To decipher an individual’s bazi, one needs to have a fundamental understanding of the relationship between the self-element (day master) with other heavenly stems.
As a quick recap, bazi consist of 8 characters made up of 4 heavenly stems and 4 earthly branches.
More about the basics of bazi (4 pillars of destiny) can be found here.
There are 10 possible heavenly stems that can take up each of the 4 heavenly stems; positions.
In classical text, these 10 stems are named 十神 which literally translates to 10 gods, 10 deities or some refer to it as 10 spirits.
It should be reminded that these references to the 10 gods have no connotations to religion, superstition or celestial beings.
It’s just a play with words. An expression of the meanings behind them.
Among the 10 gods, what they represent to each person depends on the person’s self-element (ri yuan 日元). This is because what a certain element mean to a specific person can only be determined with reference to the day master.
The 10 gods are:
- Jia wood (甲)
- Yi wood (乙)
- Bing fire (丙)
- Ding fire (丁)
- Wu earth (戊)
- Ji earth (己)
- Geng metal (庚)
- Xin metal (辛)
- Ren water (壬)
- Gui water (癸)
A gentle reminder that the above don’t mean anything until one can figure out his self-element.
To find meaning behind them, the relationship between the self-element and the 10 gods have to be determined.
This can be categorized into:
- The element that creates self-element
- The element that is created by self-element
- The element that destroys self-element
- The element that is destroyed by self-element
- The element that duplicates self-element
As there is a yin (-) or yang (+) attribute to each element, the above 5 elements plus their yin and yang polarity (or versions) make up the 10 deities.
As can be observed above, there are only 5 elements that have significantly different functions. Plus the elemental stem that represents the self (ri yuan), it makes up 6 main variables. Thus the 10 gods can sometimes be also referred to as the 6 gods or 6 spirits.
Discovering the 10 gods
To elaborate what are the possible representations each of the 10 gods has, let’s use an example in which an individual discovers he has a self-element of jia wood (+ wood) after plotting his bazi.
The wood element is destroyed by metal, creates fire, destroys earth, and is created by water.
The determination of each god then, is as below.
Direct resource (正印) is the yin creator and indirect resource (偏印) is the yang creator.
Friendly (比肩) is the yang duplicate and competition (劫财) is the yin duplicate.
Extrovert talent (伤官) is the yin created and introvert talent (食神) is the yang created.
Direct wealth (正财) is the yin destroyed and indirect wealth (偏财) is the yang destroyed.
Given authority (正官) is the yin destroyer and earned authority (偏官 or 七殺) is the yang destroyer.
Thus, in this example, we would be able to identify the 10 gods specific to this individual with a self-element of jia wood.
- Direct resource as yin water (癸)
- Indirect resource as yang water (壬)
- Friendly as yang wood (甲)
- Competition as yin wood (乙)
- Extrovert talent as yin fire (丁)
- Introvert talent as yang fire (丙)
- Direct wealth as yin earth (己)
- Indirect wealth as yang earth (戊)
- Given authority as yin metal (辛)
- Earned authority as yang metal (庚)
There are a lot of diverse implications for each god. But here is a brief explanation of what they can indicate.
To simplify the referencing of the 10 gods, heavenly stems can be labeled with numbers from H1 to H10. This can enable easier comprehension for non-mandarin speakers.
Mother, mentor, benefactors, supporters, academic pursuit, knowledge, charity, inputs for growth, home, religious places, etc.
Stepmother, mentors with hidden agendas, knowledge of little value, medicine, unfruitful career, etc.
Independence, loyalty, decisiveness, confidence, perseverance, etc.
Passion, courage, authenticity, social, adaptable, impulsive, risky, etc.
Extrovert, eloquent, romantic, smart, creative, rebellious, variety of interests, etc.
Introvert talent (Eating God)
Introvert, philosophical, multi-talented, strategist, humble, deep-thinker, etc.
Down to earth, sincere, rational, reliable, sensible, family-oriented, traditional, conservative, etc.
Generous, regimental, lack of discipline, sharp mind, indecisive, rash, cowardly, etc.
Honorable, law-abiding, ethical, trustworthy, passive, weak willed, etc.
Earned authority (7 killings)
Chivalry, alert, firm, vigorous, dictator, charismatic, aggressive, unreasonable, reckless, etc.
As the method to determine which heavenly stem represents which god, here is a basic explanation to help you grasp it better.
Direct resource is the:
- yin element that creates a yang self-element
- yang element that creates a in self-element
Indirect resource is the:
- yang element that creates a yang self-element
- yin element that creates a yin self-element
Friendly is the:
- yang element that duplicates a yang self-element
- yin element that duplicates a yin self-element
Competition is the:
- yin element that duplicates a yang self-element
- yang element that duplicates a yin self-element
Extrovert talent is the:
- yin element created by a yang self-element
- yang element created by a yin self-element
Introvert talent is the:
- yang element created by a yang self-element
- yin element created by a yin self-element
Direct wealth is the:
- yin element destroyed by a yang self-element
- yang element destroyed by a yin self-element
Indirect wealth is the:
- yang element destroyed by a yang self-element
- yin element destroyed by a yin self-element
Given authority is the:
- yin element that destroys a yang self-element
- yang element that destroys a yin self-element
Earned authority is the:
- yang element that destroys a yang self-element
- yin element that destroys a yin self-element
Alternatively, we can use a table to simplify the referencing.
|Self Element||Same Polarity||Opposite Polarity|
|Creates Self||Indirect Resource||Direct Resource|
|Created by Self||Introvert Talent||Extrovert Talent|
|Destroyed by Self||Indirect Wealth||Direct Wealth|
|Destroys Self||Earned Authority||Given Authority|
Or you can refer to a full detailed cheat sheet here.
Having gone through the above elaborations, it should be clear that any one heavenly stem does not have a fixed representation of any of the 10 gods. What each stem represents depends on what the day stem (day master) of an individual is.
When a stem is favorable to the self, it can be referred to as a god (神). And when it’s unfavorable, it can be referred to as a ghost (鬼) or killing (煞).
It must also be noted that while the 10 gods play a critical role in basic bazi diagnosis, a lot of other variables come into play in advanced bazi analysis.
And if you cannot fully understand the 10 gods, you might want to refrain from making judgments and decisions on your own bazi.
This is because mistakes can sometimes cause you to trigger negative events and suppress positive events.