Friday, 17 June 2016

Two Aces (playing cards)

Cards seems to be among the favourite methods for casting I Ching hexagrams so I started thinking about other ways to use them.
A big advantage of cards is that they are easily available everywhere and also that there are a variety of decks that are both beautifully designed and inspirational. I believe it's rather easy to find a couple of cards that fits nicely with your way of consulting the I Ching.
The method presented here is very easy to remember and can be adapted to many different type of cards: standard bridge cards, regional cards, tarots, etc.

It needs two cards for wich you can distinguish the orientation (up or down). In the presentation of the method I will use the Ace of Spades and the Ace of Hearts that (in the most common decks) have a clear orientation. Proceed as follows:
  1. Shuffle the two cards rotating them independently while shuffling (very important!)
  2. Turn the cards and look at the topmost one:
    • If it's the Ace of Spades, draw  ;
    • If it's the Ace of Hearts, draw  ;
  3. If the two cards are both oriented upward, it's a moving line;
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 other five times drawing the hexagram from the bottom to the top.
The image below shows all the possible outcomes:


Counting from the image above, it's easy to see that this method has exactly the same probabilities as the three coins method:
Prob(6) = Prob(9) = 1/8 = 12.5%
Prob(8) = Prob(7) = 3/8 = 37.5%
Prob(yin) = Prob(yang) = 1/2


Any cards that have a definite orientation will do. Here is an example with the classical tarot of Marseille (the Sun has been assigned to yang, the Moon to yin):

Ace cards image by Byron Knoll.
Tarot cards from Rafael Ferraro site.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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