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The Differences Between the Chinese Zodiac and Western Astrology

With Chinese New Year coming up, and this year being the year of the Rooster, it is worth trying to understand the Chinese zodiac, a system of divination that differs from Western astrology.

The main similarities between the two systems is that both systems are based on date and time of birth, with 12 symbols or signs used to communicate across meaning. We’ve listed some of the main differences, to make things a little easier to understand.

The 12 Signs

In both systems, there are the same number of signs: 12. Two are superficially similar: Ox/Bull and Goat/Ram.

  • 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.

2016 is a year of the Monkey, 2017 will be a year of the Rooster, and 2018 will be a year of the Dog.


Origins of the Signs

In Chinese astrology, the 12 signs are derived from a myth that when God was developing a calendar, all creatures on Earth were summoned to participate in a race. The first 12 to cross the line were awarded signs in the Chinese zodiac. 

This differs from Western astrology where the 12 signs are based on constellations’ positions relative to the earth. The constellations were named according to Greek mythology.

Zodiac Months — Another Similarity


The Chinese zodiac and the Western zodiac have a half month (or one solar term) overlap.

The Chinese zodiac animals were assigned months on the traditional Chinese solar calendar. Each animal sign corresponds with two of the 24 solar terms, for a period similar to a Western zodiac month.

This means that the Western astrological signs and Chinese zodiac months have a half-month overlap, as can be seen in the diagram right. 

The Chinese cycle starts with the month of the Rat around December 7 (including solar terms ‘Major Snow’ and ‘Winter Solstice’, i.e. half of Sagittarius and half of Capricorn). 

More Than Just Your Birth Year or Month

Within the simplified Western astrological framework, signs are divided per month, while the Chinese signs are divided on a year-by-year basis when it comes to popular astrology. This means that in Chinese beliefs, people who were born in the same year have similar traits, as opposed to the Western belief that those born in the same month-long time frame have similar traits.

However, of course, there is more to it. In Western astrology, apart from the constellations, the planets, for example, symbolize basic motivations in the human psyche. Beside the yearly zodiac, Chinese astrology has three other pillars that create your fate, making four pillars in total: birth year, birth month, birth day, and birth hour. 

When comparing the four pillars to Western astrology, the main difference is that Western astrology focuses on celestial alignment (of constellations with planets, stars, the moon, etc.), while the four pillars are based on the alignment of blocks of time in the Chinese calendar.

Lunar, But Mostly Solar


Appreciation of the moon runs deep in Chinese culture.

In the popularly-used Chinese astrology system (the lunar calendar), each month begins with a new moon and lasts for 29 or 30 days. The Chinese New Year date and length of a lunar year change by up to a month relative to a solar calendar. 

However, “professional” or conventional Chinese astrology mainly uses the traditional solar calendar when it comes to making predictions and laying out horoscopes. In this method, a year begins on February 4th (within a day).

The Western astrological calendar is based on the Earth’s orbit around the sun (and resulting celestial alignment), which gives every zodiac month a set date (within a day), lasting between 29 and 31 days. This is why Western zodiac star signs are also known as sun signs.

Lunar Phases in China and the West

Chinese astrology places emphasis on the lunar phase at the time of your birth. There are four moon phases: new moon, waxing moon, full moon, and waning moon. New moon types are those seeking innovative environments, waxing moon people are known for being hard working, full moon types are diplomatic, while waning moon people desire peaceful surroundings.

The Western system, comparatively, considers two moon nodes; the North or Ascending Node, and the South or Descending Node. While still playing a role in sensitive areas, in Western astrology the planets are seen as more important factors.

Involving the Elements

The Chinese astrology system identifies five elements: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. Each element is linked to motivating forces in your life. 


Because the animals are on 12-year cycles and there are five elements, the entire Chinese zodiac-element cycle lasts 60 years. In this system, each sign has a fire, earth, metal, water, and wood variety depending on your birth year. 2017 is a Fire Rooster year.

  • Fire signs are inspired by excitement, 
  • earth signs are motivated to secure foundations, 
  • metal signs are driven to create order, 
  • water signs are compelled to form emotional bonds, 
  • and those born under the wood element have a desire to explore.

In the Western system, only four elements are identified: fire, earth, air, and water, and each element is associated with three signs with psychological features. Each sign has one element associated with it. 

  • Water signs are driven by emotion, 
  • earth signs are practical, 
  • fire signs are impulsive, and 
  • air signs are intellectually oriented. 

Your Chinese Zodiac Year Is Bad Luck!


A feature of the Chinese zodiac that is incomparable to anything in the West is that it is bad luck when your year comes around (every 12 years you “offend the god of age”). Your horoscope is no more unlucky (or lucky) than usual in your Western zodiac month.

Roosters beware in 2017 (a Rooster year). 



The Chinese Zodiac


The Chinese Animal Zodiac, or ShengXiao (/shnng-sshyaoww/ ‘born resembling’), is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by an animal and its reputed attributes. Traditionally these zodiac animals were used to date the years. 

In order, the 12 animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. Each year is associated with a zodiac animal. 2018 is the year of the Dog.

The 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac


What Your Chinese Zodiac Animal Sign Is

Your Chinese Zodiac sign is derived from your birth year, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. See the years of each animal below or use the calculator on the right to determine your own sign.

  • Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960
  • Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961
  • Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962
  • Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963
  • Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964
  • Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965
  • Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966
  • Goat: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967
  • Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968
  • Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969
  • Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970
  • Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971

Find Your Chinese Zodiac SignChoose your date of birth and find out about your Chinese zodiac sign.

Those born in January and February take care: Chinese (Lunar) New Year moves between 21 January and February 20. If you were born in January or February, check whether your birth date falls before or after Chinese New Year to know what your Chinese zodiac year is.

The Zodiac is Only One of China’s Fortune Prediction Methods

To make a relatively correct Chinese fortune prediction, people take many methods into consideration, such as face characteristics, palmistry, and more involved Chinese astrology including birth month, day, and hour, gender, etc.

Zodiac fortune prediction by birth year is only one of these methods. So you may only take Chinese zodiac birth sign horoscopes as a general reference.

Chinese Zodiac Love Compatibility — Is He/She Right for You?

People born in a certain animal year are believed to have attributes of that animal, which could either help or hinder a relationship.

An important use of Chinese Zodiac is to determine if two people are compatible, in a romantic relationship or any kind of relationship. Inancient times people were faithful to Chinese Zodiac compatibilityand often referred to it before a romantic relationship began. Even nowadays some people still refer to it.

Take our online test on the right and find how suitable you and your partner are. See our Chinese Zodiac Love Compatibility Charts

It’s BAD LUCK When Your Zodiac Year Comes Around!

As the Chinese zodiac recurs every 12 years, your animal year will come around when you are 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, etc.

According to ancient Chinese superstition, in your birth sign year, he will offend the God of Age, and will have bad luck during that year. The best way to avoid bad luck during this year is by wearing something red given by an elder (relative), such as socks, a neck cord, underwear, a waistband, a bracelet, or an anklet.

Chinese Zodiac Years Have Two Different Starts!

The traditional solar calendar has 24 fifteen-day solar terms, and the first, called ‘Start of Spring’, falls on February 4 (or 5).There are two dates a Chinese zodiac year could be said to start on, and neither is January 1! China traditionally uses two calendars: the solar calendar and the lunar calendar.

The lunar calendar has 12 or 13 months and starts on Chinese New Year, which is somewhere in the period January 21 to February 20.

Most Chinese people use lunar New Year as the start of the zodiac year. But for fortune telling and astrology, people believe ‘Start of Spring’ is the beginning of the zodiac year.

Chinese Zodiac Origins — Why 12 Animals

The 12 animals were chosen deliberately, after many revisions. The zodiac animals are either closely related to ancient Chinese people’s daily lives, or have lucky meanings.

The ox, horse, goat, rooster, pig, and dog are six of the main domestic animals raised by Chinese people. The other six animals: rat, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, and monkey are all loved by the Chinese people.

Why the 12 Zodiac Animals Are in That Order

64e579f60b044c01bc894b32_300x300The 12 Chinese Zodiac animals are in a fixed order according to Chinese Yin and Yang Theory and perceived attributes.

The yin or the yang of the animals is defined based on the odd or even number of their claws (or toes, hoofs). The animals are then arranged in an alternating (complementary) yin-yang sequence.

Usually an animal has is the same number of claws on its front and rear legs. However the rat has four toes on its fore legs and five on its hind legs.

As the old saying goes, “a thing is valued in proportion to its rarity”, so the Rat ranks first of the 12 zodiac animals. It uniquely combines the attributes of odd (yang) and even (yin). 4+5=9, and yang is dominant, so the Rat is classified as odd (yang) overall.


Each animal has symbolic meanings given to it by the ancient Chinese. These animal attributes comes in six contrasting pairs that must be harmonized, like yin and yang, and are the primary factor governing the order of the zodiac. (Presumably the attributes most valued by ancient Chinese are first and so on.) 

The strong yang attribute comes first, then the balancing yin attribute.


Chinese Zodiac Hours — Each Hour is Associated with a Zodiac Animal

d1b5f024a6db4de5a92164f7It is widely known that each year is associated with a Chinese zodiac animal, but in Chinese culture the 12 zodiac animals are also associated with hours of a day.

In ancient times, in order to tell the time, people divided a day into twelve 2-hour periods, and designated an animal to represent each period, according to each animal’s “special time”.

According to Chinese astrology, though not popularly used, a person’s personality and life is more decided by his/her birth hour than year. The zodiac hour is widely used for character and destiny analysis.


What Sets Human Beings Apart?

Feb 14, 2015

Juhi Chawla with Sadhguru: What Sets Human Beings Apart?


Sadhguru answers a question from Juhi Chawla, and explains what sets human beings apart from other life on the planet. He looks at how most human beings have turned these possibilities into problems.

Full Transcript:

Juhi Chawla: Okay, Sadhguruji when you said about the common person and the special person, I know some teachers have always told us and why your own parents always tell you that you know – you are special, each one of us is unique and each one of us is special…

Sadhguru: No. No, my parents told me you’re freaky (Laughter). See, they never said, I’m special.

Juhi Chawla: We’ll come back to our parents now and… and I remember… I remember this part, I am not sure whether I heard it at your discourse or on a DVD of yours, where you said… It was about you know people being special and us always thinking that God knows of us. And you said something like, “Do you know all the grasshoppers in your garden?” So, of course all of us have said, “No”. So, you said something like, “So, how does God know each one of you then?” And I was devastated because I always thought somebody up there knows me, cares about me and I’m special.

Sadhguru: You thought… you thought you’re number o…. you thought you were number one in his books, is it?

Juhi Chawla: Well, I’ve been told since I was kid, you’re special, you’re unique and God cares about you.

Sadhguru: Let me tell… See, if when somebody says you’re unique, it’s an insult (Juhi Laughs). You know… It’s like this – in this vast cosmos, this solar system is just a speck. Tomorrow morning if the whole solar system disappears, vanishes, evaporates, nobody will even notice it. Maybe it’s not even in the accounts books of creation, it’s so small. In this speck of a solar system, planet earth is a super speck. In that, Mumbai is a micro super speck. In that, you are a big man or a woman (Laughter). It’s a hilarious problem. This is a very immense existential problem, you know. This is because we have lost perspective as to who we are, what we are, our psychological realities have become bigger than the cosmo… than the cosmic reality. That is a big problem. It’s time you step out of your cinema… I‘m… I’m not talking about the Hindi cinema, I’m talking about the cinema that everybody’s playing in their own minds. See, a cine… See right now they darkened this whole hall because it works best that way. This is the basic technology of a cinema, if you do not darken the cinema hall, if you light it up and play a nice cinema, it’s not going to work. You have to darken it. So, I’m saying, a cinema of your mind because it’s a dark space. Every thought is enlarged, playing out bigger than the cosmic space. Today, everything in the cosmos is happening perfectly well, but you have one nasty thought crawling in your head and it feels like a bad day, isn’t it?

Juhi Chawla: Yes. Yes.

Sadhguru: So, that’s because your psychological realities, your petty creation has become larger than the creator’s creation. You lost perspective of life. That is the fundamental basis of all this confusion and suffering. If you see who you are, the micro speck that you are, you wouldn’t imagine that God is made in your own image and he looks like you and whatever. Okay, if… if we were all buffalos, we would definitely think God is a big buffalo (Laughter).

Juhi Chawla: Okay. Okay, so what is it really? Please tell us the… Please define it for us, what is it? What is going on – this life, this love. All these emotions that we go through in our lives, all these thoughts that we create for ourselves, what is going on?

Sadhguru: See… These are all human possibilities and capabilities. Every possibility becomes a problem for those who do not explore the possibility in it’s right perspective. Thought is a tremendous possibility. An ant cannot think like you, he can work better than you, he’s more disciplined, he betters main… better traffic rules than you, there’s no traffic jam out there (Laughter), okay but he cannot think like you.

Juhi Chawla: Yes.

Sadhguru: That sets up apart. This is a possibility. But now, this possibility has become a problem for ninety percent of the humanity. Now they’re freaking because they can think and they’re thinking all the wrong things. Their thoughts have become nasty; if they were pleasant they would have enjoyed their thought process. Because it’s become nasty, it’s becoming a (an?) ailment, isn’t it? People are suffering their thoughts immensely. Because, they do not know how to keep it pleasant, nothing has been done towards it. So, what is a possibility always becomes a problem if you do not explore it in a right perspective. So your thought and emotion has become a problem, now love affair is a problem, you’re making all kinds of things out of it, which are all coming from this misunderstanding, not understanding this thought and emotion is generated by me, I can generate it whichever way I want. If nastiness is what you like, you do it. I don’t care if that’s what you like but you’re suffering it. If you’re suffering it, you shouldn’t be doing it.

I am not telling you, be loving. What is your choice – pleasantness or unpleasantness? If unpleasantness is your choice, you enjoy it and do it, what’s my problem? You want to drink poison, what is my problem? I am just telling you this is poison, this is this – drink whatever you want, but by choice. Don’t drink unconsciously, that’s stupid. That’s not befitting of a human being, a human being means we are far more conscious than every other creature on this planet – that’s what sets up apart. Every other creature eats but we can eat consciously. So our eating becomes, so many things. Every creature has sexual drives, they go and fulfill it whichever way. We can do it consciously. So, we become something something. We’re doing the same things but we’re doing it consciously, suddenly there is a magic about it, not because sex is magic, food is magic, no. Because we can do it consciously, every basic act like eating and copulating becomes magical because we can do it consciously.

If you leave that one thing, if you exclude that one thing from your life that you are not conscious about the way you think, the way you feel, the way you act, the way you move your body – if you’re not conscious about it everything can turn ugly, everything can become nasty. So it is this which sets you apart from every other creature. So, a dog is walking on the street, if you show it a biscuit it will wag its tail, if you do this (Gestures), grrr it will do. If this is what you are that if somebody is nice it you, you will wag your whatever, if somebody’s not nice to you, you will bite them. I’m saying what… where is evolution in you? Forget about civilization, I’m, talking about evolution. Where’s the evolution, where’s the sign of evolution I’m asking? (Applause)


The Beauty of Being Human

Oct 31, 2014

The Beauty of Being Human

Juhi Chawla and Sadhguru discuss the nature of the human being.


Juhi Chawla and Sadhguru discuss the nature of the human being. Sadhguru looks at how society today seeks to mold human beings into a fixed format, where as a human being is supposed to blossom by his own nature.

Full Transcript:

Juhi Chawla: Sadhguruji, I want to say, I have attended your Inner Engineering program, I have seen some DVDs, I have read your books. And everywhere there are your brilliant views on various issues. It could be from the making of a nation to the making of a toy car, from the running of a household to the running of parliament. You have brilliant views on every issue that one can ever question. Yet I know very little about you and it… You know here’s a brilliant mind with an… for lack of better words, I would say ‘out-of-the-Box’ thinking – so different, so refreshing, so enlightening. I am fascinated and I want to know about your life. And I’d like to know that… I mean, were you just born brilliant (Laughter)? Did it begin from that very moment?

Sadhguru: I… I… I was a normal birth. I didn’t come in a box (Laughter). My mother had a normal child.

Juhi Chawla: No, I’m really fascinated, intrigued that we’re all here… but you know, the way you think, we wait to hear what you have to say. We’ve all been little children and we’ve all grown up but we’ve grown up and been educated in schools and… but I find our way of thinking, our way of being very conditioned, like almost systematized. Whereas, so where…where did it all begin?

Sadhguru So, what is… I mean the question that you’re asking is, do people grow up and blossom or are they brought up by somebody? You will see the general expression is, “I was brought up in this place, I was brought up in that way.” Especially in the West, you will see, “I was brought up Christian”, “I was brought up Jewish” – these are very common words. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous and humiliating that a human being has to be brought up. You bring up cattle, okay? You don’t bring up a human being. A human being is supposed to blossom by his own nature. That is why he’s on the top of the pile, at least on this planet, in the evolutionary scale. And most human beings don’t seem to understand that or they are not allowed to understand that by a whole lot of people and they need to be brought up. Bringing up means somebody is molding you. Molding means it’s a predetermined shape. And no flower that blossoms is the same way as another one, which blossomed yesterday. But a mold means it’s always going to be the same. If you make a mold, the idea of making a mold is that we want to have the same form, again and again and again.

Right now, generally that seems to be the work unfortunately of the current education system, the so-called religions that are operating in the world and of course the family. They want you to be in a certain mold, they don’t want you to blossom like a wild flower because they’re afraid of anything fresh happening among them. They want something that is familiar. They don’t want something unfamiliar to be born among them. So, if you have succumbed to that system, then yes, you’ve been molded into a certain form. If you allow your humanity to blossom, then you will see, you don’t belong to any mold. This is the beauty of being human that there is no a particular way to be. If you were a dog you would be one way, if you were cattle you would be one way, if you were a sheep you would be another way, if you’re bird – another way, a grass… a grasshopper – another way. But to be human means there is no particular way.

What is human is not defined, nor described, it is… it is just that for every other creature on this planet, nature drew two lines; within that they have to play their game. For a human being, only the bottom line is drawn, there is no top line. But socially, people are trying to draw a top line for themselves. But nature has not drawn a top line for you, it’s a limitless possibility and this is what is freaking human beings right now. Because they can’t decide what they can (Laughs)… need to be. They’re trying to be like somebody else. Only bottom line is set, top line has been removed – this is evolution.

Juhi Chawla: But wait, we still didn’t quite get to… So, having said all that, we’ve… I still didn’t quite get it that… So how was it when you were a child, were you… were you put into a school to go the systematic way where you learnt your Maths and Hindi… sorry, Maths and language and you know and did you keep up with it…

Sadhguru: Do I… Do I look that edu… educated? Don’t insult me like that (Laughter). Actually you know, when I go and stand in the line… in the immigration lines, in particularly in America, they look at me and say, “Can you speak English?” I say (Nods his head affirmatively) (Laughter) because I have that uneducated look, it’s not easy (Laughter). Do you know… Do you know what it takes to remain uneducated? Education is just twenty years of going somewhere and getting one certificate. To remain uneducated, it’s very difficult because from the day you’re born, your parents, every other adult, the school, the damn thing – everybody is trying to educate you…

Juhi Chawla: Yes.

Sadhguru: …about something that’s not worked in their life (Laughter & Applause).

Juhi Chawla: And then did you also, like we all went through these confused teenage years of not really knowing where we’re going, I mean did you clearly know your path?

Sadhguru: Not at all. I was, right from three or four years of age, I was always a million questions hanging in… in my head. I have (had?) a question about everything – everything to everything. Questions means, very fundamental questions about existence itself, my own existence

So, when I was three, four years of age, suddenly I realized I know nothing. Know nothing means – somebody gives me a glass of water, I do not know what is water. I know how to use it, I know if I drink it, it will quench my thirst and so many other ways of using it but I do not know what is water. I’m saying even today, you do not know what is water. It’s the only thing available in all three states on the planet. Three… two thirds of the planet is water, two thirds of your body is water. If we think life, we think water. But do you know what it is? With all the scientific exploration, we do not even know a single atom in its entirety. Today, our idea of science is, learning how to use everything. Yes? We know how to use an atom, we know how to break it, we know how to fuse it but we really do not know what it is. Any one thing, tiniest thing in the creation, we do not know in its entirety, this is the fact of life.

Juhi Chawla: Well even something simple as what you started with, saying that looking at water. I mean, straight away I was taught water – H2O and what it can do and it… you can mix it with colors and it becomes that. You can drink it and it quenches your thirst. But I never looked at it and said you know, “I don’t really know what is water.”

Sadhguru: Because nobody looks at anything. See, everybody is looking like this, nobody has any attention for a piece of life here. They’re like this (Gestures). If you pay attention to one life, one blade of grass, one grasshopper, one human being, something else will happen. That’s why we said ‘life and love’ because if you pay attention to one human being, some love will happen within you, okay? If you miss life, at least some emotion in that direction must happen to you. That will happen only if you pay attention to one. If you’re looking at like this (Gestures) …These days it’s become a fashion because you’re in love on Facebook. You love the whole humanity. To love one human being… if you want to love one human being, it costs life. To love the whole humanity, it doesn’t cost anything. It’s even better to love God because it’s always easy to love somebody who is not here now (Juhi Laughs), it’s so easy.

But if you have to love somebody who is sitting next to you right now, it costs life. You know how difficult it is to love someone who is next to you right now, how easy it is to love someone who is dead or who is in heaven? Isn’t it so? Let’s face it. Because if you have to love one, one thing is you have to pay attention. Without attention, it will not happen. And above all, you have to give up something that is you, to accommodate another, otherwise it will not happen. The English expression, it’s very good – “You must fall in love.” You cannot rise in love, you cannot stand in love, you cannot fly in love, you have to fall. Something of you should fall, otherwise it will not work. You will not know it. So, you want to have a fake sense of life, then you don’t pay attention to anything, everything is information. Nothing is a living experience. Everything is from the textbook or from the cinema or from the internet. Nothing is from life’s experience.