Basic Chinese Animal Astrology
The foundation of the Chinese Zodiac, also called Chinese Animal Astrology, was from the 12 “Earthly Branches” represented by the 12 animal symbols (The Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Boar), the five elements (metal, water, wood, fire, and earth) and the Yin-Yang theory.
The total cycle takes sixty years (created by multiplying the twelve animals and five elements) to complete — to return to a year with the same animal sign and same element. The cycle of 60 counting system begins with Wood Rat and ends with Metal Boar.
As most people know, the Chinese Lunar cycle is not based on 12 linear months, as in the Western calendar, but on a 12-year repeating cycle. Each astrological animal symbol represents not a month, but a year. And again, unlike the Western calendar that is based upon the movements of the Sun, the Chinese astrological calendar has its deep and ancient roots in the movements of the Moon.
There are many myths and legends about how the 12 animals representing the 12 years in a lunar cycle came into being. One of the most popular is that the Lord Buddha called all the animals to come to him before departing this earth. Only 12 animals came, and as a reward he named a lunar year after each according to the order in which it arrived. The Rat was the first to get there, crossing the final river on the back of the Ox and jumping down in front. Following them were the Tiger, Rabbit (Hare), Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep (Goat, Ram), Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar (Pig).
The Chinese believe that at their New Year, everyone becomes a year older. They also believe that the year of a person’s birth is the primary factor in determining that person’s personality traits, physical and mental attributes and degree of success and happiness throughout his/her lifetime.
The compatibility of the animal signs in the Chinese system of astrology are similar to the favorable and unfavorable aspects in the western astrology. Each animal sign is 30 degrees apart and in clockwise direction. PLEASE VISIT “THE ASPECT” OF THIS WEBSITE FOR MORE DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT THE VARIOUS ASPECTS.
0 Degree (Same sign) – Intensity, can be favorable or unfavorable
30 Degrees – Growth, can be uncomfortable
90 Degrees (Square) – Challenges (Example: Rat and Rabbit)
120 Degrees – Comfortable (Example: Rat and Dragon)
150 Degrees – Adjustments
180 Degrees (Opposite) – Confrontation (Example: Rat and Horse)
Here you will learn the basic Chinese Astrology. The advance Chinese Astrology goes much deeper than just the 12 animal signs, much as the Western Astrology does with the basic 12 Sun signs versus an individual’s specific chart. In advance Chinese Astrology, one will learn Pa-Chee (or 8 Characters) — Four Pillars of Destiny which consists of the Year of Birth, the Month of Birth, the Day of Birth, and the Hour of Birth.
I hope you will enjoy widening your field of study to the basic Chinese Animal Astrology because it is another way of clarifying one’s spiritual path. Understanding the signs will give you a deeper understanding of yourself, your family members and your friends.
The Twelve Animal Signs
1. Rat (Water, North), 2. Ox (Earth, North-Northeast), 3. Tiger (Wood, East-Northeast), 4. Rabbit (Wood, East), 5. Dragon (Earth, East-Southeast), 6. Snake (Fire, South-Southeast), 7. Horse (Fire, South), 8. Sheep (Earth, South-Southwest), 9. Monkey (Metal, West-Southwest), 10. Rooster (Metal, West), 11. Dog (Earth, West-Northwest), 12. Boar (Water, North-Northwest).
The following images of 12 animal signs of the Chinese Zodiac are my painting similar to the art form of ancient Chinese paper-cutting.
1. Rat Years (Water, Yang, North) Key Word: Ambitious
01/31/1900 to 02/18/1901 (Metal), 02/18/1912 to 02/05/1913 (Water), 02/05/1924 to 01/24/1925 (Wood), 01/24/1936 to 02/10/1937 (Fire), 02/10/1948 to 01/28/1949 (Earth), 01/28/1960 to 02/14/1961 (Metal), 02/15/1972 to 02/02/1973 (Water), 02/02/1984 to 02/19/1985 (Wood), 02/19/1996 to 02/06/1997 (Fire), 02/07/2008 to 01/25/2009 (Earth), 01/25/2020 – 02/11/2021 (Metal).
Those born in the year of the Rat are usually charming, quick-witted and intelligent – even charismatic. It is a very social sign; Rat people tend to be very talkative and are almost never found sitting quietly on their own. Be aware, however, that this affable front conceals a secretive, crafty and opportunistic personality.
Rat people are ambitious yet honest, prone to spend freely, seldom make lasting friendships. They can be quite greedy and calculative. Being perfectionists they can be difficult to work with, but their considerable talent may be enough to make up for it. The intrinsic element of this sign is Water, and its direction is north. The Rat is the first sign of the Chinese Zodiac.
Lucky Directions: (Facing) West, South, East
Most Compatible Signs: Dragon, Monkey, Ox
Least Compatible Signs: Sheep, Horse, Rabbit, Rooster
Lucky Years: Ox, Dragon, Monkey Years
Unlucky Year: Horse Year (Opposite)
Colors: Red, Black, Purple.
2. Ox Years (Earth, Yin, North-Northeast) Key Word: Patient
02/19/1901 to 02/07/1902 (Metal), 02/06/1913 to 01/25/1914 (Water), 01/25/1925 to 02/12/1926 (Wood), 02/11/1937 to 01/30/1938 (Fire), 01/29/1949 to 02/16/1950 (Earth), 02/15/1961 to 02/04/1962 (Metal), 02/03/1973 to 01/22/1974 (Water), 02/20/1985 to 02/08/1986 (Wood), 02/07/1997 to 01/27/1998 (Fire), 01/26/2009 to 02/13/2010 (Earth), 02/12/2021 – 01/31/2022 Metal).
Quiet and conservative, reliable and dependable; these are qualities that exemplify the Ox personality. People born in Ox years are very sure of themselves and are clear about their ambitions and what they want in life. They are bright, patient, and inspiring to others, and can be happy by themselves. They often rise to positions of authority easily, and make great leaders. Persistent and hard-working, they can stick to a task longer than most people.
Usually widely read and possessed of a brilliant intellect, they respect and respond to facts and genuine knowledge. Although Ox people are not particulary warm or sentimental, they are very caring and protective of their loved ones. They make outstanding parents. The intrinsic element of this sign is earth, and its direction is north-northeast. The Ox is the second sign of the Chinese Zodiac.
Lucky Directions: (Facing) South, East, North
Most Compatible Signs: Snake, Rooster, Ox
Least Compatible Signs: Sheep, Dragon, Horse, Dog
Lucky Years: Snake, Rooster Years
Unlucky Year: Sheep Year (Opposite)
Colors: Brown, Earth Shade, Blue.
3. Tiger Years (Wood, Yang, East-Northeast) Key Word: Aggressive
02/08/1902 to 01/28/1903 (Water), 01/26/1914 to 02/13/1915 (Wood), 02/13/1926 to 02/01/1927 (Fire), 01/31/1938 to 02/18/1939 (Earth), 02/17/1950 to 02/05/1951 (Metal), 02/05/1962 to 01/24/1963 (Water), 01/23/1974 to 02/10/1975 (Wood), 02/09/1986 to 01/28/1987 (Fire), 01/28/1998 to 02/15/1999 (Earth), 02/14/2010 to 02/02/2011 (Metal), 02/01/2022 – 01/21/2023 (Water).
The Tiger is one of the most dynamic signs of the Chinese Zodiac. People born in Tiger years are highly competitive, adventurous, and very confident in their own abilities – they are the sorts who can, and will, get things done. Tiger people are aggressive, courageous, candid and sensitive. Their towering passion, ambition and all-or-nothing attitude can take them all the way to the top in whatever they endeavour to do. They crave excitement and get bored easily.
Tigers fiercely stand up for what they believe in and for this, coupled with their courage and dedication, they are respected by both friend and foe. The intrinsic element of this sign is wood, and its direction is east-northeast. The Tiger is the third sign of the Chinese Zodiac.
Lucky Directions: (Facing) West, North, East
Most Compatible Signs: Horse, Dog
Least Compatible Signs: Monkey, Snake, Boar
Lucky Years: Horse, Dog Years
Unlucky Year: Monkey (Opposite)
Colors: Yellow, Gold, Orange.
4. Rabbit Years (Wood, Yin, East) Key Word: Talented
01/29/1903 to 02/15/1904 (Water), 02/14/1915 to 02/02/1916 (Wood), 02/02/1927 to 01/22/1928 (Fire), 02/19/1939 to 02/07/1940 (Earth), 02/06/1951 to 01/26/1952 (Metal), 01/25/1963 to 02/12/1964 (Water), 02/11/1975 to 01/30/1976 (Wood), 01/29/1987 to 02/16/1988 (Fire), 02/16/1999 to 02/04/2000 (Earth), 02/03/2011 to 01/22/2012 (Metal), 01/22/2023 – 02/09/2024 (water).
Tactful, discreet and accommodating, Rabbit people are quite possibly the best dipolmats of the Chinese Zodiac. Always well groomed and well mannered, they can be depended upon to keep up appearances. Rabbits are happiest among friends and safely within their established social circles. Luckiest of all signs, Rabbit people are also talented and articulate.
Affectionate, yet shy, they seek peace throughout their lives. Seldom confrontational, they try their best not to offend anyone. They are excellent judges of character. These refined folk love good conversation, reading, and intellectual discussions. The intrinsic element of this sign is wood, and its direction is east. The Rabbit is the fourth sign of the Chinese Zodiac.
Lucky Directions: (Facing) South, North, West
Most Compatible Signs: Sheep, Boar, Dog
Least Compatible Signs: Rooster, Rat, Horse, Dragon
Lucky Years: Dog, Sheep, Boar Years
Unlucky Year: Rooster Year (Opposite)
Colors: Cream, Green, Pink.
5. Dragon Years (Earth, Yang, East-Southeast) Key Word: Passionate
02/19/1904 to 02/03/1905 (Wood), 02/03/1916 to 01/22/1917 (Fire), 01/23/1928 to 02/09/1929 (Earth), 02/08/1940 to 01/26/1941 (Metal), 01/27/1952 to 02/13/1953 (Water), 02/13/1964 to 02/01/1965 (Wood), 01/31/1976 to 02/17/1977 (Fire), 02/17/1988 to 02/05/1989 (Earth), 02/05/2000 to 01/23/2001 (Metal), 01/23/2012 to 02/09/2013 (Water), 02/10/2024 – 01/28/2025 (Wood).
This Dragon is probably the most flamboyant and vibrant of all the Chinese astrological signs. Highly confident and bold, Dragon people are born leaders, and usually do well in careers that give them a position of leadership. They have a keen sense of imagination, and often dream up wild schemes and ideas, most of which are not feasible. Dragon people are eccentric and their lives are complex. They have a very passionate nature and abundant health.
Fortunately for them however, Dragons seem to be endowed with good fortune, which saves them from making major mistakes and helps them to excel when they apply themselves correctly. On the downside, they often have huge egos and can be tactless, hot-headed, arrogant and quick-tempered. The intrinsic element of this sign is earth, and its direction is east-southeast. The Dragon is the fifth sign of the Chinese Zodiac.
Lucky Directions: (Facing) East, South, West
Most Compatible Signs: Rat, Monkey, Rooster
Least Compatible Signs: Dog, Ox, Sheep, Dragon
Lucky Years: Rooster, Rat, Monkey Years
Unlucky Year: Dog Year (Opposite)
Colors: Red, Orange.
6. Snake Years (Fire, Yin, South-Southeast) Key Word: Wise
02/04/1905 to 01/24/1906 (Wood), 01/23/1917 to 02/10/1918 (Fire), 02/10/1929 to 01/29/1930 (Earth), 01/27/1941 to 02/14/1942 (Metal), 02/14/1953 to 02/02/1954 (Water), 02/21/1965 to 01/20/1966 (Wood), 02/18/1977 to 02/06/1978 (Fire), 02/06/1989 to 01/26/1990 (Earth), 01/24/2001 to 02/11/2002 (Metal), 02/10/2013 to 01/30/2014 (Water), 01/29/2025 – 02/16/2026 (Wood).
Snake people are very shrewd and often achieve success through their wits. They are wise and intense with a tendency towards physical beauty. Snake people are discreet, restrained and refined. They never come across as pushy, and instead get their way through subtle manipulation. Cautious and intelligent, they possess analytical minds, but often also have a well-developed gut instinct.
There’s an air of elegance and magnetism about Snakes that make them very attractive to the opposite sex. They are quite aware of their appeal, and thus can be rather vain and high tempered. Snakes enjoy flirting, but when it comes to their partners they are often possessive. The intrinsic element of this sign is fire, and its direction is south-southeast. The Snake is the sixth sign of the Chinese Zodiac.
Lucky Directions: (Facing) North, South
Most Compatible Signs: Ox, Rooster
Least Compatible Signs: Boar, Tiger, Monkey
Lucky Years: Ox, Rooster Years
Unlucky Year: Boar Year (Opposite)
Colors: Blue, Green, Bright Pink.
7. Horse Years (Fire, Yang, South) Key Word: Popular
01/25/1906 to 02/12/1907 (Fire), 02/11/1918 to 01/31/1919 (Earth), 01/30/1930 to 02/16/1931 (Metal), 02/15/1942 to 02/04/1943 (Water), 02/03/1954 to 01/23/1955 (Wood), 01/21/1966 to 02/08/1967 (Fire), 02/07/1978 to 01/27/1979 (Earth), 01/27/1990 to 02/14/1991 (Metal), 02/12/2002 to 01/31/2003 (Water), 01/31/2014 to 02/18/2015 (Wood), 02/17/2026 – 02/05/2027 (Fire).
People who are born in the Horse years are independent, outspoken and sociable. They never seem to run out of conversation. They love the great outdoors, and often enjoy athletic pursuits. There is a constant air of restlessness and impatience about them. Horse people are usually quite honest and principled. They are popular and attractive to the opposite sex.
Horse people are often ostentatious and impatient. They need people around. They reject dishonest behaviour and try to be straightforward in their dealings. However, they maintain a healthy ego too, and this can bring out their selfish side. The intrinsic element of this sign is fire, and its direction is south. The Horse is the seventh sign of the Chinese Zodiac.
Lucky Directions: (Facing) West, East, North
Most Compatible Signs: Tiger, Dog, Sheep
Least Compatible Signs: Rat, Rooster, Rabbit, Horse
Lucky Years: Sheep, Tiger, Dog Years
Unlucky Year: Rat Year (Opposite)
Colors: Gold, Yellow.
The following colorful image is a popular Chinese character “FU” (pronounced similar to food in English), which means blessing, good fortune and happiness. This character is made up of 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. On the left part of this character, from up to down, you will find the Rat, Tiger, Ox, Sheep, Pig, Rabbit and Snake. On the right part, you will find the Dragon, Horse, Rooster, Monkey and Dog.
The following image is the Chinese character of “FU“.
Chinese Astrology Calendar
(Spring Liao, 11/11/2008)