Mind & Spirit | 30 August 2016Understanding the Chinese Zodiac Share article facebook twitter google pinterest The Chinese calendar is among one of the most ancient in the world. Learn all about the Chinese Zodiac and how it compares to the astrology signs your familiar with from The Complete Book of Birthdays. The Chinese Zodiac Although they are said to date back to 3000 bc, it is speculated that the creatures now associated with the zodiac entered Chinese astrology around the first century ad, and that they were derived from a Western exemplar brought to China by Turkish traders. The more conventional view is that they were introduced during the T’ang dynasty, around ad 600, and indicated the animals that should be sacrificed on the opening of each month or year, for unlike the Western signs, these creatures do not represent the names of the zodiacal constellations. The identities of the twelve signs are explained by the Buddhist legend that before his death Buddha summoned all the animals on Earth to him: only twelve responded (the rat narrowly beating the ox to arrive first), and he rewarded them by naming a year after each. The twelve are neatly divided into two additional categories: wild creatures (the rat, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake and monkey) and domesticated ones (the ox, horse, goat, cock, dog and pig); and those that are respectively yin and yang. Such signs alternate throughout the cycle of the zodiac, with each yang creature paired with a yin animal (the yang rat and yin ox, for example) in a conflicting-complementing partnership. Although the animals are now said to govern each month, as well as two hours of every day, their real importance lies in each creature’s rulership of a year, resulting in a zodiacal cycle of twelve lunar years. The zodiac itself is represented as a “year tree,” consisting of twelve branches under which the creatures graze. People’s personalities are said to be influenced by the nature of the creature in whose year they were born. Just as Western astrology acknowledges the importance of the ascendant sign at time of birth, so in the Chinese system the influence of the creature that prevailed at the hour of birth is said to affect the way in which people present themselves to others, according to the “personality” of the animal that governs the double-hour concerned. The Rat (da shu) Polarity: yang Element: water Direction: north Western equivalent: Sagittarius Hours of ascendance: 11 p.m. to 1 p.m. Characteristics bestowed: positive action, fortune, wealth and expansion The Ox (buffalo or cow, nion) Polarity: yin Element: water Direction: north-northeast Western equivalent: Capricorn Hours of ascendance: 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. Characteristics bestowed: patience, industriousness and responsibility The Tiger (po hon) Polarity: yang Element: wood Direction: east-northeast Western equivalent: Aquarius Hours of ascendance: 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. Characteristics bestowed: power, aggression and impulsiveness The Rabbit (or hare, tu ze) Polarity: yin Element: wood Direction: east Western equivalent: Pisces Hours of ascendance: 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. Characteristics bestowed: good fortune, harmony and sensitivity The Dragon (long) Polarity: yang Element: wood Direction: east-southeast Western equivalent: Aries Hours of ascendance: 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Characteristics bestowed: energy, egotism and enthusiasm The Snake (or serpent, sue) Polarity: yin Element: fire Direction: south-southeast Western equivalent: Taurus Hours of ascendance: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Characteristics bestowed: shrewdness, stealth and mystery The Horse (ma) Polarity: yang Element: fire Direction: south Western equivalent: Gemini Hours of ascendance: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Characteristics bestowed: determination, optimism and fickleness The Goat (ram or sheep, yang) Polarity: yin Element: fire Direction: south-southwest Western equivalent: Cancer Hours of ascendance: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Characteristics bestowed: sensitivity, compassion and gentleness The Monkey (hou) Polarity: yang Element: metal Direction: west-southwest Western equivalent: Leo Hours of ascendance: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Characteristics bestowed: intelligence, versatility and humor The Rooster (cock, ji) Polarity: yin Element: metal Direction: west Western equivalent: Virgo Hours of ascendance: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Characteristics bestowed: critical faculties, pride and independence The Dog (gou) Polarity: yang Element: metal Direction: west-northwest Western equivalent: Libra Hours of ascendance: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Characteristics bestowed: loyalty, fairness and straightforwardness The Pig (or boar, zhu) Polarity: yin Element: water Direction: north-northwest Western equivalent: Scorpio Hours of ascendance: 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Characteristics bestowed: good humor, sensuality and honesty Buy from an Online Retailer US: Discover the secret to exactly who you are based on the unique combination of astrology and psychology. Did you know that your birthday can reveal surprising details about your personality, relationships, and health? The Complete Book of Birthdays is a compelling, easy-to-use reference book that gives you insight into your birthday profile and shows you how to maximize your career goals, love life, and health! Each day of the year comes with a complete, in-depth personality profile that, when partnered with your astrological sign, creates shocking results. Learn all about yourself and your unique strengths, but don’t forget to turn the pages and find out the secrets of your friends, family, and colleagues too! Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.