Chinese believe there are several factors can affect one's destiny and life,
3) Feng Shui
4) Doing worthy deed
The value of fourth and fifth factors are shared by most of cultural systems
over the world. From the first to third factors, Chinese have their unique
perspectives and these perspectives have been affecting the Chinese for
thousand years. In certain degrees, most Chinese are influenced by fatalism.
However, the Chinese are not negative fatalists. We believe, although we cannot
alter the congenital fate (BaZi, Birth Date), we can promote or improve our
destiny through Chinese Astrology (Chinese Horoscope, Fortune Telling) approach.
Chinese astrology is related to the Chinese calendar, particularly its 12-year
cycle of animals (Chinese Zodiac Sign), and the fortune-telling aspects
according to movement of heavenly bodies across the Chinese constellations in
the sky and individual's BaZi. These interact each other to affect the individual
destiny from time to time.
The two main branches of Chinese Fortune Telling (Chinese Astrology, Chinese
Horoscope), they are:
The Zi Wei Dou Shu, which builds and studies a chart containing dozens of
The BaZi, or The Four Pillars of the Destiny, which studies the polarity
Yin/Yang and the elements of the Year, Month, Day and Hour of Birth.
Besides, the Naming Study is another kind of Chinese
Fortune Telling (Chinese Astrology, Chinese Horoscope). To Chinese, the
name is never a simply code. A good name assigned to a person according to his
BaZi can promote his good destiny as well as offset his bad luck. On a bad
inconsistent to one's BaZi can deteriorate one's bad luck and counteract his
good luck. If someone is being encompassed by unlucky stuffs, he may try to look
into his name whether is conflicting to his
BaZi, if so he can look for a
Fortune Teller's (Feng Shui
Master) opinion for alteration of his name.
The ancient Chinese astronomers called the five major planets by the names of
the Five Elements. Venus is Metal (gold); Jupiter is Wood; Mercury is Water;
Mars is Fire; Saturn is Earth. The position of the five planets, the sun, the
moon and comets in the sky and the Chinese zodiac sign at the time a person was
born determine the destiny of a person's life according to the Chinese
astrology. A laborious system of computing one's fate and destiny based on one
birthday and birth hours (known as
Zi Wei Dou Shu) is still used regularly in
modern day Chinese astrology. The twenty-eight Chinese constellations are quite
different from the eighty-eight Western constellations. For example, the big
dipper is known as dou; the belt of Orion is known as shen, or the "Happiness,
Fortune, Longevity" trio of demigods. The seven northern constellations are
referred to as xúanwǔ, Xuan Wu is also known as the spirit of the northern sky
or the spirit of Water in Taoism belief.
In addition to astrological readings of the heavenly bodies, the stars in the
sky form the basis of many fairy tales. For example, the Summer Triangle is the
trio of the cowherd (Altair), the spinster maid fairy (Vega) and the "tai bai"
fairy (Deneb). The two forbidden lovers were separated by the silvery river (the
Milky Way). Each year on the seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese
calendar, the birds form a bridge across the Milky Way. The cowherd carries
their two sons (the two stars on each side of Altair) across the bridge to
reunite with their fairy mother. The tai bai fairy acts as the chaperone of
these two immortal lovers. See Qi Xi for more versions of this story.
The twelve zodiac animal signs are, in order, the
mouse, ox (buffalo),
sheep (or goat),
There are many legends to explain the beginning of the zodiac (see Origins of
the Chinese Zodiac). One of the most popular reads, in summarized form, as
The rat was given the task to invite the animals to report to the Jade Emperor
to be selected for the zodiac signs. The cat was a good friend of the rat, but
the rat forgot to invite him. So the cat vowed to be the rat's natural enemy for
ages to come.
Another popular legend has it that a race was used to decide the animals to
report to the Jade Emperor:
All the animals lined up on the bank of a river and were given the task of
getting to the opposite shore. Their order in the calendar would be set by the
order in which the animals managed to reach the other side. The cat wondered how
he would get across if he was afraid of water. At the same time, the ox wondered
how he would cross with his poor eyesight. The calculating rat suggested that he
and the cat jump onto the ox's back and guide him across. The ox was steady and
hard-working so that he did not notice a commotion on his back. In the
meanwhile, the rat snuck up behind the unsuspecting cat and shoved him into the
water. Just as the ox came ashore, the rat jumped off and finished the race
first. The lazy pig came to the far shore in twelfth place. And so the rat got
the first year named after him, the ox got the second year, and the pig ended up
as the last year in the cycle. The cat finished too late (thirteenth) to win any
place in the calendar, and vowed to be the enemy of the rat forevermore.
Some versions of the tale say that the cattle nominated a water buffalo to
represent them because he was more proficient at water. The trade was acceptable
because both animals are members of the family of bovid.
Another expands the race; the route ran through a forest, over ranges of plains
and grasslands, and along a stream, before finally crossing a lake to the
Yet another variation tells of two different races. The first involved all the
animals, in two divisions to avoid the fast animals dominating the top, and the
top six in each division would "make the cut" for a second round, which would
then determine the order of placement of the animals in the zodiac. This format
is rather like the one that the National Football League uses to determine its
playoff teams (six from each conference).
There is also a cycle of the
Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal (Gold),
Water) on top of the cycle of animals. A person's year sign can be a gold
dragon, a wood rooster etc. In ancient match-making practice in China, couples
were brought together according to their compatible signs. For example, it is
believed that dog and dog don't get along, but dog and pig do; a water dog
supports a wood pig but dominates a fire pig in their relationship because water
benefits wood, but controls fire according to the Chinese five elements'
The elements are also associated with colors, the traditional correspondence
being green to Wood, red to Fire, brown to Earth, white to Metal, and black to
Water. Some websites denote the years by the color and zodiac sign (as opposed
to animal sign and element).
The elements are combined with the binary Yin Yang cycle, which enlarges the
element cycle to a cycle of ten. Even years are yang, odd years are yin. Since
the zodiac animal cycle of 12 is divisible by two, every zodiac can only occur
in either yin or yang: the dragon is always yang, the snake is always yin, etc.
This combination creates a 60-year cycle, starting with Wood Rat and ending with
Water Pig. The current cycle began in the year 1984.
Since the (traditional) Chinese zodiac follows the Chinese calendar, the switch
over date for the zodiac signs is the Chinese New Year, not January 1 as in the
Gregorian calendar. Therefore, a person that was born in January or early
February may have the sign of the previous year. For example, 1990 was the year
of the horse, but anyone born from January 1 to January 25, 1990 was born in the
year of the snake (the sign of the previous year), because the 1990 year of the
horse began on January 26, 1990.