The origin of the Chinese Astrology, based on antique Chinese philosophy and astronomy, dates back to 4,000 years ago at least -according to the scholars- and is an important element of the Chinese calendar with repeated cycles each 60 years (Sexagenary cycle), which have been registered since the Shang dynasty era.
The essential cycle is formed by two other sub-cycles: the 10 heavenly stems with five elements in the yin and yang forms); and the 12 earthly branches, known as 12-year cycle of animals or the Chinese zodiac. This animal zodiac includes a cycle of months (moons) and of hours of the day shaping the Four Pillars of Destiny.
The Chinese zodiac concern a pure calendric cycle without correspondent constellations like the western zodiac. In imperial period it was common that astrologers observe the sky for heavenly sings that allow predicting the future of the country.
The Chinese Zodiac
There are twelve signs in the Chinese zodiac, corresponding with one of twelve sacred animals: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Chinese folk tradition introduced these animal signs around the sixth century BC. During the third century BC, they were included into the formal astrology and astronomy, rooted in the lunar calendar. Each year of the cycle is named after a different animal that provides a distinctive characteristic to its year.
Several myths try to explain the origin of the animal horoscopy. One of the most popular relates that the twelve animals were chosen because they were the ones who went to the command of Buddha. Then, he named the years in the order in which the animals arrived.
Every lunar year (which begins in late January/early February) correspond to one of the twelve animals. Peopleís sign depends on their year of birth. Popular Chinese belief considers that born under the sign of a particular animal, determinates personís personality traits, physical and mental characteristics, aptitudes and degree of success and happiness all through his or her lifetime.
||2008 (Fire), 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, 1924.
||Forthright, disciplined, systematic, meticulous, charismatic, hardworking, industrious, charming, eloquent, sociable, shrewd. Can be manipulative, cruel, dictatorial, rigid, selfish, obstinate, critical, over-ambitious, ruthless, intolerant, scheming, sturdy.
|| 2009 (Earth), 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937, 1925.
||Dependable, calm, methodical, patient, hardworking, ambitious, conventional, steady, modest, logical, resolute, tenacious. Can be stubborn, narrow-minded, materialistic, rigid, demanding.
||2010 (Earth), 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, 1926.
||Unpredictable, rebellious, colorful, powerful, passionate, daring, impulsive, vigorous, stimulating, sincere, affectionate, humanitarian, generous. Can be restless, reckless, impatient, quick-tempered, obstinate, selfish.
||2011 (Metal), 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927.
||Gracious, kind, sensitive, soft-spoken, amiable, elegant, reserved, cautious, artistic, thorough, tender, self-assured, astute, compassionate, flexible. Can be moody, detached, superficial, self-indulgent, opportunistic, lazy.
||2000 (Earth), 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928.
||Magnanimous, stately, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, zealous, fiery, passionate, decisive, pioneering, ambitious, generous, loyal. Can be arrogant, imperious, tyrannical, demanding, eccentric, grandiloquent and extremely bombastic, prejudiced, dogmatic, over-bearing, violent, impetuous, brash.
||2001 (Metal), 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, 1929.
||Deep thinker, wise, mystic, graceful, soft-spoken, sensual, creative, prudent, shrewd, ambitious, elegant, cautious, responsible, calm, strong, constant, purposeful. Can be loner, bad communicator, possessive, hedonistic, self-doubting, distrustful, mendacious.
||2002 (Metal), 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942, 1930.
||Cheerful, popular, quick-witted, changeable, earthy, perceptive, talkative, agile mentally and physically, magnetic, intelligent, astute, flexible, open-minded. Can be fickle, anxious, rude, gullible, stubborn, lack stability and perseverance.
||2003 (Water), 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943, 1931, 1919.
||Righteous, sincere, sympathetic, mild-mannered, shy, artistic, creative, gentle, compassionate, understanding, mothering, determined, peaceful, generous, seeks security. Can be moody, indecisive, over-passive, worrier, pessimistic, over-sensitive, complainer.
||2004 (Water), 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944, 1932, 1920.
||Inventor, motivator, improviser, quick-witted, inquisitive, flexible, innovative, problem solver, self-assured, sociable, polite, dignified, competitive, objective, factual, intellectual. Can be egotistical, vain, selfish, cunning, jealous, suspicious.
||2005 (Wood), 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945, 1933, 1921.
||Acute, neat, meticulous, organized, self-assured, decisive, conservative, critical, perfectionist, alert, zealous, practical, scientific, responsible. Can be over zealous and critical, puritanical, egotistical, abrasive, opinionated.
|| 2006 (Wood), 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946, 1934, 1922.
||Honest, intelligent, straightforward, loyal, sense of justice and fair play, attractive, amiable, unpretentious, sociable, open-minded, idealistic, moralistic, practical, affectionate, dogged. Can be cynical, lazy, cold, judgmental, pessimistic, worrier, stubborn, quarrelsome.
||2007 (Fire), 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947, 1935, 1923.
||Honest, simple, gallant, sturdy, sociable, peace-loving, patient, loyal, hard-working, trusting, sincere, calm, understanding, thoughtful, scrupulous, passionate, intelligent. Can be naive, over-reliant, self-indulgent, gullible, fatalistic, materialistic.
The yin or yang is divided in Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water) upon the cycle of animals. These elements influence in the characteristics of the zodiac. In fact, all of the 12 animals are affected by an element plus a Yin Yang Direction.
||Associated with: Center, three enclosures (change of seasons), the Yellow Dragon, the planet Saturn, the color Yellow, Digestive system, Spleen and Stomach. Personality traits: powerful, patient, militaristic, prideful, prudent, stable, reliable, hard-working, ambitious, stubborn, very energetic, seeks to conquer; disciplined, rigid, controlling, tenacious, logical, governed by service and duty to others.
||Associated with: the South, Summer, Vermilion Bird, the planet Mars, the color Red, Circulatory system & Heart. Personality traits: dynamic, humanitarian, enterprising, adventurous, restless; competitive, leadership skills, strong, single-minded, loves a good laugh.
||Associated with: the West, Autumn, White Tiger, the planet Venus, the color White, Respiratory system & Lungs. Personality traits: determined, self-reliant, unyielding, strong, tenacious, forceful; reserved, needs personal space, sophisticated, seeks pleasure, caring, respectful.
||Associated with: the East, Spring, Azure Dragon, the planet Jupiter, the color Green, Liver and gallbladder. Personality traits: generous, warm, persuasive, cooperative, seeks to expand and grow; idealistic, ethical, enthusiastic, seeks to explore.
||Associated with: the north, Winter, Black Tortoise, the planet Mercury, the color Black, Skeletal/Excretory system & Lungs. Personality traits: secretive, self-destructive, charming, intuitive, deceptive, passive-aggressive, compassionate, sensitive, creative; flexible, addictive, manipulative, compliant, eloquence, intellectual, betrayal.