With the global mind shift, people are getting interested in other ways to slow down and live consciously. As a result we are regaining respect for many things we had dismissed because we did not understand them. Using yarrow stalks to read the I Ching is one of these things. I have found using the I Ching or other methods of understanding your present moment (such as runes or tarot) can be much more useful than talking to a psychologist. It is also much more affordable =)

I was fortunate a couple years ago to live in an area of the Catskills where the yarrow grew wild and free, and finally had the opportunity to read the I Ching oracle in the traditional manner. I had used three coins to count the lines for years so it took me a few tries to figure out how to use the yarrow stalks.

This method puts you into a meditative and receptive state of mind. Yarrow encourages this because it is a plant that collects energies and sends them spiraling down through it’s hollow stems. The counting becomes a mystical experience with the sound of the stalks clicking and resonating together as they are thrown down, or collected together. Then, when the hexagram is formed, taking time to understand what the I Ching is saying and how it relates to our situations. The whole practice is a wonderful exercise that gets the whole body, soul and mind( on both individual and collective levels) involved.

Most of the following instructions can be found at the back of the translation of the I Ching (or Book of Changes) by Richard Wilhelm. I highly recommend this book for understanding the hexagrams.

It is a little difficult to show all of the possible alternatives in one instructable but I hope that this will help to demonstrate how a reading is done using wild yarrow stalks.

Step 1: Begin the Counting

Have on hand a notebook to write your hexagrams in, a pen and of course your yarrow stalks. Yarrow is a plant that has naturalized all over the world and so in many places it will be quite easy to go and forage your own set of yarrow stalks. Once you have a good bundle of stalks, hang them upside down to dry for about a month and then trim and polish them to lengths of about 6 to 7 inches.

"The oracle is consulted with the help of yarrow stalks. Fifty stalks are used for this purpose. One is put aside and plays no further part." - I Ching

It is a good idea to count your stalks before you begin to make sure you have exactly fifty stalks. As you do this focus on the question you have in mind or the issue you would like advice on. One stalk is then set aside as mentioned in the quote above.

For each line or stage there are three Countings.

<p>Thank you! That's fantastically clear. I wrote a software version of the I-Ching back in the 80s (I think it was the first!) and discovered in the course of coding this up that there's a deep difference between the combinations that are likely using the Yarrow method vs the coin method. When I re-wrote the software for mobile phones recently, I put the software engine on Github for anyone to use. <a href="http://www.brian-fitzgerald.net/i-ching" rel="nofollow">More here</a> if you're interested in the Geeky math about why some lines are much more &quot;shy&quot; about turning up with Yarrow stalks than with coins. </p>
<p>Wow! Thanks brianfit I really appreciate this information and link. I am really interested in that and your description of what happens when we read the lines in terms of how we relate to what we read. Lately I have found myself increasingly frustrated with the 'answers' I am getting and had even decided to stop reading them after the last hexagram. So good to turn that around and wonder what it is in my own psyche that is stimulating that reaction. Definitely gonna download your app and see how that resonates.</p>

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