Chinese Astrology

The foremost origins of Chinese astrology are shrouded in the haze of the ancient times.   Chinese astrology is based on a lunar cycle of twelve lunations, a lunation being the time between a New Moon and the next, with the New Year beginning when the New Moon appears in Aquarius (sometime between mid-January and mid-February).   In the Western world, the years are dated from the birth of Jesus Christ, for example, 2003 means 2,003 years after the birth of Christ. This represents a linear perception of time, with time proceeding in a straight line from the past to the present and the future. In traditional China, dating methods were cyclical, cyclical meaning something that is repeated time after time according to a pattern.

A popular folk method which reflected this cyclical method of recording years was the naming of Twelve Animal Signs. Every year within a cycle (cyclical period) is assigned an animal name or "sign" according to a repeating cycle: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep/Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar/Pig.

Every twelve years the same animal name or "sign" would reappear.  The Chinese lunar calendar (used in China for determining dates of festive events such as Chinese New Year) is made up of five cycles of twelve years each, with a bigger cycle taking sixty years.  These numbers of years were determined from mathematics, astronomical observations, and analyses of people and events on Earth.  Each year has characteristic influences which are repeated every 12 years.

Under the Chinese astrological system a complete analysis of an individual would have to take into account the year of birth, the element, the yin/yang polarity, the month of birth, and the hour of birth. Each year within a 12 year cycle is ruled by a different element.

Metal  (ruled by Venus, color=white)
Water (ruled by Mercury, color=black)
Wood (ruled by Jupiter, color=green)
Fire    (ruled by Mars, color=red)
Earth ( ruled by Saturn, color=brown)

As there are five elements and twelve years in a Chinese zodiac cycle, four elements appear twice within a 12 year period and one of them occurs four times.  For example, the current 60 year cycle began in February 1984 and the current 12 year cycle began in 1996, with the changeable elements and polarities as follow  An example of elements and polarities for the 12 year cycle starting in 1996 follows.

Rat            Fire     (+)
Ox             Fire      (-)
Tiger          Earth    (+)
Rabbit        Earth    (-)
Dragon       Metal    (+)
Snake        Metal    (-)
Horse         Water   (+) 
Sheep        Water   (-)    
Monkey      Wood   (+)
Rooster/     Wood   (-)  
(year 2005)
Dog            Fire      (+)
Boar           Fire      (-)

The next Rat will have the element of Earth corresponding with it.  Thus, each Animal sign, which repeats 5 times in a 60 year period, has a different element, called the changeable element.  A 60 year period begins with Metal and ends with Metal.  Each element has a polarity, either Yin or Yang.  According to Chinese philosophy, two primal forces or polarities control the whole universe. These are Yin (-) and Yang (+) and are reflected in the microcosm. The balance of the universe, the earth, a nation and even the health and moods of individuals are determined by the balance or imbalance of Yin and Yang factors.  Yin is feminine, darkness and death, and Yang is masculine, light and life. 

Having said that, every one of the Animals has a fixed element (with its fixed polarity) together with a fixed season and a fixed direction!!

Water     Winter        North      Boar/Pig  -    Rat  +         Ox  -
Wood     Spring        East       Tiger       +    Rabbit  -      Dragon  +
Fire        Summer     South      Snake     -    Horse  +      Sheep  +
Metal      Autumn      West       Monkey  +    Rooster  -    Dog  +

Note that the element Earth is symbolically composed of all the other four elements and hence is not represented.  The fixed element that rules a person's year of birth is called the Dominant element.  The fixed sign and changeable sign give more detail to the characteristics of each year.  Someone whom is a Fire Wood Rabbit is somewhat different to a Water Wood Rabbit.

To top it off, there are not only fixed and changeable elements, polarities, seasons, and directions, but yet another layer of detail is given.  This is because each lunar calendar day begins at 11 pm, and the 24 hours are divided into twelve two-hour segments, each ruled by one of the animal signs, which adds a deeper layer of meaning to a person's personality.  For example, you may have been born in the Year of the Water Wood Rabbit at the Hour of the Dragon, which makes you different to someone born in the Year of the Water Wood Rabbit at the Hour of the Sheep!!

11 p.m. to 1 a.m.   The Hours of the Rat
1 a.m. to 3 a.m.     The Hours of the Ox
3 a.m. to 5 a.m.     The Hours of the Tiger
5 a.m. to 7 a.m.     The Hours of the Rabbit
7 a.m. to 9 a.m.     The Hours of the Dragon
9 a.m. to 11 a.m.   The Hours of the Snake
11 a.m. to  1 p.m.  The Hours of the Horse
1 p.m  to 3 p.m.     The Hours of the Sheep
3 p.m. to 5 p.m.     The Hours of the Monkey
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.     The Hours of the Rooster
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.     The Hours of the Dog
9 p.m. to 11 p.m.   The Hours of the Boar

2003 was the Year of the Water Fire Sheep Fire is the Sheep's fixed element, and Water was the changeable element for 2003.  2003 may be referred to by many people as the Year of the Black Sheep, because of the colour black associated with the changeable element (Water).  It was a fairly smooth year following that of the energetic Year of the Horse.  It was a year to relax and make peace with oneself as well as with others. Things progressed and we found ourselves more sentimental and emotional. The Sheep's influence may have drawn us closer to home and our families, and on the world scene things were relatively tranquil and subdued.  2002 was the Year of the Horse (swift year) and 2001 was the sad Year of the Snake (and the year of the September 11 attacks).


Last year, 2005, was the Year of the Wood Metal Chicken (Green Chicken).

Any unfinished good or bad business from 2004 continued to occur in 2005

2005 was not the Year of the Rooster, as some people believed, because in that year, the female of the animal, that is, a hen was involved,

rather than the male of the species, (the Rooster).   See below for more information.  


2004, was the Year of the mischievous Wood Metal Monkey (Green Monkey).

On the world scene there were horrific events in Iraq.
To stop the monkey dancing click on the Stop button (X) in the Tool-bar at the top of your screen


This year, 2006, is the Year of the Red Fire Dog (male).

It is a turning point year that will have some unexpected good or bad events that happen.


For a good web site on Chinese Astrology, click on the following link :

To find out the characteristics of your particular year and hour of birth, click here.


To be updated ?  Perhaps

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