Chinese Zodiac Signs & Meanings
Scroll down to find links for all 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs and their meanings. Also, click to learn all about the Chinese Astrology system!
***Not sure what Chinese Zodiac Animal you are? Check the CHINESE ZODIAC CALENDAR.***
The 12 Chinese Zodiac & New Year Animals
Chinese Astrology & Chinese Zodiac Signs History
The story behind the Chinese Zodiac begins with the Jade King who lives in the heavens.
From there he couldn’t see all that happened on the Earth.
Having become curious about animals, he consulted with his advisers to see which creatures should be welcome for a visit.
The first invitation was to the Rat who was asked to invite Cat too. Rat conveniently “forgot” that invitation. Other animals that received the King’s request were the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
All the animals were told that one of the 12 signs would be awarded a place in the Celestial progression based on the order in which they arrived.
Cat caught wind of the race and traveled with Rat unwittingly. When they reached a river, the gentle and generous Ox offered to get them across. Again Rat took an opportunity and pushed the cat into the water, then jumped off the Ox to the shore, becoming the first Zodiac Sign. Ox was right behind them followed shortly thereafter by Tiger. Rabbit managed the river’s flow by jumping on rocks. Dragon had no need but was deterred in his arrival when he saw people in need of rain. Horse and snake came afterward, Horse having been frightened at first by the Snake’s appearance.
Goat, Monkey and Rooster were the most cooperative of this motley crew. They worked together to reach their goal and all were rewarded. Dog came in 11th having been distracted by a romp in the water and then finally Pig arrived having stopped for a nap along the way. Cat finally arrived 13th, but it was too late. It is said that cats chase mice to this day because of the jealous actions of that first Rat.
How does Chinese Astrology & its Zodiac Signs “work”?
What a beautiful form of divination is Chinese Astrology.
The Chinese Zodiac’s exploration of a person’s traits, personality, and characteristics are deep and resoundingly accurate.
As with all the Eastern culture’s healing and divination practices, the Chinese Zodiac system “sees” the human spirit as connected to all parts of nature and approaches its Zodiac Signs with a holistic view of who we are born to be as well as who we can become based on our own choices.
Chinese Astrology is based on cycles of time rather than planetary influences as is Western Astrology. Additionally, Chinese Astrology (Sheng Xiao) has a 12 year cycle whereas Western Astrology bases its system on 12 months.
However in Western Astrology, no matter the year, a person born in mid October will always be a Scorpio. But in Chinese Astrology, your Zodiac Sign depends on the year you were born rather than the month because the 12 year Chinese Zodiac Calendar is a repeating calendar of time. Meaning: 2014 is The Year of the Horse. There will not be another Horse Year for 12 years making 2026 the next Chinese Horse Year.
Further, Chinese Astrology is based on a lunar rather than solar calendar and each of the correlating 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs has an associated animal.
As with all types of astrology, the Zodiac Sign under which you were born is said to influence the way your life unfolds in the earthly realms. But Chinese Astrology also focuses on potential situations and outcomes, thus allowing us a sort of ‘sneak peek’ into the future. Armed with this information we can make decisions that will potentially make our paths smoother, happier.
Elemental & Time Influences in Chinese Astrology & Zodiac Signs
Just as in all forms of Astrology we are so much more than just our Zodiac Sign.
And so it is with Chinese astrology and the Chinese zodiac. You might be a Pig, Ox or Rat, but the “real you” is also defined by:
- The Five Elements (Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, Earth)
- The Five Major Planets (Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Saturn)
- The Yin and Yang
- Cardinal Directions
- Position of the Sun and Moon
- Date & Time of Birth
Chinese Zodiac Animals Time Correlations
Elemental Influence on the Chinese Zodiac Animals
Just as birth years have associated animals they also have elemental correspondences.
- Earth: Born in a year that ends in a 8 or 9 (Example: 1999)
- Fire: Born in a year that ends in a 6 or 7 (Example: 1997)
- Metal: Born in a year that ends in a 0 or 1 (Example: 1990)
- Water: Born in a year that ends in a 2 or 3 (Example: 1993)
- Wood: Born in a year that ends in a 4 or 5 (Example: 1994)
Let’s take a look at how the elements further define your personality, traits and characteristics:
WOOD: Wood has a strong trunk, meaning once you decide something you can stand firm. This element is active with lots of initiative, compassion and imagination. When wood hits an obstacle it becomes remorseful and stressed out. When you succeed you share that victory. Feng Shui recommends surrounding yourself with living plants for positive energy.
FIRE: The fire persona is very “in your face”. There is no hemming and hawing with this type of person – just speak your mind. Some of the characteristics you can expect in a fire person include perception, leadership, zeal, vigor and enthusiasm. People regard you as being somewhat eclectic and periodically jealous. Feng Shui recommends looking to interesting collections that feed your spirit like old coins and artwork.
EARTH: If you are an Earth person your friends see you as very practical, dependable, trustworthy and thoughtful – in other words “salt of the earth” type qualities. You’re very instinctive, but sometimes get carried away with “things” rather than action. Feng Shui recommends comfortable items that keep you well-grounded in your native element.
METAL: The Chinese Zodiac portrays metal people as ones with strength, a love of freedom, great communication skills, virtue and the attitude of gratitude. Metal is strong minded but not as emotional as some other elements. You can keep it “cool.” Feng Shui suggests that the best way to support the Metal Element is through orderliness and organization.
WATER: Water supports creativity. Water people have a good deal of wisdom and the ability to sway others. This is a very passionate element yet one with an air of mystery. If you’re a water person you probably do a lot of ruminating. Feng Shui recommends cool, dim spaces when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Chinese Zodiac Compatibility
Another way in which people apply the Chinese Zodiac is in determining who might be the best match for friends, lovers or life mates based on their birth animal sign.
Here are the best matches suggested by Astrologers:
Rat: Ox, Dragon, Monkey
Ox: Rat, Rooster, Pig
Tiger: Pig, Dog, Rabbit
Rabbit: Dog, Pig, Tiger
Dragon: Rooster, Monkey, Rat
Snake: Monkey, Rooster, Ox
Horse: Goat, Dog, Tiger
Sheep: Horse, Rabbit, Pig
Monkey: Snake, Rat, Dragon
Rooster: Dragon, Ox, Tiger
Dog: Rabbit, Tiger, Horse
Pig: Tiger, Rabbit, Rooster
Love Learning All About Zodiac Signs?
Make sure to read our “Ultimate Guide to Zodiac Signs“!