Introduction to Ba Zi Astrology

What is Ba Zi astrology?

The words Ba Zi were translated from the Chinese which meant “Eight Characters.” The eight Chinese characters in the Ba Zi astrology chart were displayed in four columns. Each column had two Chinese characters. These columns indicated, from right to left, the year of birth, the month of birth, the day of birth and the hour of birth.

Since the eight Chinese characters were arranged in four columns, Ba Zi could also be referred to as “The Four Pillars of Destiny.”

We can see a sample of Ba Zi chart in the example shown below.

James Dean 8 February 1931

时Hour 日Day 月Month 年Year

Ji
Earth

Jia
Wood

Geng
Metal

Xin
Metal

Si
Snake

Wu
Horse
<寅
Yin
Tiger

Wei
Goat
 

In this example, the Chinese characters in the topmost row were known as the Heavenly Stems. The Chinese characters in the lower row were known as the Earthly Branches.

The layman would probably be more familiar with the Earthly Branches as the twelve zodiac animals. These commenced from the子 Rat and ended with the亥Pig. The twelve Earthly Branches have been shown in the table below.


Zi
Rat

Chou
Ox

Yin
Tiger

Mao
Rabbit

Chen
Dragon

Si
Snake

Wu
Horse

Wei
Goat

Shen
Monkey

You
Rooster

Xu
Dog

Hai
Pig
 

The layman might be vaguely aware which zodiac sign he was born in. For instance, he might recall that he was born in the year of the亥 Pig. This year (2019) was the year of the亥 Pig.

There were also ten Heavenly Stems. They could be viewed in the table below. The Heavenly Stems began with甲 Jia wood and ended with癸 Gui water.


Jia Wood

Yi Wood

Bing
Fire

Ding
Fire

Wu
 Earth

Ji
Earth

Geng
Metal

Xin
Metal

Ren
Water

Gui
Water
 

When we plotted a birth chart, we would write the Heavenly Stems in the top row and the Earthly Branches in the second row. The Ba Zi student or practitioner would then read these eight Chinese characters to analyse the chart and advise his client.

Of course, when the Ba Zi practitioner read the birth chart, he would have added another row of Chinese characters beneath each of the four Earthly Branches. In the example mentioned above, the full birth chart will be displayed as follows:-

James Dean 8 February 1931

时Hour 日Day 月Month 年Year

Ji
Earth

Jia
Wood

Geng
Metal

Xin
Metal

Si
Snake

Wu
Horse

Yin
Tiger

Wei
Goat

Bing
Fire

Wu
Earth

Geng
Metal

Ding
Fire

Ji
Earth

Jia
Wood

Bing
Fire

Wu
Earth

Ji
Earth

Ding
Fire

Yi
Wood

The third row was to show the Qi or energies inside each of the four Earthly Branches. For instance, inside the午 Horse day of birth, there was fire and earth Qi.

However, for the purposes of an introductory explanation about what was Ba Zi (or “Eight Characters”), it should be sufficient to show the Eight Characters in order not to confuse the layman reader.