The pillars of a different type of astrology

Most people know the animal sign in Chinese astrology that rules their birth year, probably because at some point they ate at a Chinese restaurant and amused themselves figuring out their sign from the place mats. Following on the Chinese New Year letter for 2021, it may be of interest to know, however, there is more than one indicator in Chinese astrology other than one’s birth year. There is a system in what is known as Chinese astrology (there are many different types of Chinese astrology) called BaZi Sen Sha, or the Four Pillars of Destiny. What this means is there are four ‘pillars’, or indicators, in one’s Chinese birth chart, not just the Year Pillar (comprised of the animal and the element or color). There are also pillars for the month, day and the hour of one’s birth, reflecting what we have in Western astrology. What is called ‘Chinese astrology’ is actually a complex system of numerology and doesn’t use planets or stars at all, but there are parallels between the two systems, East and West. But what interests us here is the Chinese system, which is prevalent across the whole of the East. So, if you want to know more about your other three ‘Pillars of Destiny’ and what it all means, read on.

Before we start, go to this page, if you don’t know your other three pillars, pen and paper at hand, and enter your birth data. There is no data saved on the site and you don’t even have to enter your name. The data you enter will calculate you four pillars. Once you have those, this is what they represent, and then well will go into some background:

  • The Year Pillar: one’s ancestors, grandparents, one’s connection and interaction with the wider world, and one’s world view. It also shows the character of one’s life from the time of birth to 16 years of age.
  • The Month Pillar: One’s immediate family, including parents, aunts, uncles and siblings. This also tells a lot about one’s primary conditioning and family heritage. That also points to genetic predispositions, which are outlined in a post to follow, under the heading ‘Heavenly Doctor’. This is the ‘age of growth pillar’ and shows the character of life from ages 17 – 32.
  • The Day Pillar: This is perhaps the most important of the pillars, because it represents you, the self. It also relates to one’s partner, but more on that later. This is also a health pillar, but as you will see later, almost everything in the four pillars and related ‘stars’ is referenced back to the day pillar. This is one’s character in adulthood, covering the ages 33 – 48.
  • The Hour Pillar: One’s children, grandchildren, creative output and legacy. This covers the character of one’s life from the ages of 49 – 64, one’s ‘golden years’.

Sometimes we see mention of two other pillars, making a total of six pillars. Those two are the Minute Pillar, calculated from the Hour Pillar, and the Conception Pillar, counted backwards 9 months from the Month Pillar. The Minute Pillar relates to a person’s late life and retirement, from age 65 to passing to the Heavenly Fields. You can get the calculation for that pillar HERE. The Conception Pillar, on the other hand, is prenatal and relates to the essence of a person – one’s inner qualities, untainted by family and environment. We will not deal with those two extra pillars here.

Rarely, one will see even mention of eight pillars, the two extra being the ‘Life Pillar’ and the ‘Conception Aura’ Pillar. The Life Pillar is used sometimes to calculate the time of death. But in general, it refers to the influence of one’s ancestors and gives a peek into one’s career path (in the old days one’s ancestors had a big bearing on the career). To find the Life Pillar, though, one will need a little more information.

The four primary Pillars are so named because they are arranged in columns, and they also are said to be the main supports – pillars – of life. For most occasions, we note there are two sections, and sometimes three. The two main sections are called the Stem (top) and the Branch (bottom). The Branch is what everyone knows as their animal sign. The animal is a misnomer, though, but is used for ease of memory and to briefly describe what is, in effect, a part of a cycle of twelve. The cycle of twelve begins with the Rat and ends with the Pig. These are variously denoted either with a Roman numeral or the letter ‘E’, the latter standing for ‘Earthly Branch’.

The Stem, on the other hand, is most important, sitting at the top of each pillar, and as such is called the ‘Master’ of the pillar. It is called the ‘master’ because it governs the type of transformation that takes place within any particular pillar, and thus sector of the twelfth of the cycle the Branch represents. For our purposes, then, the Day Master – the element denoted at the top of the Day Pillar – is our most important consideration, because its relative strength is used in determination of one’s overall destiny throughout life. The Stem, or Master is typically denoted either by an Arabic (common) numeral or by an ‘H’, the latter standing for ‘Heavenly Stem’.

With these points in mind, we go back to the Life Pillar, since we all want to get an idea about our career influences. Armed with our Four Pillars, and knowing the ‘E’ and the ‘H’ values, we can calculate our Life Pillar HERE, using the tables on that page. As for the Conception Pillar, that is very easy to calculate. We add 3 to the Branch and 1 to the Stem of the Month Pillar. Thus, a Month Pillar of 3VII, or H3-E7 would yield a Conception Pillar of 4X, H4-E10, or Fire Rooster.

Rat I E1
Ox II E2
Tiger III E3
Rabbit IV E4
Dragon V E5
Snake VI E6
Horse VII E7
Sheep/Goat VIII E8
Monkey IX E9
Rooster X E10
Dog XI E11
Pig XII E12

In distinction to Western astrology, the Oriental philosophies use Five Elements – in order, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. These correspond with the numbers 1 – 10. There are yin and yang expressions for each of the Five Elements, hence the five yielding Ten Stems. Their qualities can be found HERE. You can download the PDF at the link if you like. Each element, or Stem, when combined with the Branch or animal, has its own unique qualities, as well as a poetic name and certain mottos, such as the ‘Rat on the Roof’, the ‘Monkey Eating Fruit’, the ‘Sheep in the Flock’ and so on. You can find those descriptions for all 60 combinations and mottos HERE. You can download that PDF, too, if you like.

Yang Wood 1 H1
Yin Wood 2 H2
Yang Fire 3 H3
Yin Fire 4 H4
Yang Earth 5 H5
Yin Earth 6 H6
Yang Metal 7 H7
Yin Metal 8 H8
Yang Water 9 H9
Yin Water 10 H10

There is one final note on the Four Pillars, and then we get to probably the most interesting part of this post. One will notice when using the calculators at the link at the start of this post that there is a ‘+’ or a ‘-‘ beside the Master of each pillar. The ‘+’ designates the pillar as Yang in polarity, while the ‘-‘ denotes the pillar as Yin in polarity.

There is a common misconception in the West regarding yin and yang in Oriental philosophy, in that yang is often associated with male energy or gender and yin is often associated with female energy by Westerners. That is not really true. Instead, yang refers to outer growth, expansion, creation of boundaries and large things, whereas yin refers to outer contraction, inner growth, gestation of qualities and hidden things. These are the basic distinctions between yin and yang. There are yin men as well as yang men in quality, neither being superior to the other, and likewise there are yang women and yin women.

The yang person is the builder, the outgoing type, the one who pushes past boundaries and moves outward into experience. The yin type is typically more philosophical, tending to look inward (i.e. is more introspective), looking to inner wisdom and is nurturing of nascent qualities. Both yin and yang have their own particular ‘brand’ of power, and a yin person can be just as resolute in their own way as a yang person. The yin person is not great at building great structures or movements, but one will not find a more resolute type along their own direction. The yang person is not great at nurturing inner qualities or spending time alone with themselves, but they give structure to their own lives and loved ones and typically are good at manifesting ideas into outer realities.

Lastly, regarding yin and yang, the overall predominance of one or the other in the Four Pillars will give the overall quality – polarity, yin or yang – of the person. Just as in nature all things tend toward balance, so we find that in the Four Pillars. Whatever is missing in the Four Pillars is just as important, if no more so, than what is there. A predominance of yin or yang will call for a person to integrate the missing quality or qualities somehow. The same is true of the Five Elements. If there is a missing element or quality in the chart, then there will be a ‘Luck Element’ – the missing quality – that will balance the chart. We will see how that is incorporated in a bit.

So, with all the information at hand, what do we do with it? Well, open another blank web page and go to this site. There you will find the relations between the Four Pillars, otherwise known as ‘Stars’. The procedure for figuring it all out is relatively simple, and the page is laid out pretty much in the order one would take, starting at the top of the page. With pen and paper in hand, you simply go down the list.

If your Day Branch is the Snake, for instance, you are a yin person in your adult self (33 – 64 years of age) and this year (Year of the Ox) has ‘White Tiger’, ‘Imperial Canopy’ stars for you. Scroll down the page and you can read what that means. It would mark a year that can bring qualities like unique ideas, talents, skills, artistry to the fore, but at the same time one would have to be careful of lawsuits for infringements of copyright and the like if any such ideas were published. But the main idea here is to compare the Day Pillar to the other three Pillars in one’s chart to get the general tone for one’s life.

After we have the general relations to the Day Branch, we move next to the Stem/Branch relations, both within the Day Pillar and with the branches of the other pillars. Keep in mind as you go along that there is neither good nor bad in the ‘stars’. It’s all how one uses them. ‘Negative’ stars can be used for dynamic work, or could be helpful, for instance if one chooses as an occupation something along the lines of trial attorneys, safety inspectors or the like. Life coaching would be another good choice. Sometimes people even in Western astrology who have what would appear to be ‘terrible’ charts sometimes go on to have great success. A plethora of ‘good stars’ does not guarantee success, either. Without application of attributes, there is no success in life, and mistakes or even calamities often hold the greatest gifts of experience and wisdom.

After the main points have been noted, the stars that follow are special emphases, based in seasons, months, and so forth. And then further on, one has a look at the relations between the Masters of the other three pillars with the Day Master. Once all that is done, the same process can be followed with one’s partner, friends, children, etc. And that brings us to one of the areas for which astrologers are most often consulted: relationships, especially romantic relationships. “Will I meet my true love soon?” or “Why is my partner such a pain in the neck?”…And so it goes. Well, one’s partner is shown in the Four Pillars. It is the Day Branch itself.

Here is how the partnership in one’s chart works: If your Day Pillar is the Ox, for instance, the general reading of that would be that you tend to be stable, resolute, good at planning, a creature of habit, and so on. But what if you do not necessarily express those qualities in your life? Perhaps your chart shows a tendency towards antagonism to your Day Pillar or you have an overly strong or weak Day Pillar. The reading then would be that you would need someone in your life who does express the Ox-like qualities, bringing you stability, helping you with planning and so forth. Or, if you do already express the Ox-like qualities, perhaps you need to help your partner with those qualities. Partners are like the mirror to us. We either like what we see or not, but as is the case with the balance of qualities and elements, so it is with partners. A partner should bring balance into one’s life. And there is one more thing to consider, regarding partners.

The sign in one’s Day Pillar does not necessarily mean one has to have a partner of the same exact qualities. Instead, one can seek a partner who complements those qualities, or one who has a Day Master which enhances those qualities. For the Ox, for example the complementary animal signs are the Snake and the Rooster, with the Rat being the ‘Family Pair’. With relationship analysis in Chinese astrology, you have what are called Natural (Family) Pairs, Powerful Trios, Contrasting Trios and Clashing Pairs. Those can be found HERE, which you can also download as a PDF. You will also note on that page that each ‘animal’ represents a phase of growth, and that each Branch also has what are called Hidden Elements, sometimes called Human Elements. So, there is a wide scope for relationship counseling in Chinese astrology.

Before we sign off, there is one more consideration: The Four Pillars can be progressed to give an outlook on the whole of the life. Those progressed pillars are called the ‘lifetime fate map’, or the Fortune Pillars. You can go HERE to calculate them. The Fortune Pillars each have a ten-year span and they are weighed against the Day Pillar, in the same manner as above.

In closing, at one time I did have a program available for sale that calculated the Five Pillars (inclusive of the Minute Pillar) as well as the Tzu Wei chart and the Ming Shu chart, but due to copyright and changes in ownership circumstances it is no longer for sale. Hence, we have the need for all the preceding sites to do these calculations. However, at some point, hopefully before too long, I hope to resurrect it in some form or another. What is outlined above is just a taste of what is actually a wide field of investigation and learning. Most of all, enjoy the experience. And as each year rolls around, you can check your own destiny according to the ‘Stars’. Have fun!

Featured pic from PNGitems

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