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Nine Star Ki
By Yogen Kushi, NON CREDO Kushi Macrobiotic Newsletter, 
July 2001

Reformatted and adapted by David Snieckus August 2007
With additional charts from Roel Hill:
Nine Star Ki is a way of looking closely at patterns of yin and yang energy in our environment over time and understanding how these energy movements affect each of us. Comparable to and compatible with Western Astrological systems using the Zodiac, and the Chinese Animal Horoscope system, Nine Star Ki is a tool to becoming aware of our energetic tendencies, understanding our patterns of behavior, and managing our future and destiny.

It is a description of how energy moves in the form of expanding (yin) or contracting (yang).

To understand this, we must first understand that the universe is infinite, and is infinitely moving and changing. The universe is a whole entity, and everyone and everything exists as a part of the whole. Everything changes constantly. As all things change, they move from one extreme to the opposite extreme, and then back again. Night changes into day and back to night, summer changes into winter and into summer again, hate changes into love, and physical changes into vibrational and returns to physical. Emperor Fu Hi named these two opposing states “yin” and “yang.” These two terms help us understand how two different things relate, change, and interact with each other. There are many different characteristics of yin and yang, but for our purposes it is enough to know yin energy is expansive and moving upwards, while yang energy is contractive and moving downwards.

Let’s take the example of TIME: The energy of the day is changing, minute to minute, hour to hour. When the sun rises, energy also begins to rise upwards, expanding (yin): people begin to move, flowers open, society becomes activated. As sunset and night approach, the levels of energy and activity settle down and gather (yang): people come home to their families, read or watch TV, and go to sleep. We can look at the seasons in the same way. In the spring, the weather gets warmer and plants begin to grow (yin energy). As winter comes along, the weather gets colder and plants begin to contract and stop growing (yang).
The ancient scholars observed that within this continuous cycle of yin and yang there were four distinct stages of energy to be found. When energy is at its lowest point, such as in winter, then it is dormant and unmoving. They used the idea of Water to symbolize this stage. The stage where energy begins to move again, rising upwards and becoming more yin was symbolized by Tree (or Wood). The state at the height of expansion was symbolized by Fire, which is the most active. Energy then begins to condense and gather, becoming more yang. This stage was symbolized by Metal. The energy then returns to the Water stage.
As they identified these four stages of energy, the ancient scholars of the Far East realized that there was one more, a transitional stage that occurred between all the others. The period between each season, where weather fluctuates erratically, is a good example. They used the symbol of Soil for this stage, and placed it in the center, as it is the stage that balances all the rest. Eventually it took its place between Fire (ashes are the result of fire) and Metal (which one could call an extremely condensed or pure form of soil).

These five stages of energy, known to us as the FIVE Transformations, are applicable in endless ways in understanding energy flow. From this theory comes the base of Asian Medicine practices, like acupuncture, and shiatsu, the environmental understanding of Feng Shui, our macrobiotic perspective on cooking, and the system of the Nine Star Ki.

In understanding the Five Transformations and how they relate to the Nine Star Ki, a device known as the “Magic Square” is used. This numerological chart has ancient roots and amazing features. The numbers from one to nine are organized in a square in such a way that the numbers in all horizontal, vertical and diagonal rows each add up to the 15. In this sense, The Magic Square is perfectly “balanced.” This chart is a simplification of a larger, 81 number square (each row, column, and diagonal adding up to 369), which formed the base for the calendars of many ancient civilizations, including that of the Japanese and the Mayans. The amazing accuracy of these ancient calendars reflects the outstanding cosmological awareness of these people.

In Nine Star Ki, the simple nine-square chart is used. Each of the five stages of energy are represented by the numbers: Water is represented by the number 1; Tree by 3 and 4; Fire by 9; Soil by 2, 5, and 8; and Metal by 6 and 7. These numbers and elements are charted on the square in a way that also indicates their respective energy characteristics. Number 9 Fire, the most active, resides at the top of the chart, South. Number 1 Water, the most inactive, resides at the bottom, North. Number 5 Soil, the most balanced, resides in the center, and so on. In this way we come to our Standard Chart, which has the same configuration as the Magic Square.
According to Nine Star Ki we have three Stars allocated to our date of birth. The first number is our Primary Number and represents our Primary Characteristics. The second number is our character number and describes our childhood behavior pattern—it is who we are until we have completed two-nine year cycles or until we reach age 18. It also shows how we respond to pressure. Many of us revert to our childhood nature under these situations. The Third number is our energetic number. It describes the “face” we show to others upon first meeting and it governs the impression we create.
The energy of our environment changes over time, every year, every month, and every day, in cycles of nine. So the New Year 1991 is characterized as a 9 Fire year because that was the dominating energy of that year. In the same way 1975 could be called a 7 Metal year. The dominating energy of the year you were born in is your PRIMARY NUMBER. So if you were born in 1975, then you are a 7 Metal personality. If you were born in the year 1991, then you are a 9 Fire personality.
Your Primary number reflects your constitutional or basic character and personality. This number is for general use in determining the primary character, overall life direction, and constitution of a person.
1) Take the last two digits of your year of birth, and add them  
  IF the sum is 10 or greater, then add these two new numbers
  together to come to a single digit.
2) Subtract this digit from ten. The difference is your Primary
Note: The Nine Star Ki year begins around February 4th or 5th, the point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. People born before this date have a Primary Number of the year before. 

Finding your THREE number Charts!
Your Primary Number indicates your energy type, such as 1 Water, 8 Soil, or 9 Fire. Each type has certain characteristics, identifiable in the person of that energy. A description of the numbers follows:

1 - Water: 
Associated with: Midnight, North, Winter, Kidneys/Bladder/Reproductive, Transparent/White
Character of House: Dormancy, Hibernation, Planning, Stillness, Contemplation, Study, Self-Reflection, Spirituality
The 1 water personality: Adaptable, flexible, easy-going, agreeable, mediator, facilitator, social relations, communications, creativity, gentle, reserved, strong, good listeners, good keeping secrets, insightful, sensitive, discreet, empathetic
Extremes: Noncommittal, indecisive, lacking clear opinion, and direction

2 - Soil:
Associated with: Early Afternoon, South West, Indian Summer, Spleen/Pancreas, Black
Character of House: Stagnation, Preparation, Listening, Conservative, Strengthening, Self-Development, Friendship
The 2 Soil Personality: Kind, secure, thoughtful, nurturing, sincere, maternal, attentive, devoted, self-motivated, efficient
Extremes: Perfectionist, overly-sensitive, inadaptability, demanding, idealistic, pushy, procrastinates

3 - Tree:
Associated with: Sunrise, East, Early Spring, Liver/Gallbladder, Light green
Character of House: Proceeding, Advancement, Beginnings, Accomplishing, Optimism, Creativity
The 3 Tree Personality: Emotional, strong, idealistic, poetic, brilliant, active, aesthetic, kind-hearted, straightforward, romantic, successful
Extremes: Tempermental, opinionated, stubborn, competitive

4 -Tree: 
Associated with: Morning, South East, Late Spring, Liver/Gallbladder, Dark Green
Character of House: Growth, Development, Maturation, Flourishing, Artistic, Expression, Experience
The 4 Tree Personality: Thoughtful, practical, ambitious, socially oriented, analytical, theoretical, sensitive, open-minded, eloquent, romantic
Extremes: Over-idealistic, impractical, wasteful, risky, indecisive, over-ambitious

5 - Soil:
Associated with Transition, Center, Balance, Stomach/Spleen/Pancreas, Yellow
Character of House: Up/Down, Positive/Negative, Heaven/Earth, Balance
The 5 Soil Personality: Well-defined opinions and character, center-oriented, realistic, practical, direct, integrity, studious, self-confident, independent, willful, responsible, extremely influential
Extremes: Self-important, opinionated, egotistical, unadaptable, detached

6 - Metal:
Associated with: Evening, North West, Late Autumn, Lungs/Large Intestines, White/Silver
Character of House: Prosperity, Harvest, Success, Finance, Self-Development
The 6 Metal Personality: Self-disciplined, strong, clever, logical, ethical, orderly, intellectual, leadership, honest, straightforward, creative, conservative
Extremes: Unadaptable, closed-minded, stubborn, imposing, difficult social relations

7 - Metal:
Associated with: Sunset, Early Autumn, Lung/Large Intestine, Red
Character of House: Joy, Fruition, Satisfaction, Benefits, Consistency, Finance, Tradition
The 7 Metal Personality: Very practical, materially well versed, intuitive, organizational, good common sense, bright, active, stylish, eloquent, excellent, work ethic
Extremes: Bossy, picky, compulsive, materialistic, excessive

8 - Soil:
Associated with: Pre-Dawn, North East, Late Winter, Stomach/Spleen/Pancreas, Stark White
Character of House: Revolution, Change, Transformation, Renewal, Reincarnation, Resurrection
The 8 Soil Personality: Serious, quiet, strong, deep thinkers, refined, intelligent, self-reliant, optimistic, introspective, adventurous, gentle, just, resourceful
Extremes: Isolated, stubborn, reclusive, materialistic

9 Fire:
Associated with: Noon, South, Summer, Heart/Small Intestine, Purple
Character of House: Activity, Fame, Brightness, Success, Movement
The 9 Fire Personality: Active, outgoing, sociable, energetic, clear opinion, spontaneous, quick and sharp mind, good public relations, independent
Extremes: Over-impulsive, arrogant, superficial, lacking kindness, overconfident, critical

Of course, you can do anything you want and still have an interesting life!

Nine Star Ki energy cycles run in yearly, monthly, and daily patterns. There are even hourly changes, and 81 year cycles. When the energy changes from one year to the next (on February 4th) the number of the new energy takes center square in the chart. As a result, all of the other numbers shift to the next space, following each other in numerical order - 4 moves into the 5 position, 5 moves into the 6 position, 6 moves into the 7 position, etc. The same occurs with the monthly and daily numbers as well.

By finding the position of your number in the yearly, monthly, or daily chart, you can see the condition of your energy at that time. Whatever “house” you are in, you will be affected by the character of that house until the next year, month or day. If you are in the 1 Water house, then your energy will be low, dormant, and still. Excessive physical or social activity will be strenuous, and you would do better to take the time for self-reflection, study and planning. Alternatively, if your number is in the 9 Fire house, then your energy will be active, vibrant, and attractive. This would be the time to be social, travel, and spend time with friends.
By adjusting your activities and endeavors to match the condition of your energy, you can ensure a smooth ride through life as you easily acclimate yourself to the changing energetic environment. If you want to move out of your house, then you might not want to do it while you are in the 5 Soil house, because you might unbalance everything around you. If you want to begin a new project at work, it would be easier to do it while your Primary Number occupies the 3 Tree house of creativity and beginnings. If you want to start going back to school, it would be easier to do it while you are in the 1 Water house, when your energy will be more focused and quiet while you study.

Once you become adept at knowing where your energy is at any given point, it is easy to recognize the patterns of energy through which you move. You will be able to adjust accordingly and optimize your capabilities to ensure a smoother daily lifestyle. You will be able to recognize why people behave the way they do, why events happen when they do, and why sickness occurs when it does.
The circle that follows shows any system enclosed in itself, be it our cosmos, our solar year, our physical bodies, but it never fixes Qi in certain phases, seasons or directions.

Follow the circle clockwise to find the Supporting Cycle, i.e., Wood engenders Fire, Fire engenders Earth, Earth engenders Metal, Metal engenders Water, Water engenders Wood.

Follow the five star clockwise to find the Controlling Cycle, i.e., Wood controls Earth, Fire controls Metal, Earth controls Water, Metal controls Wood, Water controls Fire.

Follow the circle anti-clockwise to find the Weakening Cycle, i.e., Wood weakens Water, Water weakens Metal, Metal weakens Earth, Earth weakens Fire, Fire weakens Wood.

Follow the five star anti-clockwise to find the Damaging Cycle, i.e., Wood damages Metal, Fire damages Water, Earth damages Wood, Metal damages Fire, Water damages Earth.

Sibling cycle - Last but not least the Elements can strengthen each other. Metal strengthens Metal, Fire strengthens Fire etc.
Nine Star Ki is not an arbitrary invention of ancient intellectual minds. It is actually a map of how ki is moving, which our own biological and spiritual senses can intuitively detect. When you are eating well and are living an active and balanced lifestyle, then you will intuitively know which times are best for what activity without having to check charts. The best way is to make your decision intuitively, then consult the charts and see what actually happens. Don’t let these charts control your life, because the goal of the Nine Star ki is to be free, but informed, in your decision. Nine Star Ki is simply an energetic map to guide it.
To really learn the Nine Star Ki, make a list of everyone you know; Family, friends, co-workers, everybody! Find their birthdays and research their Nine Star Ki charts and personalities.

Thank you!
DAVID SNIECKUS (617) 964-2951
RICK EARL (603) 434-3463

Additional Resources: 
Kushi, Michio with Alex Jack, Book of Macrobiotics, Japan Publications, Inc. NY 1986
Kushi, Michio, Edward Esko, ed. Nine Star Ki, One Peaceful World, MA 1998
Sandifer, Jon Feng Shui Astrology, Ballantine Books, NY 1987
Spear, William, Feng Shui Made Easy, Harper San Francisco, USA 1995
Yoshikaw Takahi, Feng Shui Astrology, Samuel Weiser, Inc. USA 1999