Four Pillars of Destiny
The Four Pillars of Destiny is an important component of Chinese fortune telling. The 'four pillars' refers to the year, month, day and hour pillars of a birthday in Chinese solar calendar. It is also known as the 'eight characters of birth time', the translation of Chinese phrase, Sheng Chen Ba Zi, shortly as Ba Zi. Ba Zi (Eight Characters) is represented by four pairs of characters respectively saying the year, month, day and hour of a birth time. Two characters in each pair are made up of one character from the Heavenly Stems and one from the Earthly Branches.
The theory of the Four Pillars of Destiny is based on Yin Yang and Wu Xing, and the pillars are represented on the basis of the heavenly stems & earthly branches.
Year's Heavenly Stem – Last number of a year will indicate the year's stem
Year's Earthly Branch – the reminder (1-11) of the year divided by 12 will indicate the year's branch
Take the year 1985 for example. Last number 5 refers to Yi. 1985 divided by 12 equals an integer 165 with a reminder of 5. Number 5 refers to Chou. So 1985 is Yi Chou year.
Earthly Branches and 12 Months
Earthly Branches of 24 Hours (12 Shi Chen)
Here is the Four Pillars Chart for an individual born at 18:00, on April 12, 1985 (lunar February 23, 1985) in western calendar for example. Generally, a yellow calendar book is necessary to help find the accurate pillars. Now, it is not difficult to find an online Ba Zi calculator.
|Wu Xing/Yin Yang||Yin Fire||Yin Fire||Yang Metal||Yin Wood|
|Wu Xing/Yin Yang||Yin Metal||Yin Earth||Yang Earth||Yin Earth|
It has only eight characters, but the relation of the eight characters is very complicated. According to the four pillars' representation theory, year pillar represents ancestors and parents; month pillar represents brothers and sisters; day stem represents oneself; day branch represent spouse; hour pillar represents offspring. In addition, the heavenly stems have their own characteristics which are related to the Five Elements (Wu Xing). The missing element in a baby's 'eight characters of birth time' will be usually added into its name as an action of compensation. Among the ten heavenly stems, there are compatible and opposite relations. While among the earthly branches, the relations are more complex, combination, clash, restriction, harm, etc. Abundant relationships may have accurate explanation on the luck of one self or relatives.
The ancient people believed that birth time is a kind of Qi (aura, something of spirit). People born in the Wei hour have an aura field of Wei. If the birth time is in Wei hour but closing to Shen, the aura field has changed gradually to that of the Shen hour. The Four Pillars was created based on vague time, as the time division in ancient time could not be accurate as it is in modern times. So, are there any errors if calculating the Ba Zi because of the time difference? An individual is unique replying on the combination of time, space and spirit. While the Four Pillars mainly talks about time, occasionally space but non spirit. It is an outcome of Chinese metaphysics which is special, interesting but the accurate is debatable.