Understanding the Chinese Zodiac - Four Pillars of Destiny - 八字 Ba Zi

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin Thursday, 21 January 2010 1 comments

Four Pillars of Destiny

Even today, when people talk about Chinese Astrology, it is a common misconception that the animals assigned by year are the only signs of the zodiac. Many western descriptions of Chinese astrology draw solely on this system. In fact, there are also animal signs assigned by month (called inner animals) and hours of the day (called secret animals).

Four Pillars of Destiny is a Chinese term that comprises of four elements of a person’s destiny or fate. The four components are taken from the moment of birth. They are the year, month, day, and time (hour). Each of these elements are important in Chinese astrology, the zodiac and fortune telling.

The term Four Pillars of Destiny come from the Chinese:

shíchen bāzì
Hour of the Eight characters

sì zhù mìnglǐxué
The Four Pillars Life-ology

zǐ píng mìng lǐ
The Four Pillars of Life

Commonly referred to by the shortened names of "Four Pillars" or "bā zì" these charts include both the element (Ten Heavenly Stems) and zodiac animal (Twelve Earthly Branches) of the year, month, day, and hour of birth, giving eight characters.

Ten Heavenly Stems are the yin and yang components of the Five Elements: Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire , Yang Earth, Yin Earth, Yang Metal, Yin Metal, Yang Water, Yin Water.

The Twelve Earthly Branches are more popularly represented by the twelve animals of the Zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.

The culture of Chinese Fortune Telling (中华吉祥文化 Zhōnghuá jíxiáng wénhuà) is based on five principles that to the skilled can be judged from the balance found in the Eight Characters determined by the Ten Heavenly Stems and the Twelve Earthly Branches that are associated with the time and date of your birth. The five principles are:

• Fu, 福 (fortune) signifying luck;
• Lu, 禄 (affluence) for fame and recognition;
• Shou, 寿 (longevity) for health;
• Xi, 喜 (happiness) for joy;
• Cai, 财 (wealth) for abundance and riches.

There are a couple of online Charts available, although the real value in this style of reading is the readers themselves.

Try it out with this Bazi Calculator:

Some other calculators can be found below...


The following blog gives some topical readings about famous people and explores the readings in more depth. http://www.bazidiary.com/

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