Killing the Graveyard Question…once and for all. May04


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Killing the Graveyard Question…once and for all.

Every  now and then in my in-box, I’ll get a question about the Graveyards.  This topic seems to raise a great deal of confusion amongst BaZi student population. Since I got two emails on the topic over the weekend, I thought I would just knock out this quick explanation.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: this is not a subject without controversy. Different opinions exist on what the meaning of Graveyard, Storage and everything in between means. What I express here is not by any standards definitive but it is WHAT I KNOW AND WHAT I PRACTICE. I do not read Chinese books, and do not usually like to have profound debates about what ancient sages thought. If that is your interest, move the debate elsewhere.

So on to the topic at hand.

By way of preamble, let’s get the main source of confusion out of the way. The fundamental reason why there is a confusion over the term ‘Graveyard’ ‘ is a twofer:

a) Grave is one of the Stages in the 12 Stages. (‘Grave’ and ‘Graveyard’ obviously is easy to confuse)

b) Graveyard refers to both an Earthly Branch and also a position of an Element (i.e.: Yi Wood, Jia Wood etc)

Further, there is a lack of awareness that the 12 Stages/Phases is different for BaZi and Feng Shui practice. There are subtle differences in the application – a topic I will not address here so please ask someone else.

In my teaching and practice of BaZi, I do not use the 12 Stages/Phases. As such, when I use the term ‘Graveyard’, I am referring to it in the context of (b)

Now, back to the Graveyard.

The Graveyard as an Earthly Branch

Let’s make sure everyone is on the same page. There are 12 Earthly Branches and they correspond to what most people know as the Chinese Zodiac.  Now, the Chinese have a thing for categories, and in Metaphysics, there is a particular tendency to like over-lapping categories. So, something seemingly innocent like 12 Earthly Branches can spawn multiple categories. An Earthly Branch as such can be

a) a mere Zodiac Animal

b) belong to a Season (Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter)

c) Be part of a Combination (Three Harmony/Six Harmony)

d) Be part of an Interaction (Punishment/Harm/Destruction)

e) Carry a Shen Sha reference (Peach Blossom/Travelling Star/Graveyard (ah-ha))

For the purposes of this article, we are looking at (e).

Four of the Earthly Branches are categorised as Graveyards: they are Dragon, Goat, Dog, Ox. (辰,未,戌,丑)

They are classified as Graveyards because it is in these four Earthly Branches that an ELEMENT comes to an end as it were.

Distinguishing the Branch and the Element

The best way to distinguish between referring to a Graveyard Earthly Branch and the Element in the Graveyard is in the terminology. Typically, “Graveyard” references the Earthly Branch whereas “Enters Graveyard” references the Element that is within the Graveyard Earthly Branch that has come to an end.

Now, at this stage, most people with some knowledge and understanding will note that the Graveyard Earthly Branches all have two Sub-Qi Elements. For example in Dragon, there is Gui Water and Yi Wood as the Sub Qi. In Goat, there is Ding Fire and Yi Wood as the Sub Qi.

Only one Sub-Qi element ENTERS THE GRAVEYARD. The other Sub-Qi element is in STORAGE. (ah-ha, take two).

Now, refer back to the above list. An Earthly Branch can be categorised in multiple ways.  Most people never realise that a Three Harmony Combination comprises of 1 Travelling Star, one Cardinal (Peach Blossom) and 1 Graveyard. The reason for the Graveyard’s presence is the STORAGE element, in the same way the reason for the Travelling Star’s presence is the element in Growth. That is why the Three Harmony combination is regarded as superior to six harmony because it comprises of the Branches that carry that the Element produced by the Combination in three forms:

– Growth (defined as an element that has yet to reach its nadir and thus, is in ascent),

– Cardinal (defined as an element at its purest – notice all Cardinals are the peak of their respective seasons)

– Graveyard (specifically, the element in STORAGE, which represents the insurance policy of the element as it were)

Example: Fire Frame Combination comprises of 寅, 午 and 戌. Tiger is the Growth of Bing Fire. Horse is the purest form of Fire Qi, being the peak of the season of Summer. Xu is the Storage of Fire.

Significance of Growth/Graveyard/Storage

I love Growth, Graveyard and Storage Earthly Branches because they give a lot of bang for buck. Here’s how.

– Growth tells me what a person’s potential in the future is. It references a skill that may well be unknown to the person (some people are obtuse, without being dumb – there is a difference). But more often, the Growth Star represents a skill/talent or gift in the person that with some encouragement – and I really mean, a little bit is all you  need – has the potential to become great or very significant in the future. Of course, we love Wealth, Officer and Output in Growth for obvious reasons.

– Graveyard tells me what the person’s secrets are, and what are the things in their life that must come to an end or have come to an end. The presence of multiple graveyards always means a person with plenty of personal secrets. As much as people think this is a no-brainer (so what if they are secretive), it’s amazing how many people NEVER REALISE someone is secretive. Thus is the power of the Earthly Branches. The theoretical knowledge of Graveyard, specifically knowing WHICH ELEMENT ENTERS GRAVEYARD IN WHICH EARTHLY BRANCH, is usually also used to forecast if someone who is ill and elderly is likely to survive the year.

– Storage tells you what is in the person’s personal pantry as it were, but also references hidden skills which the person genuinely may not be aware they possess. Personally, I don’t put much credence on skills  in storage – they take far too long to come out without the help of a combination. However, we do like Wealth in STORAGE (but not Wealth Entering Graveyard).

To avoid persistent questions, here is the down and out of what element is truly in GRAVEYARD (meaning, comes to an end). Fr the technically obsessed, the way to derive the answer (because knowing why is important) is simple: the element that enters the Graveyard is the element that belongs to the season of the Graveyard Earthly Branch.

Dragon: Yi Wood in Graveyard.

Goat: Ding Fire in Graveyard

Dog: Xin Metal in Graveyard

Ox: Gui Water in Graveyard.