Concept

Earthly Branches

Summary
The twelve Earthly Branches or Terrestrial Branches are a Chinese ordering system used throughout East Asia in various contexts, including its ancient dating system, astrological traditions, zodiac and ordinals. Origin This system was built from observations of the orbit of Jupiter. Chinese astronomers divided the celestial circle into 12 sections to follow the orbit of 歲星 Suìxīng (Jupiter, the Year Star). Astronomers rounded the orbit of Suixing to 12 years (from 11.86). Suixing was associated with 攝提 Shètí (η Boötis) and sometimes called Sheti. Jonathan Smith has proposed that the first meanings of the earthly branches, predating the Shang dynasty, were phases of the moon, with the heavenly stems at that point referring to divisions of the ecliptic. After being adopted as a calendar these would have lost their clear lunar reference, permitting their repurposing for Jupiter stations. History In correlative thinking, the 12 years of the Jupiter cycle also ident
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