Chinese Zodiac Compatibility: Is It Legit? Should You Worry?

March 3, 2018

I wrote about BaZi compatibility quite some time ago and introduced how a proper analysis is done usually. There’s one thing I realized I didn’t cover and it’s been a question that’s been cropping up quite often during my BaZi consultations these days, which is whether or not it’s taboo to date or marry people from certain zodiacs sign. In particular, we’re referring to the zodiac signs that have a negative relationship with one another.

What Are The Zodiacs’ Relationships With Each Other?

Practitioners do not ever use the animal names when analyzing someone’s chart.

The zodiac signs are just a representing of the 12 Earthly Branches we use in Chinese metaphysics. These Branches have certain interactions with other Branches, and this is where the belief that certain zodiac signs should not end up with each other. If you’ve studied a bit of Chinese metaphysics on your own, you would have probably come across the terms like “Combination/Harmony” (合), “Clash” (冲), “Punishment” (刑) and “Harm” (害).

The common myth is that you should only date people from the zodiacs you share a “Harmony” relationship with. For example, if you were a Tiger like myself, you do best with Horses, Dogs and Pigs because these three zodiacs are you yin-wu-xu Fire Combination signs. As for the zodiac signs to avoid, that would be the Snake and Monkey because they have a “Punishment” and “Clash” relationship with the Tiger. You would have heard that each zodiac signs also has a “secret friend” which is a ridiculous term to use. Tigers would have Pigs as their secret friend because the Branch of yin (Tiger) and the Branch of hai (Pig) have a Six Harmony (六合) relationship with each other. But little do people know that Six Harmony combinations do bring some negativity along with it for technical reasons I won’t explain for now.

Nothing Is intrinsically Good Or Bad In Chinese Metaphysics

Most people assume that “Clashes”, “Punishments” and whatnot are negative and that it’s something we should avoid. This is not true.

The names do carry some negative connotation, but that’s also because the English language is unable to accurate convey what the Chinese language wants to. The correct way of interpreting these names is to simply see it as how elements interact with each other. “Clashes” and “Punishments” can be a good thing in the chart, although yes, it often involves some cumbersome process.

Always Look At The Whole Chart And Not Just The Zodiac Sign

Now, I think I need to bring everyone back down to Earth and remind everyone that this art is called ‘BaZi’ for a reason – there are 8 characters. This is not ‘Yi Zi‘ (一字) where there’s only one character or the ‘Half Pillar Of Destiny’ where you only take one character out of the eight others into consideration. You’re not going to be able to reach any conclusion just by looking at one Branch (地支) in the chart. Fine, there is a clash in the Year Branch which represents your zodiac – so what?

Yes, there’s a technique in compatibility analysis where you match two chart’s BaZi and see if their respective Stems and Branches clash with each other, meaning, one’s Year Stem/Branch should not clash with the other’s Stem/Branch, and so on and so forth for the Month, Day and Hour Pillars. It is a technique applied back in the olden days where arranged marries were still a thing. Bear in mind this is only one technique out of the many other techniques that exist and, on top of that, there are so many other things you need to look out for. There is no ‘template technique’, and whenever we assess two charts, it’s through using a combination of techniques which I went through some in my previous post on BaZi compatibility.

The reason why practitioners in the past do not like to see clashes in the charts is that clashes naturally do imply there’s conflict, but perhaps conflict here is too strong a word. Society was very different back in the olden days. Men and women weren’t treated equally and subservience was seen as a virtue for women. This is the reason why practitioners in the olden days did not want to see clashes in the charts, because why complicate things when you can throw two people together and they can just agree on everything? Women had a much smaller voice in the past and those who speak up against their husbands are frowned upon.

Chinese Metaphysics Must Adapt To Changing TImes

One thing to understand is that whereas the laws of metaphysics do not change, the application and interpretation of it must adapt to the times. We can’t exactly use the lens and framework of how charts were assessed backed then and still insist on using it now in the 21st century. All of what Chinese metaphysics is today originated from the ‘Book of Change’ (易經), and you can argue that metaphysics itself is the study of change, but bear in mind there will also be some things that don’t change which is part of what we call this ‘The Three Types of Change’ (三易) – 簡易 (observable laws)、變易 (emergence and complexity) and 不易 (the unchangeable). Basically, what I’m trying to say is that if we still use the standards of the past to assess charts, it would completely screw up someone’s life. The core of what metaphysics is about would have been lost.

Having Opposing Zodiac Signs Is Fine If Other Factors Are Met

From my experience and observations, people with charts with clashes do tend to have a very different style of doing things. Intrinsically, there is nothing wrong with this, and as long as you can accept it, everything’s actually fine. Yes, sometimes such differences lead to conflict and quarrels, but sometimes it’s also through these things that we grow as an individual. Of course, some of us prefer a more smooth-sailing kind of relationship where there isn’t any need for debates, but common sense tells us that every relationship will have its challenges and there’ll be a need to compromise. Besides, having a relationship where you get too comfortable can have it’s downsides too.

One Branch clash in the chart isn’t going to spell doom for the relationship. You still need to assess things like:

  • The quality of the charts on it’s own. We can bring too extremely low quality charts together and say that are compatible because they seem meant for each other – albeit in a bad way. (Sorry for the dark humour, but you get what I mean.)
  • Whether the charts have elements that the other chart needs which I mentioned in my previous post on BaZi compatibility.
  • What are the Elemental Phases that the couples will go through.

If I wanted things to be even more complex, let’s just go through into using Zi Wei Dou Shu (紫微斗數) and assess exactly where and how the challenges in the relationship will come. I usually focus on the quality of the individual’s BaZi chart first, because I know if one’s BaZi chart is of a good quality, things like relationships will come naturally and a good BaZi chart gives us an idea of how well a person can handle his or her life. You can read my post on good BaZi charts vs bad BaZi charts to get an idea of what I’m talking about. As much as part of my wants to believe in true love and being there for each other’s struggles, the balanced view is that sometimes it’s hard to enjoy the relationship and allow it to bring you to greater heights when one has not sorted out his or her own life yet. Starting a family together is a huge responsibility and it’s no easy feat.

Things You Should Be More Worried About

This would be obvious.

You should be more worried about marrying someone with a bad BaZi chart overall and these are your ke fu (克夫) or ke qi (克妻) charts, which mean they bring harm to the spouse. You will not be able to assess this just using zodiac signs alone.

Note that when I say “bring harm to the spouse”, it does not mean that their mere physical presence will bring ‘bad luck’ or harm. People with such charts make extremely bad partners due to character flaws, and that’s where the harm comes from.

One interesting thing to note is that if someone has such a chart, they will likely end up with someone with an equally bad chart that paints the same story – that they will be harmed by the spouse. A person with a high-quality chart will never end up with someone with a ke fu or ke qi chart.

To try to compress everything Chinese metaphysics has to offer into something as reductive as assessing compatibility just based on one’s zodiac is something I don’t really agree with.

Why does everyone still do it then and why do some practitioners keep speaking of matching zodiacs? Well, because saying those stuff, as opposed to reading long wordy blog posts like mine, is much easier and gets more attention. I’ve seen couples with clashing Zodiacs who are perfectly happy together because they embrace the change and different perspective each other brings into the relationship. And trust me, I’ve seen enough charts to know what I’m talking about. We no longer live in a society where men and women don’t get a chance to interact and marriages are arranged for us. If you wish to have someone with a perfectly matching BaZi, then you’re going to have to opt for an arranged marriage.

Relax, ladies and gentlemen. Just cause your zodiac doesn’t ‘match’ doesn’t mean it’s the end of your relationship. But if you happen to have a bad BaZi chart, well, that’s a different story for another time.

– Sean

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