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Chinese Astrology Signs – How Your Three Animal Signs Are Calculated
I get asked a lot of questions about Chinese astrology – not least because I’ve always intended to include it in my website, but haven’t yet. There is a good reason for this and it is the simple fact that Chinese astrology is complex while web pages should be simple and quickly digestible. A single web page for Chinese astrology quickly turns into several pages of fine detail. It is also very different from Western astrology, using different points of reference both astronomically and culturally. Most of us will be able to say “I am a Dragon/Tiger/Rat etc” and have a general idea of the very general characteristics of this sign but few of us will have a clear understanding of their Chinese astral signature and how she is determined. So behold, as we began the Year of the Rabbit (Metal, Yin), the 78th Cycle (or the 79th depending on which version of the calendar you subscribe to) is a potted summary…
Western astrology is based on a simple repeating cycle of twelve months – the Zodiac. Chinese astrology has a zodiac of 12 signs – the earth branches – but is based on a sixty year cycle. The mechanics are quite simple: Chinese astrology developed in tandem with astronomy which originally recognized five major planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Astrology has assigned key elements to these planets – water (Mercury), metal (Venus), fire (Mars), wood (Jupiter), earth (Saturn). Each of the twelve signs spans a year – this has been derived from the orbit of Jupiter (11.86 years) – and each sign comes in five elemental varieties (e.g. Water Rat, Metal Rat, Fire, Wood Rat, Earth Rat). 5 x 12 = 60. Simple? To some extent, yes. But the sixty year cycle is also derived from two separate but interacting cycles – the earthly branches, as mentioned above – the twelve zodiac signs rat, ox, tiger, rabbit (aka cat), dragon, snake, horse, sheep (aka ram or goat). ), monkey, rooster, dog and pig (i.e. wild boar) – and in that order; and the ten celestial rods – these are the five elements mentioned earlier, each in their ying and yang forms – 5×2=10. As the 12 terrestrial branches, which give us the animal signs, are divisible by two, each of the animal signs is either a Yin year or a Yang year and this is called 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, Oxes are always Yin for example), this is tempered by the celestial stem which adds the element. From 0 to 9, the order is metal, metal; water water; wood, wood; fire fire; earth, earth. And Yang and Yin, in this order:
0 Yang Metal
1 Yin Metal
2 Yang of Water
3 Yin of Water
4 Yang Wood
5 Yin Wood
6 Yang Fire
7 Yin of fire
8 Yang Earth
9 Yin Earth
Thus, 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 will no longer be a Tiger year until 2022, when it will be a Yang Water Tiger. Tiger is still Yang. The Rabbit is still Yin and the next year of the Rabbit will be a Water Rabbit in 2023. It will not be a year of the Metal Tiger until 2060.
In their true order, the cycle actually begins with Metal Rat (Yang) and ends with Earth Pig (Yin). We are now 28 years from the current 60-year cycle (the 78th or 79th cycle depending on the calendar used). Chinese astrology uses a luni-solar calendar that begins with lichun – literally the beginning of spring, around February 4, this is what we call Chinese New Year. It is necessary to bear in mind that a person born, for example, in January 2011 is, for the purposes of Chinese astrology, born in a year that ends with a 0 – i.e. Metal Tiger and not Metal Rabbit. This applies, of course, to every year.
The five elements are of crucial importance in Chinese astrology, at least equal in importance to the animal sign, and the emphasis of the Yin or Yang factor shows the importance of the trinity in Chinese astrology – the earth , water and skies. Those familiar with the I Ching will not be surprised to learn that the elements of Chinese astrology are considered to be agents of change or transformative energies, much like the “moving lines” concept of the I Ching, but quite different from the elements of Western astrology which are considered building blocks.
Just as you realize how different a Metal Tiger can be from a Wood Tiger or a Water Tiger, an additional degree of complexity comes into play. Placing a person in the Chinese astrological system requires a calculation involving day of birth, season/month of birth and time of birth. In addition to the year of birth, this means that a person’s astral signature in Chinese astrology is made up of four panels. Three of them are the key elements for any person:-
1. Year of birth is linked to a person’s family origin and position in society, strongly linked to family ancestry, grandparents which is a much stronger cultural focus in Chinese society . Starting today (February 4, 2011) it’s a (metal) rabbit year – remember, the order of the signs, as shown above, is rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon , snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, pig. Next February then 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 the upbringing of childhood, a transforming influence on character and behavior manifested at adulthood.
The Tiger from February 4 to March 5, The Rabbit from March 6 to April 4 and The Dragon from April 5 to May 4.
Le Serpent from May 5 to June 5, Le Cheval from June 6 to July 6 and Le Mouton from July 7 to August 6.
The Monkey from August 7 to September 7, The Rooster from September 8 to October 7, The Dog from October 8 to November 7.
The Pig from November 7 to December 6, The Rat from December 7 to January 5 and Beef from January 6 to February 3.
3. The birth time determines a person’s “secret animal” – the real person inside often revealed only under the effect of stress:
11:00 p.m. – 01:00 a.m. Rat,
1 a.m. – 3 a.m. Beef,
3:00 a.m. – 5:00 a.m. Tiger,
5 a.m. – 7 a.m. Rabbit,
7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Dragon,
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Snake,
11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Horse,
1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Sheep,
3 p.m. – 5 p.m. Monkey,
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Rooster,
7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Dog,
9 p.m. – 11 p.m. Pork
Day of birth also has some bearing – each animal sign rules a day but it works based on 5 elements x 12 signs, each elemental type of animal, and that’s a 60 day base and things get complicated. .. this is more a feature of day-to-day horoscope predictions than birth charting and is beyond the scope of this article.
Curiously though, while the two astrologies appear to be the most diverse, essential similarities become apparent. Western topics often focus on the sun sign without considering the importance, meaning, and contribution of the moon sign and ascendant in the birth chart. Good western astrology also breaks down each sun sign into four “sub-signs” and can be further narrowed down to the finer details by looking at the day itself.
Chinese astrology focuses on temperament and character and the interactions and constraints between these two facets, the first being that of predisposition, inclination and tendency while the second being that of actual behavior, learned habits and (current) disposition. It attempts to identify the natural, innate person as opposed to the personality that has been mutated and transformed by life experience, to find nature before feeding, and to help us understand our lives by looking at them. backwardas Kierkegaard suggested, while living them forward.
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