Chinese Astrology

Written by Sally Guo Updated Jun. 10, 2021

Chinese astrology is based on traditional astronomy and calendars. 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 natural laws aims essentially to formulate effective rules of actions in order to ensure a harmonious and fluid existence and at improving it.

History of Chinese Astrology

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 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 time.

Dating back to more than 4,000 years, Chinese Astrology would grant its birth to the Yellow Emperor, the legendary Huang 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.

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 the order they appear in the cycle are the rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

The Chinese zodiac allows us 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 our own life, to make it better by looking for what is beneficial to us.

Unlike the Westerner state of mind, the Asians adapt themselves to their sign to find their internal freedom. By overtaking their individual motivation, they find perpetual peace.

This astrology is also practiced in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

Chinese Calendar

In ancient times the Chinese people mostly used the traditional lunar and solar calendar to keep track of the seasons. This calendar not only kept track of years, months, days, and hours but also the position of the sun, the moon, and the five stars (Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, and Saturn), the forecast of the solar eclipse, and lunar eclipse, and the arrangement of the solar term

Creating a calendar allowed 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 Huang 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.

The twelve annual lunar months correspond to 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 a 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.

Chinese Astrology Today

In China, the astrological consultation is mainly reserved for 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).

In fact, one does not consult the sky to know what is going to arrive, but to know about which potential he or she is inclined and to take a good departure at the right time; the astrology is a question of correlation, and the horoscope never describes who is an individual, but his mode of connection to the world and the others.

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