I Ching (易經) is an ancient form of Chinese cosmology and philosophy. In the world of Dark Shadows, it is the oldest known form of divination and mysticism – written in China long before the time of Confucius. According to Professor Timothy Eliot Stokes, the practice of I Ching is also one of the most dangerous forms of existential exploration.
Practitioners of I Ching can reach a higher state of being through the use of six I Ching wands. Each wand, measuring approximately twelve inches in length, is colored black with a white dividing line painted on the opposing side. The caster takes the wands in hands, shakes them up, and throws them upon a smooth surface, as if they were rolling a pair of dice. The placement of the wands determines the type of divination that can be called upon. Once the configuration of the wands is established, the subject enters a period of intense concentration. In their mind's eye, they picture a doorway that can lead into new worlds of experience. The subject's subconscious mind, or astral self, leaves their body and travels through the doorway. Only the caster knows whatever secrets lie beyond the doorway. Disruption of an I Ching ritual can have disastrous consequences upon the caster. The exact nature of such consequence is a matter of interpretation.
In 1969, Professor Stokes and Barnabas Collins discovered a set of I Ching wands in a drawer in the West Wing at Collinwood (700). Stokes theorized that the wands belonged to Quentin Collins, a known occultist and black sheep of the family from the 19th century; it was revealed that it was in fact Quentin Collins I who had brought the wands to Collinwood. (Speak No Evil) At that time, the ghost of Quentin Collins had haunted Collinwood and taken possession of young David Collins. Barnabas believed that the I Ching wands could establish a line of communication between himself and Quentin's angry spirit.
Against Professor Stokes better judgment, Barnabas cast the wands, creating the 49th co-hexagram – the Hexagram of Change. He then entered a trance, and through his strong willpower, created a doorway in his own subconscious mind. Beyond the door, he saw an image of his own coffin, still wrapped in chains as it had been for nearly two-hundred years. Surrendering entirely to the ritual, Barnabas' astral body passed through the doorway, traveling backwards in time to the year 1897. As Barnabas had physically existed in 1897, his spirit took root in his original body, which was still locked inside the coffin in the Collins family mausoleum. A vampire once again, Barnabas used his supernatural powers of command to summon a gypsy named Sandor Rakosi to free him.
- The I Ching wands were first introduced in episode 700.