The Original Asian Zodiac 6: The Ten Heavenly Stems

girlspencils

(Continued from The Original Asian Zodiac 5:  The Twelve Earth Branches)

Ten Heavenly Stems

I have to state for the record that this subject is an exhausting subject to dig into.  I kept running into a few issues, and although they are not huge issues, they exhaust me.

Firstly, all the words are not modern.  They are either Middle Vietnamese, or Old Vietnamese, or Ancient Vietnamese.  I can find decent translations for the Middle and the Old, but some of the ancient words needed digging into contexts of where they had been found. 

Since I’m not trying to get a PhD, I abstained from listing all the context passages that indicate the meanings because I’m not trying to write a dissertation for Viet Linguistics (although that would be a fun thing to dig into).  I just stated the meanings out and I’m done with it.

Secondly, in just about every book written on this subject, you will find various explanations for the roots of these ten words, but they are all over the place.  A few don’t even make sense.  Some say it’s the ten days of the week, and others say it’s dead people’s names.  I’ve even heard that it’s supposed to be the names of ten stars in the sky.

The truth is really only clear if one has an intimate understanding of the hexagrams of the I Ching.  For those of you who actually do I Ching divinations, you will find this to be quite obvious.

The ten names are taken straight out of the Vietnamese I Ching, and the meanings of each stem corresponds to the trigrams indicated.

If any of you are I Ching experts, you will see the correlation between it and the astrological signs used as the ten heavenly stems.  Since there are ten Stems and only eight trigrams, two are repeated.

Let’s take a look at them.

The Ten Heavenly Stems

These are the ten Can-Heaven-yang-sun and the meanings of those words.  I can call them by their English names if it makes more sense.  For example, Giáp, in ancient Viet, means Thunder.

I’m just afraid of making it even more confusing, so I chose to keep the original Viet word, rather than translate it from Middle Viet –> to Ancient Viet –> to English.  It is a big mess that way.  However, if you want to see it completely translated and defined more rigorously as a unit, then let me know and I will create something that will try to clarify this a bit more.

It makes it

  1. Giáp: one – ☳ –  Thunder-Lightning/Chấn – wood – yang – oldest wood brother:  to open, as in the beginning of the cosmos
  2. Ất: two – ☴ – Wind/Tốn – wood – yinyoungest wood daughter: to pull, as in the beginning, cosmos was to pulled up
  3. Bính: three – ☲ – Fire/Ly – fire – yang – oldest fire son: suddenly, as in suddenly all things appeared
  4. Đinh: four – ☴ – Wind/Tốn fire/wood– yin – youngest fire sister: power, as in all things became powerful
  5. Mậu: five – ☶ – Mountain/Cấn – earth – yang – oldest earth brother: dense or thick, as in all things grew more dense
  6. Kỷ: six – ☷ – Earth/Khôn – yin – earth – yin – youngest earth sister: to remember, as in all things began to use symbols to remember
  7. Canh: seven – ☰ – Sky/Càn – Metal/Sky – yang – oldest metal brother: to bear fruit, as in all things began to beget
  8. Tân: eight – ☱ – Lake/Đoài – Metal/Water – yin – youngest metal sister: new, as in all things began to be harvestable, or reborn
  9. Nhâm: nine – ☵ – Water/Khảm –  water – yang – oldest water brother: to carry, as in utilizing the chi to carry and nourish the cosmos
  10. Quý: ten – ☱ – Lake/Đoài – water – yin – youngest water sister: to measure, to have prescience and be able to predict the future

The Can Chi Cycle

Before I get into the combo platter Can Chi, I need to reiterate the various components that make up the 60 year cycle of the Can Chi.  I added a little bit more than 60 years because I realized that I had started the cycle with number 1, which is Giáp Rat.

give up

Now, normally, the best place to start is at the beginning of a cycle, so we can see how the cycle progresses through its iterations. Problem is, Giáp Rat started 96 years ago, meaning it is only personally relevant to someone who was born in 1924.

Since we are currently living in the year 2020, that means the chance of someone reading my blog at the grand age of 96 is slim to none.

In the meantime, 96 – 60 =  36.  If I only presented 60 Can Chi, which is really all I need to explain the process, then anyone who is younger than 36 years old is not going to be able to see their relevant information without doing a little bit of arithmetic.

Now, you all know I hate math with a passion, but since I was already neck deep in this chart, I figured I might as well extend it out so that it covers everyone alive today, plus any children you might have for the next 20 or so years.

The Can Chi Components:

The Heavenly Stems Can Giáp • Ất • Bính • Đinh • Mậu • Kỷ • Canh • Tân • Nhâm •   Quý

The Earthly Branches Chi:  Rat • Buffalo • Tiger • Cat • Kron • Snake • Horse • Goat • Monkey  • Chicken • Dog •  Pig

The Five Elements of the I Ching:  wood • metal • water • earth • fire

I just suddenly realized I never went into the Five Elements, so I will do it now.  Back in ancient days, we only had five elements.  Wood, metal, water, earth, and fire.  We used these as symbols and as components that enacted changes.  For example, a rat is just a rat, until it’s turned into a fire rat.  Now it’s super rat!  😀

It is also the same for the Heavenly Can, which adds its specific meaning to the combination of the animals and one of the five elements.

stainless-rat

For example:  The first sign is the Giáp Metal Rat.  Since we know Giáp means Thunder-Lightning, this would be the Thunder-Lightning Metal Rat.

When lightning strikes water, it zaps around on the surface, but gets neutralized when it goes below the surface.

Since this specific metal rat is the kind that you find under the surface of the ocean (see the I Ching images in the table below), what happens is that if lightning happens to strike the metal rat, the first thing that happens is that the fully submerged metal rat will not be harmed, and can therefore be a conduit and transport the dangerous current away from others.

The scope of a post is so small that I can’t go into each of these years in detail like this, but that is what each year would require for more in-depth understanding of how the I Ching’s insights give to the zodiac animals.

I made the I Ching images in green italicized texts to separate them from the Can Chi.  I translated it as best I could, but quite often, an individual word can mean more than one thing.  However, I think I have them accurately translated.  If anyone sees errors, please let me know and I will fix it. 

In future, I will separate the Can Chi I Ching chart out into its own page because it’s rather long.  For now, it can stay here for a bit. 

This is the entire 120 year rotation that the Can Chi cycle goes through.  That means in the year 2044, we go back to the number 1, and we get Giáp Rat again.  

The Can Chi of the I Ching

1924Giáp   Metal RatMetal under ocean: Hải Trung Kim
1925ẤtMetal BuffaloMetal under ocean: Hải Trung Kim
1926BínhFire TigerFire from oven: Lư Trung Hỏa
1927ĐinhFire CatFire from oven: Lư Trung Hỏa
1928MậuWood KronLarge Forest Tree: Đại Lâm Mộc
1929KỷWood SnakeLarge Forest Tree: Đại Lâm Mộc
1930CanhEarth HorseEarth along the roadway: Lộ Bàng Thổ
1931TânEarth GoatEarth along the roadway: Lộ Bàng Thổ
1932NhâmMetal MonkeyMetal on sword blade: Kiếm Phong Kim
1933QuýMetal ChickenMetal on sword blade: Kiếm Phong Kim
1934GiápFire DogFire on the Mountain: Sơn Đẩu Hỏa
1935ẤtFire PigFire on the Mountain: Sơn Đẩu Hỏa
1936BínhWater RatSilent Underground Water: Giản Hạ Thủy
1937ĐinhWater BuffaloSilent Underground Water: Giản Hạ Thủy
1938MậuEarth TigerEarth on Fort: Thành Đầu Thổ
1939KỷEarth CatEarth on Fort: Thành Đầu Thổ
1940CanhMetal KronMetal in Candle Wax: Bạch Lạp Kim
1941TânMetal SnakeMetal in Candle Wax: Bạch Lạp Kim
1942NhâmWood HorseWillow Wood: Dương Liễu Mộc
1943QuýWood GoatWillow Wood: Dương Liễu Mộc
1944GiápWater MonkeyWater from Stream: Tuyền Trung Thủy
1945ẤtWater ChickenWater from Stream: Tuyền Trung Thủy
1946BínhEarth DogEarth on the Roof: Ốc Thượng Thổ
1947ĐinhEarth PigEarth on the Roof: Ốc Thượng Thổ
1948MậuFire RatFire in Lightning: Tích Lịch Hỏa
1949KỷFire BuffaloFire in Lightning: Tích Lịch Hỏa
1950CanhWood TigerConiferous Wood: Tùng Bách Mộc
1951TânWood CatConiferous Wood: Tùng Bách Mộc
1952NhâmWater KronLong River Water: Trường Lưu Thủy
1953QuýWater SnakeLong River Water: Trường Lưu Thủy
1954GiápMetal HorseGold in Sand: Sa Trung Kim
1955ẤtMetal GoatMetal in Sand: Sa Trung Kim
1956BínhFire MonkeyFire at the Foothills: Sơn Hạ Hỏa
1957ĐinhFire ChickenFire at the Foothills: Sơn Hạ Hỏa
1958MậuWood DogWood on the Flat Plains: Bình Địa Mộc
1959KỷWood PigWood on the Flat Plains: Bình Địa Mộc
1960CanhMetal RatEarth on the Wall: Bích Thượng Thổ
1961TânEarth BuffaloEarth on the Wall: Bích Thượng Thổ
1962NhâmMetal TigerPlatinum: Kim Bạch Kim
1963QuýMetal CatPlatinum: Kim Bạch Kim
1964GiápFire KronFire Light: Phúc Đăng Hỏa
1965ẤtFire SnakeFire Light:  Phúc Đăng Hỏa
1966BínhWater HorseWater from the Sky: Thiên Hà Thủy
1967ĐinhWater GoatWater from the Sky: Thiên Hà Thủy
1968MậuEarth MonkeyMarsh land: Đại Trạch Thổ
1969KỷEarth ChickenMarsh land: Đại Trạch Thổ
1970CanhMetal DogMetal Jewelry: Thoa Xuyến Kim
1971TânMetal PigMetal Jewelry: Thoa Xuyến Kim
1972NhâmWood RatMulberry Wood: Tang Đố Mộc
1973QuýWood BuffaloMulberry Wood: Tang Đố Mộc
1974GiápWater TigerLarge Waterfall: Đại Khê Thủy
1975ẤtWater CatLarge Waterfall: Đại Khê Thủy
1976BínhEarth KronEarth in Sand: Sa Trung Thổ
1977ĐinhEarth SnakeEarth in Sand: Sa Trung Thổ
1978MậuFire HorseFire from the Sky: Thiên Thượng Hỏa
1979KỷFire GoatFire from the Sky: Thiên Thượng Hỏa
1980CanhWood MonkeyPomegranate Wood: Thạch Lựu Mộc
1981TânWood ChickenPomegranate Wood: Thạch Lựu Mộc
1982NhâmWater DogOcean Water: Đại Hải Thủy
1983QuýWater PigOcean Water: Đại Hải Thủy
1984GiápMetal RatMetal under ocean: Hải Trung Kim
1985ẤtMetal BuffaloMetal under ocean: Hải Trung Kim
1986BínhFire TigerFire from oven: Lư Trung Hỏa
1987ĐinhFire CatFire from oven: Lư Trung Hỏa
1988MậuWood KronLarge Forest Tree: Đại Lâm Mộc
1989KỷWood SnakeLarge Forest Tree: Đại Lâm Mộc
1990CanhEarth HorseEarth along the roadway: Lộ Bàng Thổ
1991TânEarth GoatEarth along the roadway: Lộ Bàng Thổ
1992NhâmMetal MonkeyMetal on sword blade: Kiếm Phong Kim
1993QuýMetal ChickenMetal on sword blade: Kiếm Phong Kim
1994GiápFire DogFire on the Mountain: Sơn Đẩu Hỏa
1995ẤtFire PigFire on the Mountain: Sơn Đẩu Hỏa
1996BínhWater RatSilent Underground Water: Giản Hạ Thủy
1997ĐinhWater BuffaloSilent Underground Water: Giản Hạ Thủy
1998MậuEarth TigerEarth on Fort: Thành Đầu Thổ
1999KỷEarth CatEarth on Fort: Thành Đầu Thổ
2000CanhMetal KronMetal in Candle Wax: Bạch Lạp Kim
2001TânMetal SnakeMetal in Candle Wax: Bạch Lạp Kim
2002NhâmWood HorseWillow Wood: Dương Liễu Mộc
2003QuýWood GoatWillow Wood: Dương Liễu Mộc
2004GiápWater MonkeyWater from a Stream: Tuyền Trung Thủy
2005ẤtWater ChickenWater from a Stream: Tuyền Trung Thủy
2006BínhEarth DogEarth on the Roof: Ốc Thượng Thổ
2007ĐinhEarth PigEarth on the Roof: Ốc Thượng Thổ
2008MậuFire RatFire in Lightning: Tích Lịch Hỏa
2009KỷFire BuffaloFire in Lightning: Tích Lịch Hỏa
2010CanhWood TigerConiferou Wood: Tùng Bách Mộc
2011TânWood CatConiferou Wood: Tùng Bách Mộc
2012NhâmWater KronLong River Water: Trường Lưu Thủy
2013QuýWater SnakeLong River Water: Trường Lưu Thủy
2014GiápMetal HorseMetal in Sand: Sa Trung Kim
2015ẤtMetal GoatMetal in Sand: Sa Trung Kim
2016BínhFire MonkeyFire at the Foothills: Sơn Hạ Hỏa
2017ĐinhFire ChickenFire at the Foothills: Sơn Hạ Hỏa
2018MậuWood DogWood on the Flat Plains: Bình Địa Mộc
2019KỷWood PigWood on the Flat Plains: Bình Địa Mộc
2020CanhMetal RatEarth on the Wall: Bích Thượng Thổ
2021TânEarth BuffaloEarth on the Wall: Bích Thượng Thổ
2022NhâmMetal TigerPlatinum: Kim Bạch Kim
2023QuýMetal CatPlatinum: Kim Bạch Kim
2024GiápFire KronFire Light: Phúc Đăng Hỏa
2025ẤtFire SnakeFire Light: Phúc Đăng Hỏa
2026BínhWater HorseWater from the Sky: Thiên Hà Thủy
2027ĐinhWater GoatWater from the Sky: Thiên Hà Thủy
2028MậuEarth MonkeyMarsh land: Đại Trạch Thổ
2029KỷEarth ChickenMarsh land: Đại Trạch Thổ
2030CanhMetal DogMetal Jewelry: Thoa Xuyến Kim
2031TânMetal PigMetal Jewelry: Thoa Xuyến Kim
2032NhâmWood RatMulberry Wood: Tang Đố Mộc
2033QuýWood BuffaloMulberry Wood: Tang Đố Mộc
2034GiápWater TigerLarge Waterfall: Đại Khê Thủy
2035ẤtWater CatLarge Waterfall: Đại Khê Thủy
2036BínhEarth KronEarth in Sand: Sa Trung Thổ
2037ĐinhEarth SnakeEarth in Sand: Sa Trung Thổ
2038MậuFire HorseFire from the Sky: Thiên Thượng Hỏa
2039KỷFire GoatFire from the Sky: Thiên Thượng Hỏa
2040CanhWood MonkeyPomegranate Wood: Thạch Lựu Mộc
2041TânWood ChickenPomegranate Wood: Thạch Lựu Mộc
2042NhâmWater DogOcean Water: Đại Hải Thủy
2043QuýWater PigOcean Water: Đại Hải Thủy

As you can see, it is much more difficult to see the entirety of the cycles if you write it out as a table like this.  We Viets turn it into a circle with numbers and letters, but for me, pictures do so much more to simplify and clarify.  The images help so much since I’m a visual person.

So here is the wheel of the zodiac with all the numbers displayed.

tu-vi-tron-doi

To read this circular calendar, you need to read it in counter-clockwise direction, as this is how it was read back in the old days.  Start with the Rat at the top and work your way through the water buffalo, tiger etc. until you reach the Pig, and there is your 120 years of animals.

girltalkingloud

Yay we’re done!  It took me so long to get all this researched and presented because even though I was quite familiar with the I Ching, the difficult part was translating moldy old Viet words into something that resembles how we would think and talk in today’s world.

There is also another issue.  Quite a few ancient Viet words don’t have an English equivalent, so I had to combine different words to make up new words or try to translate as best I could, the context of what something means.

Next up…how to figure out leap years and when exactly Tết will occur.

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