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Chinese Astrology Signs – How Your Three Animal Signs Are Calculated
I get asked a lot about Chinese astrology – mostly because I’ve always meant to include it on my website, but haven’t yet. There is a good reason for this and it is the simple fact that Chinese astrology is complex and websites should be simple and easy to digest. A single website on Chinese astrology quickly turns into many pages of fine detail. It is also very different from Western astrology, using different reference points both astronomically and culturally. Most of us will be able to say “I’m a Dragon/Tiger/Mouse etc.” and we will have a broad idea of the very general characteristics of this sign, but few of us will have a clear understanding of the Chinese signature of their star and how it is determined. So here, as we begin the Year of the Rabbit (Metal, Yin), the 78th cycle (or 79th depending on which version of the calendar you attribute) is a summary in a pot…
Western astrology is based on a simple twelve-month repeating cycle – the Zodiac. Chinese astrology has a zodiac cycle of 12 signs – the earth branches – but is based on a sixty year cycle. The mechanics of this are quite simple: Chinese astrology developed alongside astronomy which originally recognized five major planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Astrology assigned basic elements to these planets – water (Mercury), metal (Venus), fire (Mars), wood (Jupiter), earth (Saturn). Each of the twelve signs spans one year – this came from Jupiter’s orbit (11.86 years) – and each sign comes in five elemental varieties (eg Water Rat, Metal Rat, Fire Rat, Wood Rat, Earth Rat). 5 x 12 = 60. Just? To an extent, yes. But the sixty-year cycle also derives from two separate but interacting cycles – the earthly branches, mentioned above – the twelve signs, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit (aka cat), dragon, snake, horse, sheep (known and as 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 the forms of ying and yang – 5×2=10. As the 12 earth branches, which give us the signs, are divided by two, each of the signs is either a Yin year or a Yang year and this is referred to as the polarity of the sign. Yin years end in odd numbers, Yang years in even numbers. While each animal sign is either Yin or Yang (rats are always Yang, oxen are always Yin for example), this is tempered by the celestial element that adds the element. From 0 to 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 Yang Water
3 Yin Water
4 Wood Yang
5 Wood Yin
6 Yang Fire
7 Yin Fire
8 Yang Earth
9 Earth Yin
So years ending in 0 are Metal years, Yang years, years ending in 1 are Metal Yin years – 2010 was a Yang Metal Tiger year, while 2011 is a Yin Metal Rabbit. It won’t be a Tiger year again until 2022 when it will be a Yang Water Tiger. Tiger is always Yang. Rabbit is always Yin and the next Rabbit Year will be Water Rabbit in 2023. It won’t be a Metal Tiger year again until 2060.
In their actual order, the cycle actually begins with the Metal Rat (Yang) and ends with the Earth Pig (Yin). We are currently 28 years into the current 60 year cycle (the 78th or 79th cycle depending on which calendar is used). Chinese astrology uses a lunar calendar that begins with lichun – literally the beginning of spring, around February 4th, this is what we call the Chinese New Year. It is necessary to bear in mind that someone born in, say, January 2011 is, for the purposes of Chinese astrology, born in a year ending in 0 – i.e. a Metal Tiger and not a Metal Rabbit. This of course applies to every year.
The five elements are vital in Chinese astrology, at least as important as the animal sign, and the emphasis added by the Yin or Yang factor shows the importance of the trinity in Chinese astrology – earth, water and heavens. Those familiar with the I Ching will not be surprised to learn that the elements in Chinese astrology are considered to exist transformative agents of change or transformative energies, not in contrast to the I Ching’s concept of “moving lines”, but in contrast to the elements of Western astrology which are regarded as structural elements.
Just as you realize the significance of how different a Metal Tiger can be from a Wood Tiger or a Water Tiger, an additional degree of complexity enters the picture. Placing a person in the Chinese astrological system requires a calculation that includes the day of birth, season/month of birth, and time of birth. In addition to the year of birth, this means that a person’s star signature in Chinese astrology consists of four signs. Three of them are the essentials for every person:-
1. The year of birth is related to a person’s family background and position in society, closely related to family ancestry, grandparents, which is a cultural emphasis much more pronounced in Chinese society. As of today (February 4, 2011) it is a (metal) Year of the Rabbit – remember, the order of the signs, as given above, is Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig . Next February brings the Year of the Dragon.
2. The month or season of birth (note that the months are different according to the Chinese calendar) determines the “inner animal” – this indicates childhood upbringing, a transforming influence on character and behavior that manifests itself in adulthood.
Spring is watching
The Tiger from February 4th to March 5th, the Rabbit from March 6th to April 4th and the Dragon from April 5th to May 4th.
The Snake from May 5th to June 5th, the Horse from June 6th to July 6th, and the Sheep from July 7th to August 6th.
The Monkey from August 7 to September 7, The Rooster September 8 to October 7, The Dog October 8 to November 7.
Winter is watching
The Pig from November 7 to December 6, The Rat December 7 to January 5 and The Ox from January 6 to February 3.
3. The time of birth determines a person’s “secret animal” – the real face inside often revealed only under stress:
11 p.m. – 1 a.m Rat,
1 a.m. – 3 a.m Ox,
3 a.m. – 5 a.m Tiger,
5 am – 7 a.m Rabbit,
7 am – 9 a.m Dragon,
9 a.m. – 11 a.m Snake,
11 a.m. – 1 p.m Horse,
1 p.m. – 3 p.m Sheep,
3 p.m. – 5 p.m Monkey,
5 p.m. – 7 p.m Cock,
7 p.m. – 9 p.m Dog,
9 p.m. – 11 p.m Pig
The day of birth also has some significance – each animal sign rules a day, but this works based on the 5 element x 12 signs, each basic animal type, and that makes a 60 day basis and things get complicated… that’s more characteristic of daily horoscope prediction than of birth and is beyond the scope of this article.
However, interestingly, as the two astrologies appear to be at their most different, essential similarities become apparent. Western topics often focus on the Sun sign without considering the importance, significance and contribution of the Moon sign and the Ascendant in the birth chart. Good Western astrology also divides each sun sign into four “sub-signs” and can be further focused for detail by looking at the day itself.
Chinese astrology focuses on temperament and character and the interactions and emphasis between these two aspects, the first being that of predisposition, inclination and tendency, while the second is that of actual behaviour, habits and learned (current) disposition. It tries to define the natural, innate person as opposed to the personality that has been mutated and transformed by life experience, to find nature before nurturing it, and to help us understand our lives by looking at it. backwardsas Kierkegaard suggested, while he lived before them.
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