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Software for Feng Shui : Workshop 1
by Mark Shackelford, author of Software for Feng Shui

"How can Feng Shui help you find out about yourself ?"

Part of ancient Chinese belief is that the luck (good or bad) that happens to you during your life depends on the state of the universe when you were born. You use Feng Shui to determine the various enhancements and remedies required to prevent or avoid any bad luck, but first you need to know what that luck is likely to be and when it is likely to occur. The Chinese use a system based on Yin and Yang and their five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water) to determine a wide range of information about your life and how the world interacts with you.

The Software for Feng Shui program helps you find out what sorts of luck may happen to you at various stages of your life, using the Chinese Horoscope panel.

Figure 1 : The Four Pillars

The Four Pillars - "Aspects of your Life"

The first thing to look at are the "Four Pillars" derived from the Year, Month, Day and Hour of your birth. Rather like the Western Astrological Star Signs, the Four Pillars give a different reading for each hour and day, and can be used to determine a wide range of aspects of your life, your character, your career and even your relationships with other people.

The Four Pillars are divided into pairs of a Heavenly Stem (Element) and an Earthly Branch (Animal) for the Year, the Month, the Day and the Hour of your birth.

You may well have heard that you were born in the "Year of the Goat", or the "Year of the Rat". This is one aspect of the Four Pillars - it is in fact the Earthly Branch of your Year Pillar.

The Heavenly Stems

First we will look at what the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches are, and how you can interpret what they mean. There are 10 Heavenly stems, a Yin/Yang pair for each of the Five Elements which will give an insight into aspects of your life and character. In Figure 1, the Heavenly Stems appear on the left hand side of each of the four boxes.

Heavenly Stem


Typical Characteristics


Yang Wood

Honest, Considerate, Aspiring, Realistic, Intuitive, Quiet


Yin Wood

Gentle, Indirect, Shy, Considerate, Observant, Faithful


Yang Fire

Open, Talkative, Blunt, Smart, Intelligent, Passionate


Yin Fire

Flexible, Shrewd, Clever, Intense, Emotional, Sharp


Yang Earth

Reliable, Respected, Tough, Ruthless, Confident, Reserved


Yin Earth

Gentle, Honest, Introvert, Suspicious, Quiet, Reserved


Yang Metal

Conservative, Organised, Sociable, Educated, Ambitious


Yin Metal

Gentle, Diplomatic, Innovative, Artistic, Cynical, Eccentric


Yang Water

Clever, Diplomatic, Musical, Flexible, Relaxed, Seductive


Yin Water

Mysterious, Introvert, Observant, Delicate, Loyal, Romantic

Table 1 : The Heavenly Stems

The Earthly Branches

There are 12 Earthly Branches, which are popularly linked to the twelve Chinese Astrological animals, but are best interpreted using their Yin/Yang Element. These appear as the right hand image in each of the Four Pillars boxes of Figure 1, and are outlined in Table 2.

Earthly Branch



Typical Characteristics


Yang Water


Survivor, Active, Intelligent, Sociable, Acquisitive, Decisive, Thrifty, Inquisitive


Yin Earth


Quiet, Steady, Resourceful, Adaptable, Practical, Honest, Loyal, Determined, Secure


Yang Wood


Optimistic, Courageous, Generous, Ambitious, Idealistic, Funny, Strong, Creative


Yin Wood


Tranquil, Sensitive, Intuitive, Elegant, Imaginative, Sophisticated, Compassionate


Yang Earth


Charismatic, Generous, Confident, Brave, Optimistic, Lucky, Sensitive, Worldly


Yin Fire


Intuitive, Spiritual, Deep, Persistent, Patient, Protective, Flexible, Pragmatic


Yang Fire


Gregarious, Cheerful, Practical, Honest, Graceful, Loyal, Inspiring, Ingenious


Yin Earth


Kind, Educated, Artistic, Gentle, Sensitive, Imaginative, Sensual, Thoughtful


Yang Metal


Intelligent, Inquisitive, Lively, Enthusiastic, Determined, Shrewd, Capable


Yin Metal


Pleasant, Smart, Wise, Independent, Confident, Charitable, Honest, Organised


Yang Earth


Optimist, Courageous, Honest, Noble, Devoted, Loving, Excitable, Dependable, Loyal


Yin Water


Tolerant, Relaxed, Dreamer, Careful, Dignified, Affectionate, Kind, Progressive

Table 2 : The Earthly Branches

Each Pillar consists of a Heavenly Stem and an Earthly Branch and you can use the tables to get a reading for each item. You should use your own experience and imagination to relate the readings given above to the various stages and aspects of your life.

TIP: The Feng Shui program helps you with the interpretation of your Four Pillars by displaying ‘pop-up’ readings when you hold your Mouse over any of the Stems or Branches.

Remember that in Chinese Philosophy the Elements are symbols for aspects of your life and character, rather than actual physical objects. For example, Fire is the element that represents Heat, Joy, Laughter, the Summer, Bitter tastes and the colour Red.

Now we need to relate each Pillar to a stage of your life.

1. Year Pillar - "Heritage"

The first Pillar is based on the Year of your birth, and corresponds to your Heritage. This means your Genes, your Family background, your Ancestors and your general Health and inherited aptitudes and skills. When you look at the Readings for the Stem and Branch you should consider them in relation to your family background.

2. Month Pillar - "Upbringing"

The second Pillar is based on the Month of your birth, and corresponds to your Upbringing. This means your parents, brothers and sisters, friends and your schooling. The Readings for the Stem and Branch should relate to what happened while you were growing up.

3. Day Pillar - "Self"

The third Pillar is based on the Day of your birth, and corresponds to your Self Image. This means your personality, your ambitions, interests, dreams and desires. These Readings should be used to reflect on what you want from life and how you see yourself.

4. Hour Pillar - "Life"

The final Pillar is based on the Hour of your birth, and corresponds to the overall direction of your Life. This means your Family Life, Marriage, Career and Success. When you consider these Readings, relate them to what is happening (or going to happen) in your adulthood.

TIP: You can get a quick reminder of what each of the Four Pillars means by holding the mouse over any of the heading texts - such as "Heritage" or "Self".