The Chinese Zodiac

There is no correlation between the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac and the twelve signs of the Western Zodiac.

12 Animal Zodiac
12 Animal Zodiac

Western astrology is based upon a system which uses the path of the sun (and the moon and planets) through the heavens and look to the constellations (e.g. Aries, Taurus, Gemini etc) which lie along this path.

The Chinese system, on the other hand, focuses on Zi Wei or the Pole Star and the constellations which relate to it.

The Chinese system of time keeping is based on the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches forming a 60 year cycle. There are 10 sets of Heavenly Stems and 12 sets of Earthly Branches. The 10 Heavenly Stems have to be repeated 6 six times in order to match the 12 Earthly Branches which are repeated 5 times to give you sixty pairs of stems and branches.

The names of the year are taken from the pairs of Stems and Branch in the sixty year cycle. For example 1924 marks the start of the sixty year cycle and has the name of Jia Zi (Jia is the Stem and Zi the Branch). This cycle is repeated every sixty year.

Most of you are familiar with the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. They are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

The link between the animal signs and the sixty year cycle is made through the earthly branches. Each of the 12 Earthly Branches is linked to one of the twelve animals as shown below.

BranchesChinese CharacterAnimal
ZiRat
ChouOx
YinTiger
MaoRabbit
ChenDragon
SiSnake
WuHorse
WeiGoat
ShenMonkey
YouRooster
XuDog
HaiPig

Each of the Heavenly Stems is associated with an element. Jia (甲) and Yi (乙) are associated with wood while Bing (丙) and Ding (丁) with fire. Wu (戊) and Ji (己) are associated with Earth while Geng (庚) and Xin (辛) with Metal. Lastly Ren (任) and Gui (癸) are associated with water.

Hence 1924 which carry the name Jia Zi is also known as a Wood Rat year since Jia is associated with wood while Zi is associated with the Rat. The following year Yi Chou and is a Wood Ox year since Yi is wood while Chou is link to the Ox. This Stem Branch pairing goes on to form a 60-year cycle.

The Chinese Lunar calendar year does not begin on the same day every year. It can fall somewhere between late January and late February of the Western or Gregorian calendar.

Click here to find out your Chinese zodiac using your date of birth.

People born under each of the animal sign will display characteristics related to the animal sign for example the tiger is fierce, the snake cunning while the dog is loyal.

These characteristics are further modified by the Stem. Take the Rat for example. You can be a Wood Rat (1924, 1984), Fire Rat (1936, 1996), Earth Rat (1948, 2008), Metal Rat (1960, 2020) or Water Rat (1972, 2032).

According to the Chinese zodiac, Rat people are highly adaptable. They are sociable, intelligent, polite and humorous. They make friends easily but do not form deep friendships. They have strong imagination, good judgment and can translate ideas into reality but underneath a carefree and happy exterior they can be calculating and miserly.

However not all Rats are equal. You are luckier if you are a Metal Rat (1960, 2020). You will be recognized, have support from friends and be prosperous and successful in your career. On the other hand if you are a Wood Rat (1924, 1984) you are likely to be plagued by illness and accidents and will not get support from relatives and friends.

The pairing of Stem and Branch is also extended to the month. For example the first lunar month is linked to the Branch Yin (tiger) and a corresponding Stem. This is extended to the day and time. For example the hour between 11 PM and 1 AM is link to the Branch Zi (Rat) and a corresponding stem.

These additional Stem and Branch pairs in the month, day and time of birth further modifies your luck. For example a person born in the first lunar month in a Wood Rat year (1924, 1984) is likely to be straightforward and can be independent and calm even under duress. If this person is also born during the between the hours 11 PM and 1 AM, then he or she may also be thrifty or even stingy.

For most people the Chinese zodiac is the animal sign of the year of birth. At a deeper level it can include the Stem of the year as well as the Stem and Branch pair of the month, day and hour of birth. They further influence the destiny and luck of the person.

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