reading the i ching – tricks and tips

 

Reading the I Ching is pretty simple. The key is to pick a method of casting you like and stick with it. Yarrow stalks are valid as is the m1thr0s method of d10 dice. The dice even have a precedent in early I Ching history, as bones were often shaken inside of a turtle shell to determine lines, using an undocumented method. Below are some tips and tricks to get you on the right footing with your I Ching journey.

  1. Use a backgammon cup. This special oblong dice game cup allows you to cast the dice into a straight line, allowing one to obtain Gematria numbers with precision. The I Ching likes to play with these numbers. It also offers a pleasant sound and allows one to incorporate a magickal knock into the rite more easily than can be done using just one’s hands alone.
  2. Use a magickal knock. A magickal knock is a certain key number of times to shake the dice. m1thr0s used 3, I prefer 6. The magickal knock is a signal and act of intent that augments the ritual. You should use a number you want to key into, for example, if you are focused on Venus for love or relationship matters we would use the corresponding number, which is 7. It’s okay to switch numbers, or stick with one number. 
  3. Keep your casting device in a special pouch. The dice or yarrow should always be protected. In China, highly ritualized container specifications were utilized by the scholars of the I Ching. Red, black and white are the traditional colors of the I Ching flux values, with red and white representing the two Yang flux types, and black representing Yin. Pale yellow and grey are associated with the Tao. I use a small natural leather pouch stamped with the Eye of Ra. 
  4. Use a wooden casting tray. Woodworkers make many beautiful shallow rimmed trays and bowls. The tray should be a round shape, representing Heaven, although you can use a square shape for certain styles of reading, representing Earth. Generally the Heaven shape should be used more. The tray should not be made of metal or plastic, which makes an unpleasant sound. Porcelain is also too hard on the dice. If you are using crystal dice, you should only case on cloth or felt lined bowls to protect the dice from chips, even though some will naturally occur over the course of time.
  5. Build from the bottom up. Even though this is repeated a few times in nearly every book on the I Ching, and I explain it from the start to everyone I speak to personally, more than a few people seem to forget it. 
  6. Learn how to examine the nuclears. If you don’t know what the nuclears are, you have not read the Wilhelm-Baynes I Ching. Read the Wilhelm-Baynes I Ching.
  7. Keep track of your hexagrams and the accompanying question or request for advice in a journal, set aside specially for that use. Date them. This serves two purposes. Number one, you’re going to forget the hexagrams very easily, and this will help keep track of the trajectory of the I Ching’s advice to you over time, and how that plays out into the future. Secondly, it commits your Will and Wyrd to Malkuth, or Earth, and is an act of magick.
  8. Use a red pen and a black pen to write your hexagrams. Red lines are Yang, black lines are Yin. This not only looks beautiful in the end, it’s a ceremonial act that can add gravity to readings by putting one in the right mindset.
  9. If you’re having trouble with a moving line, or the entire hexagram, or anything in particular about a reading, you may perform a crossing. A crossing is simply using a divination tool to divine details on a part of the reading you don’t understand. It is used in tarot readings extensively by classically trained magi and witches. You can perform another hexagram reading, or use the tarot. The Mutational Alchemy Tarot is perfectly aligned to the I Ching and can be easily used for this. One may also limit it to the ATU only, court cards only, or smalls only, depending on the focus. 
  10. The I Ching responds in crisis. You don’t have to be in a perfect mood or state of mind to use it. So don’t be afraid to go to it during an emergency. Crisis mode sometimes triggers individuals towards greater episodes of gnosis. 

 

what is self-initiation?

 

Lately I have been getting a lot of requests for more information about initiation. It’s not surprising to me – many are unfamiliar with these classical Hermetic concepts, which are stripped out of, or just missing, from revisionist texts. The concept of initiation is so basic to Hermetic praxis, some of the older texts presume that one understands what is meant by the term. While self-initiation is always a respected process in the Hermetic ouevre, there is a very clear difference between self-initiation alone, and initiation into a lineage.

I suspect not everyone will be interested in the latter, and that’s perfectly fine – our focus has always been on self-initiation – lineaged initiation only becoming possible by two things: m1thr0s’ decision to formalize Mutational Alchemy as school, rather being a mere practice or book on a particular hybridized branch of Hermetic Alchemy, and second, a student dedicated enough to spend 10 years in a formalized student-teacher relationship with him. We still offer Mutational Alchemy lessons to new students, because it was always that way around here, but after doing this for a few years, it became clear that self-initiation was not enough. Individuals were struggling with the concepts surrounding Mutational Alchemy. We figured out that if we did not form a lineage and continue this praxis, we would not be able to return to the work  later on, for example if reincarnation is a reality, and we had some suspicions that this was the case. I am certain of it, actually, but one should always doubt one’s own certainties.)

What is Initiation?

Initiation, according to Oxford English Dictionary, is “1.1 The action of beginning, entering upon, or ‘starting’ something; the fact of being begun; beginning, commencement, origination.” So right away we can see that the key ingredient here is intent, really the seed element of magick itself – conscious action. The definition also means that everyone can be initiated – the act of will, deciding to practice magick, is an initiation in and of itself. What about the higher echelons of gnosis, can anyone access them and be initiated into the highest realizations? Our answer will always be a resounding yes. It may not be easy, but the simple axiom “Every Man and Every Woman is a Star” should be enough for us to presume that every man and every woman is capable of initiation into the highest mysteries of stars,  or more accurately, self-made universe. Buddhism has maintained from the very beginning that enlightenment – gnosis in the West, happens in an instant, and can be triggered by seemingly random, insignificant things.

The Abrahadabra Institute has always prided itself on self-initiation, as a way of bypassing all of the fluffy bullshit and rigmaroles that old-aeon organizations such as AMORC, The Golden Dawn and BOTA make their members go through. These initiatory practices can be powerful – only inasmuch as the particular initiate is powerful. So at all times our goal is to raise power, and we do this with several tools. The focus is to hack away the inessentials and achieve *Maximum Inertia* and *Minimum Stress* – perfect equilibrium despite the forces under our control. Tools like the Da’ath hack, TwinStar and TwinTrees offer us a way to achieve this equilibrium, at least for a short time. The more one works with the mirrors the more this effect becomes manifest. They are, in effect, reflections of the perfect Man – all of them are you, at least at some level of your being. It may be lying face down in the mud buried under a ton of garbage that one has accumulated, but it is there inside you, somewhere. The function of the mirrors is described in the title – it allows one to see one’s self as they truly are – beyond the lower rungs of the Body of Light (the physical body.) 

The Heart of the Master

Between the worlds, beyond consciousness and being, there lies a force that is likened to the greatest, most authoritative, all-powerful Master across all time and space – the so-called Heart of the Master. It has also been referred to as the Logos in Hellenic thought, Ehyeh ’ăšer ’ehyeh, (I Am that I Am) in Israel, and the Tao by the Chinese. Although the conceptualization of this mysterious secret heart differs slightly from civilization to civilization where it has been identified, the essential aspect of its identity: omniscience and omnipresence is undisputed. It is possible that it is nearly omnipotent, but this omnipotence is split between two great aspects of intelligence with equally matched power, Yin and Yang. These are all mere theories. The loftiness of the concept prevents any concrete knowledge. The goal of all initiatory praxis is to achieve singularity, at least for a moment, with this sacred heart. This is the goal of the Great Work, or Magnum Opus, and the purpose and function of the Philosopher’s Stone.

     Where a civilization has identified this overarching force, it is also accompanied by theories on a way to achieving harmony with it. The Israelites composed and followed the way through mysticism – prayer, ritual, study and righteousness (right thinking, right action, as it is called in the East.) The Hellenic people pursued the Logos through analytical study, philosophy and other intellectual pursuits using the basic premise that the way is supremely logical, and reflecting this nature is the best way to emulate it. The Taoists in China composed poetry in the form of Zen koans and so forth, in order to show the way, and the I Ching and T’ai Hsuan Ching – these were studies of the code of the way. This turned out to be right on point – our entire DNA strand reflects the structure of the I Ching, as I have discussed before in DNA and the I Ching Explained. 

The basis of Hermeticism was the initiation process into this great mystery of the intelligence that was the Logos, personified as Hermes in some cases. Much of the great mystery school doctrine has been lost, due to iconoclasm, but we do know that initiation formed the backbone of their popularity. Where today, religion is mostly an empty ritual that mimics the old rites, Hermetic, Mithraic and Eleusinian mysteries used *real* sacrament and *real* phenomenon as a scaffolding for their way of life and that way of life included ecstatic rites. Today Hermeticism has lived on in many ways, from rave festivals that reflect the Dionysian and Eleusinian parties, to the preservation of Hermetic texts and grimoires in the Western tradition. Scientific and philosophical discourse, the legacy of Hermeticism, is everywhere in our world, not just in a few cities, and all nations benefit from advances in knowledge, very rapidly, without political barrier.

      While physical alchemy evolved into modern chemistry, internal alchemy has remained in a state of abysmal stagnation since the beginning of the Enlightenment era. Philosophy, science and politics have advanced by leaps and bounds, while nothing has been done on the subject of Hermetic Alchemy for hundreds of years. The last major update that Kabbalah received was in the work of Isaac Luria; the tarot, with Eliphas Levi; the star thesis of human evolutionary dharma, Aleister Crowley (one could certainly argue that Isaac Luria’s thesis is a proto-star theory, especially considering the emphasis on Ain Soph Aur, the introduction of Da’ath and other very crucial keys to Body of Light theory.)  In recent times, Ray Sherwin birthed Chaos Magick, while Anton Lavey ignited the Left Hand Path. Both of these new ideas have something to do with internal alchemy, but they have not yet found their bearings. I expect that in time these will attract more and more attention, as they recognize, within their doctrine, a fundamental reality about Man that many old aeon organizations have forgotten: we want to be free, and powerful. Power is almost always a dirty word in occult organizations, and it even shows in the OTO as a sort of lackluster effort to de-emphasize the third chapter of the Book of the Law as well as not mentioning any swear words like: satanism, sex, authority, combat, martial theurgy or anything that might possibly drag them out of the previous aeon.

 This is where The Abrahadabra Institute diverges from the normal party line, quite sharply. The essence of Chaos Magick and Satanism are welcomed here, if not so much the dogmas and hurf-blurfing that has cropped up around the two circles. Namely, for Chaos Magick, what we like is the principle of freedom in magick, being able to adjust our methodology on the fly without any regard for traditions, rules, or standards – especially where these are holding us back from power, brilliance and ecstasy. Satanism has largely declined into puerile horseshit in the last few decades, and has nothing in common with us, but the roots in classical left-hand path ideology are obvious, that is, the emphasis on the sinister, and an adversarial asana to entire universe itself, with the aim of exerting our Will. This is directly connected to the secret inner head of our order, spoken of extensively in some areas of the forum. There is some elitism here. This doesn’t mean we have to be assholes to anybody, or anything like that, but we won’t lower our standards. This wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense anyways, since all Mutational Alchemy requires is the ability to count to ten. People tend to attach a lot of unnecessary complications to it that throws them off course, or they get distracted from the praxis by an overemphasis on the peculiarities of the meditations. This is usually just a distraction from the goal, which is gnosis. Without the initial motivation to do something, anything, instead of constantly being lead around like sheep, nothing will happen. That’s usually the demon people are grappling with – “there’s nothing to it, it’s all a bunch of bullshit” whispering at the back of the mind. I have seen persons go well out of their way to try and prove this subconsciously and it’s pretty stupid to watch. They usually end up being very lazy practitioners who cannot follow simple instructions which would lead them to the gnosis they hope for.

Are We There Yet?

The time it takes to earn an initiation depends on the goal, the choices you make along the way, your true will, and how hard you are willing to work at it. Many kinds of initiation, those linked to one godform or another, for example, have their corresponding organization, as it is with the Vaishnavites and ISKCON, for example, or the Catholic Church and the Franciscans, but the initiation which grants certain heightened levels of gnosis is notoriously spontaneous. In the West these people are called adepts, Other organizations offer initiation based on the judgement of one’s peers – only involving Man in the process, as it is within Masonic, Satanic and Golden Dawn organizations. Some organizational initiations take years to achieve, and are managed by higher ups in that organization, for example, most martial arts lineages. Many lineages include rituals that go along with the initiation, that can last anywhere from a moment of trial (such as in the Bujinkan) or a few hours, as with many Masonic grades. For those curious about The Abrahadabra Institute initiation for students, I will lay this all out below. Keep in mind we do not provide organizational initiation on demand. I have had new members want to show up to my house and be “initiated” but there is no initiation for new members beyond what is performed when your certificate is produced. 

Our certificate is sealed with silver wax, using our TwinStar emblem. The process of creating and sealing the certificate involves a kind of ping – the intelligences that we serve analyze everyone and give me feedback on what sort of an individual – a star – you are, and I proceed from there to determine your coursework. This is an on-the-fly type of initiation process that would only be allowable by a dedicated Hierophant or Priestess – the Magus. The method has never failed me to this date on illuminating the qualities of one or another individual. We believe that it is divine providence that leads one to TAI, and that we are concealed from those who are unworthy, so this initiation is already the result of a prior initiation process that has occured, one that you may or may not have noticed! This sort of initiation is not spoken of very often, but it is one of the more important ways we have at our disposal of filtering out the wrong sorts of people. The Jewish Rabbis use this to great effect by refusing curious converts three times. Nowadays another explanation has been invented explaining why this happens the way it does, but in essence it’s a way for H’ashem to refuse them, or for potential problems to find their way to the surface. H’ashem is the inner head of the order, in the Hebrew religion. 

The Abrahadabra Institute initiates members, but, becoming a member of the Institute does not mean you are part of our lineage, just as someone on the exclusive invitation list of the Rites of Eleusis was not necessarily an Eleusinian Hierophant. It is not necessary to be initiated into TAI itself to reap the benefits of learning from us, and not everyone is going to be fully aligned with our lineage. Initiation into certain lineages aligns one to the forces that govern those lineages. Someone who wishes to be initiated into The Abrahadabra Institute lineage,  is a person who is no longer interested in pursuing any other path or lineage. That is why the initiation takes place after 3 years, and requires two graded tests, one ungraded test, and several essays. Initiation into our organization at the level of Mutational Alchemist is a privilege. It isn’t just handed out to anyone who wants it. Why the fuck would we want to do that? Even the initial neophyte initiation carries some requirements with it, but the title of Mutational Alchemist requires a certain amount of in person training and observation, to make sure you meet our quality standards. Initiation as a Mutational Alchemist will never be granted remotely, and it will not be granted just because you ask or you are in a hurry to get it. After the third year, further grades of initiation are rigorous and will require a lot of work on your end, but they will also introduce you to the most powerful meditation practice that this world, or any other world, has to offer. If anyone wants a fast track to enlightenment in any trash lineage, feel free to join an organization that specializes in sloppy, and never updates its methodology as there’s plenty of them out there. 

I have no doubt that limiting access to a perceived occult value will piss some people off, or frustrate them, but I don’t really give a damn. If rank and lineage are to have a place at TAI they need to actually mean something, and therefore we won’t hand them out to every demanding newbee off the streets who thinks they are entitled to it.  

So how does this special TAI initiation happen? Once the testing is completed, then students will be invited to our initiation rituals. This is done in person and once a year, for all third year students who want to graduate. The process takes about 3 days and you will be taken to a secret location for the initiation. More details will be explained in the years to come. 

How Long Does it Take, and What if I Fuck Up?

While it takes about 3 years for an official initiation into the Abrahadabra Institute, self initiations can be spontaneous, there’s really no way to measure them. Intentionally setting out on a path is a form of initiation as I have already discussed earlier. Intensive study and practice means everything in this work. Not everyone is cut out for that and this is only as it should be. When working with the mirrors especially, which are self-initiation gadgets, basically, they will meet you more than halfway. It is not untoward to work on a mirror for up to 8 hours at a time, especially when we are partaking of sacraments. This sort of dedication can and has caused outright miracles to occur. I’ve seen it before and heard others share their stories about the TwinStar efficacy when used with strong intent and need. 

So the answer is, it’s really up to you. No one can know your own dharma or path better than you yourself do. Gnothi Seauton. 

As for the dangers of initiation – the shamanic death, for example, a well known initiation process with particular side effects, has always been fraught with imagined perils, this is why so many often fail the initiation process. Letting go of fear is crucial to apprehending an initiation, especially the major ones. Nothing in life is completely safe, but learning to trust your tools is part of the process of preparing for the mental asana of not being afraid of anything. These questions don’t really become an issue for an experienced Magus, archaic or modern. In the past this was all done with the vehicles of the previous aeon; the religions of that aeon, the pomp of ceremony and certain archaic tools. We still use these today but they are not enough to engage the velocities we are aiming for here with our focus on Abrahadabra rather than merely the Sephiroth. Once a Magus reaches the apex of the praxis at year three, he or she has already seen what the tools in Mutational Alchemy can do and this reduces the fear factor that kills the experience. In other words – the study time and experience matters, this is exactly why we don’t do lineage initiations, as we derive our authority from some pretty spooky cats, and they don’t tolerate boring assholes or cowards. The student needs that time to grow, learn and mature.

 

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