Vision of the world of Chinese culture
To understand Chinese astrology it is essential to appreciate the vision of the world of Chinese culture.
Chinese philosophy is a search of an optimal balance and harmony of the human being on Earth and in the society, and the universe which surrounds him and to which he belongs to.
The Chinese live in full osmosis with the physical world, in a pragmatic and realistic optic, where the study of the nature laws aims essentially to formulate effective rules of actions in order to insure a harmonious and fluid existence and at improving it.
Chinese astrology is based on the traditional astronomy and calendars.
The development of Chinese astrology is connected to that of astronomy. Chinese astrology was elaborated during the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BC) and flourished during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BC to 2nd century AD).
Chinese astrology is very close to the science and Chinese philosophy (theory of the harmony between heaven, earth and water) and uses the principles of yin and yang and concepts that are not found in Western astrology, such as the wu xing teachings, the 10 Celestial stems, the 12 Earthly Branches, the lunisolar calendar (moon calendar and sun calendar), and the time calculation after year, month, day and shichen (時辰).
Dating back to more than four thousand years, Chinese Astrology would grant its birth to the Yellow Emperor, the legendary Houang Ti.
It was under its reign and by its orders that the astronomer Ta-nao invented the sixty years Kia tseu cycle and that the astronomer Young-tcheng made a sphere, built astronomical instruments and invented a calendar.
No reference text exists; Chinese Astrology is especially connected with the popular tradition and with the local superstitions (oracles, geomancy, numbers and symbols).
The I Ching or "Yì Jīng", also known as the Classic of Changes, Book of Changes or Zhouyi, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts.
The book contains a divination system comparable to Western geomancy or the West African Ifá system; in Western cultures and modern East Asia, it is still widely used for this purpose.
Some consider the I Ching the oldest extant book of divination, dating from 1,000 BC and before.
The Chinese zodiac
The Chinese calendar begins in 2637 B.C., the year which it was invented. This calendar designates years in cycles of 60. For example, 2000 is the 17th year in the 78th cycle.
The years in each cycle are designated by a word combination formed from 2 series of terms, one of which involves the name of 12 animals. These animals, in order they appear in the cycle are the rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
The Chinese zodiac
The zodiac allows to know how to behave between human beings, to act by knowing each other defects, qualities, and by knowing oneself which means to be able to manage own life, to make it better by looking for what is beneficial to us.
Unlike the Westerner state of mind, the Asian adapt themselves to their sign to find their internal freedom. By overtaking their individual motivation, they find the perpetual peace.
This astrology is also practiced in Japan, in Korea and in Vietnam.
Create a calendar allowed the human beings to organize their life and to set up laws to be in harmony in the world. It is the reason why the Chinese calendar is not solar as the Western one but lunar.
The Chinese Lunar calendar is the longest chronological record in history dating back from 2600 BC when Emperor Houang Ti introduced the first cycle of the zodiac.
Like the Western calendar, the Chinese Lunar calendar is a yearly one, with the start of the lunar year being based on the cycles of the moon.
Therefore, because of this cyclical dating, the beginning of the year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February.
A complete cycle takes 60 years and is made up of five cycles of 12 years each.
To the twelve annual lunar months correspond twelve months of twenty eight or twenty nine days, which gives three hundred and forty eight days a year and the need of inserting every nineteen years additional months.
In China, everything is cycle and years enter a cycle of sixty years. The zodiac, for its part, recovers from a duodecimal cycle of twelve years, of twelve months and of twelve hours represented by twelve symbolic animals. Its origin is mysterious and it’s not certain that it’s Chinese.
The legend tells that it is Buddha himself who, before dying, summoned all the animals of the world to come to him, but only twelve having answered, he granted to each of them in reward a lunar year.
The first one was the Rat. It was followed by the Ox, the Tiger, and the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Sheep, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog and the wild Boar. Their order of arrival settled the allocation of the animals of the zodiac during the cycle. This tradition was fixed by the Taoists in the 10th century AD.
Other legends preexisted and in spite of their variety, all speak about the similar animals: the animals of the sacrifice, the wild animals and the mythical animals.
The Chinese believe the animal ruling the year in which a person is born has a profound influence on personality, saying: “This is the animal that hides in your hart”.
Chinese Astrology today
In China, the astrological consultation is mainly reserved to the main events in life: birth, marriage (comparison of the characteristic of the spouses) and death (the burial has to take place "at the right time", one day and one hour in accordance with the native horoscope of the deceased).
Other Chinese zodiac
In fact, one do not consult the sky to know what is going to arrive, but to know about which potential he or she is incline and to take a good departure at the right time; the astrology is a question of correlation, and the horoscope never describes whom is an individual, but his mode of connection to the world and the others.