Chinese Astrology is more than 2000 years old. By the time of Tand dynasty, around 618-907 BC, Chinese astrology and its systems were well documented. Chinese astrology is closely connected to astronomy and philosophy. According to Chinese astrology, a person’s destiny can be determined by the position of the major planets at the person’s birth along with the positions of the Sun, Moon and comets and the person’s time of birth and Zodiac Sign.
To understand Chinese astrology it is necessary to know the Chinese calendar. The Chinese blend a combination of the solar and lunar calendar- and use both in various applications of astrology. Popular astrology uses the lunar calendar, which is why we have the Chinese New year starting on different days every year. Evidence of the earliest calendars was dated to the Shang Dynasty (1800-1200 BCE) and was inscribed on Oracle bones. This calendar established the solar year at 365 1/4 days and lunation at 29 1/2 days.
Chinese astrology is based on the lunar cycle, which takes twelve years to complete. The system of the twelve-year cycle came from observations of the orbit of Jupiter. Following the orbit of Jupiter around the sun, Chinese astronomers divided the celestial circle into 12 sections, and rounded it to 12 years (from 11.86). Each of the years is then represented by different animals with well documented characteristics. These are: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (ram or goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and boar.
Yet, all people born in the same animal are not the same literally and do differ from each other in certain aspects. These differences are determined by the various elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. They are agents/modifiers that subtly alter the nature of whatever they represent. Each of these elements distinguishes one person of the same animal from the other.
The philosophy of Yin and Yang also plays an important role in astrology. Yin and Yang are the terms given to the complementary, dynamic forces that keep the universe in balance at every level.
The combination of one’s birth year, month, day and hour are a part of the ‘four pillars’ of Chinese astrology which determine one’s fate. Four Pillars of Destiny is a Chinese conceptual term that describes the four components creating a person’s destiny or fate. The four components within the moment of birth are year, month, day, and time (hour). The four pillars is a component used alongside fortune telling practices such as Zi wei dou shu within the realm of Chinese Astrology. So, a person born in the year of the dragon might also be a snake based on their birth month and an ox based on their birthday and a Ram based on their birth hour. And therefore, predictions need to be made after studying each of these.