Chinese astrology is based on the traditional astronomy and calendars. Chinese astrology does not calculate the positions of the sun, moon and planets at the time of birth.
The development of Chinese astrology is tied to that of astronomy, which came to flourish during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BC to 2nd century AD).
Chinese astrology has a close relation with Chinese philosophy (theory of the three harmony, heaven, earth and water) and different "principles" to Western: the wu xing teachings, yin and yang. astronomy: five planet, the 10 Celestial stems, the 12 Earthly Branches, the lunisolare calendar (moon calendar and sun calendar), the time calculation after year, month, day and shichen
Chinese refer to the 5 major planets by the one of the Wu Xing they were associated with:
NOTE: These are not listed in the actual order of the planets from nearest to farthest the sun.
- Venus—Metal (White Tiger)
- Jupiter—Wood (Azure Dragon)
- Mercury—Water (Black Tortoise)
- Mars—Fire (Vermilion Bird)
- Saturn—Earth (Yellow Dragon)
According to Chinese astrology, a person's destiny can be determined by the position of the major planets at the person's birth along with the positions of the Sun, Moon and comets and the person's time of birth and Zodiac Sign. The system of the twelve-year cycle of animal signs was built from observations of the orbit of Jupiter(the Year Star; simplified Chinese; traditional Chinese). Following the orbit of Jupiter around the sun, Chinese astronomers divided the celestial circle into 12 sections, and rounded it to 12 years (from 11.86). Jupiter is associated with the constellation Sheti and is sometimes called Sheti.
A laborious system of computing one's fate and destiny based on one's birthday,birth season,and birth hours, known as Zi Wei Dou Shu is still used regularly in modern day Chinese astrology to divine one's fortune. The 28 Chinese constellations, Xiu , are quite different from the 88 Western constellations. For example, the Big Bear is known as Dou the belt of Orion is known as Shen shēn), or the "Happiness, Fortune, Longevity" trio of demigods. The seven northern constellations are referred to as Xuan Wu . Xuan Wu is also known as the spirit of the northern sky or the spirit of Water in Taoism belief.
In addition to astrological readings of the heavenly bodies, the stars in the sky form the basis of many fairy tales. For example, the Summer Triangle is the trio of the cowherd (Altair), the weaving maiden fairy (Vega), and the "tai bai" fairy (Deneb). The two forbidden lovers were separated by the silvery river (the Milky Way). Each year on the seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese calendar, the birds form a bridge across the Milky Way. The cowherd carries their two sons (the two stars on each side of Altair) across the bridge to reunite with their fairy mother. The tai bai fairy acts as the chaperone of these two immortal lovers.
The 60-year cycle consists of two separate cycles interacting with each other. The first is the cycle of ten heavenly stems, namely the Five Elements (in order Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water) in their Yin and Yang forms.
The second is the cycle of the twelve Zodiac animal signs or Earthly Branches . They are in order as follows: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (ram or goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and boar. In Vietnam the rabbit is replaced by the cat.
This combination creates the 60-year cycle due to the least amount of years (least common multiple) it would take to get from Yang Wood Rat to its next iteration, which always starts with Yang Wood Rat and ends with Yin Water Boar. Since the zodiac animal cycle of 12 is divisible by two, every zodiac sign can also only occur in either Yin or Yang: the dragon is always yang, the snake is always yin, etc. The current cycle began in 1984 (as shown in "Table of the sixty year calendar" below).
When trying to traverse the lunisolar calendar, an easy rule to follow is that years that end in an even number are yang, those that end with an odd number are yin. The cycle proceeds as follows:
- If the year ends in 0 it is Yang Metal.
- If the year ends in 1 it is Yin Metal.
- If the year ends in 2 it is Yang Water.
- If the year ends in 3 it is Yin Water.
- If the year ends in 4 it is Yang Wood.
- If the year ends in 5 it is Yin Wood.
- If the year ends in 6 it is Yang Fire.
- If the year ends in 7 it is Yin Fire.
- If the year ends in 8 it is Yang Earth.
- If the year ends in 9 it is Yin Earth.
However, since the (traditional) Chinese zodiac follows the (lunisolar) Chinese calendar, the switch-over date is the Chinese New Year, not January 1 as in the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, a person who was born in late January or early February may have the sign of the previous year. For example, if a person was born in January 1970, his or her element would still be Yin Earth, not Yang Metal. Similarly, although 1990 was called the year of the horse, anyone born from January 1 to January 26, 1990, was in fact born in the Year of the Snake (the sign of the previous year), because the 1990 Year of the Horse did not begin until January 27, 1990. For this reason, many online sign calculators (and Chinese restaurant place mats) may give a person the wrong sign if he/she was born in January or early February.
The start of a new Zodiac is also celebrated on Chinese New Year along with many other customs.
Table of the sixty year calendar
The following table shows the 60-year cycle matched up to the Western calendar for the years 1924–2043 (see Sexagenary cycle article for years 1804–1923). This is only applied to Chinese Lunar calendar. The actual year commence is based on Chinese Solar calendar, always on 04 Feb of every year.
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