Chinese Four Pillar Analysis Part II

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(Revised and Updated Dec. 27, 2012)

If you have read the three previous articles on Chinese Animal Signs, The Five Elements and Chinese Four Pillar Analysis Part I then you are ready for Part II. If you have not, then the following article will make no sense whatsoever! I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in learning the Four Pillars to do their due diligence and understand as much as possible about the animal signs/branches and the five elements before proceeding any further. The reason for this is that these concepts must be crystal clear as possible in one’s mind before making any interpretations when looking at a chart.

The Dragon

For the more “well read” in the astrology world, it literally goes without saying that there are not enough much needed warnings out there in the oral and written arena of the instruction of astrological techniques.  And since it is my responsibility and duty as an astrologer and astrology writer to provide the reader with an accurate a picture as possible of the astrology content about which I am writing, I feel as though the reader should take on that same level of responsibility (and accountability) when reading and applying the content provided, especially when that involves advice given to other real, live human beings! I think that we just have to be more careful as an astrological community and really think hard about what we are saying and writing about astrology. With that, I will take the presentation of Four Pillar Analysis rather slowly and then build from there, and yes, I will get a few things wrong and will have to update accordingly. Eventually, (with any luck more sooner than later) I will have to get a little more written on Western astrology too.

Each Pillar in a Four Pillar chart can be looked at in several ways; a way in which each pillar is “within” a person, a mundane way in which each element and branch represents a family member and special significations for the placement of certain elements over certain branches in the hour, day, month and year pillars and where those combinations are. The Daymaster element is especially significant in its relationship to the other branches. But what of the strength of the Daymaster? This is perhaps one of the most important things to ascertain when looking at a Four Pillar chart. I have read of one “easy” ways to do this (Wu’s The Definitive Book of Chinese Astrology) and one more difficult ways which involve a bit of math. (this one is a more accurate method which involves determining the stages of each element within each branch and multiplying to get the percentages of each element…) And yet, further still there is the flow method that I will discuss in a future article.

I do not wish to get into the full calculation method here in this article, which is outlined in Twicken’s Classical Five Element Chinese Astrology Made Easy. So, I have developed a hybrid method that includes the hidden elements (and, of course, I may be incorrect in doing this)—this simple method will help one to determine which elements are strongest giving us a numerical value of their strength. This will help us to understand how powerfully or not each of the other elements relate to the Daymaster, the heavenly stem in the day branch. Then, we will take a look at the most important heavenly influence, the relationship between the Daymaster element and the main element in the Month animal/branch. There is yet a third method described by Lily Chung and Jerry King which utilizes a more comprehensive method of determining strength in the Ba Zi chart, or rather the “flow” of the chart. I have to mention it but it is yet even more complicated to understand. For example a person could be a “weak self with lots of wealth” and enjoy a considerably fortunate life, while another may be “strong” and endure much suffering overall.

Dr. David Twicken’s book, Classical Five Element Chinese Astrology Made Easy is a great place to begin (this is a short, condensed book) and the ideas that he presents in the book are a good way to start the process of understanding of what the different stems and elements mean within a chart. But before that, we need to get your chart, which you can do from Twicken’s book, among several others as well as various software programs. There are free Ba Zi (Four Pillar) apps out there on the Android and iPhone markets. Here is’s free Ba Zi calculation page (it’s also on the SignsInLife links page). If you own The Imperial Astrologer, you can calculate your Four Pillar chart there and you can choose between several calculation options and import all of your charts from Solar Fire if you use that program as well, which is useful. Twicken uses the solar months and years (here is a link to the software that is available from his site). while other excellent authors like Dr. Lily Chung and Jerry King use the Lunar system.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, this is a persistent issue wherever you go in astrology, regardless of the system. What house system do I use? What zodiac? Why? Sometimes we simply have to pick one and start there so that is what we will do here. The Solar points are easily definable, without the confusion of “double Lunar months” in the Lunar system, although this is not to say that this way is inferior in any way, just a bit more complicated to grasp here for our purposes. The Solar and Lunar cycles in Chinese astrology are close but not exact, so there is a possibility that you will have a different chart between the two systems. If you discover this, please do not be alarmed or give up on the system. If you are already a seasoned astrologer, then you are probably used to this by now!

Since we are adding up elements to get a numerical quantity for each element, make a small grid either below or above your chart. It should look something like two rows with the elements on the top and a row beneath with the totals for each element: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Circle your Daymaster element so that you know where it is. Go to the table below, “Table of Elements in the Animals/Branches” to get the number values. For Bruce Lee’s chart below, his Daymaster is Yang Wood. It is the Stem of the Day Branch listed as the Day Pillar, the 2nd pillar over from the left: Hour, Day, Month and Year. Your Four Pillar chart will look something like this: (Disregard the “combined” elements below for now). Please continue reading below.






Bruce Lee, actor and martial artist


Here are the “hybrid” rules that I have developed in order to demonstrate the strength of the Daymaster. Keep in mind that these are not classical rules, just an extremely modified approach designed to get a thumbnail sketch of the strength of the chart:

*Every time an element occurs, give it 100 points, including the main element of the branch.

*For every hidden element, give it 20 points. The Hidden Elements are in the Animal/Branches. This will give us a rough estimate of the total elemental balance of your chart.

*Parents of your Day Master element and same elements will strengthen it, while other elements will weaken it.

*You will most identify with the element of your Day Master and the next most predominant element, this is how you interact with the world, giving us an idea of the strength of the Day Master. (While this may be the case with some charts, this is not universally true).

Again, refer to the table just below so that we can get the animal/element and hidden element correspondences, without this we cannot calculate the totals. Disregard the polarity of the elements when adding up the totals for now.

Table of Elements in the Animals/Branches


Looking at Bruce Lee’s chart above, we have Yang Wood as the Daymaster, which is significant. But for these purposes we will disregard the polarity (Yin/Yang). We will use Yin and Yang later to determine the specific relationships between the elements and branches based on their location within the Four Pillar chart. What are the totals for Bruce Lee? for Wood we have 160 pts, Fire has 120, Earth is 400, Metal has 120 and Water is 140. Every element is represented somewhere in the chart, so we have a very well balanced person with Wood and Earth dominating. Bruce Lee’s Wood is supported through some Water which is slightly deficient. Earth is overwhelming and controls water, so the resource is difficult to get to, however there is some inconsistent support through the Yang Water of the Pig in the Month Branch. This is consequently the most significant relationship, or Heavenly Influence as well. Again, this may or may not be true with all charts and we will discuss this in the future.

The following slide shows the Heavenly Influences or Ten Gods, which are relationships between the Daymaster or day stem, and the main elements in the animal/branches and hidden elements in the animal/branches in the chart. Wood is the Sibling to Wood, the Parent of Fire, the Grandparent of Earth, Grandchild to Metal and Child of Water. Fire is the Sibling of Fire, Parent to Earth, Grandparent to Metal, Grandchild of Water and Child of Wood. Repeat this scheme with every element until you have this concept memorized. Go back to the Five Element article and review if needed until this is fully understood. For determining strength we have to look at the Daymaster as only getting strength from either its siblings or parent elements—ALL others drain it away. Daymasters are characterized as being Too Strong, Strong, Balanced, Weak and Very Weak and there are fortunate and unfortunate people who have all of those, rich and poor alike. It takes time to correctly evaluate Daymaster strength. This article is just meant to give you a thumbnail sketch of the strength of the Daymaster in order to have a better view of the Heavenly Influences or Ten Gods. The table below shows the general relationships between the self element and the other elements not taking into account the polarity of the elements.


Heavenly Influences from Twicken’s Classical Five Element Chinese Astrology Made Easy


The following slide is a continuation of the Heavenly Influences with the polarities of Yin and Yang taken into consideration. Mother is the same as Parent. Below is a listing of the traditional names of the Ten Gods

Same Element / Same Gender = Friend

Same Element / Opposite Gender = Rob Wealth

Offspring Element / Same Gender = Eating God

Offspring Element / Opposite Gender = Hurting Officer

Grandchild Element / Same Gender = Indirect Wealth

Grandchild Element / Opposite Gender = Direct Wealth

Grandparent Element / Same Gender = Seven Killings or Indirect Officer

Grandparent Element / Opposite Gender = Direct Officer or Officer

Mother Element / Same Gender= Indirect Resource

Mother Element / Opposite Gender = Direct Resource


Heavenly Influences cont’d from Twicken’s Classical Five Element Chinese Astrology Made Easy


The next two slides will look at family members in the Four Pillar chart and the Self. We can see how there are different dimensions represented in the Four Pillars.


Family Members in the Four Pillars from Twicken’s Classical Five Element Chinese Astrology Made Easy


The Self and the Four Pillars from Twicken’s Classical Five Element Chinese Astrology Made Easy


From here we can start to see a picture of how the elements interact within the Four Pillar chart. You can pick a topic from the above two slides, plug in the elements and evaluate their relationship with the Heavenly Influences charts. From there we can see how these interact with a Strong, Balanced or Weak Daymaster. For example do you have supportive children (same element as Daymaster or Parent element)? Is there Dynamic Wealth from Parents in the Month Branch or Grandparents in the Year Branch? Look at Bruce Lee’s chart. We have Yang Wood to Yang Earth from him as his Daymaster to the Yang Earth in the Year Pillar containing his Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives. Try your own chart and evaluate the elements based on what you see here in this article. Does your Daymaster have support? Can it get support from other areas if it needs it and where is that support? Are you more inner or outwardly focused.

Here some key final notes before we close:

*The most important influence to the Day Master is the element in the month branch, consequently this is the same relationship as the Self to the Mother and or older sisters. This relationship is an overriding influence in ones life.

*If another element predominates over the Day Master then that element too will be of prime significance. One should read the characteristics of that element to gain further self understanding.

*The 10 year luck cycles must be calculated as well, this Pillar will have a great influence over the events in one’s life during that period of time. This is another presentation in itself.

*One can take the “transiting” year, month, day and hour pillars into consideration as well to see how those affect the Day Master.

*The calculation of Chinese Four Pillars are more fate related but there are remedies, Feng Shui being one of them. We can use this system alongside other methods to gain greater insight and to confirm or deny what we are seeing in the Western chart.

References and Recommendations

*The Definitive Book of Chinese Astrology by Shelly Wu, New Page Books, 2010
*Classical Five Element Chinese Astrology Made Easy by David Twicken, Ph.D., L.Ac, Writers Club Press, 2000.
*The Complete Guide to Chinese Astrology by Derek Walters, Watkins Publishing, 3rd Ed., 2005.
*The Traditional Art of Chinese Fortune Reading by Peter Shen, Pelanduk Pulications, 1998.
*The Path to Good Fortune by Lily Chung, Ph.D., Llewellyn Publications, 1997.
*Four Pillars of Destiny by Jerry King, iUniverse, Inc., 2011.

We will stop here for now and continue later either through this article or a separate one, further exploring the Four Pillars. Here’s a big thanks to David Twicken for simplifying the relationships between the elements. Thank you for reading! Thadd:::SignsInLife