Astrology Chinese History

The Chinese zodiac consists of twelve animals that first appeared in the Zhan Guo period (5th century BCE). No one knows the exact date as of when the zodiac was created, but they were officially identified during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 9 CE). The zodiac became a popular way to determine a person’s birth year during the North Zhou Dynasty (557 - 581 CE.)

The most popular legend surrounding the origin of Chinese zodiac states that the Jade Emperor  (Taoist ruler of Heaven) decided to hold a swimming race in order to select the animals that were to be taken in the zodiac. Cat and rat were the worst swimmers amongst all the animals. They hatched a plan and decided to cross the river on the back of the ox. Since ox was a naive and kind animal, he agreed to carry both of them across the river. Just as they were about to reach the shore, rat, in order to ensure his victory, pushed the cat into the river.
It is said that since this incident, the cat became a sworn enemy of the rat. It has never forgiven rat and even hates water. The moment ox crossed the river; rat jumped in front of him and reached the shore first. Thus, rat got the first position in the Chinese Zodiac.
Just behind rat came the ox, which was then given the second place in the list of zodiac signs.
The third animal to cross the river was tiger, the most powerful of all the animals. He explained that the heavy currents of the river, which were pushing him downstream, were responsible for the delay.
Just as tiger was named as the third animal of the zodiac, the Emperor heard a thumping sound, which seemed to be coming from a distance. The sound was followed by the arrival of the rabbit. Rabbit explained that in the beginning, he tried to cross the river by jumping from one stone to another. However, after reaching midway, the stones almost came to an end and he was on the verge of losing the race. Suddenly a floating log came by and climbing on it, rabbit reached the shore.
With this, the rabbit got the fourth place in the zodiac cycle. The fifth animal to reach the shore was the dragon. Even though dragon was a strong and flying creature, he could not come to be in first place. The reason was that dragon had stopped on the way to help all the people and creatures of the earth by making rain. Then, when he was just about to reach the shore, he saw a little rabbit hanging on to a log.
So, the dragon helped the rat in reaching the shore by moving his log with a puff of breath. Pleased with the good deeds of the dragon, the Emperor granted him the fifth position in the zodiac.
Hardly had this been done that a galloping sound was heard by everyone. With this, the horse appeared on the shore. The snake had hidden himself on the hoof of the horse and suddenly emerged on shore. The sudden appearance frightened the horse a little and he fell back. So, the snake was given the sixth place in the zodiac and the horse, the seventh.
Some time later, ram, monkey and rooster reached the shore together. They told the Emperor that the three of them had helped each other in crossing the river. The rooster had spotted a raft and took monkey and ram with him. Then, ram and monkey had cleared the weeds and pulled the raft to the shore. Delighted with their combined efforts, the Emperor gave all of them a place in the zodiac. Ram was named as the eighth animal of the zodiac, monkey as the ninth and rooster as the tenth.
Even though Dog was the best swimmer amongst all the animals, he was the eleventh animal to reach the shore. He explained that he was in dire need of a good bath and the clean and fresh water of the river came across as a big temptation. He crossed late because of the leisurely bath and was on the verge of losing his place in the zodiac. However, he got the eleventh position in the zodiac list. The Emperor was about to end the competition when the pig emerged yelping and squealing from the river.
He had gotten hungry on the way and stopped for having a lavish meal. Then, he had fallen asleep, because of his nap he was late. Since the pig reached shore before the closure of the competition, he was named as the twelfth animal of the zodiac. The cat was the last animal to reach the shore. Since he had finished too late, he did not win any place in the calendar. From that time onwards, he vowed to be the worst enemy of the rat forever. There are a number of variations to this legend.

One variation of the story tells us that initially the cattle were invited to take part in the race. However, they nominated a water buffalo to represent them, since he was more skilled at swimming. Thewater buffalo accepted as both of them belonged to the bovine category. Another version lengthens the race beyond the mere crossing of the river. This version has the route running through a forest, over ranges of plains and grasslands, along a stream and through a lake, before coming to the destination town.

Then, we have one more version that talks about two different races. The first race involved the participation of all the animals in two divisions. The participants were divided in order to prevent the fast animals from dominating the top positions. The first six animals winning the race in each of the divisions competed against each other in the second race. The second race decided which animal would be placed in which position in the zodiac.

There is also the version that each animal was invited to talk in front of the other animals. He then had to give valid reasons as to why he should be given the top position in the Zodiac.

Yet another version tells us that cat was informally given the 13th month of the zodiac calendar. Since, thirteen is considered as an unlucky number, cats are considered a bad omen.

And the last version is that the naming of the twelve years in the Chinese Lunar cycle stems from the myth of Buddha. Before leaving this world , Buddha invited all the animals of the world to a feast. Only twelve animals arrived, in the following order; the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig. Thus, Buddha decided to name a year after each of them, in the order of their arrival. Each year in this twelve-year cycle now had a symbolic animal, whose characteristics were said to influence the world events, personality and fate of everything and everyone born in that year.

The Chinese horoscope has been in use in the Orient for thousands of years. Its twelve animal signs are similar to the twelve signs of the Western Zodiac, but are determined by the year you were born rather than the month.

Chinese astrology is based on the lunar cycle, which takes twelve years to complete.

Chinese astrology includes five elements instead of four -- Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. They are modifiers that subtlely alter the nature of whatever they represent.

Yin and Yang is the terms given to the complementary, dynamic forces that keep the universe in balance at every level.

Chinese astrology goes back thousands of years.
There are two main types used by the Chinese, those that rely on birth data alone, and those that use birth data but rely primarily on positioning of stars and planets.
Most folks use the lunar calendar which bases its calculations on the cycles of the moon. That is why Chinese New Year falls on a different date every year. Some Chinese systems use the solar year as Western astrology does. Both, forms make use of the Chinese five element theory.

The five elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water, always being given in that order.
It is said to be a productive cycle, when Wood produces Fire; Fire produces Earth; Earth produces Metal, Metal produces Water, and Water produces Wood, thus continuing the cycle.
The balance of these elements and their positioning in a Chinese chart enable the astrologer to tell many things about a person's personality and life.

Chinese astrologers generally base their calculations on the moon and which is the lunar year. This calendar can be traced back to the 14th century BCE. Legend say that the Emperor Huangdi, the first Chinese emperor, in 2637 BCE. invented the Chinese lunar calendar, which follows the cycles of the moon.
Western astrologers base their calculations on the solar year. 
Thus, Western signs are called sun signs. In Western astrology the month sign is the primary influence, while in Chinese astrology it is the year sign. Chinese astrology also has month signs. Chinese months are not named (just numbered) and use the same names as year signs. Therefore there is a Wood Rat year and a Wood Rat month.

Western signs are usually designated by one word, for example, Ares, and change from month to month. Chinese signs are designated by two Chinese characters and change from year to year. One character designates the year's element and the other its animal sign, for example, Earth, Rat.
The Chinese have used both decimal based calendars, as well as a twelve year based calendar. The two are used simultaneously by Chinese astrologers, thus resulting in the compound signs

When one delves deeper into Chinese astrology, there will be found four signs, one for the year, the month, the day and the hour of birth. These are referred to as "the Four Pillars."

When one put together the 12 animal signs with the five elements, you get a total of 60  signs. Each individual has four of these signs. The zodiac is calculated by a cycle of sixty years in which each animal signifies a different year. The zodiac was based on Chinese astrology and was used as a way to count years, months, days, and hours in the calendar. It was formed from two components: the Celestial Stem and the Terrestrial Branch. Each of the 12 animals stands for a year in a 12-year cycle, a day in the a 12-day cycle, and for every two hours in a 24-hour day. These were used to name each year along with the animal signs.

Chinese astrologers do not believe a person's fate is sealed in stone at the moment of birth. What they believe is that a person's time and place of birth sets certain parameters for each indivdual. These parameters are in turn affected by external influences.

Ideally a individual will have, a mix of strong and gentle signs as well as of elements. And, if a person has a variety of signs as opposed to, say, two Dog and two Sheepsigns, so much the better. That means the person has a wider range of capabilities. this concept lends itself to the Yin and Yang principles of balance or polarity.

Astrology Section