Too Long, Didn’t Read Summary:
- Annual zodiac forecasts are the biggest lie in the Chinese metaphysics field. It serves no constructive purpose, and leads people into making the wrong decisions.
- Monthly Daymaster forecasts are even worse, but yet, ‘practitioners’ for the sake of getting more clicks and views instead of spreading the right message.
- Forecasts can be done, but there is a right way to do it. It cannot be done just by looking at your zodiac nor your Daymaster.
- Please share this on Facebook and with people you know. It’s not about me gaining publicity or reach – you never know who you’ll be helping by spreading the right message and helping people get educated about this field. Help prevent people from making the wrong life decisions based on all these myths and media hogwash.
Alright. It’s almost November. I can guarantee we’ll start seeing Chinese zodiac and astrological forecasts really, really soon. It seems like no matter how early I blog about this topic hoping that Google will index this and rank it high, it’s just not going to happen because it’s a very competitive topic in terms of search engine rankings. I’m going to blog about it anyway. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to write something meaningful and impactful, and I literally spent hours editing this post.
Do me this favour, if you find this post useful, please share it on Facebook or private amongst your friends, because you’d be doing a huge favour and helping a lot of people. This is going to be a VERY long post with some technical explanations on why annual zodiac forecasts are absolute nonsense. If you’re someone who has once believed in zodiac forecasts, I would encourage you to finish reading this post as it will change your perspective on the idea of annual zodiac forecasts forever.
I know the title of this entry is kind of ‘asking for it’ and will likely offend incumbent practitioners, but do take the time to finish this post and hear me out and you’ll understand why I balk at the notion of Chinese zodiac forecasts. I know posts like this will shake up the industry a bit, but people really, really need to get a lot more educated about this field. I have to apologize in advance as this post may have some hints of passive aggressiveness because it’s a topic I get very worked-up about, because gosh, there’s even Daymaster monthly forecasts now. The audacity!
It’s not the first time I’ve written about this, but I find the need to bring this matter up every time Chinese New Year is around the corner. My previous posts on my views of Zodiac forecasts can be found here:
When you have time, do take a look at my older posts to get an idea of where I’m coming from, but I would suggest you finish reading this post first before going back to the two posts above as this post will be a lot easier to digest.
Let’s Talk About How 2018 Went For Tigers
I think my age is no longer a secret thanks to Channel NewsAsia, so yes, I’m a Tiger born in 1986. Various sources have mentioned that there will be legal issues year due to the negative stars influencing the people born in 1986 under the Tiger zodiac. Yes, I did deal with a lot of legal issues this year, but it’s to do with things like getting married, buying houses, and drawing upon my CPF funds. The keyword here is “negative” – Tigers were told to watch out for lawsuits this year, but I’ve not come across a single of my Tiger friends getting issued lawyer letters. We were also told to watch out for our health, but everyone seems to be pretty healthy. I’d hate to think this blog post will get me into a lawsuit by the way.
As for the other plethora of things that were said about Tigers: I could find certain events that happened this year to match with all the reports that’s being put online but that would be a classic example of committing confirmation bias. It was a good year for me as most of the forecasts have ‘predicted’, but there were other areas that were completely off.
I’m pretty sure of all the Tigers born in 1986, everyone landed somewhere along the spectrum of a good year vs a bad year. The funny thing is, I’m pretty sure this can be said for all other zodiacs.
I have no idea when this culture of Chinese zodiac forecasts became so popular, but I could say for absolutely certainly that this wasn’t practised in the past. If you’ve ever picked up a Chinese classic on BaZi (八字), you can never imagine the same very authors who wrote about astronomy and the theory behind metaphysics participating in the dumbing down of this field.
Zodiac forecasts are somehow immune from the the sin of falsifiability and free from problem with inductive reasoning – which isn’t a good thing. Only the accurate ‘predictions’ are acknowledged by the reader, and the inaccurate ones are ignored. Perhaps let me explain it in a more layman way which is often quoted as the “all swans are white fallacy”. Philosopher Karl Popper had a famous slogan “No number of sightings of white swans can prove the theory that all swans are white.” It takes just ONE black swan to turn this “all swans are white” hypothesis on its head.
Now, the hypothesis that we are challenging here is this: “Zodiac forecasts are legit, accurate and reliable.” If anyone disagrees with this hypothesis, please leave a comment below. I mean, it would be fair to assume this is why all the famous practitioners are doing it, right?
The original intent of pointing out this fallacy exists is to look out for inconsistencies in scientific theories – you cannot conclude and make a statement that all swans are white when you know black swans exist, and it takes just one single black swan out of the out of the millions of other white swans to overthrow the “all swans are white” hypothesis. This is exactly what is happening in the world of zodiac forecasts, just that there is more than one black swan here, which means it should be something extremely obvious and does not depend on a single, seemingly random event. People are convincing themselves that the accurate things they read on their forecasts, tarnished by confirmation bias, are theoretically sound. At the same time, everything is inaccurate is thrown out the window and not questioned. What is not supposed to be true ends up being perceived otherwise because we don’t take into consideration the events that challenge the hypothesis of “zodiac forecasts are reliable and accurate”. Are they really?
Of course, you could say that it’s because one has read the forecasts and free-will was at play, and because of that, certain things were prevented and hence the inaccuracies – that’s another topic altogether. If you are leaning towards this school of thought, that’s even better! Just dismiss forecasts altogether and believe in free-will and control how each and every year of your life would be, but this is a feat not many people can achieve as brought forward in my blog umpteen times.
The sweeping statements in forecasts you read every year could apply to anybody, and as mentioned above, it’s human nature to want to look out for things that apply to them and we commit logical fallacies all the time. The interesting thing I’ve observed not only from my friends, but by myself as well is that, before the official new year begins, we tend to believe everything that’s written on the forecast, whereas after the year has come to an end, we go back and look for things that match what the forecasts says to reaffirm that what we read did come true. The the human mind leans towards wanting to convince itself that the forecasts are real and accurate.
How A Proper Forecast Is Done (Here Comes The Technical Part)
Few ask whether zodiac forecasts are legit or reliable not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t know what to ask. If you’re one of them, fret not, I’m here to explain how it’s done. I’m going to ignore the names of all the ‘gods’ and stars you often hear in this section and explain it later below, so continue reading.
Chinese metaphysics and the act of forecasting the future will always be intertwined. I’m not saying metaphysics does not involve forecasts – it does. What I’m saying is that there is a proper way to do it and it’s the annual zodiac forecasts that you see on media that is that you should be wary off.
Let me explain from a technical perspective and I’ll include pictures (finally!) this time to make it easier for everyone to digest what I’m about to bring across.
The above is a typical BaZi chart. The 4 Pillars (年柱，月年柱，日年柱，时年柱) comprises of 8 Characters – 4 Stems and 4 Branches – with each Stem tagged to a particular Branch. Together, they form your natal chart, which describes the foundation of your life and gives a description of your character, natural talents and raw capability. Whatever you were born with, we look at your natal chart.
The second part of the chart is the Phases you go through, or what we call 运 in Chinese. It’s the reason why you always hear 命运 when we talk about BaZi and Zi Wei Dou Shu. 命 is your natal chart, and 运 are your phases. The Phases are whatever you weren’t born with, but have the potential to develop (or screw up).
Most media platforms and other practitioners/feng shui masters call them ‘Luck Pillars’, but I shy away from using the word “luck” because it denotes not having to do anything and expecting good things to happen, which I feel is a huge misconception held by people who aren’t familiar with the metaphysics field. 运 denotes action which can be either from your or your environment and there is always a cause-and-effect, to associate it with ‘luck’ is a huge mistake. I’ve been using the term “Elemental Phases” ever since discovering the word “luck” misleads people.
The two columns/pillars I highlighted are the 10-year Elemental Phase (大运) and Annual Elemental Phase (流年运)。We have to bring in this two factors to determine how the life of the chart-holder will unfold. One’s natal chart might be on the weaker side, but if the Elemental Phases come in to support the natal chart, the quality of the chart can be uplifted and the quality of life of the chart-holder will definitely be better. I’ve mentioned this before, but there is saying 命好不如运好 – it’s more important to have good Elemental Phases rather than just a good natal chart.
What the yearly Chinese zodiac forecasts does is to only look at the Annual Phase/Pillar (流年运), but it totally disregards the 10-year Elemental Phase/Pillar, which is a severe misapplication of how the chart is meant to be read. The 10-year Elemental Phase (大运) holds infinitely more weight than your Annual Phase/Pillar, and to go into the yearly forecasts without assessing your 10-year Elemental Phase is absolutely pointless – and that’s just one of the reasons why forecasting can be so wrong.
Taking the above chart as an example, what annual zodiac forecasting is doing is technically this:
A zodiac forecast works with extremely limited information like the case shown above, with only your Day Branch, and the Stem & Branch of that particular year. Just having your Day Branch and the Pillar of the particular year you’re forecasting with does not tell you ANYTHING. Your Daymaster isn’t even in the picture for goodness sake.
Out of the original 12 Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches that we had to take into consideration for the analysis of the chart, we are now left with 3. You have absolutely no clue on what the chart needs to be more balanced and have it’s quality uplifted. There is also no visibility on the chart-holder’s 10-year Elemental Phase (大运). The interaction between your 10-year Elemental Phase/Pillar and annual Elemental Phase/Pillar needs to be taken into account as well. Just because your Annual Phase/Pillar forms a combination (合) with your Zodiac sign, or because it holds your beneficial element does not mean a single thing if you do not first take into account what kind of role your 10-year Elemental Phase (大运) is playing.
Your zodiac is represented by the the Year Branch (年支) and it’s just one of the eight characters which appears in your chart. BaZi analysis isn’t even done using the Year Branch as the focus, but rather, using the Daymaster which is the Day Stem instead.
The below illustration is using the same chart, just that we are using another ridiculous ‘technique’ invented by (supposedly famous) practitioners who care more about appearing on media and getting clicks than to bring across the right message:
There is now this trend of using just your Daymaster for forecasts instead of using your zodiac sign, and what’s worst is that they are now using the Monthly Phases/Pillars and disregarding the Annual Phases/Pillars. In other words, these jokers are using even less information, or practical no information at all, and coming up with a so-called forecast. Annual zodiac forecasts are already a huge joke in itself, and monthly Daymaster forecasts are a step up in the stupidity scale – it’s downright tabloid hogwash. Just because we’re using the Daymaster instead of the Year Branch now doesn’t make this ‘technique’ legit or viable.
The chart-holder in this case was born in 1986 like myself and unfortunately is going through a very rough patch in his life right now. We can naturally deduce this by seeing that he’s undergoing a very negative 10-Year phase due to the 寅巳申三刑 (yin-si-shen punishment) that forms. This analysis has to be performed by looking at the whole chart and not with the limited information as depicted by the charts with other characters blackened out. You won’t be able to visualize the unfolding process of someone’s life when you are skipping steps and excluding vital parts of the chart.
You cannot draw any conclusion by looking at just the Year Branch representing the zodiac, or the Day Stem which represents your Daymaster. The last thing the chart-holder needs is metaphysical diatribe. Whatever that has been forecasted in the media regarding Tigers for year 2018 is definitely not going to apply to him and it’s dangerous to apply the wrong information. There are cases where people kick-start a business because someone on TV or YouTube said their year would be good, only to end up going bankrupt a few years later.
Really, guys, this is NOT how it’s done.
There Is A Proper Technique In BaZi (八字) And Zi Wei Dou Shu (紫微斗数) Analysis
There is a proper way analysis is performed. I’m not going to bring in Zi Wei Dou Shu for this entry.
There is no such thing as a gut feel when you wish to do an analysis for someone’s chart, and you can’t draw conclusions when you don’t even have the full chart at your disposal.
The steps are simple:
- Analyze the natal chart: This is your 8 Characters which represents the moment you were born.
- Find out what the chart needs, meaning, your beneficial elements.
- Analyze your Elemental Phases (运), starting with the 10-Year Phases first because this is the most important part of your 运。Only when you’ve analyze your 10-Year Phases can you bring in your Annual Phases (流年运).
Zodiac and Daymaster forecasts give absolutely no respect to the above process. If you toss our your natal chart, you won’t know what your beneficial elements are, if you don’t know what your beneficial elements are, you won’t know whether your Elemental Phases you’re undergoing are positive or negative. Assuming that you have all the information you need on the chart, you do not go into the Annual Phases without looking at the 10-Year Phases as that is the wrong technique to apply.
Why Are Some Practitioners Still Doing ‘Forecasts’ Then?
The answer is pretty simple. It’s for views, for clicks and internet traffic and ultimately it’s good for business. The more people you can reach, the better. Unfortunately this field is one of those which is not regulated, and there are no barriers to entry. I would think that, when you depend on this field for a livelihood, knowing you might be displaced by a more prominent, popular or famous practitioner, you might be pressured into doing things that sometimes aren’t so good for the public.
It seems as though one’s authority in this field of metaphysics is determined by how often one is seen on media or other superficial factors like the number of Facebook followers one can muster.
Doing zodiac forecasts is a self-dug hole that you cannot get yourself out of, because to suddenly come out and tell the public “Hey, I don’t believe in this anymore and it’s not the right way to do things.” is basically destroying the ‘credibility’ you’ve spent years or decades building up, and many incumbent practitioners find themselves in this position and it would look extreme silly on them to suddenly take the other side.
I’m perhaps one of the few, if not, the only one who openly speaks out about how much I’m against annual zodiac forecasts even though I’m a practitioner myself. Many people have found this rather puzzling because they assumed being a practitioner means you have to do these annual forecasts and that’s what metaphysics is about. It’s really not – there’s a lot more depth to it.
Again, and I believe I’ve said this multiple times, I’ve seen too many people end up making the wrong decisions because of what they think they know based on the annual forecasts they see on the media. Another blind spot that readers don’t know about is how each and every 10-Year Phase and year are interconnected. If you can’t appreciate how every year in your life is interconnected, you’re failing to put metaphysics to its full use. Most people, including the incumbent practitioners, only look at each and every single year independently and this approach misses out on a lot of valuable information the chart might be hinting.
Those practitioners who do annual zodiac forecasts, or monthly Daymaster forecasts – you know who they are. I don’t have to list the names on my blog. A small part of me is angry and disappointed in these people, but at the same time it drives the desire to want to do this properly and educate the public despite being controversial and contrarian.
Does That Mean I Shouldn’t Consult Practitioners Who Do Forecasts?
That’s entirely up to you. Participating in this annual masquerade doesn’t mean a practitioner doesn’t know his or her stuff. Not participating in it doesn’t mean anything either. I’ll leave it up to everyone to come to their own conclusions on the practitioners integrity and motives, but I do hope everyone has a much clearer idea of how ridiculous Chinese zodiac forecasts are. The only thing I can say, and I’ve said it before, is that I don’t understand why any self-respecting practitioner would continue to participate in this and not see the implications or feel some sort of shame. If you are truly dedicated to your craft, there are certain things you just won’t allow yourself do.
How do you feel when someone comes up to you and tell you that they believe the world is flat? That’s the same reaction I get when I hear about zodiac forecasts, just that the majority isn’t on my side unfortunately. I perfectly understand that if it’s about the media, being a celebrity and getting a ton of business, this is what it takes, so to each his own.
For the rest who are willing to consider an alternative point of view: What’s important is that you are more informed and know what you’re getting yourself into, and you know how to differentiate between novelty and what’s real. What I’m suggesting is for people to calm down, think critically and do their homework. If a doctor tells you that you need to undergo surgery immediately, you will want to know why in a very logical, technical matter, explained in a way you can understand. How many times he or she appeared on TV and how many Facebook likes he or she has is the last thing you’ll be using to assess the situation. Any field is the same. No doctor is going to tell you “Hey, I have a few million likes on my Facebook business page, and I appeared on TV every year for the past 10 years. Trust me, I know what I’m doing.”
If you want me to give a very brutally direct answer on what I don’t participate in all this nonsense, it’s because it’s a bastardization of this field and, at least to me, unethical. Getting your name out there, being seen as the authority of the field you’re in is a great thing and everyone wants to be recognized for being the leading authority in one’s selected field – everyone wants to be at the pinnacle of their career – but if there is something not right about getting there by participating in this hogwash and I’m very surprised why no one has come out to talk about this yet.
From a business perspective: the kind of clients you attract by getting your name out there using forecasts are the ones that aren’t ready to use metaphysics the correct way, so the whole masquerade has to continue where you tell them anything but the truth, that there is nothing wrong with their charts and many good things will soon follow. This cycle that forms as a result is also a reason why the practitioners who scale the business by training others to do readings can get away with it despite the huge drop in quality and accuracy of the reading.
In the end, Chinese metaphysics is the packaging or marketing angle used for other things like get-rich-quick schemes or coaching seminars. Nothing wrong with coaching seminars, but get-rich-quick schemes packaged with metaphysics is just disgusting.
What Are All These ‘Gods’ And Stars We Hear During Chinese New Year?
The name of the ‘Gods’ you hears represents certain stars in astrology, and we call them 神煞 in Chinese.
I spoke about this in one my earlier posts on zodiac forecasts. Strictly speaking, BaZi is focused on the 5 Elements and Yin Yang theory and has nothing to do with the stars, but I’m not saying it doesn’t have any use. It appears in BaZi charts as a representing of some beneficial and destructive relationships the Heavenly Stems has with the Earthly Branches and it tells you the positions of the stars from an astronomy perspective. However, whether the chart-holder benefits from these stars are a totally different issue.
You may have a chart where positive ‘gods’ appearing in all your Branches, but if the Branches belong to elements which your chart doesn’t need, there is really no point. The Chinese classic 《滴天髓》 is a very good example of how the analysis sticks to the core of BaZi analysis – which is focusing on the interaction of the Elements.
The ‘gods’/stars you see in the first/top table above are known as the 年支系星, meaning they are the stars associated with the Year Branch, hence 年支。There other stars that you hear off the 流年岁前星 and 流年将前星 (apologies for the lack of translation for now) which also involve the Year Branch. You’ll notice that all the characters appearing, other than the names of the stars, are actually the 12 Earthly Branches we use in Chinese metaphysics, and the Branches are basically the theoretical names for the zodiacs.
Armed with the table above, trust me, anyone can start writing zodiac forecasts.
These are some of the stars you hear of whenever you read up on zodiac forecasts and they appear more commonly used in Zi Wei Dou Shu (紫微斗数). What people usually don’t know about Zi Wei Dou Shu analysis is that we don’t usually pay too much attention on those stars in the table. There are 5 different ranking or levels of stars (甲级，乙级，丙级，丁级 and 戊级) – when practitioners analyze your Zi Wei Dou Shu chart, most of it is spent on the 甲级 and 乙级 level stars. In fact, anything below 丙级 are known as 杂曜 (random stars) without being given much consideration, which further shows that annual forecasts aren’t very reliable because we aren’t even looking into the stars that truly matter.
Don’t be too eager to jump to conclusions just because you see a positive ‘god’/star appear in your chart. The chart I used in this post is a perfect example of this. Let’s bring it out:
This person is Yin Metal (辛金), so his 寅 Branch holds his 天乙贵人 which is supposedly one of the best ‘gods’ to meet in a BaZi chart. However, 寅 being a Wood Branch isn’t his beneficial element, and it even forms a very destructive combination 寅巳申三刑 (yin-si-shen punishment). So, does this chart benefit from 天乙贵人? No, it doesn’t. If you see 天乙贵人 appearing in your chat, don’t jump for joy just yet. It really doesn’t mean anything.
Again, I’m not saying you totally dismiss the ‘gods’ and stars that appear in your BaZi chart, but you need to get the basics right first before you bring them in.
For the record, I have no interest in being a celebrity or becoming famous. Appearing on TV or the news is not my aim nor my end goal. Getting the right message out there is. I’m thankful that all the media features I’ve had so far have allowed me to stay true to my voice. The reason why I don’t appear on media or corporate events doing forecasts is implied in this entry. Whatever it is, the principles that I’ve put out when I first started doing this will remain the same – and it always will.
I just realized I’ve yet to write an entry addressing why I’m not doing this full-time and I’ve been getting a lot of such questions ever since my Channel NewsAsia article got published. Some day, perhaps, but definitely not now, and the only reason why I’d be doing it full-time is because of my future family where I’ll have to spend more time at home as I have no immediate family or relatives here to help with certain things.
You’ll definitely not see me start doing forecasts though.