In this article, we will ponder the conundrum of the Seasonal method to set up a Zi Wei Dou Shu chart. This had been debated since a long time ago but these days, it is extremely rare to see practitioners utilising this method of setting a chart. 24 Seasonal Markers (Jie Chi; 節氣) is a summation of the 2 solar terms per month (each month 30.44 days: refer to Solar calendar). Season derivation is used by many Chinese Metaphysics applications like Bazi, QMDJ,etc. Zi Wei Dou Shu uses the Lunar calendar as a convention. By and large, ZWDS practitioners do not utilise seasons but there are exceptions. On a philosophical basis, disciplines like Bazi is of 氣, whereas Zi Wei Dou Shu is that of 數 application.
There is this line in 紫微斗數全集 (ZWDS Complete Volumes) under 紫微斗數總訣, which states “不依五星要過節，只論年月日時生” and this can be interpreted that reliance is not used in the five stars and calculation of seasons to designate life palace but merely that of Year, Month, Day and Time. The five stars in questions are the five luminaries/planets of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn used in archaic astrology like Guo Lao Xing Zhong. The word 節 in the GLXZ tradition is been confused by many Chinese Metaphysicians on the very basis that it actually refers to Middle Solar Term (中氣) instead of Seasonal Markers. In GLXZ, the designation of Life Palace is based on degree of the Sun, and Sun conjunction in palaces based on usage of Middle Solar Term than say Seasonal Markers.
In the paradoxical world of Zi Wei Dou Shu, there are existing proponents of the usage of Seasonal Markers in setting of charts. 張耀文 (Zhang Yao Wen) made his appearance in the ’60s and set up his school of ZWDS known as Tou Pai/Ming Cheng Pai (透派/明澄派) and aside from its connections with Japanese ZWDS (refer also: 阿部泰山/Taizan Abe, 鲍黎明/Bao Li Ming) it uses Seasonal Markers (other characteristic of Tou Pai is for canonisation of ZWDS stars). In his book 紫微闡微錄, he mentioned that all setting up of life palace requires usage of seasonal marker, and when pass Li Chun utilise Yin month, otherwise count as Chou month of last year. Setting of Body Palace refer to first day of month, without using season marker. His interpretation of ancient text is as such “不依五星, 要過節” which translates to no reliance of five stars, but season is to be used.
Famed researcher/writer 紫微楊 (Zi Wei Yang) had recalled in the book “紫微新語” about the conundrum with an encounter he had with a cab driver who queried, “If I was born in the Eighth Month but passed the Han Lu (寒露) seasonal marker, should my birth month be Eighth Month or Ninth Month?” There are two school of thoughts. One reckoned that the seasonal marker should be done away and just consider the eighth month for calculation. The other reckoned that the birth month is still raised at eighth month, but the month stars are to be calculated at ninth month in consideration of season. This is tricky on the premise that the month stars consisted of Zuo Fu and You Bi. Second consideration is that these stars are subjected to transformation, albeit under Hua Ke. In the month stars series besides Zuo Fu and You Bi, there are Tian Xing, Tian Yao, Tian Ma, Jie Shen, Tian Wu, Tian Yue and Yin Sha nine stars, and aside from that, we use Zuo Fu and You Bi also to derive San Tai and Ba Zuo.
In Ziping Bazi, seasons play an important role, with reliance especially on the month setting. The Chi forms a basis of the “changes” within the chart, the foundation of the Shen Sha that are been used. Almost the entirety of Chinese cosmology revolves around Chi and its cycles. Yet ZWDS is divorced from this usage. The metamorphosis of Chi leads to creations of Shen Sha, Month series Stars and most importantly the Four Transformers. It is hard to imagine how it is possible to not associate the Four Transformers of Zi Wei Dou Shu from that of this Chi interplay. Another feature that is a stark embodiment of the Chi, lies in the very star Tian Ma. Tou sect ZWDS is not very popular these days, so there are not many people using season to derive charts, and until these methods are subjected to further empirical testings, we will stick to the effective Lunar method for now.