My dear friend P introduced me to the I Ching the other night in our local. He had a short stack of foreign coins to throw or shake to give the random. Five times I think to sum to a set of numbers through what felt like a complex calculation but actually ending up pretty close in total each time. And then opening the book, and sketching then talking me through the result.
The reading it gave ended up feeling useful, it’s something I’ve explicitly reflected on a few times since, and it’s helping me switch a few things around in my head. Of course, there’s something in the quality of opacity in the reading, especially if it’s poetic: how metaphor reflects what our mind decides to read into it. But I was also struck by how the situation and my actions help me invest in the response, here’s me thinking like a participation designer.
An intimate bubble in a loud everyday environment.
A friend who is also making me a surprising gift.
A set of magical props in the unfamiliar coins and P’s battered well-loved copy of the book.
The physical action I perform of shaking coins repeated several times.
The question asked in mind each time of ‘what will the result be?’, nothing like a random roll for making ‘what happens next?’ pop up strongly. And then what do all those mean?
The beauty of the hexagrams, the visual elegance in unlocking the solution, P’s loving sketch.
The presentation of the poetry of the reading.
P then making an act of interpretation which again feels intimate but still leaving space for me to fill things in my own head.