Online Workshop ‘The Power of the Hexagrams’

(Click on the picture to hear the text in a video)

The Yijing, the Chinese Book of Changes, is a book of divination that is used by thousands of people all over the world. For more than twenty-five hundred years it is offering advice to those who have doubts and struggle with uncertainties in their lives. But many users of the book find it difficult to interpret the answers that the book gives them. This online workshop wants to help you with that. If you agree with one or more of the following statements, then this workshop is for you:

  • I always find it difficult to interpret the answers from the Yijing
  • I only use the text of the Yijing, and would like to do more with the hexagrams
  • I don’t know how to practically apply the trigrams
  • I know that every line in a hexagram has a general meaning, and I would like to use these in a reading
  • I have been using the Yijing for years, but I still feel like a beginner
  • I want to know more about the Chinese philosophy behind the Yijing
  • I want to pick Harmen’s brain on the Yijing
  • I want to have more confidence in my own interpretations
  • I want to integrate the Yijing into my own profession

If one or more of these statements apply to you then you will benefit from this online workshop. In eight lessons you will learn the power of the hexagrams, how to read them, and make them useful and meaningful for every question that you address to the Book of Changes.

The workshop will focus on the hexagrams and their composition. During the course you will be challenged to work only with the hexagrams and their structures, and to put the text of the book aside. That doesn’t mean that the text is not important, after all, it is a vital part of the Book of Changes. But focusing on the hexagrams has several advantages:

  • The structure of a hexagram is easy to learn and to apply. Instead of working with four-hundred-fifty different pieces of text, you work with eight trigrams and six lines. No more, no less. Everyone can learn eight trigrams and six lines.
  • You are less dependent on the text of the Yijing. Which means that…
  • …you can consult the book wherever you are and whenever you want, without the need to have the book with you. Whether you are on the train, waiting for the bus or at the dentist, it doesn’t matter. You can make a hexagram everywhere and anytime and interpret it right away.
  • Through ‘reading’ the hexagram you will immediately get a general impression of the answer to your question. Hexagrams can tell you what your situation needs and how you should act. And when, for instance, two parties are involved (like with relationship questions, or business-client matters, colleagues etc.) you can instantly see how they relate to each other and how they interact.
  • When you know and understand the value of the hexagram, working with the text becomes much easier: the two parts of the book complement each other like yin and yang.

Working only with the hexagram without resorting to the text of the Book of Changes is a very old practice in China. It is part of the xiangshu 象數 way of Yijing study that is practiced by Daoists for more than two-thousand years.

Weekly lessons
Each weekly lesson consists of reading material and videos, assignments with feedback (often by video), and discussions of cases provided by the students and by the teacher, in which the theory is put to practice. There is a discussion forum, as well as a chat function to converse with your teacher and the other students, if you want. Not only that, when the course is finished you will still have an additional three months access to the online learning environment and its facilities.

The lessons are not live, so you can study at your own pace.

Maybe you just started on your journey through the world of the Book of Changes, or maybe you are using it for more than 30 years. Either way, this workshop is useful for anyone who wants to expand his/her knowledge and experience with the Yijing. If you want to learn how the hexagrams can give answers to your questions: don’t wait and sign up now by using the form below!

The hard data:

  • start date: April 15, 2024
  • registration fee: €225,– (±$225,–)
  • number of seats available: 15
  • full = full – no exceptions

In order to promote the practice of the Changes, I offer reasonably priced classes so that more people can attend. But because of the amount of personal attention I devote to each student, I cannot offer discounts.

About Harmen
Harmen (1966) started his study of the Yijing in 1982 when he was sixteen years old. His main interests are the history and language of the Yi, as well as the oldest usage of the book in early China. He recently started a YouTube channel (called YiTube) that will show instructional videos on all aspects concerning the Yi. On his website he shares his latest projects as well as an ongoing research journal on the text of the Book of Changes. Harmen is frequently consulted to assist with the translation of old Chinese texts and had an advisory role in several Dutch translations of Daoist inner alchemy neidan 內丹 texts. His workshops cover all aspects of the Yijing – its early history, development, philosophy and usage as a tool for gaining insight in situations. Harmen also gives specialized workshops about the usage of the Yijing in Traditional Chinese Medicine, focusing on the application of the more than two-thousand-year-old Wenwang Gua system. His knowledge of (classical) Chinese enables him to keep up with the latest developments in the field of Yijing studies, and he is connected to the relevant names in the field of sinology.

“Although I have met Harmen only once, I have corresponded with him for over a decade concerning problems in the interpretation of the Yi jing. He is completely abreast of all of the latest discoveries and publications in this field, and is fully able to make his own contributions both to the history of the text and also to its current interpretation. In his reading of the text, he is able to make use of ancient bronze inscriptions, medieval medical texts, and contemporary practice. The only other scholar in the field that I know who is equally well versed in the entire history of the Yi jing is Richard Smith, George and Nancy Rupp Professor of Humanities Emeritus of Rice University. Although I have never visited Harmen in the Netherlands, I understand from colleagues there that he is a respected member of their Sinological community, often participating in the reading of diverse types of texts written in classical Chinese. I know from his work on the Yi jing that he is a very careful scholar, and I am sure that this carries over to all aspects of his professional life. I recommend him very highly.”
– Edward L. Shaughnessy, Creel Distinguished Service
Professor of Early China

“Harmen and I share a deep and abiding interest in the Yijing, and I have learned a great deal from him over the years. Harmen is a supremely gifted autodidact, with what I think of as a particularly Dutch gift for languages. He is well-versed in Classical Chinese (the language of the Yijing), and his English is excellent. He also has experience teaching about the Yijing in English, as one can see from his personal website and his cleverly conceived and executed YouTube channel called YiTube. YiTube has already shown, and it will continue to show, useful instructional videos on the history, theories and practices of the Yijing. Another example of Harmen’s useful English-language pedagogy is his “Translation Notes”. From our robust correspondence, and from reading his published and unpublished work in English, I can see that Harmen Mesker is a person of incisive intelligence, with a probing, inquisitive mind and an extremely generous intellectual spirit.”
– Richard J. Smith, George and Nancy Rupp Professor of Humanities Emeritus,
James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy Scholar, and former Director of the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Center for Asian Studies, and current Chao Center Research Fellow

“I have known Mr. Mesker over two decades, since he first contacted me with questions about the meaning of passages in the Yijing. Mr. Mesker is a rare example of the classical Chinese autodidact. In the years I have known him, his knowledge has grown from that of the neophyte to the level of accomplished scholar without the advantage of formal academic training. Such an achievement is unheard of in the contemporary scholarly world and is indisputable testimony of his intellect.
While Harmen Mesker has not published in traditional scholarly venues, he is well-known in the field of Yi studies, at the very least because of the intellectual dialogues he has maintained with leaders in the field. I personally cited him in my own recent translation of the Zhouyi (Harrassowitz, 2015), and consulted his work on Jing Fang’s bagong “Eight Palaces” system in my book on Ancient Chinese Divination (Hawaii, 2008). Mesker’s online “Translation Notes” are enlightening, and Yijing aficionados worldwide eagerly await additions to his website. We are fortunate that Harmen Mesker has chosen to share his substantial knowledge with practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine in the West. I recommend him without qualification.”
– Stephen L. Field, J.K. and Ingrid Lee Endowed Professor of Chinese Language and Literature
Director, East Asian Studies at Trinity (EAST) Program Center for International Engagement, Trinity University, San Antonio

Click here to see a detailed list of the weekly lessons and their content

Lesson 1

The practice of divination

  • the importance of chance, resonance, synchronicity or whatever you call it
  • rules (there are no rules)
  • background of the coin method

The structure and application of the hexagram (1): trigrams

  • trigrams
  • meanings & associations of each trigram
  • inner/outer position
  • application
  • examples

Lesson 2

The structure and application of the hexagram (2)

  • dongyao 動爻: moving lines
  • what they don’t do (form a one-way street to the zhigua 之卦)
  • how moving lines change the trigram that they are part of, which brings us to…
  • moving (unbalanced) trigrams
  • the meaning of unbalanced trigrams
  • how to regain balance in the trigram

Lesson 3

The structure and application of the hexagram (3): trigram circles

  • trigram circles
    • xiantianbagua 先天八卦, its (young) date, origin & history (not directly related to the Yijing)
    • houtianbagua 後天八卦, its (old) age & history (directly related to the Yijing)
      • Shifa 筮法 manuscript
        • linear trigram sequence in the Shifa manuscript = houtian bagua sequence
      • additional meanings of the trigrams derived from the houtian bagua
        • seasons
        • day & night
        • compass points
        • other associations

 Lesson 4

The structure and application of the hexagram (4): nuclear trigrams & baoti 包體

  • hugua 互卦: nuclear trigrams and their obstructions
  • difference between upper & lower nuclear trigram
  • application
  • baoti 包體, ‘enveloping trigrams’ that obstruct the qualities of the nuclear trigrams
    • qualities of trigrams as baoti
    • when ‘base trigrams’ are also baoti trigrams and what that could mean
  • when nuclear trigrams fit the question/situation but they are obstructed (e.g. ‘starting a new business’ but nuclear trigram Thunder (=’starting’) is blocked)

Lesson 5

Moving lines revisited

  • structure of the lines
  • meanings & associations and how to apply them
  • how to deal with multiple moving lines

Lesson 6

The structure and application of the hexagram (5): the sancai 三才

  • Heaven, Man & Earth: a short history of meaning & usage of sancai
  • Meaning and application of the sancai
  • Sancai in a trigram
  • Sancai in a hexagram
  • Line relationships seen through the sancai (1st is connected to 4th ; 3rd is connected to 6th etc.)
  • Moving lines & sancai

Lesson 7

 Putting all info & insights together

  • How to find what is essential
  • Suggestions for reading material

Lesson 8

  • Q&A
  • Discussion of examples from students
  • Round-up

Registration Form

What extra topics would you like to see covered in the course?

Please click here for our cancellation policy.
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