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The Tibetan Earth Lords

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Over the forty years or so that I have been studying astrology, I have been particularly interested in whatever relates to the space directly surrounding me, my local area. I developed an astrological technique in the early 1970s that is now used by astrologers all over the world, called “Local Space.” Local Space is primarily used today as a relocation technique, but I always used it for much more than that in counselling.

So it should come as no surprise that I am fascinated by the concept in Tibetan astrology of the SaDak, the spirits that surround and protect a particular place and land, the lords of the land - Earth Lords. Particularly, in these times in which so much wide-scale destruction to nature and the land has taken place, one cannot but wonder about the consequences. In general, modern society has adopted as a world view the very materialistic concept that land and sea are just dirt and water, so many atoms, and have in themselves no innate essence or “soul.” But the Tibetans and the Chinese don't feel this way at all.

They respect the land and everything about it. This is why Feng Shui is so popular in these countries and much consulted. These Tibetan Earth Lords are similar to Feng Shui, but they have to do not so much with where and how things are positioned, but with the very energy of a place and the respect shown to it- how it is treated. Let me explain:

According to the Tibetan and the Chinese, every place, that is: every mountain, stream, and canyon is something more than just the sum of its physical parts and whatever beauty it may or may not possess. There is some kind of force or energy connected to the way things have come together in this spot to make it what it is. In other words, there is such a thing as an energy or indwelling nature spirit - whatever you want to call it. From this point of view, locations are not just atoms of rock and water, but there is some subtle and perhaps indescribable energy that makes a particular valley or forest "beautiful," a place where you can sense a power or presence that takes our breath away, if only for a moment. We intrinsically sense that some places as special. What makes them special?

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The Tibetans tell us that these special places (and most places are special to someone) are power places, and that to wantonly destroy or deface them is not without consequences to us. If we mess with these power points, the energy bound there can be unleashed and perhaps react to harm us.

Of course, I am tip-toeing around here a bit, trying to describe all of this in as "scientific" and abstract a way as possible, while the Tibetan and Chinese just come right out and say that many places are governed and cared for by a variety of spirits who protect them. The Earth Lords protect the land against any form of disrespect or harm. There you have it.

So, in considering these earth lords, please keep the above in mind. The Earth Lords or SaDak, as they are called in Tibetan (in Sanskrit: bhumipati = Master of the Land) are an important part of geomancy as practiced in Tibetan Buddhism. The earth lords are literally that, the lords and spirits of the local space or soil surrounding any area, and they need to be consulted and kept in mind when planning anything to do with building, relocation, marriage, health, death, and the like in their area, that is: on their turf. From the Tibetan point of view, we humans don’t “have” turf. We only the earth at the kindness of the earth lords, and they are anything but kind if provoked.

The history of earth lords goes back to antiquity and they are said to have arisen from the subtle vapor of the Cosmic Turtle, at the very origin of Tibetan astrology. The main text which contains the Earth Lord descriptions is the “Gathering of All Precious Elements.” There are an almost infinite number of earth lords, and at least 1000 are said to be defined, of which around 500 are commonly consulted in relations to their activity in the current year, months, days, and hours. Here we will detail a little over 100 earth lords, the ones that are said to be always present around us. In general earth lords are organized by their various elements, the areas they rule, and their outer, inner, and secret aspects.

According to Gyurme Dorje there are 102 lords that are ever-present, plus some 500 that are connected to the years, months, days, and hours.


These earth lords are said to have various levels of enlightenment, ranging from ignorance on up, and they are said to experience happiness and anger depending upon how they are treated - how the land or space they protect is treated.

One group of earth lords rule the current year, while others rule the month, day, and hour, with some overlapping. The earth lords governing the current year, some 45 of them include the 26 chief ministers, together with their offspring. These are the earth lords given in the various yearly diagrams. There are, in addition, twelve hidden earth lords, and a pair of male and female Sky Dogs.

The earth lords governing the months number some with almost 80 main ones, and 34 component earth lords. Also: another twelve hidden ones. As for the earth lords that rule the days, these are some 81, of which we are tracking perhaps 40 or so here. As for the hours, there are about 37 earth lords connected to these.

As you can see, they are many, not few. How the Tibetan astrologers keep track of them all has to do with four different diagrams, one for the current year, and similar ones for the current month, day, and double hours (Tibetan astrology divides the day into twelve double hours, measured from 11 P.M. of the night before).

These diagrams are similar to the standard astrological chart wheel, in that they show twelve or sixteen houses, each representing a specific compass direction, a band 22-30 degrees wide. Actually, what is charted on these diagrams are the four cardinal directions (north, east, south, and west), and the four intermediate (45-degree) directions: N.E., N.W., S.E., and S.W. The Tibetans are very aware of the power of these 45-degree compass directions, and in the cycle of the animal signs or "branches," these four intermediate directions are called the “Tomb Signs,” marking them as having some degree of difficulty.

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It is important to point out that this quite vast series of earth lords, while not openly hostile to mankind (they don't hunt us down!), don't like to be disturbed, and if offended, will in fact create major and minor problems for us. This is where the diagrams are helpful, for they show where (in what compass direction or sector) at any time (year, month, day, and hour) the particular lords happen to be positioned.

And before we get into details, let me make it very clear that we are talking about Tibetan years here, which are made up of 12 or 13 lunar months, and which start on the Tibetan New Year, which is called Losar. For months (and we are talking about lunar months), we are measuring the time from New Moon to New Moon. For days, we are speaking of from sunrise of one calendar date (or thereabouts) to sunrise of the following calendar date, and for hours, we are using the Tibetan system of 12 double hours, starting from around 5 A.M. day.

To sum it up, whatever compass direction contains one of the Earth Lords, these are not a good direction for human beings. In other words, one should avoid whatever direction the earth lords are in, and seek out those directions which are empty of them, where they are not.

That is the general idea of how to deal with Earth Lords. In fact, in both Tibet and China, one does not ever face the direction where the main earth lord(s) are, in particular the king - King “The-Se.” The Chinese call him the "Grand Duke." It is fine to have your back toward him (he will even protect you), but any direct facing or confrontation will anger him and bring consequences.

There are many kinds of spirits, not only of the land, but of the water and air. The earth lords are mostly connected with fields, agriculture, land, AND houses.

They are irritated when they are disturbed by our digging the ground, excavating, cutting down forests, and so forth. In the same way, other similar spirits respond to air and water pollution.


It is best not to confront or offend the earth lords, but in practice this may be very difficult to do. The Tibetans and the Chinese have a wide variety of rites and practices that they use to pacify and heal infractions to the earth lords.

The tradition of Earth Lords is also very prominent in Chinese Astrology, but there it is called "Tai Sui," or more commonly just the "Grand Duke," and is an integral part of Feng Shui. To "offend the Grand Duke" is to have the animal of your birth year (or its opposite animal) the same as the animal for the current year. Here we are talking about the 12-year cycle of animals in the Chinese "zodiac."

The Grand Duke is a cycle through the 12 animal signs, one for each year, and has been said to be loosely correlated with the 12-year Jupiter cycle. Not so much is said (in Chinese astrology) about the Grand Duke's retinue, and but it is said that you walk with the Duke or against him. For any given year, the Grand Duke is said to be in one direction or another, and one does not "confront the Duke" by walking or travelling in that direction – where he stands.

Again, the direction that the Grand Duke for any year is a 30-degree sector of space (directionally) which should not be disturbed. Disturbance includes working or digging in the ground in that direction, also renovation, major repairs, etc. The Chinese put off such work until the following year, when the Grand Duke has shifted to another sector. "Awakening the Grand Duke" can result in financial problems or ruin.


It even comes down to not working (during your daily work) facing the Duke, the direction he is in. Turn you back and work facing the opposite (or some other) direction. Don't face the Tai Sui. This is the Chinese tradition.

The great emperor of the Sa-Dak, the spirit that owns this entire planet until such time in the future that it will be destroyed is King The-Se (in Tibetan) and called the “Grand Duke” in Chinese terms. The principle Sad-Dak for America is female.

Every country and locality has its own Sak-Dak and there are many kinds and species. It is up to us to get along with the Sa-Dak in our area or suffer the consequences.

For example, before any major war or fighting, first the Sa-Dak of the two regions fight one an another, and the result of that fight determines the outcome of the war. One lama (a rinpoche) tells the story of his uncle who was a great practitioner of the Chöd practice. He was so sensitive that he could see the Sa-Dak preparations in Eastern Tibet with the Sa-Dak of China for the great invasion of Tibet by China in 1950.

This man actually took part in the great council, listened to the Sa-Dak and even gave advice to the leader of the Tibetan Sa-dak, a Nagini or female Naga. They discussed how to fight the Chinese, using lightning and other weapons. When the uncle returned to his family, he was in tears and everyone wanted to know what was affecting him.

The Earth Lords Tibetan Astrology And Geomancy By Michael Erlewine.