Chinese Calendar Basic for Polaris Astrology

Lunisolar Calendar

The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar which means it is the combination of both the lunar and the solar calendar. In order to synchronize seasons with months, so that each season begins at approximately the same month and day every year. There are 7 leap years for every 19 years. A Chinese leap year has 13 months. There is an extra month or (a leap month) for every 2.7 years or so. A leap month can have 29 to 30 days. Special caution is needed when dealing with people who were born on a leap month. If a person was born before 15th day of the leap month, the former month is used as his birth month, born on or after the 15th day, the next month is used. Whenever encountered someone who was born on a leap month, to ensure accuracy, always make two astrology charts using both the former and the next month, then compare the results. Choose the one that is most accurate. [1] Solar terms are not used in Polaris Astrology.

Stem and Branch System

The Stem and Branch System, some people call it heavenly stems and earthly branches or celestial stems and territorial branches. The terms have not yet been standardized. I prefer to call it heaven stems and earth branches, sometimes, just stems and branches because this is as close as it gets for literal translation from Chinese to English.

The Stem and Branch System is a naming system for time. Each day, month, year, and time is named after one heaven stem in combination with one earth branch.

In total, there are 10 heaven stems and 12 earth branches. When combined, there are 60 possible combinations. Each combination repeats itself in a period of 60. In other words, each cycle has 60 different stem branch combinations.

The names and sequences of heaven stems, earth branches and their combinations

10 Heaven Stems
1 甲 2 乙 3 丙 4 丁 5 戊 6 己 7 庚 8 辛 9 壬 10 癸
Jia Yi Bing Ding Wu Ji Geng Xin Ren Gui
12 Earth Branches
1 子 2 丑 3 寅 4 卯 5 辰 6 巳 7 午 8 未 9 申 10 酉 11 戌 12 亥
Zi Chou Yin Mao Chen Si Wu Wei Shen You Xu Hai
60 Stem Branch Names
1 甲子
Jia Zi
2 乙丑
Yi Chou
3 丙寅
Bing Yin
4 丁卯
Ding Mao
5 戊辰
Wu Chen
6 己巳
Ji Si
7 庚午
Geng Wu
8 辛未
Xin Wei
9 壬申
Ren Shen
10 癸酉
Gui You
11 甲戌
Jia Xu
12 乙亥
Yi Hai
13 丙子
Bing Zi
14 丁丑
Ding Chou
15 戊寅
Wu Yin
16 己卯
Ji Mao
17 庚辰
Geng Chen
18 辛巳
Xin Si
19 壬午
Ren Wu
20 癸未
Gui Wei
21 甲申
Jia Shen
22 乙酉
Yi You
23 丙戌
Bing Xu
24 丁亥
Ding Hai
25 戊子
Wu Zi
26 己丑
Ji Chou
27 庚寅
Geng Yin
28 辛卯
Xin Mao
29 壬辰
Ren Chen
30 癸巳
Gui Si
31 甲午
Jia Wu
32 乙未
Yi Wei
33 丙申
Bing Shen
34 丁酉
Ding You
35 戊戌
Wu Xu
36 己亥
Ji Hai
37 庚子
Geng Zi
38 辛丑
Xin Chou
39 壬寅
Ren Yin
40 癸卯
Gui Mao
41 甲辰
Jia Chen
42 乙巳
Yi Si
43 丙午
Bing Wu
44 丁未
Ding Wei
45 戊申
Wu Shen
46 己酉
Ji You
47 庚戌
Geng Xu
48 辛亥
Xin Hai
49 壬子
Ren Zi
510 癸丑
Gui Chou
51 甲寅
Jia Yin
52 乙卯
Yi Mao
53 丙辰
Bing Chen
54 丁巳
Ding Si
55 戊午
Wu Wu
56 己未
Ji Wei
57 庚申
Geng Shen
58 辛酉
Xin You
59 壬戌
Ren Xu
60 癸亥
Gui Hai

The Six-Xun (The Six Decades)

Xin(旬) is a period of 10. It can be a period of 10 years, 10 months, 10 days and 10 shi-chen (each shi-chen is two hours).

There are ten Heaven stems in total. In a period of 60, there are six cycles of the ten heaven stems (60/6 =10). In other words, there are 6 Xuns in a period of 60. Each Xun begins with Jia(甲) and ends with Hai(癸). The name of each is referred by Jia(甲) and its corresponding Earth branch.

Names of 6-Xun
Jia Zi Xun
Jia Xu Xun
Jia Shen Xun
Jia Wu Xun
Jia Chen Xun
Jia Yin Xun
Properties of Heave Stems
Name Chinese Order Yin/Yang Element Direction
Jia 1 yang wood east
Yi 2 yin wood east
Bing 3 yang fire south
Ding 4 yin fire south
Wu 5 yang earth center
Ji 6 yin earth center
Geng 7 yang metal west
Xin 8 yin metal west
Ren 9 yang water north
Gui 10 yin water north
Properties of Earth Branches
Name Chinese Order Yin/Yang Element Direction Hour Lunar Month Year Animal
Zi 1 yang water north 11:00pm-1:00am 11 Rat
Chou 2 yin earth north 1:00am-3:00am 12 Ox
Yin 3 yang wood north east 3:00am-5:00am 1 Tiger
Mao 4 yin wood east 5:00am-7:00am 2 Rabbit
Chen 5 yang earth east 7:00am-9:00am 3 Dragon
Si 6 yin fire south east 9:00am-11:00am 4 Snake
Wu 7 yang fire south 11:00am-1:00pm 5 horse
Wei 8 yin earth south 1:00pm-3:00pm 6 Goat
Shen 9 yang metal south west 3:00pm-5:00pm 7 Monkey
You 10 yin metal west 5:00pm-7:00pm 8 Rooster
Xu 11 yang earth west 7:00pm-9:00pm 9 Dog
Hai 12 yin water north west 9:00pm-11:00pm 10 Pig

If analyzed with the theory of yin and yang, earth branches are yin (negative).Yin is solid, massive and fixed to a location. Heaven stems on the other hand are yang (positive). Yang is the opposite of yin. It is energetic and dynamic in motion. Because of it, earth branches are fixed in comparison with heaven stems. Heaven stem is like a small gear with 10 teeth, dynamically rotating and rolling around a fixed lager gear with 12 teeth, which is the earth branches.

The associations between earth branches and lunar months are fixed. For example, Yin (寅) is the third earth branch and it always represents the first lunar month. Mao (卯) is the for the earth branch, and it always represents the second lunar month. It is like saying that August is always summer and 12:00pm is always noon. (Refer to the chart above: Properties of Earth Branches) However, the heaven stems that are associated with the earth branches are always different. It depends on the cycle of the heaven stems that are rotating around the earth branches. For example, the earth branch Zi (子) is alway the year of Rat. The Heaven stem for Zi can be Jia Zi (甲子), Bing Zi (丙子), Wu Zi (戊子), Geng Zi (庚子) and Ren Zi (壬子), which can be translated to Wood Rat, Fire Rat, Earth Rat, Metal Rat and Water Rat (Refer to the chart above: 60 Stem Branch Names). For example, the element associated with the Heaven stem Jia (甲) is wood, the animal associated with Zi (子) is Rat, when combined, it becomes Wood Rat.

Each of the 12 animals (earth branches) is sequentially associated with each of the five elements according to the nourishment cycle (creation cycle) of the five elements. Wood nourishes Fire, Fire nourishes Earth, Earth nourishes Metal, Metal nourishes Water, Water nourishes Wood.

Naming Year, Month, Day and Time with Stems and Branches

The heaven stems and earth branches for the year are called year stems and year branches. Naming is the same for the month, date and time. For example, month branch, day stem, and time branch etc.

Year Stem and Year Branch
Each year is named after one stem in combination with one branch starting from Jia Zi (甲子) the first year to Gui Hai (癸亥) the last year. Each cycle is 60 years. One 60 year cycle is called a Yuan (元). 3-Yuan is 180 years, which is consisted of Upper Yuan, Middle Yuan and Lower Yuan. 3-Yuan is used in Feng Shui, not in Polaris astrology. Some Chinese astrologist use even greater cycles, such as the 10800 year cycle. Both, the year stem and the year branch are used in Polaris astrology. They are used separately, not in combination. Each year branch is associated with one animal.
Month Stem and Month Branch
Months are named the same way as year. Each lunar month is associated with one stem and one branch. Leap months do not have a stem branch association. Depending on a person's birth date as described above, when creating an Polaris astrology chart, it uses either the stem branch of the former month or stem branch of the next. In a typical Chinese lunar calendar, a leap month is referred by its former month. For example, If there was a leap month after the seventh lunar month. The leap month would be referred as leap-seventh-month.
Date Stem and Date Branch
Dates are named the same way as year. Among all the stems and branches, day stem is the most important in the [2]Four-Pillar Foretunetelling Method. Date stem is called Ri-Yaun (日元). It represents the self. If a person's date stem is Jia (甲), then his element is Yang Wood (positive wood). Although this concept is not used in Polaris astrology, some astrologers combine it with Polaris astrology.
Time Stem and Time Branch
Again, times are named the same way as year. However, the time branch is the most troublesome in almost all Chinese fortune predicting methods. In the Chinese calendar system, a day has 12 Shi-Chen (時辰). One Shi-Chen is two hours. 12 Shi-Chen is 24 hours (one day). Each Shi-Chen is associated with one Earth branch. This last Shi-Chen of the day is Hai (亥), which starts from 9:00pm through 10:00pm. The first Shi-Chen of the day is Zi (子), which starts from 11:00pm through 12:00am the the next day. (Refer to the chart above: Properties of Earth Branches) Should a day begins at 11:00pm or 12:00am? In other words, if a person was born on August 8th, between 11:00pm and 11:59.99pm, should August 8 be used as his birth date or the August 9th the next day to be used as his birth date? Many traditional fortunetellers think that day should begin at 11:00pm which is the Zi, the first Shi-Chen . However, many famous Polaris astrologers firmly believe that day should begin at 12:00am. Using this method leads to a problem. There will be two one-hour Zi branch in the same day! If a person is born at 12:00am, his time branch is Zi. If an other person is born 22 hours later at 11:01pm, his time branch is still Zi! They would have identical astrology charts. Currently, I did not encounter enough situations to confirm which method is more accurate. In such case, always create two chart and compare the results. Choose the one that is most accurate.


[1] Solar terms
In the Chinese calendar system, a typical year (not including leap years) is divided in to 24 sections. Each section is about 14.5 days and the names of the sections are referred by 24 solar terms (24 jie-qi 節氣). Solar terms are mostly used by farmers and Four-Pillar fortunetellers.
[2] The Four Pillars Fortunetelling Method (Fortune Analyzing Method)
Four Pillar
The Four-Pillar Fortunetelling Method, is often referred as the Eight-Character. It is called the Eight-Character because eight Chinese characters are being used when describing a person's birthday. The eight characters are year stem and year branch, month stem and month branch, date stem and date branch, time stem and time branch. Traditionally, the Chinese language is written from top down and then right to left. If each of the four stems was stacked on top the of the four branches, it would resembles four pillars. The Four-Pillar Method is offend being referred as Chinese Astrology. Straight speaking, the Four-Pillar is not Chinese astrology. It is primarily based on the philosophy of Yin Yang and the Five Elements, not on stars.

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