The 12 Houses
Polestar Astrology, like every form of Natal Astrology, calculates and charts Fate in terms of Twelve “Houses.” In Western and Indian Astrology, the Twelve Houses each comprise 30˚ of the night’s sky, making a 360˚ picture of the heavens. While Polestar Astrology clearly inherited this convention, I must again state that a Polestar Chart does not depict the sky. However, the Twelve Houses of Polestar Astrology share many similarities with their Western and Indian counterparts. They also share some stark differences.
Before we can delve into the 36 Stars, we must examine the Twelves Houses, for the meaning of any given Star is relative to its placement within a house. The Emperor in the Offspring Palace presents a very different image of Fate than the Emperor in the Pleasure Palace.
Each house is ruled by a Stem and Branch, a Zodiac Animal and Element. So, there is a Dragon Palace, Snake Palace, Horse Palace, and so on. Depending on the individual calculation, your Youth Palace, for example may be ruled by Yang Water Dragon. These elemental energies do not drastically affect the Stars but can sometimes diminish or exalt their influence. The Emperor, for example, is exalted in the Dragon and Horse Palace. I will discuss this further with each individual Star and with a Blog on Luminous Stars, Exalted Houses, and Fate Thresholds.
Unlike Western and Indian Astrology, the value system of the Twelve Houses is decidedly Confucian. Indian Astrology is remarkably complex in terms of its many layers of interpretation, and often this kind of analysis is necessary in a reading. Polestar Astrology, on the other hand, is not as concerned with that kind of detail, although there are many details available—influences from previous houses, 120/180˚ influences, borrowed Stars, Auspicious Star Formations, and so on. However, that kind of analysis often misses the forest for the trees.
Polestar Astrology is really concerned with the “Big Picture” of our Fate in terms of our relationships and participation in society. There are esoteric interpretations of each house, but the mundane interpretation is the main one. The Houses therefore have a straight forward meaning. While any given house in Indian Astrology may have hundreds of possible layers/meanings, in Polestar Astrology, the Offspring Palace is about your Fate to be a parent, period. I personally appreciate the simplicity and power of the Twelve Houses, but if you’re looking for psychology or insight into your deepest spiritual yearnings, maybe look to Jyotish.
Polestar Astrology is mostly concerned with our Fate in relationships and in the “world,” which mostly means “career” in the modern context. It does not say much about the type of career you should have, but it does say whether your Fate will be resolved through career and how/when that process is likely to happen. It offers a key to what we call “Fate Thresholds,” which is not a matter of what but where. If your primary Fate is to be a Parent, then career is simply not important, even if society tells you so.
The Twelve Houses provide a powerful yet simple map that shows where your Fate/Opportunities in life will unfold. They cover just about every aspect of human life.
The first three houses are read together for they represent our overall Ancestral Mandates
Ming Palace (命宮)
Summary of Fate and Hints of Character
The First House or “Ascendant” is called the Ming Palace. The Chinese Character 命 Mìng, again, means Life, Fate, Mandate of Heaven, Destiny, Purpose, and so on (宮 Gōng means “palace” or “court” and is the same for each house). The Ming Palace provides a concentrated image, a “Thumbnail Sketch” of a person’s dance of Fate. It gives us the big picture, a “principal” for the unraveling of Fate.
The Star/s that appear here are your “Ruling Star/s” and reveal the primary image/nature of your Fate in this lifetime. The attributes of your Ruling Star/s relate to your overall opportunities in life, and it is the only house that relates directly to your Character, or capacity (the rest of the Houses related indirectly).
The Stem/Branch of the Year and Hour you were born is the primary image of your Character, but the Ruling Star of the Ming Palace also gives us an idea of “what you’re like as a person.” My ruling Star is the Empress, but she’s afflicted, so I’m like a moody Empress.
The Star/s that appear here do not offer much insight into the events of Fate, but they indicate the “gravity” of our Fate. Liu Ming would call this “Fate Heavy or Fate Light.” Since the Stars are organized in a hierarchy, the more potent Stars suggest a more potent Fate. A heavy or potent Fate is full of predestined affinities, responsibilities, and obligations...“big karma,” which requires our time, attention, and freedom. A light Fate is characterized more by Freedom where relationships and responsibilities are less cumbersome.
It is possible for the Ming Palace to be empty, which means it is possible to be born without major Fate. An empty Ming Palace implies a life of Freedom to clear up minor details, help, and generally be of benefit to others. It can manifest as feelings of confusion, lack of purpose/direction, and so on. But it also implies an intentional birth, what Buddhists call a Bodhisattva, in which you resolved your Fate in a previous lifetime and came back to guide others. It can also imply that your Ancestors resolved Fate for you and gave you a free pass this time around.
The nature of this house reveals the certainty or likelihood that you will resolve Fate in this lifetime. If one of the Four Rulers shows up here, then resolution is almost guaranteed, provided you don’t screw it up. If the primary image of Fate is afflicted, then life is characterized by a hue of struggle. Fate can in this case still be resolved, but we must use our freedom wisely and look to the other eleven Houses as to where that resolution can take place.
The Ming Palace is where we examine the important astrological principal of Gănyìng, 感應, or reciprocity. We look at the how the overall nature of Fate will interact with a person’s Character. If, like me for example, you have a very Yin Fate (Empress) with a very Yang Character (Tiger/Dragon), then this creates a certain dynamic which may result in struggle, lol. So, it could be viewed as inauspicious. If you have a very exalted Yang Fate like the Emperor in the First House and you’re a Dragon, then this is Capacity meeting Opportunity, which would be interpreted as auspicious. The same situation would be inauspicious for a Rabbit or Snake, whose instinct is to hide/shy away from the spotlight.
The auspicious Gănyìng, 感應, or reciprocity between Character (Capacity) and Fate (Opportunity) is what the Chinese call “Destiny.” It is also simply called luck. The First House when read with the Character can tell us if a person has Destiny.
Traditionally, the Ming Palace is also said to offer an image of a person’s appearance, but I have not found this to have much/if any significance. It’s too simplistic. Although, I would say that I have an elegant and Empress like demeanor.
This House is always read first and sometimes again last to reinforce the central image or “story” of Fate.
Ancestor Palace (父母宮)
Ancestors and Parents – Elders, Ancestral Mandates, Past Lives
Technically, the Ancestor Palace is the 12th and last house, but I always read it second with clients, so I will do the same here. 父母 Fùmŭ here literally means parents, but in the Chinese Tradition our parents are a lot more than our parents. Our Father and Mother represent the connection to our Ancestral Lineage and are a symbol of our “precedent,” everything that came before.
Yang Stars represent our connection to our Patriarchal Ancestors, which can be every person on your Father’s side, including women, or it can be all the men in your family, including men from your Mother’s Side. The Yin Stars represent, then, the Matriarchy, all the women in the family or all the people on your Mother’s side, including men. It is up to you and your affinity to decided which is the case. The Stars in the Ancestor Palace represent the Yin and Yang of your heritage, your “Ancestral Qi,” or “Source Qi,” called Yuan 元氣.
Superficially, this house can represent our karmic relationship with our parents, which is perhaps the most meaningful relationship in our lives. It is easy to see family trauma and abuse here. In modern times, we “psychologize” our parental experience and spend a lot of energy examining our issues around our early nurturing. You can see that nurturing in this house as well as cues to the nature of birth itself. This house represents more than the personal matter of sorting things out with our living ancestors but of the long line of dead people who reproduced successfully to give you a body.
I read this house second because it represents our karmic affinity “behind the scenes;” it is a gate to the “spirit world,” the unseen influences that shape our lives. In the Chinese Tradition, the dead have a profound affect on the living. This house can represent seven generations of ancestral patterning, depending on the arrangements that show up here. We may be connected to what the Chinese call an “Original Ancestor,” someone far, far back in the family line. We may have a deep karmic affinity with a great, great Grandmother whom we will never meet or even see a picture of. We may also have no connection whatsoever to the family we are born into.
Like the Ming Palace, the influence of this house reveals the nature of your Fate in all the houses, for if your Ancestors bless your life, then no matter what difficulties you face, you will feel blessed. These Stars are like fairy godparents, protectors, guardian angels. They conspire to provide you with opportunities, guidance, and connections.
However, you may also be born with an afflicted Ancestral or Ghost pattern. Your life may be influenced by powerful self-destructive habits, ancestral patterns of addiction and illness that are not of your own making. You may receive a mountain of unfished business that compels you into obsessive ambitions that have nothing to do with you. For example, you may inherit a family business and be raised to take it over, which you go along with, but secretly you want to be an artist and resent the burden of all the responsibility. But you receive tremendous privilege and opportunity, so is this a blessing or a curse? That’s up to you to decided, but this House tells us about your obligations to your Ancestors that must be fulfilled one way or another.
The Daoist interpretation of Polestar Astrology looks at this house in terms of what we call “Ghost Profiling,” and they take it to be the most significant house, spiritually speaking. Buddhists read this House as a picture of your previous lifetimes/past life karma; both are acceptable interpretations.
When Ghost Stars show up here, or if they rule any House, I encourage people to study their genealogy and find out as many stories as they can about who they come from. There is often a story somewhere in the family line that has been forgotten, a person who wants to be remembered for their struggle. You may continue to repeat their struggle until this story is told.
Youth Palace (兄弟宮)
Time of Youth and Siblings – Childhood, Ancestral Mandates, School
The characters of the Second House, 兄弟, xiōngdi, are literally translated as siblings, but we translate it as the Youth Palace, for it represents the atmosphere or time of life that we call “Youth,” which is not clearly defined in our culture because we lack rights of passage. This house represents our possibility of resolving Fate in childhood through sibling relationships, early education, early life experience, and development.
All Chinese people receive three names like Mao Ze Dong 毛泽东. Dong is his personal name; Mao is his family name, and Ze is a name he shares with his siblings, and it represents the Chinese idea that we share a deep karmic connection, a “shared body of Fate,” with our siblings. So, this house can represent past life connections with siblings.
Perhaps you were soldiers on the battlefield, and you failed to complete your connection, so now as brothers, you shoot at each other with toy guns, and complete the circle. You may have been best friends in a past life and were so close that this time around you are brother and sister. It is also very possible that you have no karmic connection whatsoever to your siblings, and you grow up feeling like strangers. You may have half or step siblings with whom you share a deep bond or no connection at all.
This house also represents the notion that one child in a family may receive more Ancestral Fate/Mandates than another child. If the elder brother has a potent Star in the Youth Palace and the younger brother does not, then the elder brother may be responsible for completing the family karma. However, it was often the case that a younger sibling received this karma and would be the one to take over a family business.
It may represent the distribution of resources, inheritance, and responsibilities in terms of family life. You may have to grow up early and become a second parent, raising your younger siblings because Dad is out of the picture. Or, you may have an older sister who protects and parents you more than your parents.
Sibling karma may provide emotional support, or it may be a source of affliction, arguing, and discord, which is never resolved. Many clients have told me that they never speak to their siblings. I have yet only begun to describe a Ghost Star in this House before the client replies, “oh yeah, my brother is possessed!”
Potent Stars in this Palace can represent a strong influence of elders, mentors, aunts/uncles, and so on; it represents the presence of Ancestral Qi in our early life. Ghost Stars can represent unreliable, inappropriate adult protection or supervision in youth. An afflicted Youth Palace can represent early trauma, conflicts, and challenges that shape us for the rest of our lives, which can take place at home or school. In that sense, the influence of this house can extend far beyond youth, for so much of our lives is spent processing our childhood.
The most important theme of this House is whether Fate is resolved in Youth. I have an empty and afflicted Youth Palace, so although a lot happened to me, these events did resolve my Fate but rather created Fate that I am resolving as an adult. I often feel like a lot happened, but nothing happened. I did not exit childhood with any sense of resolution.
An exalted Youth Palace suggests that a person can complete their Fate in childhood, which I have seen many times, for these people are often at a loss about what to do with their lives and therefore consult an Astrologer. Our culture does not except the notion that a person can be complete in life before 18, but Fate wise this can be the case. It is possible to resolve your major Fate playing house with your sister, an idea that I try to communicate to clients, but I’m not sure people get.
An exalted Youth Palace indicates what the Tibetans call a “Tulku,” that is a person born with the Karmic legacy, skills, and/or maturity of an adult. What in the west we might call “old souls.” People with exalted Youth Palaces basically pick up where they left off last life and tie up loose ends before they exit grade school. These people are often precocious and show early signs of maturity, ambition, a so on. They often can’t wait to be adults and spend youth bucking authority, running away from home, and so on. They often feel like adults are idiots, or they may relate more to adults than to their peers, feeling above kid games. An exalted Youth Palace also implies that a person is free then as an adult to shape their life in whatever way they want rather than continue to pursue Ancestral patterns of Fate.
The next two Houses are read together, for they relate to our Ancestral Mandate/Fate to partner and start a family of our own.
Partners Palace (夫妻宮)
Partners and Marriage – Long Term Relationships
The characters for this house, 夫妻, fūqī, literally mean husband and wife, so we translate it as the Partners Palace. This house does not indicate other types of partnership, like business partnerships (that would be the Assistant’s Palace) but refers specifically to our Fate with long-term relationship patterns.
This House expresses the Chinese concept of 因緣 Yinyuan, which refers to a predestined relationship. The image used to describe this is of two trees who appear separate but beneath their roots are intertwined. Another term used here is “previously betrothed,” which implies a past life commitment that continues from life to life. This is somewhat similar but much less romantic than the western idea of “soulmates,” for this House also includes negative past life connections. The variety of paired Stars here today play out in a dizzying array of possibilities that stretch the traditional Chinese interpretation of this house for arranged marriage, which was its original intention.
The Stars in this House reveal the depth and importance of relationship and partners in your life. Stars here can relate to your partner’s appearance, character, or the nature of the relationship itself. They can also reveal a pattern of relating that has nothing to do with specific people but with your own desires/fantasies.
Major Stars often indicate specific Fate connections that may be resolved through marriage, or they can relate to many fated partnerships. I recently told someone struggling in marriage that they did not have Fate with one person but with many, which they knew but had been resisting due to the expectations of monogamy.
Traditionally, the Chinese placed significant importance on the marriage ceremony itself as crucial in the resolution of Fate between two people, especially if the House is exalted or contains heavily “Ancestral” Stars. Marriage to the Chinese, and to most traditional cultures, was not romantic but for joining two families. The ceremony was a ritual in which all the Ancestors of two family lines, living and deceased, met and blessed the joining of two people.
So traditionally, the ceremony is the main event in the liberation of Ancestral Fate, not the marriage itself. Ming would often insist that people with the Emperor or Empress here have a ceremony and invite as many family members as possible. Traditional Chinese and Indian marriage ceremonies include requesting permissions of the family elders, somewhat like the European tradition of the Father “giving away the bride,” a patriarchal custom, which in India is reversed; the man must ask permission of the Matriarchy.
Significant Stars in this House imply that the unraveling of our Fate comes through our relationship with another person. Perhaps your life is stuck, stagnant, then all the sudden you meet someone who whisks you up into a world of adventure that introduces you to things you later could never do without, that change your forever. Perhaps, they create opportunities in your life that influence your career, your spiritual path, your sense of purpose. Perhaps, your relationship is by all outer appearances boring, but this person becomes your anchor in life, supporting you through all the ups and downs. This kind of Fate often unravels in terms of the next House, the Offspring Palace. For many people, family life becomes the center of their Fate.
Afflicted, this House can represent many patterns of struggle. Ghosts in this House suggest Ancestors who died feeling unloved, unwanted, betrayed, abandoned, or abused by their partners, a pattern you inherit to play out while “dating.” Of course, our culture is profoundly disorganized and even sick when it comes to relationships, sex, and so on, so it may seem like everyone is playing out these kinds of patterns today, regardless of individual Fate. I am refreshed to find normal monogamous couples who get along; it seems like a rarity these days.
Depending on Character, Ghost Stars may cause people to drift from one partner to another disappointed, dissatisfied, and frustrated. They may prompt someone to repeatedly choose the wrong people, getting into or staying in abusive situations. Ghost Stars may cause quarrels, differences, and rifts between people that end in divorce. Their resolution often teaches people how to be in relationships. Perhaps, you had a challenging relationship that taught you how to be a partner, and now you are free for a healthy marriage.
Ghost Stars can also influence patterns of self-undermining—always wanting what you can’t have, impossible standards that no one can live up to, and so on, based on ghostly needs and fantasies of the “perfect person,” who of course does not exist. Ghost Stars may cause some people to give up on partnership altogether and choose to be alone, while deep down hoping to meet the right person. Or they may choose unconventional patterns of relationship that do not fit into social norms.
A classic story here is the young man who marries before going off to war. Every day he looks at the wallet photo, yearning to be home with his love. Back home, she waits patiently for him to return. He dies in battle, and his last thought is of getting back to her. In the bardo, he searches for her and finds that she remarried and forgot about him. Or, she never marries again and forever laments her long-lost love. Two generations later, you inherit the pattern of longing for your lost love from your great uncle and spend your life searching for the perfect person who is always out of reach.
It is also possible to have no significant Fate with a life partner, in which case you are free to choose and be chosen. Not everyone has a match made in heaven, and not everyone is fated to struggle. People with empty Partner’s Palaces often feel disappointed, since there won’t be a prince charming, but it may also mean that there will be fifty and you must choose. An empty Partner’s Palace means that you build Fate with the person you choose so long as you choose to remain together.
And yes, there is potential for love and happily ever-after, but it is rare. We do hear stories of people who marry their high-school sweetheart and grow old together. Often, this kind of strong Fate runs out, and if people don’t learn how to work with freedom in this regard, then it can dissipate. You may be “done” with someone, in which case separating can be natural and not negative. Divorce is not always bad and can often be a positive conclusion to a Fated relationship that is “done.”
Offspring Palace (子女宮)
Offspring – Children, Adoption, Sexual Identity, Legacy
The characters for this house, 子女, zĭnǚ, means sons and daughters, so we translate it as the Offspring Palace. This House reveals our Ancestral Mandate to create more Ancestors; it reveals our Fate with children and parenting. Traditionally, the Fate to be a parent pays back a karmic debt, eighteen+ years of taking care of someone who once took care of you. You own them big and so give them human birth, which they then owe in return and must repay through gratitude and service. Parenting, in this sense, is about completing Fated obligations and letting go of freedom.
It is important to note that this House tells us about your Fate as a Parent, not about the Fate of your children, although it can give a hint to their Character. If significant Stars show up here, it is therefore important to complete the Fate indicated to have a fulfilling life. People with significant Stars here who choose not to have children may be missing out on an important relationship that otherwise would have been crucial to their Fate.
Today, many people are choosing not to be parents, and probably for good reason, and many are having children much later in life. So, this House gets harder and harder to interpret in today’s culture. Essentially, this House represents our “Jing,” our fundamental predilection towards embodiment, towards reproducing ourselves, so although it is primarily about children, there are other interpretations we can derive from this principle.
Clearly, some people are born to be Parents. Strong Fated Stars mean that being a parent provides all the important life lessons and becomes central to your understanding of what it means to be human. A Fated past life connection with a Child brings deep joy, meaning, and fulfillment to life. The unconditional love of parenthood transforms you beyond what you could have imagined, and you can’t imagine life without your children.
From the Chinese perspective, that feeling of a past life connection can also indicate a “Returning Ancestor,” a person being reborn in the same family line. This may be a great grandmother coming back as your child. In this case, the Chinese would often name children after Ancestors. If you research your genealogy, you may find that you are a dead-ringer for one of your Ancestors, in which case you may be a returning Ancestor.
This House indicates how to be a parent. It may suggest conventional methods and/or going beyond the standard notions of parenting. Some children require a lot of attention, guidance, and advice. Others are “self-starters” who take charge of their parent’s lives.
We assume that children are innocent and helpless, but this is almost never the case. Children are not “tabula rasa,” clean slates; they each come in with their own Fate/Karma, and they need a lot less controlling than we often impose. Some kids need to be left alone to wander in the woods and skin their knees; others are very sensitive and need a lot of protection to flourish.
Stars here can indicate the nature of your child/children. Yin Stars are often interpreted as girls, and Yang Stars are often interpreted as boys, and although this is somewhat accurate, it is not always the case. Yang Stars often represent independent, precocious children who do not need much parenting, and Yin Stars often represent more “sensitive” children who require a lot of support. The nature of the different Stars indicates what kind of support that may be. If you give birth to an Oracle who sees ghosts, they may require a different kind of upbringing than a Vassal who should play team sports.
This House also brings up an important idea that we have difficulty accepting in America—that a child may resolve your Fate for you. In China this is called “a child brings honor to the parents.” This means that your children may grow to be successful and fulfil your Fate in Career/Wealth for you. You may work hard in your career, and your child may become the artist you always wanted to be.
We also believe that children are expenses. Many people say they will have kids when they get their lives in order, when they make enough money, or get the right job. But this House suggests that children might bring this Fate. Having a child may create the Fate opportunities you are seeking. You may be poor, but if you have the fate to give birth to an Empress, and she demands a castle, then her Fate may cause dad to get a promotion and raise. Liu Ming would often tell people to have children even if their lives are not perfect, for the children bring the order and resources. When I see strong unafflicted Stars here, I often emphatically say—MAKE THE BABIES!!!
When a person is childless/chooses not to have children and has major Stars in this House, then we may interpret it differently. As I said earlier, this House is about Jing, so Fate here may reveal a Fated pattern around sexuality, sexual identity, or their physical reproductive system. I have seen many instances of this being the case, although it can be a sensitive subject that clients are shy to discuss.
Ghost Stars here can indicate miscarriages, abortions, difficulty conceiving, and so on. These incomplete pregnancies can “haunt” the mother or siblings for many years. Traditional cultures often have rituals for resolving children who don’t make it to birth. These kinds of ghost can linger and produce the odd feeling that someone who is supposed to be here is absent. As an only child you may have felt like you had a sister; you may have felt her presence and poured tea for her, talked to her, and on. These usually fade in adulthood, but many people remember having “imaginary friends.”
Ghosts can also indicate conflicted relationships between parents and their children. Ghost patterns can cause discord, arguments, disagreements. Or, it can create distance, separation, the feeling that you have nothing in common. These children may leave home early, or rifts may cause you not to speak for many years. You may even loose a child to illness or accident.
In the case of people who choose not to have children or if for other reasons someone is childless, then this House can become about legacy. Someone may create a product, a business, a brand, a book, a trust-fund, and so on, that they leave behind for future generations. They may spend their lives working on a project that is like their “child.” They may gestate, birth, nurture, and release something into the world that fulfills this Fate.
This House also indicates Fate to be a step-parent, to adopt, or to raise someone else’s children. A friend of mine was adopted and has very clear karma to be a step-father, which he has fulfilled. It can also indicate working with children as a nanny, a kindergarten teacher, and so on, in which case you parent many children. I had one client who worked with inner-city youths and felt like the parent to hundreds. She never had kids of her own yet felt this aspect of life was fulfilled.
It is also possible for men to have Fate with miscarriage and abortion that comes through women, which is perhaps difficult to grok. A woman may have no Fate to be a mother, but the Father comes along, and his Ancestors take over the process.
It is very possible to have Fate with a child but not with a Partner. Some women just need a sperm donor. Dad may only be needed for a few minutes, while the Fate with the Child lasts a lifetime. Or, Dad may have the Fate and become a single father, it is rarer, but it does happen. He may also resolve Fate through being a weekend Dad. The time may be sparse, but it could be precious and resolve his Fate, being the only meaningful time in his life.
Traditionally, the influence of this house is said to fade for women during menopause. So, if a woman has significant Stars here and misses the opportunity, then the relationship will be postponed until the next lifetime, and you very well may be reborn to complete the relationship what never happened. That could even be the case this time!
The Property and Wealth Palace are read together to determine a person’s overall Fate with prosperity.
Wealth Palace (財帛宮)
Wealth – Finances, Resource, Inheritance, General Fortune
The Characters for this house, 財帛, cái bò, are straight forward and literally mean wealth; cái means money, resources, valuables, and so on, and bò refers to silk, or “finery.” So, we translate it as the Wealth Palace. This House reveals a persons Fate with cash, hard currency, investments, inheritance, windfall, and prosperity. It indicates their personal ability to earn/generate income, use, and save money through industry/effort. It can also represent fated connections with wealthy people.
In principal, it represents our Fate with managing our resources, which in ancient China meant something much different than today. In this sense, it should always be read in relation to the Property Palace to understand a person’s overall Fate with prosperity.
In agricultural society, wealth was considered cyclical. In cyclical time, wealth varies according to the cycles and seasons. Spring brings the wealth of “new,” Summer the wealth of “abundance,” Fall the wealth of “harvested security,” and Winter the wealth of “calm abiding.” In other words, when you live with the cycles of nature, especially if you are a hunter or farmer, you accept times of abundance and scarcity as demonstrations of Nature itself, nothing to get excited or panic about.
Our culture operates on the myth of linear time, which may be the single greatest disaster in human history. We view wealth as an endless, aggressive pursuit of acquisition; we attempt to live in eternal Summer, which cannot be done. A select few have abundance and the rest live in scarcity. We overproduce and have changed our very climate.
Obviously, the cyclical values of this tradition do not align with consumer capitalist American values. We must interpret this House, then, with the larger Fate of our culture in mind, which has most people in debt, living pay check to pay check, trying to make ends meet.
In the Chinse view, you are not poor if you have air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat. Wealth is something that comes and goes in cycles in an atmosphere of nature’s generosity. This house, then, demonstrates the principal of Wealth, although we often read it in relation to money, because that is what our society dictates.
Because our society has such a crude relationship to wealth, this House is straight forward in interpretation. This Stars in this House, especially Yang Stars, indicate how our Ancestral or Past Life Fate comes to pay us back in the form of income. Most Stars are modest in interpretation. On the surface, they can indicate if you will be paid well/fairly for your efforts, or whether your finances will increase steadily throughout your life. Yang Stars often indicate that your income is direct; you work a 9-5 and earn a pay check. Yang Stars convey the American dream of “pulling yourself up by your own boots straps.”
Yin Stars, then, tend to indicate that your money comes from indirect sources. This may be in the form of family money/inheritance, a benefactor, financial loans, alimony checks, investments, side-jobs, or perhaps you are a consultant and the money you earn is only tangentially related to the money you help produce.
Yin Stars also represent a flux in income, that it comes and goes. People with Yin Fate here may at times be interested in earning and do well and at other times have no interest at all and are content with very little. Unafflicted, Yin Stars are considered a gift from your own past life generosity, or simply a privilege inherited from your ancestors.
Ghost Stars usually indicate a struggle with finances that we interpret as Ancestral patterns around scarcity. Perhaps, your great grandfather worked his ass off to get the family started in America, but he died poor, worried about his family’s future. You, then, inherit both his work ethic and insecurity, working 60 hours a week only to feel lack and wanting. This Fate may be resolved if your perseverance finally pays off; you get promoted and work less or retire and feel satisfied, freeing the Ancestral pattern. Or, it could be resolved through changing your relationship to money altogether, renouncing everything and living on a self-sustaining farm.
These ghostly patterns can come in the form of debt - medical, legal, and so on. You may be Fated to work hard only to lose everything in extensive legal battles. Or, you may get sick and be overwhelmed by medical bills. You may inherit a family fortune that is wrought with challenges you did not expect. As we say, more money more problems. Ghosts can certainly manifest as irresponsible, selfish, or careless behavior with money.
In some cases, Ghosts Stars are associated with “windfall,” meaning sudden unexpected income. This may come in the form of gambling, striking it big in Vegas, or winning the lottery. Ming would often tell people with certain patterns to test their luck in this regard. Traditionally, the windfall is viewed as ghost resolving through one last throw of the dice. However, the danger of this ghost pattern is to win big and then lose big. If this happens, take the money and run!
An exalted Wealth Palace indicates that your major Fate is resolved through engaging with resources. The real crux of Fate resolution in this House is the feeling or satisfaction, contentment, completion, and so on, feeling that you are/have enough.
An exalted Wealth Palace can indicate doing very well financially. It can indicate prosperity, but if you get rich and feel no satisfaction, then you are not resolving Fate. If you are not generous, if you do not give back, then you are not resolving Fate. You may have good Fate to earn a fortune, but if you’re greedy, then this turns ghostly very fast.
Your Fate may be a rags to riches story. You may be born into poverty, but if your Wealth Palace is exalted, doing well is not a matter of if but when. And again, it does not indicate the amount of money earned but the corresponding feeling of contentment and satisfaction that comes through having what you need, which inspires the feeling of generosity. Generosity is the natural outcome of abundance.
This House can also show us hints of career. Polestar Astrology does not indicate specific careers all that clearly, even in the Career Houses, but the Wealth Palace can indicate being paid as a consultant, artist, doctor, healer, astrologer, spirit medium, teacher, and so on. You can of course be all these things without any indication whatsoever.
Health Palace (疾厄宮)
Health – Physical Constitution, Illness, Death, Doctoring
The Characters for this House, 疾厄, Jí è, literally mean disease/sickness and distress/disaster, and traditionally it was called the Death Palace. We, however, translate it as the Health Palace, for death has become a little too morbid in our culture for us to relate to, and this House covers a lot of potential health related factors. In fact, this is one of the more difficult Houses to interpret due to the variety of experiences it can refer to.
The Stars appearing in this House can refer to a person’s physical constitution, Fate with illness and injury, capacity to heal/recover, relationships/karma with doctors/healers, and Fate with medical treatments. It also has implications concerning a person’s longevity and the potential for early death/long life. The Stars may reveal patterns around diet, exercise, and lifestyle. They may reveal Ancestral Patterns of illness, congenital conditions/predispositions, and Fate for addiction, abuse, and so on. This House can also reveal a talent and affinity for practicing medicine and the Fate to be a healer, often after a process of personal illness and recovery. We can say that the House refers to all aspects of health and wellbeing – mental, emotional, and physical.
The Polestar interpretations of the various stars have many implications that can be read in relation to Classical Chinese Medicine. Each Star has its own associations with illnesses, syndromes, and parts of the body, associated with organ networks and the five-phases. The Stars also correlate to certain seasons and can tell us if a person heals best in Winter or Spring.
To understand this House, we must understand the basics of Chinese Medicine. Chinese Medicine seeks a certain balance and does not have any concept of an “ideal state” that exists separate from the individual. Our sense of normal is always in flux and changes relative to our age, the season, and the environment in which we live. In other words, there is no normal or healthy anything, for what is one person’s medicine is another’s poison. Chinese Medicine is also not morbid; death may be the perfect resolution of illness/Fate, given certain situations. The hysterical preservation of life at all costs does not fit in with this tradition. It may be someone’s Fate to go through a debilitating illness and not recover, for they may in that process understand the very meaning of life—who are we to judge?
As symbolic representations of Ancestors, the Stars offer an image of inherited Ancestral Patterns of illness, and the House can be read in correlation with the Ancestor Palace as an image of a person’s inherited constitution, genetic memory, or what we now call “epigenetics.” Illnesses that do not respond to standard treatments and that do not have clear medical diagnosis are thought of as being inherited from the unsettled dead.
It is important to note that the Stars in this House CANNOT be used for diagnosis, but they can be used for prognosis. We cannot determine if someone will fall ill, but if they do, we can determine the nature of the condition in relation to Ancestral Patterns, and we can determine the likelihood of recovery. Astrology is not an alternative to medical diagnosis, but it can be used as an effective tool to aid treatment. Many factors of Character also determine a person’s elemental makeup, such as excessive Fire in a Chart, which can tell us a lot about their health issues.
As Astrologers, we must not jump to conclusions and diagnose people. I have looked at the chart of Stephan Hawking and at many charts of people with debilitating illness. I have seen many people with the same star arrangement as Stephen Hawking who have a very different expression of the same Stars, and I have seen people with the same condition who have a different Star arrangement. There is a vast range of potential possibilities in each Star, and we cannot predict how they will manifest. I have jumped to conclusions before and been very surprised by how different the client’s situation ended up expressing. So, I always give as many interpretations as I can and do my best not to spook/scare people who have potentially a challenging Health Palace. We also don’t want to avoid difficult possibilities and sugarcoat a situation.
Ghost Stars here can create a wide variety of experiences, ranging from chronic, sub-clinical, minor conditions, to allergies/food sensitivities, to mental/emotional problems, and so on. An afflicted Health Palace may manifest for one person as an unhealthy obsession with illness, such as hypochondria. Or, it may compel a person to constantly seek medical attention—they may go an acupuncturist one day, a chiropractor the next, a shamanic healer on the weekend, followed by a fast, a cleanse, and then an obsessive fixation of the next fad diet.
Ghosts can cause mistreatment, overtreatment, improper/incorrect diagnosis due to constantly changing symptoms. Or, an afflicted Health Palace can manifest as accidents, injuries, accident-prone behavior, and even suicidal tendencies, risk taking, and addictions that push the bodies limits.
Yang Stars traditionally relate to our Patriarchal Ancestors and Yin Stars to the Matriarchy. We can therefore determine where an Ancestral Pattern may originate from. Again, Patriarchal Stars can indicate anyone from your Father’s side, or all men in the family, and Matriarchal Stars can be your Mother’s side or all women, regardless of side. We receive our body from our parents, literally, and our strengths and weakness express the continuity of our heritage.
Yang Stars typically represent strength, endurance, and a straight forward experience of illness and recovery. People with Yang constitutions are more likely to be injured rather than ill. When they get sick, it usually goes away on its own, and if they see a doctor, they get treated and recover, simple as that. The danger with strong or exalted Yang Stars here is being too strong for your own good. These people tend to overwork, overextend, and then burn out due to exhaustion. Think of the marathon runner who drops dead after running 26 miles. These people tend to ignore signs and symptoms and push through pain; they have difficulty resting, saying no, shutting down the productivity. They are restless, compulsive, active, and do well with routine and habit change. Yang constitutions usually have high metabolism and pay less attention to diet. They tend to be less sensitive to environmental factors and mental issues.
Yin Stars typically represent sensitivity, receptivity, openness, susceptibility, and vulnerability. People with Yin constitutions do not have a straight forward experience of health. Their health comes from weakness rather than strength. They are sensitive to many influencing factors—environmental, emotional, and so on.
Some Yin Stars make a person susceptible to what the Chinese call “possession,” which implies that we are invaded by some kind of “outside” force due to poor boundaries, immunity, and defenses. People with Yin constitutions tend to be more lethargic, less active; they need to rest more, and they must pay very close attention to their health, which is changing all the time due to many complex factors. They may get stressed out and then catch a cold. They may hear about a friend’s illness and then start to get the symptoms. Yin Stars, in general, are much more difficult to interpret.
An exalted Health Palace can indicate that a person’s Fate revolves around a personal path of illness, healing, and recovery. Illness may be a spiritual experience, a call to wake up. These people are shamans. They are brought to death’s door, so they can return to heal others. Or, an exalted Health Palace may simply indicate a long life of health with little to no illness/injury; they may be blessed with no Ancestral Patterns of illness and the strength to overcome all minor conditions. They may inherit “good genes” and never experience health challenges, dying peacefully in old age. Some people become healers because they were healed and want to repay. Others become healers because they understand that their own health is a privilege and they want to use it to be of benefit.
Certain Stars indicate the potential for the study and practice of medicine. Others indicate the potential to excel at athletics and physical culture. A person’s Character has a huge influence on how this turns out. A Horse or a Tiger will tend towards athletic expressions of physicality, while a Rabbit or a Goat may seek the intuitive art of medicine. Other Stars turn this House into the spiritual path and inspire people to practice yoga, meditation, and so on, using the body as the means to liberation.
The next three houses are read together to understand a person’s Fate in the world through work/career and travel.
Career/Travel Palace (遷移宮)
Career and Travel – Immigration, Journeys
The Characters for this House, 遷移, Qīan Yí, literally mean to immigrate, migrate, or move, but we translate it as the Career/Travel Palace. This House lies directly across from the Ming Palace and provides an image of your Fate “in the world;” it represents your life’s journey outside your family and place of birth. It is read in conjunction with the Assistants and Superiors Palace to give the overall shape of our work/life in the world.
For those born in modern industrial countries, this House may describe a professional career or the journey of discovery to find a suitable career through education, job hunting, experimentation, climbing the corporate ladder, or travel. It tells us how important/significant “working” will be in your life. The nature of that work is then refined in the following two houses and may be indicated elsewhere in the chart, such as the Wealth (ex: investor, banker), Health (ex: doctor, athlete), or Property (ex: real-estate, architect).
First and foremost, this House tells us if you were born in the right place. Certain Stars can indicate if you “missed the mark,” in terms of birthplace, and if you must travel to resolve your Fate. Ming used to joke that you may have died, been in the bardo and were circling the globe looking for Mongolia, but you crash-landed in Minnesota. You, then, grow up feeling like home is somewhere else and you go on a journey must find it. This House describes the potential success of that journey.
If you possess and exalted Seventh House, you may travel extensively, resolving past life connections in different countries, states, cities, searching for home, meaning, career. You may successfully immigrate. There may be a whole new life/Fate waiting for you in a foreign land. The first time you arrive in Spain, you start speaking Spanish and never leave. Ming referred to this as a “Fate Threshold,” a doorway in the Chart to a new life.
Significant Stars here offer a journey of discovery through travel. I have the Emperor here and have traveled in over twenty countries and lived abroad (it’s afflicted, so I’m back, lol, and still looking). I personally feel that traveling is the best education you can receive. To step outside of your comfort zone and experience other cultures, languages, and environments is extremely transformative. You may unravel your Fate here and discover yourself as a wayfarer, expat, or pilgrim. You may return to the place of your Blood Ancestors, take pilgrimage to India, or maybe you travel to Bhutan and discover a strong karmic affinity with Buddhism.
An afflicted House may suggest you have Fate for an unsuccessful immigration, like me, as if you just needed to complete some obligations, perhaps a spell abroad followed by a pilgrimage home. It may also suggest a kind of wandering, moving from place to place, never feeling at home. Or, you may journey abroad only to be met with disaster, illness, accidents, theft, and so on, and this may be a perfect resolution of Fate.
If interpreted as the Career House, then significant Stars here can mean that your Fate unravels in the workplace. You may have no/minimal Fate for marriage/children and an exalted Career Palace. This does not mean that you won’t/can’t have kids, but it does suggest that your job will be an exciting, fulfilling place of interest and that your home life may be uneventful. You love your kids, but at work you come alive, expressing your purpose/calling.
If the Superiors Palace is exalted, then, if read in conjunction, this House can indicate a “rise to success.” You start as the janitor and work your way up to CEO. Or, you start a business in your garage and sell it to Microsoft for millions of dollars. This house can indicate whether hard work, perseverance, and persistence ultimately pay off.
It can also be modest and suggest a life of mediocrity, “quiet desperation,” which is the case for many people. Remember, Fate is not about big or important but about the feeling of “completion.” You may never have an exciting career, but if you die feeling satisfied with having tried your best, then this can be a resolution. If, you die feeling incomplete, full of regret for never having “made it,” then this may kick start your Fate next lifetime.
Afflicted, you may wander from job to job, unfulfilled and bored. You may collect many skills and become a “jack of all trades, master of none.” Ghost Stars may manifest as obstructions—you get fired/laid off, passed over for promotions. Your startup fails, and you must start again with nothing. For many people work is drudgery; they tough it out and work their fingers to the bone for little reward. But, perhaps you have an exalted Offspring palace, so work sucks, but you come home to your kids who fill your life with joy. Everyone’s chart balances out in some way.
Yang Stars indicate that work tends toward skill building, that success comes through getting good at something through discipline. Yang Fate in this house can manifest more “superficially,” meaning your career may not be glamorous, spiritual, flashy; you may rise to be the manager of a Home Depot. But for a Horse with the Emperor here, that may be a perfect fit.
Yang Stars also imply that your work life is very active, dynamic, eventful, even stressful. Yang can also mean physical; perhaps you become a carpenter, electrician, hair stylist; you become skillful in the use of your body. Modest Yang Stars can be manual labor, retail, and so on. The Assistant’s Palace tends to indicate service work, but that can also show up here.
Yin Stars indicate that success comes through intuition rather than skill. Getting ahead, being promoted, landing the job has more to do with feeling, being, more to do with your deportment, even your appearance, rather than your resume or skill set. You may have an extensive skill set, but if your Fate here is Yin then it is the appropriate application of that skill at the right time through intuition that opens doors.
Yang Stars tend to be more about showing up and doing repetitive work. Yin Stars may be much more relaxed. Yin Stars can manifest as work that is indirect, discreet, abstract, or intellectual. You may sit at a desk all day moving numbers around on a screen and have no idea what you are doing, but you get a paycheck. Or, you may work behind the scenes, like all the people listed in movie credits. You never see them, but they make everything possible. Yin Stars may mean that you get paid for your appearance (ex: model/actor), intelligence (ex: teacher), or presence (ex: counselor, therapist, chaplain). You never “produce” anything tangible, but you help, inspire, and support others to do so.
Yang Stars indicate that you are “fresh,” compelled by Fate to create and manifest your interests, sparked by Ancestral or Past life prompting. Yin Stars indicate that you may have done something for many lifetimes and that you need to “remember,” which may manifest as a natural talent for something you have never trained for.
Yin people are “naturals” and pick things up immediately, while Yang people must work really hard and may struggle to attain mastery (Yin Fate is hard work too, jut a different kind). You may be a natural at playing Piano but can’t understand math to save your life. Or, you may be a science wiz and practice guitar for ten years only to be mediocre. Everyone has past life affinity somewhere.
Assistants Palace (交友宮)
Service – Friendship, Subordinates, Servants, Staff
The Characters for this House, 交友, Jiāo Yŏu, literally mean to make friends, so we translate it as the Friendship Palace and/or the Assistant’s Palace. This House refers to a wide range of Fate possibilities and relationships, so it can be difficult to interpret. Overall, the House profiles our predestined connections with the help or harm that comes from non-family people and/or our Fate to help or harm others. It is important to note that this House (and the Superior’s Palace) is bi-directional—it can refer to your role in life as an Assistant or the influence of others Assisting you.
This House represents the deeply held Chinese belief that we do nothing alone. Everything we do that is important is done through joint effort. Our primary support is family, but for many people, family is rough, and they find their deepest connections in life through friendship. In the Confucian Tradition, love is the primary characteristic of friendship rather than marriage. In work/career, our success often comes through our connections, teamwork, associations, and opportunities that come through others.
We read this House in two ways. First, as a relationship House, it indicates your Fate with friends, co-workers/colleagues, schoolmates, people you consider peers. It also indicates your karma with receiving help, with people who “assist” you in the resolution of your Fate.
Some people have little Fate with their birth family; they may have siblings, but they are distant or difficult to connect with. Often these people develop sibling type bonds with friends. Perhaps, you work in the same office for twenty years, and your co-workers become your family. Ming used the term a “circle of returners.” In other words, you share deep past life connections with friends, and they become instrumental in the resolution of your Fate. Perhaps, you were all in a platoon in the last life.
An exalted Assistant’s Palace can imply many important social connections, an avid social life, or several significant life events that happen socially. You may have an abundance of people who are there for you, who show up when needed, a strong and well-knit network of social support. You may be the life of the party and feel at home in social gatherings. Character makes a significant difference in this regard; a Dragon may have a hundred important friends, and a Rabbit may only have three. You may also constantly find yourself helping your friends; yours is the shoulder to cry on. Many American sit-coms portray exalted Assistant’s Palaces; think Cheers—a bar where everyone knows your name.
Or, if afflicted, you may experience discord, betrayal, or a life changing “falling out” with someone. You may try to connect with people, but they reject you. You may find connecting with others difficult or bewildering, every attempt going wrong. You go to parties (if you even get invited) and stand in the corner feeling awkward. You may drift from one circle of friends to another, meeting many people, but failing to form deep bonds or support. You may feel alone, like people aren’t there for you, despite being in a crowd. Or, you may give up and do everything alone, never asking for help or relying on others. Again, Character makes all the difference here. A Snake may be fine with being self-reliant, but for a Pig this could be a nightmare.
If we interpret this as a Career House, then Stars here can literally indicate an assistant at work. Perhaps, you are the boss or charismatic leader, but you cannot manage your appointments to save your life, so you have a stellar assistant who makes your career possible. Or, you may be constantly promoted and helped due to the support, admiration, and recommendation of others. You may meet someone at a conference who changes your life, offering you a new and exciting career. Or, you may be credited success without having done any of the real work.
If afflicted, you may experience scandal, confrontation, slander/gossip, and undermining in the work place. You may experience competition with others that always gets the better of you. Others may make mistakes for which you get blamed. Or, you may follow others or be part of a team that loses or fails, leaving you without a job. You may hire an assistant who embezzles money from you and ruins you company. There are many ways this House can go wrong, and many ways it can go right. A prized assistant may also make you a millionaire.
If this House has significant Fate, it can indicate a life or a career of service. This can be completely menial. You may be Fated to be career waitress/waiter (wait person?) or receptionist. My favorite restaurant back home has been staffed by the same people for over twenty years. I have literally been going there since I was a kid, and I every time I return it has the same wait staff and same chefs behind the counter. I imagine they all have exalted Assistant’s Palaces.
We can interpret many service-oriented careers from this House, from social work, to teaching, consulting, housekeeping, and so on. Many people dream big, but most end up “doing small;” not everyone becomes an astronaut. This House exemplifies those content to do simple, humble, or unrecognized work. Think “Jeeves” the butler.
You may feel at home subordinating, following orders, working with the chain of command or be fated to always rebel against it. You may excel in teamwork, networking, schmoozing, or hobnobbing with the rich. You may be a bodyguard, samurai, bouncer, and so on. Perhaps, you are a professional athlete who makes a living because of a team.
I often use the phrase, “behind the scenes” to describe this house and sometimes give the example of Bernie Sanders. He has the Emperor in the Superior’s Palace and so has Fate to be a leader, but his assistant whom you never heard of, who does all the work behind the scenes and without whom he could not function, may have the Emperor in the Assistant’s Palace. From this House, you may wield power from second place, from “behind the throne.”
It is often the case that people have Fate in both the Superiors and Assistant’s Palace, in which case, you may indeed become very well know, but you remain humble and use your position or voice to exalt and help others. You may have times in the spotlight but also do a lot of work behind the scenes which goes unnoticed.
Or, an exalted Assistant’s Palace can propel you on a spiritual path of service and devotion. You may become a monk, join an ashram, and spend your life serving a community or teacher. You may give up a distinguished career to feed the homeless. Or, you may dedicate yourself to starting intentional communities, bringing people together, performing rituals. You may find your tribe in a Sanga, Kula, or Witch Coven. If afflicted, you may be at risk in following others; you may join a cult and end up “drinking the cool-aid.”
If this House has significant Fate, it suggests that you Ancestors manifest and work to bless you in Career by creating opportunities and connections. They may work as protectors/guardian angels in the world, preventing you from disaster. It may also be the case that a family business or family wealth is the key to all your success socially, politically, offering you connections to career, for example through a fraternity.
If this House is Empty, then you have no Fated requirement for service. Rather, you may be a leader. This may also mean that you have little help, few friends, and must work hard to make connections with people. It may also mean you must go at it alone. Often this house is a “mixed bag,” and I find it to be one of the more difficult ones to describe to clients.
Superiors Palace (官祿宮)
Officials – Leadership, Teachers, Mentors, Bosses
The Characters for this House, 官祿, guān lù, literally refer to the position of a Chinese government official, and we translate it as the Superiors Palace. Sometimes it is translated as the Career Palace, or Official’s Palace, for it gives the image of a person’s “advancement and development” Fate. It offers an image of how our Fate and achievement relates to “authority.”
Like the Assistant’s Palace, it is bi-directional. It can refer to figures of authority in our life and/or our role in that regard. It also can be read as a relationship and/or career House. It is not always either/or and can offer a wide range of interpretations. It is important to note that this House refers to Fated relationships outside the family.
As the final or “highest” career House, it relates to success, achievement, ambition, and innovation, to being well known, recognized, rewarded, or influential. An exalted Assistant’s Palace may mean that you become a doctor, but an exalted Superior’s Palace could mean that your methods change the practice of medicine. This house can be the difference between being a mere salesman or pioneering an innovative marketing tactic that changes our culture. It can also be the difference between simply moving abroad (7th House) or going down in history for introducing smallpox to the Aztecs.
If we interpret this as a relationship House, then Stars that show up here indicate the help or harm that comes to us by elders, teachers, mentors, bosses, employers, gurus, leaders, and so on. The Fate here connects us with people more experienced, advanced, or influential than us. These can simply be authority figures in the workplace, whom you may or may not respect. Or, they can be great teachers whom you respect/admire/revere.
Because of the potential trust we place in our superiors, the relationships here have the potential for great cause and effect. We can be greatly influenced for better or worse by those with power, and as we all know, power is easily corrupted and so often abused. So, an afflicted Ninth House can manifest as abuse that comes from the throne, strange relationships with teachers, or you yourself harming others.
Stars in this House often imply a journey of apprenticeship. You meet a mentor, study with them, and follow in their footsteps, which has been the ideal model in most craft guilds. Perhaps, you meet someone already practicing your dream job, so you work for them and learn the tricks of the trade. They may retire, leaving you the position, or you may do your own thing having them as a model.
This House can indicate becoming a boss, manager, and/or decision maker. It denotes responsibility and leadership. You may be Fated to rise in the ranks to become the boss and make important decisions that influence people’s lives. Traditionally, it refers to the role of government officials in China, which were the most prestigious jobs in the nation. Government Official were highly educated and respected members of the community who commanded as “parents to the nation.” This House indicates if someone will become an official or simply meet officials, which is further inferred from other Houses.
Spiritually, this House can indicate a Fated relationship with a teacher or “guru,” and traditionally, this House indicates connections to “lineage,” a much-misunderstood term in modern times. The Ancestor Palace can indicate this as well, but this House tells us of what Ming called your “Wisdom Ancestors,” inexplicable karmic connections to people in traditions that are not connected to your culture, heritage, or country.
You may become a disciple, study with a master, and inherit a lineage, taking on students yourself. An exalted Superior’s Palace can indicate that the major Fate of your life unravels by following this teacher, like Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid. Completing this Fate is considered complicated business in many traditions, especially in Tantra where people vow to follow a teacher/lineage for as many lifetimes as it takes to become enlightened.
Again, ghosts here can indicate abuse or betrayal from a teacher. It can indicate joining a cult and/or becoming a cult leader yourself. There are so many examples of fallen gurus in the modern spiritual scene that I don’t even know where to start; it may in fact be all of them.
An afflicted 9th House may simply indicate a strong mistrust of authority, a rebel without a cause. You may rebel against your parents, teachers, cops, priests, and so on, throughout your life, with or without cause. You may become an activist and work to dismantle oppression and patriarchy, which may have positive results, but could leave you bitter, frustrated, and disillusioned. You may spend a lifetime fighting the man only to burn out. But, of course, you may change people’s lives all along the way; such is the nature of ghost resolution.
Gone wrong, this House can make you a gang leader, drug lord, or dictator. It can lead to corruption, despotism, and jingoism of the worst order. All the worst acts in human history can be related to this House (and possibly the 8th House), for it represents the power to influence people on a larger scale. We see here the importance of Character and Fate. You may have the character, or capacity, to be a great leader, like an Earth Dragon, but if this House is afflicted, you may become a gang leader in prison, when in a different context you may have become a general and been rewarded for aggression.
If we further interpret this as a Career House, then it relates to the notion of success and achievement, contributing to your field. You may have an exalted 7th House, in which case Career is important, but if your 9th House is empty, afflicted, or debilitated, then you may work hard and not achieve success. You may never be recognized for your accomplishments. If they are both positive, the you will most likely do very well. You may even innovate. You may invent the next giz-widget, doohickey, or phone thingy.
This House is exemplified by inventors, contributors, creative people who change the game. I like to think of Steve Jobs. It is also exemplified by great political leaders, or by people who change the world with an act of defiance, like Rosa Parks.
It can also relate to fame and have nothing to do with talent. As we all know, many of the most talented people you will ever meet will never be famous, and many famous people are hacks. From an Astrological point of view, this is all Fated. Hard work and talent do not always pay off. When they do, when Character and Fate match and someone rises to excellence, this again is called “Destiny.”
Yang Stars here tend to relate more towards career and success. A strong Yang star here can create ambition, the drive to succeed, as well as the karmic connections to make it happen, especially if combined with an ambitious character. A Dragon with an exalted Superior’s Palace is certainly auspicious, because they will try to rule the world anyways. A Rabbit, who may shy away from the spotlight, may feel tremendous anxiety if their Superior’s Palace pushes them towards leadership.
Yang Stars indicate a “rise” to power based on perseverance and indicate that a great deal of Fate is resolved through career. They also suggest that a person will be lead from an obvious or primary position, like an Emperor.
Yin Stars, like the Empress, suggest that power is wielded from a hidden, unusual, or secondary position, from behind the scenes. Ming introduced many people to the idea of “Yin Power,” which is fundamentally difficult for Americans to understand. Yin Power is essentially passive, and for many it appears manipulative. Yin Power is wielded through seduction, suggestion, body language, through “psychological” tactics. Our culture looks down on this kind of power, although we use it extensively on each other and throughout the world, because Yin Power works. Marketing is based on Yin Power. A “damsel in distress” may achieve everything in life without ever lifting a finger.
Yin stars suggest that your rise to success happens because of unseen factors which can appear lucky—being in the right place at the right time, meeting the right people, and/or being gifted/given opportunities that you did not appear to earn. To people with Yang Fate here who work their ass off to get ahead, Yin Fate appears unfair, for it looks effortless. Yin Fate can often manifest as privilege, family power, and influence; you may be promoted because your boss knows your father, or you may use family money to swing an election.
When read together with the previous two Houses, the Superior’s Palace offers us a complete image of someone’s participation in society through “work,” which can be refined through other Houses. For example, an Exalted Superior’s Palace in conjunct with an exalted Property Palace means that one can exert their influence through real-estate and material wealth.
The Property and Wealth Palace are read together to determine a person’s overall Fate with prosperity.
Property Palace (田宅宮)
Ownership – Home, Inheritance, Real Estate, Collections, Immigration, Feng Shui
The Characters for this House, 田宅, tián zhái, literally mean farmland/field and residence/home, and we translate it as the Property Palace. This House has two distinct meanings. Primarily, the Stars here describe a person’s relationship to material goods, real estate, and Fate with “ownership” of real property, whether through purchase or inheritance. Combined with the Wealth Palace, it is what Ming called a person’s “stuff and home” Fate.
Secondarily, or perhaps on a deeper level, this House represents our Fate with the Chinese principal of Feng Shui, or the auspice of Placement. Like the 7th House, it may tell us if we have strong Fate with “place.” Energetically, it represents “home,” so it can manifest as the Fate to create that through owning land, a home, or through creating security via the possession of goods. Or, it can imply that creating or looking for home is a big deal for you. Is there a natural geographic/geomantic home for you? Perhaps, you must find it, so this House can indicate immigration.
As the Feng Shui House, certain Stars can indicate if Feng Shui is a major influence on you. You may be greatly affected by or connected to the land, nature, or objects in space. Perhaps, you become ill, and nothing is working. You change the direction of your bed or the color of your sheets, and all the sudden you get better. You may be struggling in a new town. You move and all the sudden everything clicks into place. You may be disoriented by disorganized arrangements and patterns and have an instinct for design, in which case this House can indicate career architects, interior designers, and Feng Shui consultants.
In the Chinese value system, ownership is not about the accumulation of stuff or “toys,” trying to “get yours” and die with the biggest pile. Fate with ownership of material goods or real estate is an opportunity to be generous. Real wealth is something that can be measured. Land can produce food; a home can provide shelter—to share this with others is the greatest opportunity to be generous. Money is abstract, especially today, a play of numbers on screens. You may have a debilitated Wealth Palace and have no money but an exalted Property Palace and live on a farm with everything nature provides.
Often, this House is straightforward and has to do with our Fate to buy, own, and sell property. It can represent the Fate for inheritance and family money. Or, it can represent a career as a real estate broker, buying and selling properties at a profit. You may own several properties and rent out the rooms or have an “Air B&B.” You may become a landlord, manage an apartment building, and collect passive income.
Major Fate in this House can indicate that many things in life revolve around your Home. You may work from home. You may spend a fortune fixing up a piece of property, only to have it lead to all sorts of adventures, like in the movie the Money Pit. You may buy or move into a house only to have a series of complex situations happen with neighbors, roommates, city planning committees, and so on.
Fate here can impel you on a mission to find home, wandering from place to place in search of belonging. You may never feel at home anywhere or even feel like home is haunted. Ancestral Ghosts here can come from histories of war, exile, and migration.
Ming told a remarkable story of a woman who bought and sold properties but never felt at home, especially in the kitchen. She never cooked, and as soon as she fixed up a house she would sell it. Later, she uncovered a family story—during World War II, the whole family was sitting to dinner when the sirens went off. Her grandfather told them they were staying, and the whole family died at the dinner table in an air raid. So, of course, she inherits in inexplicable fear of being in the kitchen.
This House can manifest as a gypsy or nomad spirit. You may spend your entire adult life wandering; you may even feel claustrophobic, trapped after staying in one place for too long. You may be uprooted due to causes and conditions beyond your control, or you may move for work after being promoted to run the head office in Chicago. Or, you may have deep karmic connections to your hometown and never leave.
Many people throughout history were born and died in the same bed. And, countless people have been exiled due to war. The Stars here indicate something of your Ancestral Patterns around exile and migration. A Chinese saying goes, “we only dig in our ancestors,” meaning they have lived on the same land for so long that the soil is made of the dead. You may inherit a family farm that has been there for generations; it could be a curse or a blessing.
This House may also indicate other kinds of possessions. You may buy, fix, and sell cars. You may own and operate a clothing company. You may produce artisan soaps and sell them at the farmer’s market. Your life may be intimately connected to the material, the sensual, the manifest. You may cultivate the Earth and feel connected to the cycles and seasons. You may weave baskets or make goat cheese or derive great power from a spiritual connection to objects. You may be a collector, your Fate tied to art, tea pots, ritual bells, and so on. In Confucian culture, you are not considered a gentleperson until you have a collection. Art dealer is a perfect manifestation of this house.
Yang Stars tend to manifest as more worldly Fate Patterns. Yang Fate is to own, operate, and invest. Yang Stars can be indicative of careers in real estate, architecture, design, and so on. They may be connected to production—you may build your own house. As per usual, Yang Fate implies dynamism, that working actively with challenges unravels Fate. In terms of inheritance, Yang Stars imply the patriarchal line, such as our current fake “president” who has exalted Patriarchal Fate for inheritance.
Yin Stars often turn this House into a much more passive situation. You may inherit property or wealth and have everything taken care of for you, never having to work. Or, you may work with real estate, real goods, but the situations all manifest mysteriously, beyond your control. You may be constantly gifted things and return that fortune through generosity.
Yin Stars more easily manifest as generosity, spreading the wealth through charity, philanthropy, and leaving behind a legacy/creating a foundation. Yin Stars are often more associated with luxury, finery, comfort, refinement. They also heighten the affect of Feng Shui on a person as well as the identity with regional, geographic, ethic, or familial ties. Yin Stars indicate inheritance from the Matriarchal line.
Pleasure Palace (福德宮)
Pleasures – Luck, Hobbies, Interests, Enjoyment/Satisfaction
The Characters for this House, 福德, fú dé, literally means happiness and virtue, sometimes “blessed virtue,” and we translate it as the Pleasure Palace. I always read this House last, for in many ways it is the most important, for it tells us about our Fate to enjoy our life. It reveals Fated patterns of “inner experience” that manifest in our pursuit of satisfaction. We may have grand, exalted Fate, but if we don’t have fun, if are not satisfied when our Fate is complete, then what’s the point?
Without satisfaction, we may very well create more Fate, which from a Buddhist perspective keeps us spinning in the wheel of Samsara, for the relative world is by nature unsatisfactory, temporary, and when we try to find lasting/permanent satisfaction, we experience discomfort. This tradition accepts the Buddhist principal of Samsara but also shares a more Daoist belief that life alternates – sometimes it is an awful place, sometimes it is a wonderful place. Happiness is possible but never permanent. This House reveals our capacity for temporary satisfaction as it comes and goes.
Some, after the sea of obligations have been fulfilled, after all the Fated work has been done, are left with fond memories of joy and love. Others only remember the struggle, the battles fought – but here is the key – some are Fated to be grumpy! We must let grumpy people be grumpy. If we tell pessimists to stop being negative, we turn them into hypocrites, and they spend their lives being a “nice person” and then shoot up a school. This goes hand and hand with understanding Character; a Tiger with grumpy Fate (such as myself) needs a lot of acceptance.
This House suggests that we may not be free to enjoy ourselves, which was a huge revelation to me. I’ve always wondered why some people are blessed with a sunny disposition and have such an easy time having fun, while others find it so difficult. From this tradition’s point of view, we may inherit patterns of ghostly inhibition or unbridled gregariousness from our Ancestors.
At its core, this House reveals our Fate around “satisfaction,” but it manifests in patterns of enjoyment, pleasure, fun, hobbies, interests, entertainment, socializing, and so on. It tells us a very important thing—does fun provide you with Qi, or does it drain you of it?
Some people are at risk with they pursue pleasure. The first time they take a drink they’re an addict, and two years later their life has gone down the toilet. Others may actually be Fated to “follow their fun.” Liu Ming was a Fire Pig and had the Emperor in the Pleasure Palace, so, according to him, his Fate unraveled when he followed his sense of enjoyment. So, for him, doing drugs was a much different Fate scenario than for others. This may be auspicious for some Characters, like Pigs, who will follow their fun anyways, and bewildering for others, like Snakes, who distrust the display of the senses.
Is fun a battery for storing Qi? Are you a flirt who goes home glowing from flattery, or are you exhausted by promiscuity? When you listen to an amazing musician do you feel joy, or does it cause you to reflect on being a failed musician and feel bitter? When you work hard for something and achieve it, do you feel satisfied, accomplished, or are you already on to the next task, the next goal to accomplish? We often discuss these patterns as extrovert/introvert and type A/B people, but they may also be viewed as Fated Patterns.
When exalted, this House becomes difficult to interpret and often puts it into a “spiritual” dimension. It means that a person’s life revolves around a deeply personal sense of pleasure; they literally can’t avoid it. It is easy to assume that these people are party animals, but when this House is exalted, we cannot say anything about how it is supposed to manifest. A person may be completely boring by our standards, but inside this may be the perfect manifestation of their enjoyment. They may receive infinite pleasure from the fit of a good pair of shoes and not think highly of the experience. They may appear miserable from our perspective, but they may deeply love their struggle and turn it into amazing art. Who are we to judge?
If this House is unafflicted, then a person can “trust” their sense of pleasure; it may even become a mandate. They can go to the party, the festival, do the drugs, buy the toys, and follow this to their heart’s content. Doing so will catalyze their Fate and propel them in life. If strongly Fated, they may not be able to stop themselves. These people need to know that this is okay, even if society calls them irresponsible. Often, these people turn their passion, interests, hobbies, etc., into their career. Their interests are so strong that they can’t live life any other way. So, these people become artists, musicians, humanitarians, and dharma bums.
If the House is afflicted, then a person cannot trust their pleasure principal. Ghosts here imply that we inherit patterns of dissatisfaction, even addiction, and these can manifest as a wide range of harmful behaviors. This House can go very dark, but we must never jump to conclusions. My Mother had a very afflicted 11th House and died of addiction. Yet, I have seen others with the same arrangement with very different stories. However, the potential is always there, so we must read carefully. The darkest stories of addiction and abuse can certainly manifest here.
Ghosts in this House represent Ancestors who could have died having fun (overdose), died from abuse, or who never had a day of fun in their life. You may inherit a pattern of all work and no play and become very critical of pleasure. You may be Ebenezer Scrooge and think happy people are stupid. You may criticize people who go to clubs, but secretly yearn to be a maniac on the dance floor.
Some Characters, like Horses or Oxs, tend to turn everything into an assignment or job, so afflicted may turn out well or compound the already gloomy part of our Character. You may work at work, work at play, work in the gym, work on your spiritual path, and so on. You may be addicted to “busy,” which is an epidemic in our culture. You may be unable to rest and do nothing, repeating the life pattern of your great grandfather who worked in a factory and never got a day off. You may only have fun at school or at the gym, addicted to self-improvement.
Conversely, your grandparents may have worked every day of their life, and now you are free to have a life of leisure. You inherit money, privilege, and opportunities and do not give a fig about bettering yourself. You may feel guilty because of the advantages you’ve receive, but if it is Fated, then you should not. You have an Ancestral Mandate to enjoy your life. The difficult comes when this turns to entitlement. Inherent in this Fate is gratitude and generosity. Let your heart overflow with gratitude and give back. Positive can also flow into positive. Your grandmother may be jolly, and so you are too.
You may have had a great aunt who was poor. One day, she gets invited to a rich friend’s house and tries Belgian Chocolate for the first time. She leaves and never gets to taste it again. Now, three generations later, you can’t stop eating sugar. Or, perhaps like me, you had a relative who had a heart attack on the dance floor and now literally feel like dancing is life threatening (don’t worry, I’ve worked through this sort of).
Patterns here can create creativity and spontaneity or routines and ruts. You may find yourself on wild adventures, meeting and connecting with amazing people. Or, you may do the same thing day in, day out, and hang out at the same bar with the same friends. You may be bursting with possibilities or have no idea what to do with yourself. But, this can be made positive. If you tend to get stuck in a rut, then it means that you can enjoy discipline, which for some Characters is a nightmare. But for others it can help them excel at activities that require rigorous practice.
Fate here may create deep affinities for art, music, sex, literature, history, performance, movies, and so on. You may have Fate to become a master calligrapher or ballerina. You may become the world’s leading expert in ants. You may spend your life pursuing an unfulfilling career, while in your private life you’re obsessed with playing chess. You may retire or quit your day job and travel the world playing chess and become a grandmaster.
Yang Stars here tend to manifest as more ordinary, socially acceptable pleasures. Yang Stars make people active pleasure followers. They may love socializing, parties, sports, travel, competition, and so on. Yang Stars may find it easy to accept trendy or popular enjoyments. Yang Fate makes for “divas,” those who demand entertainment; if it isn’t fun, it isn’t worth doing. Yang stars are more “hedonic” and likely to revel in food, sex, and song.
Yin Stars tend to manifest as a wide rainbow of “other possibilities.” Yin Stars may create a deep affinity for the occult, for astrology, tarot, ancient wisdom, and the like. Yin Stars are much more fluid in their expression—they compel people towards deep, hidden dimensions, which express as an intuitive sense of enjoyment.
These people may be shy, weary of enjoyment, because it may be weird, strange, taboo. They may appear normal but have a pleasure dungeon in their basement, or on weekends dress up as a Klingon and attend sci-fi conventions. Yang Fate can express this way too but would do so for the socializing and dressing up, while Yin Fate may feel a deep connection to the principals of Star Trek, which they can recite in Klingon.
Yin Pleasure Fate here tends to find people, while people with Yang Fate tends to pursue it. If you have major Fate here, then the rest of your life may manifest through this House. You may meet your Partner at a sci-fi convention and start a business teaching Klingon to fellow Trekies.
Empty Court (空宮)
The Characters, 空, kōng gōng, literally mean empty court, and it refers to a House that contains no ruling Stars. The message of an Empty Court is simple—no Fate. It means that freedom and choice are the main situation and so become very important. You must choose and create your Fate here if you want it. And, there may be few options or choices. It implies that you completed this karma in a past life, or that your Ancestors have freed you of it.
Some people have a few Empty Courts (I have 4), and some people may have none. There is a tradition of “borrowing stars” from the opposite House, which are like a “Fate echo” and can tell a story of an Empty House. But I find that freedom is a much more important message. In a way, choice can activate the borrowed stars, making them come alive; they represent potential, but are otherwise not important.
Body Palace (身宮)
The Character 身, shēn, means body, so we translate the secret 13th house as the Body Palace. Due to certain Polestar calculations, one of the Twelve Houses becomes a secret 13th House that we call the Body Palace. It can be any one of the 12 Houses. Mine is the Wealth Palace. Which ever House it is, that House becomes connected to and expressed in some way through your body. This is open to interpretation. It may indicate a path of career, health/wellness, or situations surrounding your embodiment, such as being a doctor or athlete, or it may relate to an illness or recovery. I have seen many health care practitioners with this in the Wealth or one of the Career Palaces.
The Three Motives of the Mantic Arts—an introduction to the practice and system of Zĭ Wēi Dŏu Shù 紫微斗數 (Polestar Astrology)
This will be the first blog in a series exploring the system of Fate Calculation in Chinese Polestar Astrology, a task I have been avoiding due to the sheer magnitude of information I have learned on the subject but have yet to organize. In my previous blogs, I spent a considerable amount of time introducing the basic teachings of Chinese Astrology—ancestors, yin-yang, the five phases of Qi, and the 12 Qi Characters of Destiny/ “Animals,” making sure to cover each of the 12 Zodiac Animals in detail.
Polestar Astrology teaches that life is a dance, a reciprocity, 感應, between three factors—Character, Nature, and Fate. The purpose of the 12-part series on the Zodiac Animals was to introduce/explore the idea of Qi Character, or Xing 性, the notion that Time (Qi) itself is characterized and that we can use symbols to describe that Character, and therefore, ourselves, for we are living embodied expressions of Time. The purpose of this series is to introduce the idea of Ming, 命, or Fate. I will conclude with a series on Nature, 道德, which is perhaps the most important and yet most difficult to discuss.
Everything I have discussed thus far has been general Chinese Astrology, and it is now (finally!) time to delve into the ACTUAL system of Natal Astrology/Fate Calculation, which is what I do with clients. This system is widely unknown, for like Daoism, the authentic lineages of this tradition have been lost but continue to exist in fragmented/watered down forms. It has survived in China as a kind of folky “fortunetelling,” which it absolutely is NOT.
The true tradition of Chinese Mantic Arts is a complete spiritual path that synthesizes many Chinese traditions, which I have been trying to piece together for many years in the footsteps of Liu Ming, who received lineage transmission and texts on the subject through his Daoist teacher. The tradition includes Feng Shui and can also be called “Astro-Geomancy,” for the subjects are two sides of the same coin. Ming also taught Feng Shui at the Golden Gate Academy for many years, but I have yet to delve into the subject.
The information Liu Ming taught on Polestar Astrology cannot be found in any books. Some of it was oral transmission, some was translated from ancient texts, and a lot of it he figured out in the 800, or so, astrology readings he did over several decades. I have done about 170 since I started doing readings three years ago, so I’m catching up. My knowledge on the subject, however, is by no means complete. I do, however, feel somewhat capable of doing the subject justice, and I will flesh this out over the rest of my life.
There are no “how to” books on this subject, because there is an unspoken agreement that no one would ever write one, an agreement based on the assumption that the tradition would survive this “dark age.” Maybe they have survived in China; I wouldn’t really know, because I haven’t been there, but as far as I can tell this tradition may die out. Or, at the very least, it will fail to be transplanted here.
Across the world, “secret” (or better private) traditions are being published widely in the hope that they survive modernity. Yes, there are general books out there about Polestar Astrology, but they are, for the most part, useless in terms of interpretation. Kwok Man-Ho’s book, for example, is 700 pages and contains almost no information. It is for this reason that I write this series. In the United States, the only people I know who offer authentic Polestar Astrology readings are Ming’s students, who are few and far between. Ming himself had the intention of writing a book on the subject, but he never did, despite teaching many classes and producing copious notes, many of which I will draw from in the following blogs. It is possible for his students to “edit” his notes into a book, but I would rather just write the book, giving full credit to Ming as the source and inspiration.
Much of the “living transmission” on the subject I received from my teacher Dharma Bodhi, who studied with and lived next to Ming for many years. I have hunted down old students and put together many notes that may have otherwise been lost.
Zĭ Wēi Dŏu Shù, also called Polestar or Purple Star Astrology, teaches us how to understand, navigate, and ultimately unravel something the Chinese call 命 Ming, which we translate as Fate, the Mandate of Heaven, and sometimes Destiny (which is really a different idea altogether). The following series of blogs, then, will attempt to unravel this bewildering concept in terms of the 12-Houses and “Stars” of the Polestar System, which are poetical symbols describing the nature of Fate.
I will preface this by saying that I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT FATE IS. I have been wrestling with the concept for many years, and the more I understand it, the less I know. I will do my best to explore it in terms of my experience, but I do so from a place of humility and open ended curiosity. I have no answers, for there are no answers in Astrology—only more questions. Whatever Fate is, it is enormous, and like Karma (a similar idea from India), only a Buddha can understand it.
Zĭ Wēi Dŏu Shù 紫微斗數
So, what is Zĭ Wēi Dŏu Shù? In short—divination. But otherwise, it is not entirely clear, for its origins are shrouded in mystery. It appeared in China in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) and was further developed in the Song Dynasty (960-1280 CE) as a response to the influx of Indian Astrology brought by Buddhist monks. Prior to this period, China had no well-developed form of Natal Astrology, despite the many thousands of years of Astrological calculation that preceded Zĭ Wēi Dŏu Shù.
It never occurred to the Chinese that any individual was significant, not even the Emperor, so they never bothered with Natal Astrology. But, with the influx of Indian Medicine, Astrology, religion, and so on, it became popular to get Natal readings, because Indians brought to China the idea of a “self” with a story. So, the Chinese decided to create their own version of Natal Astrology that expressed Chinese values. The values of this system are a synthesis of Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, and I will draw upon all three for my understanding in an attempt to connect them to modern life.
The tradition has a largely Daoist pedigree, and the main teachers credited with its creation are Lu Chun Yang, 呂純陽, during the Tang Dynasty, Chen Xi Yi, 陳希夷, during the Song Dynasty, and Luo Hong Xian, 羅洪先, during the Ming Dynasty. There is also an oral tradition that attributes it to the Daoist Immortal Chen Tuan, 陳摶, who is the progenitor of Yun Gong, 雲功, or Dream (literally cloud) Yoga in the Liu Family Tradition, which will be the subject of another future blog series.
The system is named after Zĭ Wēi, the Polestar/NorthStar, the only star in the sky which does not move, which every culture on Earth has used since time immemorial to guide themselves home. It is the pivot of Chinese Astrological/Astronomical calculations. The Polestar changes every few thousand years due to the movement of the Earth, and in this age, the Polestar is Polaris, which the Ladle of the Big Dipper points to year-round.
The Chinese observed that everything in the heavens moves except for this one star, which was to them quite significant. The Chinese called it the Emperor, and Zĭ Wēi Dŏu Shù teaches that all Fate is recorded and distributed from this pivot (not literally of course).
The Daoist tradition of Polestar Astrology talks of Nine Heavenly Realms that we transverse on our way back to Source upon completion of our Human Fate, 大圓. The Polestar is a symbolic representation of the Yang Light emanating from the Ninth Heaven that facilitates the celestial currents of Ancestral Fate resolution throughout our world-system. These currents are sometimes called the Empyrean Matrix.
The term Zĭ Wēi literally refers to a kind of flower, which some believe to be the Purple Myrtle flower. Zi, 紫, means purple, and Wei, 微, in this case, means something delicate, fragile, subtle, and profound—a flower, a metaphor for Fate. Dŏu refers to the Big Dipper, and Shù here means calculation.
The system is also called Purple Star or Flying Star Astrology, and it is associated with a transmission from Shang Qing 上清 Daoism, associated with teachings that manifest from realms of Purple Light. The tradition was said to have been downloaded to Earth through trance mediums/shamans 巫 from beings called the Jade Ladies, 玉女, (there are also Golden Lads 金童) from the “Purple Library,” an Immortal Realm that serves as an intermediary between Heaven and Earth. All the teachings from this time are called the Purple Teachings. Earlier transmissions in China were called the Yellow Teachings, associated with the Yellow Emperor.
Jade Ladies are like Dākinīs in Tantra, or Angles in the West, enlightened feminine beings who hold and transmit Dharma teachings. Chogyam Trungpa called them inspiration beings and said that inspiration is the body of the Dākinī. When you feel alive, inspired, and wisdom/insight pours through you, the Jade Ladies are said to be giggling around you.
Jade Ladies are depicted as teenage girls made of purple light who appear in dreams/visions. Wherever they gather, amethyst crystal is said to form. 西王母 Xi Wang Mu, the Queen Mother of the West, the Daoist Female Immortal who presides over this tradition with Zhen Wu, 真武, is said to fly around the world touching those who will become Immortal. Jade Ladies gather around whomever she touches and transmit teachings from the Purple Library. There are many poems from the Shang Qing period that describe the Jade Ladies as muses, who come and go, often creating despair in their absence. Shang Qing Daoism is a highly detailed and complex spiritual path that views the Stars of the Polestar System as Deities. It is like Tantra, which developed around the same time, also from Deities through trance mediumship.
This series of blogs will systematically explore 36 “Stars” from the Polestar System. Polestar Astrology does not reference the Planets of our solar system like Western and Indian Astrology, but rather it refers to the nature of Stars in significant constellations like the Big Dipper. Some systems use up to 108 Stars, but we will focus on what are considered the most important 36, with an emphasis of the “Royal Court,” the Twelve Ruling Stars of Fate.
The Stars symbolically describe the Nature of Fate. Since the system was developed for and by/in the Chinese Imperial Court, each Star is a character in the Chinese Imperial Court, ruled by the Emperor and Empress. The Stars, and therefore Fate, fall into two categories Yang and Yin—the Northern and Southern Array, led by the Emperor and Empress respectively.
However, it is very important to understand that Chinese Astrology is NOT “Astronomical” but mathematical. Polestar Astrology has astronomy in its distant past, but a Polestar Chart does not depict the night sky. There is no illusion that this is an accurate depiction of where these constellations were at the time of your birth. The system is said to have been “revealed” by patterns observed in the sky, but these patterns are mathematical and said to be an “independent influence” that forms/shapes the causes and conditions of Fate. Polestar Charts are calculated by numerical equations/numerology, depicting sequences of Time beyond the physical reality of Stars in the sky. It is better referred to as Chronology rather than Astrology.
Many of these constellations/stars have today disappeared, which to the Chinese mind makes them more potent, for they have gone to the realm of the Ancestors. So, although some of the Stars do have the names of currently known astronomical bodies, what we call “Stars” in this system are better understood as poetical representations of Fate, mathematical patterns found in Nature, an endless spin of celestial Qi.
The Stars of the Celestial Court and their various arrangements when interpreted become a form of Divination or Mantic Art. But who and what is being divined? The standard Chinese answer is the dead – our Ancestors, our life before birth. The Stars form an image of the precedent/cause of our birth and can be interpreted as a both a symbolic and literal picture of our Ancestors, which I will explain in more detail as we go through each Star. In short, the dead run the living.
The Yang Stars represent Patriarchal Fate associated with “action/doing,” and the Yin Stars represent Matriarchal Fate associated with “receptivity/being.” In this tradition, we are intimately connected with the dead, and we must play out the patterns of unfinished business we inherit at birth before we can experience the Freedom of our Original Nature.
Ming might say that we are the warm wiggling end of thousands of dead people, responsible for at least seven generations of beings. When we get a human body, we inherit the unfinished business, gifts, talents, and so on, from all the bodies that preceded our body – it’s the tax we pay for birth. Fate is said to be a “Mandate” that comes from our Ancestors to complete what they could not. The Twelve Ruling Stars represent our accomplished Ancestors; the rest are what the Chinese refer to as Gui, 鬼, or Ghosts, “unfinished business,” which I will cover in detail.
The Buddhist interpretation suggests that the Stars represent our past life Karma, which is the cause of our re-birth, and that we are here to finish our own unfinished Karma from past lives. Both are possible interpretations.
Traditionally, you would receive a Qi Transmission of each Star in ceremony. You would hear a description and then be shown an image and receive a Mantra for each Star, which were often thought of as Deities. Since I never got to have that experience, I can’t comment on it, although I have gotten some of this through dreams.
Here is a list of the 36 Stars that represent every conceivable pattern of Fate that we will explore in the following blogs:
The Four Rulers
紫微 Zi Wei – The Emperor
天府 Tian Fu – The Empress
天相 Tian Xiang – The Tutor
天機 Tian Ji – The Oracle
The Four Honorables
太陽 Tai Yang – The Sun/Prince
武曲 Wu Qu – The General
太陰 Tai Yin – The Moon Lady/Princess
巨門 Ju Men – The Great Gate
The Four High Ranking
天同 Tian Tong – The Vassal
天梁 Tian Liang – The Roof Beam
文昌 Wen Chang – The Magistrate
文曲 Wen Qu – The Priest
The Four Major Ghosts
廉貞 Lian Zhen – The Concubine
七殺 Qi Sha – The Seven Killings/Executioner
貪狼 Tan Lang – The Greedy Wolf
破軍 Po Jun – The Rebel/Breaking Rank
The Four Minor Ghosts
火星 Huo Xing – The Fire Star
鈴星 Ling Xing – The Water/Ringing Star
擎羊/羊刃 Qing Yang/Yang Ren – the Goat Blade/Sacrifice Star
陀羅 Tuo Luo – The Humpback/Rejection Star
The Four Incidentals
右弼 You Bi – The Right Assistant
左輔 Zou Fu – The Left Assistant
祿存 Lu Cun – The Storehouse
天姚 Tian Yao – The Beauty Star
The Orphan Spirits
天魁 Tian Kui – The Leader
天喜 Tian Xi – The Happiness Star
天鉞 Tian Yue – The Halberd Star
地劫 Di Jie – The Loss Star
地空 Di Kong – The Void/Empty Earth Star
天刑 Tian Xing – The Punishment Star
天馬 Tian Ma – The Travel/Heavenly Horse Star
紅鸞 Hong Luan – The Red Bird
The Four Transformers
化祿 Hau Lu – The Salary/Prosperity Star
化權 Hua Quan – The Authority Star
化科 Hua Ke – The Examination Star
化忌 Hau Ji – The Jealousy/Scandal Star
Again, I will cover each of these stars in blogs to come.
The Three Motives of the Mantic Arts
This tradition is a “Mantic” Art, a form of “Divination.” Humans have always had a deep curiosity and/or a fundamental instinct for survival; we’ve been divining the ways of Heaven and Earth for as long as we’ve been around. Divination (related to Shamanism) is the “old religion” and, in a way, lies behind all the world’s religions, and, in the broadest sense, lies behind all human culture.
Divination is the curiosity about and attempt to shape the direction of Time and experience. You may have philosophies, teachings, stories, and so on, but as soon as you try to make these practical, apply them to experience, you are attempting to shape the future, you are Divining, and your teachings or “view” will determine the fruition of your methods.
The future is unformed, empty, but the “present moment” has momentum (called the past), expectations, and direction, which can be read and shaped. Every spiritual tradition is trying to do this in one way or another. Every culture has systems of divination, such as Tarot, Astrology, the Yi-Jing, Bird Song, Tortoise Shells, and on. This tradition takes this premise and turns it into a deliberate path called “Resolving Fate,” which is the purpose and fruition of Zĭ Wēi Dŏu Shù.
So, what is the view of the Mantic Arts? Traditionally there are three views or motivations for practicing divination—fear, advantage, and wisdom. Before we get started, it is important to examine which of these motivates you. These motives can apply to anything you do in life. It is important to be honest. This tradition emphasizes wisdom as the path, but we may unconsciously be operating from all three.
Simply put, humans are freaked out about the future and want to feel better; we want to feel in control. Divination is most often used to “predict” calamity and provide safety out of a fear of the unknown. This is fine. Used in this way, Divination provides knowledge of possible futures so that we can avoid “punishment” for our misdeeds, bad karma, ancestral ghosts, and so on. Divination from the motivation of Fear often seeks “answers” as to why life is so difficult—why does this keep happening to me? Fear is not bad, for it often gets us started on the path. However, it is limited, emotionally painful, and will only take us so far.
The second motive is advantage. We learn and practice Astrology to get one-up on the Universe. Although fear is often still the underlying motive, Astrology used for advantage is usually a lot more fun. We use Astrology to become better people, to learn more about our patterns so that we can do better in life. This kind of Astrology is often about timing, knowing when to advance and retreat. It can be used to predict the stock market, when to invest, when to start a business, when to get married, whom to marry, when to buy a house, when to have children, and so on. This motive is also fine, but it often stays superficial, and we end up creating more and more Fate in the process of trying to control our Fate, rather than being free of it altogether. The clear majority of Astrology I see out there is done with this motive. It often looks spiritual, but beneath the surface, many use Astrology as a tool to gain advantage over a scary world. I have tried to use Astrology for personal advantage, but I’m not very good at it, lol.
Wisdom – Cultivating the Way
The situation we find ourselves in is a cosmic soup in which all Time and Space are an Irresolvable Chaos, called Huntun 餛飩. When we look closely at our situation, we find no particular time, place, or self but the patterned appearance of these factors bewilders us for lifetimes. Reality appears to be ordered/patterned, but analysis brings no certainty, and the illusion of knowledge is big trouble.
Analysis brings with it an irresolvable confusion that humans have debated about since time immemorial, called Religion/Science. Modern Science/Scientism tells us that we are close to figuring it all out, but I’m not too sure. When we look closely, chaos appears to be the source of all things, and this is the Paradox that lies at the heart of our experience—qi strands of Time and Space weave together to form an unreadable astro-geomantic pattern the Chinese call Dao.
What is the unknowable Dao doing? Constantly displaying itself as dualistic, ephemeral, impermanent, dream like phenomena called a self/world. What appears to be knowable and that which is unknowable are in fact not different, for the dual world is a continuous expression of the non-dual. The microcosm of our personal Fate mirrors the macrocosm of the nameless Dao. Through relaxed observation this becomes apparent.
The spiritual path of the Mantic Arts, and the true purpose of this tradition, comes through embracing the irresolvable. Relaxing our need to know/understand becomes the direct path to wisdom. The dual-world we are divining, called an Astrology Chart, which appears to be comprehensible, reveals Pattern within Chaos and Pattern as Chaos. Astrology becomes a mirror that reflects our Original Nature which is beyond concepts (the meaning of Chaos).
Our practice is to investigate the weave or matrix of patterns that make up our experience through the symbols of the Polestar System. Without any compulsion to predict, fix, or improve, any particular part, our false notions of an abiding self and world unravel. Chaos is never vanquished; Samsara is never fixed/improved. It is reveal as Dao.
The Mantic Arts are a non-dual revelation of things as they are. Life is revealed as an ever-flowing phantasm of light that cannot be named/known, and we agree to be swept up in whatever has been “pre-ordained” by our Ancestors. Polestar Astrology simple points the way.
The fruition of this tradition, then, is called 大圓 Da Yuan, the Great Completion, similar to what Tibetans call Dzogchen, the Great Perfection. Ming named his school after this teaching. The Resolution of Fate comes through the realization of the perfect completion of things as they already are. Everything that has ever happened/will ever happen is a perfect demonstration of your Original Nature, no matter how you feel about it. You have always been light having an experience of light. Like Ming’s teacher, those who realize the Great Completion do not leave behind a corpse but rather demonstrate their completion in a Body of Light. When we discuss the teachings on Inner Nature, we will examine our experience as a rainbow of five colored lights.
Fate, Freedom, and Reciprocity
Unlike the West, China has never argued about fatalism and free will. It has long been understood that one cannot exist without the other; they alternate, blend, and define each other. Freedom, or open space, is the main experience we are in. Therefore, our Astrology Chart is defined by our choices, by how we use our Freedom in response to our Fate, and as I covered in the 12-Animal series, how we use our Freedom to cultivate our Character.
There is no auspicious chart. The auspice of any chart is made by what the Chinese call Ganying, 感應, or reciprocity—the relationship between Character, Freedom, and Fate is a reciprocity determined by choice. We find our life in the play/dance of these factors, and Astrology is found in the dialogue between them.
The next blog of the Fate series will cover the 12 Houses of a Natal Chart. Given my life/schedule, it will be a slow journey, but I look forward to it nonetheless. Stay tuned!
Tiger's Play--the View Teachings of Chinese Astrology
This page is your source for short, pithy articles on the view teachings of Chinese Astrology. Here, I will share everything I have learned about how to follow Astrology as a spiritual path.