Discover the Secrets of the Four Pillars of Destiny 

Study Chinese Astrology with Richard Ashworth in 2024, the Year of the Water Tiger.

See Richard’s Feng Shui Courses.

 “I never fail to be astonished by Richard’s relentless and dedicated quest to unravel the secrets of the ba zi. His researches have taken him to many parts of the globe to learn from traditional masters and in turn to share his discoveries with them. Few, if any, western teachers would surpass his knowledge of this particular field of Chinese traditional culture.”

Derek Walters, Author of the Complete Guide to Chinese Astrology

The Ba Zi, Mapping Our Destiny.

Human beings are decision-making creatures; studies suggest we make tens of thousands of choices in a single day. Some decisions are trivial, some life-changing, some with repercussions that may not be clear for many years. A “mistake” may turn the tide of a life without us being aware of it, sometimes leading to stuckness, heartbreak and even ill health.

The ba zi which is a snapshot of the prevailing Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water) at our moment of birth, is a way through. It will tend not only to identify a person’s strengths, weaknesses, preferences and likely pitfalls – emotional, physical, spiritual and other- but also such moments. This puts us in a position to make more informed choices and prescriptions.

The wu xing or Five Elements are of course cyclical which means we can run them forward or backward to indicate both likely pasts and likely futures, allowing us to address issues by any of a variety of methods including feng shui, counselling, acupuncture and other transformational methods.

For at least two thousand years the ba zi has been the secret weapon of Chinese culture. Few babies were born without their four Pillars being drawn up and few major military or political decisions were made without reference to the ba zi of the protagonists. This is as true today as it was a thousand years ago. Perhaps now is indeed the time to Discover the Secrets of the Four Pillars. 

Discover the Secrets of the Four Pillars of Destiny – the Course.

Ba zi is a life study and any starter course is only a beginning; it is on completion that the real work starts. By then the attentive student will be able to draft by hand a ba zi in Chinese characters (it’s not that hard, actually) read from the Chinese calendar and have all the tools necessary for interpretation.

The course consists of four modules. Each Module is available as five one-hour Zoom Sessions anywhere in the world. Timings can be tailored to your schedule.

No prior knowledge of ba zi, feng shui or Chinese culture is required. Equally this course takes note of different methods and approaches, many of which are likely to be fresh even to the sophisticated student. Essentially this is a course in divination. 

Module One: Available immediately as Five 1-Hour Zoom Sessions

Opening the Pillars: 

Preparation: each student will receive a reading list. None of the books recommended (other than the Chinese Calendar which we will supply) are mandatory but you will tend to find reading them as we go along helpful.

The course starts with a brief resume of several thousand years of Chinese History and Philosophy. We will consider the mo chi or beginning of time, the infinite and the defined, yin and yang; the eternal cycles of the Five Elements or wu xing and the observations and practices of early diviners. We will examine the origins and meanings of the Trigrams and Hexagrams of the Book of Changes and where they belong within ba zi study and within the concept of tian ti ren, the realms of Heaven, Earth and Humankind.

Then we’ll get practical. We’ll start to look at the gan zi cycle of Chinese Animals – the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, their origins in shamanic ritual and the measurement of time; what their names sound like in English, Mandarin and Cantonese and the actual Chinese characters, traditionally derived from constellations in the Heavens. We will bear in mind that what they mean to the individual student is at least as important as their traditional significance and we will discuss the beginnings and endings of things and process (as against outcome) as well as when years begin and end.

Finally we will begin gently to draft the ba zi from the Chinese Calendar. We will learn to interpret as we go along, emphasising empathy and awareness as well as careful drafting.

Coursework: becoming familiar with the Chinese characters and Calendar. 

Module Two: 

Entering the Imperial Palaces: 

Preparation: some attention to the reading list is recommended. Also consideration of which and whose ba zis – parent, child, partner, associate – you might like to start drafting and interpreting; you’ll need birth details, ideally including time and location.

We continue practising to draft. This will involve drawing up Palaces, Fate Pillars and the Life House that indicates your Life Purpose; then the Ten Gods (or sap sans) ming kuas and lap yums, traditional folk interpretations, and Hidden Stems, all of which allow us to fine tune our understanding of a ba zi.

Meanwhile we will discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of different ba zis and how to address their differing needs. A powerful person needs for instance to be presented with challenge and opportunity while a less empowered one may call for Elemental support; we will look at how to do that, ba zi by ba zi. We will also learn about Triggers – where a single moment can change everything – and balancing Elements, as well as the crucial concept of qing or “affection”.

Coursework: further drafting, adding in the sap sans, Palaces etc. Daring to interpret. Practise, practise, practise.

Module Three:

The only constant is change. 

Preparation: further drafting, greater familiarity with the Chinese Calendar.

Clash and Combination: The axiom goes that the only constant is change and the heart of understanding ba zi is knowing how the Animals relate to each other. When the Rat which is 100% Water meets the Ox for instance, both become Earth, similarly when Pig meets Pig (topical of course in 2019) what is known as a “self-clash” occurs. This can be quite dramatic.

This module outlines the Combinations, Clashes and Harms that govern the mutual influence of Stem on Stem and Branch on Branch. We also examine, Teams, Groups, Punishments and Penalties as well as informal conclusions drawn by a series of Chinese geniuses over millennia: families, teams, resonance. echoes, shadows, patterns. And we continue to interpret as we go along.

Coursework: Further drafting, adding interpretative detail. Memorising the Clashes & Combinations, the “times tables” of the ba zi. 

Module Four:

Taking ba zi into the World. 

Preparation: further drafting, incorporating Clash & Combination rules.

Special Stars: this module introduces the san sats or Special Stars, which draw on the conclusions drawn by Masters over 2000 years. Some like toe far (which indicates charisma) and yik ma (the Racehorse Star, which shows when to make a move) are simple calculations, some like tin duk, yute duk and yute yeung (which home in on moments of particular good fortune) are a little more complex. We will (finally) examine ba zi as healing tool, predictor of possible futures and as part of a feng shui survey as well as considering other schools of thought. Putting it all together.

Coursework: advanced drafting and interpretation incorporating all we have learned. Changing lives for the better. 

Further Study and ongoing support:

Richard offers literally unlimited email support though it may not always be immediate. Visits, workshops and Zoom sessions are charged at Richard’s hourly rate.


The Wind that Stops at the Water is Richard’s starter traditional feng shui course. Most students progress from Discover the Secrets to The Wind that Stops and we usually offer a reduced price for the second course. This year Richard will probably also host at least one Transformational Workshop Weekend and if there is sufficient interest, a short course on Date Selection.

Mentoring for advanced students: Richard’s Mentoring Programme is for selected advanced students who have completed his starter professional courses. As a Mentee Richard helps you develop your feng shui practice and/or supports your study. The programme is tailored to you and may cover the technical, practical, procedural and/or commercial aspects of making a career in the world of woo-woo.

Full Price: £2250
Book & Pay for Ba Zi & Feng Shui Courses together
Payment over time by arrangement

How to Pay:

Feng Shui & Ba Zi Courses

Please remember places are limited: so contact us first and once your place is confirmed, you can secure it by paying in full by bank credit or by PayPal above.

Course Payments are non-refundable.

Details: call Richard or Sheila on 01483 428998 or email:

29, Portsmouth Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 2JU | tel: 01483 428998 |

Corporate and Media Contact: Peter Dunne. Tel. 07768 617330

© Richard Ashworth 2024