Four Pillars of Destiny - Years

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin Saturday, 23 January 2010 0 comments

Four Pillars Year & Sexagenary Cycle
六十花甲 liùshí huājiǎ or

Within the Four Pillars (Ba Zi) Years are the largest element. They are the most generic and least personal in fortune telling. The years are based off of the Ten Heavenly Stems (十天干 shí tiāngān) and Twelve Earthly Branches (十二地支 shí'èr dìzhī).

There are 5 'Elements', 五行 wǔ​xíng​ in Chinese Astrology,

* Wood 木 mù
* Fire 火 huǒ
* Earth 土 tǔ
* Metal 金 jīn
* Water 水 shuǐ

These 5 elements combine with yin and yang to make the Ten Heavenly stems 天干 tiāngān.

The 12 earthly branches were devised from the orbit of Jupiter (the twelve years of the Jupiter cycle also identify the twelve months of the year, directions, seasons, months, and Chinese hour in the form of double-hours.)

The more commonly known animals of the zodiac provide a mnemonic for remembering them. The animals of the zodiac in addition to the Ten Heavenly Stems give us 60 years with each animal and each element pairing up only once in the sexagenary cycle.

To explain how this cycle works, lets give both stems and branches by their numbers. We denote 1 by (1,1) or (甲,子), 2 by (2,2) or (乙,丑) and so on up to (10,10) or (癸,酉). But now we have run out of stems, so we denote 11 by (1, 11) or (甲,戌) and 12 by (2, 12) or (乙,亥). Now we have run out of branches, too, so 13 becomes (3, 1) or (丙,子). We continue in this way through 6 cycles of stems and 5 cycles of branches up to 60, which is (10, 12) or (癸,亥). The next number is then (1,1) or (甲,子), which starts a new sexagenary cycle.

Within the Four Pillars, the year is the pillar representing information about the person's ancestry or early age.

You can download the table below by clicking the image and saving the pdf. It provides the full sexagenary cycles between 1924-2044 with the associated elements and zodiac animals.

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