I Ching

I Ching, the Canon of Change, is an ancient text that originated in China. It began some 5000 years ago as a type of divination, first using tortoiseshells and bones. Over time it would find its way to paper, and libraries would fill with writings on its 64 signs and their six changeable lines. It would influence Taoist and Confucionist philosophies, becoming one of the Five Classics of Confucionism. Jesuit priests would send it to Germany where the 17th century philosopher and mathemetician, Gottfried Leibniz, would recognize in it an ancient form of the binary code that he was 'inventing'. In 1924, Richard Wilhelm's German translation was published. Then, in 1950, this was translated into English. By the mid 60's, two more English versions hived off. In the decades since, many more interpretations have followed. New versions appear regularly. Ironically, perhaps because of Mao's Cultural Revolution, people from China now seem less aware of this venerable book than people in the west.

My first I Ching encounter was in 1980. For months, I'd been fed up with all the city driving that my work required of me. (I come from a farm on the edge of the wilderness.) One quiet Sunday morning, I finally confided to my partner that I just wanted to sell my car, sell my truck, put on a pack, and walk, and walk... A couple of hours later, chance put a copy of the I Ching in my hands. The introduction intrigued me. I decided to follow the instructions on how to consult the oracle. In a few minutes I'd found the sign I was to read. It said, 'I was refined down to my feet, and should abandon my vehicle and walk'. It was a very strange moment.

I soon got myself a copy of the book, then another translation, and another... I still add to the three dozen or so versions that I have. It's always interesting to see the differences that arise from each author's research, understanding and personal biases. Over the years, it has proven to be a great source of wisdom, showing an uncanny ability to reveal and reflect my inner process..

It seemed natural to consult my old friend, I Ching, to help with naming some of my pictures for a card line. When I saw how well the images and the signs matched, it was but a short step to the concept of 'Visible Changes'. Doing my own translation, short enough to fit on card backs, has proven to be an enjoyable, challenging, illuminating and long exercise..

And yes, I did sell my vehicles and walk. About a year after encountering the I Ching, I left my business, sold all of my possessions and set off with my backpack. I spent a winter walking the sagebrush hills around Kamloops, BC, a couple of summers in the mountains around Banff, Alberta, then put wheels on my pack and headed east across the country. I walked and hitchhiked as far as Quebec. There may be no better way to see the land, its people, and yourself. I spent four or five years without a vehicle and it was great..

In answer to the question, "Will there be a Visible Changes book by Terry McTavish?", I can say that I would like to do one but I can't say when. At this point, there are other things that come ahead of this project.


The I Ching on the Net
by Greg Whincup
A great set of links by someone who knows his stuff.

Care to consult the oracle?
Every translation of the book has instructions on how to do so.
Here are a couple of places to do it online.

If you want to match the sign (hexagram) that you received from your consultation with a Visible Changes card, please refer to the links below.

Please note that there will be a difference between the number of the sign you receive and my card number.
This is because I use the seasonal cycle of the 64 signs delevoped by Fu Hsi while most I Ching translations use the later King Wen ordering.

For sign #1, go to
VC032 Sun
VC132 Lightning

for 2
VC064 Kissing Horses
VC164 Moraine Lake

for 3
VC003 Intricacy
VC103 Young Tree

for 4
VC047 Squirrel

for 5
VC027 Butterfly

for 6
VC041 Peyto Lake

for 7
VC048 Glory
VC148 Light

for 8
VC062 Evening Flight

for 9
VC028 Fresh Snow
VC128 Day's End

for 10
VC124 Bald Eagle

for 11
VC125 Bull
VC225 A Mountain Pass

for 12
VC057 Horses

for 13
VC016 One Among Many
VC116 Tantalus

for 14
VC030 Fulfillment

for 15
VC056 Grace
VC156 Idaho Peak

for 16
VC060 Dolphin

for 17
VC007 Waterlilies
VC107 Swallows

for 18
VC039 Weeping Wall
VC139 Sidewalk's End

for 19
VC017 The Road Ahead

for 20
VC061 Standing Out
VC161 Rainbow
VC261 The Hilltop

For 21
VC006 Stars
VC106 Mount Rundle

For 22
VC210 Brilliance
for 23
VC063 Weeping Willow
VC163 Black-eyed Susan

for 24
VC001 The Moon & Venus

for 25
VC108 Evening Breeze
VC208 Ducklings

for 26
VC026 The Cave

for 27
VC002 Swans & Geese
VC102 Morning Dew
VC202 The Lions

for 28
VC034 Daybreak
VC134 The Summit

for 29
VC046 Moon Over Red Cliff
VC146 Black Tusk

for 30
VC014 Northern Lights
VC114 Illumination
VC214 The Chief

for 31
VC150 Wind
VC250 Buffalo Creek

for 32
VC036 Painted Chasm
VC136 Timeless

for 33
VC049 The Island

for 34
VC029 High Ground
VC129 Tipi

for 35
VC059 Gilded Hills
VC159 Rocks

for 36
VC009 Castle Mountain
VC109 Faerieland

for 37
VC012 Water Lily

for 38
VC022 Heading Home

for 39
VC154 Beluga
VC254 Duck

for 40
VC044 Blues
VC144 Swan

for 41
VC018 Twilight
VC218 Little Squirrel

for 42
VC004 Tree

for 43
VC131 Stairway

for 44
VC033 Doe
for 45
VC058 Mountain & Moon

for 46
VC040 Full Moon
VC140 Malaspina Galleries

for 47
VC042 Sunflowers & Corn
VC142 Crescent Moon

for 48
VC038 Shannon Falls

for 49
VC115 Waterfall

for 50
VC035 Yellow Moon
VC135 Lupine

for 51
VC005 After The Rain
VC105 Long Beach

for 52
VC055 Heron

for 53
VC053 Sunrise
VC153 Still Water

for 54
VC021 Kalamalka Lake

for 55
VC013 Radiance

for 56
VC051 Morning Light
VC151 Arbutus

for 57
VC137 The Portal

for 58
VC023 Pink Bell Heather
VC123 Companions

for 59
VC045 Serenity

for 60
VC019 Colonnade
VC119 Pools

for 61
VC020 Natural Bridge
VC120 Morning Mist

for 62
VC052 Young Gull
VC152 Morning Sun

for 63
VC011 Big Tree
VC111 Island Mist

for 64
VC043 Elk
VC243 Freedom