Every year, you probably hear someone mention, “This is the Year of the [insert animal here]”. A lot of you might be wondering what all the fuss is about and why so many people are dedicating a whole year to an animal. For those not familiar with Asian culture, every year the people of China and other East Asian countries use the Chinese Zodiac to determine which of the 12 animals to honor. Now many of you are probably familiar with the Western Zodiac or the 12-month chart containing star signs like Pisces, Aries, and Gemini. As you probably know, people use their star signs to better understand themselves, predict their future, and determine whether they’ll be lucky in love. If you can understand the Western Zodiac, then you can understand the Chinese Zodiac. The animals of the Chinese Zodiac also represent people’s true nature and fate and the Chinese use the chart to guide them through their lives.
Chinese Zodiac Basics
Now that you have a general understanding of the Chinese Zodiac, here we’ll go a little further into how the Chinese Zodiac influences so many aspects of Chinese life and culture. At its most basic parts, the Chinese Zodiac is a 12-year chart that cycles through 12 animals, each one representing one year, and begins again once the 12th animal is reached. Each animal has certain characteristics and people born during the year in which the animal is celebrated share its attributes. The animal sign you are born under will not only determine how you truly are, but how you should live if you wish to achieve a relatively prosperous and harmonious life. People use the Chinese Zodiac to predict all the major aspects of their life including their career path, love life, familial relationships, education, health, and their wealth.
The Four Pillars
Though the sign under the year you were born will tell you a lot about yourself, to gain a true understanding of your whole character and fortune, you need to employ the Four Pillars method. The Four Pillars method can trace its roots back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220). This thorough method uses not only your year of birth, but also the month, day, and hour to create a complete picture of your character and fate. The sign of the year you were born represents how you present yourself, your birth month represents your inner self, the day of your birth is your true self, and the hour you were born reveals your secret self. To determine your Four Pillars, you can use this calculator: http://www.traditionalfengshui.co.za/fourpillarssoftware.htm
With the basics of the Chinese Zodiac covered, we can move on to the best part of the system: the animals themselves. Each of the 12 animal signs has a different disposition and fortune. With your Four Pillars determined, you can get a better grasp of how each of your different signs affects your life.
The first animal in the 12-year cycle is the Rat. The Rat symbolizes tenacity and the ability to adapt to any situation. Rats are intuitive, versatile, and resourceful. In its negative aspect, the Rat is timid, greedy, and impolite.
The Ox is second animal in the 12-year cycle. The Ox is embodies China’s unbreakable spirit. Oxen are diligent, persistent, and honest. In its negative aspect, the Ox is narrow minded, slow, and stubborn.
The third sign in the 12-year cycle is the Tiger. Tigers symbolize lordliness. They are brave, charming, and ambitious. In their negative aspect, Tigers are arrogant, boastful, and impetuous.
The fourth animal in the 12-year cycle is the Rabbit. The Rabbit represents good luck and longevity. Rabbits are elegant, friendly, and kind. On the negative side of their character, Rabbits are melancholy, secretive, and superficial.
The fifth animal in the 12-year cycle is the mythical Dragon. The Dragon is one of the most revered animals in Chinese culture and symbolizes great fortune. Dragons are intelligent, passionate, and magnanimous. In their negative aspect, Dragons are tyrannical, ill-tempered, and unrealistic.
The sixth animal in the 12-year cycle is the Snake. Snakes are believed to possess the power of divination. They are cunning, witty, and intuitive. On the negative side of their personality, Snakes are unscrupulous, greedy, and fickle.
The Horse is the seventh sign in the 12-year cycle. The Horse represents China’s drive to keep improving. Horses are energetic, upright, and warm-hearted. In their negative aspect, Horses are self-centered, extravagant, and vain.
The eighth animal in the 12-year cycle is the Sheep. Sheep are one of the most beloved animals. They are gentle, amicable, and attractive. On the negative side of their character, Sheep are moody, indecisive, and pessimistic.
The Monkey is the ninth animal in the 12-year cycle. Monkeys are featured throughout Chinese mythology and they represent wisdom. The Monkey is clever, innovative, and curious. In its negative aspect, the Monkey is egotistical, reckless, and snobbish.
The tenth sign in the 12-year cycle is the Rooster. The Rooster symbolizes new beginnings. Roosters are punctual, honest, and hard working. On the negative side of their personality, Roosters are self-aggrandizing, impatient, and critical.
The eleventh animal in the 12-year cycle is the Dog. The Dog embodies all the best qualities of humanity. Dogs are responsible, loyal, and faithful. In their negative aspect, Dogs are sensitive, self-righteous, and anxious.
The twelfth and final animal in the 12-year cycle is the Pig. The pig symbolizes good fortune and wealth. The Pig is good natured, trusting, and sincere. On the negative side of its character, the Pig is naïve, lazy, and materialistic.
With this overview of the Chinese Zodiac, you should begin to gain a better understanding of your true self. In depth information about each animal sign is available and will help you start exploring the deeper truths of who you are. With your new knowledge of the Chinese Zodiac, you can move confidently toward being the best version of yourself and living the best life you can.