How to Read Your Chinese Horoscope

The Chinese Zodiac consists of 12 animals that represent certain years. The year of your birth is represented by one of these animals, and according to the Chinese Zodiac, you will have particular personality traits that resemble your assigned animal.[1] But did you know it goes much, much deeper than that? The Four Pillars of Destiny get down to the hour your were born. See Step 1 to start a blueprint of your fate!

Understanding the Zodiac Signs
Find your birth animal. Consult the chart below to find the year of your birth and the corresponding animal. (Chinese astrology determines your animal sign based on your birthday in the Chinese astrology year, which begins on or around February 4 every year.[2] Year of your birth and your matching Zodiac animal:
1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008 — RAT

1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009— OX

1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010— TIGER

1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011— RABBIT

1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012— DRAGON

1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013— SNAKE

1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014 — HORSE

1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015 — GOAT

1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016 — MONKEY

1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017 — ROOSTER

1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018 — DOG

1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019 — PIG Remember to account for the Chinese calendar. The new year is on or around February 4th. If you’re born before the new year, you’re technically born in the prior year. Check to see when the new year was for your specific year.

Some refer to the goat as the sheep or ram.

Read about your zodiac animal traits. Just like in Western astrology, each sign is commonly associated with a number of traits. Here are a few details on what each sign is like[3]
Rat: This sign has spirit, wit, alertness, delicacy, flexibility and vitality. These people are bright, sociable and ambitious, generally making them wealthy and successful. However, they are also timid, lack concentration and stability, and don’t fit most leadership positions.

Dragon: This sign is bright, self-assured and romantic. They are also lively, intellectual, energetic and excitable. They make good leaders, always aiming for perfection. However, they can be arrogant and impatient, and sometimes overconfident.

Monkey: This sign is incredibly clever. They are lively, flexible, quick-witted, and are very talented problem solvers. And they’re very giving to boot! Weaknesses? They can be rather jealous, conniving, and selfish.

Ox: This sign is intelligent, self-confident, and a naturally-born leader. They are honest, industrious, patient, and above all else, do things steadily. No matter what, they always maintain a strong devotion to their work. However, they are also prudish, obstinate and poor at communication.

Snake: This sign is charming and is skilled at communicating effectively through saying little. They are very moral and full of wisdom. For most, money isn’t a problem. However, they can be jealous and suspicious and often tend to overdo things.

Rooster: These people are deep thinkers, often thought of as honest, bright, communicative, and warm-hearted. They have high self-worth and tend to be independent. However, they also have difficulty relating with others and tend to assume they are always right.

Tiger: These individuals are tolerant, valiant, considerate, intelligent and respected. They like challenges and are quite good at expressing themselves. They are also short-tempered and not easily interested in much.

Horse: This sign is cheerful, quick-witted, kind to others, and like to have adventures. They are also perceptive and talented, making good entertainers. However, they can be impatient, lack substance, and come across as superficial.

Dog: These people are loyal, courageous, warm, responsible, smart and realistic. They can easily inspire confidence in others. However, they lack stability, can have a biting tongue, and easily find fault.

Rabbit: This sign is gentle, sensitive, compassionate, amiable, modest. They are humorous and add spice to life — mainly because they can’t stand things being dull. However, they tend to throw away money and are stubborn yet undetermined.

Goat: These people are tender, polite, clever, gentle, and kind-hearted. They appreciate art and beauty and have a soft spot for quiet living. However, they can be shy, pessimistic, moody, and worry too much.

Pig: This sign is diligent, courageous, honest, chivalrous and gallant. They are tolerant, calm, and optimistic. They hate conflict and don’t lie easily. However, they can be naive, impulsive, and don’t know when to draw the line.

Know your sign’s details. We’ll cover three topics: your lucky numbers, lucky colors, and whether you’re a “yin” or “yang” sign. We’ll describe yin and yang in more detail in the next section; for now, know that every person has both sides in them, but one side is typically more apparent (depending on the sign).[3]
Yang sign

Lucky numbers: 2, 3

Lucky colors: blue, golden, green

Yang sign

Lucky numbers: 1, 7, 6

Lucky colors: golden, silver, hoary

Yang sign

Lucky numbers: 1, 8, 7

Lucky colors: white, golden, blue

Yang sign

Lucky numbers: 9, 1

Lucky colors: blue, red, purple

Yin sign

Lucky numbers: 2, 8, 9

Lucky colors: red, light yellow, black

Yin sign

Lucky numbers: 7, 5, 8

Lucky colors: golden, brown, brownish yellow, yellow

Yang sign

Lucky numbers: 1, 3, 4

Lucky colors: blue, grey, white, orange

Yang sign

Lucky numbers: 2, 3, 7

Lucky colors: brown, yellow, purple

Yang sign

Lucky numbers: 3, 4, 9

Lucky colors: green, red, purple

Yin sign

Lucky numbers: 1, 4, 9

Lucky colors: red, pink, purple, blue

Yin sign

Lucky numbers: 3, 9, 4

Lucky colors: green, red, purple

Yin sign

Lucky numbers: 2, 5, 8

Lucky colors: yellow, grey, brown, golden

Know your most compatible matches. It is believed that each sign romantically lines up (or really, really doesn’t line up) with other signs. Here’s what is believed makes for the easiest (and most difficult) relationships: Rat: most compatible with dragon, monkey, and ox; least with sheep, horse, and rabbit

Dragon: most compatible with rat, monkey, rooster; least with ox, rabbit, dog

Monkey: most compatible with rat, dragon, snake; least with tiger, pig

Ox: most compatible with rat, snake, rooster; least with horse, dog, sheep

Snake: most compatible with ox, rooster; least with tiger, pig

Rooster: most compatible with ox, dragon, snake; least with rat, rabbit, dog

Tiger: most compatible with horse, dog; least compatible with snake, monkey

Horse: most compatible with tiger, sheep, dog; least with rat, ox, rabbit

Dog: most compatible with tiger, rabbit, horse; least compatible with ox, dragon, sheep, rooster

Rabbit: most compatible with sheep, pig, dog; least with rat, dragon

Goat: most compatible with rabbit, horse, pig; least with ox, dog

Pig: most compatible with sheep, rabbit; least with snake, monkey, pig

Understanding the Four Pillars of Destiny
Don’t just stop at your Zodiac sign! There is far, far more to Chinese astrology than just the twelve signs of the Zodiac. There’s also the Four Pillars of Destiny — which does use the Zodiac, but goes much, much further. It uses the year you were born and the month, day, and time of your birth, as well. It’s similar to the birth chart used in Western astrology. It is believed to be a lot more accurate, telling more about your personal life instead of your sign as a whole.
The four pillars are those four factors, in that order. They are also combined with yin and yang and the 5 elements (water, earth, wood, metal, fire). It is all believed to determine your luck, affluence, longevity, happiness, and wealth year by year.

Chinese astrology works in 60 year cycles. If you’re a math fiend with nothing better to do, you could break down the patterns of all these ideas into a sexagesimal cycle.

Know your “inner” animal. Let’s go further than the animal of your birth year. Your “inner” animal is determined by the month you were born in. It is believed to determine your later years in life or information about your parents. Here’s how it correlates to the Western calendar:
February 4th – March 5th: Tiger

March 6th – April 4th: Rabbit

April 5th – May 4th: Dragon

May 5th – June 5th: Snake

June 6th – July 6th: Horse

July 7th – August 6th: Goat

August 7th – September 7th: Monkey

September 8th – October 7th: Rooster

October 8th – November 6th: Dog

November 7th – December 6th: Pig

December 7th – January 5th: Rat

January 6th – February 3rd: Ox

Know how your day pillar works. This is the third pillar, believed to determine information about your adult or married life in the day-to-day. A pretty important one! Again, it is a sexagesimal cycle that starts when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 315° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 330°. Therefore, each year is just a teeny bit different. Because it’d be ridiculous to list the entire 60-day cycle here, it’s advisable to visit an online calculator to find out your element and Zodiac sign for your day. If you’re really bored, map out the entire cycle!

Know your secret animal. In the Four Pillars of Destiny, the hour you were born represents the final and most personal pillar — it also determines your “secret animal”. This is thought to be the truest representation of yourself, the self that has been covered by layers and layers of nurture and environment. It is also used to represent information about your kids or your senior years. Here’s how it lines up:
1:00 – 03:00 AM: Ox

3:00 – 5:00 AM: Tiger

5:00 – 7:00 AM: Rabbit

7:00 – 9:00 AM: Dragon

9:00 – 11:00 AM: Snake

11:00 – 1:00 PM: Horse

1:00 – 3:00 PM: Ram

3:00 – 5:00 PM: Monkey

5:00 – 7:00 PM: Rooster

7:00 – 9:00 PM: Dog

9:00 – 11:00 PM: Pig

11:00 – 1:00 AM: Rat

Know if you’re yin or yang. There’s a few things to consider here: Every year is either yin or yang. Odd years are yin and even years are yang. Whatever the current year is, it’s that side of the spectrum that tends to get emphasized.

Every sign is yin or yang as well. See above to find out what your sign is. This is the side of your personality that naturally has more power — though anything can change in alignment with the stars.

Yin is associate with passivity, cold, femininity, submissive, dark energy. Yang represents activity, heat, masculinity, aggressiveness, and light energy. Before you go assuming the worst, know that everyone has both — it’s just a cycle. You start with yin, say, until it blooms and turns into yang. And take into account the year’s yin or yang, too!

Know your element. Almost done! Now we’re getting to your element. On the outside, it’s quite simple. Just take the last number in the year of your birth![4]
0 or 1: Metal

2 or 3: Water

4 or 5: Wood

6 or 7: Fire

8 or 9: Earth
What does this mean? Again, it’s a cycle, this part emphasizing movement and change. Whatever element you are will naturally be emphasized, but how does it mix with the element of the current year? It is believed that the element of the year is the dominant one — some years will work with your element, while others will work against, creating harmony and disharmony.[5] There are believed to be two cycles: the creative cycle and the destructive cycle.

For example, water destroys fire but produces wood and so forth. Each element affects others in different ways, ideally creating a perfect balance.

It is believed that the elements line up with the 4 seasons. Wood is the strongest in spring, fire in summer, Earth during the season transitions, and so on.[6]
Each element is dominant for 2 years in a row. The cycle repeats every 10 years (there being 5 elements and all).

Know the Ten Heavenly Stems and Twelve Earthly Branches. You have your own complicated sign, but the years have more detail to them too; each one has a stem paired with a branch. For example, the year 2002 has a Yang Water Stem on the Horse Branch. The horse branch has not only Yin Fire behind it, but Yin Earth too. It’s how your pillars fit into every year that determines your cyclical fate.
The Ten Heavenly stems are a combination of yin and yang and the Five Elements. Therefore, your options are Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire , Yang Earth, Yin Earth, Yang Metal, Yin Metal, Yang Water, Yin Water. These go in a 60-year cycle as discussed above. Year 1 was Rat Yang Wood; year 61 will be the same, cycling through with no repetitions before that.

The Twelve Earthly Branches are the Zodiac animals discussed in the first section. You know, the ones you find on Chinese take-out menus.

Work with your cycles. Remember that this is a blueprint or map. It cannot be changed. That is nothing to fret about! The Chinese believe that this is knowledge to make you powerful — you will be better able to overcome obstacles and grasp opportunities when need be. In other words, you can always do the right thing at the right time.[7]Remember that good luck and all positive things don’t just happen. This chart is telling you that at certain times, they have potential. You have to go out and get it! By knowing this chart, you’ll know when those times are and when you should make your move in alignment with the stars.

Talk to an astrologist or Feng Shui master. To know what seasons (parts of the cycle, not “winter”) or years will be for the better or worse, talk to a master of Chinese astrology. They’ll be able to pinpoint your when you’re lucky and, quite frankly, when you’re not. Certain seasons (days, even) will be better than others (especially to take action) and they can outline that cycle for you.
Carry a lucky symbol with you. Let’s say you’re a goat and it’s a bad year for you, but it’s a great year for the Ox. Carry a little trinket of an Ox around you to circumvent the negative airs around you.

Use an online calculator if you’d like to figure out your sign the easy way. Remember to account for Chinese time — if you input the timezone of your birth, some calculators can do that for you. And don’t forget the new year!

Always compare your birth date to the Chinese lunar calendar that indicates the Chinese start of spring. This date is about 6 weeks before the Vernal Equinox (mid-March) and can range from the end of January through the first week of February. So your horoscope animal is always based on the lunar calendar. For example, 1985 is the year of the ox, and the start of spring in 1985 was February 4. So if you were born on February 3, 1985, your zodiac animal would be the rat; if you were born one day later, on February 4, 1985, your zodiac animal would be the ox.[8]
There are daily Chinese horoscopes available online, but they won’t be nearly as accurate as outlining your “birth chart.”

Put yourself in the right frame of mind. This emphasizes Buddhist principles, which say that you should accept your fate happily. It’ll all come out in the wash!

Just like Western Astrology, a much fuller horoscope can be obtained if one knows the exact time of birth. The Four Pillars of Destiny Chinese astrology charts give in-depth readings for the year, month, day and hour you were born.[9]
Sources and Citations
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