True Local Solar Time-Explorations with Heluo
Explorations with Heluo is a series of articles by Heluo on the subject of Time, Space and Destiny
Read about the all important subject of Equation of Time This is a chapter from Heluo’s Four Pillars of Destiny workbook (550 pages).
It is freely spread over www – unedited - to the benefit of astrologers.
-True Local Solar Time
In this article we will be introducing Equation of Time, a yet critical factor that you should yet incorporate in your calculations to obtain True Local Solar Time for any birth chart. Equation of Time is not to be ignored as it will have you add or take away minutes from the time of birth and this can thus mean the difference between being born into one Chinese hour or the next.
Your birth certificate merely shows the time that was read from the clock on the wall at the moment you took your first breath. Although this information may be in itself quite interesting - especially when at family gatherings your mother then laughingly tells the people how you were born exactly around coffee time -, for astrological purposes this information becomes utterly useless.
For astrological purposes we need yet distinguish between ‘moment’ and ‘time’. While you are having a telephone conversation with a person living just a block away but to the East from where you live, you may be sharing the same moment with this other person, but while this person tells you: ‘the sun is now positioned exactly overhead my roof’, you may instead tell him ‘the sun will only arrive over my roof in one minute’. Yet, and despite this fact, the clocks on your wall indicate the same agreed upon time. Agreed upon, because clock time has you share the same moment with all others within your Time Zone, which is not synonymous to be sharing the same time, i.e. Solar Time. The sun, in order to arrive over your roof, would still have to travel East-West.
While you still share the same clock time with this person, you do not live in the same Solar time with people who live even less than a mile away from your home. To solve this problem – and for reasons of sorts - agreements were once made to arrive to identical clock times between people within a certain given East-West area.
By agreement, our globe divides into Time Zones and Time meridians – each one of these Time Meridians 15 degrees apart – and your location of birth will thus be always located exactly on a Time Meridian or anywhere in between two Time Meridians. Please note that we used location of birth, which can be a roof. We did not use city of birth, because eventhough your city of birth may be generally given as 0 degrees – so exactly on a Time meridian or 15 degrees – again exactly on a Time meridian – your city of birth as a whole will still geographically translate to a certain East-West width, hence minutes and seconds of sun movement and the exact location you were born may therefore be yet significantly away (in
astrological terms, in terms of True Sun) from the location the Longitude for your city was perhaps conveniently given.
Your clock time will be no more than just True Solar Time, but not so much as for your locale, but overhead either of these agreed upon Time Meridians, depending which of these two Meridians your city was once allocated to. You now need to know which is the Time Meridian – not the Time Zone - for your city of birth and how many minutes away you were born before or after the time at this Meridian. In other words, if you live between two Time meridians, one to your left, one to your right, you need first establish exactly which one of the two was allocated to your city. For as long as you did not establish this, you cannot perform astrological calculations.
- We divide the 360 degrees circumference of our globe into twenty-four 15 degrees North-South lines, called Time Meridians (Longitudes).*
- We select a certain Meridian and we proclaim that for this exact Longitude or Time Meridian, the true Solar position found over this Time Meridian becomes translated to clock time.
- We then pronounce the clock time for this appointed Time Meridian valid also for regions somewhat more to the East and West, which will then keep to identical clock times.
- In order to calculate whether the exact position of the sun over our roof coincides with the true position of the sun over this Time Meridian, or how our house is before or after this clock time, we need to calculate back the clock time to True Local Solar Time to arrive at the exact Solar Time at our locale.
- True Local Solar Time gives the true position of the sun over our house. We need however go over several steps in order to arrive to the correct time.
* Actually there are twenty-five Time Meridians, i.e. Greenwhich Time Meridian, which is set at 0 degrees, and twelve Time Meridians East and twelve Time Meridians West of
Bottom line, the time your mother saw appear on the clock at the moment you took your first breath is called Mean Time, rather than indicating True Local Solar Time. The time on the clock is an agreed upon Standard Time valid for your region and valid for the Time Meridian linked to the geographic location that you were born at. Believe it or not, your birth was an astronomic event, that needs to be calculated back to astronomical time, or internationally agreed upon times for the sun’s exact position.
If we evenly divide our planet’s circumference into Longitudinal (vertical) lines, these lines are called Meridians and we can allocate certain time agreements to these meridians.
Longitudinal lines are set 15 degrees apart, adding up to 180 degrees Westwards and 180 degrees Eastwards away from the 0 meridian (GMT), until they covered the entire globe. There is 1 hour of time difference between any given Time Meridian and the next Time Meridian, or said differently, it will take the sun one hour to go from overhead one Time Meridian to the next. However, further down we will see that even this is not exact as we need still consider the all important Equation of Time.
Anyway, in other words, if two towns show 12:00 on their clocks, but the first town is exactly on the X degrees of Longitude of a given Time Meridian and the second town is at 15 degrees Longitude West from this X Meridian, the sun will be exactly over the first town at 12:00 and thus matching time on the clock, but the sun will then still need 1 hour to travel from X degrees of Longitude to 15 degrees West Longitude to be positioned exactly over the second city. What may be confusing here is that both clocks may show 12:00 for reason that both these towns are situated within a certain given Time Zone, although these towns may be allocated their own Time Meridians that we then need calculate back to.
Both cities may share identical clock time, but when the sun is over the first city at 12:00 True Solar Time, True Solar Time for the second city would then be 11:00.
During World War II, the occupier had required the Netherlands to adopt Central European Time zone (CET), i.e. Greenwhich Mean Time plus one hour (GMT+1). After WOII had come to an end, this was then not corrected, so up to this day CET – or Middle European Time (MET) – is to be taken as the Time Meridian for the whole of the Netherlands.
CET Meridian is 15 degrees East of Greenwhich Mean Time. Nevertheless, we still see many astrologers calibrate after GMT for births in the Netherlands. Poland also keeps to CET, just as most of the other European countries.
By kind permission Meetkundige Dienst Rijkswaterstaat, Netherlands.
When 15 degrees covers one hour – sixty minutes -, it means that 1 degree of Longitude equals 4 minutes of time: 60 minutes in an hour divided by 15 degrees of Longitude equals 4 minutes in clock time.
It took some battles but it was then agreed upon to start this web of Time
Meridians at London, UK, and this Time Meridian is set at 0 degrees. This meridian is referred to as Greenwhich Mean Time, but is also known as Zulu (Z) time or Universal Time, sometimes called UTC. UTC is equivalent to 0 degrees Longitude. You may need to look up special tables to find the Time Meridian valid for your city of birth or any cities inside or away from your own country.
If you are to the East of the Time Meridian that was appointed to your city of birth, you need to find the difference of degrees that is between your city of birth and this Time Meridian, translate this back into clock time and add this time to your birth time in order to arrive to your True Local Solar Time.
4°30’ 5° 5°30’ 6° 6°30’
If you are to the West of the Time Meridian that was appointed to your city of birth, you need to find the difference of degrees that is between your city of birth and this Time Meridian, translate this back into clock time and subtract this time from your birth time in order to arrive to your True Local Solar Time.
Your city of birth will be appointed a certain Longitude and it is this Longitude that is needed for you to calculate the clock time shown on your birth certificate back to True Local Time, relative to your allocated Time Meridian.
Note however, that the Longitude given for your city of birth is still general and that there may be still minutes and seconds between the Longitude allocated to your city of birth and your roof, as I will show with an actual example further down. To arrive to actual Sundial time you would need rely on calculators for Global
Positioning System (GPS), see further down. A tool to your immediate service would be Google Earth.
Can you see the difference between all as a nation waking up at 7 am. to go to work, but mean time, or each of us waking up at our own 7 am. Sun Dial time. Mean sun
Daylight Saving Time
Daylight Saving Time – also called Summer Time - is another important factor in your calculations for True Local Solar Time for your moment of birth and if at the time of your birth Day Light Saving Time was applicable, this would generally add one hour to your clock time of birth.
If you were born during DST, you need to take your hour of birth and in most - but not all cases - subtract 1 hour from the given clock time of birth. This is just
generally speaking because some regions have more than 1 hour to add during DST.
Calculating back clock time of birth to True Local Solar Time at your own locale is most essential when you build up your astrological chart.
Here are some pertinent do not’s when calculating time of birth.
- Do not ever calculate time of birth back to Greenwhich Mean Time if GMT was not actually your appointed Time Meridian.
- Do not ever calculate time of birth back to Beijing Time Meridian if this was not actually your appointed Time Meridian.
- Do not ever calculate time of birth back to Loyang Time, just because some will still tell you that you would need to for reason that ‘the first time measurements were once done at Loyang city’.
- Do not ever start a new solar date other than right at midnight, True Local Solar Time. Only Zi Wei Dou Shu will start a new date at 23:00.
You only calculate with Greenwhich Mean Time Meridian, Beijing Time Meridian or Loyang Time if any of these was your appointed Time Meridian.
The Loyang misfit
Suppose we were supposed to calculate our birth time back to Loyang time just because it is said that the first calculations were done at Loyang city through Sun Dials. The mere statement shoots itself in the foot. See, the subject in the sentence is the Sun Dial, not the city. Meaning, one master at Loyang would establish exactly noon using a well positioned Sun Dial. The other master then takes the Sun Dial and moves it 500 meters further to the East. Then, next day just before noon happens, do you think the first master will then tell the other master he can’t do the calculation correctly because the calculation was first done 500 meters more to the West. I think the calculation should be done using the Sun Dial be that at 500, 1000, 3000 meters or even 5000 kilometers away from the intial spot. It is a non-issue.
Equation of Time
Then, imperative and not to be missed if you need to do accurate astrological time calculations, the subject of Equation of Time. In our astrological applications, we have been used to convert clock time of birth to True Local Solar Time. In order to readjust clock time and in order to arrive at True Local Solar Time, we usually follow a straightforward format and yet correct time of birth for:
I. Longitude of birth place to fit time at our Time Meridian; II. Day Light Saving Time (Summer Time).
For our astrological purpose we are not so much interested in clock time, as we are interested in the exact position of the sun at the time of our first breath.
However, we need to yet at least add one step to the above shown calculations, but one that will be still left out by most oriental astrologers, that of Equation of Time, which is the difference in minutes and seconds between Mean Time and Sundial Time. We need to do this, because the earth orbit around the sun is elliptical, causing the position, distance and speed of our planet to vary throughout a solar year, rather than run at constant speed and distance which would have been the case when the earth orbit would have been a perfect circle, which it is not.
After we arrived to the outcome of I-II, fine, but Equation of Time requires us to yet add or subtract extra minutes and seconds, depending on the solar date of birth. Each solar year will produce its own table for the then valid Equation of Time, but this can render a difference of as much as sixteen minutes.
It means we need from hereon work from at least the following format: I. Correct Longitude of birth place to our Time Meridian;
II. Day Light Saving Time (Summer Time); III. Equation of Time.
Our modern timing is based on a fictitious sun, or said differently, clocks on our walls give a mechanical time because they run at the same constant speed. They do not show solar time, but they show Mean Time or Mean Sun.
The way we evened out time in our modern era is to divide our planet into meridians, taking Greenwhich as our Longitude of calibration, but this is not in accordance with the actual length of days, or the time or degrees East or West where the sun rises or sets. Our clocks assume exactly 24 hours in a day, where this is not actually accurate.
The mere purpose of this chapter is to direct your attention to Equation of Time. I will not even attempt to explain the dynamic in full as you will find it layed out in the URL’s shown below quite sufficiently already, but I take much pleasure in directing you to them.
I came across Equation of Time in 1996 and we have been since covering the topic in our Four Pillars and Nine Star Ki classes, but it was not until 9 September 2002 – the birth of our son Ben-Aryan – that I had actual use for the formula myself, as I needed it in order to arrive to his exact minute of birth.
Going by the calculations given under I-II, it came out that Ben-Aryan was born either in the Rabbit or the Dragon hour, a difference that would depend on several dynamic factors, but it was pertinent that I should find out because the difference was that – would he have been born in the Dragon hour -, his chart dynamics would have been much different than when he would have been born in the Rabbit hour, all this due to the positioning and strength of his Annoying God and his first 2 of Eight Pillars of Luck.
Heavenly Stem for the Dragon hour would have carried and activated his Annoying God and this of course would have had consequences for the progression of life in the first twenty years of his life.
One of the factors I had to deal with was that according to the Longitude officially given for our city, his hour of birth would have entered the Dragon hour. However, using Global Positioning System (GPS), I was able to arrive exactly overhead our roof - by yet correcting the official Longitude for our city to the minute and second (of Longitude) so as to arrive at the exact Longitude of our house where he was born -, and it thus came out he was born in the Rabbit hour.
Then, only after I applied Equation of Time, it became clear that my sons’ hour of birth could be set safely at Rabbit hour, although this was a close finish, but still. Again, this is to just direct your attention to Equation of Time calculations and to point out a few odds and ends to the topic.
What is Equation of Time (EoT)
True Local Solar Time is worked out on the basis of this equation. The time shown on our clock on the wall has at least two oddities:
A It is merely agreed upon time as it shows True Local Solar Time, not for our locale, but for our cities’ agreed upon Mean Time Meridian.
Example: If you live in England your Mean Time Meridian is 0 degrees of Longitude, when you live in the Netherlands or in Poland your Mean Time Meridian is GMT+1, which is called Middle European Time (MET) or Central European Time (CET).
In other words, if you live in Poland the time shown on the clock on the wall is Mean Time – not True Sun -, whereas if you live exactly at the 15 degrees East appointed Time Meridian for MET, the time there is Mean Time equals True Sun. B Clock time is Mean Time, i.e. it runs steady and mechanically at constant speed,
whichever is the sun’s actual position above the Meridian. Mean Time at noon for one solar date and Mean Time at noon for the following solar date is constant in length.
In other words, conventional clocks show Mean Sun, assuming a day of exactly twenty-four hours, rather than True Sun, which will be before or after Sundial Time. Again in other words, True Sun can be behind the Sundial and True Sun can be before the Sundial. These values are coverd by EoT.
In its most basic explanation, Equation of Time is a seasonal correction that you will have to yet include in your calculations done for True Local Solar Time and that will have you arrive at Sundial Time, which would be exactly what the ancients had in mind when they devised astrological systems and to calculate actual time of birth. Equation of Time (E) then becomes the difference between True Sun and Mean Sun at any given moment, or:
E = M e a n S u n – T r u e S u n Which is the same as:
Here is an example of a typical table showing Equation of Time. Each year will render a different table, I am not sure which year was covered in the following table, but if you need Equation of Time for any year, you can do websearches on it. After you arrived to True Local Time, you need to therefore yet add or subtract minutes to the time of birth according to the applicable annual table. You can imagine what happens for your calculations if you ignored that for a certain birth chart you would need yet add 16 minutes, only probably to arrive to a different birth hour. In Four Pillars of Destiny for example, this may significantly affect the strength and weakness calculations in your chart and it will return the wrong Useful God.
JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
1 -03 -13 -12 -04 +03 +02 -04 -06 0 +10 +16 +11 2 -04 -14 -12 -04 +03 +02 -04 -06 0 +10 +16 +11 3 -04 -14 -12 -03 +03 +02 -04 -06 0 +11 +16 +10 4 -05 -14 -12 -03 +03 +02 -04 -06 +01 +11 +16 +10 5 -05 -14 -12 -03 +03 +02 -04 -06 +01 +11 +16 +10 6 -06 -14 -11 -03 +03 +01 -05 -06 +01 +12 +16 +09 7 -06 -14 -11 -02 +03 +01 -05 -06 +02 +12 +16 +09 8 -06 -14 -11 -02 +03 +01 -05 -06 +02 +12 +16 +08 9 -07 -14 -11 -02 +04 +01 -05 -05 +03 +13 +16 +07 10 -07 -14 -10 -01 +04 +01 -05 -05 +03 +13 +16 +07 11 -08 -14 -10 -01 +04 0 -05 -05 +03 +13 +16 +07 12 -08 -14 -10 -01 +04 0 -06 -05 +04 +13 +16 +07 13 -08 -14 -10 -01 +04 0 -06 -05 +04 +14 +16 +06 14 -09 -14 -09 0 +04 0 -06 -05 +04 +14 +16 +06 15 -09 -14 -09 0 +04 0 -06 -05 +05 +14 +16 +05 16 -09 -14 -09 0 +04 -01 -06 -04 +05 +14 +15 +05 17 -10 -14 -08 0 +04 -01 -06 -04 +05 +15 +15 +04 18 -10 -14 -08 +01 +04 -01 -06 -04 +06 +15 +15 +04 19 -10 -14 -08 +01 +04 -01 -06 -04 +06 +15 +15 +03 20 -11 -14 -08 +01 +04 -01 -06 -04 +06 +15 +15 +03 21 -11 -14 -07 +01 +03 -02 -06 -03 +07 +15 +14 +02 22 -11 -14 -07 +01 +03 -02 -06 -03 +07 +15 +14 +02 23 -12 -13 -07 +02 +03 -02 -06 -03 +07 +16 +14 +01 24 -12 -13 -06 +02 +03 -02 -06 -02 +08 +16 +13 +01 25 -12 -13 -06 +02 +03 -02 -06 -02 +08 +16 +13 0 26 -12 -13 -06 +02 +03 -03 -07 -02 +08 +16 +13 0 27 -13 -13 -06 +02 +03 -03 -06 -02 +08 +16 +13 -01 28 -13 -13 -05 +02 +03 -03 -06 -01 +09 +16 +12 -01 29 -13 -13 -05 +03 +03 -03 -06 -01 +09 +16 +12 -02 30 -13 -05 +03 +03 -04 -06 -01 +10 +16 +12 -02 31 -13 -04 +02 -06 0 +16 -03
Using Google Earth
If you have not already, download your own version at http://earth.google.com. - At the top left of your screen, first become aqcuainted with the Fly To, Local
Search, Directions boxes.
- In ‘Layers’ - to your left also -, make sure you select the ‘Roads’ option.
- In the actual active screen you will see a Longitude/Latitude pointer. For as long as you move your mouse the Longitude/Latidude adapts.
- For example, to locate where I am copy/paste this Longitude/Latitude into the ‘Fly To’ box: 52 19 51 / 4 36 41. Then, right click and drag to come closer. Well, you’re still enjoying your coffee in our garden and you can now use the pointer to narrow down to 52 19 51 35 / 4 36 41. You’re now a visitor to our home.
- Use any search engine to obtain the Longitude/Latitude officially given for your city of birth.
- Take this into ‘fly to’ box in Google Earth as xx xx / xx xx or xx xx xx / xx xx xx. - Determine where exactly for your city the measurement is said to be located. - Position the pointer in Google Earth exactly over your roof and note the
difference in minutes and seconds with what you had first obtained.
- Determine what this would mean if you were to translate the difference in Longitude into True Sun.
On-line EoT calculator
Here is a URL taking you directly to an on-line calculator for EoT. http://www.jgiesen.de/astro/astroJS/decEoT/index.htm
Beware of averages
Concerning calculations done for my son and for 9 September 2002 I found several tables that gave different Equation of Time, of which I recall the following
examples: 2 min 37 sec 2 min 05 sec
Again, each year produces a slightly different table and some tables seem to
calculate from different time formats, like Atomic Time and most will have a fault of 1 to 3 seconds. In other words, have fun going through the URL’s given here, but maintain a healthy distance concerning their accuracy.
Please go to these URL’s to acquaint yourself with the subject and start including EoT in your astrological calculations.
http://www.analemma.com/Pages/framesPage.html http://home.netcom.com/~abraxas2/eot.htm http://www.astrodatabank.com/DCH/index.htm http://www.sundials.co.uk/equation.htm http://www.minasi.com/doeot.htm http://www.jgiesen.de/deceot
Defining a year
How we define years and months in Chinese metaphysical systems is through observing the earth orbit around the sun. The distance between earth and the sun is so great, that whatever is true for the Northern Hemisphere, must be true also for the Southern Hemisphere. A year is measured by the Sun's apparent movement through 360 degree arc in the zodiac and this apparent movement is the same for both Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
Time aspects in Four Pillars of Destiny, Feng Shui and Nine Star Ki are found and defined by following and marking the exact position of earth on the ecliptic path around the sun. These systems use the Chinese Luni-Solar (Xia) calendar. Years and months defined
In Four Pillars of Destiny, Chinese Feng Shui and Nine Star Ki we define years and months by following the earth orbit around the sun. Years and months start when the sun reaches 15 degrees in the appointed zodiac sign. Months start anywhere between the 4th and 9th of a month due to earth’s distance relative to the sun and earth’s velocity that is greater at Perihelion than it is at Aphelion. Years and months are calibrated along the 24 Solar Terms.
Days and hours defined
In Four Pillars of Destiny, Chinese Feng Shui and Nine Star Ki we define days and hours by the earth rotation around its axis. Solar dates are defined to start exactly at midnight. Midnight happens when the sun is directly under your feet and this signifies the start of a new Solar date. Days and hours fall within the Jia-Zi cycle. Tropical Zodiac
A Zodiac defines the apparent path of the sun and moon through the sky and divides this path into prescribed divisions or degrees.
We measure time using Tropical Zodiac, being an even circle anchored on the Equinoxes and Solstices, rather than the constellations they once presented. The Tropical Zodiac is a circle, divided into 30 degrees divisions along the ecliptic, starting at the Vernal Equinox, which is 0 degrees in the sign of Aries.
The Sidereal Zodiac is a circle, divided into 30 degrees divisions along the same ecliptic, starting at 0 degrees Aries, but because of the precession phenomenon, the sun no longer passes this degree on the day of the Vernal Equinox.
The start of a year is a global event, and is taken from astronomic realities, rather than observation of local climatic or seasonal conditions.
The start of a year is taken as 45 Zodiacal degrees or 45 days before 21 March of any year. Local conditions like climate, season, temperature, weather or moisture do not play any role here.
Another way of saying this, is that the start of a year was taken to be when the sun was halfway between the shortest day – December Solstice – and the day on which day and night are even – Vernal Equinox.
The Chinese divide a Solar year into 24 parts of approximately 15 days each, these divisions known as the 24 Solar Terms. These periods vary somewhat in length because the sun completes its apparent 360° path in 365.245 days and this path is elliptical, rather than circular, causing for the sun’s apparent motion to be
sometimes one degree, sometimes less than one degree, sometimes a little over one degree.
These are called the 24 Solar Terms and these mark the times when the sun reaches 0° and 15° in any given Zodiacal sign.
As an example we can take the Zodiacal sign of Aquarius and say that a Solar year starts when the sun reaches 15° Aquarius.
The common denominator for both Hemispheres to find the start of a year is 45 days before the sun crosses the ecliptic from South to North, which is the same for either Hemisphere.
That crossing of the ecliptic from South to North coincides with the Spring Equinox on the Northern Hemisphere and with the Autumn Equinox on the Southern
Hemisphere. We would better leave out indications as Spring or Autumn and proceed by referring to these moments as March Equinox and September Equinox. We touch a non-issue when we try to link the start of a year in Four Pillars of Destiny, Feng Shui and Nine Star Ki to local conditions on the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, because how would we build a chart for a person born on the equator? Will a year start at 4 February or 7 August on the equator?
Also, where would we situate the equator, because the equator we would normally see drawn over our globe is just there for cartographic purpose. Actually, we would need measure the magnetic equator, that will be however meandering and will be different for different geographic areas.
Perihelion and Aphelion
Here is how the ancients found to define a year, and how in fact the Five
Transformations – Wu Xing – were first formulated, before they got associated with seasons, temperature or Chinese animals.
Observing the earth orbit around the sun and marking its positions at certain
moments in time was at the cradle of the Five Elements – or Wu Xing -, rather than the observations of seasons.
Wood, before it came to be associated with the Spring Season – and to make these astronomical realities digestible to farmers and commoners -, was to point to the phase where our planet is moving away from the sun, which is a phenomena under influence of Expansion occuring in the months of February, March and April. In this phase there is ‘Expansion of the Fire Principle’. During this time we say we have Wood dominating in the Four Pillars chart for either Hemisphere, regardless of local season.
This phase of expansion is true until around 21 June. Then, when the distance between earth and sun is the greatest – and the sun reached 23° Latitude on the Northern Hemisphere, it is when we say we have Fire dominating in the Four Pillars chart, regardless of local seasons. The earth is at its greatest distance from the sun, an astronomical phenomenon known as Aphelion and then be taken as Fire. At a certain point, and to show global ‘Contraction of the Fire Principle’, around 7 September, the sun of course moves back towards the South pole after it crossed the ecliptic again, this time from North to South. It is the earth on its orbit around the sun gradually moving back to the event of Perihelion and this is then when we say we have Metal energy dominating in the Four Pillars chart.
Then, with the sun moving back to 23° latitude on the Southern Hemisphere, this moment came to be later popularly associated with the Winter Season, but it is in fact in this phase that there is ultimate contraction of the Fire principle into
Southern territory. This is when we say we have Water energy dominating the Four Pillars and we will have Water in the Earthly Branches. The earth is at its closest approach to the sun at around 3, 4 or 5 January, this point known as Perihelion. After this, a new cycle of expansion takes off again.
This means that the relative strength and weakness of Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches depends on the earth’s orbital movement around the sun and earth’s distance relative to the sun and it is easy to see how this has no relationship to local climate and geographical condition.
Fire Pole Water Pole Water phase (Perihelion) Fire phase (Aphelion) Metal phase Wood phase
Wood is at its prime in February during Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and during Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.
This is how the ancients defined the flow of Qi and it is this Qi flow that should be taken to be similar for the entire globe. This huge, astronomically defined, Qi flow is not to be reversed - or otherwise adjusted - for any locality wherever on our planet where it comes to defining how charts are to be found.
The ancients had observed that the earth magnetic field was affected by the
varying distance of the earth to the sun and they measured the changes in Qi in the relationship between Solar wind and the magnetosphere around earth and the consequences these changes imposed on earth.
They observed these changes in nature and humans and disclosed the waxing and waning - the expansion and contraction - on our planet becoming apparent in plant growth and decay.
This way these changes in Qi occurrence became linked to the seasons, but they are not the seasons.
These occurrences were to show that in July the earth was at its greatest distance from the sun and it was then just a matter of finding an analogy to match this astronomical phenonemon to natural conditions and phenomena, like taking the earth’s maximum distance from the sun and link it to the highest potential energy we find in Northern Hemisphere Summer on our planet.
It is also just natural that we synchronize astronomical findings with activities on our planet, like the right time for sowing and harvesting, which the Chinese are know to have been meticulous fans of.
Likewise, January is the month with earth at its closest approach to the sun, which came to be associated with low level Qi and only later geocentrically associated with Winter season.
We cannot change definitions of timing to suite local conditions on either
Hemisphere, just because the seasons are reversed or certain marker points for timing are visible on one Hemisphere and not on the other Hemisphere, for simple reason that human visibility of phenomenon was not the starting point in
rationalizing certain astronomical realities.
The Chinese were on the Northern Hemisphere, and so their observation that the start of a year was at the Beginning of Spring is just a notional one, an
environmental coincidence. The start of a year should not be linked to the start of apparent season. Season is in the realm of the earth tilted axis, not at the base of the earth orbit around the sun.
If earth reached its point farthest away from the sun, this is true for either
Hemisphere. We cannot say that, while the Northern Hemisphere is farthest away, the Southern Hemisphere is at its closest point to the sun.
One of the arguments you will find bounced back at you most by exponents of the ‘Southern school’ - and to show that there must be a difference for the Southern Hemisphere -, is that the Chinese were not aware of the Southern Hemisphere around the time they developed their Time and Space systems.
The Chinese, however, did not develop these systems by observing the seasons, but by noting the earth orbit around the sun and marking the peculiar changes this had in Qi occurences on our planet.
The earth orbit around the sun is the same for the Northern Hemisphere as the earth orbit around the sun for the Southern Hemisphere.
In other words, do we need be aware of another Hemisphere when we do these type of observation and were the Chinese wrong to invent the magnetic needle and proclaim the same geomagnetism valid for the entire globe, so that we also not distinguish between Feng Shui for either Hemisphere?
The only difference we should allow to exist between the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere is that these astronomical occurrences had been
researched and documented on the former, not on the latter.
Another difference is that astrologers may need to yet research on the strength and weakness of elements when we study a chart of a person born in the Southern Hemisphere, for simple reason that any research into the strength of elements was up to recently done for Northern Hemisphere charts only.
Said differently, to arrive to charts we use Longitude. This is Body. In our Application we may reckon with Latitude. In our interpretations we need also reckon with temperature, climate, moisture, but this is no different for either Hemisphere.
From this it follows that Four Pillars of Destiny uses the same method for building a chart for both Hemispheres, because the earth magnetic poles serve the entire planet and there is no difference between Hemispheres in their relationship between the earth and sun, the planets or constellations.
Although climate, seasons, weather and temperature play a role of importance in Four Pillars, these are not used to determine a person’s Four Pillars chart.
Seasons will affect the strength and weakness of the elements in a person’s chart. Any Fire in a chart for a person born in July will be found in the same positions in the Four Pillars chart, but the Fire for a person born on the Northern Hemisphere will be stronger (because of Northern Summer) and the Fire for a person born on the Southern Hemisphere will be weaker (because Southern Winter).
Equinox and Solstice
We define four realities in measuring a year, i.e. March Equinox, June Solstice, September Equinox and December Solstice. These phenomenon are equally observable from both Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
We saw a lot of misconceptions arise during the past thirty years in Chinese metaphysical systems, when some – convinced, no doubt, that they found a
loophole in Chinese observation of Time and Space dynamics – thought they should make up for these wrong doings and come up with a system that would close the gates of truth.
They mistakenly focused on the seasons in assessing the start of a year, not realizing that there is only one observation to define the start of a year. Before we get to that, these practitioners - building further upon their first
assumption of course -, mixed up the Earthly Branches and mistook them with the Chinese Animals.
We all know that February is the Yin Month and Yin does not mean Tiger. March is the Mao month, but Mao does not mean Rabbit.
Earthly Branches came to be associated with animals only much later, again to comfort farmers and commoners who would have been panicked with the vast astronomy behind these principles.
This means that it is pertinently wrong to link Tiger to Spring as Tiger should be instead always linked to the month of February.
When we say that February contains Wood, we do not point to the wood that later came to be associated with the Spring season, plants or other associations that serve only as an analogy. Wood in February shows waxing earth energy, ready to surface, and this is the same for the entire globe as Wood here coincides with the earth ‘escaping’ from the event of Perihelion, hence Expansion.
Regarding months, I think it is better when we connected back to the original Chinese terminology each time we refer to Earthly Branches, rather than name them by their popular Chinese animal association.
Also we need from hereon use March Equinox, rather than Spring Equinox, June Solstice, rather than Summer Solstice and so on.
Solar calendar or Lunar calendar
You may have to yet familiarize yourself with some basic Chinese time calculation. A Solar year is 365+ days, where + refers to the extra 5 hours and 30 minutes – or so - to complete a year.
We have been used to work with the Gregorian calandar that divides a Solar year into months of 30 or 31 days and we have no difficulty understanding that February sometimes counts 28 days and sometimes 29 days.
In China people were used to work with the moon phases. Commonly a year counts 12 months (moons), but some years ‘see’ 13 moons. It will take the moon an average of 29,5 days to orbit around earth: 12 x these 29,5 days gives 354 days in one year. In this equation we miss 11 days to arrive to a Solar year of 365 days.
A Chinese month will be either 29 or 30 days. Just in the way we are used to include one intercalary day in February each four years (29 February), the Chinese solve the discrepancy of days by adding and extra month every three years. This extended month then receives the same Stem and Branch and the same name – or number - as the preceeding month.
We need to match the Lunar and Solar calendar. The Lunar month is defined from new moon (
) to new moon (
). The Solar year is divided into 24 parts, where months are defined to run from 15 degrees in any zodiac sign to 15 degrees into the next zodiac sign, known as the 24 Solar Terms, or Èrshísì Jiéqì
二十四節氣. The 24 Solar Terms revolve around Jie Qi and Zhong Qi and it is the Zhong Qi – or the Mid Point - that we are interested in, as these define the mid points of months. We will then find a Zhong Qi moment in between mosts Lunar months, in other words, we will find one Zhong Qi between two new moons. In such cases where we do not find a Zhong Qi, this month then becomes a Leap month.
The Chinese Ten Thousand Year Calendar combines the Lunar and Solar months, these intercalary moments having been taken care of, as there are seven of these intercalary months in a so-called Metonic cycle, or a span of nineteen years.
If you look up the sky and you note the full moon and its position, it will be another full moon one month later, but the moon will be not in the same position. It takes a full Metonic cycle for the moon to not be just full again, but to appear in the same position (off by two hours). It is claimed that Meton discovered this dynamic, but of course this would have been known and documented already in Mesopotamian times.
Days and hours use the 60 Jia-Zi cycle of Stems and Branches and years and months use the 24 Solar Terms.
The Chinese Luni-Solar calendar used in Four Pillars of Destiny calculations is the Xià
夏calendar – referred to also as Xià Lì
夏曆- that already took care of the principle of intercalary months. This is the calendar we use in Four Pillars of Destiny, Feng Shui and Nine Star Ki.
It may be nice to here introduce the Song of Solar Terms (Jiéqì Gē -
節氣歌) which would have been used to help memorize the twenty four seasons.
You can see that it is impossible to translate this into any other language than Chinese, and you can see how only one character out of any two to indicate a Solar Term is used and that it would probably take more time to memorize the song than it would take to simply learn the Solar Terms by heart. Another reason we cannot translate most of this type of Trick Songs is that melody and rhythm cannot be translated.
chūnyǔ jīng chūn qīng gǔtiān,
Spring Rain startles Spring Clear Grain
xià mǎn máng xià shǔ xiānglián,
Summer complete fills Summer heat be joined together
qiū chù lù qiū hán shuāngjiàng,
Autumn stores Dew Autumn, Autumn, Frost again
dōng xuě xuě dōng xiǎo dàhán.
Winter snow snow Winter Cold, Greater Cold
There has been debate and misunderstanding surrounding the actual correct start of a year. There should not be any doubt as the rules are pretty straightforward and cannot be taken to mean anything else for as long as we do not mix apples and oranges.
- Some say the Chinese year starts at the moment of December Solstice. - Some say the Chinese year starts at the Chinese New Year festival. - Some say the Solar year starts at 4 or 5 February.
Well, we go by the third option in Four Pillars of Destiny, Feng Shui and Nine Star Ki, since these are Solar based systems, starting a year when the sun reaches 15 degrees into Aquarius, or two new moons after December Solstice.
That does not mean that a year does not start at the December Solstice moment, but this actually points to the birth of Yang, rather than the start of a Solar year. Also, most people say that the Chinese New year occurs somewhere in January or February. This is not accurate, as the Chinese year starts at the December Solstice moment, this occurrence just being then celebrated with the Spring Festival, or the Chinese New Year festival. In other words, the Chinese New Year starts significantly earlier than it will be celebrated.
Also, the Chinese Spring Festival only gives the date to define when a year starts for use of Zi Wei Dou Shu astrology.
If you look at your Chinese calendar to the back of your workbook, you will see the dates mentioned for the Chinese Spring festival. If you find that for Four Pillars of Destiny the year 2000 started at 4 February, then Branch Dragon will commence on that day, eventhough the Chinese New Year festival will only occur the next day. On the other hand, it may happen that the Chinese New Year festival happens before 4 or 5 February, in which case the Bazi year did not start yet. An example is the year 2003. Spring festival occurs at 1 February 2003, so the start of Branch Sheep. However, according to Bazi a person born before 4 February 2003 is still not born in Branch Sheep.
Make it into your firm understanding that for Bazi and in order to find Stem and Branch for a certain year, we always take 4 or 5 February as the start of a Solar year, eventhough the start of a Chinese year (Spring Festival) may fall before or after this date.
You may encounter debates, and controversy even, on this subject as even Chinese masters still seem to take the start of a Chinese Lunar year as the start of a Four Pillars of Destiny year.
We can be most definite, however, that Four Pillars of Destiny follows the sun pattern, rather than the moon phases for determining the start of year and month. A Four Pillars of Destiny year starts when the sun enters 15 degrees in the
astrological sign of Aquarius, whereas a Four Pillars of Destiny day starts in the mid-point of the Rat hour exactly at midnight, at local 00:00.
The misunderstanding revolves around the Chinese Lunar calendar that is however used only in Zi Wei Dou Shu astrology. In Zi Wei Dou Shu a year indeed starts at Spring Festival, whereas a day starts at 23:00. However, the Solar calendar needs to be used in Four Pillars of Destiny, Xuan Kong Feng Shui and Nine Star Ki and no differences should be introduced for the Southern Hemisphere.
We will not be covering all there is to know about the Chinese calendar in this workbook, but it will be the more rewarding if you would set yourself to do websearches and use terms such as:
Chinese calendar – Chinese zodiac - intercalary months – metonic cycle – 24 Solar Terms – Jieqi – sexagenary cycle - Spring Festival.
You will find class schedule, more extensive articles, book list, links, testimonials. Heluo’s Nine Star Ki group:
Click ‘Join Group’ and be welcome to the first ever Nine Star Ki forum on www. Contact Heluo
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