The Ten Gods in BaZi: How Not To Do A BaZi or Ten Gods Profile

Bazi_ten_gods_formula

Posted On Last updated Jun 20, 2020 | Published on May 14, 2020

Has everyone noticed a lot more advertisements on BaZi and Chinese metaphysics these days? I certainly have. There’s one trend I’ve observed for a while now but didn’t write about it, which is using BaZi and the Ten ‘Gods’ or stars to profile people, such that they can leverage on their strengths and attain success. I want to address this today what’s wrong with this trend and what you should look out for.

Let’s start with an introduction of the Ten Gods first.

What Are The Ten Gods?

Whenever you get a BaZi consultation, you will always hear about the Ten Gods. The Ten Gods are the 10 Heavenly Stems that you often hear about, made up of the Five Elements and their Yin Yang polarities. For the uninitiated, they are:

  • Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal Water or 甲乙木,丙丁火,戊己土,庚辛金 and 壬癸水

Whenever we talk about the Ten Gods, we are talking about the 10 Heavenly Stems. The Ten Gods are an expression of how the 10 Heavenly Stems interact with each other, and it takes reference from your Daymaster. What do I mean?

Breaking Down The Ten Gods In BaZi

When you generate a BaZi chart, you’ll often see something like this.

bazi_chart_example_yin_metal

You’ll always see the Ten Gods already laid out for you in the BaZi calculator. What’s next is to make sense of it. I know what’s going through everyone’s minds, because, at one point, I was utterly clueless about what the characters mean.

There are altogether five different categories of Gods, which are:

  • Officer (官杀)
  • Resource (印)
  • Peer (比劫)
  • Output (食伤)
  • Wealth (财)

The Five Categories describe the interaction between the Five Elements and your Daymaster, or Day Stem. I’ll elaborate:

  • Officer category ‘gods’ come from the element that controls you.
  • Resource category ‘gods’ come from the element that gives birth to you.
  • Peer category ‘gods’ represent the same element.
  • Output category ‘gods’ represent the element you produce.
  • Wealth category ‘gods’ represent the element you control.

When I say “you,” it refers to your Daymaster.

Let’s take Yang Wood, for example:

  • Metal would be Yang Wood’s Officer ‘god’; Water would be its Resource ‘god’; Wood would be its Peer ‘god’; Fire would be its Output ‘god,’ and Earth would be its Wealth ‘god.’

The formula applies to every other element. Once you know the formula, you will be able to plot out the Ten Gods for yourself and identify which appears in your chart. You don’t usually have to worry about this because all BaZi calculators will do this for you.

Each Category has two different gods determined by the Yin or Yang polarity and its interaction with the Daymaster. Taking Yang Wood as an example again, Yang Metal would be Yang Wood’s Indirect Officer (偏官) becaues both are Yang Elements, whereas Yin Metal would be Yang Wood’s Direct Officer (正官) because of a Yin and Yang interaction. As a rule of thumb, just remember that a Yang + Yang or Yin + Yin interaction always lands you with an “Indirect” version of a ‘god’ which we usually call pian (偏) in Chinese which means tilted or not fallowing a straight path.

Yin Yang theory is at the heart of Chinese metaphysics and dates as far back 14th century BC when it was first found on oracle bones. It only started becoming the core of Chinese culture when it was mentioned in Lao Tzu’s Dao De Jing (道德经). You will often hear of similar polarity interactions (Yang + Yang or Yin + Yin) being called “无情” interactions in the Chinese classics, meaning they ‘lack heart, emotional or a bond’. This describes how similar polarities are not natural attractions to each other and often come with a bit of discomfort, but it does not necessarily mean its an intrinsically bad interaction. It just lacks balance and harmony. Yang and Yin interactions, on the other hand, are considered harmonious.

All these concepts play a part in BaZi analysis.

What Do The Ten Gods Represent?

There is a fascination with the Ten Gods amongst enthusiasts for obvious reasons because these Ten Gods make BaZi a lot more digestible for the layperson. Each of the Ten Gods represents something and holds clues to whether one is the caliber for success and wealth. A lot of new newcomers to BaZi will often rush to see whether they have a certain ‘gods’ in their charts to assess what their strengths are because everyone likes to see positive things about them being mentioned. The Wealth element is, of course, the most popular of all the ‘gods’.

I’ll give a quick breakdown of what these Ten Gods can represent. I will focus on the positive sides only for now because it’s what sells:


Officer Category (官)

Traditionally, they are used to assess someone’s ability to hold a high position and title. People in feudal China often look to this ‘gods’ to evaluate whether one is worthy of working in government and for the emperor. In modern times, its often used to assess someone’s leadership ability and whether they are worthy of respect. For a female chart, it can represent one’s husband, and for the male chart, one’s children.

Resource Category (印)

This ‘god’ is associated with protection, influence, and also high position. The word yin (印) represents the imperial seal, which any officer will need because their power comes from the emperor after all. We often use the Resource ‘god’ to assess one’s academic abilities and whether they can influence others.

Peer Category (比劫)

The Peer ‘god’ represents what its name suggests, which are your friends and the people around you, and whether you’ll receive help from them.

Output Category (食伤)

The Output ‘god’ has is known to be the artistic and expressive ‘god’. Instead of being names Direct or Indirect Output, you’ll hear Eating God (食神) and Hurting Officer (伤官) instead. Unfortunately, translating the names into English does make them sound weird. It represents children for the female chart.

Wealth Category (财)

Arguably the most popular ‘god’ in BaZi, it represents wealth, but it does not represent wealth that appears out of nowhere. What it truly reflects is the person’s capability and resourcefulness. A lot of people have an abundance of wealth elements in their charts, but they are still struggling financially. For a male chart, it can also denote the wife.


Bear in mind that each of the five categories and ‘gods’ will both have a positive and negative side, so it does not mean that as long a particular ‘god’ appears, you’re going to be the embodiment of what that ‘god’ represents. Analyzing a BaZi chart is always about assessing the chart’s overall state and balance.

Speaking of balance and each ‘god’ having both a positive and negative side, here comes the crux of the post.

The Trendy Way of Using BaZi Ten Gods to Profile Yourself

Now, I’m not saying that you cannot use the Ten Gods to profile someone. You can. But the way it is the Ten Gods ‘profiling system’ is being sold right now is seriously flawed and it’s practically useless to a layman. It’s just another unnecessary packaging and product of the modern-day, pseudo-Chinese metaphysics.

You might have come across some BaZi calculators available that show you a series of charts that illustrate how dominant a particular element or category of ‘god’ you have.

bazi_illustration_of_elements_and_ten_gods
Example radar chart used to illustrate the strength of elements

If it’s a bar chart, it usually lists down all the Ten Gods. If it’s a radar chart like the above, then it’s usually referring to the Five Elements and the five categories of BaZi Gods which I mentioned above.

Although I applaud the effort to put a form of structure to understand a chart, trying to inject something that is totally irrelevant sends everyone Chinese metaphysics enthusiast in the wrong direction. I don’t quite get the reason why you need to displace the original system with a completely irrelevant one. The only purpose of such features is to tell you what your strongest and weakest elements are. It’s useful in that regard – but I have to emphasize that it is the only use and what it can tell you is severely limited. We know that BaZi analysis consists of more than just this.

To the layman, these diagrams grab your interest, but it doesn’t actually tell you anything. To anyone who has any pride in being a legitimate practitioner, these diagrams are entirely redundant. A legitimate practitioner would not use these diagrams and images as part of the analysis. You will also not see professional calculators developed in Taiwan or China having these features, because practitioners there aren’t the flashy types that put up a show to look more credible.

You have 75% Direct Wealth. So what? You have 50% Hurting Officer and 25% Peer. So what? It really doesn’t mean anything. The meaning behind the Ten Heavenly Stems and Twelve Earthly Branches is not something that can be expressed by percentages.

The reason why this is being done is always the same: Chinese metaphysics has to be dumbed down to such an extent in order for it to sell to the masses. Unfortunately, the masses are willing to accept this dumbed-down version that achieves nothing instead of picking up the right book to read. BaZi exists because the Chinese sages spend hundreds of years studying the stars and developing their prowess in astronomy. It’s sad that people feel a diagram which arbitrarily assigns a weightage to the elements can replace what our ancestors worked on.

Please believe me when I say this: If you truly know how to read a BaZi chart, you won’t need these diagrams and bars. They are unnecessary distractions.

The Misleading Analysis Pseudo Practitioners Give

You may have come across pseudo-practitioners (a new term I coined instead of using ‘practitioners’ with inverted commas) trying to explain what the pie-charts and bars mean, which is interesting because how do you convey something that has absolutely no meaning? You conjure stories, of course.

You will hear things like having “a certain percentage” of a particular ‘god’ appearing is a right balance, and if it appears in a balanced percentage, you will be able to make use of the positive side of that ‘god’. The next thing you know, they are trying to sell you something to hope you cope with the economic downturn when they are the ones who are struggling to cope.

Balance or achieving balance, in a BaZi chart, is not determined by throwing a percentage onto one of the ‘gods’.

Sweeping statements such as “You are suitable for business if you have Indirect Wealth or Hurting Officer” are also unfounded. You cannot encourage someone to kickstart a business just because the Indirect Wealth or Hurting Officer ‘god’ are the strongest ‘gods’ in the chart. The explanation you’ll always get is that people with Indirect Wealth are good with money and people relations, whereas a Hurting Officer structure do not like to be bounded by rules, so in order for them to be successful, they need to be free from it. I don’t agree with this, for reasons my other blogs posts should have explained by now.

Chart structures were mentioned in the Chinese classics, but no in the way that it is being presented today.

I have to mention, categorically and without bias or prejudice, that if any practitioner were to say something like this, that practitioner should not be in this field. Telling me that I have 25% Direct wealth, or 50% Indirect Officer is utterly meaningless. There is actually no need or no reason to assign a percentage to the elements of the chart, because what you’re trying to do, ultimately, is to look at the flow of the elementals and interaction between all four Pillars. Throwing a percentage in there is a red-herring. You are better off sticking with MBTI or the Enneagram, and I would highly recommend the Enneagram if you’ve not heard of it.

Laypeople are incredibly vulnerable to such misleading packaging, so please be careful.

An Example of Why the Trendy Ten Gods Profiling System Is Flawed

Let’s take the below BaZi chart as an example.

Yin_water_baZi_female

The above is a female Yin Water chart born during summer in the month of wei (未). Let’s list down the obvious:

  • Yes, a lot of Output and Wealth ‘gods’.
  • There’s also some influence from the Direct Officer, as well as Indirect Officer ‘god’.

My question to laymen and pseudo-practitioners is this, “What exactly do these mean?” Yes, the presence of Eating God and Wealth does make it look like an ‘Output Gives Birth To Wealth’ (食伤生财) chart structure which is a very well-known one that many successful business people have. But is this chart structure a qualified one? Does the diagram above reveal anything about that? It doesn’t.

A lot of beginners will immediately jump to the conclusion that the above BaZi chart is a good one because of the ‘Output Gives Birth To Wealth’ structure, which is wrong. The above chart falls under a Category 4 chart, and it is an extremely low-quality chart. You would be sorely mistaken if you think that low-quality, Category 4 charts can only be made up of negative ‘gods’ like 7-Killings, Rob wealth, and whatnot. The above diagrams will never be able to reveal any form of meaningful insight.

You will be surprised that if you generate the Zi Wei Dou Shu equivalent of the chart above, this chart-holder has a Po Jun + Lian Zhen (破军,廉贞) chart, and even has a Hua Ji transformer tagged to Lian Zhen (廉贞化忌). In this case, Zi Wei Dou Shu does make things a lot easier to see, because it points out clearly that this is a horrendous chart belonging to someone with serious character flaws, and will always take a beating from life. The chart-holder above has an abusive mother, her father got jailed before, and her career is a mess. Again, do the diagrams reveal that?

If we were to go with the what’s being sold in the market now, we would assume that this person would take on the traits of Direct Wealth and Eating God, so the natural assumption is that this person likes stability, holds on to a stable job, and has an artistic side. The real-life manifestation is the complete opposite.

Mere pie-charts, pentagrams and bars are not enough for you to decipher anything meaning, and I hope this example gives you a clear idea why. If you truly wish to benefit from BaZi, what’s being sold in the market now is not the right way to do it. A book on Chinese history will do you better.

Profiling Someone By Their Daymaster

Another trendy thing that pseudo-practitioners love doing is profiling people by their Daymasters. Our Daymaster can reveal some things about us, but my argument against this practice is the same as what I’ve said above. There is no point broadly generalizing someone by their Daymaster if your chart analyzing abilities are not up to par.

We know for a fact that not all Yang Wood people are benevolent; not all Yin Metal people are elegant; not every Yin Water person is nurturing and not all Yang Metal people are strong-willed. It’s yet another reductive exercise that people waste a lot of time on. Categorizing people by the zodiacs is bad enough, but at least we had 12 choices. Pseudo-practitioners made it worst by reducing that number to 10.

Which brings me to raise the question: So should you be classified under your zodiac? Or your Daymaster? If you’re telling me it’s both, then we might as well just do away with all these pointless pursuits and learn how to analyze a chart properly. We should not be approaching BaZi thinking that the first thing we need to do is to learn to profile someone accurately.

Let’s use a few examples: If someone’s Day Pillar were to be bing-shen (丙申), it tells us a few things. By theory, it can tell us that this person falls sick easily. However, it can also mean this person likely works in the medical field. This is the ‘sign’ that bing-shen represents, but you won’t be able to know exactly how it manifets unless you look at the whole chart.

Analyzing a BaZi chart requires quite a bit of abstract thinking and a thorough understanding of what the Chinese sages meant about Yin Yang and what xiang (象) means. In other words, you cannot look at something one-dimensionally or even two-dimensionally. Every Stem and every Branch can refer to an infinite number of things.

Important Concepts in BaZi That Are Left Out By Pseudo-Practitioners

There are so many other theoretical concepts in BaZi that are not mentioned in your modern-day Ten Gods profiling balderdash. Elemental flow, flow direction, dryness, coldness, chart ‘pollutants’ (浊气), and the 12 stages. There are many more. You will not get these from these profiling calculators or services.

How about extremely special chart structures like 飞天禄马?I hesitate translating this into English because it’s going to sound silly because it literally translates into ‘abundant horse flying into the sky’. These calculators and services won’t be able to tell you something like that. Someone might be able to code that into a very good BaZi calculator, but a pseudo-practitioner will never know what this is if they’ve only ever attended some watered-down course out there and declared themselves a master a year later.

The concept of chart structures did appear in Chinese classics, but not in the way modern-day pseudo practitioners are portraying it. When chart structures were brought up in the past, it was always used to describe how chart balance is achieved.

Anyone and I mean anyone, can come out and start their BaZi consulting business just by selling this Ten Gods profiling system because it is so ridiculous. You can do it too if you want. All pseudo-practitioners can’t even tell you where they are 10 Heavenly Stems – not 8 or 12 (Yes, I’m indirectly saying I can, and I can as far as telling you the astronomy behind it). I said it time and again, but if you are not interested enough to find out why something is the way it is, you will never be good at it.

BaZi Can Profile Someone if Applied Correctly

I’m not saying that BaZi cannot profile somebody, but it needs to be done correctly. You cannot profile somebody accurately if you don’t have a deep understanding of BaZi’s theory and what each element represents and needs. I’m not referring to a superficial understanding. – I’m referring to knowing exactly what an element needs in a given situation, in a given environment and what brings out the best in an element.

If you want to go a step even further, you bring in the auxiliary stars and even the 8 Trigrams in next, but only after you’ve got a thorough understanding of the elemental interactions in the BaZi chart.

Let’s say that you got yourself profiled, and you’re happy with all the fancy diagrams and charts you see in your freshly generated BaZi report. What’s next?

Let’s not forget that BaZi has other components like your 10-Year “Luck Pillars” or Elemental Phases, your Annual “Luck Pillars”, Melodic Elements (纳音), and the countless interactions between them. These are the parts of the chart that tell you how your life unfolds.

BaZi analysis is not merely generating a chart and reading the words the appearing superficially. It’s imagining how the laws of nature are constantly interacting with each other and how it unfolds. One’s BaZi chart is dynamic and ever-changing. To present it as something that is static is a complete misrepresentation of BaZi.

Be Careful Reductive & Misleading BaZi Practices Out There

Unfortunately, Google’s ranking algorithm bumps up sites that are filled with misleading content simply because they talk a lot about it and not because they are subject matter experts. If a website says enough things about the Ten Gods, Google ranks them higher even if everything they talk about is wrong. It’s the reason why information on Chinese metaphysics will always remain superficial online. The system is not perfect, so it’s not Google’s fault, and it’s the reason why misleading information gets spread so quickly.

My message to everyone remains the same. Be careful of what you read out there, and give Chinese metaphysics and its history the respect it deserves. There are a lot of malpractices out there by pseudo-practitioners who have no idea what they are doing or are doing it deliberately because they want you to buy something.

It doesn’t matter which “profile” you fall under; the important thing is for you to be able to know whether your chart is a high-quality one or a low-quality one. If you’re elated because you see 100% in Indirect Officer and you think you’re someone who has leadership potential, will-power, and bravery. Well, good luck.

Whenever you see the divider above, it means that I have come to the end of what I wish to communicate in the post. It’s a new structure I’ve put in place to keep my blog posts focused. Anything below the divider will be personal thoughts and some updates which may or may not be metaphysics related. I will try my best to keep each post as informative as possible and less of a personal rambling but do pardon the one-liner outbursts once in a while.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit everyone, practitioners included. I’ll be upfront with everyone that this month has been the slowest month ever in a few years, which is fine! As you can tell by now, I’m taking the time to do more research, reading, and writing. What’s interesting is the number of new advertisements other practitioners are running. I mentioned before that if you have overheads, or if you treat this like a business you keep trying to scale, you’ll be put under pressure one day and you’ll be forced into a position to do things that are good for revenue, but not good for the people. It’s funny seeing how many pseudo-practitioners getting desperate during this time.

There are plenty of practitioners and companies out there that will try to score a BaZi reading from you using charts and diagrams shown above. If that’s your thing, go ahead. Whatever rocks your boat. I know I keep harping about all the misleading information by pseudo-practitioners who just treat this as a business, but just see it as me doing my part for this industry and what our ancestors passed down to us. I apologize for the repetitiveness sometimes, and I do get sick of myself sometimes, but this blog’s theme has always been centered around helping people become more aware and educated. Lastly, I also hope for everyone’s understanding of why I feel so strongly about these things because to me, whatever is happening now is just too ridiculous and unacceptable and I cannot sit back and do nothing.

There’s no need to breakdown a Chinese metaphysics technique and say that there are 10 unique ways of using it. If you know how to use it, it simply means you know how to use it. There’s no need for 10 different ways. I’m sure everyone drives their car with their hands on the steering wheel. If I came up with a book that goes “10 Unique Ways To Drive Your Car – Starting with Your Teeth to Your Toes”, would you take me seriously?

It’s not usually me to ask people to share my posts on social media, but given the change in Google algorithms and how a lot of misleading content is being bumped up just because they keep writing about it, I hope everyone can share this in whatever way they can. I will also have to change my content strategy a little, but I’ll still keep it fresh and real for everyone. It’s not about business or wanting more revenue during a difficult time. The Google algorithm update does serve as a good reminder to keep my content relevant, and this lull period I’m having is very much welcomed too.

I hope everyone is well. Take care and hang in there!

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Written by Sean Chan

Sean Chan is Asia's leading Chinese metaphysics consultant specializing in BaZi, Zi Wei Dou Shu, Qi Men Dun Jia, and Feng Shui. A thought-leader in the field, Sean's been featured on Channel NewsAsia, The New York Times Style Magazine and other local media. He blogs regularly about various topics surrounding Chinese metaphysics and aims to educate the public about the field.

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6 Comments

  1. Chan

    Dear Sean,
    This is a good post. I always learn some new things from you.

    I like the divider implementation.

    Chan

    • Sean Chan

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the read. =)

  2. Jas

    Thank you for sharing.it is I insightful. Helps me to come to realisation of who I am first and begin to transcend my chart. Maybe it will take me a few more lifetimes.i want to try

  3. Kk

    Well said!

  4. daniel

    Hi Sean.
    I agree with all that you write about this topic. There are lot of practicioners and “masters” that sometimes, in their search to reach more followers or clients simplificate the topics, unfortunately losing it s real value very often. This kind of simplification, or mac-practicioning, leads them (i don t know if google algorithm or marketing stretegies have anything to do about it) to get in touch with a lot of people, as their message is so much easy to understand and their “pre-conceived solutions” looks really the faster way to get wealth for anyone. On the other hand, masters that follow the most accurate way, don t seem to get the same “success”, if we meassure it just by the number of followers. Anyway, i believe there s also a good side. Most of the people that get started in chinese metaphysics (and i include myself) just begins to get interested in it as they see that there s something that can really change their lives, giving them a new way to look at it, and somehow, puting their destiny in their own hands, instead of just keeping there waiting for miracles or Gods to bring happiness to them. So, even if they don t give the right message, i believe it s also positive, cause lot of people begins a totally different journey though their lives, and of course, some of them (of us) are able later to go deeper and find their own truth.
    I really appreciate your sharings, that make things more clear to me, and hope they will reach a lot of people more in future, but in the same way i also appreciated in the past some people that, even if their message was not so right, helped me to begin this journey, my own one. Thanks a lot.

    • Sean Chan

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for your comment. =) I get where you’re coming from. Whether there is “good” in such courses is debatable. It does introduce someone to Chinese metaphysics but I think that’s all it does. But it’s definitely not enough. Most will soon realize they are not cut out for this when you start getting into the serious stuff.

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