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Astrological Acupuncture:
Finding the Life Point
by Therese Walsh PhD, LAc


Constitutional Therapy consists of two broad aspects of consideration: Morphology and Astrology. Morphological assessment includes Facial Diagnosis, Body-Shape typing, and Body Characteristic Mapping, which are all ways of interpreting genetically inherited patterns. The inherited traits from the mother and father are present in the genealogical transmission of DNA. This aspect of the human being is the aspect that carries past information forward.

Fu Chi, the half-serpent, half-human God of Taoist philosophy known for the Ba-Gua and I Ching trigrams) reminds us to be sensitive to our environment, to pay attention, to change when change is needed, by harmonizing with the cyclical changes of nature. Astrological interpretation looks at the harmony of space and time, the incarnating activation of the Hun and Po with the first inspiration (breath), how smooth the incarnation process is and how harmoniously one adapts to the external environment. The rotation of the earth as reflected in the cyclical seasons), and the stars and planets influence us at the moment we enter the world - our first astrological imprint. The imprint of the cosmic universe on the individual at conception, birth, and the continual influence of this initial cosmic stamp determine our astrological influencers. The shen/spirit is the timeless, location-liberated consciousness that participates in the Past (ancestral information), the Present (time and space orientation to the environment of earth in the cosmos), the Future (via the eternal, infinite unchanging essence of the universal spirit) and time-transcended perimeters.

Taoist Astrological Acupuncture, also known as Ling Gui Ba Fa (Mystical Tortoise), is based on the Chinese numerological system called the nine star-key system, which integrates the I Ching divination method and the Nine Palaces (Ju Gong) Geomancy method. According to the Taoist tradition, one must be in harmony with nature to be healthy and to find the dynamic harmony within oneself. Finding the way (Tao) to achieve this is the purpose of this exploration.

Chapter 1 of the Su Wen (The Yellow Emperor’s Canon Internal Medicine) states: “A wise and good man could master and apply the way of preserving health in accordance with the variations of heaven and earth, such as with the different location of the sun, the waxing and waning of the moon, the distribution of the stars, the mutual contradiction of Yin and Yang and the alternation of the four seasons. They mastered and practiced the ways of preserving health, so they could also prolong their lives to the maximum limit.” (p. 12)

Chapter 26 of the Su Wen (The Yellow Emperor’s Canon Internal Medicine) proposed that the first idea of practicing was not to treat something, but to come into tune with the outside world and respond to the invitation to look inside your self. With Astrological Acupuncture, one can engage the patient who is out of sync with nature and cannot come into tune through realization alone.

Yi is the Chinese word for the change, which is intrinsic in all things. Bian is the Chinese word for the incremental changes, willful changes that we make to attune to nature. People who have the hardest time changing or getting well have more trouble in self-differentiation, which happens at the level of yuan qi, the constitution. Self-differentiation is based on being open to what is really there in the world.

The wei level reflects the instinctual, reflexive behaviors that protect and achieve self- survival. The ying level reflects the choices we make in terms of relationships, activities and emotions that promote or sabotage the interaction we have with our self and others. The yuan level reflects the degree to which we are limited or open to the world, which defines our level of self-differentiation. How we limit the world, or open to new visions, determine what we can experience. Closing the sensory orifices sets us up to be blind to the endless possibilities the world offers because we have decided, either consciously or unconsciously, to not see the possibilities. Treatment requires the “re-organ-I-zation” of the sensory organs.

Uses for Astrological Acupuncture

Astrological Acupuncture can be used to access the constitution in order to return the “outer” self to the path of the true “inner” self, reflected in the vernacular “finding oneself.

* It can be used to discover the life curriculum held within the Heart (space), and encourage it to unfold naturally through time.

* Astrological acupuncture can be used for people who have lost a sense of purpose in their life, feel stuck in space and time or unable to commit to a decision regarding the direction to take in life. It can be used to harmonize during times of change - change of job, change of diet or lifestyle patterns, change of location such as moving, changes in significant or dominant relationships or the calling to a spiritual path. Astrological acupuncture can be used for seasonal epidemics and people subject to influences of climatic turbulence (the six climatic influences).
* It is used for loss of self-esteem regardless of cause, as it returns the person to their true self.
* It is used for bringing someone into balance with the day, with the forces of the cosmos, with the Sun, Moon, Stars and Heavenly factors.
* And lastly, it is helpful for the transition of death and the dying process.

The importance of knowing the external influences including the third factor (the stars, heavenly factors, i.e. the moon on the tides) are the heavenly influences that impact the earth, (itself a heavenly body). Our physical body is a reflection of the earth Body. Seasonal imbalances affect Earth and our own bodies; for example, water overbearing on Wood may look like floods drowning out new growth in Spring. People are affected by seasonal characteristics. If winter bleeds over into Spring, water advances too much on Wood, which may cause people’s Livers to become sluggish that particular season. If water goes over into Wood, there would be too much cold in the Spring. Stems are the Yin and Yang of the Five Elements (5E), the Yin possibility: retreating backward and the Yang possibility: advancing forward.

How to Calculate and Choose the Taoist Astrological Life Point:

Yuan Qi1 or The Life Point

The life point looks at what is given. The year of birth determines the pre-given potentials. The month of birth reflects early childhood, the socialization of the self, and the indoctrination into the world, the domestication of a child to its culture and to its family beliefs.
1. Calculate the birth year number. Look up the birthday in a lunar year almanac or Chinese astrology reference book to find the elemental year and the yin/yang aspect of the year. For example:  Female, 8/27/1959, yin/negative Earth year. This person needs to be careful in a Wood year so wood does not come in too strongly on the Earth YIN Element during this time. Earth YIN can be tonified and Wood YANG drained.

Add the 4 digits of the Year. Example: 1959=24: 2+4=6

For women, add 4. For men, subtract 11.  Example: 6+4=10, 1+0=1

Find the element that corresponds to the number using the magic square on the life point chart. Example: 1= Water Element
Special note:(5 is Earth, 8 can be water or Earth as it is a changing point, 2 can be Fire or Earth as it is also a Changing point.
2. Find the Month Number on the Year-to-Month Table.  Example: Aug-Sept is where August 27 falls. The number is 2 under the first column (relating the year number: 1)

Use the year number to find the month number. In the example above, the year number is 1, so finding the month number is going to be in the first column (see 1.4.7). Then the month is August, so the row is the seventh row, and the number in the first column, seventh row is 2. 2 = Earth or Fire. So there are 2 points that will be candidates for the life point. The earth point on the Water channel or the fire point on the water channel.

3. Is the Water Channel a yin channel or a yang channel?

Look at Table the second part of Table 1.

Table 1.  Determine Life Point

Decide if the Channel should be a Yin or Yang Channel. Match the Element with the year number. Refer to the Yin or Yang Number Table 1 Example: find 1 matches with Water and relates to the Yang Channel. The Water Yang Channel is Urinary Bladder.
Determine the Life Point. The year determines the Meridian (which represents the potential and is reflected in the 8 Extra Vessels-8XV). The month determines the element point on that meridian, which represents early childhood. This point is relevant to use during any treatment for the entire span of the patient’s life.

To find the Life Point, the primary element must be determined first. The number of the month correlates to an element. (The year number-element and the Month number-element could have conflict via the control cycle.) Refer to the Five Element Antique Points Table to choose the point with yin meridians beginning with the wood point and the yang organ meridians beginning with the metal-yin point.

Example: Month (2) is an Earth or Fire number/Point on the Urinary Bladder (1) channel.  Refer to Yin and Yang Organs Table 1, Appendix C:  Fire Point on BL: BL 60 or Earth Point on BL: BL 40. Palpation may be used to determine the better point. Either point can be used as the life point in this example, and in some cases, both life points can be used.

Table 2.  5 Element Antique Points

Does this Life Point itself have any inherent conflict?

Look at the “Socialization Lessons” (represented by the month) and the “Given” (represented by the year). Do these elements need to be harmonized? Ping is the Chinese word for harmonization – in this part of the treatment the practitioner is looking at where the patient is now (the given) and comparing that to where the patient wants to go (destination). (From Year – 1-Water to Month-- 2 - Earth –Insulting cycle, or to Fire (alternate option in this example), controlling cycle) Metal Point on the Wood meridian = GB 44- the master point or Horary point can be used as well – GB 41. To harmonize a “given”, choose what lies between these 2 elements. Water Element. Master point (Water) on the Water Channel. KD 10, UB 66. (Choose one) In the ongoing example: The harmonizing element is wood in the normal course of flow; choose the wood point on the wood channel: GB 41 or LV 1. (See Yin and Yang Organs Table 1, Appendix D) Palpate points to determine the point selection.


Appendix C:    Stems and Branches and the Elemental associations

12 Branches during the times of the day and finding the opening point for the Day of Treatment:

Branch 1: 11pm- 1 am                                            GB  Water                                         Moon/midnight

Branch 2: 1-3 am                                                    LV   Earth

Branch 3: 3-5 am                                                    LU   Wood

Branch 4: 5-7 am                                                    LI    Wood

Branch 5: 7-9 am                                                    ST  Earth

Branch 6: 9-11 am                                                  SP  Fire

Branch 7: 11-1 pm                                                  HT  Fire                                               Sun/noon

Branch 8: 1-3 pm                                                    SI Earth

Branch 9: 3-5 pm                                                   UB Metal

Branch 10: 5-7 pm                                                 KD  Metal

Branch 11: 7-9pm                                                  PC   Earth

Branch 12: 9-11 pm                                               TH  Water

(Branch 1: 11-1 am                                                GB  Water                                         Moon/Midnight)

Earth Branches:
B2, B5, B8, B11 (multiples of 3) Each element has to go through Earth to transform to the next element. Time is evolving around Space.

Review of 10 stems (Chapter 66):

Stem 1: GB                                         Earth      Ja –the bud about to break out of the protective husk

Stem 2: LV                                          Metal      Yi-Sprout leaving its bud

Stem 3: SI                                         Water      Ping – the domestication of Fire

Stem 4: HT                                        Wood      Ting – Sting of a bee: epidemics, worms

Stem 5: ST                                         Fire          Wu- farming to reap

Stem 6: SP                                          Earth      Chi – full bloom

Stem 7: LI                                           Metal      Kang – Two hands harvesting

Stem 8: LU                                        Water       Hun – bitterness preparing to descend

Stem 9: BL                                         Wood      Ren – preparing for hibernation/fertility

Stem 10: KD                                         Fire      Gui – wreath of sacrifice
Earth allows Heaven to act upon it and how Earth acts giving birth to Time.
The interaction of 10 Stems (celestial impact on Earth) and 12 Branches (Sun and Moon impact on earth): gives 60 possibilities. See Chart of 60 Possibilities of Stem and Branch Interaction.



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About the Author

Therese Walsh Van Keuren is Licensed in Acupuncture and Herbology by the Medical Board of California and Certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists. She received her Ph. D. from the American University of Complementary Medicine in the department of Classical Chinese Medicine. Through this program Therese had the opportunity to study with Jeffery Yuen, 88th generation Taoist Priest, accupuncturist and herbalist. She continues to study and consult with him in her private practice. Therese teaches as a professor at Five Branches University in San Jose, CA.

For more information visit Therese's website, True Chi.





1 The Nei Jing: The Light on the Essence of Chinese Medicine, Volume II, Transcripts prepared by the New England School of Acupuncture, Edited by Stephen Howard, Lic. Ac. Pages 88-130, page 89. The Yuan qi is comprised of different elements; the year element combined with the month element.


Lectures of Jeffrey Yuen: 2-24-01, 2-25-01 on Taoist Astrological Acupuncture, transcribed by Kia Sinay LAc, Kathleen Port LAc, Therese Walsh-Van Keuren PhD LAc.

The Nei Jing: The Light on the Essence of Chinese Medicine, Volume II. Transcripts prepared by the New England School of Acupuncture, edited by Stephen Howard, Lic. Ac. P. 88-130.
The Yellow Emperor’s Canon Internal Medicine. Original Note: Bing Wang, Translation by Nelson Liansheng Wu and Andrew Qi Wu, China Science and Technology Press, 1997
White S. The New Astrology: A Unique Synthesis of the World's Two Great Astrological Systems: The Chinese and Western. by Suzanne White

Recommended Reading:

Optimum Time for Acupuncture: A Collection of Traditional Chinese Chronotherapeutics by Liu Bing Quan




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