Thanks for the post. Since you and I know something about Four Pillars astrology, it may be useful to offer here a very brief introduction, in case some readers might like to know something more about Chinese astrology than the “Year of the Snake,” kind of approach, which is synonymous with our Sun-sign astrology here in the West. To the Chinese astrologer, knowing that I was born in the Year of the Snake is a very minor part of the overall picture, yet that is all that most westerners know about the topic. Here is a little more.
Chinese astrology/astronomy was practiced at least as early as the time of the Yellow Emperor (Huang Di), around 2700 BC to 2150 BC, during which times imperial astronomers advised the emperor by observing and charting the movements of the heavens. Throughout history Chinese medicine, astrology, geomancy (Feng Shui) were interdependent and practiced as one science. All in all what is called “Wu Shu” (the Five Arts) interconnected consisted of feng-shui, medicine, Destiny, divination, and physiognomy. The Four Pillars are part of the Destiny or Ming Xue studies.
BaZi (pronounced ‘Baa- Z’ in Mandarin and Bhat-Zhi in Cantonese) translates as the ‘eight characters’, four pairs or pillars of two characters each. These are the ‘Four Pillars of Destiny’ as they are often called here in the West or just the “Four Pillars.” BaZi can be traced back to the Period of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 A.D.) and most authorities credit Grand Master Xu Zi Ping as its founding father.
These four pillars of destiny are none other than the year, month, day, and hour of birth of an individual or event, so this concept is not very different from Western astrology ideas, except that the actual methods of BaZi astrology are quite different from modern Western astrology.
If we had to sum up what BaZi or Four Pillar astrology is all about in a single word, that word would be “balance.” It is pretty much axiomatic in Chinese metaphysical studies that nothing is good, of value, or “works” that is not balanced. Balance is the key to unlocking one’s destiny as coded in the Four Pillars - the hour, day, month, and year of birth.
The Four Pillars: Ten Heavenly Stems
The natal BaZi chart consists of four columns or pillars, each column containing two characters, one above the other. The uppermost character is termed the “Ten Heavenly Stems” and consists of one of the five element combinations along with its polarity (Yin or Yang). And example would be “Yang Wood.”
The lower character is known as the “Earthly Branch,” which consists of one of the twelve Chinese animals plus its particular element combination. A typical BaZi chart might look like this:
The Heavenly Stems (element combinations) always show what is going on outside, on the surface, the circumstances that an individual finds him or herself embedded in – the personality. There are ten heavenly stems, two sets of the five Chinese elements (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth), each with a male and female polarity. Therefore there is a Yin Earth stem and a Yang Earth stem, ‘yin’ representing the female mode and ‘yang’ representing the ‘male’ mode. Please don’t confuse these yin and yang (female and male) polarities with male and female bodies. They are different.
The Four Pillars: Twelve Earthly Branches
The twelve Earthly Branches are the twelve animals that are used in Chinese astrology, but the meanings are not identical, so don’t assume that if you were born in the “Year of the Mouse” that those descriptions carry over here. Here the twelve animals are not referring to those born in a particular year. Even the Chinese words for these twelve animals are different when we are referring to the twelve animals of the Earthly Branches.
[branches are does for the five elements and their yin and yang manifestations]
We can think of the Ten Heavenly Stems as leaves on a tree and the Twelve Earthly Branches as the branches or roots from which those leaves grow. The stems are external, outside, and visible; the branches are internal, inside, and mostly invisible. The branches are where the stems get their juice. The Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) flows from the branches up to the stems, just like strength flows from the ground through the root to the leaves of a tree. The effect of the branch is always considered stronger than that of the stem. Each of the four pillars consists of a stem on top with a branch below supporting it. BaZi or Four Pillar astrology is all about the balance of the stem and branch in each pillar and how the pillars interact with each other and with external factors.
Here is a screen shot of a program I wrote that does Four Pillars astrology. This screen shot has a lot more information that we could go into here, but it will give you an idea of the complexity. I like graphics, so I designed sixty cards for the sexagenary cycle of animal/elements. As mentioned, these four pillars stand (reading from right to left) as the Year, the Month, the Day, and the Hour.
The Day Master
The Day Master (Day Pillar, second pillar from left) is related to your birthday and relates to the movement of the Sun. Chinese astrology interprets the solar day (just like Western astrology) as relating to you, yourself, and the Self, in general. Your Day Master is the key to Four Pillar astrology. For example, my Day Master is “Yin Fire.”
As my Day Master says I am a fire person, the traditional interpretation would be something like “You tend to be filled with enthusiasm, which you have no problem sharing with others, perhaps in an inspiring and energy-filled manner. Etc.
Day Master Strength
Day Masters come in two main types, strong and weak. In Four Pillars analysis, ‘strong” does not mean ‘macho,” and “weak” does not mean you are a “weakling,” but the two terms do have specific meanings.
Strong Day Master
A strong Day Master requires different care and feeding that a weak day master. Strong day masters don’t need outside support and too much nurturing. In fact, too much nurture or support for the strong day master will actually weaken them, make them lazy, and cause them to not measure up to their potential. The strong day master is actually strengthened by adversity and challenge, which causes them to measure up. It galvanizes them. In other words, the strong day master thrives on hard times rather than is beaten back by them.
Weak Day Master
A weak Day Master, on the other hand, does not thrive on adversity and actually does need outside support and encouragement. The weak day master lacks some elemental strength that it must get from friends, parents, and (in general) a supportive environment. Given that support and the balance it provides, the weak day master can easily handle whatever life throws and him or her. Those with a weak day master should not be ashamed to seek and accept help and support, as it is natural to them.
Yin Fire: Strong Day Master
If you have a strong Day Master, this suggests that you are naturally confident and have sufficient strength and resources to face the outside world with very little assistance. In fact too much support and nurturing from friends, family, and the outside will only harm your chances for success. You grow stronger from being challenged and from adversity in general, not weakened. Too much support can make you lazy and weak.
The Lucky Element
In Four Pillars astrology, it is all about balance as in ‘elemental balance’. Too many or too few of a particular element makes that element equally out of balance. The idea is that in order to progress or move forward one has to achieve balance. If you have too many of a particular element, youhave to dial that element back, if too few, then find ways to create or supplement that element.
In Chinese astrology, whichever of the five elements we have fewest of is termed our “Lucky Element,” which is not typical of how we think here in the West where having a whole bunch of something (like money) is usually considered lucky. In Four Pillars astrology, perfect balance is the preferred way to move on with our life and until we achieve that balance we are going virtually nowhere, although we may seem to be moving.
For this reason it is important for each of us to locate our Lucky Number and consider how we can increase it so that we can achieve true balance and thereby move forward.
In my case, my Lucky Element is “Water,” so that whenever life sends me the water element, I become balanced, and bloom or make progress. Water turns the wheel of progress in my life.
It is also valuable to take a look at our overall five-element balance, adding up all of the elements in our Four Pillars, including elements in what are called our “Hidden Stems.” There are two main ways to do this, one of which is simply adding up the various elements are examining the totals for each of the five elements.
However, in traditional Four Pillars astrology, not all pillars and the various elements connected to them are treated equally. Some are more important than others and so these important elements need to have a score weighted in their favor. These weighted element scores can be quite different than simply adding up elements and are usually what Four Pillar masters want to examine.
Favorable and Unfavorable
Each one of us has favorable and unfavorable elements and the areas of life they control or relate to. This depends on whether we have a ‘strong” or a ‘weak” Day Master and we have mentioned this earlier in this report.
While this study is too complex to do justice in this very brief introduction, the general idea is that when looking at a Four Pillars chart, we look to the season of the birth (Month Pillar) and then can determine the strength of the Day Master (Day Pillar), and that pillar is then related to the four other pillars, but most of all to the cycle of the five elements, which depending on their position in the various cycles indicate our Creativity, Wealth, Influence, Resource, and Friends factors.
Since this is complex, I am going to try to do something that may not be all that easy to use. What follows are part of a Four Pillars report that I wrote, which has not yet been released to the public, but will give you a good idea of what a natal Four Pillars reports looks like This should give you a clear picture of how Four Pillars astrology might be interesting and useful.
If you have the patience to scroll through the above report, you will have a fair idea of what Four Pillars astrology is all about. I have found it not only fascinating, but also very accurate. It is a whole other kind of astrology for those of us living in the west and an addition, independent, and unique perspective on who we are, which is what astrology is all about.