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The “four pillars” refers to the Chinese term (生辰八字), which translates as “The Eight Characters of Birth Time”. This is also referred to by the Chinese term (四柱命理學), which translates to “Study of ‘Four Pillars of Life’ Principles”.

Commonly referred to by the shortened terms, “Four Pillars” or Bā Zì, a frequently used alternate phrase is “Four Pillars of your birth time”. It is called Bā Zì (八字), Eight Characters, because each of the four pillars (representing the year, month, day, and hour of one’s birth, respectively) is represented by two characters; one character for a “Heavenly Stem” representing positive (陽; Yang) and one character for an “Earthly Branch” representing (陰; Yin). There are 10 Heavenly Stems (天干, Tiān Gān) and 12 Earthly Branches (地支, Dì Zhī ). The 12-zodiac-animal reference is a folkloric representation of the 12 Earthly Branches.

10 Heavenly Stems (天干) and Positive-Negative (陰陽) Five Elements (五行):

  1. Tree (甲)  : Positive Wood
  2. Flower (乙)  : Negative Wood
  3. Sun (丙)  : Positive Fir
  4. Candle Light (丁)  : Negative Fire
  5. Rock (戊)  : Positive Soil
  6. Mud (己)  : Negative Soil
  7. Sword (庚)  : Positive Metal
  8. Gold Bracelet (辛)  : Negative Metal
  9. River (壬) : Positive Water
  10. Dew (癸) : Negative Water

 

12 Earthly Branches (干支):

  1. Tiger (寅) : Positive Tree
  2. Rabbit (卯) : Negative Tree
  3. Dragon (辰) : Positive Soil
  4. Snake (巳 ) : Negative Fire
  5. Horse (午) : Positive Fire
  6. Goat (未)  : Negative Soil
  7. Monkey (申)  : Positive Metal
  8. Rooster (酉)  : Negative Metal
  9. Dog (戌)  : Positive Soil
  10. Pig (亥)  : Negative Water
  11. Rat (子)  : Positive Water
  12. Ox (牛) : Negative Soil

 

The schools are the Scholarly School and the Professional School.

The Scholarly School began with Xú Zi Píng (徐子平) at the beginning of the Song Dynasty Xú founded the pure theoretical basis of the system.