I Ching
The Method of 64

© by Francis L. Szot

THIS IS A NEW, IMPROVED WAY to construct a hexagram that should replace the "3 Coins Method". It was originally called "The Method of 16" but I have made one obvious major modification, going from 16 to 64, and I will explain why I did that at the bottom of this page.

Rationale for Using the "Method of 64"
THE MAIN ADVANTAGE to using the "Method of 64" instead of the "3 Coins Method", though not its only advantage, is a statistical one [Stay with me, now. This will make sense, not "make math".]

The oldest, most traditional method for obtaining a hexagram is the "Yarrow Stalk Method". Therefore, this is the ideal technique, and is the method which must be held up as "the standard". Using the "Yarrow Stalk Method", the probabilities for obtaining each of the 4 different kinds of lines which may be found in a hexagram are not the same.
For Example;
Using the "Yarrow Stalk Method":

  • The odd for an unchanging broken line is 44%
  • The odd for an unchanging solid line is 31%
  • The odd for a changing solid line is 19%
  • The odd for a changing broken line is 6%

Using the "3 Coins Method":
A MAJOR DISADVANTAGE to using the "3 Coins Method", or any other method that I am aware of, is that the odds of obtaining every different type of line is not the same as the standard "Yarrow Stalk Method"

  • The odds for getting either type of unchanging line by the 3 Coins is 6 out of 16 (38%) for either or
  • The odds for getting either type of changing line by the 3 Coins is 2 out of 16 (12%) for either or

OBVIOUSLY, THE ODDS of obtaining any line by using the 3 Coins is very different from the odds of using Yarrow Stalks. If we think that it is desirable to remain as faithful as possible to the traditions of using the I Ching, we may want to search for a better technique.

AS WE WILL NOW SHOW, the "Method of 64" is that better technique. It duplicates the probabilities of the "Yarrow Stalk Method", something that the "3 Coin Method" obviously does not do.

THE "METHOD OF 64" uses 64 small, aesthetically pleasing objects, such as beads, coins, buttons, etc. They must all be of the same size and shape, but you must be able to chose from 4 different patterns or colors. Select 28 items of one pattern or color [28 pink beads, for example], 20 of a different pattern or color [20 blue beads, for example], 12 of another pattern or color [12 white beads], and 4 of a unique pattern or color [4 black beads]. Each of the 4 groups now represent a different type of line.

  • The Pink Beads represent an unchanging broken line [odds of 28/64 = 44%] for
  • The Blue Beads represent an unchanging solid line [odds of 20/64 = 31%] for
  • The White Beads represent a changing solid line [odds of 12/64 = 19%] for
  • The Black Beads represent a changing broken line [odds of 4/64 = 6%] for

NOTICE THAT THE ODDS for getting each different type of line are identical to the odds when using the Yarrow Stalk Method of constructing hexagrams!

TO COMPLETE the ritual's paraphernalia, thoughtfully select a small bowl and a small container to store the 64 items when not in use.


  1. Place the 64 items together in the small bowl and, with the eyes closed, or just looking away from the bowl, randomly choose one.
  2. Note which of the 4 possible lines it represents.
  3. Record this as the first line of the Hexagram and then place the first item that you selected back in the bowl. It is extremely important to place the bead (or whatever object you have decided to use) back into the bowl so there is always the original 64 items to choose from!
  4. Randomly choose a second time from the bowl, and record the next line directly above the first line [building from the bottom, up]
  5. Once again, restore the item to the bowl and continue in a similar manner until the 6 lines of the Hexagram have been obtained.

AS YOU PERFORM THE RITUAL, keep in mind the question you are inquiring about, and maintain an appropriate attitude.
As a modification, I have quadrupled the number of Items which were originally recommended (16) in two sources I have cited in the following paragraph. By retaining the same percentages, and using 64 small objects, this introduces the obvious correlation between the 64 Items and the 64 Hexagrams.


I FOUND THIS WAY of doing the hexagrams of the I Ching in the book, "The I Ching: An Illustrated Guide to the Chinese Art of Divination", illustrated by Tan Xiaochun, and translated by Koh Kok Kiang. According to that book, Larry Schoenholtz proposed this method in his book, "New Directions in the I Ching". It immediately became my favorite method, almost totally supplanting the "3 Coins".

© Francis L. Szot