What Is Your Birth Element?

Feng shui and bazi is all about the the 5 elements and finding balance.

In order to strengthen oneself and to achieve balance, one would first have to know what is his or her birth element.

Yet such a simple question which can be easily answered by a genuine feng shui practitioner will be met with an avalanche of conflicting information these days. At the same time, these conflicting concepts of identifying birth elements which causes different results have a basis to them… even if it’s a small one.

It also doesn’t help that many feng shui masters are going really commercial these days and do their best to provide information about birth elements that cater to a mass audience. This enables people to identify with certain personal elements without having to do the laborious work of referring to a calendar.

For example, it’s a much easier way to connect with an audience by telling them what elements they are when born in certain years instead of telling them every person has to be individually assessed.

And this is also why many among the Chinese metaphysics community continue to criticize famous feng shui masters for their cookie-cutter approach to Chinese astrology, especially when it comes to bazi.

Here are some of the most common ways birth elements are determined with different concepts in modern times… with different results.

1) Self element (day master)

We start off the list of methods with the default authentic way of determining birth-elements.

The concept of the self-element, or daymaster, is central to the practice of bazi.

Determination is done by referring to the birth date of the individual in question in the Hsia calendar to see what character among the 10 heavenly stems rules the day.

A real calendar has to be used for reference. There is no alternative mathematical equation that allows this element to be calculated.

So even though ALL bazi experts should know that this is the only concept that identifies a person’s true self-element, what he or she is made up of at the core, the extra tedious work of referring to calendars can often mean that this methodology takes a back seat when addressing a large audience.

After all, one can contend that a “birth” element is not the same as a “self” element. If we really want to play with words, the former can be said to be the dominant element during the birth of a child, and the latter is the child’s own personal element.

We’ll discuss more about this later. Let’s move on to the next one.

2) Kua number

A kua number is a number from 1 to 9 calculated from a simple formula which any mentally healthy adult should be able to solve.

And if one is lazy, kua numbers can easily be referred to in a table here.

Once your kua number is determined, which is sometimes referred to as the life star number, then it would be tell what elements the person in question is associated with. This can be deemed as the birth element by some.

Kua numbers are usually used for the purpose of feng shui, not astrology.

3) Zodiac sign

There are 12 animal zodiac signs.

In feng shui and astrology, there is a core concept of the 24 mountains that plays a prominent role in metaphysics.

A dozen of the 24 mountains are directly linked to each of the 12 zodiacs. Because these mountains have elements tagged to them, each specific zodiac can be assigned with that element.

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This is usually the methodology used when feng shui masters make furniture placement personalization recommendations based on zodiacs.

For quick reference, here is a list of the zodiac signs and their related elements.

Rat Ox Tiger Rabbit Dragon Snake Horse Goat Monkey Rooster Dog Pig
Water Earth Wood Wood Earth Fire Fire Earth Metal Metal Earth Water

Application of this birth element for example, can be that a homeowner with the rabbit zodiac has wood element and a sofa in the color blue or green would be suitable in the living room as these colors are in harmony with the wood element.

4) Year stem

The year stem is one of the methods that truly confuses people of their birth elements.

The concept of the year stem is the basis of why we hear terms like wood dragon, earth goat, water ox, etc. This can often cause confusion and misrepresentation.

The year 2020 for example, is the year of the metal rat. But when you refer to the table at point #3, you’d find that the rat is predominantly a water element sign.

This element, when used in this way has real connection with birth elements or day masters. It is mainly used in forecasting for bazi readings.

The element assigned by the year stem is actually a concept spun-off from the classic JiaZi 60-year cycle which we will look at next.

5) Sexagenary year

The sexagenary cycle is a 60 year cycle where the 10 heavenly stems and 12 earthly branches run their full course once.

Each year has a dominant element which can be unrelated to the stem-branch combination which can appear puzzling to many.

For example, the 31st year of the cycle is a JiaWu year. Even though Jia is wood based and Wu is fire based, the element for the year is actually metal.

In some instances, a feng shui practitioner might proclaim the element indicated by the sexagenary calendar during a person’s year of birth would be the birth element.

It really all depends on application.

6) Season

In Chinese astrology, the season of birth plays a primary role in the assessment of an individual’s cosmic make-up.

In fact, most beginners don’t give seasons the attention they command in bazi.

The high influence on the seasons has led various well-known feng shui masters to use the season of birth to determine a person’s birth element.

This can quickly look like a real mess as soon as you dig a little deeper into such concepts used by certain experts. Because many are seemingly using their own methodologies of astrology!

For example, a methodology that I have come across states that those who were born during spring have the birth element of wood and lack metal. Those born during summer are of fire element and lack water. Those born during autumn are of metal but lacks wood. People born during winter are of water and lacks fire.

If after seeing the above concept, you do not raise any questions, you should really just stick to point #1.

7) Numerology

Some astrologers use the last number of the year of birth to assign birth elements to people.

This is more in line with numerology than feng shui or bazi. And probably more western than eastern.

If you are going with western metaphysics, it better that you don’t fuse it with eastern concepts. They just don’t dovetail like we would like them to.

What is your birth element?

As you can now see, there are various concepts of what is your birth element.

The problem is that all of them has a basis. And the context in which you need to identify it can determine the outcome.

Yet generally speaking, in the world of feng shui and bazi, when we talk about birth elements, the reference point is the self-element unless expressly stated otherwise.

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