Thursday, January 10, 2013

十二长生, The Twelve Qi Stages

十二长生, The Twelve Qi Stages (or Phases)

What is the 12 Qi phase? It's a continuous cycle of Life and Death that applies to the five elements. The elements are very much like human, they are born, they grow, they mature, fall sick, they die and they are buried. These processes happen in a continuous cycle. The earthly branches are the 'time' or 'age' for the 'life' of the elements.

Let's take an ancient Chinese man's life as an analogy (The theory was developed back in those days, so this is the most pertinent analogy I thought possible):

One begins to exist in the mother's womb as a zygote is formed. 胎 Tai - the stage of 'Womb' 

The zygote grows to become embryo and fetus, reared in the mother's womb. 养 Yang - the stage of 'Rear'
After sometime, a baby is born. 长生ChangSheng - the stage of 'Birth' 

The baby is bathed right after it is born and with time it grows to be a toddler. 沐浴 MuYu - the stage of 'Bath' 

The toddler grows fast and becomes a teenager, and he reaches adulthood 冠带 GuanDai - The stage of 'Wearing Hat'. 
The man studies and work, he becomes more capable and stronger, he is ready to become a government officer (back then everyone wanted to be government officers). 临官 LinGuan - the stage of 'Arriving Officer' 

The man rises to prominence, that is the pinnacle of achievement in his life. The time when he is strongest as he could be, he is appointed as the emperor's assistant. 帝旺 Di Wang - The stage of 'Imperial Prosperity' 
The man's health becomes weaker, his capability wanes. 衰 Shuai - the stage of 'Waning' 
As his health become weaker and weaker, he gets sick. 病 Bing - The stage of 'Sickness' 
Sickness overcomes him and he dies. 死 Si - the stage of 'death' 

The man is buried, there's a funeral held where everyone says remembrance. Friends and family mourns over his death. 墓 Mu - the stage of 'Grave' 

After some time, the man's existence is forgotten, or maybe very few will remember him. 绝 Jue - the stage of 'Extinct'

All the elements, wood, fire, earth, metal and water go through the same life and death cycle as the ancient Chinese man in the analogy.

The 12 Qi phases are:

胎 Tai - the stage of 'Womb'

养 Yang - the stage of 'Rear'

长生 ChangSheng - the stage of 'Birth'

沐浴 MuYu - the stage of 'Bath'

冠带 GuanDai - the stage of 'Wearing Hat'.

临官 LinGuan - the stage of 'Arriving Officer'

帝旺 DiWang - the stage of 'Imperial Prosperity'

衰 Shuai - the stage of 'Waning'

病 Bing - The stage of 'Sickness'

死 Si - the stage of 'Death'

墓 Mu - the stage of 'Grave'

绝 Jue - the stage of 'Extinct'

Please take note that my translation for the names of the stages in English is quite literal to give the readers an idea of what the Chinese characters mean. I strongly recommend readers to use PinYin or better still the Chinese characters when discussing the 12 Qi phase to avoid confusion.

On this subject, ZPZQ writes:

There's 12 EB, 12 months, thus for each HS, from ChangSheng to Tai and Yang, is separated into 12 places.

The terms (names) of ChangSheng MuYu etc, were borrowed for describing purpose.

ChangSheng is the beginning of a person is when he's born

MuYu is like after a person is born, he's bathed to remove the dirt, it's like when a seed is sprouting, the green shell (kernel) is washed away.

GuanDai, describe Qi as gradually growing, it's like when a person is growing with age.

LinGuan, is because after one is grown, he's becoming strong, it's like when the person can join the government.

Diwang, is the peak of prosperity and strength, it's like when a person can assist the emperor to achieve greatness.

Shuai, when the peak is reached, it starts to wane, the beginning of change for things (to decline)

Bing, is quite waned (declined / aged)

Si, Qi is completely finished without residue

Mu, the creator keeps and stores, it's like when a person is buried in the earth.

Jue, the Qi before is extinct, the Qi after will continue

Tai, the Qi after continues and materialized, gathered to become womb

Yang, is like a person is feeding inside mother's womb.

And after this is ChangSheng and the cycle repeats without end.

Master Xu LeWu wrote:

The saying of Born (ChangSheng), Prosperity (DiWang), Grave (Mu) and Extinct (Jue) has an ancient origin.

The book of Huai Nan Zi says:
In winter:
wood is strong,
water is old,
fire is born,
metal is imprisoned and
earth is dead.

The book of TaiPing YuLan, in the topic of the resting and prosperity of 5 elements says:

At the beginning of spring:
Gen is prosperous,
Zhen is ministerial (strong),
Xun is in womb,
Li is gone,
Kun is dead,
Dui is imprisoned,
Qian is barren,
Kan is at rest and so forth

Even though the names and terms are different, but the meanings are almost similar.

The later generations uses 12 Earthly branches to match 8 Guas, and established the system of 12 stages of life,

although it's the saying of the art practitioners,

it matches with the nature of heaven and earth,

although the language is unrefined,

the meaning it contained is extremely profound,

for those who research into the subject of Yin and Yang and 5 elements, cannot be away from this (is saying thatthe basic concept has to be adhered to).

SMTH states:

5 elements lodging at the 12 palaces: ChangSheng, MuYu, GuanDai, LinGuan, DiWang, Shuai, Bing, Si, Mu, Jue, Yang, Tai, the cycle is without end, after one complete cycle, another cycle beings again, creations are similar to humans, the cycle in the 12 palaces is like human reincarnation.

《三命提要》云:SanMing TiYao says:

五行寄生十二宫,Five elements lodging at 12 palaces:

One is named Receiving Qi, is also named Extinct, named brittle, is like ten thousand beings inside the earth that yet to have an image, like the mother's womb is empty, there's nothing inside.

Two is named Receiving Womb, Qi of heaven and earth interchanges, cloudy and forming creations, the creation is sprouting in the earth, its Qi begins to exist, like a person receives Qi from its parents.

Three is named Taking Shape (Forming), it's like ten thousand beings taking their shapes in earth, like a person taking shape in the mother's womb.

Four is named Birth, ten thousand beings are born to glory, like a person is born and grow.

Five is named Bath, also named Failure, when beings are born, its body is soft and brittle, easily wounded, is like three days a person is born, is showered, is almost towards being bound and and extinct; (this phase seems to imply that Qi strength at MuYu is almost as weak as Jue)

Six is named Wearing of Hat, beings are gradually becoming glorious and refined, is like a man wearing dress and hat.

Seven is named Arriving officer, beings are truly defined, like when one is ready to become and officer.

Eight is named Imperial prosperity, beings are mature, like a man prospers.

Nine is named Waning, beings are waning, like a man's Qi is waning.

Ten is named Sickness, beings are sick, like a man is sick.

Eleven is named death, beings are dead, like a man is dead.

Twelve is named grave, or storage, is when beings had complete their work and store the in storage, is like a man eventually return to the grave, after returning to grave, it starts to receive Qi, forming in womb and born again.

When analyzing birth charts, seeing ChangSheng, or Wang does not necessarily means auspicious, seeing resting, imprisonment, death and extinction does not necessarily means inauspicious.

Like when it is overly prosperous, it should be controlled and overcome, if it is dead and extinct, it should be engendered and supported, it is wonderful is one has the knowledge of the changes.

The ancient takes Tai (Womb), Sheng (Born), Wang (Prosperity) and Ku (storage) as 4 nobles, Dead, Extinct, Sickness and Failure s 4 taboos, the rest are four flats, is a generalized saying.

Elemental Qi strength based on the 12 Stages

Qi is strongest when the elements are in the stage of ChangSheng, LinGuan (or sometimes called JianLu 建禄) and DiWang. The next strongest Qi are the stages of Mu (grave) and GuanDai.

Qi is weakest when the elements are in the stages of Si (dead) and Jue (extinct)

ZPZQ says:

原文:人之日主,不必生逢禄旺,即月令休囚,而年日时中, 得长禄旺,便不为弱,就使逢库,亦为有根。

DM of a person does not neccesarily has to be birth meeting Lu and Wang (LinGuan and DiWang), even if the month's command makes it rest or trapped, but on Year, Day and Hour see ChangSheng, JianLu and DiWang, is not regarded as weak, and if it meets storage (Mu), it still is rooted.


The trendy saying that things stored in storage must be clash is an absurd saying from rustic books, but Yang ChangSheng is powerful, Yin ChangSheng is not powerful, but is not weak.


If meeting storage, Yang is considered to be rooted, and Yin storage is useless. That is because Yang is great and Yin is little, Yin cannot be on par with Yang, that is the law of nature.

So now we know what the 12 stages are, but how do the elements pass through the stages? 

The element pass through the stages as they pass through the months, let's take Jia wood (Yang wood) as an example, Jia wood is born at Hai, dies at Wu. 

Hai - Born (ChangSheng)
Zi  - MuYu
Chou - GuanDai
Yin - LinGuan
Mao - DiWang
Chen - Shuai
Si - Bing
Wu - Dead (Si)
Wei - Mu
Shen - Jue
You - Tai
Xu - Yang
Hai - Born again.. 

When Yang is born, Yin is dead, when Yin is born Yang is dead. Yang follows the cycle of months and Yin goes against the cycle of months.

So for Yi wood (Yin wood), the months would be in reversed order.

Wu - Yi is born (ChangSheng) at Wu because Jia is dead at Wu
Si - MuYu
Chen - GuanDai
Mao - LinGuan
Yin - DiWang
Chou - Shuai
Zi - Bing
Hai - Dead (Si), <---When Yi is dead, Jia is born
Xu - Mu
You - Jue
Shen - Tai
Wei - Yang
Wu - born again... (ChangSheng) 

From the exercise above, we can do the same for other Stems, all we need to remember is:

Jia is born in Hai
Bing is born in Yin
Wu is born in Yin
Geng is born in Si
Ren is born in Shen

Or just refer to this table


  1. Nice article! I like that you quote some classics and authors on the subject and use a chart to show the qi strength of the stages. Indeed, the 12 stages of life are very important in bazi.

  2. Thank you Trey. Very important topic.

  3. Thaks Annie and you're welcome Bullish

  4. Very well compiled article Trey! But may I ask somethng again :"If meeting storage, Yang is considered to be rooted, and Yin storage is useless". If there is a yang earth EB in a natal chart then....?!
    Tanks in advance!

  5. Hi Agnes

    "If meeting storage, Yang is considered to be rooted, and Yin storage is useless"

    For example DM is Bing fire, Bing fire storage is in Xu EB. So if there's Xu EB in the natal chart, the Bing fire is considered rooted.

    If DM is Ding fire, Ding fire storage is in Chou EB, if there is Chou EB in the natal chart, Ding fire is not considered rooted.

    However this is not applicable to HS Wu or Ji because the storage for them in Xu and Chou EB, which have Earth as the main Qi.

    Regards :)

  6. Understood. That was very important. Thanks again and regards!

  7. Nice and informative article. I've learned a lot. But I'm confused with one part "... but on Year, Day and Hour see ChangSheng, JianLu and DiWang, is not regarded as weak, and if it meets storage (Mu), it still is rooted."
    So example a Ding DM who is not born in a supportive month, but meets Lin Guan is strong? or does he need to have Mu too to be considered strong and rooted?

  8. Hi Ralph,

    Ding DM sees LinGuan in Wu, if there's a Wu EB somewhere in the natal chart, DM is not regarded as weak. 'Weak' in classical bazi is not the same as 'weak' in modern bazi sense.

    Ding DM sees 'Mu' in Chou, as Ding is a Yin element, 'Mu' is considered useless (provides no support to DM)


  9. Hi, I know you know quite a bit of bazi, can you visit this site ( and solve the mystery? I want to know what is the typo actually means, H10EE is what? From my manual checking the only combination missing from the list is H10E4, am I correct ?

  10. Dear stone,

    I dont know other 'Master's systems. If you ask me, Gui is born in Mao. That's all I can tell ya.