In Chinese Astrology, More Than The Twelve Animals Chinese astrology is a complex subject. There is much more to it than the twelve animal signs that you often see on placements in a Chinese restaurant. Some of the other influences that come into play are the Five Elements and the yinfyang duality. You also need to understand something about Chinese philosophy and thought in order to really understand how to apply Chinese astrology to your life.
First, there are the twelve animal signs, one for each year in a twelve-year cycle: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. 2008 is the Year of the Rat. Each sign has its own personality characteristics.
Yin and Yang
Next, you must consider the concepts of yin and yang. In the Chinese worldview, everything is either yin or yang. Yin represents passive, cold, feminine, yielding, dark energy. Yang represents active, hot, masculine, aggressive, light energy. It is important to remember that yin and yang each contain the seed of the other. Everything is seen to go in cycles.
If you start with yin, it will grow and grow until it reaches fruition, at which point the seed of yang appears. The energy then slowly turns more and more toward yang, until the yang energy reachesits peak. Then the yang energy wanes and the yin energy starts to grow again. Yin and yang will be used along with the Five Elements in the 60-year cycle of Chinese astrology.
The Five Elements
The traditional Five Elements of nature are used in various ways in China, including medicine, astrology, and feng shui. The elements are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal.
The elements are not seen in isolation. They form a cycle.
Water creates Wood because water is necessary for plants to grow. Wood creates Fire, because fire needs wood to bum. Fire creates Earth in the form of the ashes that are created in the buming. Earth creates Metal because metal is mined from the earth. Finally, Metal creates Water because water condenses on metal.
This cycle is called the “Creative Cycle” because each element is said to create the next one. There is also the “Destructive Cycle”, where each element controls or limits the next. The Destructive Cycle goes in this order: Water, Fire, Metal, Wood, Earth, and back to Water.
The Destructive Cycle is used to correct for imbalances where there is too much of a certain element. The controlling element is used to counteract the excess of another element.
The 60-Year Cycle
The Constructive Cycle is the one used in the 60-year cycle of Chinese astrology. Because both the yin and yang aspects of each element are used, the result is a cycle of ten phases, called stems.
The ten stems are:
- Yang Wood
- Yin Wood
- Yang Fire
- Yin Fire
- Yang Earth
- Yin Earth
- Yang Metal
- Yin Metal
- Yang Water
- Yin Water
Each year, one of the ten stems is paired with one of the twelve branches (animals) in sequence, starting with Rat: Yang Wood. Since there are only ten stems and twelve branches, when you get to Dog (the 11th branch), you start over with the stems, giving Dog: Yang Wood.
This keeps going and the cycle does not repeat until the 61st year, when you are back to Rat: Yang Wood. 2008 is called the year of the Earth Rat. It is a yang Earth year, since we have just had two Fire years in the past two years (yang Fire and yin Fire).
The Chinese use the lunar calendar, not the solar calendar that we use in the West. Therefore, the Chinese year of the Earth Rat starts on February 7, 2008 and ends on January 25, 2009. These dates are calculated by the phases of the moon.
Using Chinese Horoscope
You will be able to better interpret your Chinese horoscope if you put yourself into a more Chinese frame of mind. Chinese philosophy draws heavily on Buddhism, where a person is encouraged to accept whatever happens without fighting against it.