The concepts of the I Ching were first conceived by Fu Hsi, a legendary Chinese emperor and sage. Initially its wisdom was consulted only by emperors who lived in somewhat troubled times. Later on the wisdom it produced became more readily accessible to others. The I Ching became the basis for other practices such as Chinese astrology, medicine, feng shui and tai chi.
China's Taoist philosophy is one of the great philosophies and the I Ching embodies its quintessential essence. It takes the view that everything in the universe is connected and is part of an ongoing cycle. Based on the observation of natural forces the I Ching explains the patterns and rhythms of our existence.
Chinese philosophy holds that there is a strong life force, called chi (or ki or qui) flows around every living and inanimate object. Chi is generated by the interaction of two opposing primal forces known as yin (feminine) and yang (masculine). Both forms of energy are necessary for life to exist and Chinese philosophers consider the flow of nature and life to be the constant balancing of the yin and yang energies.
The I Ching consists of sixty-four binary-based hexagrams. Each hexagram is made from two trigrams. There are eight possible trigrams which are formed from all the possible combinations for yin and yang. The top trigram represents what is happening in the celestial world and the bottom trigram represents what is happening in our world.