Figure II.1 Mutual Production and Conquest of stems and branches.

The so-called 'ten spirits' (sbisben +#) or 'six spirits' (liushett

If we substitute the stem of the day of birth with the term riyuan, all the other ordinals will take on different names according to their positions in the orders of Mutual Production and Mutual Conquest, as shown in Figure II.1, and what we get as a result is something reminding us of a sociogram, as shown in Figure II.2.

As we can see, all the various names other than the riyuan 0 7£, which represents the subject whose fate is being read, refer to different states of qi in relation to the subject; some are beneficial but others are not. An ordinal belonging to the same xing as the riyuan and being the same Yin or Yang is the 'shoulder-of-equal-level' (bijian fcfcjpf), representing one's brothers or equals. It is also called 'official appointment' (lu and is supposed to mean what its name implies. With the same xing, but opposite in Yin and Yang to the riyuan, is the 'depriver' (jie ib), which refers to the rank of

yin yang similar to riyuan

yin yang opposite to riyuan

Figure 11.2 The riyuan and fate-calculation sociogram.

one's equals. It is also known as 'depriver of wealth' (jiecai itlM) and 'spoiler of wealth' (baicai Another name given to it is the 'dagger'

Going round the pentagram in a clockwise direction, next to the riyuan are the 'gourmet spirit' (sbisben 1ft if) and the 'official jinx' (shangguan %"%), the first having the same Yin or Yang as the riyuan, and the second the opposite. Note that the word 'spirit' used here refers to a particular state of qi and has nothing to do with the supernatural. It is only used here for lack of a better translation for the word lshen\ In fact, all the different states of qi we have here, including the 'shoulder-of-equal-level', the 'depriver of wealth' and the 'official jinx' that we have just met, are known by the general term 'spirit' (sben), forming the '10 spirits'. Since only six of them have functions significantly different from each other, sometimes they are referred to as the 'six spirits'. Sometimes they are also classified as 'good spirits' (shen) and 'evil spirits' (gui or sha M). The 'gourmet spirit', as its name implies, is normally a 'good spirit' while the 'official jinx' normally causes problems to the one in office and is regarded as an 'evil spirit'. However, none of them is absolutely good or absolutely bad. One Japanese book on the subject says that the 'official jinx' can be a sign of a talented person developing later on in life as a great artist or a musician.

Next come the two items of 'side wealth' (piancai ISM) and 'regular wealth' (zbengcai JEM), both under the control of the riyuan. They support the two officials on their left, one the 'upright official' (zbengguan IE*g) and the other the 'partial official' (pianguan i'sl'sY). Note that both these 'officials' control the riyuan, but that they are also controllable by the 'official jinx' and the 'gourmet spirit'. The two 'officials' support the symbol of authority, the 'proper seal' (zhengyin JE£P) and the 'partial seal' (pianyin flfiEP), also known as the 'unscrupulous spirit' (xiaoshen JftW). The authorities of the two 'seals' support the riyuan, but control the 'gourmet spirit' and the 'official jinx'. It is interesting to note that these authorities are under the control of the two 'wealths'.

The above relations reflect the hard facts of life in traditional Chinese society at the time they were formulated and they must have resulted from long and careful observations. Different interpretations are attached to these relations. Some use them to tell the past and future family background. Parents are referred to in the ordinals of the month and grandparents in those of the year, while the 'terrestrial branch' below the riyuan is the place for the wife, and that of the double-hour denotes children. Within each of the 'terrestrial branches' are hidden two or three 'celestial stems' - known as 'human elements' (renyuan A7U) - and one has to work out their individual relationships with respect to the riyuan. It is also necessary to refer to the phases as shown in Figure II.2 to tell more about one's spouse and one's offspring. All these are supplemented by what is revealed in the sociogram. As noted earlier, both the 'shoulder-of-equal-level' and the 'depriver of wealth' may denote one's brothers and sisters. The father is denoted, among other things, by the 'side wealth', to which the riyuan is probably regarded as a liability and hence it comes under the control of the latter. The 'regular wealth', on the other hand, represents the wife, among other things. The 'officials' would represent the children. The 'upright official' can be the son. Note that according to this system, a father is under the control of his own son: presumably he is responsible for bringing the latter up from childhood and later becomes dependent on him when he gets old himself. The mother finds her place in the 'proper seal'. To take an example, a preponderance of 'shoulder-of-equal-level' and especially 'depriver of wealth' would have a depleting effect on the 'side wealth' and is interpreted as a bad sign for the father.

As pointed out earlier, there is always more than one interpretation and new interpretations are made from time to time to adapt the system to the changing society. If we wish we can take the 'shoulder-of-equal-level' and 'depriver of wealth' to represent our colleagues at work. A Japanese adaptation has made the 'upright official' into the boss or chief executive officer. Our colleagues can share the workload coming from the direction of one's boss but, at the same time, they also compete with us to gain control of the 'side wealth', which in this case may represent promotion, favours from the boss, and so on. How this affects us would depend on the relative strength of our riyuan and the 'shoulder-of-equal-level' and 'depriver of wealth' and the conditions of the 'upright official' and the 'side wealth'.

From the month and time of birth the fate-calculation expert can work out the 'fate palace' (minggong "np|=j) of the subject. Consisting only of a 'terrestrial branch', its interaction with the 'eight characters' has to be taken into account.

The 'Great Destiny' (dayutt cycle

Some professionals stop short at the 'Ten Spirits' in their consultations. For more elaborate calculations, the destiny cycles of the individual have to be carefully examined. There is the 10-year cycle of the 'Great Destiny', which is considered to be of great importance. The time when the cycle of 'Great Destiny' begins has to be calculated. Each of these cycles is represented by the combination of a 'celestial stem' with a 'terrestrial branch' in the sexagenary cycle, with the 'celestial stem' concerned presiding over the first five years of the cycle and the 'terrestrial branch' the next five. Their reactions with the 'fate palace' and the 'eight characters', particularly the riyuan, would determine the general fortune of an individual over a five-year period. There is also a minor one-year cycle of destiny called the 'small cycle' (xiaoyun /hS). However, as its name implies, it is regarded as of minor importance and is not often taken into account in fate-calculation.

The year itself plays a great part on one's fortune. The practitioner has to examine how the ordinals of the year affect the 'eight characters', the 'fate palace' and the 'Great Destiny' cycle. To go a step further, he can even look at the ordinals of the individual months and days for a more detailed interpretation. The practitioner has at his disposal a number of tables that he can consult. These tables, as shown in Figure II.3 to Figure II.5, give details of the combinations of ordinals. Nevertheless, calculations giving details concerning every year of an individual's life are seldom seen nowadays. In November 1986, while talking about geomancy and fortune-telling with an acquaintance who was knowledgeable in these arts, I was informed that in Hong Kong a long consultation of this nature would cost a small fortune and that there were only very few experts around who could perform such detailed calculations.

Practitioners of fate-calculations were very much aware of the fact that many with exactly the same eight characters did not share the same fate. An example often cited is the case of two persons with the same eight characters ending up with one amassing immense wealth and the other becoming a pauper. To deal with such a problem some practitioners would


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