But there are circumstances where earthly branches do exhibit combining tendencies even though they do not seem to do so on the surface.
In bazi, there’s something that is not one of the 6 standard combinations but known as secret combinations (暗合).
If you are a student of bazi, you would probably know that there are hidden stems within each branch.
Have you ever thought about possibility of hidden heavenly stems combining? Well, you don’t need to think about it anymore as it does occur.
There are a few sets of earthly branch pairs that combine under the surface. Secretly… yet obvious to readers who know their stuff.
The 2 secret combines most commonly talked about are:
- Chou (E2) + Yin (E3)
- Wu (E7) + Hai (E12)
From the concept of 5 combinations, we can see that Ji earth combines with Jia wood to create earth, Xin metal combines with Bing fire to create water, and Gui water combines with Wu earth to create fire.
This occurs even though Chou and Yin appears to suffer an elemental clash of earth and wood.
To the untrained eye, it looked like there is an elemental clash on the surface between the fire from Wu and water from Hai. But first impressions can be misleading.
As you can see from the above illustration, these 2 pairs of branches secretly combines so perfectly… which is why they are the most discussed secret combinations.
So while these pairs of branches can seem like just a normal set of characters in a bazi, there’s a lot going on under the iceberg that can be crucial for destiny readings.
When can the secret combinations of earthly branches occur
Like other combinations to occur, the secret combines can only occur naturally when the associated characters are positioned next to each other.
However, one important criteria to note is that the main chi of hidden stems can only combine with another main chi. Whereas the sub chi can only combine with another sub chi. This implies that a main chi cannot combine with a sub chi.
And because these combinations are conceptualized from the 5 combinations theory, the same conditions of 5 combinations must be present for the combinations to take place.
It should also be noted that no matter how beautiful these combinations occur under the hood, they are just subsets of the original earthly branch. This means that the branch itself takes precedence over the secret combinations.
For example, if a Chou (E2) Yin (E3) link is present, the arrival of Shen (E9) via the annual pillar can clash Yin out of place. Under this circumstance, the secret combine cannot take place.
What does these bazi dynamics mean?
When secret combinations occur, it basically refers to partnerships and alliances happening that the individual is unaware of, but directly related to him or her.
This can imply betrayal, affairs, under attack by an unknown enemy, victimized by gossip, getting screwed over, having your lollipop snatched away by the very person who gave it to you, etc.
It can also mean positive events other than negative.
For example, when Wei (E8) meets Shen (E9), the hidden stems of Ding (H4) and Ren (H9) combines to form wood element in the form of Jia wood. When this occurs, one must first consider how the original branches of Wei and Shen would react to the presence of Jia. Then identify Jia in respect to the daymaster to determine the events it might trigger on the person involved.
If the daymaster is Yi wood for instance, then Jia would represent competitors and adversaries. Wei and Shen represents this person’s intelligence and authority. And because it is a secret combination, this competitor might be one that is behind the scenes, unknown to the person, or even a friend who is actually an enemy. Something is going on under the surface in this aspect of life that can be favorable or unfavorable to the person depending on the strength of the self-element.