What is The Heavenly Stems and Earthling Branches

You often hear people say that this is a water dragon year or a fire rooster year, and you wonder why it got the special name. The name is from the combination of the 10 Heavenly Stems and the 12 Earthling Branches! 

For Taoists, we use this system in all kinds of practice; divination, magic, fortune telling and even everyday life practical magic work. It's so important for a true Taoist to understand this system. Let me give you some good news, you don't need to learn the Chinese words to learn the whole system and be able to use it. If you are curious about how this can be done, you can jump straight to our book for the lesson!


We do not rely on this for farming anymore, but it is still used in the Chinese calendar system. It is indeed hard to learn for most people because it’s a lot of words to remember, and the logic is not like what we are used to these days. However, this system serves a very important purpose in Taoism, and that is we do use it as a pattern to know how preheaven energy flows.

First of all, let’s learn about some Taoist magic basics. We have gods that are locally residing at our altar, which the altar is called the “ground”. There are gods on the preheaven side that is far away from us, such as from the celestial court, and that we call the “sky”. Therefore, the 10 heavenly stems are talking about 10 phases of how the “sky” beam its power down to this world, from preheaven to postheaven.  While the 12 earthling branches are about how the local gods at the altar take the power and deploy it to things in this world.  To help you understand this better, we will use the relationship between the sky as in the god’s world, and the ground as the local altar in this world.

Heavenly Stems

The heavenly stems are called TIN GON 天干 and it is about the 10 phases of how the preheaven side interacts with the postheaven.

  1. 甲Gaap – Essence has been given.
  2. 乙Yuet – The essence is starting to blend with the soul.
  3. 丙Bing – Essence is now rooted into the soul body.
  4. 丁Ding – Spiritual power is charged into the soul.
  5. 戊Mo – Internally the heart is strong and energized.
  6. 己Gei – The soul has the power and urges to move or take action
  7. 庚Gang – The power exerts and you are expressing it out with your physical body, making things go to reality.
  8. 辛Sun – Success is achieved, and the goal is reached.
  9. 壬Yum – Fruit is collected and consumed.
  10. 癸Kwai – The goal is finished and awaiting the next essence.

Earthling Branches

The earthling branches are called the DEI JEE 地支, it is about how the postheaven side interacts with the preheaven energies.

  1. 子Ji – When you first got the preheaven energy internally.
  2. 丑Chau – Slowly getting awake, mental power gathers up.
  3. 寅Yunn – Physical power charging up and waking up.
  4. 卯Mau – Woke up, eyes are looking around for the target.
  5. 辰Sun – Putting down the time to do things you want to do.
  6. 巳Ji -Picking up motivation and energy to do it.
  7. 午Ng – Speed up and go to the execution process.
  8. 未Mei – Expressing the internal feelings to external visible form.
  9. 申Sun – Physically doing it and reaching the fruit/goal.
  10. 酉Yau – Marks the completion of the event.
  11. 戌Sut – Memory is stored back in the heart.
  12. 亥Hoi – Sleep and let it go back to preheaven.

How is it Used in Taoist Magic?

For disciples, when we recite the spell for 13 loops, we say the earthling branches, but only up to 11 and not 12. After 11, we say Daai Gi Daai Chiang 大吉大昌, because we don’t want the power from the altar to go back to preheaven, we want it to just keep blossoming in this world, therefore, the 12 is taken out and replaced with “fully delivered, fully blossoming”.

We also have a set of FU that uses 12 gods named after the earthling branches and this set of FU is for healing! 

The heavenly stems and earthling branches can also be used to explain the relationship between the Yuen Sun and your body here. The soul inside you is the “ground”, the Yuen Sun as the “sky”, and the actual body is getting the final result or effect. This is what we call the "dragon energy" in Fung Shui, how the energy flows from pre to postheaven.

We can also get a general idea of what nature’s energy flow is by looking at the combination of the 2 elements too.

Let’s say it’s a 壬寅 year, we can see that the Yuen Sun is at the stage of 壬 which means it is opening the connection to take things back to preheaven. The earth here is at 寅, so it is at the stage of reaching out for help.  Imagine this scene, the baby is screaming for help, and the parents just arrived to pick the baby up from the daycare center. Great, help will be given soon!  This year we should be seeing some good “help” from nature and your problems will have solutions, such changes to be made to deal with all the COVID issues!

Don't forget to check out our book on the Heavenly Stems and Earthling Branchesplus the post on Fan Tai Sui!

Curious? Want to learn more? Ordain today and get your hands on some real Taoist magic learning! It’s super fun here, and we teach things in a super easy-to-understand format! No background is required!