Chinese astrology is the divination of the future from the Chinese calendar, which is based on astronomy, and ancient Chinese religion. In particular, it is based on the age-old sexagenary cycle of 60 years that has been documented at least since the time of the Shang Dynasty. This basic cycle has been constructed from two cycles: the 10 heavenly stems (the five elements in their yin and yang forms) and the 12 earthly branches, or the 12-year cycle of animals referred to as the Chinese zodiac. The Chinese animal zodiac also operates on a cycle of months or 'moons' and of hours of the day.
The Chinese zodiac refers to a pure calendrical cycle; there are no equivalent constellations like those of the occidental zodiac. In imperial times there were astrologers who watched the sky for heavenly omens that would predict the future of the state, but this was a quite different practice of divination from the popular present-day methods.
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Chinese Zodiac Animals
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Background of Chinese Astrology
The ancient Chinese astronomers called the five major planets by the names of the element they were associated with: Venus corresponds to Metal (gold); Jupiter to Wood; Mercury to Water; Mars to Fire; Saturn to Earth. According to Chinese Astrology, a person's destiny can be determined by the position of the major planets, along with the positions of the Sun, Moon and comets and the person's time of birth and Zodiac Sign.
A laborious system of computing one's fate and destiny based on one's birthday and birth hours (known as Zi Wei Dou Shu zǐwçidǒushù) is still used regularly in modern day Chinese astrology to divine one's fortune. The 28 Chinese constellations (xìu) are quite different from the 88 Western constellations. For example, the Big Bear (Ursa Major) is known as dǒu; the belt of Orion is known as shçn, or the "Happiness, Fortune, Longevity" trio of demigods. The seven northern constellations are referred to as xúanwǔ. Xuan Wu is also known as the spirit of the northern sky or the spirit of Water in Taoism belief.
In addition to astrological readings of the heavenly bodies, the stars in the sky form the basis of many fairy tales. For example, the Summer Triangle is the trio of the cowherd (Altair), the weaving maiden fairy (Vega), and the "tai bai" fairy (Deneb). The two forbidden lovers were separated by the silvery river (the Milky Way). Each year on the seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese calendar, the birds form a bridge across the Milky Way. The cowherd carries their two sons (the two stars on each side of Altair) across the bridge to reunite with their fairy mother. The tai bai fairy acts as the chaperone of these two immortal lovers.
When trying to calculate the relevant year, an easy rule to follow is that years that end in an even number are yang, those that end with an odd number are yin. The cycle proceeds as follows:
If the year ends in 0 it is Yang Metal. If the year ends in 1 it is Yin Metal. If the year ends in 2 it is Yang Water. If the year ends in 3 it is Yin Water. If the year ends in 4 it is Yang Wood. If the year ends in 5 it is Yin Wood. If the year ends in 6 it is Yang Fire. If the year ends in 7 it is Yin Fire. If the year ends in 8 it is Yang Earth. If the year ends in 9 it is Yin Earth. However, since the (traditional) Chinese zodiac follows the (lunisolar) Chinese calendar, the switch over date is the Chinese New Year, not January 1 as in the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, a person who was born in January or early February has the sign of the previous year. For example, if a person was born in January 1970, his or her element would still be Yin Earth, not Yang Metal. Similarly, although 1990 was called the year of the horse, anyone born from January 1 to January 26, 1990 was in fact born in the Year of the Snake (the sign of the previous year), because the 1990 Year of the Horse did not begin until January 27, 1990. For this reason, many online sign calculators (and Chinese restaurant placemats) will give a person the wrong sign if he/she was born in January or early February.
The start of a new Zodiac is also celebrated on Chinese New Year along with many other customs.
The 60-year cycle consists of two separate cycles interacting with each other. The first is the cycle of ten heavenly stems, namely the Five Elements (in order Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water) in their Yin and Yang forms. The second is the cycle of the twelve Zodiac animal signs (shçngxiâo) or Earthly Branches . They are in order as follows: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (ram or goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
This combination of 5 elements X 12 animals creates the 60-year cycle, which always starts with Wood Rat and ends with Water Pig. Since the zodiac animal cycle of 12 is divisible by two, every zodiac sign can also only occur in either yin or yang: the dragon is always yang, the snake is always yin, etc. The current cycle began in the year 1984 (as shown in "Table of the lunar calendar and zodiac" below).
Chinese Lunar Pregnancy Prediction Calandar.
Table of the lunar calendar and Chinese zodiac
The following table shows the 60 year cycle matched up to the Western calendar for the years 1924 - 2043. The symbols in the table for the elements and animal signs are the astrological ones, which are separate from the general descriptive symbols.
Begin End Heaven Element Combination Element Sign 1960 Feb 41961 Feb 3 Metal earth Rat 1961 Feb 41962 Feb 3 Metal earth Ox 1962 Feb 41963 Feb 3 Water Gold Tiger 1963 Feb 41964 Feb 3 Water Gold Rabbit 1964 Feb 41965 Feb 3 Wood fire Dragon 1965 Feb 41966 Feb 3 Wood fire Snake 1966 Feb 41967 Feb 3 Fire water Horse 1967 Feb 41968 Feb 3 Fire water Sheep 1968 Feb 41969 Feb 3 Earth earth Monkey 1969 Feb 41970 Feb 3 Earth earth Rooster 1970 Feb 41971 Feb 3 Metal Gold Dog 1971 Feb 41972 Feb 3 Metal Gold Pig 1972 Feb 41973 Feb 3 Water wood Rat 1973 Feb 41974 Feb 3 Water wood Ox 1974 Feb 41975 Feb 3 Wood water Tiger 1975 Feb 41976 Feb 3 Wood water Rabbit 1976 Feb 41977 Feb 3 Fire earth Dragon 1977 Feb 41978 Feb 3 Fire earth Snake 1978 Feb 41979 Feb 3 Earth fire Horse 1979 Feb 41980 Feb 3 Earth fire Sheep 1980 Feb 41981 Feb 3 Metal wood Monkey 1981 Feb 41982 Feb 3 Metal wood Rooster 1982 Feb 41983 Feb 3 Water water Dog 1983 Feb 41984 Feb 3 Water water Pig 1984 Feb 41985 Feb 3 Wood Gold Rat 1985 Feb 41986 Feb 3 Wood Gold Ox 1986 Feb 41987 Feb 3 Fire fire Tiger 1987 Feb 41988 Feb 3 Fire fire Rabbit 1988 Feb 41989 Feb 3 Earth wood Dragon 1989 Feb 41990 Feb 3 Earth wood Snake 1990 Feb 41991 Feb 3 Metal earth Horse 1991 Feb 41992 Feb 3 Metal earth Sheep 1992 Feb 41993 Feb 3 Water Gold Monkey 1993 Feb 41994 Feb 3 Water Gold Rooster 1994 Feb 41995 Feb 3 Wood fire Dog 1995 Feb 41996 Feb 3 Wood fire Pig 1996 Feb 41997 Feb 3 Fire water Rat 1997 Feb 41998 Feb 3 Fire water Ox 1998 Feb 41999 Feb 3 Earth earth Tiger 1999 Feb 42000 Feb 3 Earth earth Rabbit 2000 Feb 42001 Feb 3 Metal Gold Dragon 2001 Feb 42002 Feb 3 Metal Gold Snake 2002 Feb 42003 Feb 3 Water wood Horse 2003 Feb 42004 Feb 3 Water wood Sheep 2004 Feb 42005 Feb 3 Wood water Monkey 2005 Feb 42006 Feb 3 Wood water Rooster 2006 Feb 42007 Feb 3 Fire earth Dog 2007 Feb 42008 Feb 3 Fire Gold Pig 2008 Feb 42009 Feb 3 Earth fire Rat 2009 Feb 42010 Feb 3 Earth fire Ox 2010 Feb 42011 Feb 3 Metal wood Tiger 2011 Feb 42012 Feb 3 Metal wood Rabbit 2012 Feb 42013 Feb 3 Water water Dragon 2013 Feb 42014 Feb 3 Water water Snake 2014 Feb 42015 Feb 3 Wood Gold Horse 2015 Feb 42016 Feb 3 Wood Gold Sheep 2016 Feb 42017 Feb 3 Fire fire Monkey 2017 Feb 42018 Feb 3 Fire fire Rooster 2018 Feb 42019 Feb 3 Earth wood Dog 2019 Feb 42020 Feb 3 Earth wood Pig
The start of a Chinese zodiac sign is usually defined as the lìchûn of a year, not the first day of a Chinese new year as shown.
Chinese agricultural calendar
There are some newer astrological texts which follow the Chinese Agricultural Calendar (the jie qi), and thus place the changeover of zodiac signs at the solar term li chun (beginning of Spring), at solar longitude 315 degrees. The Chinese New Year is determined by the start of the Lunar calendar, however the annual division between the signs is not the Chinese New Year, but rather the beginning of spring, which is the 4th or 5th of February of each year.
Legend describes the order of the zodiac was determined through a race, in which the rat cheated by standing on the ox's head and jumping ahead of him when they reached the finish line.
The twelve year cycle
The system of the yearly cycle was built from observations of the orbit of Jupiter. Chinese astronomers divided the celestial circle into 12 sections to follow the orbit of Suìxîng (Jupiter, the Year Star). Astronomers rounded the orbit of Suixing to 12 years (from 11.86). Suixing was associated with Sheti (Böotes) and sometimes called Sheti.
The months - the inner animals
The 12 animals are also linked to the traditional Chinese agricultural calendar, that runs alongside the better known lunar calendar. Instead of months, this calendar is divided into 24 two week segments known as Solar Terms. Each animal is linked to two of these solar terms for a period similar to the Western month. Unlike the 60 year lunar calendar, which can vary by as much as a month in relation to the Western calendar, the agricultural calendar varies by only one day, beginning on the Western February 3rd or 4th every year. Again unlike the cycle of the lunar years, which begins with the Rat, the agricultural calendar begins with the Tiger as it is the first animal of spring.
An individual's monthly animal sign is called their inner animal and is concerned with what motivates a person. Since this sign dictates the person's love life and inner persona, it is critical to a proper understanding of the individual's compatibility with other signs.
As each sign is linked to a month of the solar year, it is thereby also linked to a season. Each of the elements are also linked to a season (see above), and the element that shares a season with a sign is known as that sign's fixed element. In other words, that element is believed to impart some of its characteristics to the sign concerned. The fixed element of each sign applies also to the year and hour signs, and not just the monthly sign. It is important to note that the fixed element is separate from the cycle of elements which interact with the signs in the 60 year cycle.
Solar LongitudeSegment NameWestern date Lunar Month (Ordinal - Name) 314° lìchûn Feb 03/04 - Feb 18/19 1st - Tiger 329° yǔshuǐ Feb 18/19 - Mar 05/06 344° qǐzhé (jîngzhé) Mar 05/06 - Mar 20/21 2nd - Rabbit 0° chûnfçn Mar 20/21 - Apr 04/05 14° qîngmíng Apr 04/05 - Apr 19/20 3rd - Dragon 29° gǔyǔ Apr 19/20 - May 05 44° lìxià May 05 - May 20/21 4th - Snake 59° xiǎomǎn May 20/21 - June 05/06 74° mángzhòng Jun 05/06 - Jun 20/21 5th - Horse 89° xiàzhì Jun 20/21 - Jul 06/07 104° xiǎoshǔ Jul 06/07 - Jul 22/23 6th - Sheep 119° dàshǔ Jul 22/23 - Aug 07 134° lìqiû Aug 07 - Aug 22/23 7th - Monkey 149° chùshǔ Aug 22/23 - Sep 07/08 164° báilù Sep 07/08 - Sep 22/23 8th - Rooster 181° qiûfçn Sep 22/23 - Oct 07/08 194° hánlù Oct 07/08 - Oct 23 9th - Dog 211° shuângjiàng Oct 23 - Nov 07 224° lìdông Nov 07 - Nov 21/22 10th - Pig 244° xiǎoxuì Nov 21/22 - Dec 06/07 251° dàxuì Dec 06/07 - Dec 21/22 11th - Rat 271° dôngzhì Dec 21/22 - Jan 05/06 284° xiǎohán Jan 05/06 - Jan 19/20 12th - Ox 301° dàhán Jan 19/20 - Feb 03/04
The hours - the secret animals
The Chinese zodiac is also used to label times of day, with each sign corresponding to a "large-hour" or shichen, which is a two-hour period. (24 divided by 12 animals) The large-hour in which a person is born is their secret animal, as stated above. It is therefore important to know the exact time of birth to determine it. The secret animal is thought to be a person’s truest representation, since this animal is determined by the smallest denominator: a person’s birth hour. As this sign is based on the position of the sun in the sky and not the time of your local clock, it is important to compensate of daylight savings time. However, some online systems already compensate for daylight savings time, and astrologers may compensate your time for you oblivious to the fact that you've compensated it yourself, leading to an inaccurate reading.
The large-hour in which a person is born is their secret animal. It is a person's own true sign which their personality is based on. It's important to note that while this chart is very accurate, the exact time each animal begins shifts by the day. Always consult an Astrologer for best results.
The Four Animal Trines
The First Trine
The first trine consists of the Rat, Dragon, and Monkey. These three signs are intense and powerful individuals, capable of great good or great evil. They make great leaders, but the three have different approaches. Rats and Dragons have a tendency to be quite dictatorial and autocratic, whilst monkeys are more diplomatic. Frustrated when hampered, these signs are ruled by highly potent energy and unpredictability. They are intelligent, magnanimous, charismatic, charming, authoritative, confident, eloquent and artistic. They can also be tyrannical, bombastic, prejudiced, deceitful, imperious, ruthless, power-hungry, and megalomaniacal.
The Second Trine
The second trine consists of the Ox, Snake, and Rooster. These three soul mates conquer life through endurance, application, and slow accumulation of energy. Although each sign is fixed and rigid in opinions and views, they are genius in the art of meticulous planning. They are hardworking, discreet, modest, industrious, charitable, loyal, punctual, philosophical, patient, and good-hearted individuals with high moral standards. They can also be self-righteous, vain, critical, judgemental, narrow-minded, petty, and pessimistic.
The Third Trine
The third trine consists of the Tiger, Horse, and Dog. These three signs seek one another, and are like-minded in their pursuit of humanitarian causes. Each is a gifted orator and excels at verbal communication. Relationships and personal contact are of highest priority and each one seek their intimate soul mate. Idealistic and impulsive, the Tiger, Horse and Dog follow the beat of their own drummer. Defiant against injustice, these three signs wilt without large amounts of physical affection and loyal support for causes. They are productive, enthusiastic, independent, engaging, dynamic, and honorable. They can also be rash, rebellious, quarrelsome, hot-headed, reckless, anxious, moody, disagreeable, stubborn, and selfish.
The Fourth Trine
The fourth trine consists of the Rabbit, Sheep and Pig. The quest for these three signs is the aesthetic and beautiful in life. Their calm nature give them great leadership abilities. They are artistic, refined, intuitive, and well-mannered. These souls love the preliminaries in love, and are fine artists in their lovemaking. The Rabbit, Sheep and Pig have been bestowed with calmer natures than the other 9 signs. These three are compassionately aware, yet detached and resigned to their condition. They seek beauty and a sensitive lover. They are caring, unique, self-sacrificing, obliging, sensible, creative, empathetic, tactful, and prudent. They can also be naive, pedantic, insecure, cunning, indecisive, and pessimistic.
Zodiac origin stories
The 12 Zodiac animal signs (shengxiao) are, in order, the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (ram or goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. There are many legends to explain the beginning of the zodiac. One of the most popular reads, in summarized form, as follows:
The rat was given the task of inviting the animals to report to the Jade Emperor for a banquet to be selected for the zodiac signs. The cat was a good friend of the rat, but the rat tricked him into believing that the banquet was the next day. The cat slept through the banquet, thinking that it was the next day. When he found out, the cat vowed to be the rat's natural enemy for ages to come. Interestingly, the cat does make it into the Vietnamese Zodiac, in place of the rabbit (see below).
Another popular legend has it that a race was used to decide the animals to report to the Jade Emperor.
The cat and the rat were the worst swimmers in the animal kingdom. Although bad swimmers, they were both intelligent. They decided that the best and fastest way to cross the river was to hop on the back of the ox. The ox, being a naïve and good-natured animal, agreed to carry them across. However, overcome with a fierce competitiveness, the rat decided that in order to win, it must do something and promptly pushed the cat into the river. Because of this, the cat has never forgiven the rat, and hates the water as well. After the ox had crossed the river, the rat jumped ahead and reached the shore first, and it claimed first place in the competition.
Following closely behind was the strong ox, and it was named the 2nd animal in the zodiac. After the ox, came the tiger, panting, while explaining to the Emperor just how difficult it was to cross the river with the heavy currents pushing it downstream all the time. But with powerful strength, it made to shore and was named the 3rd animal in the cycle. Suddenly, from a distance came a thumping sound, and the rabbit arrived. It explained how it crossed the river: by jumping from one stone to another in a nimble fashion. Halfway through, it almost lost the race but the rabbit was lucky enough to grab hold of a floating log that later washed him to shore. For that, it became the 4th animal in the zodiac cycle.
Coming in 5th place was the dragon, flying and belching fire into the air. Of course, the Emperor was deeply curious as to why a strong and flying creature such as the dragon should fail to reach first. The mighty dragon explained that he had to stop and make rain to help all the people and creatures of the earth, and therefore he was held back a little. Then, on his way to the finish line, he saw a little helpless rabbit clinging on to a log so he did a good deed and gave a puff of breath to the poor creature so that it could land on the shore. The Emperor was very pleased with the actions of the dragon, and he was added into the zodiac cycle. As soon as he had done so, a galloping sound was heard, and the horse appeared. Hidden on the horse's hoof is the snake, whose sudden appearance gave the horse a fright, thus making it fall back and gave the snake 6th spot while the horse took the 7th.
Not long after that, a little distance away, the ram, monkey and rooster came to the shore. These three creatures helped each other to get to where they are. The rooster spotted a raft, and took the other two animals with it. Together, the ram and the monkey cleared the weeds, tugged and pulled and finally got the raft to the shore. Because of their combined efforts, the Emperor was very pleased and promptly named the ram as the 8th creature, the monkey as the 9th, and the rooster the 10th.
The 11th animal is the dog. His explanation for being late—although he was supposed to be the best swimmer amongst the rest—was that he needed a good bath after a long spell, and the fresh water from the river was too big a temptation. For that, he almost didn't make it to finish line.
Just as the Emperor was about to call it a day, an oink and squeal was heard from a little pig. The pig got hungry during the race, promptly stopped for a feast and then fell asleep. After the nap, the pig continued the race and was named the 12th and last animal of the zodiac cycle. The cat finished too late (thirteenth) to win any place in the calendar, and vowed to be the enemy of the rat forevermore.
Some versions of the tale say that the cattle nominated a water buffalo to represent them because he was more proficient at swimming. The trade was acceptable because both animals are bovines.Another version of the tale expands the race. The route ran through a forest, over ranges of plains and grasslands and along a stream, before finally crossing a lake to the destination town.Yet another variation tells of two different races. The first involved all the animals, in two divisions to avoid the fast animals dominating the top, and the top six in each division would "make the cut" for a second round, which would then determine the order of placement of the animals in the zodiac.
In yet another variation, each animal was called before its peers and had to explain why it deserved a position at the top of the Zodiac. The Boar, at a loss, proceeded to claim that the meat on its bones "tasted good". This explanation was apparently considered unsatisfactory, because the Boar was placed at the very end of the Zodiac.Yet another version has it that a long, long time ago, God decided to invite all of the animals to a banquet. He sent out word for all of them to come to his house the following evening.. "and don't be late!" he said. When the mischievous rat heard the news, he decided to play a trick on his neighbor, the cat. He told the cat that the party was the day after tomorrow. The very next day, all of the animals lined up for the celebration. And the rat led the way, riding all the way there on the back of the ox. Everyone had a wonderful time except for the foolish cat, who missed the whole thing.
Another variation shows that the cat was (informally) the 13th month (13 being an unlucky number or 1+3 = 4, also a bad number) so any cats (and especially the black cat) are considered a bad omen. Another variation tells the tale where the dogs and the wild boars were the last ones (and almost were left out), and they share a mutual affection despite their differences.
Chinese zodiac in other countries
The Chinese zodiac signs are also used by cultures other than Chinese. For one example, they usually appear on Japanese New Year's cards and stamps. The United States Postal Service and those of several other countries issue a "Year of the _____" postage stamp each year to honor this Chinese heritage. However, those unfamiliar with the use of the Chinese lunar calendar usually just assume that the signs switch over on Jan 1 of each year. Those who are serious about the fortune telling aspect of the signs can consult a table, such as the one above.
The Chinese zodiac is also used in some other Asian countries that have been under the cultural influence of China. However, some of the animals in the Zodiac may differ by country.For example, the Vietnamese zodiac is almost identical to Chinese zodiac except that the second animal is the water buffalo instead of the ox, the fourth animal is the cat instead of the rabbit and the eight animal is the goat instead of the sheep. The Japanese zodiac includes the wild boar instead of the pig, and the Thai zodiac includes a naga in place of the dragon. The European Huns used the Chinese Zodiac complete with "dragon", "pig". This common Chinese-Turkic Zodiac was in use in Balkan Bulgaria well into the Bulgars' adoption of Slavic language and Orthodox Christianity.
Following is the Hunnish or Turkic Bulgarian Pagan zodiac calendar, distinctive from the Greek zodiac but much in conformity with the Chinese one: Kam-Boyan Calendar.
Names of years
Chinese Astrology Signs
The Yin or Yang is broken down into Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal,and Water, ) on top of the cycle of animals. These are modifiers and affect the characteristics of each of the 12 animal signs. Thus, each of the 12 animals are governed by an element plus a Yin Yang Direction.
Although it is usually translated as 'element' the Chinese word xing literally means something like 'changing states of being', 'permutations' or 'metamorphoses of being'. In fact Sinologists cannot agree on one single translation. The Chinese conception of 'element' is therefore quite different to the Western one. The Western elements were seen as the basic building blocks of matter. The Chinese 'elements' by contrast were seen as ever changing and moving forces or energies - one translation of xing is simply 'the five changes'.
The balance of yin and yang and the five elements in a person's make-up has a major bearing on what is beneficial and effective for them in terms of feng shui, the Chinese form of geomancy. This is because each element is linked to a particular direction and season, and their different kinds of qì or life force.
The East Spring The Planet Jupiter The Color Green Liver and gallbladder Generous, Warm, Persuasive, Co-operative, Seeks to Expand and Grow Idealistic, Ethical, Enthusiastic, Seeks to Explore
Wood's link with springtime means that it 'Governs' the spring signs of Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon
The South Summer The Planet Mars The Color Red Circulatory system & Heart Dynamic, Energetic, Passionate, Enterprising, Adventurous, Restless Competitive, Leadership Skills, Strong, Single-minded, Loves a good laugh
Fire's link with summertime means that it 'Governs' the summer signs of Snake, Horse and Sheep
Center Three Enclosures, Change of seasons The Planet Saturn The Color Yellow Digestive system, Spleen and stomach Patient, Prudent, Stable, Reliable, Hard-working, Ambitious Disciplined, Logical, Governed by Service and Duty to Others
'Governs' Dragon, Rat, and Ox. It is the central balance of the elements and can lend qualities to all 12 animals as well.
The West Autumn The Planet Venus The Color White Respiratory system & Lungs Determined, Self-reliant, Unyielding, Strong, Persistent, Forceful Reserved, Needs Personal Space, Sophisticated, Seeks pleasure
Metal's link with autumn time means that it 'Governs' the autumn signs of Monkey, Rooster, Dog
The North Winter The Planet Mercury The Color Blue Skeletal/Excretory System & Lungs Diplomatic, Charming, Intuitive, Compassionate, Sensitive, Creative Flexible, Compliant, Good at Communication, Intellectual
Water's link with wintertime means that it 'Governs' the winter signs of Pig, Rat, Ox
Interactions of Five Chinese Elements - Cycles of Balance and Cycles of Imbalance
The doctrine of five phases describes two Cycles of Balance, a generating or creation (shēng) cycle and an overcoming or destruction (kè) cycle of interactions between the phases.
Wood feeds Fire; Fire creates Earth (ash); Earth bears Metal; Metal collects Water and Water nourishes Wood.
wood parts earth; earth absorbs water; water quenches fire; fire melts metal and metal chops wood
The 12 animals
In Chinese astrology each individual personality is associated with an animal sign that represents it. It is a common misconception that there are only the singular animals assigned by year. Many western descriptions of Chinese astrology descriptions draw solely on this system. In fact, there are also animal signs assigned by month and hours of the day.
The animal signs assigned by year represent what others perceive you as being or how you present yourself. The full 60 year cycle is a combination of the 12 animals with each of five possible elements, which distinctively vary the base animal's personality (12 x 5 = 60). The inner animal speaks directly to what motivates a person and is assigned by the month of birth. Since this dictates your love life and inner persona it is critical to a proper understanding of your compatibility with other signs.
The secret animal is assigned by the hour of birth and so it is important to know the exact time of birth to determine it correctly. It is your own true sign which your personality is based on. It is important to compensate for daylight saving time or any clock adjustment performed by your country in determining this sign, as it is mapped according to the sun's location and not the local time.
To sum it up, while a person might appear to be a dragon they might actually be a snake internally and an ox secretively. Combined with the five elements, this makes for 8,640 possible combinations (five elements, 12 animals, 12 months, 12 times of day) that a person might be. These are all are critical for the proper use of Chinese astrology. Many Western displays of the Chinese zodiac omit these, as well as the elements, for easier consumption and understanding.
The 12 zodiac animals
In Chinese astrology the zodiac of twelve animal signs represents twelve different types of personality. The zodiac traditionally begins with the sign of the Rat, and there are many stories about the Origins of the Chinese Zodiac which explain why this is so.
The following are the twelve zodiac signs in order and their characteristics.
Rat (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed element Water): Forthright, disciplined, systematic, meticulous, charismatic, hardworking, industrious, charming, eloquent, sociable, shrewd. Can be manipulative, selfish, obstinate, critical, over-ambitious, ruthless, intolerant, scheming.
Ox (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Water): Dependable, calm, methodical, patient, hardworking, ambitious, conventional, steady, modest, logical, resolute, tenacious. Can be stubborn, narrowminded, materialistic, rigid, demanding.
Tiger (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Unpredictable, rebellious, colorful, powerful, passionate, daring, impulsive, vigorous, stimulating, sincere, affectionate, humanitarian, generous. Can be restless, reckless, impatient, quick-tempered, obstinate, selfish.
Rabbit (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Gracious, kind, sensitive, soft-spoken, amiable, elegant, reserved, cautious, artistic, thorough, tender, self-assured, astute, compassionate, flexible. Can be moody, detached, superficial, self-indulgent, opportunistic, lazy.
Dragon (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Magnanimous, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, direct, eager, zealous, fiery, passionate, decisive, pioneering, ambitious, generous, loyal. Can be arrogant, demanding, eccentric, dogmatic, over-bearing, impetuous, brash.
Snake (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed element Fire): Deep thinker, wise, mystic, graceful, soft-spoken, sensual, creative, prudent, shrewd, ambitious, elegant, cautious, responsible, calm, strong, constant, purposeful. Can be loner, bad communicator, possessive, hedonistic, self-doubting, distrustful, mendacious.
Horse (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Fire): Cheerful, popular, quick-witted, changeable, earthy, perceptive, talkative, agile mentally and physically, magnetic, intelligent, astute, flexible, open-minded. Can be fickle, anxious, rude, gullible, stubborn, lack stability and perseverance.
Sheep (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Fire): Righteous, sincere, sympathetic, mild-mannered, shy, artistic, creative, gentle, compassionate, understanding, mothering, determined, peaceful, generous, seeks security. Can be moody, indecisive, over-passive, worrier, pessimistic, over-sensitive, complainer.
Monkey (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Metal): Inventor, motivator, improviser, quick-witted, inquisitive, flexible, innovative, problem solver, self-assured, sociable, polite, dignified, competitive, objective, factual, intellectual. Can be egotistical, vain, selfish, cunning, jealous, suspicious.
Rooster (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Metal): Acute, neat, meticulous, organized, self-assured, decisive, conservative, critical, perfectionist, alert, zealous, practical, scientific, responsible. Can be over zealous and critical, puritanical, egotistical, abrasive, opinionated.
(Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Metal): Honest, intelligent, straightforward, loyal, sense of justice and fair play, attractive, amiable, unpretentious, sociable, open-minded, idealistic, moralistic, practical, affectionate, dogged. Can be cynical, lazy, cold, judgmental, pessimistic, worrier, stubborn, quarrelsome.
Pig (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Water): Honest, simple, gallant, sturdy, couragous, persevering, resolute,sociable, peace-loving, patient, loyal, hard-working, trusting, sincere, diligent, calm, understanding, thoughtful, scrupulous, passionate, intelligent. Can be naive, over-reliant, self-indulgent, gullible, fatalistic, materialistic.
In Chinese astrology the animal signs assigned by year represent what others perceive you as being or how you present yourself. It is a common misconception that the animals assigned by year are the only signs, and many western descriptions of Chinese astrology draw solely on this system. In fact, there are also animal signs assigned by month (called inner animals) and hours of the day (called secret animals).
To sum it up, while a person might appear to be a dragon because they were born in the year of the dragon, they might also be a snake internally and an ox secretively. In total, this makes for 8,640 possible combinations (five elements x 12 animals in the 60 year cycle (12 x 5 = 60) , 12 months, 12 times of day) that a person might be. These are all critical for the proper use of Chinese astrology.