This article explains what Plum Blossom Numerology is, how it originated, and some of the ways it can be used. I also give my example with this great method of divination.
What is Plum Blossom Numerology
Plum Blossom Numerology, known as Yi Jing Numerology or by its Chinese name Mei Hua Yi Shu, is a Chinese divination method popularized by Shao Yong in the 11th century. This is a method in which, by observing nature, animals and humans, numbers from 1 to 8 are assigned on the basis of certain characteristics, which correspond to each of the eight trigrams. Trigrams are used to use two of the 64 hexagrams from Yi Jing – the Book of Changes – the oldest oracle in the world. Characteristic of Yi Jing Numerology is that although the method itself relies on trigrams and hexagrams, in most cases it does not need to rely on the text in Yi Jing, but divines and gives an answer based on the characteristics of the trigrams and the environment. The method, as you will see, has its rules, but it is also extremely intuitive and synchronistic.
Apparatus of Plum Blossom Numerology
In my article “What is Chinese Astrology” I mention the eight trigrams. A good analogy to think of them is like the planets. Instead of the 7 planets + sphere of the fixed stars, here we have 8 trigrams / planets. These trigrams describe absolutely everything that can exist. In other words, they are part of a giant system of correspondences. Those who are interested in Yi Jing Numerology should study the significations of the trigrams as much as possible, because this is not just the basis of the method, this is the method itself. Of course, this would be extremely useful for Feng Shui, but I don’t want to deviate from the topic. The eight trigrams are arranged in two arrangements.
The Early Heaven sequence of the eight trigrams
From this sequence, only the numbers associated with / controlled by each of the trigrams are used. I added them for convenience. And so:
Heaven / Qian = 1
Lake / Dui = 2
Fire / Li = 3
Thunder / Zhen = 4
Wind / Sun = 5
Water / Kan = 6
Mountain / Gen = 7 Earth
Kun/Earth = 8
The Late Heaven Sequence of the eight trigrams
In this sequence, each of the trigrams rules a different number, but since this number is not used in Yi Jing Numerology, I have added the numbers from the Early Heaven sequence to make it easier. That is, the numbers from the Early Heaven (given here) are used, and the directions are used from the Later Heaven, as given here. That is, I have made this graphic self-sufficient.
This is the technical apparatus of Plum Blossom Numerology. The rest is observing nature, animals, people, stopping the internal dialogue and watching, listening and looking for divination signals.
The main ways of drawing hexagrams in the Plum Blossom Numerology method
The Yi Jing Numerology method consists in using the system of correspondences to assign 2 basic trigrams to certain things around us, on the basis of which a hexagram is constructed. Based on this hexagram, the nuclear 2 trigrams and the final hexagram are constructed and judgments are made on the question that has arisen.
There are about ten methods by which hexagrams are derived / constructed. I want to point out that this is a method developed in ancient China, written in ancient Chinese and using the Chinese calendar. It is absolutely mandatory to use the Chinese calendar! Otherwise, all the connections between the stems, branches, elements, etc. get lost.
Based on the date and time
This is the most commonly used method. It is the most objective, because here you simply take the year, month, day and hour and transform them numbers, trigrams and hexagrams. As a potential disadvantage is that if its original version is applied, this method covers only 1/16 of the possible options of hexagrams and lines. I will give an example with this method later.
Based on numbers and the hour of divination
Here the number of something + the hour of divination are used to build the hexagram. For example you may suddenly see 7 dogs or 7 birds. 7 corresponds to the trigram Mountain / Gen.
Based on sounds and the hour of divination
The sounds may be the roar of animals. Or it could be the number of times someone knocks on your door. The hour of divination is also used to construct the hexagram.
Based on something written or a phone number
Divination can be made on the basis of the text of a note, or on the basis of the telephone number of a person who calls you. The time of divination is also used.
Based on sizes: meters and centimeters
It can be divined based on the size of clothes or objects in meters and centimeters (the Chinese use their unit of measurement, the Americans and the British are of course welcome to use their system of feet and inches).
Based on people based on voice, colours, eye colour, objects, clothes, age, which part of their body people move
As you can see, you can perform fortune-telling on almost anything. The context is decisive in any divination system. That is, the fact that a person’s eyes caught your attention does not mean that this will be the case next time. It does not mean that this person will be in a similar situation (s/he will not be), nor will s/he be dressed in the same clothes and so on.
Based on objects that a person holds
Again, this creates a unique context, in a unique hour, that describes a unique situation obtained through this kind of divination.
Based on the surrounding landscape
Here the options are limited only by the fortune teller’s knowledge of nature and the connections he/she knows or can make. You can do divination on everything, because Nature reflects everything. But you can’t always perform fortune-telling, you have to catch the moment. I’ll show you later with the sparrows and Shao Yung.
Based on animals and trees
Here you can calculate the length of life or get information about the animal or tree in question.
Based on vesels, objects and things
Here you can calculate the service life of a vessel or object. Yes, even inanimate objects obey the law of numbers and nature.
Shao Yong and the origin of the Plum Blossom Numerology method
Shao Yong is one of the most famous metaphysicians in the history of China. Living in the 11th century, he was so fascinated by the Yi Jing that he began to neglect the rest of his pursuits. When his body was cold or hot, he neglected what he needed in order to focus on revealing the secrets of Yi Jing. Despite years of effort, he failed to decode the Yi Jing until through fate and synronycity the book of a recently deceased sage came into his Shao’s hands after the sage had bequeated it to him. When Shao got hold of the book, he had incredible insights and later popularized the system we call Plum Blossom Numerology by writing a book of 3 scrolls about this ancient method of divination.
The two fighting sparrows and Shao’s prediction on the plum blossom
In the year of the Dragon, in the 12th lunar month, on the 17th day of this lunar month, in the hour of the Monkey, Shao was enjoying the plum blossoms and noticed how 2 sparrows began to fight on one branch. A moment or two later, he saw the two sparrows fall from the plum branch and started contemplating. He knew that when things are at rest, one cannot perform fortune-telling. But when there is sudden activity, there is reason to do fortune-telling. It is really strange how both sparrows fell together with the branch on the ground. There must be some special reason for this, thought Shao.
So Shao used the date and time method to construct the hexagram.
He took the year of the Dragon (number 5, as the cycle begins with Rat 1, Ox 2, etc.), the 12th month (Tiger 1, Rabbit 2, Dragon 3 and Ox = 12) and the 17th day
since the start of the Chinese lunar calendar month. Adding 5 + 12 + 17 = 34. We take out eights until there is a remainder or 0. If it is 0 = 8 = Earth / Kun. In this case we subtract 4 eights from 34 and 2 remains = Lake / Dui ☱. This is the top trigram. To get the lower trigram, Shao added the time of divination (Monkey hour = 9, since we start with Rat 1, Ox 2, as with the year). 34 +9 = 43. We take out 5 eights and there are 3 left = Fire / Li ☲ – the lower trigram. Thus one receives a hexagram with Lake on top of Fire. Checking the table I made it shows that this is a hexagram 49.
To calculate the changing line, we add the numbers from the first and second trigrams and divide them by 6, because there are 6 possible lines. That is, 34 + 9 = 43: 6 = we take out seven 6s and there is 1 = line 1. Thus we construct hexagram 49 with the changing line 1. The nuclear trigrams are lines 2-3-4 and 3-4-5. The new hexagram is 31, as the lower trigram of hexagram 49 with changing line 1 changes from Fire to Mountain. Thus the chart becomes the following:
As a result of this figure, Shao Yong predicted that a young girl would come the next evening to pick the plum blossom, would be spotted by the elderly gardener, would be frightened, would fall to the ground and injure her leg. Fortunately, the girl’s injury would not be serious and the girl would recover. Everything happened as Shao predicted. Since then, this method has been called Plum Blossom Numerology, or Yi Jing Numerology.
How did Shao manage to make such an amazingly accurate prediction based on 2 sparrows who suddenly started fighting on a plum blossom branch and fell to the ground with the branch? Shao achieved this only on the basis of his complete knowledge of the symbols of the eight trigrams.
Ti and Yong trigrams
First you need to know that there are 2 main types of trigrams in a hexagram. One is Ti and the other is Yong. Ti is translated as the subject trigram, or as the body trigram. In practice, Ti shows the asking party or the party that is affected / playing a role.
Yong is translated as the function trigram, the object trigram, the fate trigram. In practice, Yong shows what one is asking about. The trigram that remains unchanged, that is, the one does not have the changing line, is always Ti / the body or subject trigram. The trigram that contains the changing line is Yong / the object/fate/function trigram/the trigram of what is being asked about.
Analysis of Shao Yong’s prediction for the girl who would pick the plum blossom and fall from the tree
The above is always valid for Ti and Yong. The point is that when it comes to spontaneous divination, like Shao’s case with the sparrows, the boundaries can blur a little between Ti and Yong. The Ti/subject/body trigram is Lake and one of the significations of this trigram is a young girl. Because the trigram Fire is present, which destroys the trigram Lake (element Metal), this indicates that the girl would get hurt. Because the Heaven trigram (Metal element) is in the nuclear trigrams, it indicates an older man who would see the girl. Since the trigram Wind (element Wood) is in the nuclear trigrams, and it rules the legs and is weakened by the Fire and destroyed by the Metal, this indicates that the girl would fall and injure her leg. Because the Mountain trigram (the Earth element that produces the girl’s Metal element) is obtained in the final trigram, this indicates that her injury will not be serious and she will recover easily.
The old man who will get hurt in 5 days
One morning Shao came across an old man walking in the direction of southeast. He had a sad expression on his face. Shao asked him the reason for this sadness. The old man replied that there was no reason. Shao decided to perform divination using the second approach of this method. I mean, in the first approach, the numbers on the basis of which the trigrams are calculated are first displayed, and in this approach, the trigrams are derived directly from the situation. Since divination concerns an old man, the above trigram is Heaven ☰. Since the direction in which the old man is going is southeast, the lower trigram is Wind ☴. (See the directions table above). Because this happened during a Rabbit’s hour (5-7 in the morning local apparent time = 4th hour of the day after Rat, Ox, Tiger), Shao added the hour. That is, we have 1 + 5 + 4 = 10. Taking out 6, the remainder is 4 = the 4th changing line. This gives the following figure:
Hexagram 44 is called Encounter, Meeting, Encountering, Coming to Meet.
The trigram without the changing line is the subject trigram/Ti, that is, the old man, and the trigram with the changing line is Yong / the object/function/fate trigram. That is, the old man is represented by the trigram Wind with the element Wood. The Wood is destroyed by the other trigram Heaven, with the element Metal. This gives one misfortune.
In the nuclear trigrams, the Wood receives no help and is destroyed twice by the trigram Heaven, which is Metal. This gives a second misfortune.
The old man’s sad look gives a third misfortune.
In this second method, the final hexagram is not looked at, but the text of the Yi Jing is checked. In the translation of Jack Balkin’s text for hexagram 44, line 4 reads:
“There are no fish in the wrapper. This gives rise to misfortune.”
Other translators give a “bag” instead of a wrapper. But all translations have this line in hexagram 44 as unfortunate.
The translation by Richard Wilhelm / Carrie Baines gives:
“No fish in the tank. That leads to misfortune. ”
That is, we have 4 indications of an unfortunate outcome. Because the old man was walking, not lying or sitting, this hastened the event. It is displayed by adding the main trigrams of the original hexagram + the changing line. In this case we have 1 + 5 + 4 = 10, but because the old man was on the move we divide by 2 = 10: 2 = 5. This is 5 units of time. In this case it is days. Shao told the old man to be very careful in his contacts with the outside world for the next 5 days. The old man said he was careful anyway and left.
Five days passed and he was invited to a banquet, where he met new people. Note the name of the hexagram is Meeting, Encounter, Coming to Meet. They fed him fish there. A bone got stuck in his throat and he died. Notice the text in the Yi Jing. Some fortune tellers point out that the phrase “there is no fish in the wrapper / bag / tank” indicates that when the fish is removed, the bones remain. The old man had to be careful with fish because of the Ying Jing text.
It seems really mysterious that he should die, but the indications of misfortune are as many as 4 and there is not a single one to mitigate this misfortune.
A personal example of the power of the Plum Blossom Numerology method
B is a friend of mine who is interested in Chinese Metaphysics. B had a question of great importance to her. It was about a sum money she had to receive and whether she would get the amount she deserved. After I told her about the classic coin toss method and how to apply it, she concentrated carefully on her question, tossed the 3 coins six times and wrote down what she got. She received hexagram 64 with changing line 4 and final hexagram 4. B read the text on Yi Jing from several translators, but it was not very clear, and it talked about it happening only after 3 “years”. It was too long. She got discouraged. Since her question was obviously of great importance to her, and since she had asked sincerely, I suggested to B that I use the Plum Blossom Numerology method with the hexagram she had obtained. B’ s face brightened and she waited patiently for my analysis.
The trigram without the changing line is Ti and represents B. This is the trigram Water, and the trigram with the changing line is Fire and represents the finances that B asks for.
An important rule of thumb is that once established, Ti and Yong retain their place in the nuclear trigrams and the final hexagram. It can be seen that Water destroys/ controls the Fire in the original hexagram. This is excellent and shows that B is in a stronger position compared to the people giving the money. In the nuclear trigrams, however, showing the middle development of the situation, B is represented by Fire and the people by Water. That is, B is a weaker position in the middle stage. The final hexagram shows how things will end. In it B is represented by the trigram Water, and the people giving the money are represented by the trigram Mountain, with the element Earth. That is, the trigram of B is destroyed in the final stage. Does this mean that she will certainly not receive the money she deserves?
The answer is that other factors need to be considered and it remains to be seen whether they will confirm this conclusion or even completely change it. One of the most important is the energy of the cosmos. It is visible from the year, month, day and time of asking the question. Here is the chart for Wednesday, January 27, 2021. for 10 o’clock in the evening, when B asked his question:
It can be seen that the chart is overflowing with Water: the branches of the year, day and time are Rat and 2 Pigs – the element Water. The month is the most powerful energy and it is the Ox, which is Earth. The question is whether this Ox combines with the Rat and the two Pigs to form a Winter Seasonal combination for the Water element. If so, then B will receive 100% of the amount due. If not, then it is in danger and more likely she will not get it, at least not in full.
The other key factor to check is location, direction and weather. B is in Ruse – a city in the North – the direction with the element Water, which strengthens her trigram. Ruse is on the huge river Danube – which gives more of the element Water. On top of that, it was snowing outside when she asked the question, something I immediately noticed. Snow belongs to the element Water. That is, there is triple support for B.’s trigram.
Drawing the conclusion, the trigram Water of B received incredible support from the cosmos, from location, direction and from the weather. It remained to be seen whether the Ox was forming the winter seasonal combination. However, the water was so much that it was certainly defeating Fire and Earth. Also, it should be borne in mind that the most important thing is the state of the trigrams in the original hexagram, not in the final one. That is, in the case of Water vs. Fire.
My final prediction was that B was more likely to get the money she deserved. As for timing, that is, when she can expect this, the trigram Water rules the number 6. Based on common sense, the units of time are months or weeks. The prediction was that she would receive her money 6 months after asking the question. However, when she was called on Pig Day (Water supporting her trigram Water), I suggested that she go the next day because it was Rat (Water supporting her trigram). She went and was told that she would be called next week and told the end result. That’s what happened to her. Next week she was called and told that she would get all the money she deserved. This happened 44 days after the question was asked = 6 weeks +2 days. B was understandably in seventh heaven with joy and very impressed with the Plum Blossom Numerology method.
Conclusion on the Plum Blossom Numerology method and some topics for which it can be applied
I have been practicing Yi Jing Numerology for almost 1 year and I am extremely impressed. What is shared here is a small part of what I have found. I have further developed my knowledge of the eight trigrams and the 64 hexagrams. And Yi Jing Numerology brings man closer to Nature again and returns the focus inward. Plum Blossom Numerology contains methods for studying the language of animals, birds and wind, as they can also be used for divination. That is, it is a natural science of the highest kind.
The Yi Jing Numerology method can be used for:
for court cases;
to predict the sex of a baby;
for meetings and visits;
for trade / business;
to achieve wealth;
for real estate;
to implement plans;
for lost objects or animals;
for achieving career fame;
for travel and journeys;
to determine what food is on the table.
For those who want to know more about the method, there are handful of books in English. I like the book “Tao of I Ching – Way to Divination” by Jou Tsung Hua. It has a whole chapter on Yi Jing Numerology, which includes some examples of Shao, including the one about the old man. It also contains the much needed philosophy to practise this ancient wisdom. The book I would recommend is The Authentic I Ching – The Three Classic Methods of Prediction by Wang Yang and Jon Sandiffer.
My usual thanks for the links to one of my favorite sites for free pictures: