The Optional Pillars in BaZi

In the post on the Four Pillars mention was made of extra Pillars which were available to astrologers. In this post we will have a closer look at them. They are the Conception, Conception Aura, Body, Life and Minute Pillars. We begin with the means to calculate them all, except fpr the Minute Pillar, which is described at the end. It is a special case..

The easiest of the optional Pillars to calculate are the two Conception Pillars. For the Conception Pillar the procedure is easy, even without a table. Using the Month Pillar as the basis, add one to the Stem and 3 to the Branch. For example, the Pillar 5VII would have a Conception Pillar of 6X, or H6/E10. This would be an Earth Rooster Conception Pillar.

The Pillar for the Conception Aura is just about as easy, but it is easier to use the Table below. Using the Month Pillar again as the basis, we add 5 to the Stem and consult the table for the Branch. So, for our 5VIII Month Pillar, we would have 10VIII as the Conception Aura Pillar, or a Water Sheep. We note that the Branch table for the Conception Aura runs in a cycle of two halves, with a sequence of +1, -1, 9, 7, 5, 3, starting with E1 and then continuing. Therefore the sequence would be E1=E2, E2=E1, E3=E12, E4=E11, E5=E10, E6=E9, then the cycle repeats with E7. It is much easier to just look at the tables:

C:\Users\tian_\Pictures\Site Pictures\conception_aura_stem.jpg C:\Users\tian_\Pictures\Site Pictures\conception_aura_branch.jpg

Life Pillar: The next Pillar to calculate is the Life Pillar, which is related to the other two. Using our Month Pillar from before (5VII) and adding an Hour Pillar, say, 6II, consult the following table:

C:\Users\tian_\Pictures\Site Pictures\life_pillar_branch.jpg

The resultant will be E11. We then take this to the Five Tigers Month Table, below. For that we need to know the Year Stem, say for this year (2021): Metal Ox, or H7. So, from the table we plug in E11 and H7, giving us E1 the Rat.

C:\Users\tian_\Pictures\Site Pictures\five_tigers_month_table.jpg

The resultant Life Pillar is thus H5E1, or Earth Rat.

Body Pillar: The next extra Pillar to calculate is the Body Pillar. The procedure is the same as that for the Life Pillar, except we consult different tables. We note the first table goes in a different sequence than that for the Life Pillar. It goes in reverse order. So, using the same month and hour Branches, consult the table below, again using the 5VII for the Month Pillar and 6II for the Hour Pillar:

C:\Users\tian_\Pictures\Site Pictures\body_pillar_branch.jpg

The result from the table is E9, the Monkey Branch. Then, using that and again consulting our Five Tigers table above, we get H3E11, or Fire Monkey. We these at hand, we can then begin parsing the meanings of these extra Pillars in relation to the natal Four Pillars. We will leave the Minute Pillar for after. What follows is taken almost verbatim from the Five Arts site, corrected for English and with added notes by this author.

Rules for the Conception Pillar: There are some basic rules for reading the Conception Pillar, as follows:

1. Conception is the 4 main pillars’ foundation and root. Therefore it is not favourable for them to clash with the Conception Pillar. If any of the 4 Pillars do clash with that of Conception, the respective kins as represented by the Pillar is inauspicious (has negative influences).

2. It is most unfavourable for Conception Pillar to clash with the Day Pillar. The person’s life will be full of toil and hardships.

3. It is most auspicious for Conception Pillar to have auspicious symbolic stars. For example, if auspicious stars like Heavenly Virtue, Moon Virtue or Nobleman are found in the Conception Pillar, the person will be very protected and have good fortune.

4. When the Conception Pillar’s Stem and Branch elements are of a supporting and harmonious nature with Year and Hour Pillars, the person will be blessed with longevity by their ancestors. If it clashes with the Year pillar, the person’s parents will have short lifespans.

5. The na yin elements of the 4 main Pillars should be not of a conflicting nature with the Conception Pillar. If there are 3 Pillars [or more] which do, the person is born into a poor family, the parents have short lifespans, the person is prone to be orphaned and his/her family is very poor during his/her childhood.

Other considerations for the Conception Pillar are as follows:

If the Conception Pillar:

– has the Prosperity star, the person is born into a wealthy family.

– has the Heavenly Void star, the person is born into a poor family.

– has the Nobleman star, the person has help/grooming from people.

– clashes with the Day or Year pillar, the person has a life full of toil and hardships.

– has na yin (Melodic/Combined Elements) and Hour Pillar’s na yin are of a supporting nature, the person has longevity.

– clashes with Hour pillar, the person has a short lifespan.

na yin clashes the Year pillar’s na yin , the person’s parents have short lifespans.

General rules for the Conception Aura Pillar: (These are of secondary influence to the Conception Pillar)

– Basically, its Stem is derived by the Stem that combines with the Day Master, while its Branch is derived by the Branch that is liu he (Six Combinations) combined with day branch. Eg; Fire Rat Day Pillar’s Conception Aura pillar is Water Ox, from the tables above.

– The Conception Pillar represents one’s innate aspects, while the Conception Aura Pillar represents acquired aspects. The Conception Pillar is a primary influence (main), while the Conception Aura Pillar is secondary influence.

– The Pillars of Conception and Conception Aura should not clash, as it would be inauspicious. Each of their elements should be supportive to be auspicious.

– Both Pillars originated from some itinerant website’s “Direct Interpretation Chapter”, and belong to a fortune-telling sect’s terminology. The Blindman sect (traditional BaZi analysis) places great importance on them and regards them as “trade secrets”. Although they have certain level of influence in fortune-telling, in most traditional sects they regard the Conception Pillar more than that of the Conception Aura. Itinerant fortune-telling methods regard the Life Pillar, Conception Pillar and Body Pillars as the three most important ones, but place less emphasis on the Conception Aura Pillar.

General rules for the Body Pillar:

Using the Day pillar to determine the Heaven Void, if the Body Pillar has Heaven Void, the person’s life would be generally impoverished, with poor wealth luck, wealth that comes and goes. Even if there is a gain in wealth, it is due to the influence of other Pillars.

2. If the Body Pillar has a clash or “chuan jue”, the person’s wealth and luck for the entire life is unfavourable. If there is a Heaven Void, that is to be interpreted separately.

3. If the Body Pillar deities/elements are favourable and its stem supports the Day Master, the person will be very wealthy. If the Body Pillar stem and the Day Master elements are of a conflicting nature, the person will experience a huge loss of wealth.

4. If the Body Pillar elements are unfavourable and its Stem supports the Day Master, the person’s wealth and luck are unfavourable. If the Body Pillar stem and Day Master elements are of a conflicting nature, the person will experience a huge loss of wealth.

5. If the Body Pillar Stem is a favourable element while the Branch is an unfavourable element, and if the Body Stem supports the Day Master, the person is wealthy. But if the Body Stem and Day Master are of a conflicting nature, the person will live an average life.

6. If the Body Pillar Stem and Day Master are involved in a combination, the person has good wealth luck for life.

General rules for the Life Pillar:

If the Ram Knife/Goat Blade star resides in Life Pillar, the person has a strong, impulsive and aggressive character. Be wary if the Year Pillar and Life Pillar’s Branches clash. If so, the person will be prone to have accidents. If the 4 main Pillars are free from clashes and penalties, and 7 Killing & resource elements are present to control the Ram Knife star, the person is capable, responsible and well-respected. Regardless of industry or job requirements, he/she will do it whole-heartedly.

If the Travelling Horse star resides in the Life Pillar, the person will venture overseas. If the wealth element resides in the Life Pillar’s Branch, the person achieves prosperity rapidly, has achievements in career and has affinity with windfalls. If the Seven Killing star resides in the Life Pillar’s branch, person is like to become a diplomat or government official sent for overseas assignments.

The rule is: If the Life Pillar clashes or combines with a Luck or annual Pillar, in that 10-year or 1-year period the person is prone to be moving house or building a new house. If the Life Pillar is the exact pillar as the decade/annual Pillar OR if stem clashes with stem & branch clashes with branch OR stem combines with stem & branch combines with branch, the influence has higher chance of coming true.

The Life Pillar and the timing of death: To see when a person’s death is imminent or a person is on the verge of death. To use the Life Pillar for life-and-death issues is the most clear-cut way. If the Life Pillar clashes completely with any of the main Four Pillars (both stem and stem clashes, and branch and branch also clash) OR the Life Pillar is the exact Pillar as any of main Four Pillars, in that period as represented by that Pillar, the person will likely have a possible death year.

(“same heaven, same earth”) meaning the exact same pillar; same Stem same Branch, (Déjà Vu star)]

[On average, for a 60-year life span, the Year pillar = age 1-15, Month pillar = age 16-30, Day pillar = age 31-45, Hour pillar = age 46-60. Basically each of the main Pillars represents 15 years of person’s life.]

Note: In modern days those periods of life as represented in the Four Pillars may even stretch from 20 – 25 years. The way to know whether or not the periods of life are to be extended is to look at the changes of life when the influences of the various Pillars change. For example, if the Year Pillar is the Monkey and the Month Pillar is the Ox, a sudden shift in emphasis from all things technical to a strong focus on security and financial matters would be a sure indicator of the general length of life. If that change took place at around 18 years, for example, the general rule of thumb would indicate a life span of about 72 years. In other words, each of the main Pillars represents a quarter of one’s lifespan.

Continuing, the Life Pillar is BaZi’s most influential aspect and is the soul of the chart. If we think of BaZi as a person, the Life Pillar is his/her house. Hence, to look at moving or the sale/purchase of house, we must look at Life Pillar.

If the Arts/Imperial Canopy and Heavenly Void stars reside in the Life Pillar, together with the Solitary/Lonesome star, the person is especially suited to venture in a field of research, and there will be great achievements. Such a person has an air of elegance and refinement, has good wealth and luck, but is prone to solitude, has few or no offspring, has weak affinity with kins and is prone to live a solitary life.

Hence, as long as any pillar is:

1. the same exact pillar as Life Pillar (applicable for 4 main pillars only)

2. clashes completely with the Life Pillar (applicable for 4 main Pillars, decade Pillars (Luck Pillars) and annual Pillars)

…the person will have a possible death year.

If the…

2. Life Pillar’s branch clashes with the Day Branch = poverty, poor health or short lifespan.

3. Death star or Robbing star resides in the Life Pillar = poor health or short lifespan.

4. (For male person) Life Pillar’s branch is E4 or E10 AND has bad stars residing, the person has changing affinity with the spouse.

5. Life Pillar has Flower of Romance (Peach Blossom) star, the person is a lecherous philanderer. If it has the Travelling Horse, the person ventures overseas.

6. Life Pillar’s branch is the wealth element, the person has a strong source of wealth. [the strength of the Day Master is not mentioned, probably not required.]

7. Life Pillar’s branch is the exact same Branch as the Month Branch, the person is decisive and intelligent.

8. Life Pillar has the Nobleman star with the Birth/Attire life stage (E1, E2), the person is knowledgeable.

Additional text from Master Ghost Valley:

The Ghost Valley sect (traditional) says, if the Conception Pillar…

– has the salary star/wealth, person is born into a wealthy family.

– has the Heavenly Void (kong wang), the person is born into a poor family.

– has the Nobleman star, the person has inheritance from the family.

– clashes with the Day/Year Pillar, the person has a life of hardships.

– and Hour Pillar’s na yin are supportive, the person has a long lifespan.

– and Hour Pillar clash with each other, the person has a short lifespan.

– and Year Pillar’s na yin are destructive, the parents of a person have short lifespans.

Examples for the Life Pillar:

Case 1 (male)

C:\Users\tian_\Pictures\Site Pictures\case_3_life_pillar.png

The Life Pillar is the exact same Pillar as Month Pillar and also clashes completely with Year Pillar. In the years between 16-30 years of age, the person will have a possible death year. He died at the age of 18, Luck Pillar = H1-E7 (Wood Horse), annual Pillar = H5-E7 (Earth Horse).


Case 2 (male)

C:\Users\tian_\Pictures\Site Pictures\case_2_life_pillar.png C:\Users\tian_\Pictures\Site Pictures\case_2_life_pillar1.png

The Life Pillar is the exact same Pillar as the Month Pillar. In the years between 16-30 years of age, the person will have a possible death year. He drowned at the age of 19, Luck Pillar = H4-E2 (Fire Ox), annual Pillar = H3-E5 (Fire Dragon).


Case 3 (female)

C:\Users\tian_\Pictures\Site Pictures\case_1_life_pillar.pngC:\Users\tian_\Pictures\Site Pictures\case_3_life_pillar1.png

As the Life Pillar’s Stem is same as the Year Pillar, only the Branches of both Pillars are clashing (E4 clashes with E10), and she shouldn’t have any dangers in age 1-15. But unfortunately, at age 3 the danger is in the Luck Pillar H6-E4 (Earth Rabbit) which clashes completely with the Life Pillar; The Luck Pillar Stem clashes with the Life stem and the Luck Pillar Branch clashes with the Life Branch. Hence, she died at age 3 due to illness. [In other words, there must be a complete clash between the Stem and the Branch for the real danger of death to show.]


Overall considerations for the Conception, Body and Life Pillars:

  • The 3 Pillars not only have interactions with the main Four Pillars (year, month, day, hour); they also interact between one another.
  • The 3 Pillars clash with each other = the person has a life of toils and hardships, often travelling/moving/changing jobs.
  • The 3 Pillars are at odds with each other = the person has poor health and many illnesses.
  • The 3 Pillars are harmonious with each other = the person is highly intelligent.
  • The 3 Pillars “chuan jue” with each other = the person has poor health and many illnesses. (chuan jue are serious clashes, as in Pierce and Sever)

Pierce and Sever are outlined in the tables below. Of the two, Sever is the most severe case. The action works in either direction. Both Rat and Sheep pierce each other, for example.

C:\Users\tian_\Pictures\Site Pictures\pierce.jpg C:\Users\tian_\Pictures\Site Pictures\sever.jpg

  • Conception Pillar meets clashes = the person has a difficult youth and poor health.
  • Conception Pillar meets Heavenly Void = the person has poor health and spending a lot of money.
  • Conception Pillar clashes with Year Pillar = One of the person’s parents might have a short lifespan.
  • Conception Pillar is the same Stem and Branch with the Year Pillar = the person’s parents are improper.
  • Conception Pillar clashes with Yin Branch = the person’s mother adopted her sibling’s son
  • Conception Pillar clashes with Yang Branch = the person’s father adopted his sibling’s son
  • Life or Body Pillar has Heavenly Void = the person is a low profile individual, has few successes in life and is solitary.
  • Life or Body Pillar has clashes = the person has a toiling life, is likely to have surgery or an accident.
  • Life or Body Pillar has combinations = the person receives help/grooming from benefactors.
  • Life, Body and Conception Pillars clash with each other = person has a toiling life and tends to be travelling around often.

The Minute Pillar

The Minute Pillar is a special case in BaZi, for two reasons: Firstly, it is not generally used (in fact rarely). Secondly, there is neither universal agreement on how to calculate the Minute Pillar, nor about its meaning. However, it is included here because some practitioners do use it, and because it is being investigated by a few practitioners. We start with its proposed meanings.

The Minute Pillar represents an extension of the Hour Pillar. That much is clear. Other than that, it would appear to represent grandchildren, friends of friends (general acquaintances outside of family, the post-retirement years, long term investments and the legacy of one’s creative work, including income generated from creative work. The Minute Pillar could also represent the legacy one leaves for one’s family. Perhaps we get the idea. But further, if the Hour Pillar represents the last quarter of one’s life, as practice over centuries has shown, the Minute Pillar presents some interesting speculations.

If the Hour Pillar represents the last quarter of life, then the Minute Pillar represents conditions at the moment of death and the immediate sojourn in the Heavenly Fields. It would also follow that the Minute Pillar would represent the nature and number of one’s grandchildren, as well as the nature and relative wealth generated by one’s long-term investments, such as property and the like.

In a spiritual perspective, the Minute Pillar would represent the wisdom accumulated throughout life or one’s inability to learn from experience. The Minute Pillar is analogous to the moment of one’s birth, a sort of Chinese Ascendant, showing the path forward spiritually and thereby representing a doorway into greater realities. Therefore, instead of being an unknown quantity, as is currently the case in the practice of Chinese astrology, instead the Minute Pillar should be of much greater importance in considering the Four Pillars than is currently the norm in BaZi. If BaZi is to be seen in a wider, spiritual context, then it would seem imperative that a standardized method is found for its calculation. This brings up an important topic, such as how we define a ‘Chinese Minute’.

The Chinese Minute: The old school of Chinese astrology does not establish a need for determining the minute of birth. The Chinese double-hour is sufficient to the task for establishing the Four Pillars of Destiny and charting the course of one’s life. However, it would help to talk about how a minute is defined.

In standard practice now across the world, there are 24 hours in a day and sixty minutes in an hour, along with sixty seconds in each minute. But the old Chinese system uses a system of 12 double-hours, which fits very nicely with the cycle of 12 Branches and so on. So on that basis, if we divide a double-hour by 12, we get a resultant ten-minute interval. Such a ten-minute interval has been mentioned in relation to Tzi Wei Dou Shu astrology. For the practice of that system, such a division of the double-hour would appear to be sufficient. But there are other considerations.

In seeking to make the minute system more closely conform with modern standards, one system on Minute Pillars has been devised that divides the day in halves of 12 standard hours each, from midnight to noon and from noon to midnight, and then dividing the 12-hour periods into six-minute segments. The general practice there is to start with the same Stem and Branch as the Rat and Horse hours for the day in question and then progress through the Pillars in the standard fashion from there. This system has yet to be proven, though it is rather interesting and should be investigated. But there is yet another refinement on the minutes, one that was put forward in the program I helped develop with Esoteric Technologies in The Imperial Astrologer software.

If we take the fact there are 120 standard minutes in a double-hour, then we can divide the double-hour into 60 two-minute segments, to which all the 60 Stem-Branch combinations would be representatives. The Stem and Branch for the 1st double-minute would be the same as that of the Hour Pillar, and each double-hour and 1st Minute Pillar of that hour would be the same. Such a system would be an approximation of the Ascendant as calculated in Western astrology. The Minute Pillar in the system just described can be progressed and can also be used to rectify the birth time.

As to the relations between the Minute Pillar and the other Pillars, interpretation would proceed as it would for any other Pillar, keeping in mind the characteristics and kin of the respective Pillars. The Minute Pillar is a work in progress. I would suspect it will become a standard feature of modern BaZi practice in the not-too-distant future. Perhaps each of the systems just outlined has its respective usage.


2014 in L'Alpe di Siusi, fresh from the US and Australia.

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