Yarrow Stalks |

For both of these reasons, I use a variant of the traditional yarrow protocol that I call the stone protocol. I follow the exact protocol used by those who use yarrow stalks, but instead of yarrow stalks, I use material that slides on a flat surface. My favorite material is Go stones, that is, the playing pieces of the ancient game of Go. Go stones are small flat stones that are attractive to look at, pleasing to hold, and easily manipulated with the fingers. If you have a good game store nearby, you should be able to buy a nice set of Go stones without spending too much money. Buy “double convex” stones if you have a choice. A standard set of Go stones is over 300 stones which is far overkill for what we will use (50 stones.) Perhaps you can go in with some friends.

Go Stones |

There are many other types of material you could use just as easily. You could use large dried beans, small sea shells, beach pebbles or beads. The basic requirements are:

- The items should not roll around.
- About 50 of the items should fit comfortably but not be lost in your two hands.
- The items should be large enough and smooth enough to easily manipulate by dragging them around with your fingers.
- The items should all look roughly similar and be similar sizes.

I will describe this protocol as using “stones” by which I mean Go stones. You should read “stones” as referring to whatever material you are using.

The protocol has a number of steps, but they are all simple and repetitive. At first, you should go slow and carefully. Soon this protocol will become quite natural and you won’t need these directions. You will require an area of about two and a half feet by a foot and a half, not including room for your candles and incense.

Here are the steps.

1. Count out 50 stones. Return 1 to your holder, leaving 49.

2. Put the 49 stones in a single layered group as shown below.

3. Meditate on your question. As you are meditating, divide your pile into a left hand and a right hand pile. Do this without looking at the stones and without trying to be exact. You will end up with two piles as shown below.

4. Take one of the stones from the left hand pile and start the first of three piles in a holding area.

5. Count the remaining stones in the left hand pile into groups of 4. You will have a remainder of 1, 2, 3, or 4 stones. If you have a remainder of 0, then you have a remainder of 4 and the last pile is your remainder.

6. Take the remainder pile and place it just underneath the single stone you placed earlier.

7. Repeat this counting off operation with the right hand pile. Once again, you will have a remainder of 1, 2, 3, or 4.

8. Place the remainder pile below the left hand remainder pile in the holding area.

9. If you have counted correctly, there will either be 5 or 9 stones in the pile in the holding area. If there is anything other than 5 or 9 stones in the pile, then correct your error.

10. Assuming there are 5 or 9 stones in the holding area, then continue. Put the left hand and right hand piles back into a single pile, leaving the holding area as it is.

11. Meditate on your question while you once again separate the large pile into a left hand and a right hand pile.

12. Repeat the previous operations with the left hand pile. Take one stone from the left hand pile and starting a new pile in the holding area.

13. Count off the left hand pile into groups of 4 leaving a remainder of 1, 2, 3, or 4 stones. Place the remainder pile below the just placed single stone in the holding area.

14. Count off the right hand pile into groups of 4 leaving a remainder of 1, 2, 3, or 4 stones. Place the remainder pile below the new pile in the holding area.

15. If you have counted correctly, you will have either 4 or 8 stones in the new pile in the holding area. (Not 5 or 9 like the first pile.) If you don’t have 4 or 8 stones in the pile, then correct your error. If you do have 4 or 8 stones in the pile, then take the left hand pile and right hand piles and bring them together leaving the holding area untouched.

16. We will now repeat this operation a third time. Meditate on your question while dividing the pile, then take one stone from the left hand pile and start a new pile in the holding area.

17. Count the left hand pile into fours and put the remainder above. This is similar to what we did in previous steps, but we are now going to do one thing differently: we are going to be particularly neat in our piles of four.

18. Do the same with the right hand pile, again, focusing on neatness.

19. Once again, you will have either 4 or 8 stones in the new pile. If you have anything else, correct the error. Now count the groups of 4 you have left in the left hand and right hand sides. If you have done everything correctly, you will have no remainders and you will have 6, 7, 8, or 9 groups of 4. The reason I wanted you to be neat earlier is to make this counting as easy (and accurate) as possible

20. The number of groups of four you have is the number of the line in the hexagram. As I said earlier, the numbers are interpreted as follows:

- 6 means a changing yin line (broken line moving to solid.)
- 7 means a static yang line (solid line not moving.)
- 8 means a static yin line (broken line not moving.)
- 9 means a changing yang line (solid moving to broken.)

In our case, we have 8 groups, so we have been given an unchanging yin line (static broken line.) You now have the bottom (first) line of your hexagram . You will now put all 49 stones back into a single pile and repeat this entire procedure starting with step 2. You will do this five more times, one for each of the remaining five lines of the hexagram. Build up your hexagram from the bottom up.