According to Chinese legend, the twelve animals quarreled one day as to who was to head the cycle of years. The gods were asked to decide and they held a contest: whoever was to reach the opposite bank of the river would be first, and the rest of the animals would receive their years according to their finish.
All the twelve animals gathered at the river bank and jumped in. Unknown to the ox, the rat had jumped upon his back. As the ox was about to jump ashore, the rat jumped off the ox’s back, and won the race. The pig, who was very lazy, ended up last. That is why the rat is the first year of the animal cycle, the ox second, and the pig last.
The Chinese animal signs are a 12-year cycle used for dating the years. They represent a cyclical concept of time, rather than the Western linear concept of time. In the Chinese calendar, the beginning of the year falls somewhere between late January and early February. The Chinese have adopted the Western calendar since 1911, but the lunar calendar is still used for festive occasions such as the Chinese New Year. Many Chinese calendars will print both the solar dates and the Chinese lunar dates.
A cultural sidelight of the animal signs in Chinese folklore is that horoscopes have developed around the animal signs, much like monthly horoscopes in the West have been developed for the different moon signs, Pisces, Aries, etc. For example, a Chinese horoscope may predict that a person born in the Year of the Horse would be, cheerful, popular, and loves to compliment others. These horoscopes are amusing, but not regarded seriously by the Chinese people.
Are you confused about the meanings of Chinese astrology? Would you like to know more about this 5000 year old art?
Chinese astrology is based on the lunar calendar. As with astrology from other cultures, a horoscope is created using the position of the stars and planets for each of the twelve signs of the zodiac based on the year of birth.
The Twelve Chinese Signs
Rats are charming and attractive to the opposite sex. But despite outside appearances, they are restless and this sometimes comes across as aggressiveness. Rats are great with money, and love to pounce on an opportunity. They are also very generous to their friends. They love people and large gatherings and always have others around. They also run in many intimate circles and like to be involved in everything they can, leading them to sometimes attempt to do too much. They are good writers and speakers, and success comes easily to them.
Oxen are calm on the surface, but have hidden tempers. They are hard workers and are determined to the point of stubbornness. However, this makes them one of the most dependable signs. They are trustworthy, and easily move up at the office. If they don’t watch out, they may not have much of a social life. They are not very adept at mind games, and can sometimes be led astray in romance. But once they find someone, they are steadfast and loyal.
Tigers are energetic and unpredictable. Their wild side leads them to be the center of attention. They speak their mind and are always looking for the new party or next great idea. They are also very involved in giving their time and money to the causes they are passionate about. They are generous and honest. However, they are also rebels. They seek ideals and will rebel against a society they perceive as being in the wrong. They are emotional and impulsive, prone to romance as well as jealousy.
Rabbits are gracious and gentle. They adore quiet and peacefulness, and prefer a good book to a night on the town. Their sensitivity can lead to moodiness, but normally rabbits are great at keeping the peace. While they are quiet on the surface, rabbits are good at finding deals. They are sweet and can talk people into being on their side of an issue without argument. While they are cautious, they can also be friendly and inviting once they feel safe.
Dragons have fire. They are full of life, and want to live life to the fullest. They are perfectionists and are extremely demanding of both themselves and others. They intimidate those who disagree with them, although they are very loyal to their friends. They can be stubborn, but they will let you know how they feel. They believe themselves to be strong and loveable, and they strive to motivate everyone to live up to their standards.
Snakes are mysterious, often charming the opposite sex. They are graceful, and tend towards all things grand and cultural. They are private tend to look inward for their self-esteem, and are superstitious about everything. They are not penny-pinchers, but always have money on hand. Snakes are jealous when they find a lover, and will turn cold almost on a whim.
Horses are generally friendly. They love being the center of attention, and will keep others enthralled by their quick wit. However, they have malleable alliances, and will have many short-lived romances and friendships. They enjoy the change, and lead lives full of adventure. They don’t like being tied down, and love working out and spending time outdoors. They don’t like sticking to a plan, and will often take on too much. They can be impatient with others whom they perceive as moving too slowly.
Sheep are peaceful people. They empathize with others’ pain, and are easy to talk to. They don’t like to rush, and will break if pressured. They do not like harsh words, and love to be led gently. While they are passive, they are also patient, and generally they eventually get their way. They always remember their friends and families and give thoughtful gifts. They often worry about what others think, and tend too spend too much.
Monkeys are intuitive and clever. They are hands-on problem solvers, and a great deal of self-confidence. They enjoy succeeding at difficult tasks, and don’t need to be talked into attempting one. The source of their success is their great memory. They are hard workers, and don’t care what others think of them. They don’t usually have many friends, although their success does attract people to them.
Roosters are romantics. They are perfectionists and dreamers at the same time. Quick to see detail, they always love a challenge, especially if at first glance it looks impossible. They take great pride in knowing all the details of a subject that interests them, and are thus great debaters. However, they will never admit to being wrong. They also tend to step in and try to solve others’ problems, whether or not they have been invited to do so. They like to always stay busy, and will work for whatever they have their eye on.
Dogs are friendly and are always up front about their feelings. They are very family-oriented and are extremely loyal to their friends. They will fight for a cause they feel is just. They are not comfortable around extravagant wealth, and prefer a loving home regardless of social status. Once you befriend a dog, they will be by your side for life. They are monogamous, and tend to choose their lovers wisely. They work hard and play hard, and know when it is appropriate to be doing one or the other. They are good providers to those they love.
Pigs love a social life. They have many friends, and tend to stay out of heated discussions and all kinds of debates. It’s not that they don’t have an opinion; they simply love to party and don’t want to risk ruining the fun. They are good listeners, but are sometimes gullible and can be taken advantage of easily. This can sometimes hurt them in relationships. They are trustworthy and dependable, and stick by their friends. They are generous to those they care about.
The Five Elements
There is another layer to Chinese astrology that is less well known than the Chinese signs. Chinese astrologers use a 60 year cycle, made up of five sets of the twelve signs. The five repetitions of the signs each correspond to a different element, adding more intricacy to the animal.
The five elements are Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth. Water= 4- Fire= 4+ Metal= 3+/1- Wood 3-/1+ Earth= 2+/2-?
In Chinese astrology, the elements are part of a cycle; one is not higher or better than another. In fact, they have a cyclical relationship, both in positive and negative ways, so that:
Water makes Wood
Wood makes Fire
Fire makes Earth
Earth makes Metal
Metal makes Water
Water destroys Fire
Fire destroys Metal
Metal destroys Wood
Wood destroys Earth
Earth destroys Water
In addition, they can be openly aggressive and hostile:
Water resists Fire
Fire resists Metal
Metal resists Wood
Wood resists Earth
Earth resists Water
So now you know the basics of Chinese Astrology. Enjoy exploring your Chinese sign!