4 Pillars


Chinese Astrology, BaZi and Tung Shu, The Chinese Almanac:

Before considering the Chinese almanac (tōng shū, 通书), it is first necessary to have a basic understanding of the five Elements and the Flying Stars

In the practice of Flying Stars, beneficial and prosperous stars are encouraged and supported by using the Cycle of Birth of the Five Elementary energies. Harmful influences are drained or weakened by using the Destructive Cycle. For example, the trouble and misfortune of star 5 is drained by introducing Metal energy in form of a metal wind chime.

In the Chinese almanac, each year, month and day is represented by two characters, written one above the other. The one on top represents one of the ten “heavenly stems” (tiān gān, 天干), and the one underneath one of the twelve “earthly branches” (dì shī, 地支). They are both associated with one of the five elements and the latter with one of the cycle of twelve animals (shí’èr shēng xiào, 十二生肖). For example, the year 2005 is Wood-Rooster. Wood indicates the heavenly stem and Rooster (associated with metal) is the earthly branch. The twelve earthly branches are commonly known by the names of the twelve Chinese animal signs (often described as the Chinese zodiac). These two sets are listed below:

10 Heavenly Stems:

8 Triagrams, 12 Animals and LoShu

Lo-Shu and the 12 branches from an old Tibetan painting

Yang Wood – jiǎ, 甲
Yin Wood – yǐ, 乙
Yang Fire – bǐng;, 丙
Yin Fire – dīng, 丁
Yang Earth – wù, 戊
Yin Earth – jǐ, 己
Yang Metal – gēng, 庚
Yin Metal – xīn, 辛
Yang Water – rén, 壬
Yin Water – guǐ, 癸

12 Earthly Branches:

Mouse(Water) – zǐ, 子
Ox (Earth) – chǒu, 丑
Tiger (Wood) – yín, 寅
Rabbit (Wood) – mǎo, 卯
Dragon (Earth) – chén, 辰
Snake (Fire) – sì, 巳
Horse (Fire) – wǔ, 午
Goat (Earth) – wèi, 未
Monkey (Metal) – shēn, 申
Rooster (Metal) – yǒu, 酉
Dog (Earth) – xū, 戌
Pig (Water) – hài, 亥

As a system of astrology, the use of four pairs of such characters is often called the Four Pillars of Destiny (sì zhù suàn mìng, 四柱算命). When considering the astrology of an individual, for example, one considers the pillar for each of the hour, day, month and year of birth of the subject. The eight characters in these four pairs are analysed according to laws governing the five elements and their interactions.

A person’s childhood, whether this will be happy or unhappy, their relationships and possible timing of marriage, whether their spouse will be supportive or not, the relationship with their children, major health issues, and even the shape of the face and the body can be interpreted from these eight characters.

For example, a predominance of the Water element in the heavenly stems should indicate a thin face/upper body, and a predominance of the Earth element often manifests in a muscular body. In terms of health, too weak or too strong a Fire element is often associated with heart problems. Too many Earth elements are often found in the charts of diabetics.

Besides these 8 characters, there are also the 10-year Luck Pillars, derived from the month pillar. These help to yield a more detailed interpretation.

10-year Luck Pillars also consist of two characters. The element on top and at the bottom each represent 5 years. The years the luck pillars change, every 10 or 5 years, often corresponds with a major event like moving house or changing work. This all may sound simple. But it takes years of practice, even most of a lifetime, to perfect an understanding of the Four Pillars of Destiny. However, I find it very useful to incorporate some essential information from the Four Pillars of Destiny in Feng Shui Practice.

For example, if a person’s chart has too much Water, one could recommend the generous use of plants in the house and green or blue as wall colours. If the person is planning to move, I would suggest a woody area. All these measures introduce the Wood element in order to drain the excessive Water and bring more balance to the life of the person in question. A partner, with the much needed element of Wood, or even better, with a strong Wood luck-pillar, would be very useful here as well!       A's seal