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Even in a world where your Aunt Bessie practices feng shui and Madonna talks Cabala, most people scratch their heads when someone mentions the I Ching. "Wait, wait—don't tell me," they say. "I Ching … isn't that some kind of root you can smoke to cure your diabetes? No? That weird Eastern religion whose leader got arrested? No? Oh, wait! I know! It' that herbal additive they put in buffet food to make everyone eat less!"
Things are slightly better in the metaphysical community, where most people at least know the I Ching (pronounced eee-ching or yee-zhing, but not eye-ching) is a book of ancient wisdom frequently used for divination. Still, very few people know about the book's origins—or when or why or how to consult it. And why should they? What relevance could a 3,500-year-old book of Chinese wisdom possibly have in the age of AIDS, Karl Rove, and Al Qaeda?
A Truly Ancient Advisor
I Ching is, for all practical purposes, a database describing every conceivable human event. What keeps this from becoming a dull laundry-list of life situations is the book's unique structure: in addition to describing every possible type of event, the I Ching provides detailed insights into how each of these situations gives rise to the others.
One Thing Leads to Another
I Ching isn't as popular as, say, Tarot, is the simple fact that the book is a product of its time. Many translations are scholarly, making them difficult for modern audiences to read and apply. Its imagery, rooted in ancient Chinese culture ("A stranger with purple rags around his knees approaches you!"), makes no sense to most twenty-first century readers. Its truths are often packaged in the political and social conventions of a bygone era.
Making the Oracle Approachable
After purchasing his first Tarot deck in 1973, Mark McElroy began terrorizing other neighborhood nine-year-olds with dire and dramatic predictions.Today, he calls Tarot "the ultimate visual brainstorming tool," and shares ...