The lunar calendar has a sixty year cycle. In the Chinese horoscope, the five basic elements of Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth, which make up all matter, are combined with the twelve animal signs of Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Lamb, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig to form the sixty year cycle. One’s Chinese horoscope is based on which lunar year in this sixty year cycle one was born.
Ancient Chinese devised a method of reading the life of a person from his birth Year, Month, Day, and Hour. This information is displayed in the form of four columns each consisting of two characters. Each column is called a Pillar. The four pillars together will contain eight characters. This method of Life Reading is called “The Four Pillars of Destiny” or simply “The Eight Characters”.
Ancient Chinese used the combinations of two sets of words to denote time. A year is represented by two words. So is a month, a day or an hour.
The first set of words is the set of the “Ten Heavenly Stems”. They 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 second set of words is the set of the “Twelve Earthly Branches”. They are more popularly represented by the twelve animals of the Zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.
The four pillars chart reveals the destiny of an individual and his future happenings. With the help of the four pillar chart one can to some extent find his future and chart his course in the right direction. The four pillars chart must be balanced for a life free of troubles and turmoils. We have to locate the right elements that are needed so that the chart is balanced evenly. Then the total capability of an individual can be harnessed in the right spirits.
The Four Pillars of Destiny are:
- Year Pillar which represents the Society Palace
- Month Pillar which represents the Parents / Childhood / Siblings Palace
- Day Pillar which represents the Marriage Palace
- Hour Pillar which represents the Children Palac
The elements that cause imbalance in the chart are called unfavorable elements and they cause hindrances to all our efforts. Listed here are the important elements that shape our destiny.
The element that ones birth element controls is the wealth element. For males, the spouse element is the same as their wealth element.
The element that controls one birth element is the power/status element. For females, the spouse element is represented by the element that controls their birth element.
The element that is produced by one birth element is the talent element.
The element that is the same as the birth element is the friend/colleague/sibling element.
The element that nourishes one’s birth element is the resource/support element.
In the beginning, the Year Branch was used to represent the person. This is the animal sign of the person. Even today, when people talk about Chinese Astrology, they talk about your animal sign and describe your character according to the behaviour of the animal. This is the primitive level of Chinese Astrology. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) Xu Zi Ping made a revolutionary improvement in this method of reading lives. He used the Day Stem to represent the person. His work was collected in the book [Yuan Hai Zi Ping] compiled by Xu Xing.