|Chinese astrology predates Western astrology and differs from it in many aspects. Western astrology analysis, though seemingly accurate, is limited only to profiling the character of an individual rather than predicting his or her fortune or fate.
In contrast, much of Chinese astrology focuses on predicting the person's life path and is accurate to the point that it can make projections about the fortunate and unfortunate events that may befall in a personís life.
It is interesting to note that Chinese Astrology and Feng Shui are intertwined--a person's astrological characteristics are used in many schools of Feng Shui to determine optimal placement of home furnishings and enhancements which are specifically worked out for that individual.
There are twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac rather than the 12 solar signs seen in Western astrology. Graphically it can also be represented by pie diagram with 12 sections, each section having a picture of animal representing one Zodiac sign.
The twelve animals in Chinese astrology are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and pig (boar). Just as a Westerner takes on certain traits from his or her zodiac sign, people who practice Eastern astrology are said to take on the traits of their animal.
Western astrology is based on 1-year cycles of 12 solar signs. In the Chinese calendar though, periods last for the full cycle of the moon, beginning with new and ending with full, and one animal is the symbol for a whole year. Therefore, it takes twelve years to complete one cycle. For example, if you were born in the year of the goat (sheep), your sign would be that animal and you would celebrate your zodiac birthday every twelve years.
Here is a brief look at the animal symbols; many of the characteristics really match with what we see in these creatures:
It is interesting to note that "real" Chinese astrology differs greatly from the pop books that only concentrate on your animal sign. There is much more to Chinese astrology than just these animals and their characteristics. Like Feng Shui it also makes use of ‘the concept of balance’, not only between elemental correspondences, but also between the opposite concepts of yin and yang.
- Rat: Charming, aggressive, secretive, loves to party, sharp and witty, stubborn, good at politics and business, can be mean, perfectionist
- Ox: Subdued, good memory, hard-worker, loyal to family, skilful hands, responsible, self-confident, quick to anger, creative
- Tiger: Magnetic, leaders, courageous, strong, territorial, possessive, fighters, both generous and selfish, passionate, likes to work alone, dynamic, fierce
- Rabbit: Sweet-natured, conservative, artistic, tasteful, sentimental, emotional, monogamous, romantic, peaceful, shy, soft
- Dragon: Tyrannical, kingly, lucky, leader, center of attention, powerful, aggressive, dynamic, egotistical, snobbish
- Snake: Charming, popular, lies easily, possessive, self-centered, intellectual, well-mannered, lazy, romantic, insecure
- Horse: Crowd lover, rebellious, energetic, selfish, possessive, good with money, cunning, low self-esteem
- Sheep or goat: Creative, lazy, disorganized, charming, well-mannered, dreamy, poor business sense, pessimistic, artistic, romantic, worrier
- Monkey: Charming, witty, clever, emotional, unscrupulous, gourmet, deceptive, humorous, lucky
- Rooster: Honest, preens, loyal, honest, dreamer, psychic, busy, loves a bargain, straight-forward, observant
- Dog: Loyal, traditional, sincere, intelligent, private, judgmental, serious, nervous, likes solitude, champions causes
- Pig or Boar: Caring, chivalrous, sincere, honorable, gullible, believes in goodness, loves food, romantic, jealous, loving
Nowhere is the concept of balance more practically represented than in the concepts of yin and yang. Since no yin can exist without yang and vice versa they are called as polar opposites.
Everything negative that happens to an individual is attributed to a lack of balance between yin and yang and the five elements. Similarly everything that has a proper balance turns out to be right.
All changes in the universe occur through the changes in the Yin and Yang energies and matter which consists of five elements as they flow through their creative and destructive cycles. Chinese astrology and Feng Shui together are used in Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and many forms of fortune telling and business analysis.