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Chinese Astrology Signs – How Your Three Animal Signs Are Calculated
I get asked a lot about Chinese astrology – not least because I’ve always intended to include it on my website but haven’t yet. There’s a good reason for this, and it’s the simple fact that Chinese astrology is complex, while websites need to be simple and easy to grasp. One web page on Chinese astrology quickly turns into several pages of fine detail. It is also very different from Western astrology, as it uses different astronomical and cultural reference points. Most of us can say “I am a dragon/tiger/rat etc.” and they have a broad understanding of the very general characteristics of that sign, but few of us clearly understand the signature of their Chinese star and how it is determined. As we began the year of the rabbit (metal, yin), the 78th cycle (or 79th depending on which version of the calendar you prefer) is a quick recap…
Western astrology is based on a simple twelve-month recurring cycle – the Zodiac. The Chinese astrology horoscope has 12 signs – the earthly branches – but is based on a sixty-year cycle. The mechanics of this are simple enough: Chinese astrology developed alongside astronomy, which originally identified five major planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. According to astrology, the key elements for these planets – water (mercury), metal (Venus), fire (Mars), wood (Jupiter), earth (Saturn). Each of the twelve signs spans a year – this is derived from Jupiter’s orbit (11.86 years) – and each sign has five elemental varieties (eg water rat, metal rat, fire rat, wood rat, earth rat). 5 x 12 = 60. Simplify? To a certain extent, yes. But the sixty-year cycle is also derived from two separate but interacting cycles—the earthly branches mentioned above—of the twelve zodiac signs: Rat, Taurus, Tiger, Rabbit (aka Cat), Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep (aka Ram or Goat). ), monkey, rooster, dog and pig (aka boar) – and in that order; and the ten celestial stems – these are the five elements mentioned earlier, each in their ying and yang form – 5×2=10. Since the 12 earthly branches that give us animal signs are divisible by two, each animal sign is either a Yin or Yang year and this is called sign polarity. Yin years end in odd numbers, Yang years in even numbers. Although each animal sign is either Yin or Yang (eg Rats are always Yang, Ox always Yin), this is mitigated by the Celestial Stem, which adds an element. 0-9, the order is metal, metal; water, water; wood, wood; fire fire; land, land And Yang and Yin in this order:
0 Metal Yang
1 Metal Yin
2 Water Yang
3 Water Yin
4 Tree Yang
5 Tree Yin
6 Fire Yang
7 Fire Yin
8 Earth Yang
9 Earth Yin
Thus, years ending in 0 are metal, Yang years, years ending in 1 are metal Yin years – 2010 was the year of the Yang Metal Tiger, while 2011 is the year of the Yin Metal Rabbit. The Year of the Tiger will not come again until 2022, when it will be the Yang Water Tiger. Tiger is always Yang. The Rabbit is always Yin and the next year of the Rabbit is the Water Rabbit in 2023. The Metal Tiger year is again only in 2060.
In reality, the cycle begins with the metal rat (Yang) and ends with the strawberry pig (Yin). Today we are 28 years into the current 60 year cycle (the 78th or 79th cycle depending on the calendar used). Chinese astrology uses a lunisolar calendar that begins with lichun – literally the beginning of spring, around February 4th, which we call the Chinese New Year. It is worth remembering that, for example, a person born in January 2011 is, in terms of Chinese astrology, born in a year that ends in 0 – i.e. a metal tiger and not a metal rabbit. Of course, this applies to every year.
The five elements are crucially important in Chinese astrology, at least as important as the animal sign, and the added emphasis of the Yin or Yang factor shows the importance of the trinity in Chinese astrology – earth, water and sky. Those familiar with the I Ching will not be surprised to learn that elements of Chinese astrology are considered to be agents of change or transformative energies, not unlike the “moving lines” concept of the I Ching, but quite unlike the elements of Western astrology that are seen building blocks.
Just as you understand how different a metal tiger might be from a wood tiger or a water tiger, more complexity enters the picture. Placing a person in the Chinese astrological system requires a calculation that includes the date of birth, birth season/month, and date of birth. In addition to the year of birth, this means that a person’s horoscope in Chinese astrology consists of the following four characters. Three of these are key elements for anyone:-
1. The year of birth is related to a person’s family background and status in society, which is strongly linked to family roots, grandparents, which is a much more pronounced cultural focus in Chinese society. As of today (February 4, 2011) it is the Year of the (Metal) Rabbit – remember that the order of signs as given above is Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig . Then next February will be the year of the dragon.
2. The month or season of birth (note that the months are different in the Chinese calendar) determines the “inner animal” – this indicates the upbringing of childhood, the changing influence on character and behavior that manifests itself in adult life.
Spring will see
Tiger from February 4th to March 5th, Rabbit from March 6th to April 4th and Dragon from April 5th to May 4th.
Summer will see
Snake 5.-5. June, horse 6.-6. July and lamb 7-6 August.
Monkey 7.8.-7.9., Rooster 8.9.-7.10., Dog 8.10.-7.11.
Winter can see
Pig 7.11.–6.12., Rat 7.12.–5.1. and Taurus 6 January – 3 February.
3 hour of birth determine a person’s “secret animal” – the real person inside often revealed only under stress:
11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m Rat,
at 1-3 Taurus,
from 3 to 5 Tiger,
from 5 to 7 Rabbit,
from 7 to 9 Dragon,
from 9 to 11 Snake,
from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m Horse,
from 13:00 to 15:00 the sheep,
at 15-17 Monkey,
from 5 to 7 p.m Cock,
at 19-21 Dog,
at 21-23 Swine
Date of birth matters too – each animal sign rules one day, but it works on a 5 element x 12 sign basis, each elemental type of animal, and this makes a 60 day basis and things get complicated… this is more of a daily horoscope feature than a birth chart, and goes beyond of this article.
Interestingly, however, just as these two astrologies appear to be the most different, essential similarities become apparent. Western subjects often focus on the Sun Sign without considering the significance, importance and contribution of the Moon Sign and Ascendant in the birth chart. Good Western astrology also divides each sun sign into four “sub-signs” and can be further refined by looking at the day itself.
Chinese astrology focuses on temperament and character and the interactions and emphases between these two aspects, the former being disposition, inclination and tendency, while the latter is actual behavior, habits and learned (current) tendency. It attempts to recognize the natural, innate human as opposed to the personality transformed and transformed by life experience, to find nature before treatment, and to help us understand our lives by looking at it. backwardsas Kierkegaard suggested, while outliving them.
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