Qi Men Dun Jia (QMDJ) is a divination technique listed as one of the highly revered 3 rites (三式) in the 5 arts.
While it has gained huge infamy throughout the decades, it is not considered as the highest level of divination in ancient imperial China. That honor goes to Da Liu Ren (大六壬).
Qimen Dunjia is actually a spinoff of a greater and broader divination method called Dun Jia. Similar to how flying stars feng shui falls under the San Yuan umbrella.
There are various other methods of Dun Jia. And because of the potency of how QMDJ proved to be in times of war, it was officially included into the 3 rites.
QMDJ is a metaphysical forecasting technique predominantly used for strategizing military battles. But in modern times, practitioners have continued to advocate it for business, work, social life, and almost everything else.
Before applying QMDJ to daily life, learners must understand that this was a technique mostly used for war. There are other divination methods that were used for everyday life, such as Yi Jing or Liu Ren. So if you feel that your life is at war and survival is at stake, it is your personal choice to use it for your personal affairs.
A lot of people advertise Qimen by referencing how Zhuge Liang (諸葛亮) supposedly used it to win critical battles during the period of the 3 warring states. But what they leave out is that he used other forms of divination such as Liu Ren and Yi Jing techniques for activities outside of military strategies.
In classical writings about the art, the words 遁甲 can sometimes be written as 遯甲. And they seem to be often used interchangeably. This implies that the escaping jia can also be assumed to mean calculating jia.
Because of the depth contained in the 4 words 奇門遁甲, authors of books writing about this divination art are unable to give it a short descriptive name that encompasses the actual meaning behind the name. It is therefore called a variety of names in the English speaking world such as mysterious door escaping jia, mystical gate hiding stem, strange door escape jia, etc.
The name itself suggests elements of trickery and deception.
Fundamentals of Qi Men Dun Jia (奇門遁甲)
Qi refers to the 3 heavenly stems of Yi (乙日奇), Bing (丙月奇) and Ding (丁星奇).
Men refers to the 3 doors of Kai (開), Xiu (休) and Sheng (生).
Dunjia refers to the concealment of the heavenly stem Jia (甲) from 6 other stems to protect it from Geng (庚). The 6 stems being Wu (戊), Ji (己), Geng (庚), Xin (辛), Ren (壬) and Gui (癸).
As with any fortune-telling or prediction system, practicing QMDJ requires one to erect a natal chart for interpretation. This natal chart has 9 sections configured in a 3×3 arrangement, sort of like a game of tic-tac-toe.
It contains a variety of variables, of which many categories of them are the same variables used in various other forms of practices under the 5 arts.
The variables change as frequently as every 2 hours.
But depending on what the user is intending to forecast, QMDJ can be used for time frames such as yearly (年家奇门), monthly (月家奇门), daily (日家奇门), 2-hourly (时家奇门).
The QMDJ natal chart (qi map) consist of:
- 8 trigrams within 9 palaces (九宫八卦)
- Heavenly stems (天干)
- 8 gods (八神)
- Traveling horse (驿马)
- Void (空)
- Heaven plate (天盘)
- Earth plate (地盘)
- Man plate (人盘)
Each group of variables are unique in their own way.
8 trigrams within 9 palaces is a reference to the later heaven arrangement of trigrams.
The 8 gods (詐門) is a group of variables made up of ZhiFu (直符), TengShe (螣蛇), TaiYin (太陰), LiuHe (六合), GouZhen (勾陳), ZhuQue (朱雀), JiuDi (九地), and JiuTian (九天).
When these variables are determined and input on the earth plate, their positions do not change. The same cannot be said of the heaven plate.
The traveling horse and void star are both single variable that roves about on the energy map.
The heaven plate consist of the 9 stars of TianChong (天冲), TianFu (天辅), TianYing (天英), TianRen (天任), TianQin (天禽), TianRui (天芮), TianXin (天心), TianZhu (天柱), TianPeng (天蓬).
The earth plate contains the 12 earthly branches.
The man plate consist of the 8 doors (八門) of Du (杜), Jing (惊), Si (死), Jing (景), Kai (開), Xiu (休), Sheng (生), Shang (伤).
A finalized chart can generally be grouped into one of two categories. Yang Dun (陽遁) or Yin Dun (陰遁), both of which has 9 types of Ju (局). With each Ju having 60 variations based on the jiazi.
With all these possible computations, there are a total of 1080 possible natal charts.
For divination, the bazi of the time when an asker is divining is usually used in conjunction with a qimen natal chart. This helps the asker to determine which of the palaces contains the divine answers to the question at hand.
Something particularly interesting with this art is it’s application into weather forecast. This is conducted by finding the related star to the type of weather and assessing where a particular star resides on the natal chart.
For example, the tianzhu star is also known as as the rain maker. It has a metal elemental base which produces water according to the 5 elements. When this star is accompanied in the residing palace by water stems and branches with the tui trigram, then rain can be predicted with a degree of certainty.
Usage of Qimen Dunjia
As mentioned previously, readers should take note that QimenDunjia was mostly used for real kinetic war strategies. And it was with this application in which this divination art became famous.
However, it is practiced in modern times for a variety of activities such as business strategy, date selection, destiny analysis, finding things, feng shui, spirituality, divination, and general decision making, etc. Be mindful that this flexibility in application is not unique to qimen. Most metaphysical concepts can be cajoled to play these variety of roles too.
In many ways, QMDJ is sculpted to attend to these life aspects because it was not meant for these purposes in it’s original form. It’s like forcing a road car to run a race when it was never meant for race track competition.
Bringing a revolver to the sales meeting and demand your boss to reduce your sales targets might get you what you want. But is it an appropriate approach?
While it’s credibility is seldom questioned, many feng shui masters do not find it necessary to practice it as there are many Chinese metaphysics concepts that are already able to do what QMDJ is supposedly used for in modern day life.
For instance, there are already revered schools of thought in date selection such as Xuan Kong Da Gua and Dong Gong. Why use QMDJ for date selection instead? Especially when we consider that the event being analyzed is not a war battle.
If we turn it around and look at the reverse perspective, it would seem ridiculous for a general to use something like 6 laws for creating military strategies instead of qimen. He might even be beheaded for suggesting that as he could be perceived as planning to fail.
Why would anyone want to use QMDJ for feng shui when there is bazhai and various other esteemed concepts of feng shui? Are you buying a house in a battlefield that gets bombarded by artillery fire everyday? Would you use a tea spoon to drink soup when you have a soup spoon within reach?
Saying that, many practitioners also use QMDJ as a micro concept that supplements other established concepts.
For example in astrology, bazi might identify the best destination and Qimen can determine the best path. But bazi can also show a person the path too. And then there is purple star astrology which is as all-encompassing as it gets.
If one seeks spirituality, there’s probably no higher level than Yi Jing and the 64 hexagrams. They are so simple for beginners to apply as well. Furthermore, spirituality is about peace… not war.
So one with an unbiased and objective view cannot help but wonder what are the applications of Qimen in the world today other than during a military conflict or in some types of sports.
In some ways, maybe businesses can be said to be metaphorically “at war” with each other. But come on… you can’t really compare Apple vs Samsung in smart phones competition with Germany vs Russia in WW2. They are categorically different.
If you feel that they are the same, try telling that to a widow who lost her husband to a war. Or say it to a veteran who lost a limb from fighting insurgents.
QMDJ makes for great intellectual stimulation for those interested in Chinese metaphysics. The real life use case of it, especially for residences, is rather unnecessary.
In addition to all these points, it should be noted that different masters can practice different formats of qimen. Unlike subjects like flying stars and bazi, there isn’t a format where a consensus has agreed to. Which brings to question which qimen is authentic?
This is actually quite a rabbit hole to dig into as there are grandmasters, historians, researchers and academics who actually feel that the real concepts of QMDJ could never have been leaked from the imperial palace during the period when it supposedly happened. This puts into doubt how a Ming scholar (程道生) could have compiled the classic scroll (遁甲演义) which is the origin of QMDJ practice today.