Tibetan Astrology

Tibetan Astrology is the calculation science of temporal cycles. With mutual influences by Chinese astrology and the Indian Kalachakra Tantra system this sacred art developed from the pre-Buddhist Bön tradition in the Himalayan plateau.

The knowledge of seasons and elements permits the practitioner to predict auspicious circumstances for medical diagnosis and therapeutic treatment, and for Buddhist rituals and practice. Worldly aspiration are likewise addressed in order to gain peace of mind and a successful life.

Astrology of the Kalachakra

Kar tsi, also know as Kalachakra astrology, and is based upon the stars, constellations, and planets. The chi dhue kyi khor lo, external Kalachakra, focuses on the creation of universe, it’s cosmology, the movements of the planets and stars. The internal Kalachakra (nang dhue kyi khor lo), provides an understanding on the three fundamental interdependent components of our body, channels, energy, and essential drops, and the effect that external forces such as planets and stars have on our body. It explains that energy channels are like our home, essential drops as our property and energy the owner. The secret Kalachakra astrology (sang wa dhue kyi khor lo) emphasizes the subject of meditation, spiritual exercices, initiations, power and visualization of one’s own personal deity.

The word Kalachakra means ‘Wheel of Time’, wich refers to the unique presentation of cycles of time within the Kalachakra Tantra. By understanding this vast subject one can used it for self-development, to lead a healthy life and can draw the life horoscope of self and others.

Astrology of the Elements

The Tibetan word jung tsi means ‘element astrology’, another name is nag tsi which means ‘black calculation’. This system deals mainly with the calculation of the Five Kham or Five External Elements, wood, fire, earth, metal and water. It relates them with the twelve zodiac signs, eight trigrams (parkha), nine magic square numbers (mewa). Defined by observation of cycles of cosmic energy in time, elemental astrology is used to construct the five major areas:

  1. Yearly divination (keg tai)
  2. Birth horoscope (tse rab le tsi)
  3. Marriage compatibility (bag tai)
  4. Medical astrology (ned tsi)
  5. Death prediction (gzhin tai)
The Twelve Zodiac Signs

The twelve animals are used to designate years, months, days, and hours. Each animal is associated with an element, which represents its life force.

Element / Animal / Gender / Category

  • Wood Tiger Male Powerful
  • Wood Hare Female Middle
  • Fire Horse Male Middle
  • Fire Snake Female Powerful
  • Metal Monkey Male Powerful
  • Metal Bird Female Middle
  • Water Pig Female Powerful
  • Water Rat Male Middle
  • Earth Cow Female Cardinal
  • Earth Dragon Male Cardinal
  • Earth Sheep Female Cardinal
  • Earth Dog Male Cardinal

* The male gender is associated with method and the characteristics of stability, little sensitivity, steady work. The female gender is connected to wisdom and sensitivity, creativity, quick adaption.

** Powerful animals are strong, ambitious, spirited. Middle animals are intellectual, bright, brilliant. Cardinal animals are sensitive, artistic, perceptive, unhurried.

The inherent polarity of an animal corresponds to its symbolism and also bears upon the composition of its psychological character. The Rat for example is a nocturnal animal and a symbol of prosperity, it is therefore female, as is the Hare, which is associated with the Moon. The Dragon, by contrast, the symbol of thunder, is male.

The animal associated with a year gives it its specific character and influences the life and the personality of those born under its aegis. Each year of the cycle is designated by one of the symbolic animals.

From the astronomical point of view, the twelve-year cycle is known as the Jupiter Cycle. The planet Jupiter takes approximately twelve years to complete one revolution through the zodiac. It traverses on average one sign each year, and this has suggested to some writers a relationship between the animals and the signs of the zodic. The cycle of twelve animals combined with the five elements gives the cycle of sixty years, or great cycle of Jupiter. Each elements is associated with two successive animals, the first male and the second female. The elements alternate in their order of generation: wood, fire, earth, metal, water. The connection between animals can be favorable or unfavourable. An understanding of their affinities is important when human relationships are under consideration for partnerships, mariages, friendships etc.

The Five Elements

The five Chinese elements are known in Tibetan as kham nga:

  • Wood (thing)
  • Fire (me)
  • Earth (sa)
  • Metal (cha)
  • Water (chu)

They are natural forces of transformation, in constant interaction with each other. The term ‘element’ is to be understood as dynamic principle, a principle of energy. Certain authors prefer to speak of ‘agents’ rather than the more confusing ‘elements’. Their names are symbolic; they allow a description by analogy, but have little to do with the objects of the same name. None of the elements is positive or negative in itself. However, in contact with each other they react according to their affinities. There are therefore favorable, neutral, and harmful relations. An element can also become dangerous when there is too much or too little of it. Each of the elements embraces a number of meanings and correspondences; each has inherent characteristics, activity, direction, season, planet, organ, etc. These allow the nature of each element to be defined, but it must not be forgotten that the elements never exist in isolation - they are dynamic and in constant interaction. The essence of the five elements is said to be unique because they are all a manifestation of pure cosmic energy.

Element / Symbol / Color / Direction / Season / Time / Quality / Activity / Organ / Planet / Parkha

  • Wood Tree Green East Spring Dawn Vitality Mobility Liver Jupiter Tsin & Zön
  • Fire Flames Red South Summer Midday Ardor Destruction Heart Sun & Mars Li
  • Earth Square Yellow Center Intersection Afternoon Fertility Solidification Spleen Saturn Khön
  • Metal Sword White West Autumn Evening Rigidity Cutting Lungs Venus Da
  • Water Waves Blue/Black North Winter Night Rest Impregnation Kidneys Mercury, Moon Kham
The Nine Mewa

Mewa means ‘mole’ or ‘birth mark’. The nine mewa stem from a system of numerology used for centuries by the Chinese. It indicates a karmic relation from life to life. There are nine mewa that are often arranged in a so-called magic square that equals 15, in whichever way they are totaled up.

Each of the nine mewa is associated with a color related to one of the five elements. The system of nine mewa is dynamic: each year, each month, and each day the mewa move. The nine magic mewa square numbers represent the nine categories of astrological spirits. Each number has an interpretation that includes karmic relations from past life to future lives. The square of mewa is also known in this tradition as ‘Magic Square of Saturn’.

These numbers cycle through the years, months and days and are the keys to past and future lives, experience in the bardo, certain personal characteristics, relationships with various earth spirits, health and life force, obstacles, favourable and unfavourable directions.

It is said that this magic square was engraved on the lower shell of the cosmic tortoise, from which (in legend) all Tibetan astrology springs. It has, aside from the numbers themselves, a distinct orientation is space, not to mention colors, elements and so on.

  • 4 Green Wood Southeast Lou
  • 9 Red Fire South Mamo
  • 2 Black Water Southwest Dü
  • 3 Blue Water East Senmo
  • 5 Yellow Earth Center Sadak
  • 7 Red Fire West Tsen
  • 8 White Metal Northeast Lha
  • 1 White Metal North Lha
  • 6 White Metal Northwest Gyalpo
The Eight Parkha

The eight parkhas or trigrams are related to the Chinese ba qua, connected to Y Ching, the ‘Book of Change’, one of the oldest and most important writings in the history of the Chinese language. These eight trigrams represent the interdependent relation of the two great opposites, yang and yin.

Yang (‘sunny side of the hill’) is the male, positive, and active force, while yin (‘shaded side of the hill’) is female, receptive, and passive. Their interrelationship creates the eight trigrams, any two of which can be used to form the six-lined hexagram, used in the Y Ching.

The active yang force is symbolized by an unbroken line, while the passive yin force is a two-section broken line. These are then placed, one above the other to form the eight possible combinations or three-lined trigrams. In Tibetan astrology, these eight trigrams are placed at the eight directions in space, with Li to the South, Khon to the Southwest, Dha to the West, Khen to the Northwest, Kham to the North, Kin to the Northeast, Zin to the East, and Zon to the Southeast. Different meanings are suggested on a commentary book on theY Ching by Wilhelm.

Trigram / Direction / Element / Meaning / Animal

  • Li South Fire Clinging Bird
  • Khan Southwest Earth The Receptive Cow
  • Dwa West Metal Joyous Sheep
  • Then Northwest Sky The Creative Horse
  • Khan North Water The Abysmal Pig
  • Kin Northeast Mountain Keeping Still Dog
  • Tsin East Wood Arousing Dragon
  • Zön Southeast Wind The Gentle Sheep

The entire universe in all its varied manifestations arises from the interplay of these two forces. One is never found without the other. Without space, movement is impossible, The continual process of the transformation of energy is symbolized by the eigt trigrams and sixty-four hexagrams. Yang is represented by an unbroken line, yin by a broken line. When three lines are combined, we have eight types of trigram, which symbolize the eight principal modes of combination of energy.