What Is Heavenly Stems And Earthly Branches?(18 Detailed Answers)
Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, also known as the “Gan Zhi,” is a system of Chinese astrology used to measure time and assign names to each year, month, day, and hour. This system has been used for over 2000 years and plays an important role in Chinese culture and tradition.
what are the heavenly stems?
Heavenly stems refer to the ten heavenly stems in the Chinese calendar, which were originally named as “Yin Yang, Jia Yi, Bing Ding, Wu Ji, Geng Xin, Ren Gui.” The simplified names for the heavenly stems are “Jia, Yi, Bing, Ding, Wu, Ji, Geng, Xin, Ren, Gui.” In the Chinese calendar, these ten heavenly stems and the twelve earthly branches, which are named after the twelve zodiac animals, are used to represent years, months, days, and hours in a fixed sequence known as the stem-branch system.
According to the “Ci Yuan” dictionary, the names of the heavenly stems and earthly branches were derived from the branches and trunks of trees. The heavenly stems and earthly branches form a unique calendar system in China that is used to mark time and is also incorporated into other aspects of Chinese culture, such as feng shui and traditional Chinese medicine.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the heavenly stems and earthly branches are associated with various parts of the body and internal organs. Additionally, the heavenly stems and earthly branches are also associated with the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water), as well as cardinal directions and other natural phenomena. Overall, the heavenly stems and earthly branches are an important aspect of Chinese culture and have been used for centuries to mark time and understand the world around us.
what are the 12 earthly branches in Chinese astrology?
The “Earthly Branches” refers to the twelve sections into which the orbit of Jupiter is divided. In ancient China, Jupiter was used to mark the years, hence it was also called the “year star”. Jupiter has a revolution period of approximately 12 years, so its orbit was divided into 12 sections. Later, these 12 sections were named, and this became the “Earthly Branches”. The twelve “Earthly Branches” are respectively: zi, chou, yin, mao, chen, si, wu, wei, shen, you, xu, and hai.
The “Earthly Branches” is often used in combination with the “Heavenly Stems” (the ten celestial stems) to form a 60-year cycle, which can be used to record the year, month, day, and hour. The so-called “ba zi” (eight characters) refers to the combination of the “Heavenly Stems” and “Earthly Branches” for the year, month, day, and hour of birth, hence its name. When using the “Earthly Branches” to mark the years, each “Earthly Branches” corresponds to an animal sign, also known as the “zodiac signs” (Chinese zodiac). The twelve “zodiac” are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
In addition, traditional Chinese medicine also uses the twelve zodiac signs to correspond to the human organs. Yin represents the gallbladder, Mao represents the liver, Si represents the heart, Wu represents the small intestine, Chen represents the stomach, Chou and Wei represent the spleen, Shen represents the large intestine, You represents the lungs, Hai represents the kidneys and pericardium, and Zi represents the bladder and triple burner.
The zodiac signs can also be used to tell time, with each zodiac sign corresponding to a fixed period of time (known as a “shi chen”).
Zi (Rat) corresponds to 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Chou (Ox) corresponds to 1 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Yin (Tiger) corresponds to 3 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Mao (Rabbit) corresponds to 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.
Chen (Dragon) corresponds to 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Si (Snake) corresponds to 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Wu (Horse) corresponds to 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wei (Sheep) corresponds to 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Shen (Monkey) corresponds to 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
You (Rooster) corresponds to 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Xu (Dog) corresponds to 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Hai (Pig) corresponds to 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
10 heavenly stems 12 earthly branches
10 heavenly stems
The ten heavenly stems are generally referred to as the ten “Tian Gan” in Chinese. They are: Jia, Yi, Bing, Ding, Wu, Ji, Geng, Xin, Ren, and Gui, and their arrangement order is fixed. The following mnemonic can be used to remember their order: “Jia Yi Dongfang Mu, Bing Ding Nanfang Huo, Wu Ji Zhongyang Tu, Geng Xin Xifang Jin, Ren Gui Beifang Shui.”
Specifically, Jia and Yi belong to the wood element and are located in the east; Bing and Ding belong to the fire element and are located in the south; Wu and Ji belong to the earth element and are located in the center; Geng and Xin belong to the metal element and are located in the west; and Ren and Gui belong to the water element and are located in the north. There are interactive relationships between the heavenly stems.
12 earthly branches
The ten Heavenly Stems are usually referred to as the Ten Celestial Stems. They are: Jia, Yi, Bing, Ding, Wu, Ji, Geng, Xin, Ren, and Gui. Their order is fixed and can be remembered by the mnemonic: “Jia and Yi are in the east, belonging to wood; Bing and Ding are in the south, belonging to fire; Wu and Ji are in the center, belonging to earth; Geng and Xin are in the west, belonging to metal; Ren and Gui are in the north, belonging to water.” The Heavenly Stems have interrelated relationships with each other.
Earthly Branches and Yin Yang: The Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches have the same Yin Yang attributes. Odd numbers are Yang, and even numbers are Yin. That is to say, Zi, Yin, Chen, Wu, Shen, and Xu are Yang branches, while Chou, Mao, Si, Wei, You, and Hai are Yin branches.
Earthly Branches and Five Elements: The Five Elements are crucial for Earthly Branches. They are: Wood for Yin and Mao, Fire for Si and Wu, Metal for Shen and You, Water for Zi and Hai, and Earth for Chou, Chen, Wei, and Xu. Usually, the Earthly Branches are combined with the Five Elements, such as Zi Water, Chou Earth, Yin Wood, Mao Wood, Chen Earth, Si Fire, Wu Fire, Wei Earth, Shen Metal, You Metal, Xu Earth, and Hai Water.
Directions of Earthly Branches: Zi is the north, Chou and Yin are northeast, Mao is east, Chen and Si are southeast, Wu is south, Wei and Shen are southwest, You is west, and Xu and Hai are northwest.
Earthly Branches and Months: The twelve Earthly Branches correspond exactly to the twelve months of the year. The time is determined by the 24 solar terms. However, people know little about solar terms, so the lunar calendar is generally used to determine the time approximately. Specifically, Yin is January, Mao is February, Chen is March, Si is April, Wu is May, Wei is June, Shen is July, You is August, Xu is September, Hai is October, Zi is November, and Chou is December.
Earthly Branches and Seasons: The twelve Earthly Branches correspond to the four seasons. Yin, Mao, and Chen are spring, Si, Wu, and Wei are summer, Shen, You, and Xu are autumn, and Hai, Zi, and Chou are winter.
Earthly Branches and Hours: The twelve Earthly Branches correspond to the twelve hours of a day. Ancient people divided a day into twelve two-hour periods. In modern time, it corresponds to: Zi (23:00-01:00), Chou (01:00-03:00), Yin (03:00-05:00), Mao (05:00-07:00), Chen (07:00-09:00), Si (09:00-11:00), Wu (11:00-13:00), Wei (13:00-15:00), Shen (15:00-17:00), You (17:00-19:00), Xu (19:00-21:00), and Hai (21:00-23:00). It can be seen that in ancient times, the boundary between days was not 24:00, but 23:00, the time of Zi. Therefore, some people born between 23:00 and 24:00 should be considered born on the next day.
Earthly Branches and Zodiac Animals: The twelve zodiac animals correspond to the twelve Earthly Branches. They are: Rat for Zi, Ox for Chou, Tiger for Yin, Rabbit for Mao, Dragon for Chen, Snake for Si, Horse for Wu, Sheep for Wei, Monkey for Shen, Rooster for You, Dog for Xu, and Pig for Hai. Note that the start and end times of each zodiac animal are determined by the date of the “立春” (Beginning of Spring) festival, rather than the Chinese New Year’s Eve.
The Twelve Earthly Branches and Organs: They are: Zi and Hai correspond to the bladder and kidneys; Yin and Mao correspond to the liver and gallbladder; Chen, Si, Wu, and Wei correspond to the spleen and stomach; Shen and You correspond to the lungs; and Xu and Hai correspond to the heart.
The Twelve Earthly Branches and Numbers: The numbers of the Earthly Branches are from Zi to Hai in order from 1 to 12. Specifically, Zi is 1, Chou is 2, Yin is 3, Mao is 4, Chen is 5, Si is 6, Wu is 7, Wei is 8, Shen is 9, You is 10, Xu is 11, and Hai is 12.
The Twelve Earthly Branches and Eight Trigrams: The Earthly Branches and Eight Trigrams correspond to each other in terms of orientation. Simply match the orientations of the Twelve Earthly Branches and the Eight Trigrams. Specifically, Zi corresponds to the Kan trigram, Chou and Yin correspond to the Gen trigram, Mao corresponds to the Zhen trigram, Chen and Si correspond to the Xun trigram, Wu corresponds to the Li trigram, Wei and Shen correspond to the Kun trigram, You corresponds to the Dui trigram, and Xu and Hai correspond to the Qian trigram.
heavenly stem and earthly branch history?
According to legend, the heavenly stems and earthly branches were created by the ancient Chinese ancestor Huangdi during the founding of his kingdom in 2697 BC. He commissioned a man named Da Nao to study the energy and workings of the universe, as well as the five elements, and to create ten heavenly stems and twelve earthly branches to serve as symbols for timekeeping and calendrical purposes.
The history of the heavenly stems and earthly branches
Ancient China was home to two major tribes: the Yan and Huang tribes in the two river valleys, and the Jiuli tribe in the northwest region. The Yan and Huang tribes primarily engaged in farming, and recognized the importance of the sun’s role in nurturing life. Thus, they developed a solar calendar (dividing a year into ten parts). Historical evidence indicates that the Taotangshi ruins in Shanxi contained an observatory with twelve pillars, two of which were doors and ten of which formed a circle. The month was determined by the position of the sun among the pillars (which is the origin of the heavenly stems).
The Jiuli tribe, on the other hand, relied on hunting for their livelihoods and were nomadic, so they could not use the sun to measure time. Therefore, they created a different calendar system, known as the lunar calendar, which was based on the twelve or thirteen cycles of the moon’s waxing and waning in a year. This system was simple and convenient (which is the origin of the earthly branches).
Later, the symbols for the ten heavenly stems (Jia, Yi, Bing, Ding, Wu, Ji, Geng, Xin, Ren, and Gui) and the twelve earthly branches (Zi, Chou, Yin, Mao, Chen, Si, Wu, Wei, Shen, You, Xu, and Hai) were represented by several simple characters.
Using the heavenly stems and earthly branches to measure years
Since the number of heavenly stems and earthly branches is limited, ancient people were unable to use them to measure time over long periods. Therefore, they found a way to combine the lunar and solar calendars. Initially, 60 was the smallest common multiple of 12 and 10, so each year was counted as 60 days. However, this was eventually found to be inadequate. Therefore, ancient people used their basic astronomical knowledge to determine that 6 years of 60 days each equaled one year of 365 or 366 days. To account for the extra days, people held festivals and dances. This method can be found in the Huainanzi and Lüshi Chunqiu.
who invented heavenly stem and earthly branches?
According to the oracle bones unearthed from the Yin ruins, the heavenly stems and earthly branches were mainly used to record days in ancient China, as well as months, years, and hours. There are several theories about who invented the heavenly stems and earthly branches:
Invented during the time of the Yellow Emperor
Around the end of the Warring States period, the book “Shi Ben,” which was compiled based on materials accumulated by the historiographers of various states over a long period of time, states that “Rongcheng made a calendar, and Daren made the first year of the sexagenary cycle.” “Both of them were ministers of the Yellow Emperor. Since the Yellow Emperor’s time, the sexagenary cycle was used to record days, with a week consisting of 60 days.” It seems that Gan and Zhi were created by Daren, who “used the feelings of the five elements and the arrangements of the Dipper, created the sexagenary cycle to name days, calling them stems, and named months with Zi and Chou, calling them branches. When it concerns things related to heaven, days are used, and when it concerns things related to earth, months are used. The distinction between yin and yang gives rise to the names of the branches and stems.”
Transmitted to China from Babylon
The book “Studies of Oracle Bone Inscriptions: Explanation of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches” believes that previous interpretations of the heavenly stems and earthly branches were mere guesses based on the text. The “ten heavenly stems” are purely natural decimal numbers, most of which were created by the Yin people. As for the “twelve earthly branches,” they originated from ancient Babylon. By comparing China’s ancient twelve time periods and ancient Babylon’s twelve houses, it can be pointed out that China’s twelve periods and twelve earthly branches both evolved from Babylon’s zodiac.
As for the way in which it was transmitted to China, it can be boldly speculated that the Shang people “came from the northwest and brought with them knowledge of star calendars taught by Babylon when they arrived in China, and then continued to use them.” Or perhaps “the Shang family originated in the east, and the knowledge of their star calendars was introduced by merchants or herdsmen from the west.”
Invented by Fuxi
Some scholars have explored the unique phenomenon that the characters in the ten heavenly stems have been used in the names of Xia dynasty emperors and all subsequent emperors in the Shang dynasty, in order to refute the theory that the heavenly stems and earthly branches came from outside China. “A History of Chinese Astronomy” points out that “ten heavenly stems may have emerged in the Xia dynasty over 4,000 years ago.”
The book “The Origin and Development of Chinese Astronomy” believes that the ten heavenly stems originated from the ancient Chinese myth of Fuxi and the “ten days of creation,” reflecting the concept of decimal numbers in timekeeping, which should have emerged in the primitive society of hunting and fishing. The “twelve earthly branches” evolved from the myth of Changxi’s “birth of twelve months,” which emerged before the Shang Dynasty and gradually evolved into twelve time periods. Therefore, it is inferred that “the twelve branches were likely created by the Xia people.”
Invented during the Xia Dynasty
The book “A History of Chinese Science and Technology” advocates that the Xia Dynasty already had a method of recording days using the ten heavenly stems. During the Shang Dynasty, the sexagenary cycle was used on the basis of the ten heavenly stems to combine the ten heavenly stems with the twelve earthly branches into a sixty-day cycle.
when heavenly stems and earthly branches used for?
The 22 characters of “天干地支” (heavenly stems and earthly branches) were actually created a long time ago, and were already recognized in oracle bone inscriptions as a way to express sequences, such as the names of some emperors like Pan Geng, Di Yi, and Di Xin of the Shang dynasty.
It should be noted that the tradition of using heavenly stems and earthly branches to record months and days dates back to an early period, but the use of this system to record years came much later, and at least during the Western Han dynasty, there was not yet a complete set of regulations in place.
Based on changes in the nomenclature of recorded years in existing classical works, it can be confirmed that the period when the system of using heavenly stems and earthly branches to record years was officially promoted through state policies was in the second year of the Yuanhe period of the Eastern Han dynasty, which was in 85 AD. This system was widely used even earlier than this time, but it could not have been earlier than the Western Han dynasty.
what is heavenly stems and earthly branches used for?
In ancient China, the method of chronology was based on the heavenly stems and earthly branches, also known as the ten heavenly stems and twelve earthly branches. The ten heavenly stems are jia, yi, bing, ding, wu, ji, geng, xin, ren, and gui, while the twelve earthly branches are zi, chou, yin, mao, chen, si, wu, wei, shen, you, xu, and hai. These two sets of characters are combined in sequence to form a cycle of sixty, which is used in various aspects of life. There are several ways in which they are used:
- They are used as numbers. The sequence of the ten heavenly stems is well-known, and they can be used to sort items or rank them in order.
- They are used to name years. The combination of the ten heavenly stems and twelve earthly branches forms a cycle of sixty years, with each year being named after a specific combination, such as jiazi year, yichou year, etc.
- They are used to name months. Each of the twelve earthly branches corresponds to a month, and each month is named after its corresponding earthly branch, such as zi month, chou month, etc.
- They are used to name days. Each day is named after a specific combination of the ten heavenly stems and twelve earthly branches, and each sixty-day cycle starts with jiazi day.
- They are used to name the twelve time periods of a day. Each time period corresponds to an earthly branch, such as zi time, chou time, etc.
heavenly stems and earthly branches calculator
Ten Heavenly Stems:
甲 (jiǎ), 乙 (yǐ), 丙 (bǐng), 丁 (dīng), 戊 (wù), 己 (jǐ), 庚 (gēng), 辛 (xīn), 壬 (rén), 癸 (guǐ)
Twelve Earthly Branches:
子 (zǐ), 丑 (chǒu), 寅 (yín), 卯 (mǎo), 辰 (chén), 巳 (sì), 午 (wǔ), 未 (wèi), 申 (shēn), 酉 (yǒu), 戌 (xū), 亥 (hài)
First, you need to understand or memorize the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches.
To calculate the Heavenly Stem and Earthly Branch for any given year:
Heavenly Stem: Subtract 3 from the year and divide the result by 10. If there is no remainder, the Heavenly Stem is the last one in the list, otherwise, count the remainder from 1 and assign the corresponding Heavenly Stem.
Earthly Branch: Subtract 3 from the year and divide the result by 12. If there is no remainder, the Earthly Branch is the last one in the list, otherwise, count the remainder from 1 and assign the corresponding Earthly Branch.
For example, for the year 2003:
2003 – 3 = 2000, 2000 ÷ 10 = 200, so the Heavenly Stem is 癸 (guǐ).
2003 – 3 = 2000, 2000 ÷ 12 = 166 remainder 8, so the Earthly Branch is 未 (wèi).
Therefore, 2003 is the year of 癸未 (guǐwèi) in Chinese.
Another example, for the year 2019:
2019 – 3 = 2016, 2016 ÷ 10 = 201 remainder 6, so the Heavenly Stem is 己 (jǐ).
2019 – 3 = 2016, 2016 ÷ 12 = 168, so the Earthly Branch is 亥 (hài).
Therefore, 2019 is the year of 己亥 (jǐhài) in Chinese.
60 jia zi
The Ten Heavenly Stems and Twelve Earthly Branches are abbreviated to Ten Stems and Twelve Branches. The Ten Heavenly Stems are: Jia, Yi, Bing, Ding, Wu, Ji, Geng, Xin, Ren, and Gui. The Twelve Earthly Branches are: Zi, Chou, Yin, Mao, Chen, Si, Wu, Wei, Shen, You, Xu, and Hai.
The two sets of characters are combined and arranged to form the Chinese sexagenary cycle, which consists of 60 years in a repeating pattern. This cycle is also known as the “Sixty Jiazi” or the “Stems-Branches” system.
Using the sexagenary cycle to record time, including years, months, days, and hours, is known as the traditional Chinese calendar, which is the oldest solar calendar in the world and is unique to Chinese culture. The Ten Heavenly Stems represent the movement of the sun, while the Twelve Earthly Branches represent the movement of the earth. The combination of the Ten Heavenly Stems and the Twelve Earthly Branches to represent dates contains infinite cosmic information. The sexagenary cycle has a very long history and represents the mysterious culture of ancient China, shining with the endless wisdom of Chinese civilization. Even today, various lunar calendars and perpetual calendars still use the sexagenary cycle to arrange years, months, days, and hours, and the 24 solar terms are still widely used, which demonstrates the profound influence of the sexagenary cycle on Chinese culture.
In the Zhou dynasty, the official system of recording days used the sexagenary cycle, and this practice has been passed down to the present day. This cultural phenomenon is unique to the Chinese people. By the Han dynasty, the official calendar system had adopted the sexagenary cycle to record years, months, days, and hours, which had become a very rigorous system, known as the Stems-Branches calendar. The Stems-Branches calendar does not use the lunar month as its basis, but instead runs parallel to the emperor’s reign, forming a complete system. With the great development of Chinese culture in the Spring and Autumn period, the concept of the unity of heaven and man became widely accepted in the Han dynasty, and various schools of numerology derived from the Stems-Branches calendar began to flourish and develop, forming the mysterious culture of China that has been passed down to this day.
The 5,000 years of Chinese civilization have all been recorded using the sexagenary cycle. Why does the sexagenary cycle have such strong vitality? I believe this is primarily because it has the greatest practicality and convenience and is most in line with the thinking habits and national conditions of the Chinese people. Using the sexagenary cycle to record years and months expresses the four seasons of a year, while using it to record days and hours reflects the alternation of day and night. Using the Stems-Branches system to record years, months, days, and hours is very convenient and simple. Using the Earthly Branches to record time, one day corresponds to one cycle, with twelve branches corresponding to twelve time periods; one cycle is twelve days when using the Earthly Branches to record days; one year is one cycle when using the Earthly Branches to record months, with twelve branches corresponding to twelve months; and one cycle is twelve years when using the Earthly Branches to record years, which corresponds to the Chinese zodiac.
The sexagenary cycle, which uses the combination of 10 heavenly stems and 12 earthly branches to mark years, months, days, and hours, has a cycle of 60 and is therefore known as the “60 Jiazi”. When using the sexagenary cycle to mark time, 60 time periods are equivalent to one cycle. In terms of days, 60 days make up one cycle, and in terms of months, 60 months make up one cycle. In terms of years, 60 years make up one cycle. The 22 symbols of heavenly stems and earthly branches are intricately ordered, full of harmony and regularity. They show the laws of nature, the interaction between time and space, and the result of the interaction between “yin” and “yang”. They contain the ideas of yin, yang, and the five elements, as well as the laws of natural cycles.
When using the sexagenary cycle to mark time, 60 time periods, or five days, make up one cycle. Traditional Chinese calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms, and each solar term is further divided into five-day segments known as “hou”. During each hou, there are distinct climate and phenological characteristics that differ from those of other periods in the year. By examining periods of five years, one can summarize the rules of climate change that occur every five years. Modern meteorology has shown that in mainland China, droughts and floods, ice and snow, pests and diseases, and annual average temperatures indeed have periodic patterns that range from five years to 30 years or 60 years. These periodic patterns are closely related to the laws of the sun and the earth. This fully illustrates that the sexagenary cycle system for marking years, months, days, and hours is a rigorous system based on the laws of the movement of the sun and the earth, and is not arbitrary.
The sexagenary cycle calendar reflects the laws of the universe, represented by the sun and the earth, and is a rigorous system of timekeeping that must have a reasonable starting point that corresponds to the changes of the sun and the earth. This starting point is also the starting point of the sexagenary cycle marking system, which is the zero point of the Jiazi day and Jiazi hour. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, and from this day on, the days begin to get longer. The ancients attached great importance to the winter solstice as the starting point of timekeeping. As the scholar Shao Yong wrote in a poem, “When the first yang begins to move, it is the Jiazi midnight hour. If you don’t believe me, ask Fuxi.” The Book of Rites in the Records of the Grand Historian records that “the energy starts from the winter solstice and cycles back again.” The same book also states that “when Jiazi day coincides with the winter solstice, the principles of yin and yang separation and union are at work,” and “the year name coincides with the ji character, the month name coincides with the bi character, and the day coincides with Jiazi, with no big or small remainder.” Due to Emperor Wu of Han’s renaming of the era to “Tai Chu,” this calendar system is also known as the “Tai Chu calendar.”
Earlier, we discussed that the sixty-year cycle in the Chinese calendar is a solar calendar, with the winter solstice as the fixed point based on the Earth’s revolution around the sun over 365.2422 days. However, the closest multiple to 360 days, which is used to measure time in the sixty-year cycle, is 5.2422 days off from the actual solar year. In addition, the rotation period of the Earth does not match its revolution period, so the winter solstice is usually not on a jiazi day, and it is rare for it to occur exactly at midnight. Therefore, it is important for the starting point of the year, month, day, and hour in the sixty-year cycle to be jiazi, which would fall on the winter solstice. Only then can this calendar system effectively measure and govern time periods, including history and natural cycles, and display regular patterns of change. Without a reasonable starting point, the sixty-year cycle would lack vitality and lose its necessity.
There is a legend about the establishment of the starting point, or the epoch, of the calendar system. According to the legend, during the reign of the Yellow Emperor, Chiyou rebelled and fought against him in the Zhuolu region. The battle was so fierce that blood flowed for a hundred miles, and there was no way to stop it. The Yellow Emperor then fasted and bathed, built an altar to worship the heavens and a square mound to honor the earth. As a result, the ten celestial stems and twelve terrestrial branches were bestowed upon him by the heavens. Because the Yellow Emperor possessed the most advanced culture at the time, he arranged the ten celestial stems in a circular pattern like the sky and the twelve terrestrial branches in a square pattern like the earth, formed an array, and gained an absolute advantage over the Chiyou tribe. Later, Da Nao Shi divided the ten celestial stems and twelve terrestrial branches into sixty jiazi and designated the Yellow Emperor’s ascension day as jiazi year, month, day, and hour. This is the origin of the celestial stems and terrestrial branches.
Another theory about the establishment of the epoch is related to astronomical phenomena. Historical records often say, “In the first Yuan of chaos, in the year of jiazi, the sun and moon were in conjunction, the five planets were aligned, and the seven luminaries were in harmony.” The “Taiyi Jinjing Shijing” records that “from the first Yuan of chaos in the year of jiazi to the jiazi year of the twelfth year of the Kaiyuan period of the Tang dynasty (724 AD), a total of 1,937,281 calculations were accumulated.” The “Taiyi Tongzong Baojian” takes the winter solstice in 10,153,918 BC as the epoch, while the “Siku Quanshu Zongmu Ti Yao, Volume 110, Subvolume 21” refutes this by stating, “Using the method of calculating the accumulated years from the first Yuan of chaos, which is a jiazi year, to the year of guimao in the seventh year of the Yuan dynasty (1303 AD), the total is 1,015,521,219 years, which is the method of the seven luminaries being in harmony. However, when this accumulated calculation is traced back to the first Yuan of chaos, it corresponds to the thirty-fourth year, 7,875 parts, at the third quarter of the day of the Wu Xu day, which is not the jiazi year, month, day, and hour. Therefore, it is not the method of the seven luminaries being in harmony.” The “Huangji Jing Shi” takes the winter solstice
earthly branches and heavenly stems with Chinese medicine
In Chinese medicine, the system of Earthly Branches and Heavenly Stems (EBHS) is used as a way of understanding the cycles and rhythms of the natural world, and how they relate to the human body.
The EBHS system is based on a 60-year cycle, with 10 Heavenly Stems (also known as Celestial Stems) and 12 Earthly Branches (also known as Terrestrial Branches). The Heavenly Stems are associated with yin and yang, and represent the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water), as well as the seasons and the phases of the moon. The Earthly Branches are associated with the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, and represent the months of the year.
In Chinese medicine, the EBHS system is used to understand the natural rhythms of the body and how they relate to the cycles of nature. Each of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches is associated with different organs, meridians, and emotions, and these associations can be used to diagnose and treat imbalances in the body.
For example, the Heavenly Stem “Wood” is associated with the liver and gallbladder, while the Earthly Branch “Rabbit” is associated with the gallbladder meridian. If a patient has symptoms of liver or gallbladder dysfunction, a practitioner of Chinese medicine might look to the Wood and Rabbit aspects of the EBHS system to guide their diagnosis and treatment.
Similarly, the Heavenly Stem “Fire” is associated with the heart and small intestine, while the Earthly Branch “Horse” is associated with the heart meridian. If a patient has symptoms of heart or small intestine dysfunction, a practitioner might look to the Fire and Horse aspects of the EBHS system.
Overall, the EBHS system is a valuable tool for practitioners of Chinese medicine to understand the connections between the human body and the natural world, and to develop effective treatments for a wide range of health conditions.
earthly branches and heavenly stems with yin and yang
In the context of yin and yang philosophy, the Earthly Branches and Heavenly Stems (EBHS) system is used to represent the cyclical balance and interplay between yin and yang energies in the natural world and the human body.
The Heavenly Stems are associated with yang energy and represent the creative force, while the Earthly Branches are associated with yin energy and represent the receptive force. Together, they create a balance of yin and yang, which is essential for health and wellbeing.
Each of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches is also associated with one of the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water), which further influences the balance of yin and yang energies.
For example, the Heavenly Stem “Wood” is associated with yang energy and represents growth and expansion, while the Earthly Branch “Rabbit” is associated with yin energy and represents receptivity and nurturing. The Wood and Rabbit combination can be seen as a balance of growth and nurturing, which is essential for the healthy development of plants, animals, and humans.
In the context of Chinese medicine, imbalances of yin and yang energies are thought to contribute to disease and other health problems. Practitioners of Chinese medicine may use the EBHS system to identify imbalances and develop treatments to restore the balance of yin and yang energies.
For example, if a patient has symptoms of excess yang energy, such as fever or inflammation, a practitioner may use treatments that promote yin energy, such as cooling herbs or acupuncture points associated with the Earthly Branch “Snake” or Heavenly Stem “Water”. Conversely, if a patient has symptoms of excess yin energy, such as fatigue or coldness, a practitioner may use treatments that promote yang energy, such as warming herbs or acupuncture points associated with the Earthly Branch “Tiger” or Heavenly Stem “Fire”.
Overall, the EBHS system is a valuable tool for understanding the balance of yin and yang energies in the natural world and the human body, and for developing effective treatments for a wide range of health conditions.
earthly branches and heavenly stems with the five elements
In Chinese philosophy, the Earthly Branches and Heavenly Stems (EBHS) system is also used to represent the cyclical balance and interplay between the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) in the natural world and the human body.
The Heavenly Stems are associated with the creative force of each of the five elements, while the Earthly Branches are associated with the manifestations of those elements in the natural world.
For example, the Heavenly Stem “Wood” is associated with the creative force of the wood element, which represents growth and expansion. The Earthly Branch “Rabbit” is associated with the wood element’s manifestation in the natural world, including the season of spring and the direction east.
The combination of the Heavenly Stem and Earthly Branch associated with each of the five elements creates a specific energy cycle that is thought to influence the body’s organs, emotions, and overall health.
In Chinese medicine, imbalances of the five elements are thought to contribute to disease and other health problems. Practitioners of Chinese medicine may use the EBHS system to identify imbalances and develop treatments to restore balance.
For example, if a patient has symptoms of a wood element imbalance, such as irritability or vision problems, a practitioner may use treatments that support the liver and gallbladder organs associated with the wood element, or use acupuncture points associated with the Earthly Branch “Rabbit” or Heavenly Stem “Wood”.
Overall, the EBHS system is a valuable tool for understanding the balance of the five elements in the natural world and the human body, and for developing effective treatments for a wide range of health conditions.
heavenly stems and earthly branches the eight trigrams
The Eight Trigrams are: Qian, Dui, Li, Zhen, Xun, Kan, Gen, and Kun. Qian, Kan, Zhen, and Gen are Yang, while Kun, Xun, Li, and Dui are Yin.
The Eight Trigrams have both a pre-heaven and a post-heaven orientation. The pre-heaven orientation is: Qian facing south, Dui southeast, Li east, Zhen northeast, Xun southwest, Kan west, Gen northwest, and Kun facing north. The post-heaven orientation is: Li facing south, Xun southeast, Zhen east, Gen northeast, Kan north, Qian northwest, Dui west, and Kun southwest.
The Eight Trigrams also have corresponding images: Qian represents three unbroken lines, Kun represents six broken lines, Zhen represents a bowl facing upwards, and Gen represents a bowl facing downwards. Dui has a broken top line, Xun has a broken bottom line, Li has a hollow center, and Kan has a solid center. You can observe these images when casting divination online.
After understanding the Eight Trigrams, we move on to the Ten Heavenly Stems. In the Chinese calendar, the Ten Heavenly Stems are called “Shi Tian Gan” and they are Jia, Yi, Bing, Ding, Wu, Ji, Geng, Xin, Ren, and Gui.
The Ten Heavenly Stems also correspond to the four seasons and directions. Jia and Yi represent spring and correspond to the east; Bing, Ding, and Wu represent summer and correspond to the south; Geng and Xin represent autumn and correspond to the west; and Wu, Ren, and Gui represent winter and correspond to the north.
The Ten Heavenly Stems also represent the six qi (or energies) of the body: cold, heat, warmth, coolness, dampness, and dryness. Therefore, each of the Ten Heavenly Stems corresponds to different body parts. Jia and Yi correspond to the feet, liver, and voice; Bing and Ding correspond to the eyes, heart, and upper burner; Wu and Ji correspond to the abdomen, spleen, stomach, small intestine, and reproductive organs; Geng and Xin correspond to the lungs, skin, hair, mouth, and phlegm; and Ren and Gui correspond to the bones, ears, kidneys, and blood.
Finally, we have the Twelve Earthly Branches, which are Zi, Chou, Yin, Mao, Chen, Si, Wu, Wei, Shen, You, Xu, and Hai. The combination of the Ten Heavenly Stems and the Twelve Earthly Branches form the Chinese traditional calendar for marking years.
The Twelve Earthly Branches also correspond to the four seasons and directions. Yin, Mao, and Chen represent spring; Si, Wu, and Wei represent summer; Shen, You, and Xu represent autumn; and Chou, Zi, and Hai represent winter.
Zi corresponds to true north; Chou and Yin correspond to northeast; Mao corresponds to true east; Chen and Si correspond to southeast; Wu corresponds to true south; Wei and Shen correspond to southwest; You corresponds to true west; and Xu and Hai correspond to northwest.
heavenly stems and earthly branches with a sundial
Although the exact time of the invention of the sundial is uncertain, it can be roughly inferred that it originated before the Han Dynasty, slightly later than the gnomon. Its working principle is the same as that of the gnomon, which is to determine the time by observing the movement of the sun within a day. It also consists of two parts: a copper pointer – the gnomon, and a stone disk – the dial. The disk is placed on a stone platform with a south-high and north-low orientation to ensure that the celestial equator and the dial surface are always in a parallel position, while the upper end of the gnomon points to the North Celestial Pole and the lower end points to the South Celestial Pole. After the Song Dynasty, the sundial was combined with the Earthly Branches and divided into twenty-four parts on the dial surface, corresponding to the twenty-four hours in a day. Nevertheless, the disadvantages of the sundial are still very obvious. It is not only bulky, but also cannot function in rainy or cloudy weather, and it cannot be widely used as a timing tool in people’s daily lives.
heavenly stems and earthly branches vs bazi
The eight characters known as “Bazi” are all composed of heavenly stems and earthly branches.
Both heavenly stems and earthly branches have five-element attributes. Specifically, the heavenly stems are paired with the five elements as follows: Jia and Yi belong to wood, with Jia being yang wood and Yi being yin wood. Bing and Ding belong to fire, with Bing being yang fire and Ding being yin fire. Wu and Ji belong to earth, with Wu being yang earth and Ji being yin earth. Geng and Xin belong to metal, with Geng being yang metal and Xin being yin metal. Ren and Gui belong to water, with Ren being yang water and Gui being yin water.
The earthly branches are paired with the five elements as follows: Yin and Mao belong to wood, with Yin being yang wood and Mao being yin wood. Si and Wu belong to fire, with Wu being yang fire and Si being yin fire. Shen and You belong to metal, with Shen being yang metal and You being yin metal. Hai and Zi belong to water, with Zi being yang water and Hai being yin water. Chen, Xu, Chou, and Wei belong to earth, with Chen and Xu belonging to yang earth and Chou and Wei belonging to yin earth.
heavenly stems and earthly branches vs zodiac signs
The 22 characters of heavenly stems and earthly branches are quite “strange and complex, and unimaginable.” The Chinese zodiac, which consists of 12 animals, is used in science for recording years and times. So why are the Chinese zodiac and heavenly stems and earthly branches related? This goes back to ancient Chinese calendars.
In ancient times, China had six different calendars: the Yellow Emperor calendar, the Zhuanxu calendar, the Xia calendar, the Yin calendar, the Zhou calendar, and the Lu calendar. The lunar calendar, which we commonly use today, is actually based on the Xia calendar. The Xia calendar uses heavenly stems and earthly branches to arrange year names and dates, such as the years of Jiazi, Yichou, Bingyin, and Dingmao.
There are ten heavenly stems arranged in order: Jia, Yi, Bing, Ding, Wu, Ji, Geng, Xin, Ren, and Gui. There are also twelve earthly branches, namely Zi, Chou, Yin, Mao, Chen, Si, Wu, Wei, Shen, You, Xu, and Hai.
The ten heavenly stems are not related to the sun, while the twelve earthly branches were originally used to record months. The heavenly stems are based on the decimal system, making it easy to calculate, while the earthly branches are based on the duodecimal system, making it advantageous for recording hours and months. In the calendar, one heavenly stem and one earthly branch are combined and arranged with the heavenly stem on top and the earthly branch on the bottom. The heavenly stems are arranged from Jia, and the earthly branches are arranged from Zi. Yang stems are paired with yang branches, and yin stems are paired with yin branches (yang stems are not paired with yin branches, and yin stems are not paired with yang branches). There are 60 combinations in total, which are known as the “60 Jiazi.” The Chinese saying “after 60 years, it will come back again” comes from this concept.
In fact, what we commonly refer to as the “eight characters of birth,” refers to the combination of heavenly stems and earthly branches to express the year, month, day, and hour. The Chinese zodiac, also known as the “12 animal signs” or “12 earthly branches,” correspond to the twelve earthly branches.
The Book of Changes also records that as early as the first century AD, the Chinese used the twelve zodiac animals and heavenly stems and earthly branches to record years. In the Jiazi cycle, the years of the same earthly branch correspond to the same zodiac animal. For example, “Shen” corresponds to the monkey, and the years of Ren Shen, Jia Shen, Bing Shen, Wu Shen, and Geng Shen are all monkey years. The corresponding zodiac animals for other earthly branches can be listed using the same method.
Moreover, since at least the Han Dynasty, the Chinese have been using the twelve earthly branches to record the twelve-hour time periods based on the time of the sun’s rising. Each time period is equivalent to two hours, making up the 24-hour day we have today. The reason why the twelve earthly branches correspond exactly to the twelve zodiac animals has a deeper meaning in the Book of Changes.
These are the Chinese zodiac signs and their corresponding meanings based on the time of day:
- Zi (Rat) represents the beginning of the day, when Yang energy is rising and everything is starting to grow. This time period is from 11 pm to 1 am, and it is associated with the rat because they are most active during this time.
- Chou (Ox) represents the time when things start to solidify and become stable. This is from 1 am to 3 am, and it is associated with the ox because they are known for their hardworking and diligent nature.
- Yin (Tiger) represents the time when things are just beginning to come alive. This is from 3 am to 5 am, and it is associated with the tiger because they are most active during this time and known for their fierceness.
- Mao (Rabbit) represents the time when things start to become peaceful and harmonious. This is from 5 am to 7 am, and it is associated with the rabbit because they are known for their gentle nature and ability to bring peace.
- Chen (Dragon) represents the time when things start to become more powerful and dynamic. This is from 7 am to 9 am, and it is associated with the dragon because they are known for their strength and power.
- Si (Snake) represents the time when Yang energy is at its peak and everything is flourishing. This is from 9 am to 11 am, and it is associated with the snake because they are most active during this time.
- Wu (Horse) represents the time when everything is in full bloom and at its peak. This is from 11 am to 1 pm, and it is associated with the horse because they are known for their energetic and playful nature.
- Wei (Goat) represents the time when things start to mature and develop a unique taste. This is from 1 pm to 3 pm, and it is associated with the goat because they are known for their ability to produce quality milk and cheese.
- Shen (Monkey) represents the time when things are in full swing and everyone is active and playful. This is from 3 pm to 5 pm, and it is associated with the monkey because they are known for their lively and mischievous nature.
- You (Rooster) represents the time when things start to wind down and come to a close. This is from 5 pm to 7 pm, and it is associated with the rooster because they are known for their tendency to return to their coop at nightfall.
- Xu (Dog) represents the time when things start to die off and come to an end. This is from 7 pm to 9 pm, and it is associated with the dog because they are known for their loyalty and ability to protect their owners.
- Hai (Pig) represents the time when things are quiet and still. This is from 9 pm to 11 pm, and it is associated with the pig because they are known for their love of sleep and relaxation.
heavenly stems and earthly branches vs solar terms
Heavenly stems and earthly branches, also known as the Four Pillars of Destiny or BaZi, are a traditional Chinese system for astrology and fortune-telling based on a person’s birth date and time. The heavenly stems are the 10 celestial stems, while the earthly branches are the 12 zodiac signs, which are assigned based on the Chinese lunar calendar.
On the other hand, solar terms are a system used in traditional Chinese calendar to mark the changes in the seasons and the movement of the sun. They are based on the position of the sun in relation to the ecliptic and the equator, and are used to determine the start of each of the 24 solar terms that make up the Chinese solar calendar. The solar terms are also used for agricultural purposes and are deeply ingrained in traditional Chinese culture.
While both systems are based on the Chinese calendar and have a significant impact on Chinese culture, they serve different purposes. The Four Pillars of Destiny are used for fortune-telling and astrology, while the solar terms are primarily used for marking seasonal changes and agricultural activities.
Throughout history, there have been two types of lunar calendars: the solar calendar and the lunar calendar. The solar calendar, which is now globally used as the Gregorian calendar, marks one year as the time it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun (relative to the Earth, the Sun moves around the ecliptic once a year). This is divided into twelve months, with leap years added as needed. The advantage of the solar calendar is that it accurately reflects the four seasons. The lunar calendar, on the other hand, strictly follows the phases of the moon to mark months, and does not take into account the Earth’s revolution period, so it cannot accurately divide the four seasons. Traditional Chinese lunar calendar is actually a combination of both, marking months according to the phases of the moon, but also adding leap months to align with the solar year.
The 24 solar terms divide the 360-degree orbit of the Earth around the Sun, or one solar year, into 24 segments, with each segment corresponding to a 15-degree shift in the Sun’s position. The lunar calendar names these 24 solar terms as “jieqi”, including Spring Equinox, Rain Water, Awakening of Insects, Start of Spring, Pure Brightness, Vernal Equinox, Minor Heat, Grain Full, Grain in Ear, Minor Heat, Major Heat, Autumn Equinox, White Dew, Indian Summer, White Dew, Start of Winter, Frost’s Descent, Light Snow, Winter Solstice, Minor Cold, Major Snow, Winter Solstice Solar Term, and Minor Cold Solar Term. Among them, the 12 terms of Spring Equinox, Awakening of Insects, Pure Brightness, Grain Full, Minor Heat, Vernal Equinox, White Dew, Autumn Equinox, Frost’s Descent, Light Snow, Start of Winter, and Major Cold are known as “jie” or “seasonal nodes”, while the other 12 terms are called “qi” or “solar terms”. Although the jieqi are usually considered part of the lunar calendar, they are actually based on the solar calendar. The year and month divisions used in the Four Pillars of Destiny are also based on the jieqi, rather than the traditional lunar or solar year and month divisions. This ensures the accuracy of the Four Pillars and its alignment with the solar year and seasons.
heavenly stems and earthly branches vs lunar calendar
The relationship between the lunar calendar and the earthly branches
The heavenly stems and earthly branches, abbreviated as gan zhi, are used in the Xia calendar to arrange year numbers and dates. The heavenly stems are: Jia, Yi, Bing, Ding, Wu, Ji, Geng, Xin, Ren, and Gui, also known as the ten heavenly stems; the earthly branches are: Zi, Chou, Yin, Mao, Chen, Si, Wu, Wei, Shen, You, Xu, and Hai, also known as the twelve earthly branches. The heavenly stems and earthly branches are also divided into yin and yang: Jia, Bing, Wu, Geng, and Ren are yang stems, while Yi, Ding, Ji, Xin, and Gui are yin stems; Zi, Yin, Chen, Wu, Shen, and Xu are yang branches, while Chou, Mao, Si, Wei, You, and Hai are yin branches. They are arranged by matching one heavenly stem with one earthly branch, with the heavenly stem coming first and the earthly branch coming last. The heavenly stems start with Jia and the earthly branches start with Zi. Yang stems are paired with yang branches, and yin stems are paired with yin branches (yang stems are not paired with yin branches, and yin stems are not paired with yang branches). There are a total of 60 combinations, called the “Sixty Jiazi.” The Chinese people used to use the Sixty Jiazi to cycle through years, months, days, and hours.
The relationship between the lunar calendar and the heavenly stems
Gan Zhi, or the Stem-Branch system, is used in the Chinese lunar calendar. The system consists of ten Heavenly Stems and twelve Earthly Branches. The ten Heavenly Stems are: Jia, Yi, Bing, Ding, Wu, Ji, Geng, Xin, Ren, and Gui. The twelve Earthly Branches are: Zi, Chou, Yin, Mao, Chen, Si, Wu, Wei, Shen, You, Xu, and Hai.
The Heavenly Stems are paired with the Earthly Branches in a cyclical pattern, with Jiazi being the first year and Guihai being the 60th year. This means that the same Stem-Branch combination occurs every 60 years.
Using this pattern, if we know the Stem-Branch combination for a particular year, we can calculate the combination for any other year. For example, 1996 was the year of Bingzi, and we can use this information to determine that 1995 was the year of Yi Hai and 1997 was the year of Ding Chou.
Overall, the Gan Zhi system is an important aspect of the Chinese lunar calendar and is used to determine auspicious dates for events such as weddings and festivals.
In conclusion, Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches is a complex and important system in Chinese astrology and culture. It plays a crucial role in measuring time, determining auspicious and inauspicious moments, and is deeply ingrained in Chinese tradition and aesthetics. Its continued use in modern-day China is a testament to its enduring relevance and significance.