Chinese Astrological Animals
The ancient Chinese sages believed that the universe was exactly 3,600 years old. They divided this time into 60 year cycles, which they considered the perfect human lifespan.
Each human cycle was divided by the five elements to give 12 cycles. Originally these 12 years were referred to as the ‘Twelve Earthly Branches’. In time these acquired the characteristics of 12 distinct animals.
According to legend, the animals were chosen by the Buddha, it is thought the names arrived in China from Turkey or Central Asia, possibly not until after astrological studies reached their peak during the period of Han dynasty, (200 BC- AD 200).
The animal signs do not just govern the years. They have a month, and a time of day over which they preside. Each animal brings its own qualities to your astrological chart.
You may find that many of the qualities attributed by the Chinese to the animals differ from Western ideas of these characters.
Using characteristics that are perceived to be an essential part of the nature of the 12 animals, Chinese Astrology attributes aspects of these to define characteristics and behavior of people born at specific times
This system operates in much the same way as Western astrology. Your Earthly Branch is a significant part of your ‘Four Pillar of Destiny Chart’. But on its own it helps you to understand traits about yourself.