Introduction to the Heavenly Stems & Earthly Branches

Investigating the source code of Chinese medicine

In this introductory course we explore the reflections of heaven on earth. How cosmology meets physiology. And how the five phases are one part of the great movements and tides within which humanity lives.

Deborah Woolf
Deborah Woolf

Course Overview

This introduction to Stems and Branches (aka Five Movements and Six Energies, wuyun liuqi 五運六氣) contextualizes the foundations of practice. We will look at the world of space and time, in terms of Five and Six, so as to open a door onto an ordered universe and constant cosmos, which follows natural laws that can be determined.


By understanding the cyclical nature of time and space we start to learn about Stems and Branches, which are the thread that weaves together many aspects of Chinese thought.


We will look at the relationship between Stems and space, and their role as the foundation of wuxing 五行 Five Phases. This will extend our understanding of the interactions between zangfu 臟腑 organs and open the door to a discussion of practical applications. We also explore the relationship between the Branches and time, the resonances of the Chinese clock, and how it relates to the seasons and human lifespan.


Additionally we look into earlier Heaven (xiantian 先天) to later Heaven (houtian 後天), how that relates to space and time, and discuss the role of the ‘organs with name but no form’ that are so key to the function of the Ministerial Fire. Additionally we explore how the channels not only circulate qi in the body, but act as the interface between our interior world and the environment. All this gives us a deeper understanding of the universal cycles of time and how these are mirrored in the channels in the body.


  • Understand how the original cosmic relationships which tie humans into the universal cycles (Stems and Branches) underpins the practice of Chinese Medicine.

  • Explore the relationship of the heavenly Stems and Space, along with the earthly Branches and Time, and how these are expressed in the body.

  • Understand the Stems as the foundation of Five Phases (wuxing) and the ten zangfu organs, and how the Branches gives rise to the 12 channels along with Ministerial and Imperial Fire.

  • Learn to see new correspondences in the relationships between organs, seasons and time, the five phases and the great Yun movements of heaven.

  • Explore deeper questions on the Stems and Branches.


  • 0 hrs - 1.5 hrs

    Introduction to the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches.

  • 1.5 hrs - 3 hrs

    Exploration of the Heavenly Stems. How the Stems relate to space and describe the cycles we see on earth.

  • 3 hrs - 4 hrs

    Puzzling Through the Heavenly Stems. A discussion of questions on the Heavenly Stems and the Great Movements of Heaven.

  • 4 hrs - 5.5 hrs

    Investigation of the Earthly Branches. How the Branches relate to time and relate to personality, human expression, and the twin expression post heaven fire.

  • 5.5 hrs - 6.5 hrs

    Digging the Earthly Branches. Looking deeper into the cycles of time and unfoldment.


Deborah Woolf

I am practicing acupuncturist & sinologist specialising in wuyun liuqi. I have been in practice since 2000. I teach at ICOM, UK and various post graduate courses across the world.


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More Details
  • CEUs:

    Approved By: NCCAOM (6.5), Florida (6.5), Standard Certificate (6.5)

    Pending: California [Upon Request]*

  • Language: English

  • Course Type: Recorded Webinar

  • Course Length: 6.5 h

  • Course Notes: Notes are provided with this course.

  • Access Period: Lifetime


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