The Differences Between Chinese Zodiac and Western Astrology

Both Chinese zodiac and Western astrology usually consist of 12 Zodiac signs, also known as the Chinese zodiac. However, the Chinese zodiac is not really based on the concept of Chinese year since the beginning of the civilization. Western astrology actually borrows some ideas from the Chinese astrology, especially the concept of elements. Both the Western and Chinese zodiac has twelve celestial bodies or zodiac signs, and each sign was assigned a sign according to the rising sun.

The Chinese zodiac is based on the lunar calendar, which means that unlike the solar year, the Chinese New Year fall on different days each year. One important distinction that the Chinese zodiac and the Western astrology have been that the Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, and so the Chinese New Year celebration occurs during the spring equinoxes. On the other hand, the Western astrology also relies upon the spring equinoxes but the festivities do not start until June, which happens to be a month after the Chinese New Year. Another key distinction that the Chinese zodiac and the Western astrology have to offer is that while the Chinese astrology celebrates the personality traits of people born under the new year, the Western astrology seeks to identify the various characteristics of personalities that have been dominant in one’s life. For instance, the Chinese zodiac focuses on the personality traits of people born on the new year, while the Western astrology seeks to identify the personality traits of people who have lived under the new moon throughout the year.

While the Chinese zodiac is based on the Lunar Calendar, it also includes the signs of the ram, the dog, the fish, the monkey, the ox, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, and the monkey. In addition, there are 30 other minor signs including the rulers of the Moon, the Sun, the air, the earth and the water. There are also some animals along with the specific animals that correspond to certain signs. To this end, there are some animals that are considered to be of particular significance for certain months throughout the year.

To determine what the Chinese zodiac and Western horoscope say about your birth date, you have to do a bit of research work. You will have to determine the date of your actual birth according to the Chinese astrology, and then you have to figure out the date of your birth according to the Chinese New Year. Once you have these two dates added up, the answer you get will determine which of the two Chinese astrological calendars to base your conclusions upon. Many people believe that the Chinese zodiac and the Western horoscope are totally different.

The 12 Signs

In both Chinese and Western astrology systems, there are the same number of signs: twelve. And two of them are even significantly similar: Ox verses Bull, and Goat verses Ram.

In order, the Chinese signs are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. 

The Western signs are: Ram, Bull, Twins, Crab, Lion, Virgin, Scales, Scorpion, Centaur, Sea-Goat, Water Bearer, and Fish.

The mythology behind the 12 signs

In Chinese zodiac, the 12 signs were created based on a myth when Jade Emperor tried to develop and organize a calendar. All creatures on Earth were summoned to participate in a race. The first 12 animals who cross the line were rewarded signs in the Chinese zodiac.

In Western astrology, the 12 signs were named after the positions of constellations that related to Earth. And these constellations were named by Greek mythology.

Elements in zodiac

The major aspect that separates the Chinese zodiac signs from the Western astrology is the belief in the four elements. Every sign has to be in harmony with all the other signs in order to interpret the future correctly. Western astrologers believe that the movement of the Earth, the rivers, the phases of the moon and the colors of the flowers are a reflection of the people born within a given month.

There are five elements in Chinese astrology: metal, wood, water, fire and earth. Chinese believe that these five elements are the original forms of everything, they call it Five Elements Theory or Wu Xing (五行). The philosophy is used to describe all kinds of the relationships from one human being to another or to all things. The meaning behind this is all about finding balance and embracing the process. If you are a fan of Star Wars, you’ll familiar with the term “Chi” in between all the Jedi warriors. All five elements are in a relationship where they seem to compel to each other yet also interdependent to one and another.

In the interdependent relationship, the creation of the order and the meaning behind each elements are: Wood (desire/ explore) stars a Fire; Fire (excitement) creates Earth; Earth (foundations) holds Metal; Metal (order) carries Water; Water (emotional bond) feeds Wood.

On the other hand, in the compelling relationship will be: Fire melts Metal; Metal chops Wood; Wood separates Earth; Earth absorbs Water; Water puts out Fire. In Five Elements Theory is all about harmony and balance, like the symbol of Yin and Yang. Everything has its purpose and place.

Western astrology has the similar idea of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. One cannot exist without another. Everything has to be in a harmony. Each element is associated with three signs. Water signs are driven by emotion, like the ocean itself, they are mysterious, tend to be described intuitive, emotional and ultra-sensitive; Earth signs are practical, they seem to be more grounded, analytical and argumentative than the others; Fire signs are impulsive, they are feisty, passionate, dynamic, and temperamental; Air signs are intellectually oriented, they are all about action, freedom, ideas, and motion, the true adventurers.

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