The plum blossom divination technique is an application method of using the Yi Jing (or I-Ching).
It’s Chinese name is mei hua yi shu (梅花易數) and was conceived by the famous intellect named Shao Kang Jie (邵康節) during the Song Dynasty of 960-1126AD.
When this method of Yi Jing divination practice was first created, people were in awe of how dynamic it took the wisdom contained in the book of changes and applied it to real life.
Plum blossom divination is basically a less sophisticated way of consulting Yi Jing that focuses on numerology and the exact moment in which the asker asks the question at hand.
While this method erects hexagrams from trigrams like other I-Ching divination methods, deductions and answers are more associated to observations when the question was asked rather than the text from the ancient book itself.
Legend of plum blossom divination
The legend of how Shao conceived the methodology of plum blossom tells about how the scholar was surprised by the appearance of a rat in his room one day and accidentally knocked over a ceramic pillow which shattered on impact with the ground.
To his amazement, what contained inside the ceramic item was a note which stated his name and the exact time in which the rat encounter happened.
Now fully intrigued, he tracked down the maker of the pillow to a pottery and learned from the son of the maker that the maker had died days ago. What’s amusing was that the boy had expected Shao’s arrival as his father informed him to anticipate it. The maker also instructed his son to pass a copy of Yi Jing to the guest who would arrive.
In this copy of YiJing were scribbled formulas of how to use the magic of the book to make precise predictions. Accompanied with the book was a note requesting Shao to locate his hidden stash of silver and give his son. He did.
Some time later after learning the teachings contained in the book, Shao witnessed a pair of sparrows fighting on a plum blossom tree in his garden and decided to conduct a divination using what he learned inside the book. The resulting information told of an accident occurring at the same place where the birds were fighting occurring the next day. He told a friend who was with him at the time of the reading.
The next day, a girl climbed the tree and fell, incurring minor injuries.
News spread about Shao’s ability to predict events and his method was named as the plum blossom divination technique.
As mentioned earlier, the plum blossom oracle method is dynamic compared to traditional techniques of Yi Jing practice.
This can be clearly observed from the generating of trigrams that form hexagrams in order to do readings.
Unlike ancient methods such as the coin oracle, it is down to intuition and how your mind is telling you to generate the associated hexagram that governs the event the asker is asking about.
One can use what they hear, what they see, and even with numerology of the time the event occurred to do this.
Practicing plum blossom divination uses 3 hexagrams for each reading.
- The original
- The mutual (nuclear)
- The transformed (final)
We have to first obtain the original hexagram (本卦).
What you hear
The sound that is being heard can be used to generate a hexagram.
For example, someone who clapped 6 times, with a longer pause between the second and third clap.
This can be interpreted as the first two knocks representing trigram 2 of Dui taking the upper hexagram, and the 4 following knocks representing trigram 4 of zhen taking the lower hexagram. Thus, creating the hexagram 17 of Sui (随).
What you see
What you visually see can be a creative way to generate hexagrams.
For example, someone showing you 3 fingers as a sign when he is wearing a shirt with the number 8 printed in front.
This can be interpreted as representing trigram 3 of Li taking the upper hexagram, and the number representing trigram 8 of kun taking the lower hexagram. Thus, creating the hexagram 35 of Jin (晉).
When using numerology to generate hexagrams, there is no fixed rule like the audio and visual methods.
You can basically use a method that comes to mind at the time of reading. However, when using numerology, the most common methodology is to make use of the date and/or time.
Remember, the method that comes to mind that generate the hexagram is the universe’s messages to you. There is no fixed rule that governs how you apply divination.
For example, one can take the year number, plus the month number, plus the day number, and divide it by 8 to generate the first trigram. 8 Being the number of trigrams there are. Then sum up the year, month, day and time, divide by 8 to obtain the second trigram.
Again, you should use the method that intuitively or instinctively comes to mind.
Refining the hexagram
The first step to refining the hexagram is to identify the changing line (or moving line).
Unlike typical Yi Ching reading where there is a possibility of zero changing lines, plum blossom divination must have a moving line. This is so that we can identify a subject and object.
The trigram which contains the changing line would be the object, and the other trigram would be the subject.
For example, of we have the hexagram 39 of jian (蹇), it means that there’s a Kan trigram on top and Gen trigram below. If the moving line is the fourth line, this means that the upper Kan trigram would be the object. This is because the 4th line from the bottom would belong to the upper trigram.
The mutual hexagram (nuclear hexagram)
The mutual hexagram (互卦) is obtained by taking the second, third and fourth line of the original hexagram as the lower trigram for a new hexagram. Then taking the third, fourth and fifth line as the upper trigram of the new hexagram.
This new hexagram generated would be the mutual gua, or nuclear hexagram.
For example, if the original hexagram is hexagram 26 of da chu (大畜), then the resulting nuclear hexagram would be hexagram 53 of jian (漸).
The final hexagram (transformed hexagram)
The final hexagram (變卦) is revealed by taking the original hexagram, and reverting the changing yao line from yin to yang or yang to yin.
For example if the original is hexagram 39 of jian (蹇) and the changing line is the second line, then the final hexagram would be hexagram 48 of jing (井).
Relationship between trigrams
Now that the 3 hexagrams have been generated, it is time to interpret them.
The relationship between the two trigrams contained in the hexagram symbolizes the relationship between the subject and object. The foundation of their relationship is determined by the elements’ natural interaction according to the relationship of 5 elements.
Doing this with all 3 hexagrams would enable us to tell which trigram is the one being controlled, nurtured, strengthened, etc.
This would guide us when making the interpretation to make predictions.
Finally, I find it necessary not to be very detailed with this discussion on plum blossom divination. This is so that you would not limit yourself with the details being elaborated.
In order to practice this technique proficiently, you need to have an open mind and welcome all possibilities.
This also means that this particular divination method is not for everyone.