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Acupuncture and the philosophy of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches

OTCG Antwerp 2022/23

The Chinese Calendar is structured by the 10 Heavenly Stems, 12 Earthly Branches and Six Conformations. They are the background of its 60 year cycle. Sentient beings are connected to these movements of Heaven and Earth and hence the moment of our birth can give us insights into our constitutional energies and our tendencies to certain stronger or weaker aspects. Certain years can balance or boost these tendencies. Thereby looking at the Calendar can give us insides on when and how a person is vulnerable to developing a disease and how to prevent or treat this from a deep constitutional level. 

Embedded in the teachings on the Chinese Calendar is a deeper understanding of physiology, especially on the 5 elements on Heaven, Earth and Human level. This helps us to better understand the pulses of our patients and the energetic dynamics in health and disease. From here we can develop a clearer structure in our treatments which now takes into account in a profound way the interrelationship of our spirit, body and emotions. 

The meaning of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches is described especially in Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen Chapter 66-74. Here their connection to the 5 elements and 6 six qi is stated and constitutional and disease dynamics as well as treatment recommendations are being given.

The calendar has played a fundamental role in many classical approaches within East Asian medicine since the very beginning of it. What we now practice as “Stems and Branches Acupuncture” is based on Dr. Van Burens understanding of the subject, which was fundamentally based on the writings of the Korean Professor Chang Bin Lee (dean of the Oriental Medical School of Kyung Hee University in Seoul). It was further developed in its clinical application and method of teaching by various students of Dr. Van Buren, one of them being M.Ac. Joan Duveen from the Netherlands, who I was lucky to study with. 

This system of treatment is very practical and clinical and at the same time based on making the philosophical aspects of the five elements and six conformations applicable in the practice of acupuncture. Thereby it is suitable for beginners as well as advanced practitioners of Chinese Medicine.

In our class there is no preexisting knowledge on the Chinese Calendar needed.

We will cover the following topics:

  • Introduction to the Chinese Calendar and the 60 year cycle
  • Typology of the 10 Heavenly Stems and 12 Earthly Branches
  • The Six Conformations in the context of the 60 year calendar
  • How to calculate a birth chart and understand its possible implications
  • Pulse diagnostics
  • Point dynamics
  • How to establish a systematic treatment plan
  • 8 Trigram arrangements of Fu Xi and King Wen


  • 14. – 15. October 2022

    Introduction and Heavenly Stems

  • 09. – 10. December 2022

    Earthly Branches

  • 03. – 04. February 2023

    Six Conformations

Introduction and Heavenly Stems


Next to the general introduction we will cover the typology of the 10 Heavenly Stems in detail. Each Stem is associated with a great movement “da yun”. As the Heavenly Stem and its great movement can influence all manifestations within a year, it is often enough the basic fabric of the deeper constitution of a person. Here the Inner Organs are related to one of the Stems and a great movement, which is the element on Stem level.

Each Stems has its roots in Heaven and is connecting us to the timeless world of ideas and the realm of spirit. It is therefore related to the Fu Xi Trigram Arrangement.

Emphasis is given on how the stem/element/organ connection unfolds and how it can make a difference in your daily clinical practice to be able to work with it. 

Additional Zoom Session: Fu Xi Trigram arrangement and the Heavenly Stems

Earthly Branches


The 12 Earthly Branches are related to the cycles of time. As manifestation moves from timeless space into the realm of time we find ourselves bound to the cyclical changes through the hours of the day, seasons and life stages. Each period has its own resources and expressions, especially on the level of emotion and interaction.

The branches express through the Chinese hourly clock and Chinese Zodiac Signs and are rooted in the 12 Tidal Hexagrams. They teach us how to balance each period of the day, year and life span and to discover quietness behind the whirling emotions.

In the clinical context each Earthly Branch is connected to one meridian. As with the Stems we find that the associations between elements and organs/meridians are mostly not restricted to one element only. Depending on the level of energy there are various elements connected and this gives a wealth of advanced clinical understanding and treatment options. 

Additional Zoom session: King Wen Trigram arrangement and the Earthly Branches

Six Conformations


The six conformations are intriguingly related to the climates within and without. They represent the most physical aspects.

Within the 60 Year Calendar there is one conformation emphasized in each year and first/second half of the year. Here we find the third part of an individuals constitutional tendencies which is evolving its influence from the physical reality of that person.

Beyond that there is the sequence of the six conformations throughout the year. The relationship of how the weather should be according to the season and how it actually evolves triggers energetic changes which can cause specific diseases and additionally form the template for an advanced pathophysiological understanding and it´s treatment. 

Aljoscha Lew Schümer 

Born in 1972, I have been studying body work, East Asian Medicine and naturopathic medicine since 1993 and have been in full time practice since 1997.

In 2005 I met my teacher Joan Duveen and have been fully concentrating on applying this system since my training 2009/10.

Acupuncture diploma of Shou Zhong School Berlin and AGTCM, certified Qi Gong teacher by Liu Yafei, Diplomate of Canonical Chinese Medicine by Iceam London.

Since 2018 I teach classes in Berlin, Munich, in the Alps and at the Rothenburg Congress. 

How the class is organized: 

We offer a basic training including 3 times two days as a hybrid model plus 2 additional zoom sessions in between the classes.

Please note that the training is originally designed as a in person training with a practical 2 hour pulse taking session on day 2 of each workshop. This means that if you join online, you will not get the complete benefit of the class. Nevertheless due to the uncertainty of travel options from some countries we make the training available as a hybrid class, which means students can take part either in person or online.

Office hours

Monday to Friday 8 am to 6 pm

For appointments call (030) 280 47 700

© 2022 | Practice for Chinese medicine - Aljoscha Lew Schümer