The Chinese animal zodiac, or Shēngxiào, is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year represented by an animal and its reputed attributes. Traditionally this system was 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 track monthly, daily and hourly cycles as well.
Each year is divided into four seasons, and each season further divided into three periods/months, representing 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.
Dragon is also a storage of Water Element, which is saved for the next season, summer, to help us survive the heat, that’s why we call it Wet Earth.
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 the Fire Element in its purest and most prosperous form. The Goat represents the end of summer when Element of Earth is taking over, and the heat gets absorbed in, making Earth very warm and dry.
Goat is the storage of Wood Element, which is collected during the summer and used in the coming cold months to start a fire. Wood also represents the food and harvest, like wheat and corn, which gets stored for winter. Goat is classified as Dry Earth, and it is the warmest Earth of all.
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.
Dog is also a storage of Fire Element, which we use to warm up during the winter months. Therefore Dog is classified as Dry Earth.
The 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.
Ox is also a storage of Metal. Metal is prepared for the spring season when we have to start cutting the growing Wood. Because of this mixture of cold Earth and Metal, Ox is classified as Wet Earth, and is the coldest Earth of all.
NOW, ABOUT THAT EARTH…
It’s important to know 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 the Earth period, like Dragon, Goat, Dog, and Ox. The Earth Element represents the center, the Mother Earth, so after each season, all the Elements go back to Earth.
We can imagine this as the 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 have six elements, not five, because these two types of Earth have slightly different properties, and they affect charts differently.