I Ching, Yijing or Zhou Yi
"Oracle of the moon": © 2000 LiSe

  Yi Jing, Oracle of the Moon

Shaman and divination


 Yì: change 易.
6 versions. The old pictures at left show the sun with its rays emerging from behind a cloud or a moon with the sign for sacrifice. On OB often used to indicate change of weather. The Yi-sacrifice is a sacrifice to the sun. Yi-ri (change-day): good fortune of the sun (appearing after absence, thanks to an ancestor or spirit).
In Northern China weather was unpredictable: long droughts, sudden torrents. Too much rain was life-threatening: the Yellow River might cause a flood. More about Yi


Zhen - trial Zhen1: trial (ask oracle) 貞. Zhen is a ding, a sacrificial vessel (1) with the sign bu for ‘divination’: crack in scapula or tortoise-carapace (2). Oracle-consulting, but also receiving an answer. And the obligation to follow the advice of the gods: so it is also perseverance and correctness. Sometimes the Yi says “not permit determination”: don’t ask advice, find out every moment anew what this moment asks for.


Gua - hexagram/trigramGua - sundial

 Guà, hexagram (left),

and Gui, sundial 圭 (right) see 'From GUI to GUA'


Bu - fortune telling Bu3, fortune telling 卜
Foretell, predict, select, choose, divination. To make the cracks (for pyromancy). Diviner, charged with making or reading the cracks. The ideogram is a picture of a crack. Bu-gua: divine by eight trigrams or 64 hexagrams. 


Gua - hexagram/trigramBian - transform

 Guà biàn, transformation 掛變 of one hexagram into another.


Bian - transform Biàn, change (4 versions), bells on horses trappings (2), with a hand with stick: to beat (3). Meanings: change of a musical note: half tone lower. Change, modify, vary, change of conduct, to reform oneself, change one’s place. Transform. In hex.49, lines 5 and 6.


Hua - change Huà, change 化, transform, reform, evolution, change morals; convert, melt; dissolve; thaw, digest; remove, burn up; incinerate, disguise, die; pass away, culture, chemistry. (Character not in the YiJing)


Bian - transformHua - change Biàn huà, change 變化, transformation, variation, mutation. (Character not in the YiJing)


Bian - transformGua - hexagram/trigram Biàn guà, change 變掛 of horoscope, sudden change of opinion, break one's promise, retract one's word, sudden change of a situation.


Wu - shaman Wu1, shaman/medium 巫 . Wang Hong Yuan: derives from the character for nr. 5, Leyi: bamboo strips laid in cross which was the prop for the diviner. Magus, mage, shaman, witch, wizard, female shaman or shamaness (should be shamanka); the four Wu1 spirits, to whom sacrifices were made. Corresponding to the four great territories Fang, assistants of the great ancestor Di. (Ancestress Di, see Di!). Northern -, Eastern Wu, etc. To perform the ritual dance Wu. Wu Di: to perform the sacrifice Di for the (four) Wu spirits. Shuo Wen: a dancing sorceress with long sleeves. Two other versions: 1 and 2.


Bu shi - divining Bu3 shì, divining 卜筮 (in DaZhuan). Shi: yarrow divination. Bamboo-shaman: in the modern character bamboo is added (bamboo or ‘plants which grow in winter, like bamboo’), indicating he is the chronicler, who writes on the bamboo strips, or maybe it indicates the sticks he uses for divination. This is the ancient character, later the next 'shi' was used.


Shi - chronicle(r) Shi4, chronicle(r) 事, official in charge of chronicles, historian, assistant, affairs, to charge. Two different characters, with almost the same original character. The left one is Ricci 9721, the right one R.9711. A hand with a bow drill (to mark the oracle bones to seek the divine guidance) indicates the official. The chronicle officials were responsible for divination. The Di shi feng (Di - chroniclers - wind) were the Phenix assistants of Di, in charge of the winds.


Gui - ghost Gui, ghost 鬼3, bad fortune, calamity, name of a tribe at the North-East of the Shang. Ideogram: person with demon's head. 1: with ‘altar’: 'show' or 'omen', 2: a female one.


Shen - spirit Shén, spirit 神, god, deity, divinity, soul, mind, vitality; energy, supernatural, magical, smart, clever. Composed of altar (show or omen, 1) and a drawing of a lightning bolt (2).


Tian - heaven Tian1, heaven 天. The one at right says most clearly what is meant: above the head. But all three might be pictures of "the Godhead". All are oracle bone characters. Meanings: overhead, sky, heaven, god, day, weather.


Tu - earth, soil Di4, earth, soil 土3 (4 versions), soil; clay, land, opium, local, native, indigenous, uncouth, crude. This is part of the character for hexagram 2


Di - earth Tu3, earth 地. The left part is tu3, a clog of earth (1: three other forms). The right part is ye3, a water jug for oblations or for adding water to the wine: 2. Modern meaning : also, even, more or less. The oldest form of this character is ta, snake or female sex organ: last character at right. Tu3 is the name of hexagram 2.


Di - earth Kun1, earth 坤. The left part is tu3, a clog of earth, the right part is shén, lightning, spirit; stretch or expand. See next character. Kun is the name (tag) of hexagram 2. For its meaning see Kun-story. The expanse of earth: the huge field of energy we live in.


Shén, spirit 神. The left part is shì, altar (1), the right part is shen1, a picture of lightning (2).

last update: 22.09.2022


© LiSe April 2000