Continuation from previous entry. From Wikipedia.

In Chinese astrology the animal signs assigned by year represent what others perceive you as being or how you present yourself. It is a common misconception that the animals assigned by year are the only signs, and many western descriptions of Chinese astrology draw solely on this system. In fact, there are also animal signs assigned by month (called inner animals), day, and hours of the day (called secret animals).

To sum it up, while a person might appear to be a dragon because they were born in the year of the dragon, they might also be a snake internally and an ox secretively. In total, this makes for 8,640 possible combinations (five elements x 12 animals in the 60 year cycle (12 x 5 = 60) , 12 months, 12 times of day) that a person might be. These are all considered critical for the proper use of Chinese astrology.

The months—the inner animals
The 12 animals are also linked to the traditional Chinese agricultural calendar, which runs alongside the better known lunar calendar. Instead of months, this calendar is divided into 24 two week segments known as Solar Terms. Each animal is linked to two of these solar terms for a period similar to the Western month. Unlike the 60 year lunar calendar, which can vary by as much as a month in relation to the Western calendar, the agricultural calendar varies by only one day, beginning on the Western February 3 or 4 every year. Again unlike the cycle of the lunar years, which begins with the Rat, the agricultural calendar begins with the Tiger as it is the first animal of spring.

An individual’s monthly animal sign is called their inner animal and is concerned with what motivates a person. Since this sign dictates the person’s love life and inner persona, it is critical to a proper understanding of the individual’s compatibility with other signs.

As each sign is linked to a month of the solar year, it is thereby also linked to a season. Each of the elements is also linked to a season (see above), and the element that shares a season with a sign is known as that sign’s fixed element. In other words, that element is believed to impart some of its characteristics to the sign concerned. The fixed element of each sign applies also to the year and hour signs, and not just the monthly sign. It is important to note that the fixed element is separate from the cycle of elements which interact with the signs in the 60 year cycle.

 

Solar Longitude Solar term Western date Lunar Month Fixed Element Season
314° 立春 lìchūn Feb 04–Feb 18 1st -寅 Tiger Wood Spring
329° 雨水 yǔshuǐ Feb 19–Mar 05
344° 啓蟄 qǐzhé (驚蟄 jīngzhé) Mar 06–Mar 20 2nd–卯 Rabbit Wood Spring
春分 chūnfēn Mar 21–Apr 04
14° 清明 qīngmíng Apr 05–Apr 19 3rd–辰 Dragon Wood Spring
29° 穀雨 gǔyǔ Apr 20–May 04
44° 立夏 lìxià May 05–May 20 4th–巳 Snake Fire Summer
59° 小滿 xiǎomǎn May 21–June 05
74° 芒種 mángzhòng Jun 06–Jun 20 5th–午 Horse Fire Summer
89° 夏至 xiàzhì Jun 21–Jul 06
104° 小暑 xiǎoshǔ Jul 07–Jul 22 6th–未 Ram Fire Summer
119° 大暑 dàshǔ Jul 23–Aug 06
134° 立秋 lìqiū Aug 07–Aug 22 7th–申 Monkey Metal Autumn
149° 處暑 chùshǔ Aug 23–Sep 07
164° 白露 báilù Sep 08–Sep 22 8th–酉 Rooster Metal Autumn
181° 秋分 qiūfēn Sep 23–Oct 07
194° 寒露 hánlù Oct 08–Oct 22 9th–戌 Dog Metal Autumn
211° 霜降 shuāngjiàng Oct 23–Nov 06
224° 立冬 lìdōng Nov 07–Nov 21 10th–亥 Pig Water Winter
244° 小雪 xiǎoxuě Nov 22–Dec 06
251° 大雪 dàxuě Dec 07–Dec 21 11th–子 Rat Water Winter
271° 冬至 dōngzhì Dec 22–Jan 05
284° 小寒 xiǎohán Jan 06–Jan 19 12th–丑 Ox Water Winter
301° 大寒 dàhán Jan 20–Feb 03

 

The days
A different animal rules each day. This animal represents the basic personality of the person.

 

The hours—the secret animals
The Chinese zodiac is also used to label times of day, with each sign corresponding to a “large-hour” or shichen (時辰), which is a two-hour period (24 divided by 12 animals). It is therefore important to know the exact time of birth to determine it. The secret animal is thought to be a person’s truest representation, since this animal is determined by the smallest denominator: a person’s birth hour. As this sign is based on the position of the sun in the sky and not the time of your local clock, it is important to compensate for daylight saving time. However, some online systems already compensate for daylight saving time, and astrologers may compensate your time for you oblivious to the fact that you’ve compensated it yourself, leading to an inaccurate reading.

The large-hour in which a person is born is their secret animal. It is a person’s own true sign which their personality is based on. Note that while this chart is quite precise, the exact time at which each animal begins shifts by the day.

23:00–01:00: 子 rat
01:00–03:00: 丑 ox
03:00–05:00: 寅 tiger
05:00–07:00: 卯 rabbit
07:00–09:00: 辰 dragon
09:00–11:00: 巳 snake
11:00–13:00: 午 horse
13:00–15:00: 未 ram
15:00–17:00: 申 monkey
17:00–19:00: 酉 rooster
19:00–21:00: 戌 dog
21:00–23:00: 亥 pig

 

Problems with English translation
Due to confusion with synonyms during translation, some of the animals depicted by the English words did not exist in ancient China. For example, 羊 can mean both goat and sheep, but goat is the species that existed in central China before sheep, and goat is the species seen in illustrations, not sheep. Similarly, 鼠 (rat) can also be translated as mouse, as originally there are no distinctive words for the two genera in Chinese. Further, 豬 (pig) is sometimes translated to boar after its Japanese name, and 牛 (water buffalo) is commonly thought to be ox.

Categorizations of the twelve signs

Power Signs

Rat
Ox
Tiger
Dragon
Snake
Monkey

Romance Signs

Rabbit
Horse
Sheep
Rooster
Dog
Pig

 

The Four Animal Trines

The First Trine

The first trine consists of the Rat, Dragon, and Monkey. These three signs are intense and powerful individuals, capable of great good or great evil. They make great leaders, but the three may have different approaches. Frustrated when hampered, these signs are ruled by highly potent energy and unpredictability. At their worst, Rats are ruthlessly power-hungry, vindictive, and Machiavellian; Dragons are inflexible megalomaniacs and narcissists; and Monkeys are destructive manipulators and hedonists. They are intelligent, magnanimous, charismatic, charming, authoritative, confident, eloquent and artistic. They can also be tyrannical, bombastic, prejudiced, deceitful, imperious, ruthless, power-hungry, and megalomaniacal.

The Second Trine

The second trine consists of the Ox, Snake, and Rooster. These three soul mates conquer life through endurance, application, and slow accumulation of energy. Although each sign is fixed and rigid in opinions and views, they are genius in the art of meticulous planning. They are hardworking, discreet, modest, industrious, charitable, loyal, punctual, philosophical, patient, and good-hearted individuals with high moral standards. They can also be self-righteous, vain, critical, judgmental, myopic, narrow-minded, and petty.

The Third Trine

The third trine consists of the Tiger, Horse, and Dog. These three signs seek a true lover, and are like-minded in their pursuit of humanitarian causes. Each is a gifted orator and excels at verbal communication. Relationships and personal contact are of highest priority and each one seeks their intimate soul mate. Idealistic and impulsive, the Tiger, Horse and Dog follow the beat of their own drummer. Defiant against injustice, these three signs wilt without large amounts of physical affection and loyal support for causes. They are productive, enthusiastic, independent, engaging, dynamic and honourable. They can also be rash, rebellious, quarrelsome, hot-headed, reckless, anxious, moody, disagreeable, and stubborn. Although these three signs are loyal, they can be very protective when lied to. The three signs do not enjoy being told what to do, but will listen when it is a person they love or trust whole-heartedly.

The Fourth Trine

The fourth trine consists of the Rabbit, Ram and Pig . The quest for these three signs is the aesthetic and beautiful in life. Their calm nature gives them great leadership abilities. They are artistic, refined, intuitive, and well-mannered. These souls love the preliminaries in love, and are fine artists in their lovemaking. The Rabbit, Ram (Sheep) and Pig have been bestowed with calmer natures than the other 9 signs. These three are compassionately aware, yet detached and resigned to their condition. They seek beauty and a sensitive lover. They are caring, unique, self-sacrificing, obliging, sensible, creative, emphatic, tactful, and prudent. They can also be naive, pedantic, insecure, cunning, indecisive, and pessimistic.

 

Zodiac origin stories

The 12 Zodiac animal signs (生肖 shengxiao) are, in order, the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (ram or goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. There are many legends to explain the beginning of the zodiac (see Origins of the Chinese Zodiac). One of the most popular reads, in summarised form, as follows:

The rat was given the task of inviting the animals to report to the Jade Emperor for a banquet to be selected for the zodiac signs. The cat was a good friend of the rat, but the rat tricked him into believing that the banquet was the next day. The cat slept through the banquet, thinking that it was the next day. When he found out, the cat vowed to be the rat’s natural enemy for ages to come.
Interestingly, the cat does make it into the Vietnamese Zodiac, in place of the rabbit (see below).

Another popular legend has it that a race was used to decide the animals to report to the Jade Emperor.

The cat and the rat were the worst swimmers in the animal kingdom. Although bad swimmers, they were both intelligent. They decided that the best and fastest way to cross the river was to hop on the back of the ox. The ox, being a naïve and good-natured animal, agreed to carry them across. However, overcome with a fierce competitiveness, the rat decided that in order to win, it must do something and promptly pushed the cat into the river. Because of this, the cat has never forgiven the rat, and hates the water as well. After the ox had crossed the river, the rat jumped ahead and reached the shore first, and it claimed first place in the competition.

Following closely behind was the strong ox, and it was named the 2nd animal in the zodiac. After the ox, came the tiger, panting, while explaining to the Jade Emperor just how difficult it was to cross the river with the heavy currents pushing it downstream all the time. But with powerful strength, it made to shore and was named the 3rd animal in the cycle.

Suddenly, from a distance came a thumping sound, and the rabbit arrived. It explained how it crossed the river: by jumping from one stone to another in a nimble fashion. Halfway through, it almost lost the race but the rabbit was lucky enough to grab hold of a floating log that later washed him to shore. For that, it became the 4th animal in the zodiac cycle. Coming in 5th place was the dragon, flying. Of course, the Jade Emperor was deeply curious as to why a strong and flying creature such as the dragon should fail to reach first. The mighty dragon explained that he had to stop and make rain to help all the people and creatures of the earth, and therefore he was held back a little. Then, on his way to the finish line, he saw a little helpless rabbit clinging onto a log so he did a good deed and gave a puff of breath to the poor creature so that it could land on the shore. The Jade Emperor was very pleased with the actions of the dragon, and he was added into the zodiac cycle. As soon as he had done so, a galloping sound was heard, and the horse appeared. Hidden on the horse’s hoof is the snake, whose sudden appearance gave the horse a fright, thus making it fall back and giving the snake the 6th spot, while the horse placed 7th.

Not long after that, a little distance away, the sheep monkey and rooster came to the shore. These three creatures helped each other to get to where they are. The rooster spotted a raft, and took the other two animals with it. Together, the ram and the monkey cleared the weeds, tugged and pulled and finally got the raft to the shore. Because of their combined efforts, the Emperor was very pleased and promptly named the ram as the 8th creature, the monkey as the 9th, and the rooster the 10th.

The 11th animal is the dog. His explanation for being late—although he was supposed to be the best swimmer amongst the rest—was that he needed a good bath after a long spell, and the fresh water from the river was too big a temptation. For that, he almost didn’t make it to finish line. Just as the Jade Emperor was about to call it a day, an oink and squeal was heard from a little pig. The pig got hungry during the race, promptly stopped for a feast and then fell asleep. After the nap, the pig continued the race and was named the 12th and last animal of the zodiac cycle. The cat finished too late (thirteenth) to win any place in the calendar, and vowed to be the enemy of the rat forevermore.

In Buddhism, legend has it that Buddha summoned all of the animals of the earth to come before him before his departure from this earth, but only twelve animals actually came to bid him farewell. To reward the animals who came to him he named a year after each of them, the years were given to them in the order they had arrived.

Chinese zodiac in other countries

The Chinese zodiac signs are also used by cultures other than Chinese. For one example, they usually appear on Korean New Year and Japanese New Year’s cards and stamps. The United States Postal Service and those of several other countries issue a “Year of the _____” postage stamp each year to honour this Chinese heritage. However, those unfamiliar with the use of the Chinese lunar calendar usually just assume that the signs switch over on January 1 of each year. Those who are serious about the fortune telling aspect of the signs can consult a table, such as the one above. The Chinese zodiac animals were used also in the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf coins.

The Chinese zodiac is also used in some other Asian countries that have been under the cultural influence of China. However, some of the animals in the Zodiac may differ by country.

 

East Asia
The Korean zodiac is identical to the Chinese one. The Vietnamese zodiac is almost identical to Chinese zodiac except that the second animal is the water buffalo instead of the ox, the fourth animal is the cat instead of the rabbit and the eighth animal is the Ram instead of the sheep. The Japanese zodiac includes the wild boar instead of the pig. The Thai zodiac includes a naga in place of the dragon.

The Bulgars, Huns and Turkic people
The European Huns used the Chinese Zodiac complete with “dragon”, “pig”. This common Chinese-Turkic Zodiac was in use in Balkan Bulgaria well into the Bulgars’ adoption of Slavic language and Orthodox Christianity. Following is the Hunnish or Turkic Bulgarian Pagan zodiac calendar, distinctive from the Greek zodiac but much in conformity with the Chinese one:

Torè calendar

Names of years

Kuzgé—[Year of] Saravana
Shiger (Syger)—Artom (Taurus)
Kuman (Imén)
Ügur—Tiger Myachè Ügur—Tiger
Taushan—Rabbit
Samar—Dragon Birgün (Bergen, Birig, Baradj)- Dragon
Mcloven—Snake
Tykha—Horse
Téké—Sheep (Ram or Goat)
Bichin, Michin—Monkey
Tavuk—Rooster, Hen (also written tağuk—ğ is pronounced as v in Turk. verbs döğmek and öğmek)
It—Dog
Shushma—Pig (many mistake it as boar though)(Turk., Russ. “Kaban”—Translator’s Note, also cognate of Turkish şişman, “fat”)
In Kazakhstan, an animal cycle similar to the Chinese is used, but the dragon is substituted by a snail (Kazakh: улу), and tiger appears as a leopard (Kazakh: барыс).

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