How to Consult the I Ching Using Yarrow Stalk

Consulting the I Ching using yarrow stalk as reconstructed by philosopher Zhu Xi (1130-1200) is the most common and oldest way to use it.[citation needed]


  1. 1
    Get 50 yarrow stalks or anything equivalent. Yarrow stalk was probably used in ancient times, since it grew around the temples and shrines, but you can use any other 50 identical objects (e.g. matches, pens or cotton swabs), as well.
  2. 2
    Take one of the stalks and put it aside. There should be 49 stalks left.
  3. 3
    Divide the 49 stalks into two pillars. Just randomly separate them into those two pillars.
  4. 4
    Take away one stalk from the bigger pillar. Since 49 is an uneven number, one of the two pillars has to be at least one stalk bigger than the other pillar. Take away one of the stalks from that and put it aside.
  5. 5
    Divide the two pillars into smaller pillars made out of four stalks each. Take the last pillar, which should be made out of 1 ~ 4 stalks (since some numbers are not dividable by four), and put them aside. There should be a number between 40 and 46 stalks left now.
  6. 6
    Start over from 3. Take your 40 - 46 stalks and start over from part 3. Do this over and over again, until you've got a number of stalks between 6 and 9 left.
  7. 7
    Write down the line. According to the amount of stalks, you have left, you write down the first line of your hexagram. The first line is always the bottom line. The lines are:
    • Six stalks - Old Yin (also called Changing Yin or Strong Yin): --- o ---
    • Seven stalks - Young Yang (also called Weak Yang): ---------
    • Eight stalks - Young Yin (also called Weak Yin): --- ---
    • Nine stalks - Old Yang (also called Cahnging Yang or Strong Yang): ----x----
  8. 8
    Start over from 1. In order to get a full hexagram, you will have to do steps 1 - 7 another five times, until you've got all the six lines.
    • You will have to draw the second line above the first (bottom) line. The sixth line should be the upmost line on top of the hexagram.
  9. 9
    Read the commentary of the hexagram. The commentary of the hexagram shows your current situation in life. If there is any Old Yin or Old Yang in your hexagram, you will have to draw a second hexagram.
    • Any Old Yin will change into Young Yang and any Old Yang will change into Young Yin.
  10. 10
    Read the commentary to the second hexagram, as it predicts the situation you will find yourself in, in the future.


  • Try also reading the I Ching as metaphysical or lyrical literature, instead of just as a book for divination.

Sources and Citations

  • Zhou Yi - Xi Ci

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Categories: Articles in Need of Sources | Faith and Belief