I have noted 9 'mysteries' in the following steps - actions which seem they have no particular reason, but which may have an explanation in the future (there are probably more than 9 in fact).

All mysteries aside though, you will see that the following steps to reach both the Early Heaven and Later Heaven (King Wen) Sequence Elemental associations are much too far from coincidental to be ignored.

So we begin. If you want to follow this by drawing on paper, I would suggest having to hand the following:

  • Maybe a protractor, ruler, and something to draw circles with if your draughtsmanship isn't too hot.
  • The 'family tree' of how the 8 trigrams are created, beginning with Pure Yang, and finishing with Pure Yin.
  • The eight trigrams of the Early Heaven Sequence and their Yin and Yang expressions arranged in a circle around a Taiji symbol - i.e. Pure Yang at the top, Pure Yin at the bottom.
  • The 5 visible planets Elemental Associations and the Chinese 5 Elements 'Wu Xing' diagram.
  • The order of planets by distance from the Sun.
  • The 3x3 Magic Square or 'Lo Shu'.
  • The eight trigrams arranged in the Later Heaven Sequence.

For the curious (or those who can't be bothered to read through the following, the steps are basically as follows for both the Early Heaven and Later Heaven Sequences (the fact that one goes through the same steps for each sequence kind of hints that it is the right procedure ):

  1. Create a circle of 8 astral bodies based on the Early Heaven bagua.
  2. Separate the astral bodies from the trigrams.
  3. Throw out any unwanted astral bodies from the circle and fill in with default: Saturn.
  4. Rotate the planet circle according to Lo Shu calibration reference.
  5. Remove planets which are out of sequence with regards to distance from the Sun.
  6. Replace new empty spaces in the circle with next nearest planets to the Sun.
  7. Balance out the Elements of the circle.
  8. Lock the remaining Elements to the trigrams.

So here we go, there are 5 stages: 'Building an Astral Body Circle', 'Arriving at the Wu Xing Cycles', 'Wu Xing Calibration via Lo Shu', 'Arriving at the Early Heaven Sequence Planetary Associations', and 'Arriving at the Later Heaven Sequence'. Please post any questions you may have.

Building an Astral Body Circle

1. In ancient China astrologers worked with a circular diagram of the heavens divided in to 9 sectors (8 directions and 1 central region) in the following way:

"The sky was also divided into Nine Fields, which involved the circumpolar region and eight other divisions. The eight other divisions can be related to eight hexagrams [trigrams?] which appear in the Yi Jing (The Book of Changes)"

2. The 8 visible astral bodies - the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, can be plotted by placing the Taiji in the central circumpolar region, and planets assigned to the various expressions of Yin and Yang that are embodied by the 8 trigrams. The Sun goes to Pure Yang, the Earth goes to Pure Yin, and then the two bright bodies are plotted: Venus goes to Bright Yang, and The Moon goes to Little Yang. After this, the gaps can be 'filled in' by moving around the diagram anti-clockwise and filling in the planets by increasing distance from the Sun until one places Saturn at Little Yin. Once the astral bodies have been plotted in a circle, any associations with the trigrams are dropped, and only the Yin/Yang division between the sectors is recognised (Mystery 1).

" we can say that the oldest Chinese word [for Mars] means "confused fire."

"The star which is due east is the granary. Jupiter rules it and it belongs to Lu and Wei. There is not any great difficulty in deciding on the reason of this distribution of the planets. Venus is assigned to the most westerly kingdom Ts'in, Jupiter to the east, Mercury to the north, Mars was probably worshipped with special honour in the ^jjtQ country, the southernmost part of the province of Chihli."

Arriving at the Wu Xing Cycles

3. Bring the focus to the planets only. The planets were apparently referred to by their Elemental names (the basic Element which they seemed to represent), but for now we will still refer to them by their planetary names. In order to have a planet-only focus, we must remove the Sun, Moon, and Earth from the diagram. We can fill in the spaces with Saturn - the Earth element - as this is deemed in Chinese lore to be the 'default' Element - the root of everything, and thus a balanced diagram is created.

4. Analyse the relationships between the Elemental associations of the planets, and you will discover the 5 Elements 'Wu Xing' cycles of creation and destruction that will be reinforced when you discover the Later Heaven Sequence ..um... later . Already the situation seems rather profound. Earth is an anomaly between Water and Wood in this Wu Xing arragnement (Mystery 2). However, the water must go through Earth to some degree in order to reach Wood, so this is acceptable. Maybe it was dropped when the cycle was used alone from astrology, in order to balance out the elements properly.

"The ancient Chinese astronomers called the five major planets by the names of the element they were associated with: Venus corresponds to Metal (gold); Jupiter to Wood; Mercury to Water; Mars to Fire; Saturn to Earth. It is said that the position of these planets, along with the positions of the Sun, Moon, any comets in the sky as well as time of birth and Zodiac Sign can determine a person's destiny according to Chinese horoscope."

Wu Xing Calibration via Lo Shu

5. The 8 directions/sectors and 1 central region diagram can be calibrated with the Lo Shu (3x3 Magic Square )(Mystery 3), which is a grid with a central square around which are located 8 other squares. The number 5 is at the centre of the grid, and other numbers are arranged around it. The version favoured for the I-Ching was with the number 9 in the top middle position and 7 to the middle-right.

6. Each of the 8 sectors used for mapping the planets can be given a number based on how the trigrams are arranged around the Taiji symbol. Beginning at the top with Pure Yang as 1, the numbers are allocated in an anti-clockwise fashion until one reaches Little Yang. At this point, one uses the Taiji symbol as a stepping stone (we will call this the 'Yin/Yang Passage') up to Little Yin, but not without attributing the number 5 to the central Taiji, and continuing on to give Little Yin the number 6. In this way, the diagram begins to resemble the Lo Shu somewhat by placing 8 digits circling the number 5. One finishes by allocating the number 9 to Pure Yin.

7. Comparing the two number grids now; the Taiji number grid, and the Lo Shu, one can see a striking similarity between them. The Lo Shu contains a mirror-image of the Taiji grid numbers involved in the Yin/Yang passage - consecutively from 3 to 7, and involving the number 5 in the middle. This illustrates the axis, or division, between the Yin and Yang sides of each diagram respectively. It may immediately spring to mind that either of the diagrams can be rotated in order to line up the Yin/Yang axes, and this is exactly what we will do next, and using the Wu Xing planet circle we constructed before.

8. Rotate the Planet circle by 135 degrees clockwise in order to match up the Yin/Yang axes indicated by the numbers on the Taiji and Lo Sho diagrams (Mystery 4). You should now have Mars/Fire to the West, and Mercury/Water to the East.

Arriving at the Early Heaven Sequence Planetary Associations

9. While keeping the planets where they are in the 8 sectors, introduce the Sun, Earth, and Moon again by placing them outside of the diagram (Mystery 5)- the Sun along the line in between mercury and Saturn (where it was originally at the beginning), and the Earth/Moon opposite in between Mars and Venus (where they were originally).

10. Remove any of the planets that are out of sequence in order of distance from the Sun - this means removing Saturn from between Mars and Venus, and filling the space with the next nearest planet to the Sun; Venus.

11. Reintroduce the default Taiji trigrams to the sectors of the diagram, including the central Taiji and the default Yin/Yang passage line (Mystery 6). Use the Yin/Yang axis to balance out the diagram. Since there is an imbalance between Jupiter and Venus, we can 'carry over' Jupiter to the Little Yin position via the Yin/Yang Passage, and this balances out the diagram nicely.

"Jupiter is a little strange. It's a little hard to understand,.. Tai Shuei (sp?) is a name for Jupiter. And then they have two Jupiters. They were sort of like modern cosmologists, because they had one Jupiter that they called Tai Shuei (sp?), which is like the twin, the dark body twin of it. They figured it in their computations about where Jupiter was, but you'd never see it."

12. Lock the trigrams to their planetary associations (Mystery 7) and you now have the Early Heaven Sequence Elements in front of you.

Arriving at the Later Heaven Sequence

13. In order to arrive at the Later Heaven sequence we simply repeat the same steps; 8 through to 11, namely:

  • rotating (this time by 135 degrees anticlockwise to counteract the clockwise motion for the Early Heaven sequence(Mystery 8))
  • removing planets which are out of sequence with regards to distance from the Sun (when the Sun is inserted in it's correct place between Mercury and Saturn)
  • replacing empty spaces with next nearest planets to the Sun
  • balancing out using the default Taiji Yin/Yang Passage imposed on top of the rotated planet circle (while maintaining the same Elemental quantities as in the Early Heaven Sequence)

Finally, there is one additional step to fully complete the Later Heaven sequence, even though most of the work is already done by now:

* Allocate the trigrams from the Early Heaven Sequence. When there is a choice of 2 possible, try and keep Earth trigrams the same as when the Early and Later Heaven sequences are calibrated using the Fire-Water Axis (Mystery 9), but change all others.

14. You now have the Later Heaven Sequence in front of you.

PS: Diagrams can be provided upon request, but please give me a little time to finish them off .