I Ching Modern Quilt-along: Week 4 ~ Asking


Your I Ching Modern Quilt will evolve out of a series of conversations with the I Ching. Hillary Barrett describes the nature of these conversations in her introduction to I Ching: Walking Your Path, Creating Your Future:

The I Ching is an oracle: something that speaks. It is a voice in a conversation, and you can talk with it (or what speaks through it) as you would with a wise friend or mentor.

Talking with an oracle is called divination. When you divine, you listen attentively to hear the question you are asking, the oracle’s answer, and your own response of recognition. Divination offers a quiet refuge for listening, a place where your inner guidance comes into resonance with present truth.

The I Ching will not tell you what to do or deny your free will by predicting the future. It gives you insight into the present moment – and who is to say how much of the future is contained within that?

These conversations unfold through a process of ASKING the question or OPENING the channel with a question, CASTING the coins or CONNECTING to the response through synchronicity in the casting of coins, and READING the answer  or INTEGRATING the answer by resonating with the text. Because of the amount of information involved, I will cover the divination process in three separate posts.

Opening, connecting, integrating, and then translating the conversation or divination into a quilt block will eventually take place in one sitting. Over time you will have enough “conversations” to create the entire quilt.

If you are itching to sew, I ask for patience while laying the ground for the inner work of the I Ching Modern Quilt-along. It’s not just about making a pretty quilt. It’s also an opportunity to explore your creative process!


The first step is opening to the divination process by asking the I Ching a question. Your question will define what you will be listening for in the response.

There are no rules about what to ask but some questions work better than others, making it easier for you to interpret the I Ching’s response. Again I quote Susan Barrett from I Ching: Walking Your Path, Creating Your Future:

The help you can receive from a reading depends strongly on your question. The clearer you are about what you’re asking, the easier you’ll find it to understand and connect with the response.

Before you phrase the question, immerse yourself in it: alow yourself time to recognize all the issues, hopes and fears involved. Form an intention for the reading: what would you like to change? A decision made, movement closer to a goal, being more at peace with a situation? Then ask as directly as possible for the help you need.

There are three basic questions you could ask, which cover almost everything:

  • What’s happening? (insight)
  • What can I do? How can I respond creatively? (advise)
  • What if I tried doing this? What if I continue on the same as before? (prediction)

There is a fourth question, a quieter approach of simply opening yourself to whatever the universe has to tell you in this moment:

  • What do I need to be aware of now?

There are also two kinds of question that are best avoided:

  • Asking for a yes or no response.
  • Asking about two alternatives in one question.

So instead of asking ‘Will this happen?’ ask ‘What can I expect?’ and instead of asking ‘Should I do this?’ ask ‘What if I do this?’

Before beginning your conversation with the I Ching, sit quietly in your creative space and listen for questions related to your work at hand. You can ask the I Ching questions about your day-to-day life as well, but I will primarily focus my questions on my creative process. Here are a few for example:

  • How can I move past procrastination in my studio today?
  • What will happen if I continue to simplify this improvisation?
  • I’m bored with this palette, how can I make it more interesting?
  • Why is it important for me to control the outcome of this project?
  • How can I let go of my vision for this project and let it take its own course?
  • How can I jump-start my creative ambition?
  • How is my creative ambition related to my professional ambition?
  • What would happen if I submitted my work to this show?
  • How can I overcome this rejection?
  • What have I learned from this project?
  • How will I know when this improvisation is complete?
  • I’ve just wrapped up a project what’s next?

And the list can go on and on… You get the idea!


Last week we were GATHERING materials for the quilt-along.

Your task this week is to practice opening yourself to divination, by creating a quiet refuge and listening to your essential creative questions as they arise.

Sit quietly, either before or after working on your current project, and allow questions about your process in general, or specifically about your project, to filter into awareness. Jot some of them down, or journal in a free sort of way to see what bubbles up.

Next week we will be learning about casting coins and the synchronicity CASTING coins and connecting our questions to the I Ching’s response.

I’ll be posting new segments of the quilt-along on Mondays. Subscribe to the RSS feed here: I Ching Modern Quilt-along.

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