Chinese lunar calendar is the longest chronological record in history, dating
from 2637 B.C. when the first cycle of the zodiac was introduced. One complete
cycle takes 60 years and is made up of five simple cycles of 12 years each. The
78th cycle started on February 1984, and will end on February 2044. Twelve
animals were assigned to each of the 12 years when, according to legend, the
Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from
Earth. Only twelve animals came to bid him farewell. As a reward he named a year
after each one in the order that it arrived. First came the Rat, then the Ox,
the Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar.
Thus, we have the twelve animal signs of today. The animal ruling the year in
which you were born exercises a profound influence on your life. "This is
the animal that hides in your heart".
The lunar year is
divided into twelve months of 29½ days. Every two and a half years, an
intercalary month is added to adjust the calendar. The addition of this month
every third year produces the Lunar Leap Year. For easy reference, the beginning
of each lunar month is the date of the New Moon marked on the Western calendar. You may be interested to know that on
the first day of Spring, as indicated by the lunar calendar, a freshly laid egg
can be made to stand erect on its base. Try it: I know this has to be seen to be
believed. (In the Gregorian calendar, the first day of Spring always falls on
the 4th or 5th day of February).
During the complete 60-year cycle
each of the animal signs (sometimes also referred to as the twelve Earth
branches) is combined with the five main elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and
Water. The element of your lunar sign will exercise their influence on your
A fundamental part of Oriental philosophy is the interrelationships among the
five elements. These are divided into Conducive and Controlling
interrelationships, and are as follows:
From Metal we get Water. In this
context, the metal could mean a vessel or container for holding water, so we
can say that metal traps water. In another sense, metal is the only element
that will change into a liquid when heated.
From Water we get Wood. Water
here means the rain or dew that makes plant life flourish, thus producing
wood in the process.
From Wood we get Fire. Fire
cannot exist by itself but is produced by burning wood.
From Fire we get Earth.
Symbolically fire reduces everything into ashes, which becomes part of the
From Earth we get Metal. All
metal has to be extracted from the earth.
The entire universe is composed of
these five elements. They are interdependent and each is controlled by another.
Hence we find that:
Metal is controlled by Fire.
Metal can only be melted and forged with great heat.
Fire is controlled by Water.
Nothing will put out a fire as fast as water.
Water is controlled by Earth. We
dig canals in the earth to irrigate fields or build dikes to keep out or
Earth is controlled by Wood.
Trees and their roots hold the soil together and get their nourishment from
Wood is controlled by Metal.
Even the largest tree can be felled by the metal blade of an axe.
Under this philosophy, we see that no element can be called the strongest or
weakest. They are forever dependent on one another and are equal. They are
linked by the chain of life that brings about their existence, and there is no
power struggle. Each has its own place and function.
Moon, being the closest heavenly body to Earth, has shown its many visible
powers to mankind since the dawn of civilization. Its magnetic pull has ruled
the rising and ebbing ocean tides as well as all other bodies of water. The
Chinese culture has built itself firmly around the lunar influence, believing it
to affect humans so immensely because our bodies consists of three-quarters
liquid. Likewise, plants and animals are subject to its all-encompassing force.
Would it be too farfetched,
therefore, to speculate that even nations will be beneficially or adversely
affected, depending on whether they were born under a good or a bad moon? Will
the year in which a country is formed have a great bearing on its place in
history? Chinese fortune-telling leaves us to draw our own conclusions, after
providing us with the necessary tools.
It is said that astrology is an
accurate science, based on fixed formulas and mathematical calculations.
Likewise, lunar horoscopes are equally exacting and scientifically evolved. Yet
I hasten to add that it can be considered as an art form: the art of recognizing
relevant facts in whatever disguises they may appear or expressed in. The
Chinese sages of old and the fortune-tellers of today liken themselves to
medical diagnosticians of the present, probing, searching and forever
interpreting telltale signs of what the future may hold.
The ancient Chinese method of chance
reading is never dogmatic or fatalistic. We are never made to feel hemmed in by
our weaknesses nor inhibited by our deficiencies. Rather, we are encouraged to
exploit our resources in varied and imaginative ways.
Thus, Chinese horoscopes, instead of
restricting us, teach us how to plot new courses if our present methods of
approach do not meet with success, and how to circumvent the circumstances of
birth and other barriers and to reach our goals by taking new routes. As they
instruct us in self-analysis and in knowing what to expect from situations, we
will be able at worst to face, at best to solve, the problems we are most fated
These books are excellent if you want to learn more
about the Chinese Zodiac: