The 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,  Shen Chen Bazi  , shortly as  Bazi ” .  Bazi  ( 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 Pillar  Ten heavenly stems and twelve earthly branches combines and create a sexagenary cycle. 


Month Pillar Month pillar has fixed early branches. The heavenly stem is changing according to the year pillar. In fact, the division of two month branches is usually up to the 24 solar terms. From the beginning of spring which regarded as the real start of a year, the branch shifts every two solar terms. 


Day Pillar The recondition to know a day's stem and branch, Chinese calendar has bigger and lesser month, respectively having 30 or 29 days. one stem-branch cycle needs 60 days. If the stem and branch of the first day of that lunar month has been known, there is a way to extrapolate any day within the month, by the different extrapolation rules applied to bigger and lesser months.  


Hour Pillar  similarly, the heavenly branches of the hour pillar is fixed. The heavenly stem of each day is up to the stem and branch of the day pillar. 


 

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 Bazi 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. 


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