Tarotmoon Press

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Tarot and the I Ching

I’m currently on vacation in Mexico, and I had planned to spend much of the time working on the astrology book and course materials to upload (I promise I will still do that). As luck would have it, the CompTarot list broke out into an interesting discussion of the I Ching just as we were discussing the Wheel of Fortune. That has some interesting synchronicities of its own, but suffice it to say that I was encouraged to renew my interest in I Ching, and acquired the best translations I could find, one of which (Huang) accompanied me to Mexico.

I’ve spent most of my vacation so far reading through the initial 16 or so hexagrams and learning how the system works. In the past, I had only ever conducted random divinations with it, throwing the coins, determining my hexagram, and then reading it – out of context. Much like you might do if you had never read tarot, did a tarot reading with one card, and then looked up its meaning in a book. You’d certainly get something out of it, but you’d really have no appreciation of tarot as a system and the deeper meanings that the cycles, progressions, structures, and archetypes within tarot lend to even a single card.

Reading the first 16 hexagrams, along with the introduction and various commentaries from Confucius and Lao Tzu on down, really enhanced my appreciation of the I Ching and the fact that it is a similar coherent system of beliefs. The entire set of hexagrams is represented as a progression (starting with no less than the creation of the universe), with interrelationships among them. The hexagrams are made up of smaller meaningful units, like the symbols in tarot.

Hence it was no surprise to me when I felt prepared enough to do my first divination on a subject of some pressing personal importance, and received 17 as my initial hexagram – the first one beyond those I had already read – making it at once fresh and yet, I had enough knowledge of the system to really understand how to read the three changing lines that were part of my divination. Just another of life’s little synchronicities.

One of the listmembers of CompTarot commented that her readings with I Ching were so accurate that it made her wonder why she used tarot.  This got me to thinking, given that there are more similarities than I initially realized, what would make you choose one tool over another – either generally speaking or for a given situation? Both are rich, centuries old, and composed of deep symbolism. Both are many-layered, structured, cyclical. Both express philosophies – Western and Eastern, about how heaven and earth function and our place within them. Both provide accurate depictions of existing situations and possible futures, while still relying on the free will of the querant to bring about these outcomes.

The I Ching seems a little more direct to me, good for reading for yourself and in situations that may be difficult for a tarot reader to approach directly. The I Ching gives good advice about the conduct that will give the best result – something tarot CAN provide but may not always, if the reading is not done in that manner or the question is not asked in that way. The I Ching is very specific about exactly how things are changing. Does that specificity limit its uses in some way? Does it make the I Ching most useful when things are demonstrably changing? What do you think?

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September 29, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

1 Comment »

  1. I love using both tarot and iching also. My favorite book for I Ching is Hua Ching Ni’s version. He has some amazing text in the beginning about the patterns that are created through the hexagrams and the elements.

    Comment by Amy Jewell | October 15, 2009 | Reply


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