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spelling and format editing has occurred within these posts; some email addresses may be out of date. ------------------------------------------ At the request of Amacker Bullwinkle (firstname.lastname@example.org), i have compiled information about I Ching probabilities taken from posts in the usenet newsgroup alt.divination and the e-mail list hexagram-8 that ran in 1995. Placing the data here -- in alt.lucky.w -- was Amacker's idea, and it is not a bad one, since the "16 Item Method" carries definite overtones of object-oriented, talismanic work. But first, here is credit where it is due: -------------------------------------- HEXAGRAM-8 The hexagram-8 list is for discussion and serious study of the ancient Chinese Book of Changes, or I Ching. The name comes from an I Ching reading the list owner has been getting persistently throughout the months preceding the founding of the list (April 1995). Hexagram 8, which various translators have rendered as "Alliance" or "Teamwork," represents something which the list owner sincerely hopes will emerge from discussions on the list. To subscribe to hexagram-8, send the word "subscribe" (without the quotes) alone in the body of an email message to the following address: email@example.com If you are having trouble subscribing or unsubscribing, send your question to the human list owner, Ron Hale-Evans, at firstname.lastname@example.org -------------------------------------- I CHING TERMINOLOGY Second: I assume y'all know that the I Ching is an ancient system of divination based on the random generation of binary choices of solid (---) and broken (- -) lines, arranged in groups of six, called hexagrams. There are images and judgements attached to each hexagram and because the solid and broken lines can "move" or change their state from one to the other (-o- means --- changes to - -) (-x- means - - changes to ---), there are further images and judgements assigned to the "changing lines" as well. The oldest traditional method of determining the lines for divinatory purposes is through a complex process involving the manipulation of 50 dried yarrow stalks (yarrow is an herb used for healing wounds, incidentally). Another, far quicker method of determining the lines involves throwing three coins (usually those pretty bronze Chinese coins with square holes in the middle, but any coins will do). The trouble is, the two methods give entirely different distribution-patterns for the generation of solid, solid-to-broken, broken, and broken-to-solid lines. Okay, here is the compiled information on probabilities, the "16 Item Method," and the "2 Dice Method." ------------------------------------------ QUESTION ABOUT PROBABILITIES Unknown Person (possibly email@example.com) wrote: Question: I prefer to almost always use the stalk method to determine my hexagram. I know that the probabilities are towards generating moving lines. I always get the feeling that by using this method I am "loading" the answers or hexagram. If I use the coin methods, the probability of obtaining a 6, 7, 8, or 9 are all equal. Anyone else get this gnawing feeling? ------------------------------------------ YARROW STALK, COIN, and "DUTCH STICK" PROBABILITIES firstname.lastname@example.org (Harmen Mesker) wrote: You say that using the coin method, the probabilities of obtaining a 6, 7, 8, or 9 are equal, but I'm afraid I have to correct you on this point. According to Edward Hacker, the probabilities for each method are: Yarrow Coin 6 1/16 2/16 7 5/16 6/16 8 7/16 6/16 9 3/16 2/16 Most methods don't have equal probabilities. Here in Holland are oblong sticks for sale (but you can easily make them yourself), which have one line on each side. With this method the probabilities of each line are the same, namely 25%. I think this also means that for each line of a hexagram you have 50% chance of obtaining a moving line. If you use this method you'll have to deal with a lot of moving lines, and I don't find that preferable. -------------------------------------- THE WAY OF 16 (THE 16 ITEM METHOD) The following was re-posted by Carlos Griffin (CGRIFFIN@ABQ-ROS.COM) but attributed to Dr. Lightning, a.k.a. Francis Szot (email@example.com): Another method is the "Way of 16", which someone posted as an excerpt from a book. I have used I Ching 20+ years using coins, and found this method to be much more reliable and even handed. -- Carlos Griffin I found this method in "The I Ching: An Illustrated Guide to the Chinese Art of Divination," illustrated by Tan Xiaochun and translated by Koh Kok Kiang. According to that book, Larry Schoenholtz first proposed this method in his book, "New Directions in the I Ching". I switched from using the Coins Method which I had used for over 20 years. --Dr. Lightning, a.k.a. Francis Szot The Method of 16 is, in my opinion, a much better way to do the I Ching than the Three Coin Method. First, I'll explain the Method of 16, then I'll tell you why it's better. The Method of 16 uses 16 small, aesthetically attractive objects, such as beads, shells, coins, buttons, pebbles etc. They must all be of the same size and shape, but you must be able to choose from four different patterns or colors. Select 7 items of one pattern or color (7 pink beads, for example), 5 of a different pattern or color (5 blue beads, for example), 3 of another pattern or color (3 white beads), and 1 of a unique pattern or color (1 black bead). Each of the four groups now represents a different type of line: 7/16 (the pink beads) = 8 (a broken unchanging line - - [young yin]), 5/16 (the blue beads) = 7 (a solid unchanging line --- [young yang]), 3/16 (the white beads) = 9 (a solid changing line -0- [old yang]), and finally, 1/16 (the black bead) = 6 (a broken changing line -x- [old yin]). To complete the ritual's paraphernalia, thoughtfully select a small bowl and a small container to store the 16 items when not in use. Mix the 16 items together in the small bowl and randomly choose one. Note which of the four possible lines it represents, record it as the first line of the hexagram (building from the bottom up), then place it back in the bowl. (of course, don't look as you select) It is extremely important to place each item back into the bowl so there is always 16 objects to choose from! Randomly choose again, and record the second line. Replace it, and continue in a similar manner until the six lines of the hexagram have been obtained. As one performs the ritual, keep in mind the question you are inquiring about, and maintain an appropriate attitude. The main advantage of the Method of 16 over the Three Coin Method, though certainly not its only advantage, is a statistical one. With the Yarrow Stalk Method, which will remain the purist's choice, the probabilities of obtaining each of the four different kinds of lines are not the same. For example, the chances of getting a broken unchanging line (8 - -), are 7 out of 16; the odds of getting a solid unchanging line (7 ---), are 5 out of 16; for a solid line that changes (9 -o-), 3 out of 16; for a broken line that changes (6 -x-), the odds are only 1 out of 16. Using the Three Coins Method, the chances of obtaining either type of unchanging line is 6 out of 16, and the chances of obtaining either type of changing line is 2 out of 16. The Method of 16 precisely duplicates the probabilities of the Yarrow Stalk Method, something that the Coin Method obviously does not do! Good luck. Perhaps this method will suit you. Signed, Dr. Lightning Francis Szot, firstname.lastname@example.org -------------------------------------- THE TWO DICE METHOD Jason A. Wolcott (email@example.com) wrote: The probabilities of the different yarrow stalk results are: 1/16 -X- moving yin 3/16 -0- moving yang 5/16 --- yang 7/16 - - yin I often use a dice method for casting hexagrams. I wanted something that gave me the same distribution as the yarrow stalks, but that was a little more "portable." My method is to use two dice, 1 eight-sided (1d8), and 1 twenty-sided (1d20). Roll both of them at once per line. If the 1d20 is an even number: then if the 1d8 = 1 -X- moving yin (1/16 pobability) if the 1d8 = 2 - 8 - - yin (7/16 pobability) If the 1d20 is an odd number: then if the 1d8 = 1 - 5 --- yang (5/16 pobability) if the 1d8 = 6 - 8 -0- moving yang (3/16 pobability) I still use the yarrow stalks at home, when I have time to meditatively consider the question. But sometimes I just need quick advice. ;-) Jason A. Wolcott Computer Consultant University of Iowa (319)335-5523 firstname.lastname@example.org ------------------------------------------ In summary, then, here are the probabilities for the five methods. No. Line Yarrow Three Dutch 16 2 Stalk Coins Stick Items Dice 6 -x- 1/16 2/16 4/16 1/16 1/16 7 --- 5/16 6/16 4/16 5/16 5/16 8 - - 7/16 6/16 4/16 7/16 7/16 9 -o- 3/16 2/16 4/16 3/16 3/16 There you go, folks. Now it's up to you to find two role-players' dice or "16 small, aesthetically attractive objects" and "a small bowl and a small container to store the 16 items when not in use." I think that the latter two pieces of paraphernalia could be combined in one by using an antique, decorative Chinese enamel covered rice bowl for storage *and* random selection...or maybe an art deco Noritake covered bowl...or a carved gourd bowl with lid. As for the 16 items, i predict that someone will come up with a better concept than mere "beads." I keep on getting this image of 16 little Mexican milagros, or 16 of those tiny multi-racial dolls you can buy from the Archie McPhee catalogue... Like the man said, Good Luck. catherine yronwode email@example.com
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