Unlike the Western Horoscope where signs depend on the constellation in which the Sun is each day, in Chinese Zodiac signs are calculated according to the lunar years of the Chinese calendar (however some astrologers use instead the beginning of Tiger's Month or even the winter solstice), and to define each sign in more detail the time of birth is used, giving what is called the ascendant.
Also, when calculating the chinese natal chart you get 4 signs, the main one that comes from the lunar year, plus another three that come from the time, day, and month in which you were born.
Traditionally, to find out which Chinese Zodiac sign is somebody, you would have to look at a table of chinese lunar years, but now thanks to computers it can be viewed automatically, when you enter the date of birth in the above form and press "View sign" the computer makes all the necessary calculations, including the chinese signs of the hour, day, and month (if you selected the option to view also the chinese natal chart).
Examples and comments:
The year of the Fire Dog started on January 29th 2006 at 3:15 PM and ended February 17th 2007 at 5:14 PM (local times of Spain). Thus, all the people who were born between these 2 moments are Fire Dogs (that is their sign). The hours and minutes are given by the hours of the astronomical new moons, and can be viewed in any calendar which includes the lunar phases.
Easy, isn't it?
Well, actually is much more confusing than this, what I have just explained is the way chinese zodiac signs have been calculated in the Western World during last decades, many astrologers, chinese or not, do it just that way, and that's what you will find in most books about Chinese Horoscope.
But... there are a significant number of astrologers who say this must be calculated in different ways, I will tell you the alternatives:
- Some say that you should just use the date February the 4th for calculating your sign, so in the last example people born between February 4th 2006 and February 4th 2007 would be Fire Dogs.
- Others just use the western year, from January the first to December 31st, you will even find this in some books and many web sites, but this is considered wrong by most people with a knowledge of Chinese Zodiac.
- Some serious scholars think that the winter solstice (December 22th) should be the correct date.
- And to make things worse, there is even somebody who thinks nothing of that is completely true because many centuries have passed since the chinese invented their zodiac, and now the stars and the planets aren't really in the same place where they saw them...
In short, if you were born in January or February, you can choose the sign you like the most!
Now, seriously speaking, my experience is that people born before the chinese new year (1 month or 6 weeks before), use to be a kind of mix between the 2 signs, I think the change between signs is not like turning on or off a light, but like passing from day to night or vice versa, is something gradual, not drastic.
In the Chinese Zodiac there are 5 energies or basic elements:
These five energies combine with the 12 animal signs of the chinese zodiac to give a total of 60 different combinations, each one with their own characteristics.
You can see the characteristics of these elements here.
In short, you can calculate the energy of a year (according to chinese horoscope) just looking at the last number of the year:
|0 or 1||Metal|
|2 or 3||Water|
|4 or 5||Wood|
|6 or 7||Fire|
|8 or 9||Earth|
This way, is easy to know the energy of a given year, just look to the last number and use the little table above.
For example, the year of the Metal Monkey began on February 16th 1980, you could tell is a metal year just because it ends in zero, it's easy, isn't it?
Chinese Horoscope Ascendants
The ascendant is a supplementary influence to the main sign, sometimes is called the travel companion.
For example, people belonging to monkey sign tend to be quite rational, they like to use their head constantly, finding reasons and explanations for everything... then a monkey whose ascendant is also monkey, will have this characteristic intensified, that is to say that he/she will be more rational than the average of the monkeys.
In contrast, somebody who is monkey, but ascendant pig, will be more whimsical and festive than most other monkeys.
The ascendant depends on the Sun's position during the moment you were born, that's why it's calculated using the time of the day when you were born, in Chinese Zodiac the day is divided in twelve parts of 2 hours each, and each of them belongs to one zodiac sign.
In the following table you can see which ranges of solar times correpond to which chinese ascendants:
|0:00 - 1:00||Rat|
|1:00 - 3:00||Ox|
|3:00 - 5:00||Tiger|
|5:00 - 7:00||Rabbit|
|7:00 - 9:00||Dragon|
|9:00 - 11:00||Snake|
|11:00 - 13:00||Horse|
|13:00 - 15:00||Goat|
|15:00 - 17:00||Monkey|
|17:00 - 19:00||Rooster|
|19:00 - 21:00||Dog|
|21:00 - 23:00||Pig|
|23:00 - 0:00||Rat|
The problem with the ascendant is that you need to know the solar time, which typically is different from the time displayed by clocks, and for knowing the solar time you need to know the place where you were born.