The Chinese animal zodiac, or shengxiao, is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year represented by an animal and its reputed attributes. Traditionally this system were used for the farming calendar, helping farmers to plan their activities, but later it turned into full prediction tool, for events and people. Although mostly known as Chinese yearly zodiacs, in BaZi and Chinese astrology we use them to mark monthly, daily and hourly cycles.
Each year is divided into four seasons, and each season further divided into three periods/months, marking the beginning, middle, and end of each season.
In Chinese astrology, spring represents the beginning of the year, and it always starts with Tiger, which represents the Wood Element and new growth, sprouting after the winter season. Rabbit represents a Wood Element in its strongest and most prosperous form, while Dragon represents wet Earth Element which slowly takes over and buries dying Wood, just before the summer.
In the summer Wood Element is slowly diminishing, and we see the rise of Fire and Earth Elements. Summer starts with Snake which represents the arrival of the heat. The Horse represents Fire element in its purest and most prosperous form. Goat represents the end of summer when Element of Earth is taking over, and the heat gets absorbed by it, making Earth very warm.
In the autumn Fire and Earth energy is slowly diminishing and Metal gains strength. Monkey represents the beginning of Autumn, while Rooster represents the peak of Metal season. As with every end of the season, Dog brings Earth element and slowly weakens and buries Metal within it.
The full Element cycle ends with winter season and Element of Water. Pig represents the beginning, while Rat represents the peak of Water season. At the end of Winter comes the Ox which brings wet and frozen Earth Element. At that stage, none of the Elements are very active due to cold conditions.
Now, about that Earth…
It’s important fact that Earth doesn’t have its own season; therefore Goat and late summer represent the peak of that Element in BaZi calendar. But also, each season ends with Earth period, like Dragon, Goat, Dog, and Ox. The Earth Element represents the center, so after each season all the Elements end up within the Earth.
You can imagine this as recycling process, resetting the system and getting ready for next season. Earth can be warm (Goat and Dog) or wet (Dragon and Ox), therefore we often say that we actually have six elements, not five, because these two Earth are having slightly different properties and they affect chart in different ways.