In keeping with the Lunar theme from my post last week, I am going to explore another branch of astrology that is based on the Lunar calendar – Chinese Astrology! Its also a bit of a misnomer as so many other Asian cultures follow this Lunar based system of stargazing. As of January 25th, we have moved into the New Lunar Year and known as The Year of The White Metal Rat. But before I go into more about this, I’m going to give more insight and information about how the Lunar timing works, because its central to understanding.
Lunar Months & Calendars
A lunar month is determined by the period required for the moon to complete its full cycle of 29.5 days, a standard that makes the lunar year a full 11 days shorter than its solar counterpart. This difference is made up every 19 years by the addition of seven lunar months. The 12 lunar months are further divided into 24 solar divisions, marked by the four seasons and times of heat and cold. This makes a close relationship to the yearly cycle of agricultural work and always reminds me of how our Farmer’s Almanacs work.
The Chinese calendar - like the Hebrew - is a combined solar/lunar calendar and it strives to have its years coincide with the tropical year and its months coincide with the synodic months. It is not surprising that a few similarities exist between the Chinese and the Hebrew calendar: An ordinary year has 12 months, a leap year has 13 months. An ordinary year has 353, 354, or 355 days, a leap year has 383, 384, or 385 days. When determining what a Chinese year looks like, one must make a number of astronomical calculations:
First, determine the dates for the new moons. Here, a new moon is the completely black moon (that is, when the moon is in conjunction with the sun), not the first visible crescent used in the Islamic and Hebrew calendars. The date of a new moon is the first day of a new month.
So now back to the Chinese Astrology breakdown…
As with Western Systems of Astrology, Chinese legend states that there were 12 twelve animals who wanted to take over the cycle of years. The lore says that the Buddha is responsible for the 12 animals existing and their status because they were the only ones who came to bid him farewell into the next life. They quarreled over the rule and then asked the gods to decide who was worthy. To make the decision they held a contest that whoever reached the opposite bank of the river would be first, and the rest of the animals would receive their years according to their finish.
The race began and all the twelve animals gathered at the river bank and jumped in. Unknown to the ox, the rat had jumped upon his back. As the ox was about to jump ashore, the rat jumped off the ox's back, and won the race. The pig, who was very lazy, ended up last. That is why the rat is the first year of the animal cycle, the ox second, and the pig last. So the 12 Animal Signs & Order are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit (or Cat), Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat (or Sheep), Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. The animal ruling year in which you were born has a profound influence on your life. The Chinese animal signs have gone in this order from this point on, repeating in the same 12-year cycle used for dating the years. They represent a cyclical concept of time, rather than the Western linear concept of time.
At Eight House Wisdom, I am all about cycles. Paying attention to the many planetary and seasonal cycles connects us to the energies that make our way easier. As I talked about in my last post, the Chinese calendar begins somewhere between late January and early February. Although, the Chinese adopted the Western calendar in 1911, the lunar calendar is still used for festive occasions like the Lunar New Year. Many Chinese calendars will print both the solar dates and the Chinese lunar dates.
A cultural sidelight of the animal signs in Chinese folklore is that horoscopes have developed around the animal signs, much like monthly horoscopes in the West have been developed for the different moon signs, Pisces, Aries, etc. For example, a Chinese horoscope may predict that a person born in the Year of the Horse would be, cheerful, popular, and loves to compliment others. These horoscopes are amusing, but not regarded seriously by the Chinese people.
In Chinese Astrology there are 5 elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. It is also named the Five Movements, Five Phrases, Five Steps or Five States of Change. Each of these elements adds another layer of tactile character to the animal sign. The elements also revolve as a separate cycle than the animals. This is similar to the 4 Western Astrology elements of: Fire, Earth, Air and Water.
The five elements go in a specific order and one creates or controls the next. Beginning with the Generating Cycle (inter-promoting, begetting, engendering, mothering or enhancing cycle). The cycle works like this: Wood makes Fire burn; Fire creates Earth; Earth bears Metal; Off of Metal runs the Water; Water makes Wood grow. Next comes the Controlling Cycle (destructive, overcoming or inter-restraining or weakening cycle). This cycle goes: Fire melts Metal; Metal chops down Wood; Wood breaks the Earth; Earth soaks up Water and blocks its flow; Water controls Fire.
CHARACTERISTICS/PERSONALITY OF FIVE ELEMENTS
Words to describe the people of Five Elements:
Wood – Exceptionally gifted, Idealists, Planner, Owl
Water – Sympathetic, Perfectionist, Coordinator, Chameleon
Fire – Courageous, Passionate, Good at research, King, Koala
Earth – Kindness, Tolerant, Honest, Leader, Peacock
Metal – Determined, Persistent, Workaholic, Manager, Tiger
Chinese Astrology is concerned with nature and its traits, the signs progress year by year, whereas Western Astrology cycles monthly. The consideration of Yin and Yang is a very great influence upon this subject, Yin being passive, female and receptive while Yang is aggressive, male and exploratory. The various parings of these 2 essential forces is about the quest to achieve balance so that both operate together in harmony rather than opposing. or canceling each other out are an essentially Oriental viewpoint and quest, they form the basis of many Far Eastern traditions and other influences in Chinese Society such as Feng Shui.
As the Chinese say, this is the animal that hides in your heart.
Year of The Rat
If you were born in 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008 or 2020 then you are a Rat!
According to today’s Chinese menu, you are ambitious yet honest. Prone to spend freely. Seldom make lasting friendships. You are most compatible with Dragons and Monkeys and least compatible with Horses.
While in the West, we associate rats with sewers, vermin and disease, this animal is viewed a bit differently in the East. The Eastern rat is appreciated for its quick wits and ability to accumulate and hold on to wealth. Rats are a symbol of good luck in the East. It’s a stylish and charming sign in Eastern astrology. - sharp and funny and will take good care of those it considers its friends.
While rats are happy types, they are also love to shamelessly promoter their own agendas. Their charm and powers of persuasion are often used to their best advantage. Rats are motivated by money and possessions. They’re quick-witted and sharp-tongued and love a good debate.
There is quite a difference between a Rat born in the summer or the winter. In summer, the earth provides plenty of food and sustenance while the winter bring the fallow time with the need to go out and forage for food. They must watch out for the traps set along the way. In human terms, this could mean the risk of prison or an accidental death.
Rats enjoy being on the outside looking in, as they like to learn by observing. They’re forever observant, always tucking away information in their brains for use at some future time if they need it. Rats don’t like to be bored and are always looking for challenges to keep their already-sharp wits even sharper.
This sign is best known for their charm, wit and a good sense of humor. People love to have those under born the sign of the Rat around because of their social demeanor and being very extroverted. Those born under sign are likely to have a happy childhood and seem quite carefree. Later in life that charm and carefree nature can bring on a few storms in business and relationships which provide wisdom for the third and final phase of comfort and peace. So let’s embrace the start of the animal cycle and harness the energy of new beginnings for all of 2020!