Wednesday 11 May 2016

Method of 16

An easy way to cast hexagram lines is to use 16 marbles. The method proceeds as follows:
  1. Put in a bowl 16 marbles of which: 1 black, 7 gray, 5 orange, 3 red.
  2. Pick a marble (without looking);
  3. Look at the color you got and draw the line according the following table:
    black orange gray red
  4. Put the marble back in the bowl;
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 other five times drawing the lines from the bottom to the top of the hexagram.
The actual color are irrelevant as long as you can distinguish the groups of 1, 3, 5 and 7 marbles.


This method directly provide lines with the ideal yarrow stalks probabilities:

Prob(6) = 1/16
Prob(8) = 7/16
Prob(7) = 5/16
Prob(9) = 3/16
Prob(yin) = Prob(yang) = 1/2


The key of this method is to mark 16 similar objects to create four groups of 1, 3, 5 and 7 elements. Casting a line becomes a matter of selecting one of the objects and drawing the line that corresponds to the group that object belongs to.

To get a more direct reading, without having to remember the association between colors and lines, one could, for example, draw the lines on the back of 16 business cards (is anyone still using them?): one with , seven with , five with and three with

Nicer options are available for purchase on Etsy (note that I'm not associated in any way with the business below):

Glass stones for yi jing
I ching cedar tiles


  1. I wish I had found your site sooner. This is all incredibly explained and presented.

    1. Thanks Danger Socks. Makes these concepts clearer is indeed one of my objectives.
      Feel free to ask if you want to know more about the methods. I'll be happy to take on any suggestion you may have.