The Chinese Zodiac Animal Signs in All of Us

Want to know more about where your Animal Sign comes from? This article examines the background and usage of the 12 animal signs of the Chinese Zodiac, or Earthly Branches as they are more correctly known.

What is the Chinese Animal Zodiac?

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Chinese 12 zodiac signs revolve around 12 Animals, each of which represents a lunar calendar in the 12-year cycle of the zodiac. The animals are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep (Goat), Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig in that order. It is only in recent history that we know them as “Animal Signs”, the proper term is “Earthly Branches” which I will use the shortened term Branches for most of the article.

Origin and story of the Chinese zodiac

The Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) in China is said to have been the origin of the Zodiac signs and mythology. They selected the 12 Branches used to represent the zodiac signs. There is a folk-tale about how the animals were summoned to heaven by Jade Emperor is used to explain the order in which the animal signs come.

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As the story goes, the Emperor rules the heavens of China and asked all animals to participate in a race. From the outcome, 12 first animals would be given a place on the calendar. The Rat won by riding on the Ox’s back. The Pig was the last as it had stopped to eat. There are other versions of this story, in Vietnam the Cat replaces the Rabbit; and another where the Cat was first but the Rat tricked her out so she lost her place in the Zodiac entirely.

There is a lot of evidence that the primary reason for the Branches was as a way of counting, identifying, and predicting seasons rather than the modern usage of predicting character, romance, and human behaviour. For instance, the Chinese people traditionally divided the day into 12 segments based on the time of sunrise. Each of the segment divisions has two hours and is called a Shichen.

Each Shichen is linked to one of the twelve Chinese zodiac animals by observing the characteristics of animals in different periods. For instance, Rats are most active during 23:00-01:00 when seeking food. Ox ruminates slowly and leisurely at between 01:00-03:00 while Tigers are most ferocious and hurt prey more between the hours before dawn 03:00-05:00.

Earthly Branches and Chinese folk culture

The 12 Branches relate to Chinese astronomy, astrology and calendar. After observing the Earth’s place using astronomy, they divided twelve months into a year and 12 two-hour periods in a day to devise a simple calendar that common people could use.

The Branches have been used to predict the seasons and characteristics of people. It is also used to calculate compatibility for love and marriage. Even now, there are many people who also use the Earthly Branches to predict whether they are pregnant with a boy or girl (even though modern science has solved that).

For this method, the Chinese gender calendar is used. From the chart, one can predict or guess the gender of the baby based on one’s lunar age and the month they got pregnant to determine the baby’s gender.

Earthly Branches – Astrological Uses

On a basic level, the Branches are divided into six pairs in which the two animals in a pair have the same Chinese Five Element but one is Yang, the other Yin. Think of Yang as the + on a battery and Yin as the -, or Yang is the 1 and Yin is the 0 in digital terms. In other words, they have similar likes, attributes and characteristics but are still distinct and different. For example, the Rat is Yang Water and the Pig is Yin Water.

Personality characteristics can be applied to the Branches. While the Rat is a symbol of wisdom, Ox signifies diligence. The Tiger signifies valor and vigor and the Rabbit prudence. Dragon symbolizes strength and inflexibility while the Snake flexibility.

In mythology, the Horse is associated with persistence and forward marching and Sheep indicates peace. The Monkey symbolizes flexibility while the Rooster constancy. The Dog is said to be loyal while the Pig is amiable.

The Branches can also combine with each other, for instance the Rat and Ox are placed together. Tiger and Pig, Dragon and Rooster, Horse and Sheep, Monkey and Snake, and Dog and Rabbit are all of the other “Six Harmony” combinations.

A Feng Shui or BaZi Master will use the Branches Elements, personality characteristics, combinations and clashes for all Four Branches that a person has on their chart (yes, you have 4 Animal signs, not just the year you were born!) to work out how to best help them gain the most from life.

There's Even More to the Chinese Animal Signs

2022 is a Tiger year in the Chinese calendar, there are many articles and Youtube videos that create predictions for all of the 12 Branches, but only based on the year of birth. They most certainly give you a good perspective of the energy that you will experience.

When you are wanting to have more control of your life and what happens though, an online calculator that uses just the Year you were born just won’t cut it. Since you have 4 Branches (and 4 Stems), the process of determining your innate energy becomes a complex matter that an expert will be able to guide you with.

Feng Shui and Chinese Zodiac Resources

Here is a list of books, websites, services, courses that we recommend. 

This westerner’s guide to Chinese astrology (Ba Zi) explains the basis on which charts are drawn up, how they work, and how they provide the tools to understand ourselves and our relationships with others.
Ba Zi is the art of understanding the energies present in a person’s life from birth to death and how these energies impact on their behaviour and interactions. As well as providing an explanation of how to draw up and interpret a basic chart, the book provides detailed information on the different character types and their strengths and weaknesses, including useful tips on likely health weaknesses and what can be done to address them. Foundational information on yin and yang and the five elements is also included, essential to understanding the principles of Ba Zi. Accessible for beginners and providing rich explanations for anyone more experienced, this book will be an intriguing and helpful read for anyone interested in the art of astrology.

By Serge Augier.

Everyone has questions about their future, and here is where the art of unlocking the secret of your Chinese birth chart can reveal clear and deep insights about your destiny. In her new book “Secrets of Your Birth Chart”, Lillian Too breaks down the method of reading your own Paht Chee (BaZi) Four Pillars chart into easy-to-follow steps, and reveals in great depth all the influences that will shape the highs and lows of your future. Completely revised and fully-illustrated, this book also includes BRAND NEW chapters to address additional “Secret Stars” and “Clashes and Penalties” not available in any of her previous Paht Chee books!

By world-renowned Feng Shui expert Lillian Too.

This extensive book introduces a procedure to unravel our birth energy, explaining how the 22 codes (characters on the five elements) in the cosmic energy field, affect our life. From the elaborate illustrations on live examples of global celebrities, readers learn and pinpoint the codes enhancing their energy to succeed or causing their misfortune. Following the calendars of such energy flows, reader can then apply the knowledge to steer their lives by following the good flow and avoiding the negative one!

By world-renowned Lunar BaZi experts Lily Chung Ph.D. and Dr. Jin Peh.

Four Pillars of Destiny: Unlocking the Mysteries of Life is a compilation of real-life case studies and interviews with people from all walks of life, as conducted by Jerry King. Jerry will take you through his journey with stories about metaphysical practices in Asia and personal recollections about the people that he has encountered during his travels. Collectively, he offers solutions for how to live in harmony with yourself and with those around you. This insightful and original book focuses on the understanding and use of the Chinese astrological system, Four Pillars of Destiny. In contrast to many traditional Chinese astrology books, Jerry uses real-life examples to unearth the age-old question of destiny. This book is especially pertinent to readers whose interest in astrology is based on recognition of its spiritual significance and its value for enhancing self-knowledge.

By international Feng Shui and Four Pillars author and teacher Jerry King.

Do You Have Resources to Share?

If you’ve found any books, websites, services, courses that you personally love and wouldn’t go without, then drop a comment in below.  

Are YOU a resource in the Feng Shui, Astrology or Wellness industries? Contact Dean if you feel that your idea’s, courses, books or articles would be a good fit for this website. All links are dofollow.

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Dean French

With over two decades of practical Feng Shui experience, Dean French is known for his down-to-earth attitude, perceptive observational skills, and his direct and honest communication. Amongst his clients, he has a reputation as an accomplished consultant that has grown through perseverance, professional diligence, conscientious integrity, and the outstanding transformative life shifts they receive.

4 thoughts on “Welcome to the Jungle – The Chinese Zodiac Animal Signs in All of Us

  1. I don’t know if I can believe my zodiac sign. I mean I know the western version of it and I thought it would be the same here as well but boy was I in for a shock. I mean I was just trying to do some research on zodiac signs and I was a intrigued by this article. Had me hooked with the mythical story involving the jade emperor. I was thinking, could you do like a chronology article, something that focuses on explaining the shift in lore for each generation or something. I really had fun reading this and found it educating. Cheers

  2. Hey there, You have done an excellent job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally
    recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site.

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4 thoughts on “Welcome to the Jungle – The Chinese Zodiac Animal Signs in All of Us

  1. I don’t know if I can believe my zodiac sign. I mean I know the western version of it and I thought it would be the same here as well but boy was I in for a shock. I mean I was just trying to do some research on zodiac signs and I was a intrigued by this article. Had me hooked with the mythical story involving the jade emperor. I was thinking, could you do like a chronology article, something that focuses on explaining the shift in lore for each generation or something. I really had fun reading this and found it educating. Cheers

  2. Hey there, You have done an excellent job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally
    recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site.

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