Computer–Assisted Divination

Some people resist using a computer to consult the I Ching or other sources such as the Tarot because, rightly so, they do not want a computer generating the outcome for them (“Click here for your free I Ching reading!”), preferring to stay connected by holding the yarrow stalks, or coins, or beads, or cards, in their hands.  I believe that this sentiment is warranted; the outcome should depend on one’s own actions, not those of a computer.  But I also believe that a personal connection with the process can be maintained if the computer merely generates all the possibilities, leaving it up to the user to select the outcome.  And this is the concept behind all the divination methods on Virtual Yarrow Stalks and The Tarot of Ideals.

To use a simple example, imagine the toss of a coin.  A computer can easily duplicate this process by randomly generating either a zero or one.  But imagine that the computer, instead of choosing one or the other, randomly assigned both choices to blank sides of a coin, one of which the user then selected.  Go ahead, click one:

toss it again

The computer assigned the choices to the coin, but you made the choice.

The same thing can be done with the throw of a die:

throw it again

On the dynamic playing cards page, this concept is applied to playing cards and marbles; on another fractal I Ching and the way of 16,777,216, the user’s mouse coordinates are used.  The command line I Ching uses digits entered by the user, analogous to colored marbles or beads.  The JavaScript Tarot uses a Tarot deck; the rune script uses runes.  And Virtual Yarrow Stalks presents the user with a bundle of forty-nine stalks of randomly-varied widths; the outcome is determined by where the user divides the bundle.

So, done correctly, a computer can include the user in the process, just like yarrow stalks or coins.  And you may be able to use a computer, or your phone, when a physical method is impossible or impractical.  Computers can also make the process of looking up and comparing hexagrams and lines much easier.

Having said all that, if you prefer using physical methods just because you like them, I can’t argue with that.  (I am partial to cards myself.)