Astrology was introduced into China approximately 5,000 years ago through the trade routes from the west. Whether the original influences came from Babylon, Egypt or India (or all three), the Chinese adopted astrology in a unique way and developed it into a highly complex system.
The Chinese astrologers believe that the universe is divided into five “palaces”, a center point and four cardinal regions. In addition, there are five elements: Wood, Fire, Metal, Water and Earth. There are also the influences of the five inner planets, the Sun, and the Moon. All of the parts of this elaborate structure are interrelated. Finally, everything is either Yang (male, bright and mobile) or Yin (female, dark and unmoving).
Yin and Yang, Negative and Positive
In the same way that the signs are divided between negative and positive in the west, the signs of the Chinese zodiac are divided between yin and yang. We regard the fire and air (see elements below) signs as positive or masculine, the earth and water signs as negative or feminine. Chinese astrology does not divide the twelve signs of its zodiac into elements, but each sign is either yin or yang.
In the west we have four elements – fire, earth, air and water. Each sign has the nature of one of these elements. The elements link and interact with each other. Air is needed for fire to exist. It is also needed to interpret (air) the divine spark (fire) so that fire can relate to earth. Likewise earth needs the emotions (water) to reconnect with meaning (fire) when life is flat and dreary.
The Chinese have five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water. These are also linked: wood burns – fire – leaving ash – earth – from which metal can extracted, which when smelted flows like water. Water can extinguish fire which melts metal which can chop wood. It follows that two people are likely to relate better if they belong to neighbouring elements. Air (Chi or qi) is considered to be the life force itself, so it is not counted as one of the elements.
As in the west, the Chinese zodiac has twelve signs. These signs are named after the animals which, according to legend, attended the dying Buddha so he could bid them farewell. The Buddha thanked them by offering each a year, so each sign is effective for a year. In addition to this, each month and two-hour period is assigned an animal. Thus you may be born in the year of one sign, the month of another and at the time of yet another. As the sign changes from year to year, so does the element. Thus if you were born in a year of the tiger, someone born 12 years later in the next tiger year will have a different element.
Chinese astrology maintains that everything in the universe is balanced by its opposite. Day and Night, Birth and Death, Love and Hate, Positive and Negative, Male and Female, etc. These opposites, Yin and Yang, have been compared to the poles of a magnet: opposites attract when brought together, similar forces repel each other. Using this concept, Chinese astrologers have excelled in the ability to predict compatibility between people. Compatible and incompatible relationships are identified for each animal sign.
So – which works better, Chinese Astrology or Western?
The main difference between Chinese and Western (occidental) zodiac, at least as far as classifying personality types is concerned, is that the Chinese look at a “bigger picture”. Under the Western system, an individual is one of twelve basic types (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc.) with detailed analysis coming from the birth chart. The Chinese classify people as belonging to one of sixty distinct personality types: Earth Dragon, Water Snake, Fire Rat, etc. The Chinese classifications are annual, while the Western are monthly.
Chinese personal zodiac is vastly more complex than just describing an individual from their year of birth. In the following pages we hope to help you understand some of the fundamental aspects of the Chinese system. However, in a broad sense, the personality types described by the annual system are mostly very accurate.
An interesting way to appreciate the Chinese system is to look at schools. Schools segregate pupils by age and, in an astrological sense, it is remarkable to look at the differences between the years. For example, in any school on the planet, the ten-year olds are Fire Tigers, the eleven-year olds are Wood Oxes, and the twelve-year olds are Wood Rats. If you look back on your own school years, you will probably remember the differences between the children of your year and those above and below you (talking to a teacher about this can be amusing!).
The Chinese lunar calendar has been in use for over 4,600 years. A full lunar cycle takes 60 years. We are currently in the early years of the 78th cycle. The lunar month commences with the New Moon every 29 1/2 days. An extra month is added every two and a half years to adjust the calendar. This produces a Lunar Leap Year every three years. These variations cause the Lunar New Year to occur between late January and mid-February.
Chinese Zodiac Astrology
There are several periods being a base for Chinese zodiac.
10-years cycle means five elements: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth. They are also perceived as five stages of changes. Wood forms a daily routine with dignity and peacefulness. Fire sets goals with energy and dynamics. Earth creates stability with constancy. Metal makes risk with fairness and objectivity. Water sets free and makes expect new things with prudence and fruitfulness.
These are the relation between different elements which can also tell about compatibility of people.
1. Wood causes Fire and can be destroyed by Metal.
2. Fire creates Earth and can be destroyed by Water.
3. Earth gives birth to Metal and can be destroyed by Wood.
4. Metal gives birth to Water and can be destroyed by Fire.
5. Water gives birth to Wood and can be destroyed by Earth.
Each of these elements takes two years: ‘Yin’ and ‘Yan’. These are two mutually complementary principles. ‘Yin’ means feminine, non-creative, taking care, and passive principles. Moon, shadows, Earth, as well as even numbers apply to ‘Yin’. ‘Yan’ means masculine, active, dynamic, productive, and creative principles. Sun, light, sky and day, as well as odd numbers apply to ‘Yan’. According to the theory about Yin and Yan, they alternate directions for human society actions. It is considered that Yin year lets people use the accumulated forces and resources, and be concentrated on finishing the unfinished issues. Yan year activates people in new matters and makes move on and on.
This division into Yin-Yan qualities in Chinese and Japanese cultures is completely different. So, it is incorrect to consider the Chinese Horoscope to be like the Japanese one. These are two fundamentally diverse philosophies.
A shade of the element depends on such Yin-Yan directions (the color of the year). So, each element has its color: Wood – green, Water – blue or black, Metal – white or golden, Earth – ochre or brown, Fire – red.
12-years cycle is taken from the Jupiter orbit cycle which is almost 12 years. Chinese zodiac is a scheme where each year corresponds to an animal and its characteristics according to the 12-year cycle. These characteristics give qualities to people being born this year.
Each animal of Chinese zodiac has a positive, a neutral and a negative element. Whatever animal rules the year, it has its own element or quality which will remain of it creating successful or negative combinations of events. In other words, it is not necessary at all that the year with “your” animal will be the most successful for you.
60-years cycle is the result of interaction between the 10-years and 12-years cycles. Each year is characterized by Yin/Yan, an element and an animal. For example, each cycle begins with Wooden Rat and continues until the next Wooden Rat. Parity of the number 12 leads to the fact that each zodiac animal is met only in one Yin-Yan form. For example, Dragon is always Yan, Oz is always Yin. So, the cycle lasts exactly 60 years, not 120.
What Chinese Zodiac Sign are you?
Legend says that before the Lord Buddha left this Earth, he summoned all the animals to come to him. Only twelve came. First was the Rat, then the Ox, followed by the Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar.
In appreciation of their loyalty, the names of the twelve animals were given to the years of the Chinese calendar. More importantly, their spirits were allowed to live in the hearts of those born in their particular years.
Are Chinese and Western Astrology related?
Chinese Astrology shares many basic principles with its western counterpart, but the finer details are quite different. While the two differ, Western Astrology and Chinese Astrology are both based on a twelve-Sign system. Each Chinese Astrology Sign has a Western Astrology counterpart. Each Sign from each branch of Astrology is unique and special, but there are shared qualities. Once you’ve read about your Chinese Sign, add a new dimension to your intepretation by taking a look at the characteristics of its Zodiacal twin — or vice versa.
The Rat = Sagittarius
The Ox = Capricorn
The Tiger = Aquarius
The Rabbit = Pisces
The Dragon = Aries
The Snake = Taurus
The Horse = Gemini
The Goat = Cancer
The Monkey = Leo
The Rooster = Virgo
The Dog = Libra
The Pig = Scorpio
Chinese Zodiac Chart
To read about the characteristics that correspond to your Chinese Zodiac Sign, based on your year of birth, click the appropriate link.