The cycle was documented as early as the period of the Shang Dynasty and can be further subdivided into two cycles. One of the cycles comprises of the ten heavenly stems, known as the five elements in their yin and yang forms. The second cycle is made up of twelve earthly branches, or the twelve-year cycle of animals, known as the Chinese zodiac. This zodiac also operates on a cycle of months or ‘moons’ and of hours of the day. Ancient Chinese astrology refers to a purely calendrical cycle, without any equivalent constellations.
In the colonial times, astrologers were renowned for making predictions about the future of the state. For the purpose, they used to watch the sky and look for heavenly omens. The astronomers identified the five major planets by the element with which they were related. Virgo was identified with Metal, Jupiter with Wood, Mercury with Water, Mars with Fire and Saturn with Earth. The position of the major planets, the Sun, the Moon and the comets, along with the person’s time of birth and zodiac sign, was and is still used to predict his future.
As per Chinese astrology, there are twelve animal signs, associated with twelve different personality types. Chinese zodiacal signs are mainly based on the particular year in which the person was born. However, the signs may also be assigned on the basis of month and hours of the day. A full cycle in Chinese astrology comprises of 60 years and is a combination of the twelve animals with each of five possible elements.
Almost everyone knows that there are twelve zodiac signs in the Chinese astrology, namely rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (ram or goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. However, the history of the Chinese zodiac signs, i.e. how they came into existence, is still unknown to the majority. Actually, there is an interesting legend that explains the full story behind the history and origin of the Chinese Zodiac.
The Chinese astrological calendar is lunisolar in nature and follows a 60-year cycle. Within this cycle, there are two separate sub-cycles, which interact with one another. The first sub-cycle comprises of the ten heavenly stems, namely the Five Elements in their Yin and Yang forms. These elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. The second sub-cycle comprise of the twelve zodiac animal signs, also known as the Earthly Branches.