Four Pillars of Destiny (aka Eight Characters)
Ba Zi is a system of Chinese astrology that can foretell a person’s destiny and life path. In this system, a person’s date and time of birth is expressed as eight characters comprising of four heavenly stems and four earthly branches (which equals eight characters).
Ba Zi literally means ‘eight characters’ in Chinese.
Each component of a person’s date and time of birth namely the year, month, date and hours are expressed as a set comprising of a heavenly stem on top of an earthly branch. The result is four columns of two characters each. This explains why Ba Zi is also known as the Four Pillars of Destiny.
An experienced practitioner can reveal a lot of your destiny by simply evaluating your Eight Characters. However to determine your life path or luck cycle, the eight characters are read in conjunction with a additional set of pillars 6-7 pillars, each of which represents a decade in your life. They are called Decade Luck Pillars.
In addition each of the earthly branches of the Four Pillars can be represented by between 1-3 stem equivalents that may or may not be explicitly written down. They are called the Hidden Stems.
The Eight Characters, Hidden Stems and Decade Luck Pillars form the components of a Ba Zi (of Four Pillars of Destiny) Chinese Astrology Chart.
The stem and branch that represents the day is called the Day Master. It represents the person and is the most important component. It is compared with the other pillars, hidden stems and decade luck pillars to reveal a person destiny and luck cycle.
You can download a free Ba Zi software charter at
You should not confuse this with the year pillar which is commonly used to determine your yearly animal zodiac sign. Example whether you are a tiger, horse, dog etc. The heavenly stem of the year pillars determine your year element. For example if you are born in Geng Xu year then you are a Metal Dog as Geng belongs to the metal element while Xu is dog.
For more information on the stems and branches, please refer to
Ba Zi uses the Chinese Solar Calendar and it should not be confused with the Chinese Lunar Calendar which is used by other Chinese astrology systems such as Zi Wei Dou Shu or the Purple Star Astrology system.