Sunday, January 27, 2013

地支 EB - Earthly Branches

地支 Earthly Branches EB

EB, unlike HS are mostly made of several elements, it's a popular notion to say Zi is Water, Chou is earth, Yin is wood etc etc, the notion is only partially true. The Qi in heavenly stem is pure e.g Jia is purely wood, Geng is purely metal but the Qi in earthly branches are mixed, except for Zi, Mao and You.

Regarding the polarity of EBs, DTS says:


Zi, Yin, Chen, Wu, Shen and Xu are Yang, it is moving, its intensity is strong, it develops with speed, its auspiciousness and inauspiciousnes will be prominent; Chou, Mao, Si, Wei, You and Hai are Yin, it is still, its Qi focused, it develops without speed, its consequences could been seen after passing years. 

Directions of EB and elements

Table of EB, showing directions of elements

EB is often associated with directions,

Wood - Yin, Mao and Chen reside East, denotes the spring season

Fire - Si, Wu and Wei reside South, denotes summer

Metal - Shen, You and Xu reside West, denotes autumn

Water - Hai, Zi and Chou reside North, denotes winter.

Earth resides in the middle and lodges at four corners 四隅,according to BaGua, the four corners would be Gen, Xun, Qian and Kun. 

Gen 艮 has Chou and Yin, is considered between Winter and Spring
Xun 巽 has Chen and Si, is considered between Spring and Summer
Kun 坤 has Wei and Shen, which is between Summer and Autumn
Qian 乾 has Xu and Hai, which is between Autumn and Winter

Earth represents the last month of every season.

In classical books, undergoing LP is often cited as 'going towards' a certain direction. For example, undergoing LP with water elements is always referred as 'going north', undergoing LP with fire element is 'going south' and so forth.

Earth is directionless, that is why clashes of earths is often regarded as less critical than clashes of other elements.

Earthly Branches and Seasons.

In analyzing a Bazi chart, the month's EB is extremely important as it is also the season when the DM is born.

In the classics, the EB of the month is called 月令,YueLing, which literally translated as 'the month's decree'. The term comes from the calendar system used in ancient China that emphasizes on 4 main seasons; Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, which are further divided into Early 孟,Mid 仲,and Late 季, thus 12 months and 12 EBs.

Yin, Si, Shen and Hai are early season 孟

Mao, Wu, You and Zi are mid season 仲

Chen, Xu Chou and Wei are late season 季

Earthly Branch and Hidden Heavenly Stem

In each EB contains hidden heavenly stems that represent the Qi of the EB.

Zi, Mao and You contain only a single HS within, these are termed as 专气,focused Qi, where the Qi is pure.

The rest of the EBs contain many HS within, they are called 杂气,mixed Qi. Though the term 杂气 mixed Qi is usually used to mean the Qi inside Chen, Xu Chou and Wei.

HS that is contained in the EB is associated with the season and the 12 Qi phase.

The first month, Yin is the season of spring and wood is the most prosperous element in spring. Yin is also the birth (ChangSheng) of Bing and Wu, so Yin contains Jia wood, Bing fire and Wu earth. Why Jia wood and not Yi wood? Because the Yin and Yang cycle starts with Yang and ends with Yin. 

The second month Mao has only Yi wood inside, it's the middle of spring where wood is under DiWang stage, as wood is ruling the month, it's the only element that decrees the Qi in the month.

The third month Chen late spring, earth leads all elements at the end of every season, when earth Qi is dominating, Yi wood Qi is residual, water Qi is in tomb in Chen. So Chen contains Wu earth, Yi wood and Gui water.

The fourth month Si is the beginning of summer, the season of fire, thus Bing fire leads the elements in Si, Si is also the ChangSheng of Geng metal, Si is also in one of the four corners 'Xun' where earth resides, thus Si contains Bing fire, Geng metal, and Wu earth.

The fifth month is the month of Wu, middle of summer, both fire and earth are in DiWang stage, so both rules the month together, thus Wu contains Ding fire and Ji earth. It's arguable that Earth is actually stronger than Fire in Wu month. QLMG thinks Ji earth is stronger but YHZP implies that they are both equally strong.

The sixth month is the end of summer, the month of Wei, so Earth leads the elements. At the end of summer, fire Qi is residual, so fire still remains in the HHS, Wei is also the tomb stage for wood, and such, Wei contains Ji earth, Ding fire and Yi wood.

The seventh month Shen is the beginning of Autumn, the season of metal which is also the birth place of water, and Shen itself is in a corner 'Kun', as earth resides at four coners, Shen has earth inside. So Shen contains Geng metal, Wu earth and Ren water.

The eight month belongs to Xin metal only, as metal is ruling (under DiWang stage) in You.

The ninth month is the end of autumn, the month of Xu, and earth month with residual metal Qi, and fire Qi in storage. Thus Xu contains Wu earth as the leading element, Xin metal as residual Qi and Ding fire as the storage Qi. 

The tenth month is the beginning of Winter, the month of Hai, the season of Water, the birthplace of Wood, Hai is also in one of the four corners Qian, however Since water and wood are both prosperous in Hai, Earth has been rendered useless. Which is why Hai contains only Ren water and Jia wood.

The eleventh month is the mid winter, water is prosperous and ruling the season, so only Gui is contained in Zi month.

The twelfth month  of Chou is an earthly month, as it is the end of Winter, water Qi is residual. Xin metal is in tomb. So Chou contains Ji earth, Gui water as residual and Xin metal in tomb.

As for Earth in Yin, Si, Shen and Hai, some people consider them as residual Qi that remains from the previous earth month. 

Yin has earth which is residual from Chou
Si has earth which is residual from Chen
Shen has earth from Wei
Hai has earth from Xu, though unusable. 

Four corners where earth resides

Earth is born twice in the 12 branches, as Master XLW puts it:

Born close to fire, born in Yin, Lu in Si

Born close to water, born in Shen, Lu in Hai

At Yin and Si, there's Bing fire to support and assist, it's prosperous and usable. 

At Shen and Hai, It's cold, wet, fake and floating, it's energy is weak and not usable, that's why it's often said that Bing and Wu born at Yin, and not said Ren and Wu born at Shen.

Birthplace, prosperous place, dead place, failed place, storage and tomb

Yin, Si, Shen and Hai are four corners, they are all the called the four birthplaces, ChangSheng. (四生地)

Fire and Earth ChangSheng in Yin

Metal ChangSheng in Si
Water ChangSheng in Shen
Wood ChangSheng in Hai

When a Qi has just been birthed, it's fragile though its influence is strong, Clashes are considered inauspicious. They are also called the four 'Lu' 禄 places, Lu simply refers to GuanDai stage of the 12 life stages.'

Mao, Wu, You and Zi are called the four prosperous places 四旺地 which refers to the DiWang stage, 

Wood DiWang in Mao, 
Fire and Earth in Wu
Metal in You
Water in Zi

Also called the four failed places 四败地, which refers to the MuYu stage. 

Fire and Earth failed in Mao 
Metal failed in Wu
Water failed in You
Wood failed in Ren

Also called the four dead places 四死地 which refers to the Si stage of the 12 life stages.

Wood dies at Wu
Fire and Earth die at You
Metal dies at Zi
Water dies at Mao

It's commonly called the four 'cardinal' places in English for reasons unknown to me, I don't think these EBs are related to the Roman Catholic Church in any way.

Chen, Xu, Chou and Wei are called the 4 tomb places 四墓地, or the 4 storage 四库, it represents the Tomb stage of the 12 Qi stages.

Chen stores water, 
Wei stores wood, 
Xu stores fire 
Chou stores metal.


  1. Cardinal has more than one meaning. Here, cardinal refers to the cardinal directions of N, W, S, E. It has nothing to do with the cardinals of the Catholic church.

  2. Hi Trey,

    The four main directions (E, W, N, S) are called cardinal directions; the word originates from Latin 'cardinalis' (principal, chief, essential).

  3. Hi,

    Thank you guys for the explanation :)


  4. Great post...

    adjective: cardinal

    of the greatest importance; fundamental.
    "two cardinal points must be borne in mind"
    synonyms: fundamental, basic, main, chief, primary, crucial, pivotal, prime, principal, paramount, preeminent, highest, key, essential
    "you've broken one of the cardinal rules"