I Ching, the Canon of Change, is an ancient text that originated in China. It began some 5000 years ago as a type of divination, first using tortoiseshells and bones. Over time it would find its way to paper, and libraries would fill with writings on its 64 signs and their six changeable lines. It would influence Taoist and Confucionist philosophies, becoming one of the Five Classics of Confucionism. Jesuit priests would send it to Germany where the 17th century philosopher and mathemetician, Gottfried Leibniz, would recognize in it an ancient form of the binary code that he was 'inventing'. In 1924, Richard Wilhelm's German translation was published. Then, in 1950, this was translated into English. By the mid 60's, two more English versions hived off. In the decades since, many more interpretations have followed. New versions appear regularly. Ironically, perhaps because of Mao's Cultural Revolution, people from China now seem less aware of this venerable book than people in the west.
My first I Ching encounter was in 1980. For months, I'd been fed up with all the city driving that my work required of me. (I come from a farm on the edge of the wilderness.) One quiet Sunday morning, I finally confided to my partner that I just wanted to sell my car, sell my truck, put on a pack, and walk, and walk... A couple of hours later, chance put a copy of the I Ching in my hands. The introduction intrigued me. I decided to follow the instructions on how to consult the oracle. In a few minutes I'd found the sign I was to read. It said, 'I was refined down to my feet, and should abandon my vehicle and walk'. It was a very strange moment.
I soon got myself a copy of the book, then another translation, and another... I still add to the three dozen or so versions that I have. It's always interesting to see the differences that arise from each author's research, understanding and personal biases. Over the years, it has proven to be a great source of wisdom, showing an uncanny ability to reveal and reflect my inner process..
It seemed natural to consult my old friend, I Ching, to help with naming some of my pictures for a card line. When I saw how well the images and the signs matched, it was but a short step to the concept of 'Visible Changes'. Doing my own translation, short enough to fit on card backs, has proven to be an enjoyable, challenging, illuminating and long exercise..
And yes, I did sell my vehicles and walk. About a year after encountering the I Ching, I left my business, sold all of my possessions and set off with my backpack. I spent a winter walking the sagebrush hills around Kamloops, BC, a couple of summers in the mountains around Banff, Alberta, then put wheels on my pack and headed east across the country. I walked and hitchhiked as far as Quebec. There may be no better way to see the land, its people, and yourself. I spent four or five years without a vehicle and it was great..
In answer to the question, "Will there be a Visible Changes book by Terry McTavish?", I can say that I would like to do one but I can't say when. At this point, there are other things that come ahead of this project.
The I Ching on the Net
by Greg Whincup
A great set of links by someone who knows his stuff.
Care to consult the oracle?
Every translation of the book has instructions on how to do so.
Here are a couple of places to do it online.
If you want to match the sign (hexagram) that you received from your consultation with a Visible Changes card, please refer to the links below.
Please note that there will be a difference between the number of the sign you receive and my card number.
This is because I use the seasonal cycle of the 64 signs delevoped by Fu Hsi while most I Ching translations use the later King Wen ordering.