The Shēngxiào (Chinese zodiac) has many similarities to the western astrology but also has significant differences. For one, the animals of the signs are not constellations like in western astrology.
In Shēngxiào one year relates to an animal and its characteristics. So instead of having a one year cycle with 12 months here we have a 12 year cycle. The Shēngxiào is popular in many East Asian countries but it has lost the significance that it still has in China.
For example in Japan people use the Shēngxiào zodiacal signs when talking about their character or to foretell their future but they have substituted the Gregorian calendar making a mess and mockery of this ancient zodiacal system.
The Shēngxiào animals are as follows starting with the Rat. There are stories told to children of how these animals came to be in this order but they are mythologies passed from generation to generation.
- Rat – 鼠 (It is a fixed Water –Yang sign )
- Ox – 牛 (It is a fixed Water –Yin sign)
- Tiger – 虎 (It is a fixed Wood –Yang sign)
- Rabbit – 兔(It is a fixed Wood –Yin sign)
- Dragon – 龍(It is a fixed Wood –Yang sign)
- Snake – 蛇(It is a fixed fire –Yin sign)
- Horse – 馬 (It is a fixed fire –Yang sign)
- Sheep – 羊(It is a fixed fire –Yin sign)
- Monkey – 猴(It is a fixed metal –Yang sign)
- Rooster – 雞 (It is a fixed metal–Yin sign)
- Dog – 狗/ (It is a fixed metal–Yang sign)
- Pig – 豬 (It is a fixed Water –Yin sign)
Each person belongs to one of the above signs depending on the year born but has to base the year on the Lunar calendar which does not start on the first of January. Sometimes it starts in January and sometimes in February. If you are born in January or February check the Chinese calendar to find out your correct zodiacal representation.
Now, apart from one YEAR being represented by one sing,
Every SEASON is also corresponds to one sign.
Each MONTH also has its own animal sign (inner animal),
Each DAY has one the so called True animal sign
And last but not least each HOUR has a secret animal.
Above we saw that each sign has a fixed element. If we take one year having 4 seasons then each season has 1 representing/associating element.
But actually in the traditional Chinese system there are 5 seasons but that we will live for our next discussion.