ching(6) Unsupported ching(6)Nameching - the book of changes and other cookies
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The I Ching or Book of Changes is an ancient Chinese oracle that has
been in use for centuries as a source of wisdom and advice.
The text of the oracle (as it is sometimes known) consists of sixty-
four hexagrams, each symbolized by a particular arrangement of six
straight (---) and broken (- -) lines. These lines have values ranging
from six through nine, with the even values indicating the broken
Each hexagram consists of two major sections. The Judgement relates
specifically to the matter at hand (E.g., “It furthers one to have
somewhere to go.”) while the Image describes the general attributes of
the hexagram and how they apply to one's own life (“Thus the superior
man makes himself strong and untiring.”).
When any of the lines have the values six or nine, they are moving
lines; for each there is an appended judgement which becomes signifi‐
cant. Furthermore, the moving lines are inherently unstable and change
into their opposites; a second hexagram (and thus an additional judge‐
ment) is formed.
Normally, one consults the oracle by fixing the desired question firmly
in mind and then casting a set of changes (lines) using yarrow-stalks
or tossed coins. The resulting hexagram will be the answer to the
The oracle simply reads a question from the standard input (up to an
EOF) and hashes the individual characters in combination with the time
of day, process id and any other magic numbers which happen to be lying
around the system. The resulting value is used as the seed of a random
number generator which drives a simulated coin-toss divination. The
answer is then piped through nroff for formatting and will appear on
the standard output.
For those who wish to remain steadfast in the old traditions, A the
oracle will also accept the results of a personal divination using, for
example, coins. To do this, cast the change and then type the result‐
ing line values as an argument.