Soothsayer's Corner

By Leean Lester

This month, we’re completing our in-depth examination of Chinese astrology. It’s a complex system, and there is still much to learn.

One of the important aspects to understand about the Chinese system is time measurement. There are 2 sets of time measurement that are used in Chinese astrology. One is the ten heavenly stems, which is used to number things that come in a series of ten. These ten heavenly stems are associated with the five elements. The other one is the system of the twelve earthly branches, which is used to number things that come in a series of twelve. The twelve earthly branches each mark a 120-minute hour, or, in western measurement, a two hour period. This is why, when doing Chinese astrology charts, you don’t need to know the exact time of your birth—just knowing the two hour time segment in which you were born is enough. 

Cycles are important in Chinese astrology, and this is reflected not only in time measurement, but also in the elements which are associated with the various zodiac signs and the ten heavenly branches. Wood gives rise to Fire, which caused Fire to produce Earth. Earth gave birth to Metal, which then created Water, which created Wood. So as you can see, the cycle repeats in a pattern. Also, you’ll notice that one element cannot really survive without the other—they are all co-dependent. Confused? Look at it this way: The wood made fire, which burnt the wood to ashes in the form of earth, which contained metal in the form of ores. Metal then had dew condensation in the form of water. This water then nourished plants and trees, thus producing wood. This shows how there is a counteraction between the five elements that goes in accordance with the laws of nature and heaven. In China, it is sometimes said that when calamities happen, it is due largely in part to disturbances of the five elements. 

Now, these elements are also associated in a special way with what is known as the lifespan, also called the sixty year cycle. Based on a lifespan of sixty years, the cycle is divided into five elemental cycles of twelve years each. Let’s take a look at this:

The wood cycle is 0 – 12 years.  It represents the time of physical and intellectual growth and flexibility.

The fire cycle is 12 – 24 years. This represents the time of greatest strength and strongest passion.

The earth cycle is 24 – 36 years. This is the time people settle down and try to establish themselves between generations of parents and children.

The metal cycle is 36 – 48 years. This is the time when you try to exercise economic and social dominance over others.

The water cycle is 48 – 60 years. This is the time when physical decline is compensated for by attainment of wisdom and serenity.

It’s getting complicated, huh? And yet there is still more to consider. There are also divisions in Chinese astrology referred to as trines. There are four trines, each associated with three of the zodiac animals. The first trine represents intense and powerful individuals. The three animals of the first trine are the rat, dragon, and monkey. Next comes the second trine—this represents the soul mates. The animals here are the ox, snake, and rooster. Then comes the third trine, and this is associated with seeking a true lover. The animals here are the tiger, horse, and the dog. Last comes the fourth trine, and this represents the aesthetic and what’s beautiful in life. The animals here are the rabbit, ram, and the pig. 

So, to wrap up our lesson here, let’s take a final look at the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, examining the trines as well as the elements associated with each.

1.  The rat (yang, 1st trine, fixed element water): 

They are forthright, disciplined, systematic, meticulous, charismatic, hardworking, industrious, charming, eloquent, sociable, shrewd. They can be manipulative, vindictive, mendacious, venal, selfish, obstinate, critical , over-ambitious, ruthless, intolerant, scheming.

2.  The ox (yin, 2nd trine, fixed element water):

Can be dependable, calm, methodical, patient, hardworking, ambitious, conventional, steady, modest, logical, resolute, tenacious. They can also be stubborn, narrow-minded, materialistic, rigid, demanding.

3.  The tiger (yang, 3rd trine, fixed element wood):

They can be unpredictable, rebellious, colorful, powerful, passionate, daring, impulsive, vigorous, stimulating, sincere, affectionate, humanitarian, generous. Also can be restless, reckless, impatient, quick-tempered, obstinate, selfish.

4.  The rabbit (yin, 4th trine, fixed element wood):

They are gracious, kind, sensitive, soft-spoken, amiable, elegant, reserved, cautious, artistic, thorough, tender, self-assured, astute, compassionate, flexible. Can be moody, detached, superficial, self-indulgent, opportunistic, lazy.

5.  The dragon (yang, 1st trine, fixed element wood):

They are magnanimous, stately, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, zealous, fiery, imperious, tyrannical , demanding, eccentric, grandiloquent and extremely bombastic, prejudiced, dogmatic, over-bearing, violent, impetuous, brash.

6.  The snake (yin, 2nd trine, fixed element fire):

A deep thinker, wise, mystic, graceful, soft-spoken, sensual, creative, prudent, shrewd, ambitious, elegant, cautious, responsible, calm, strong, constant, purposeful. Can be a loner, bad communicator, possessive, hedonistic, self-doubting, distrustful, mendacious.

7.  The horse (yang , 3rd trine, fixed element fire):

Are cheerful, popular, quick-witted, changeable, earthly, perceptive, talkative, agile mentally and physically, magnetic, intelligent, astute, flexible, open-minded. They can be fickle, arrogant, anxious, rude, gullible, stubborn.

8.  The ram (yin, 4th trine, fixed element fire):

Are righteous, sincere, sympathetic, mild-mannered, shy, artistic, creative, gentle, compassionate, understanding, mothering, determined, peaceful, generous, seeks security. They can be moody, indecisive, over-passive, worrier, pessimistic, over-sensitive, complainer, wise.

9.  The monkey (yang, 1st trine, fixed element metal):

An inventor, motivator, improviser, quick-witted, inquisitive, flexible, innovative, problem solver, self-assured, sociable, polite, dignified, competitive, objective, factual, intellectual. They can also be egotistical, vain, selfish, reckless, snobbish, deceptive, manipulative, cunning, jealous, suspicious.

10.  The rooster (yin, 2nd trine, fixed element metal):

Are acute, neat, meticulous, organized, self-assured, decisive, conservative, critical, perfectionist, alert, zealous, practical, scientific, responsible. They can be overzealous and critical, puritanical, egotistical, abrasive, opinionated.

11.  The dog (yang, 3rd trine, fixed element metal):

They are honest, intelligent, straightforward, loyal, sense of justice and fair play, attractive, amicable, unpretentious, sociable, open-minded, idealistic, moralistic, practical, affectionate, dogged. They can be cynical, lazy, cold, judgmental, pessimistic, worrier, stubborn, quarrelsome.

12.  The pig (yin, 4th trine, fixed element water):

They are honest, simple, gallant, sturdy, sociable, peace-loving, patient, loyal, hard-working, trusting, sincere, calm, understanding, thoughtful, scrupulous, passionate, intelligent. They can be naïve, over-reliant, self-indulgent, gullible, fatalistic, materialistic.

As you can see, even a basic Chinese astrological chart is far from simple—a chart takes into consideration not just the basic zodiac sign, but also the personality type and element, the cycle number, whether yin (female energy) or yang (male energy) is more prevalent, the lunar month (moon cycle), the heavenly stem, the earthly branch, the cosmic forces, the hour of birth, day of birth, month of birth, the animal bone fortune (reveals personality type), yearly gods (reveals current fortune), career stars (shows occupation), noble good fortune stars (reveals skills and fortune), nine stars (shows forecast for the year), and the 12 creatures (shows traits). Clearly, it would take far more than the scope of this column to truly learn all the ins and outs of Chinese astrology, but hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the aspects and considerations involved with this beautiful system of star-casting. And if you do want a professional Chinese astrology chart prepared for you, you know where to find me! 

If you would like to have a chart prepared, contact me and mention this article for a $10.00 discount. Chart prices vary depending on how detailed of a chart you request and other factors. Contact me for details at the 

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