Chinese Animal Signs

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Much has been written about the Chinese animal signs. Many of us recognize them mainly from the red and white gold lined place mats that we get at some Chinese restaurants and while there is a grain of truth in those one-sentence descriptions, they truly leave much to be desired in the way of explaining what the signs are, how they behave and what they are meant to do. In short, the animal signs are markers of time, there are twelve of them and they function through the minutes, hours, days, months and years. Along with the five elements, they create a cycle of 60 (12 X 5), also known as the sexagenary cycle, through the aforementioned units of time (minutes, hours, days, etc.). Similar to the way in which the five elements were labeled in relation to their core meaning as universal cosmic energy transformations, the animal signs represent something more fundamental and basic as well, the 12 earthly branches, which serve as receptors to the heavenly stems. They are akin to living, moving, more physical representations…the Chinese animals themselves.

The Chinese Animal Sign Zodiac

We can often recognize many traits and tendencies about ourselves through our basic Western Sun sign, reading our monthly horoscopes and even the more in depth year to year Sun sign analysis available at most newsstands. Following along the same line of thought, a student of the animal signs might even agree that the animals have “personalities,” and characteristics analogous to Western Sun signs. And many do recognize the simple grain of truth about their animal year on those Chinese place mats. What the animal signs do, how they behave and how they interact with each other is critical to understand when even considering the years in a mundane analysis; they are even more crucial for one to understand when learning and practicing the various forms of Tzu Ping astrology or Ba Zi and Tibetan astrology as well as other forms Asian astrology. The animal signs react and engage with each other in dynamic ways that are governed by special rules not unlike signs and planets do in other astrology systems. While the 12 animal signs truly are very different from their Western astrology counterparts, some knowledge of the latter will aid in the understanding of how the animal signs interact.

But where did the animal signs come from? From an archaeological perspective the answer is not clear as they seem to have appeared all at once, all around the world, at the same time, in such diverse places such as Vietnam, Korea and even in the Caucuses. From China to Tibet to Mongolia, the animal signs were popular in ancient times and various myths surround their origin. Perhaps the most well known myth to Westerners is the one about the Buddha asking the animals to run a race to determine which of the animals would be the first. The winner of the race would then represent the first branch or sign, second place would represent the second and so forth. The Rat, being the most cunning, waited for the most oportune moment to to cross the river, which was the final obstacle before the finish line. The Rat simply leapfrogged across the train of animals crossing the river, the last being the Ox. Stealthily, The Rat then jumps ahead of the Ox at the last second crossing the finish line first. But the Rat is also the most adorable and so easily forgiven. Another similar story tells a tale where the animals are asked by the Buddha to perform in a parade and competition where the biggest and fattest animal would win. Again, the Rat uses the Ox somehow to be the most desirable of the bunch, becoming the biggest and fattest animal in the parade. One can imagine how these stories and tales could do nothing less than to increase the popularity of the animal signs in ancient times, engaging even the most youngest of ears. They are entertaining as well as instructive, revealing well known aspects and perhaps most importantly, the most hidden aspects of ourselves.

Before we get into the individual signs, lets take a look at how the signs are grouped. Some of the features of the different signs are common to the other signs in the particular group under consideration. There are direct parallels in the Chinese system of ordering the animal signs to Western astrology, i.e., the triplicities, quadruplicities, antiscia/contra-antiscia, however they are not the same thing and individual animal signs cannot be drawn straight across to a Western counterpart directly, although some of the animal signs do share a few characteristics with nearby Western signs. Keep in mind that the Chinese thought differently about the sky and the seasons, different being just that, not better or worse than any other systems of divination. I think that you will find the following section fun and interesting to learn. Let’s begin:

The first three basic divisions are the three crosses, similar to the quadruplicities of Western astrology. They are the Peach Blossoms, The Literary Cross and The Four Steeds. With the Peach Blossoms we have the Rat, Rabbit, Horse and Rooster. The Literary Cross contains the Ox, Dragon, Sheep and Dog. And lastly, The Four Steeds are the Tiger, Snake, Monkey and Pig. They generally have conflicting natures with one another or work at cross purposes, especially those signs opposite one another (Circle of Conflict, see below). Some of the animals interact in a more dynamic and/or negative way with each other, namely the Four Steeds, with the Peach Blossoms perhaps acting the least antagonistic toward one another. Other names for the crosses are The Four Corners or Four Gates (Peach Blossoms), The Four Coaching Posts (Four Steeds) and The Four Graves (Literary Cross).

The Three Crosses


With the animals grouped into Four Triangles we have sets of animals that get along with each other and are compatible. Derek Walters notes this is as, “San Ho, or Triple Harmonies, and they occur when an Animal Sign is combined with both of its ideal partnerships.” And, “[w]hen a horoscope chart contains a Triple Harmony, it is regarded as being exceptionally favourable.” (The Secrets of Chinese Astrology). Walters goes on to write that the Triangles are associated with the directions as follows, with the Peach Blossom animal being the cardinal position and leading the rest of the way for the others in that direction: The North Triangle is associated with Water and the Rat, Dragon and Monkey, The East Triangle is associated with Wood and the Rabbit, Sheep and Pig, The South Triangle is associated with Fire and the Horse, Dog and Tiger, and lastly the West Triangle is associated with Metal and the Rooster, Ox and Snake. See the slide below.


The Four Circles of Affinity


The Life Palaces or Six Mansions are below, along with the associated keywords. It is lucky to have a mansion in ones chart, as these are harmonious pairings. One point of conflict would be what Walters describes as a “hairpin” where there are two signs forming a mansion along with one sign from the opposite mansion in a chart. He writes that the two from the complete mansion “attack” the solitary one thus diminishing its effects. People born in animal years that complete a mansion are said to be compatible marriage partners as well.


The Six Life Palaces


With signs opposing, we certainly will have conflict, all else being equal. There is an attraction, though, in a similar way to a moth being drawn to a flame. Romances between signs opposite often start with intense attraction and end with bitterness. There can be balance, however, and all is not lost if there are opposite animals between two charts. Sometimes differences can be overcome and simply “lived with,” so to speak. And then there are irreconcilable differences as well that cannot be resolved. These animal signs are six years apart, so some of us may remember a friend that was dating a younger person under these animal year circumstances and how that turned out. Lots of drama and push/pull activity usually happen with these relationships. Within a chart, one may see the differences between the disconnected areas of life shown by opposite animals. Elemental harmony plays a factor here as well, either increasing or decreasing the balance between the two animals.


The Six Circles of Conflict


In the below slide we have The Six Circles of Combat. These relationships are similar to the opposition but perhaps a bit more abusive. There is a struggle to find compromise between these animals and one must consider the possible outcomes before initiating activity between animals that contain these pairs. Well integrated persons may simply just avoid those that contain one, two or more animals that are in this relationship with animals in their chart.


The Six Circles of Combat


Two pairs here are already members of two of the Life Palaces, the Rat/Ox and Horse/Sheep. Notice that we are drawing lines at right angles from the Circle of Conflict to get to these special relationships. Not all Chinese astrology authors mention the below Six Circles of Luck but I thought that I would include them here as reference anyway. The slides are based on Shelly Wu’s book, The Definitive Guide to Chinese Astrology (2010) and most authors generally agree on the nature of the animal relationships although they have included different names for the relationships. This could be due to different translations from Mandarin or Cantonese to English, different names for the relationships or circles within the various regions within China or perhaps a combination of all of these. Its interesting that every book that I have read on Chinese animal signs, Four Pillars, etc., has given the relationships between the signs different names.


The Six Circles of Luck


Describing the Animal Signs

The Rat: Branch I

The first animal sign or branch I is the Rat. The Rat represents Yang Water and is a male, yang sign. Yin Water is the element of the branch, however, following the internal method of Ba Zi / Tzu Ping / Four Pillars calculation. The external method of gender determination through the animal year is what we are concerned mostly with here in this article, with the odd branches all being Yang or male and the even numbered branches being Yin or female. There are no hidden elements in the Rat (there will be a full explanation of the internal method in an upcoming Ba Zi / Four Pillar article). The Rat points to the cardinal direction of North and its hour or “double hour” is from 11pm to 1am true local time or sundial time. (From here on out, when referring to the hours, we will be using local time as this is the natural time for the location of the person’s birth). Rat people tend to be charming and attractive, planners, good with money, secretive, private and intelligent.

While we are discussing the animal years primarily, we can still use some of the keywords to describe the other pillars in the Four Pillars or Ba Zi chart. The animal years below are Lunar Years beginning with the first New Moon closest to Lin Shun or the Chinese Spring (technically 15 degrees tropical Aquarius for us Western astrologers). Not every Chinese astrologer uses the same kind of months or years as each can be determined from either a regular Solar perspective or a Lunar one.  The descriptions of the animal years, i.e. Metal Rat on the Crossbeams, are from Shelly Wu’s, The Definitive Book of Chinese Astrology (2010). She uses solar years and months in her book, while other authors use Lunar months and years (new moon beginnings). The animal sign pictures, including the very top zodiac, are from the book and CD set, Astrology Pictures by The Pepin Press.

The following description in block quote of the Rat, including the rest of the animal descriptions in block quote, are from Michael Erlewine’s essay, Tibetan Astrology from the book Eastern Systems for Western Astrologers (1997). Here, we have a direct translation from ancient Tibetan texts to English on the nature of people born in the various animal years. As the Chinese introduced the animal signs to Tibet long ago, the essential meanings are similar and yet it seems there may be some various differences between these and the consensus Chinese view in the below translations with all of the animal signs. I think that you will enjoy these unique interpretations. The goal here was to provide a different perspective (Tibetan) on the animal signs for the year a person is born, as well as to show that the animal signs are not totally unique to the Chinese people but are shared by various Asian cultures. Please do not be offended, as again, these have been translated literally from the original ancient Tibetan source. There is no “political correctness” here as it is impossible for us to impress upon ancient cultures and societies our own post-modern sensibilities. The animal descriptions in bold are my take on the animal signs based on my own observations over the years, as well as what I have read from many books on the subject. From Tibetan Astrology:

“The mouse is quiet. He is not friendly or outgoing and tends to be stable. Even though he does good to others, others don’t seem to respond. On the outside, he is open and relaxed in appearance, but inside he is very strong and critical. Very open-mouthed, he says what he thinks. He is kind, but not generous. He misses the big opportunities, and takes the small ones. He is always searching.”

Rat Years

Jan 1, 1900 – Feb 18, 1901, Metal Rat on the Crossbeams
Feb 18, 1912 – Feb 5, 1913, Water Rat on the Hilltop
Feb 5, 1924 – Jan 23, 1925, Wood Rat on the Rooftops
Jan 24, 1936 – Feb 10, 1937, Fire Rat of the Fields
Feb 10, 1948 – Jan 28, 1949, Earth Rat of the Granary
Jan 28, 1960 – Feb 14, 1961, Metal Rat on the Crossbeams
Feb 15, 1972 – Feb 2, 1973, Water Rat on the Hilltop
Feb 2, 1984 – Feb 19, 1985, Wood Rat on the Rooftops
Feb 19, 1996 – Feb 6, 1997, Fire Rat of the Fields
Feb 7, 2008 – Jan 25, 2009, Earth Rat of the Granary
Jan 25, 2020 – Feb 11, 2021, Metal Rat on the Crossbeams

The Rat


The Ox: Branch II

The second sign is a Yin Sign, the venerable Ox. The Ox is the first of the Earth signs, therefore, it is Yin Earth. There are two hidden elements within the Ox (keep in mind the internal method of Ba Zi calculation), Yin Water and Yin Metal. Its hours are 1 am to 3am and it represents the turning point from North to East. Ox people are dependable, pessimistic, patient, hard working, enduring and steadfast. It is said that an Ox can battle two Tigers and that the Horse fears the Ox. If you are already familiar with some of the ideas of the Western conception of Saturn and Capricorn, then you may very well understand what this branch is all about. Out of all the signs, the Ox seems to most fit with many of the Saturnian principles that we are already familiar with. From Tibetan Astrology:

“The ox is a difficult person. He is hard to get to work, and is not obedient. He likes to sleep. He often exhibits bad behavior. While it is hard to change him, he is most often an agreeable person. However his slogan is, “Don’t mess with me!” He is very slow and doesn’t care much if things are satisfactory or not. He postpones everything. He is good-tempered. He likes to eat, and sleeps like a bull.”

Ox Years

Feb 19, 1901 – Feb 7, 1902, Metal Ox of the Main Road
Feb 6, 1913 – Jan 25, 1914, Water Ox of the Little Stream
Jan 24, 1925 – Feb 12, 1926, Wood Ox of Gold in the Sea
Feb 11, 1937 – Jan 30, 1938, Fire Ox of the Boiling Stream
Jan 29, 1949 – Feb 16, 1950, Earth Ox of the Shelter Roof
Feb 15, 1961 – Feb 4, 1962, Metal Ox of the Main Road
Feb 3, 1973 – Jan 22, 1974, Water Ox of the Little Stream
Feb 20, 1985 – Feb 8, 1986, Wood Ox of Gold in the Sea
Feb 7, 1997 – Jan 27, 1998, Fire Ox of the Boiling Stream
Jan 26, 2009 – Feb 13, 2010, Earth Ox of the Shelter Roof
Feb 12, 2021 – Jan 13, 2022, Metal Ox of the Main Road

The Ox


The Tiger: Branch III

The third sign is the Tiger, Yang Wood. It contains Yang Wood in the branch and the hidden elements are Yang Fire and Yang Earth. Its hours are from 3am to 5am. The Tiger can be aggressive but is generally a good friend. They may disappear from time to time but always seem to return at some point. Tiger people are independent, creative, unpredictable, intelligent, powerful and idealistic. Uranus and Jupiter come to mind when thinking about the Tiger, although there are no clear cut, one to one correspondences with any of the animal signs. One may be able to see by observing the Tiger their hidden element of Fire, even though its element is Yang Wood, giving the Tiger some flair. From Tibetan Astrology:

“The tiger is brave, active, and bright. Always proud and loyal to close relatives, he tends to have rough behavior and speech. He does a lot of thinking. He likes gambling and makes a good businessman.”

Tiger Years

Feb 8, 1902 – Jan 28, 1903, Water Tiger of the Streams
Jan 26, 1914 – Feb 13, 1915, Wood Tiger of the Forest
Feb 13, 1926 – Feb 1, 1927, Fire Tiger of the Furnace
Jan 31, 1938 – Feb 18, 1939, Earth Tiger Climbing Mountains
Feb 17, 1950 – Feb 5, 1951, Metal Tiger of Mountain Pines
Feb 5, 1962 – Jan 24, 1963, Water Tiger of the Streams
Jan 23, 1974 – Feb 10, 1975, Wood Tiger of the Forest
Feb 9, 1986 – Jan 28, 1987, Fire Tiger of the Furnace
Jan 28, 1998 – Feb 15, 1999, Earth Tiger Climbing Mountains
Feb 14, 2010 – Feb 2, 2011, Metal Tiger of Mountain Pines
Feb 1, 2022 – Jan 21, 2023, Water Tiger of the Streams

The Tiger


The Rabbit: Branch IV

The fourth branch or sign is the Rabbit, Yin Wood. Its direction is East and there are no hidden elements. Like the Rat, the Rabbit may be more or less a secretive private person. Although the Rabbit is a strong fighter, its main reaction is to flee from danger and so those born in the year of the Rabbit are talented at fleeing a potentially unsavory situation or place. Rabbit people are sensitive, warm, sophisticated, gentle, good storytellers, lucky, and always can find a way out. Being one of the peach blossoms, or playboy/playgirl signs, the Rabbit is usually physically attractive as well and has the potential to get into and out of many romantic situations throughout its life. From Tibetan Astrology:

“’I am just for myself.’ The hare is independent, and does not need or ask others for their help. ‘I can survive. There is much opportunity in the world to be enjoyed. I am satisfied with that.’ He tends to be indirect, devious, and possibly dishonest, but always skillful. He is stingy, but smiles and is generous on the surface. Possible diseases include those of the stomach and gall bladder.”

Rabbit Years

Jan 29, 1903 – Feb 15, 1904, Water Rabbit of the Forest Pond
Feb 14, 1915 – Feb 2, 1916, Wood Rabbit of Enlightenment
Feb 2, 1927 – Jan 22, 1928, Fire Rabbit dreaming of the Moon
Feb 19, 1939 – Feb 7, 1940, Earth Rabbit of Mountain Pines
Feb 6, 1951 – Jan 26, 1952, Metal Rabbit of the Burrow
Jan 25, 1963 – Feb 12, 1964, Water Rabbit of the Forest Pond
Feb 11, 1975 – Jan 30, 1976, Wood Rabbit of Enlightenment
Jan 29, 1987 – Feb 16, 1988, Fire Rabbit Dreaming of the Moon
Feb 16, 1999 – Feb 4, 2000, Earth Rabbit of Mountain Pines
Feb 3, 2011 – Jan 22, 2012, Metal Rabbit of the Burrow
Jan 22, 2023 – Feb 9, 2024, Water Rabbit of the Forest Pond

The Rabbit


The Dragon: Branch V

The Dragon is Yang Earth, with the hidden elements of Yin Wood and Yin Water. Its hour is from 7am to 9am. Many in China consider the Dragon to be the luckiest year to be born under and so every twelve years there is a rush to have a child in the year of the Dragon. Dragon people are mythical, energetic, ambitious, exciting, talented and magnetic. I would also say that Dragon people are “energy efficient” and tend to utilize their energy and talents in the best ways possible, in order to obtain the maximum desired effect for whatever it is that they do in life. “No more and no less,” as they seem to just coast along effortlessly. From Tibetan Astrology:

“The dragon is neither brave nor active, but is good. He never does bad. ‘I am not very powerful, but nobody harms me.’ He does not make much effort, but also does not procrastinate, or put things off. When the time comes, he does his duty. He has a short temper, but is good minded. He is talkative. He listens to others talk. He has trouble containing himself. He has less disease than some of the other signs, but if he gets sick, it can be serious.”

Dragon Years

Feb 16, 1904 – Feb 3, 1905, Wood Dragon of the Whirlpool
Feb 4, 1916 – Jan 22, 1917, Fire Dragon of the Sky
Jan 23, 1928 – Feb 9, 1929, Earth Dragon of Virtue
Feb 8, 1940 – Jan 26, 1941, Metal Dragon of Patience
Jan 27, 1952 – Feb 13, 1953, Water Dragon of the Rain
Feb 13, 1964 – Feb 1, 1965, Wood Dragon of the Whirlpool
Jan 31, 1976 – Feb 17, 1977, Fire Dragon of the Sky
Feb 17, 1988 – Feb 5, 1989, Earth Dragon of Virtue
Feb 5, 2000 – Jan 23, 2001, Metal Dragon of Patience
Jan 23, 2012 – Feb 9, 2013, Water Dragon of the Rain
Feb 10, 2024 – Jan 28, 2025, Wood Dragon of the Whirlpool

The Dragon


The Snake: Branch VI

The Snake is a southerly sign and is Yin Fire, although in the internal method, the branch is Yang Fire with two hidden elements: Yang Earth and Yang Metal. There is inherent wisdom in the snake and many Snake people do seem to be wise beyond their years. Like the Dragon, they are efficient in their dealings with others. The Snake clashes quite furiously with Tigers and Pigs, and yet are compatible with Monkeys a sign square to them. The Snake hour is from 9am to 11am. Snake people are wise, calculating, have great yin energy and self-control, sense of timing, are private and behind the scenes in their orientation towards the world. They have a good sense of right and wrong, although this is often at variance with societal norms; this is telling of their great inherent wisdom and often correct perception of the world around them. From Tibetan Astrology:

“The snake has a bad temper, and is always burning his own mind-stream. However, he has a good heart and is very optimistic or forward minded. Even if others are jealous of him, no one has the power to put him down. He can, however, destroy himself. He may have a somewhat rough character, and can be mean. Once his mind is made up, he won’t change it. He tends to diseases of the stomach and liver.”

Snake Years

Feb 4, 1905 – Jan 24, 1906, Wood Snake of the Forest Trees
Jan 23, 1917 – Feb 10, 1918, Fire Snake of the Lamps
Feb 10, 1929 – Jan 29, 1930, Earth Snake of the Desert Sands
Jan 27, 1941 – Feb 14, 1942, Metal Snake of Molded Bronze
Feb 14, 1953 – Feb 2, 1954, Water Snake of the Wetlands
Feb 2, 1965 – Jan 20, 1966, Wood Snake of the Forest Trees
Feb 18, 1977 – Feb 6, 1978, Fire Snake of the Lamps
Feb 6, 1989 – Jan 26, 1990, Earth Snake of the Desert Sands
Jan 24, 2001 – Feb 11, 2002, Metal Snake of Molded Bronze
Feb 10, 2013 – Jan 30, 2014, Water Snake of the Wetlands
Jan 29, 2025 – Feb 16, 2026, Wood Snake of the Forest Trees

The Snake


The Horse: Branch VII

The Horse represents cardinal South and is a Yang Fire sign. The main branch is Yin Fire, however, with the hidden element of Yin Earth according to the internal method. The Horse is the only Peach Blossom animal that contains a hidden element and like the Rat, Snake and Pig, its main element has the opposite polarity in the internal method. Its hour is from 11am to 1pm. Horse people are impatient, restless, ambitious, social, dexterous, cultural, confident, bold, justice-seeking and flamboyant. They really just want to run free, both mentally and physically and do not like feeling held back. There is sexual flair here as well, like the other Peach Blossoms and tend to be in and out of relationships, although they may take more time in between compared to the others. The Sheep balances the Horse. From Tibetan Astrology:

“The horse is said to have miraculous power and is capable of great effort. Even though 1,000 enemies chase him, he cannot be defeated. His older life will be better than his youth. He listens to others. He likes horses. He is a fast walker, and enjoys play. He has a self-sacrificing character and always helps others. He needs little sleep. His life has a lot of ups and downs.”

Horse Years

Jan 25, 1906 – Feb 12, 1907, Fire Horse of the Celestial River
Feb 11, 1918 – Jan 31, 1919, Earth Horse of the Battlefield
Jan 30, 1930 – Feb 16, 1931, Metal Horse of the Palace Gates
Feb 15, 1942 – Feb 4, 1943, Water Horse of the Clouds
Feb 3, 1954 – Jan 23, 1955, Wood Horse of the Stable
Jan 21, 1966 – Feb 8, 1967, Fire Horse of the Celestial River
Feb 7, 1978 – Jan 27, 1979, Earth Horse of the Battlefield
Jan 27, 1990 – Feb 14, 1991, Metal Horse of the Palace Gates
Feb 12, 2002 – Jan 31, 2003, Water Horse of the Clouds
Jan 31, 2014 – Feb 18, 2015, Wood Horse of the Stable
Feb 17, 2026 – Feb 5, 2027, Fire Horse of the Celestial River

The Horse


The Sheep: Branch VIII

The Sheep (also Goat) is a southerly sign and is Yin Earth, the third of four Earth signs. In the internal method its branch is Yin Earth with two hidden elements; Yin Fire and Yin Wood. Its hour is 1pm to 3pm. Sheep people are peaceful, practical, sensitive, artful, creative, whimsical and love to spend money on beautiful things. There is a hint of the Moon here with the Sheep and some element of security minded Cancer; they are good with children as well and can speak to them on their level. One thing that I have observed from the Sheep people that I know personally, is that they can take forever to get ready to go anywhere, especially when going out for dinner or a night on the town! From Tibetan Astrology:

“The sheep does not talk much and tends not to be too bright. He can be a rough character. He likes to eat. He causes others no harm, but does not sacrifice himself for them either. He is generally good-tempered and good-hearted. Always relaxed, he does not rush. He is not lazy, but can’t get things done on time. He does not show either like or dislike. He is a good provider.”

Sheep Years

Feb 13, 1907 – Feb 1, 1908, Fire Goat of Lost Sheep
Feb 1, 1919 – Feb 19, 1920, Earth Goat of the Pasture
Feb 17, 1931 – Feb 5, 1932, Metal Goat of the Mines
Feb 5, 1943 – Jan 24, 1944, Water Goat of the Gathering Storm
Jan 24, 1955 – Feb 11, 1956, Wood Goat of Dedication
Feb 9, 1967 – Jan 29, 1968, Fire Goat of Lost Sheep
Jan 28, 1979 – Feb 15, 1980, Earth Goat of the Pasture
Feb 15, 1991 – Feb 3, 1992, Metal Goat of the Mines
Feb 1, 2003 – Jan 21, 2004, Water Goat of the Gathering Storm
Feb 19, 2015 – Feb 7, 2016, Wood Goat of Dedication
Feb 6, 2027 – Jan 25, 2028, Fire Goat of Lost Sheep

The Sheep

The Monkey: Branch IX

The Monkey is the ninth branch or animal sign and represents Yang Metal; Yang Metal is in the branch in the internal method and contains Yang Earth and Yang Water as hidden elements. Its hour is 3pm to 5pm. Monkey people are active, highly intelligent, mischievous, strong minded, multi-taskers and are very capable. The Monkey usually gets what it wants and takes a half serious, half joking attitude towards life. They seem to be able to build anything. Many astrologers are born in the year of the Monkey. For the Monkey, the world is a playground. They have to be careful to not seem as though they are taking advantage of others in relationships. They need to see others as they see themselves and when they do, they are much more careful and considerate, especially in later years. From Tibetan Astrology:

“Monkeys are very smart, very talkative, and tend to have bad tempers. They have lightweight, weak bodies. They are not always open minded and are said to have ‘small’ mind power. Not noted for their sense of responsibility, they like to play and enjoy themselves. Their words are not to be trusted and they talk, gossip and lie too much – surface oriented. They look clean, but tend to eat dirty things. Very ambitious, they always have great plans. They like to praise themselves.”

Monkey Years

Feb 2, 1908 – Jan 21, 1909, Earth Monkey of the Foothills
Feb 20, 1920 – Feb 7, 1921, Metal Monkey Eating Pomegranate
Feb 6, 1932 – Jan 25, 1933, Water Monkey of Elegance
Jan 25, 1944 – Feb 12, 1945, Wood Monkey of the Forest Trees
Feb 12, 1956 – Jan 30, 1957, Fire Monkey of Independence
Jan 30, 1968 – Feb 16, 1969, Earth Monkey of the Foothills
Feb 16, 1980 – Feb 4, 1981, Metal Monkey Eating Pomegranate
Feb 4, 1992 – Jan 22, 1993, Water Monkey of Elegance
Jan 22, 2004 – Feb 8, 2005, Wood Monkey of the Forest Trees
Feb 8, 2016 – Jan 27, 2017, Fire Monkey of Independence
Jan 26, 2028 – Feb 12, 2029, Earth Monkey of the Foothills

The Monkey


The Rooster: Branch X

The Rooster (also Cock or Bird) represents the cardinal direction West and is Yin Metal, both external and internal with no hidden elements. In some systems the Rooster is considered to be a male animal although it is not in any calculation method. It hour is 5pm to 7pm. Rooster people are proud, temperamental, hard-working, cultivated, good fighters, and love to win. Perhaps the previous characteristics are why some consider the Rooster to be male or Yang in orientation. As a Peach Blossom, they are attractive. One Chinese proverb has it that the Rooster and Snake are not compatible, although they are in the same trinity. Like the Horse, they can be very passionate, perhaps the most passionate of all the animals. From Tibetan Astrology:

“It is easy for the bird to loose his possessions, legacy, inheritance, what-have-you? They are always advising others, but seldom take their own advice. Possessing a very strong sexual desire, they always need company. They like to be neat and clean, and don’t require much sleep. They are prone to blindness. They love style, dressing up and tend to smile a lot. They enjoy walking and stylish movement. Good with friends.”

Rooster Years

Jan 22, 1909 – Feb 9, 1910, Earth Rooster of Foraging Fields
Feb 8, 1921 – Jan 27, 1922, Metal Rooster of Steel Cages
Jan 26, 1933 – Feb 13, 1934, Water Rooster of the Barnyard Pond
Feb 13, 1945 – Feb 1, 1946, Wood Rooster Crowing at Dawn
Jan 31, 1957 – Feb 17, 1958, Fire Rooster of Seclusion
Feb 17, 1969 – Feb 5, 1970, Earth Rooster of Foraging Fields
Feb 5, 1981 – Jan 24, 1982, Metal Rooster of Steel Cages
Jan 23, 1993 – Feb 9, 1994, Water Rooster of the Barnyard Pond
Feb 9, 2005 – Jan 28, 2006, Wood Rooster Crowing at Dawn
Jan 28, 2017 – Feb 15, 2018, Fire Rooster of Seclusion
Feb 13, 2029 – Feb 2, 2030, Earth Rooster of Foraging Fields

The Rooster

The Dog: Branch XI

The Dog is a loyal character and true to his word. A male Yang Earth sign, both internal and external with Yin Metal and Yin Fire hidden in the branch. Also a Western sign, however being an Earth sign, like all Earth signs, it is transitioning or transforming from one direction to the next, in this case from West to North. Its hour is from 7pm to 9pm. Dog people have a sense of duty, are respectable, loyal, heroic, have excellent instincts and are trustworthy and possess a kind of social intelligence. They tend to respect authority but the right kind of authority. From Tibetan Astrology:

“The dog is proud, mean and somewhat wrathful. He can’t seem to get kindness from others no matter how hard he tries. He is self-interested, does only for himself, and never for others. His mind is always filled with lots of thoughts. He tries to do things right, but they tend to turn out bad or wrong. He likes meat. He is a fast walker. Very sexual. A traveler. He is high or good-minded and elegant people tend to like him.”

Dog Years

Feb 10, 1910 – Jan 29, 1911, Metal Dog of Gold Bracelets
Jan 28, 1922 – Feb 15, 1923, Water Dog of Deep Oceans
Feb 14, 1934 – Feb 3, 1935, Wood Dog on Guard
Feb 2, 1946 – Jan 21, 1947, Fire Dog of Dreams
Feb 18, 1958 – Feb 7, 1959, Earth Dog of the Mountain
Feb 6, 1970 – Jan 26, 1971, Metal Dog of Gold Bracelets
Jan 25, 1982 – Feb 12, 1983, Water Dog of Deep Oceans
Feb 10, 1994 – Jan 30, 1995, Wood Dog on Guard
Jan 29, 2006 – Feb 17, 2007, Fire Dog of Dreams
Feb 16, 2018 – Feb 4, 2019, Earth Dog of the Mountain
Feb 3, 2030 – Jan 22, 2031, Metal Dog of Gold Bracelets

The Dog


The Pig: Branch XII

The last animal sign is the Pig (also the Boar). It is a Northerly sign and Yin Water in gender but in the internal system, the branch is Yang Water and the hidden element is Yang Wood. Its hour is from 9pm to 11pm. Pig people are highly intelligent, skilled, harmony seeking, shy, alert, perceptive, and are in it for the “long haul.” Like the Dog, the Pig has social intelligence as well, and in China was considered to be the protector of the inside of the house, with the Dog as the protector of the outside of the house. Pig people are highly sensitive as well and are alert to the slightest changes in their environment. Along with the Rat, the Pig is a good financial thinker and planner, being the more long-term person, though. From Tibetan Astrology:

“The Pig is not bright. He likes to eat but is not concerned with what type of food. He eats everything. He likes yoga. He has good self-discipline. Can be greedy and often takes advantage of others. He does not benefit himself. He lies. He has a big stomach. He is good with the good people, and bad with the bad people. He seldom smiles and is often mean. He can be a rough character.”

Pig Years

Jan 30, 1911 – Feb 17, 1912, Metal Pig of Fine Jewelry
Feb 16, 1923 – Feb 4, 1924, Water Pig of the Wild Sea
Feb 4, 1935 – Jan 23, 1936, Wood Pig of Travel and Journeys
Jan 22, 1947 – Feb 9, 1948, Fire Pig Cresting the Mountain
Feb 8, 1959 – Jan 27, 1960, Earth Pig of the Monastery
Jan 27, 1971 – Feb 14, 1972, Metal Pig of Fine Jewelry
Feb 13, 1983 – Feb 1, 1984, Water Pig of the Wild Sea
Jan 31, 1995 – Feb 18, 1996, Wood Pig of Travel and Journeys
Feb 18, 2007 – Feb 6, 2008, Fire Pig Cresting the Mountain
Jan 23, 2019 – Feb 9, 2020, Earth Pig of the Monastery
Feb 10, 2031 – Jan 28, 2032, Metal Pig of Fine Jewelry

The Pig


Thank you for reading about the animal signs. If you have made it this far through the article, then I commend you! Combining the meanings of the Five Elements with their Animal Branches gives us rich interpretive content to contemplate. Chinese astrology, like other forms of planetary astrology, is a symbolic language, sometimes requiring us to utilize remote associations and subtle connections and then at other times not, with the answers being glaringly obvious. With Chinese and Tibetan systems we have an opportunity to look inside another dimension of divination, with the understanding and application of Yin and Yang, Five Elements and Animal Signs as primary components to these methods. I hope that you have enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it, there is more to come soon, with the next article on the Four Pillars of Destiny or Four Pillar Analysis.