How The 5 Combinations Of Heavenly Stems Work

When we talk about the combinations of heavenly stem within a bazi, we are generally referring to the 5 combinations (天干五合).

Like the 6 combinations that is the most common in earthly branches, the 5 combinations are the most common in heavenly stems.

Even though there are other categories of combinations between stems in more advanced bazi, this is usually the one that is being referenced unless a reader specifically expresses a different one.

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This aspect of bazi reading concerns the meeting and combination of two different stems to create an element.

It got it’s name from the fact that there are 5 possible combinations between the 10 heavenly stems. Each stem appears only once between the 5 pairs, thus making up a total of 10 characters contained with the 5 combinations.

The combinations are listed below:

甲 (H1) + 己 (H6) = Earth
乙 (H2) + 庚 (H7) = Metal
丙 (H3) + 辛 (H8) = Water
丁 (H4) + 壬 (H9) = Wood
戊 (H5) + 癸 (H10) = Fire

Legend of symbols can be found here.

From the simple mathematical model above, some patterns can be observed of the relationship between the stems in this combination.

  • The combinations always take place between a yang character and yin character
  • The 5 elements are all represented equally with 1 combination each
  • The element produced is not always an element represented by the combining characters
  • A stem always combines with another that is 5 stems away
  • There will always be 1 stem that has a control relationship with the one it combines with

The combination of heavenly stems can have a great impact on the life of an individual.

For example, a person with a weak self-element of Ji earth can be drastically boosted by the presence of a Wu earth and Gui water combination in the 4 pillars. This is even though when the season is spring which does not support the daymaster’s strength. In this case, the season enables the combination to take place, which creates the fire element that boost the strength of the self-element.

When can the 5 combinations of heavenly stems occur

For a combination to be formed, some factors has to be present to create the conducive environment for success.

The first is that both stems must be side-by-side of each other within the bazi without another stem situated in between them.

This means that the heavenly stems 5 combinations can occur between the:

  • Hour stem – Day stem
  • Day stem – Month stem
  • Month stem – Year stem

If two stems such as Yi wood and Geng metal are positioned at the hour pillar and month pillar, or hour pillar and year pillar, the combination cannot take place. However in this case, the intention to combine must be noted by the reader.

Hour Day Month Year

Yi (H2)
– Wood

Geng (H7)
+ Metal

Even though H2 and H7 is scheduled to combine according to the concept, they are too far apart to for birth of the new element.

When stems are too far apart to realize a combination, combinations can still take place when the combining stem arrives via the luck pillars or annual pillars.

For instance in the example above, even though the combination would not occur Yi wood would still combine to produce metal when Geng metal arrives via the annual pillars… provided the second criteria is met.

When attempting to make sense out of this relationship between the characters, referencing the 10 gods can indicate what aspects of life would be affected.

A second criteria to meet is that the season of birth in the bazi must support the element being produced.

For instance, if there is a combination between Ding fire and Ren water present, the wood element can be created if the season of birth indicated on the month branch is winter. This is because the element of winter is water, and water helps wood to grow.

What character is produced?

While we can already draw conclusions from how a person would be impacted by referencing what each element means to each daymaster, we can go deeper into more specificity by invoking the 10 gods.

But since the 10 gods can only be linked to heavenly stems instead of elements, we would have to identify what stems are created in each combination.

Unlike the 6 combinations of earthly branches where the resulting branch can be either yin or yang, all resulting elements from heavenly stem combinations take on the yang attribute.

This means that the yang stem of the resulting element would be the character representing the element produced.

The list below would show this.

甲 (H1) + 己 (H6) = 戊 (H5)
乙 (H2) + 庚 (H7) = 庚 (H7)
丙 (H3) + 辛 (H8) = 壬 (H9)
丁 (H4) + 壬 (H9) = 甲 (H1)
戊 (H5) + 癸 (H10) = 丙 (H3)

With a specific stem being determined, one can have a clearer picture of what aspects of life are being influenced by the stem combinations.

What all this means?

Learners must take note that combinations are forceful interactions between the stems. A pair of combining stems are attracted to each other and pulled by force to combine.

It is like a couple of strong magnets placed close to each other. Even if you put something between them to prevent them from combining, the attraction between them is still present. This is why you can often guide a magnet’s movement on top of a table by using another magnet as attractor under the table.

To read into the events that might happen or circumstances a person would have to reference the self-element with the 10 gods.

Some additional questions to ask when analyzing such combinations are:

  • Is the created stem rooted in the hidden stems?
  • Does it clash with other stems in the birth chart?
  • Does it combine with other stems in the birth chart?
  • Which pillars does the combinations occur in?
  • Who among the people around you does the interacting stems implicate?
  • Is the created stem a favorable or unfavorable character towards the day master?
  • etc

Finally, remember that it is not always necessary to go this deep into bazi analysis unless the questions asked by the asker demands it.

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