HOW CHINESE ASTROLOGY WORKS
The Chinese zodiac is the oldest in the world. Like Western astrology it divides people into 12 personality types. Unlike Western astrology, the Chinese system does not look to the constellations to portray human archetypes as mythical, celestial creatures. Instead, Chinese astrology is rooted firmly in the shifting patterns of life on earth, the seasons, the weather, and of course, complex Oriental philosophy.
The fundamentals of Eastern wisdom are derived from Taoism, which perceives the universe as an eternal ebb and flow between the two principles of the male and female, otherwise known as Yin and Yang. These two primal forces are represented by the Sun and the Moon. This is the foundation of Chinese astrology because it is the remaining five planets that are the basis of the Oriental zodiac system.
Chinese astrology is not content to rest with a division of 12 animals. There are also five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water). These five elements are representations of the five visible planets of old. The Sun and Moon were not regarded as planets because they are the primal forces of Yin and Yang. The 12 Chinese signs are governed by the five elements. When these are considered individually, each element’s sign appears only once every 60 years – calculated by multiplying 12 signs by five elements. Thus, the Chinese calendar is based on a 60-year cycle.
The Chinese saw these elements as being further examples of the Yin-Yang polarity, so that each element would manifest itself in either a destructive or constructive manner. For example, Metal in its most destructive form would be a weapon, while in its constructive form could be a cooking pot. Fire could burn your house down or be tamed to light your home and give out warmth as well. The five elements doubled in this fashion as the ten element mothers, and they gave birth to 12 children. These twelve children represent the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.
Thus, the horoscope divided into interlocking sets of numbers ten and twelve (e.g. ten Celestial Stem signs and 12 Terrestrial Branch signs. The five elements doubled in the fashion of destructive and constructive. In addition the ancient principles of Yin and Yang (negative and positive forces) is very much involved in charting a horoscope.
Constructive Elemental Cycle
Wood -> Fire -> Earth -> Metal -> Water -> Wood
Destructive Destructive Cycle
Water -> Fire -> Metal -> Wood -> Earth -> Water