hexagram).
Linking up everything together in this way, has made the I Ching much more understandable for me. Before I discovered the KEY hexagram, often I would ask the I Ching a question, and still have doubts about what it was telling me. It doesn't help much to understand what an oracle is telling you, after you need that knowledge, does it? The KEY hexagram cleared that problem up for me, because when you understand the underlying pattern of a situation, the details become very clear.
To use my online translation of the I Ching, open three browser tabs to the Hexagram Index page. Then you can click on the hexagrams you want to study, and switch between the browser tabs for comparison.
The Gaian Dragon I Ching
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