Chinese astrology has been around for centuries and also goes by the name of Sheng Xiao. It works on the concept of a 12-year cycle of animal signs. Every lunar new year, one animal year ends and another begins. Chinese astrology and the Chinese zodiac are deeply entwined and show up in many aspects of life - from the daily details to the dramatic milestones. We take a deeper look at the Chinese Zodiac signs and the cycles that follow.
The roots of Chinese astrology can be traced back to ancient China and the Qin Dynasty more than 2000 years ago. It’s believed to have stemmed from the days of animal worship, and at first, the animal signs were linked to heavenly stems and earthly branches before they were connected to the Lunar calendar.
As with the twelve signs in the Western Zodiac, each animal is believed to have its own set of core traits that influence the personality and the life path of someone born under that animal sign.
The zodiac played a hugely important role in Chinese culture and would be taken into consideration for everything from naming ceremonies to matchmaking and marriages, choosing dates for ceremonies, and other decision-making. For a long time, right up until our modern age, traditions and festivals have been built around the animal of the year.
The Chinese Zodiac Explained
The Chinese Zodiac wheel follows a 12-year cycle that is repeated over and over, with each animal taking its turn as being the animal of the year. In Chinese legend, it was believed that the Jade Emperor called all of the animals to his palace for the great race as he wanted to establish a calendar and measure time. The order in which the animals arrived became the order of the zodiac. There is another angle to the Chinese zodiac linked to the five elements.
What are the Elements of the Chinese Zodiac?
Wood represents growth and flexibility. Those born under this element are resourceful.
Fire represents passion and energy. Those born under this element are outgoing.
Earth represents stability and a nurturing vibe. Those born under this element are grounded.
Metal represents strength and precision. Those born under this element are focused.
Water represents intuition and emotions. Those born under this element are sensitive.
Each element in the Chinese Zodiac rules for two years, meaning that the elements will repeat on a ten-year cycle. The elements also interact with each other in positive or negative ways. For example, wood fuels fire, but water extinguishes fire. They show up in combinations that can be supportive, destructive, or generative.
The animal cycle and the element cycle also interact with each other to make a series of combinations that lead to the 60-year cycle. This also impacts your zodiac sign - for example, you can be a rat born under the water element, and this combination affects your personality, destiny, and compatibility with other signs.
The Gregorian Calendar and the Lunar Calendar
The Gregorian Calendar is the most internally recognized calendar and was introduced back in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. The Gregorian Calendar is solar-based and follows the earth's turn around the sun, which gives it a 12-month period and varying lengths and leap years. While it is the measurement of time that is the most universally common, it is mostly used for civil purposes and has become the standard calendar.
The Lunar Calendar has its roots in ancient Asian civilizations and is primarily based on the cycles of the moon. Each moon cycle is around 29-30 days, and the lunar calendar follows this and the phases of the moon. The Lunar Calendar is often used as a measuring tool for mapping out cultural and religious holidays like the Chinese New Year. While the Gregorian Calendar is fixed to start the new year on January 1st, the Lunar Calendar gives a shift to the new year, and the date can vary.
Characteristics of Each Zodiac Sign
The Rat is the first animal in the Chinese zodiac cycle. Quick-witted, ambitious, talkative, and loaded with charm, the Rat can adapt to any given circumstance as a versatile and resourceful creature. The Rat is also known for their strong intuitive qualities and are easily liked thanks to their friendly and warm disposition. Rats can also be a tad sensitive, which is why they only take risks that they know they can win. The Rat is the most competitive with the Dragon and the Monkey but may clash with the Horse.
Steadfast and reliable, the Ox is diligent and determined and always shows up for their responsibilities in life. They have a calm and gentle demeanor and are incredibly trustworthy and hardworking. People are naturally drawn to the Ox for their patience - although they also have a tendency to be stubborn and to bottle up their emotions. The Ox is the most compatible with the Rat and the Rooster but may find friction with the Sheep.
Roaming with confidence and charisma, the Tiger is famed for their courage and are born leaders. The Tiger knows how to use their self-esteem to rise up the ranks, and their magnetic personality helps them in their success. They can act as a natural protector of the people and are drawn to justice and power - and even if they fall, they shake it off and get back with ease. The Tiger can be reckless, and they rarely back down. They are the most compatible with the Horse and the Dog but struggle in their connection to the Monkey.
The sweet Rabbit has a gentle and elegant nature, which is very alluring to others. They are known for their tact and discretion, which makes them trustworthy secret holders. The Rabbit is all about the long game, and they have no problem using their patience, kindness, and taking others seriously. The Rabbit also tends to be successful in their professional life, and their soft disposition grants them longevity and luck in this world. Rabbit people are the most compatible with the Dog, the Pig, and the Goat but hold the potential for clashing with the Rooster.
Dragons are famed for their energy, adventure, and wild, romantic nature. They ooze confidence and are revered as being symbols of immense power and luck in Chinese culture. They are whip-smart but can also be dismissive of everyday worries. They think carefully about what they put their energy into, but when they do decide to channel that energy, they do it with gusto that gets them exactly where they need to be. The Dragon is the most compatible with the Rooster and the Monkey but can conflict with the energy of the Dog.
The Snake is all charm but also holds a certain mystique. They have strong intuitive powers and a deep well of wisdom to tap into, which makes them deep thinkers and drawn to philosophical matters. They can have a tendency towards idealism and sometimes come across as a little cold and detached. However, when they are committed to something they do it with fierce determination. Snake people are best matched with the Rooster and the Ox but can find themselves in a challenge with the Pig.
The Horse has a big heart and an adept nature. They are also known for their adventure, active minds, and for their desire to run free in this world. They constantly push themselves forward and do it with such positivity that they rarely give up on anything. However, the Horse is known to be a bad secret keeper and can be quick to turn their heads in a different direction as they cannot hold interest for long. The Horse is the most compatible with the Tiger and the Goat and is least compatible with the Rat.
Goat (or Sheep)
The Goat is calm and gentle and known for their pure nature and for always bringing a welcome sense of peace to a situation. They are creative and have a soft power that often brings people willingly over to their side. Goats rarely complain and would prefer to keep their opinions to themselves rather than face conflict - even though they do have strong opinions, too. They work best with the Rabbit and the Pig but can rub up wrong with the Ox.
The Monkey is always entertaining and comes stacked with wit, intelligence, and a clever and curious nature. They are known for their innovative minds and for pouring effort into things they are interested in and skipping out on the things they don’t care for. Monkey people are known for living a long and illustrious life, and they put energy and time into their relationships. While they are highly sociable, they can have a secretive side and sometimes come across as fickle. They are best matched with the Dragon and the Rat and may clash with the Tiger.
Rooster (or Chicken)
The Rooster is courageous, hardworking, and well-aware of the things that go on around them. They have bright personalities and are famed for their punctuality, honesty, and fast reactions. It’s easy to make friends with a Rooster, and they have an uncanny sense of knowing how people are feeling. They can be boastful and argumentative and like to strut their stuff in a rooster fashion. Rooster people tend to get on best with the Ox and the Dragon but can struggle with the Rabbit.
The Dog is delightfully loyal, honest, and trustworthy, just as you would expect from an animal considered to be man’s best friend. They can have a tendency towards conservative thinking and are committed to justice and fairness. Dog people desire a quiet life and close connections, and they don’t like to rule break if they can help it. Sometimes, they can come across as anxious because of this. Dogs have the highest compatibility with the Tiger and the Horse but may find themselves in conflict with the Dragon.
Pig (or Boar)
The Pig is sincere, tolerant, and has a kind heart and an affable nature. They are extremely tolerant, and as they have logical minds, they are also adept at problem-solving. While they are good providers and generous in spirit, they aren’t considered to be the best communicators and have quick-tempered tendencies. Pig people are the most compatible with the Goat and the Rabbit but may face issues when they come up against the Snake.
Chinese Astrology in Daily Life
Chinese astrology is woven into the seams of daily life. Not only is it used in a similar way to the Western zodiac, where someone's birth sign is believed to have a major impact on their personality, their strengths and shadows, their life path, and destiny, but it also shows up in day-to-day decision-making. Chinese astrology is often consulted when picking auspicious dates for important ventures like business meetings, marriages, moving, and so forth, as some dates are better linked to your own astrology journey and will, therefore, bring good luck. When matchmaking or considering marriage or business partnerships, the zodiac can also be consulted to see if the signs involved are compatible or not. The zodiac can also be used as a guiding tool to determine if you are suited for a certain career or to overcome challenges you may have. You can still use zodiac bracelets, gemstone bracelets, and gemstones for your sign or gemstones by month to help highlight your strengths according to your animal.
Differences from Western Astrology
Chinese astrology does share some similar traits - there are twelve signs in both systems, and each of these signs comes with its own unique set of character traits and has an impact on your life in terms of the day-to-day but also when it comes to your destiny.
Chinese astrology is based on the lunar calendar and repeats over a twelve-year cycle. Western astrology follows the sun and is set to a 12-month cycle.
Chinese astrology also uses the sidereal zodiac, which is a more complex approach to astrology covering the positions of stars and constellations along with the planets. Western astrology uses the more fixed tropical zodiac, which is linked to the position of the sun and the planets.
Chinese astrology also uses animals instead of sun signs.
Famous Personalities and Their Zodiac Signs
Zodiac signs can be used to understand the personal traits and life path of an individual and to illustrate that; sometimes, it's useful to turn to famous personalities and their signs. For example, Bruce Lee was born under the Year of the Dragon, and this is beautifully captured in his bold, driven, and fearless approach to life. He was also a magnet for success in his professional life and had plenty of charisma that carried him through.
Brad Pitt, on the other hand, is born under the Year of the Rabbit, and this is reflected in his gentle and gregarious nature. While he has also enjoyed a successful career, he has great energy and an easy amount of charm.
Modern Adaptations and Tools
Even though it has been around for centuries, Chinese astrology is still popular today, especially with the rise of online tools that help us to make sense of concepts and characteristics. You can also turn to online astrology readings and study your own birth chart in relation to Chinese astrology to take a deeper look at your own personality traits and where your life path may potentially lead. A global interest in Chinese astrology can also be linked to the boom of Chinese New Year as a celebration around the world.
Chinese astrology is as alluring as ever. This ancient practice blooms in our modern world as more and more people are interested in the rise of self-awareness, growing reflection, and how the wider elements of the cosmos can have a profound impact on our lives. Exploring your own Chinese zodiac sign can be fascinating and lends you deeper insights into your own destiny. No matter which branch of astrology you choose, check the crystal guide to find stones that can help elevate your spiritual path.
What is the bad luck sign in Chinese zodiac
While no signs are considered straight-up good or bad luck in the Chinese calendar, the year of the rooster can be one that is associated with challenges and obstacles coming into play.
Which Chinese zodiac is the luckiest
The Year of the Dragon is considered to be the luckiest Chinese zodiac animal, as the dragon is a symbol of luck, fortune, and prosperity.
What animal is Leo
In Western astrology, Leo is linked to the lion, who is known to be brave, fiery, and full of life. Those born under Leo would need to check their exact birth date to determine what Chinese sign they were, as the 12-year cycle can change this.
How do I know my life element
To find out your life element in Chinese astrology, you may need to consult a professional reader or use an online Chinese calculator, as factors like the exact birth time reveal the eight characters (including your life element) that can then provide deeper insight into your personality and destiny.