Monday, February 13, 2012

I Ching in 3-D

The presented diagram depicts the 8 x 8 field known as ashtapada. The colored bands represent the oracular probabilities corresponding to the four xiang (symbols). In this entry, the author extends the notions implied by this diagram into three-dimensions through the use of 64 colored cubes.

The idea is simple: a cube has six faces; while an hexagram has six places, commonly denoted as bottom2nd3rd4th5th, and top.  Each cube face, therefore, may represent one place of an hexagram and its associated text.

representation of xiang
Tradition asserts that bottom place is nascent, and top place is retiring.  It follows, therefore, that the bulk of a hexagram's meaning or action is found in the middle of the hexagram, sometimes called a 'tetragram'.  These four middle places of the hexagram, akin the four walls of a room, correspond to the four sides of a cube; corresponding furthermore, to the four seasons, four cardinal directions (xiang), four elements, four tarot suits, or any other quaternity.

Since the oracular probabilities are depicted by the colors, all that remains is to devise unambiguous means of associating a particular cube face with an hexagram place.  
We may appropriately mark the six faces, 1) to indicate the relative positions of the faces, and 2) to determine their yin or yang character, and perhaps, 3) with its index (for easy reference).  This permits us to determine easily the quality of the upturned face when a cube is selected.

Proceeding to appropriately label each of the 384 cube faces, we now have a device whereby the identity of an hexagram is determined by the unique configuration of its faces. Simultaneously, that same cube indicates by its color if the upturned face is a changing line or static.  Alternately, six cubes may be selected blindly with replacement to generate an hexagram line-by-line with color alone as an the line-type indicator . 

Addendum (26April12):
Yarrow Oracle
The author has fashioned for himself a compact set of divination cubes that are functionally equivalent to the yarrow oracle.   Since the yarrow probabilities reduce to multiples of 1/16, four colors in the proper proportions reproduce the oracle.  Six cubes are selected individually and randomly with replacement.  Further, the author employs a webcam to film a blind-selection procedure to reduce the possibility of inadvertently influencing the outcome while divining.

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