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Season 4

Episode 20: “The Modern I Ching Oracle”: a conversation with Catherine Pilfrey

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

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Catherine Pilfrey returns to the podcast to talk about her new creation: The I Ching Oracle card deck: a 64-card illustrated deck and guidebook. Catherine Pilfrey is a designer, and meditation teacher who has been consulting the I Ching Oracle for 25 years. We start talking about the death of Norman Lear and increasingly long life spans for some people.

jim Catherine Pilfrey Lionel Cassin

Catherine talks about the process of creating the deck, and her own experience using the I Ching in the past. She mentions the original methods of yarrow sticks and coins and how the cards are different. Catherine says she was inpspired by the book, The Laws of Change by Jack M. Balkin, who says that the method is unimportant.

Jim asks about the origins of the Book of Changes, and Catherine first mentions Richard Wilhelm, who did the first English/German Translation. Catherine says it pre-existed Confucious but that he added a moral quality to the augur method. In buddhism, Chögyam Trungpa was interested in the I Ching, and it was embraced by many of his students. Lionel talks about Philip K. Dick’s use of the I Ching and yarrow sticks in The Man In The High Castle. Lionel mentions a game/puzzle called House of Cards by the Eames Brothers, and Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies as welll as an article sent to us by Sarah Elkins espousing a theory that the I Ching was created to prevent human sacrifice in ancient China.

Catherine describes the hexagrams and their parts. She tells a story about how she consulted the I Ching for the first time to decide what to do in a relationship that was going south. Jim interrupts with a difficulty he's currently having during the recording of the podcast, and Catherine picks a card for him to decide whether he needs to end the podcast and deal with the issue, or keep going. He gets the answer, and the podcast continues. Catherine talks about how the I Ching can strengthen our confidence in our own inner wisdom.