Star Signs Q & A (including how to work out your
Chinese Animal Sign)
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Chinese Animal Signs : are
the basis of Chinese astrology. Below you will find a number of
common questions and answers relating to these animal signs. The
following text also gives an indication of how the Chinese animal sign of
an individual can be worked out.
When and where did Chinese Astrology originate?
Chinese astrology originated in ancient China and is at least 2000
years old. By AD 618-907, during the time of the Tang dynasty, a
whole encyclopedia had been written about the art of Chinese astrology and
the practice of delivering personal astrological readings.
Why was Chinese Astrology and the Chinese animal signs developed?
In the first instance Chinese astrology was used as a means of
foretelling the future of a nation. Practitioners of astronomy and
astrology were often present as advisers at the Imperial Court.
However by the beginning of the Christian era the system had been more
highly developed to incorporate a means of giving the individual a
Is Chinese Astrology still practiced today and if so where?
Today Chinese astrology makes for an interesting alternative to
Western Astrology and the art is still widely practiced today in China and
a number of other Asian countries such as Japan and Vietnam. As a
result of this widespread geographical use Chinese astrology is often
referred to as Oriental Astrology.
What is the main purpose of Chinese Astrology today?
Chinese astrology is used today to help people interpret and
understand their lives. It offers a means of finding out about an
individual's personality traits and the type of friends and partners who
may or may not be suited to them. It can also give an indication of
what generally might be in store for the year ahead depending upon the
Chinese animal ruling that year.
What is the basis of Chinese Astrology?
Chinese astrology is based around twelve symbolic animals, which
in turn have one of four natural elements, one of five dominant elements
(planetary based) and either yin or yang ascribed to them.
Is Chinese astrology like Western astrology?
There are certainly a few similarities, for example Chinese
astrology has 12 symbolic (animal) signs and Western astrology also has 12
symbolic (star) signs. In both Chinese and Western astrology these
signs each have one of four natural elements which represent general
characteristics relating to them; for example the Chinese sign of the rat
is a water sign and the Western sign Cancer is also a water sign.
The four Chinese natural elements are: water, metal, fire
and wood, and with a slight difference the four Western natural
elements are: fire, earth, air and water.
Chinese astrology, however goes on to expand upon this and each symbolic
animal is also ascribed a dominant element as well as a natural
element. Four of the dominant elements are the same as the natural
elements, i.e. water, metal, fire, wood.
However there is an additional one earth, thus making five dominant
elements on top of the four natural elements.
Possibly one of the major differences between Chinese and Western
Astrology is that most things are worked out simply from the year of birth
of an individual; as opposed to Western astrology which relies on the
relative positions of stars and planets. Also in Chinese astrology
an animal sign is assigned to a whole year instead of the Western star
sign which relates to a month within the year. The Chinese signs are
also assigned Yin
or Yang and this has a positive or negative bearing on each one of the
five elements allocated to that sign.
Can Chinese astrology be used in conjunction with, or used to
complement Western astrology?
Yes, the personality traits assigned to a Chinese animal sign can
be combined with those of a Western star sign to obtain a greater insight
into the personality and character of an individual. You could have
for example a 'Taurus Goat', a Scorpio Horse or a Sagittarius Rabbit and
What are the twelve signs in Chinese astrology and where did they
The origin of the twelve animal signs is the stuff of legend. There
is one legend which suggests that a "semi-mythical" figure
called "The Yellow Emperor" created the signs around 2637 BC.
Another legend has it that the Buddha (c. 563-483 BC) invited all
of the animals to visit him, but only 12 bothered to turn up. As a
token of his appreciation he assigned each animal a year which would be
dedicated to that animal alone for posterity. The order in which the
animals arrived was said to dictate the allocation of the years and their
order within the twelve year cycle. Hence the animals always appear
in the same order.
Are the planets used at all in Chinese astrology?
Yes, they do play a part, but only a small one, unlike Western
astrology which relies heavily upon the movement of the planets and the
stars. In ancient China the astronomers of old could only observe
five planets which became they linked to the five dominant elements in
Chinese astrology. The five elements and their planets are as
Water (ruled by Mercury) Metal (ruled by Venus) Fire (ruled by Mars) Wood (ruled by Jupiter) Earth (ruled by Saturn)
Again, as already mentioned, depending upon whether or not an animal sign
or Yang, will have a bearing on whether the effects of the element
work to positive or negative effect in an individual.
It is also very important to note that the Chinese calendar is based upon
the lunar year (orbits of the moon around the earth), whereas the
Western calendar is based upon the solar year (orbits around the
sun). This results in the two calendars not corresponding exactly,
it is therefore imperative to ensure that if the birthday of an individual
falls in January or February extra care needs to be taken when calculating
an animal sign. It is important not to fall into the Chinese year before
as the personality traits would then be wrong for that individual.
What exactly is required to calculate an individual's Chinese animal
To obtain your animal sign and its additional components you
require the following information:
Your date of birth, (including the year), if possible the hour of your
birth to the nearest couple of hours and finally some Chinese animal sign
tables (these tell you which animal belongs to which year, making it
possible to locate the animal that belongs to the year of your birth).
What can this information yield?
By providing the above information the following can be obtained:
* The animal sign of the individual and the personality traits
associated with it.
* The natural element that pertains to the individual's animal sign
and the additional info this gives.
* The dominant element that pertains to the individual's animal sign
and the additional info this gives.
* The Yin
or Yang of the individual's animal sign (whether or not the element
traits play a negative or positive role in the life of the individual).
* The individual's inner companion (another animal sign and its
traits which serve as a balancing force or voice of conscience to the
traits of the individual's animal sign).
Exactly what can be found out about an individual by the culmination
of all of the above information?
* A general forecast for the coming year ahead can be
obtained, this depends upon the animal ruling that year.
* On an individual more personal level insights can be obtained into
the personality and character of the individual.
* Insights can be learned about the type of relationship will be had
with other individuals.
How do you find out your Chinese Animal sign and can you give an
example of how the whole thing works in practice?
Following is an example of how the system works. It is
listed in easy to follow steps, starting with the calculation of an animal
sign for a given year of birth. The birthday used in the following
example is 28 October 1967 with a birth hour of 10am.
1). The first step is to find out which Chinese animal represented
the year 1967. By looking this date up in the Chinese
sign tables it is possible to see that 1967 was ruled by the year of
(sometimes referred to as the goat).
2). The second step is to find out the natural element which
belongs to that animal sign, namely in our case the Sheep.
Below is some information which can help to locate this. It can be
seen from the table below that the year of the Sheep
has the natural element of fire.
The elements and their signs are as follows:
Boar (sometimes referred to as the pig), Rat,
3). The third step is to work out which one of the five dominant
elements apply. The dominant element can be looked up in Chinese
sign tables. It can be seen from these tables that 1967
was the year of the Sheep,
but it was also the year of the Sheep
with a natural element of Fire (this does not change as seen
above) and a dominant element of Fire. Expressed
thus far the year 1967 translates into The Sheep
- Fire animal of Fire.
4). The fourth step is to use the hour of birth to calculate the
inner companion of the 1967 year of the Sheep.
In order to do this the hour of birth is required. In the example we
said that the birth hour was 10am. The following information shows
which animal rules which hours, so from this following information the
inner companion to someone born at 10am in the year of the Sheep
can be found. The time 10am falls between 09am and 11am and by following
that time it can be seen that the inner companion on this occasion is the Snake.
As such the personality traits of the Snake
will have an internal balancing effect upon the traits of the Sheep.
The inner companion therefore gives just that little bit more of an
insight into the individual.
5). The fifth and final step is to determine whether an
individual's sign is one of Yin
or Yang. The Yin
or Yang of an animal just like the natural element does not
change. Following are the Chinese animal signs and their Yin
or Yang. It can be seen from following info that the Sheep
is a Yin animal therefore the elemental qualities of that sign namely
Fire, will express themselves negatively.
The 1967 birth year with a hour of birth of 10am can now be expressed in
its entirety as:
- Yin Fire animal of Fire (with an inner companion The Snake).
How are the personality traits of an individual worked out from all of
There are a couple of ways in which you can find out about an
individual based upon their Chinese animal sign. The first and
simplest way is to buy a good book Chinese astrology book that contains
not only the necessary animal sign tables and additional information, but
one which clearly states the type of traits for any combination of animal
The other method is to try to work out the whole thing from scratch, you
will probably still require some kind of reference to the different
personality traits linked to each animal sign, yin or yang , natural
element, dominant element and inner companion. For example:
Some of the personality traits of our Sheep
sign are: creativity, eccentricity, imagination, vulnerability, peace
loving and naivety. The Sheep
sign is always allocated the natural element of fire andfrom
our previous example, the year 1967 also has thedominant element
of fire. Some of the fire traits are: cheerfulness,
destructiveness, passion, cruelty, honour and impatience. We also
know that the animal sign of the Sheep
is a Yin animal and thus all of the element traits will express themselves
negatively, so as well as being creative, eccentric and imaginative as is
inferred by the animal sign a Yin fireSheep
of fire would also display: destructiveness, cruelty and
impatience. To find out how more extreme traits would be balanced is
to look to the inner companion. In our previous Sheep
example the inner companion (working from a time of birth of 10am), was a Snake.
From here the personality traits of the Snake
would be examined to see how they might balance out those of the Yin fireSheep
Where is the best place to find out about Chinese astrology?
Just as with Western astrology there are a number of good books
which have been written about the subject, containing all of the
information you require to do a personality reading. These are
available from most good book stores. For those on a tight budget
and with internet access there are a number of good websites out there,
including this one http://www.paranormality.com/chinese_star_signs.shtml
Is is possible to calculate manually without looking up in a
table your Chinese animal sign and its dominant element?
Yes, it is possible, however care is needed if your
birthday falls in January or February as the Chinese lunar year does not
correspond exactly to the Western Solar year. Otherwise to manually
work out your animal sign you need to know the following:
The animal signs always follow the same set pattern, namely:
Boar. Therefore if we know that the year of the rat was in 1901
(as it was) then the next year of the rat would not come round again for
another 12 years, making the next year of the rat 1913 and the next year
of the rat after that 1925 and so on. From here if 1901 was the year
of the rat then we know that because the signs always follow the same
order, then 1902 would be the year of the ox. Twelve years on from
that would make 1914 an ox year and twelve years on again would make 1926
an ox year and so on. From here if 1901 was the year of the rat
and 1902 the year of the ox, then 1903 would be the year of the
tiger making 1915 the next tiger year and twelve years on again 1927 the
next one, and so on. you would continue this pattern all the way up
until the whole table was worked out until the present day and into the
The dominant element however rotates on a five year cycle as there are
only five elements so from here it is possible to see that as every year
is ruled by one of the 12 animal signs it is possible to calculate that
each combination of animal and element occurs only once every 50 years (12
x 5 = 60). Using our example of the fire sheep we know that the
first fire sheep last century was in 1907, the next one was as in our
example 1967 and the next fire sheep will not now occur until the year
How does Western astrology feature in all of this?
Using the previous Sheep
example, someone born on 28 October 1967 does not just fall under the sign
of the sheep, they also fall under the Western zodiac sign of a Scorpio.
By marrying up the two signs a Scorpio - Sheep
is formed which in turn will possess its own unique set of traits and
characteristics. These can then be added together to gain a more in
depth analysis of an individual's character.
What was last year's Chinese animal sign and what is it this year
and what can we expect from it?
Last year was the year of the water sheep 01 Feb 2003 to 21 Jan 2004.
The forecast for that year was as follows:
A year that will be a time for caring, bringing out creative talent, imagination and emotion, whilst remaining,
and slow. "Harmony with moderation" are the key words with a warning about the danger of
above FAQ's were written by and copyright of Karyn Easton.