Chinese Astrology 101 – Intro to Chinese Astrology

Chinese Astrology 101

What is Chinese Astrology?

It is an ancient method to find out the fate of a person as soon as he or she was born.

From the moment they take their first breath, their fate is destined.

The data taken to gauge their fate is derived from their date and hour of birth. The hour is important as without it the chart is only a third done.

This is a basic chart of a person:

4 Pillars chart

Born in the Year of the Yin Metal Pig

In the Month of Yang Wood Horse

In the Day of Yin Wood Snake

In the Hour of Yin Earth Rabbit

This is what is known as the Four Pillars of Destiny, also known as BaZi literally translated as 8 characters taken from the 8 characters in the Pillars.

Heavenly Stems

The characters on the top are known as the Heavenly Stems and there are 10 of them:

  1. Yang Water
  2. Yin Water
  3. Yang Wood
  4. Yin Wood
  5. Yang Fire
  6. Yin Fire
  7. Yang Earth
  8. Yin Earth
  9. Yang Metal
  10. Yin Metal

The characters on the bottom are known as the Earthly Branches and there are 12 of them, these are represented by the 12 Zodiac Animals:

  1. Tiger

    Chinese Zodiac animals
  2. Rabbit
  3. Dragon
  4. Snake
  5. Horse
  6. Goat
  7. Monkey
  8. Rooster
  9. Dog
  10. Pig
  11. Rat
  12. Ox

Each Zodiac Animal has its own main element:

  1. Tiger – Yang Wood
  2. Rabbit – Yin Wood
  3. Dragon – Yang Earth
  4. Snake – Yin Fire
  5. Horse – Yang Fire
  6. Goat – Yin Earth
  7. Monkey – Yang Metal
  8. Rooster – Yin Metal
  9. Dog – Yang Dog
  10. Pig – Yin Water
  11. Rat – Yang Water
  12. Ox – Yin Earth

The philosophy in Chinese Metaphysics is based on the theories of Yin and Yang and the 5 elements:  

1.What is Yin and Yang:

To explain it simply, there are contradictory forces that exist in the Universe where they are completely opposite yet complimentary to each other like: male & female, day and night, sun and moon, black and white, happy and sad, active and passive etc.

  • Yin is female, dark, moon, black, sad, receiving and hidden
  • Yang is male, bright, sun, white, happy, giving and open

However in every Yang element there is a little bit of Yin and in every Yin there is a little bit of Yang element, hence one cannot live without the other.

So in theory there are Yin and Yang forces in every person’s life, sometimes it can be harmonious and other times it can be clashing.

The main aim for Chinese Astrology is to create balance so that one can lessen one’s bad luck, enhance the good times, lessen the impact of health issues, create more harmony in relationships, work in an industry or in an environment that one is more suitable for.

If a person has all Yang elements in their charts one can say that the person has more masculine tendencies, more open, more happy and outgoing. If a person has all Yin elements in their charts the person is more feminine and tend to have more hidden qualities, less outgoing and more introverted.

5 Elements:

The ancient Chinese Masters believed that the whole Universe is made up of 5 elements: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. From the interaction of these 5 elements the Universe evolved and they use this philosophy in all of the 5 Arts in Chinese Metaphysics: Martial Arts, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Destiny, Divination and Physiognomy which includes reading of the landforms, palms and face.

There are 3 types of methods that the elements interact:

Supportive and Depleting cycles


The Supportive: Fire supports Earth supports Metal supports Water supports Wood supports Fire

The Depleting Cycle: In Supporting the following element the element is depleted hence, Earth depletes Fire, Metal depletes Earth, Water depletes Metal, Wood depletes Water and Fire depletes Wood.

Controlling cycle


The Controlling Cycle: This is when an element overpowers another element

Metal controls Wood by having the power to chop it

Water controls Fire by having the power to putting it out

Wood controls Earth by having the power to control by holding it together

Fire controls Metal by having the power to melt it

Earth controls Water by having the power to control its flow

How to read a chart:

The most important character in the chart is the Heavenly Stem of the Day Pillar. This represents the person’s major characteristics and all the other characters are assessed with the Day Pillar in focus. This character is called the DayMaster. This represents the person’s characteristics.

The second most important character is the Earthly Branch of the Month Pillar as this is the birth Month of the DayMaster and the birth Month for the rest of the 7 characters.

Here the DayMaster is Yin Wood, born in the Month Pillar of Horse –Yang Fire. The person was born in the Metal Pig Year, Wood Horse Month, Wood Snake Day and Earth Rabbit Hour.







One of the first steps to do is decide the strength of the DayMaster and chart.

There are 5 types of charts: Strong, Weak, Follow, Extremely Strong, Extremely Weak . Sometimes a chart can be normal where all the elements are fairly balanced.

There are 3 steps to decide on the strength:

  1. Month Pillar – We use the Month Branch to gauge the strength of the DayMaster. Is it supportive, depleting or controlling?
  2. Earthly Branches – how many supportive are there and how many depleting and controlling are there?
  3. Heavenly Stems – how many supportive (not including the DayMaster) are there and how many depleting and controlling are there?
How to create Balance:

To make a Strong chart, the Month Branch has to be supportive and there must be either 2 supportive elements in the Earthly Branch or 2 supportive elements in the Heavenly Stems.

If there is less than 2 supports in either the Month, Branches or Stems, then it is not a Strong chart. If there isn’t then it will be a Weak chart. Other types will be discussed at a later level.

In this example:

  1. Month – no support as Fire depletes Wood
  2. Earthly Branch – 1 Wood element which is a Parallel and it’s positive, there is 1Water element which is support so there are 2 elements that are supportive.
  3. Heavenly Stems – only 1 Wood element which is supportive.

Out of 3 there is only 1 positive in the Earthly Branches which is not enough to make the chart Strong so this is a Weak chart.

To create balance for this chart we then need to have Wood and Water and less Fire, Earth and Metal.

The favourable elements are Wood and Water and unfavourable elements are Fire, Earth and Metal.

So what are your elements?

And what are your favourable elements?

What are your unfavourable elements?