Chinese astrology is based on traditional astronomical and calendrical notions, including the twelve-year cycle represented by twelve animals that are often associated with the twelve branches of the earth. The 12 animals are in order: Rat or Mouse, Ox or Cow or Asian Buffalo, Tiger, Rabbit or Cat, Dragon, Snake (Small Dragon in speech), Horse, Goat or Ram, Monkey, Rooster or Phoenix3, Dog, Pig or Boar or Elephant.
During the 20th century, these twelve animal signs were adopted into the popular culture of many countries. Today, many around the world know their Chinese astrological animal.
Since the 111 stars astrology, or Emperor astrology, is reserved for the Emperor, most Chinese people rely on the Bazi (“eight characters”) astrology which starts the year on February 4th or 5th, the day of the beginning of spring. Bazi astrology is based on the year, month, day and time of birth, each of these four pieces of information being expressed by two characters, a celestial trunk and an earthly branch.
It is not called the Metal Dragon but the Golden Dragon (thus taking a more “noble” form for the Metal element when associated with the Dragon). The Golden Dragon returns every cycle, that is to say every 60 years (12 signs x 5 elements).
Others make the year begin at the time of the Spring festival, a mobile festival located between January 20 and February 20 according to the date of the new moon.
According to tradition, almost from the origin of the 111 star astrology codified by the mythical Emperor Huang Di in 2637 BC, Chinese emperors forbade the practice of astrology to anyone other than their court astrologers, lest adversaries use it to determine their periods of weakness and attempt to overthrow them. Prudent and pragmatic, the ancient Chinese, a people of farmers, invented dozens of astrological systems very close to numerology, allowing them to know when to plant or perform important acts in life. It would be because of this obligation to no longer look at the sky that, in some of these systems, it is almost no longer taken into account the planets, and that the year begins on February 4 (or 5) and not on the first day of the new spring Moon as is the case for the astrology of the 111 stars. Some examples:
The system of the 28 lunar mansions only takes into account the Moon.
The 9-star astrology is used in Feng Shui and is based on the magic square in a nine-year cycle taking into account the directions of the stars of the Big Dipper, which is made up of the North Star and eight other stars.
In the astrology of the four pillars of destiny, astrologers combine the astral data of the birth as well as its time and date with the five elements, according to a complex system of binomials (annual, monthly, daily and hourly, which together form an identity card) developed, according to tradition, between the end of the Tang and the beginning of the Song by Chen Xiyi, known as ziweidoushu, “data of the most influential astral houses Ziwei and Dou”.