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 plan their activities, but later it became a complete prediction tool for events and people. Although primarily known as Chinese yearly zodiacs, in BaZi and Chinese astrology, we use them to track monthly, daily, and hourly cycles.
Each year is divided into four seasons, and each season is further divided into three periods/months, representing each season’s beginning, middle, and end.
In Chinese astrology, spring represents the beginning of the year and always starts with Tiger, which represents the Wood Element and new growth sprouting after the winter season. Rabbit represents a Wood Element in its most potent and prosperous form, while Dragon represents Wet Earth Element that 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 the Snake, which represents the arrival of the warm weather. The Horse represents the Fire Element in its purest and most prosperous form. The Goat represents the end of summer when the Element of Earth takes over, and the heat gets absorbed, making Earth warm and dry.
Goat is the Wood Element storage, collected during the summer and used in the coming cold months to start a fire. Wood also represents food and harvest, like wheat and corn, that is stored for winter. Goat is classified as Dry Earth, 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 the Metal season. Every season ends with the Earth Element, in this case, Dog, which weakens and buries Metal within it.
Dog is also a storage of Fire Element, which we use to warm up during winter; therefore, Dog is classified as Dry Earth.
The cycle ends with the winter season and the Element of Water. Pig represents the beginning, while Rat represents the peak of the Water season. The Ox comes at the end of Winter, 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 needed for the spring season when we have to start cutting wood and plants. 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 season; therefore, Goat and late summer represent the peak of that Element in the BaZi calendar. But also, each season ends with the Earth period, like Dragon, Goat, Dog, and Ox. The Earth Element is Mother Earth, so after each season, all Elements return to Her in order to initiate a new season.
We can imagine this as the recycling process, resetting the system, and getting ready for the 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 should be analyzed differently.