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Chinese Zodiac Horoscope

2018 - The Year of Dog

Introduction to the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac is a fundamental construct of ancient Chinese Astrology with a history of more than 4600 years to describe the everlasting periodic events in our solar system: the orbiting of planets around the sun and of the moon around our Earth, by which the time is structured into nested repeating cycles of days, months, years and even longer periods. This concept is the basis of the Chinese lunar calender that was introduced by the emperor Huang Ti. Now we are in the 78th cycle of the Chinese Zodiac that lasts from February 1984 until February 2044.

Today, everyone uses calendars without spending many thoughts on them. But we should thank our ancestors who began to look patiently at the sky for generations, wrote down their observations and tried to make sense of it. Thus, ancient astronomy and astrology belong to the roots of our modern natural sciences. For people in ancient times an exact calendar was same important as today to organize life: for example, it was crucial for survival to know the suitable times for sowing of corn and planting crops or to predict periods of drought and flood.

The Chinese Zodiac consists of two nested cycles with a total period of 60 years. The inner cycle has twelve years, also referred to as the twelve Earthly Branches. It was established from observations of the orbit of Jupiter that takes almost exactly twelve years to complete the full circle. Each year of the inner cycle corresponds to a different animal in this order:

There are a number of legends about the origin of the Chinese Zodiac, telling how the order of those animals was determined.

The outer cycle of the Zodiac comprises the following so-called Five Elements:

  • Metal (Gold)
  • Water
  • Wood (Tree)
  • Fire
  • Earth

which ancient Chinese Astronomers associated with the five major planets Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Mercury. Furthermore, the opposing forces of Yin and Yang are also combined with the Five Elements resulting in all together ten Heavenly Stems. Each element exists in a yin and a yang form. If the number of the year is even, it is said to be a year of Yang, while years with odd number are related to Yin. The cycle proceeds as follows:

Year ending in 0 is Yang Metal, year ending in 1 is Yin Metal,
year ending in 2 is Yang Water, year ending in 3 is Yin Water,
year ending in 4 is Yang Wood, year ending in 5 is Yin Wood,
year ending in 6 is Yang Fire, year ending in7 is Yin Fire,
year ending in 8 is Yang Earth, year ending in 9 is Yin Earth.

Assigning each of the Five Elements in their yin as well their yang form to the twelve years creates the entire cycle of 60 years,that always starts with Wood Rat and ends with Water Boar.

Because the number of animal signs is even, every zodiac sign is only connected to either Yin or Yang, e.g. the dragon is always yang, the snake is always yin, etc. For more details look at the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

The twelve Earthly Branches or Animal Signs together with the ten Heavenly Stems consisting of the Five Elements and Yin and Yang determine the characteristics of a year. The animal signs are the dominant factors which are modified to some extent by the Heavenly Stems.

Many Chinese believe that the year of a person's birth is the determining factor for its personality traits, physical and mental attributes and degree of success and happiness througout his lifetime.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the Chinese Zodiac and the Five Elementds are not only applied to the sequence of years, but also to the seasons and each month of a year, as well as to the two dozens of hours a day. Some of these aspects are further explained under the topic of Five Elements.