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China and Buddhism are quite intertwined, with the Chinese adopting many Buddhist practices. Like the 12 animals of the English zodiac, the Chinese too have their own set of 12 animals, where some animals will find their equivalent in the other system.

Legend has it, that once Buddha had invited the animals of the forest for his birthday party. All the invitees arrived, but some animals were swift and arrived early, while some lagged behind and were late comers. On the order of their arrival, the Buddha assigned an ordinal to each of them in the Chinese zodiac!

THE RAT - Following are the 12 signs, the first being the Rat. There were some animals that were very swift and ran the race to reach first. Some were steady but slow, like the ox. While the ox walked its slow gait, it maintained walking without stopping to take rest, like the proverbial tortoise in the ‘Hare and the tortoise’. The rat although was quite ahead of most animals, was second only to the ox! However, when the finish line was approaching, the rat climbed atop the ox and hopped just before the ox. Thus, the rat was the first to arrive and is the first in the animal zodiac. The rat indicates the dark of the night-the time preceding midnight and extending a little after midnight. It also represents the cold of the winter.

The lessons here is, be slow, but also be steady. The ox that ploughs fields is steadfast although slow.  However, it’s too straightforward, compared to the rat that is not only swift but shrewd too. Being straightforward and steady is good, but having acumen is desirable and needed. Thus people born in the year of the rat are supposed to be shrewd, calculating and swift.

Year of the Rat Page

THE OX - As the above paragraph describes the ox, this animal is known to help the farmer a great deal. If you observe the farmer’s field, you will notice how laboriously the oxen plough the field non-stop. The hard-working ox because of its steadfastness and determination is almost first, but the shrewd rat won as it climbed atop the ox and arrived first.

While the ox worked with its physical capacities, the rat worked with the mental faculties. The lesson here is, definitely hard work pays. However, one must never lose sight of one’s own advantages and disadvantages and opportunities. Work hard, and work smart too! Work hard, but let the boss know how hardworking you are. Display your talents and showcase your efforts! The ox sign is the English equivalent for the Capricorn-the goat!

Year of the Ox Page

THE TIGER - The third to arrive was the tiger. While the clever rat sat on the ox’s back and jumped atop the ox when they crossed the river, the tiger was not a good swimmer, but had tremendous stamina. It arrived panting and huffing just after the kind ox. The tiger was not one to seek help from another. It was too dignified for that, as it relied on its own strength.

Year of the Tiger Page

THE RABBIT - The fourth animal-the rabbit too was a bad swimmer, but was nimble with its feet. It started crossing the river by stepping on pebbles lying on the shores of the river. But when it reached the river midway, the rabbit almost drowned. Fortunately, it caught hold of the reed floating on the river and swam across successfully, clutching the reed for dear life! The rabbit was thus awarded the fourth position in the zodiac.

While it’s not always possible to rely on one’s physical strength, it can be possible to make use of any opportunity or good fortune that comes your way. The lesson here is, never to lose hope and make use of whatever luck is thrown at you in the midst of misfortunes.

Year of the Rabbit Page

THE DRAGON - While the aforementioned four animals had gathered, the dragon came flying, spewing fire! Noticing the dragon’s swiftness and strength, the Buddha was curious to know the reason for his not landing first. It seems the dragon while flying across the forest saw that the beings in the forest were thirsty but the pools were dry. So the creatures were in urgent need of water. The dragon helped them get water. While he was crossing the river, he saw how the rabbit was struggling to swim and was clutching the reed. The dragon’s helpful mentality made him use the energy fuelling the spewing fire to push the rabbit ashore! The dragon in Chinese mythology is known as a powerful, ‘yang’ creature, benevolent and energizing and thus is used to symbolize all these qualities and is also used as a lucky charm.

It’s true that we must use our energies constructively to help others. But in doing so, we might lose track of our commitments and our goals. While kindness pays, being kind also comes with a small price! Decision is ours.

Year of the Dragon Page

THE SNAKE - After the dragon landed, the galloping of horse-hoofs was heard and the narcissistic horse appeared panting more because of the exerted and obvious forcefulness. It was a magnificent sight to see how the horse raced against all odds, unbridled in his enthusiasm to gallop, showing its strength! The horse was so full of himself, that running and galloping was his mission- a mission without a mission.  

He was sure he would be the sixth, but so full of himself was he, that he failed to notice a slithering snake uncoil itself from around the horse’s hoofs! The snake with its slithering nature had coiled itself on the fast horse’s hoofs, without having to glide across thorns and thistles and yet reached before the horse. 

While it’s good to showcase ones talents, delegating duties to the able and concentrating on less strenuous tasks can ease much tensions! Like the snake, people born in the snake years are supposed to be successful by stepping on others toes!

Year of the Snake Page

THE HORSE - We just saw how the slimy snake outwitted the vain horse. Being confident is fine, but not so confident that we fail to see others better than us. Humility pays and we must realize that there may be others out there who may not be as talented as we are, but who could use brain, brawn and our talents to get past!

Along with sharpening ones axe, understanding who is at our feet and how strong they are, might be wise to consider. Someone inferior to us may not be all that inferior after all!

Year of the Horse Page

THE SHEEP - A little after the horse arrived, the sheep arrived too. The rooster, sheep and monkey too were unable to swim. However, they spotted an empty raft and seated the rooster on the raft and pulled the raft across the river and reached ashore!

Because of the sheep’s presence of mind to involve the others, it was made the eighth in the zodiac. ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’, and there’s nothing wrong in seeking help and cooperation from others.

Year of the Sheep Page

THE MONKEY - The ninth to arrive was the monkey. As mentioned earlier, the monkey and the sheep pulled the raft with the rooster seated on it and together they crossed the river. The monkey having risen to the occasion and shed its usual mischief was made the ninth in the zodiac.

Accommodating oneself to the situation and making a concentrated effort will make one regain ones reputation.

Year of the Monkey Page

THE ROOSTER - Not very comfortable in water, the proud rooster gave in and allowed itself to be carried on a raft and pulled by two of its friends.

The no-nonsense and punctual rooster’s pride never came in the way, when help is all that he needed. Because he wanted to be there with all the other animals, the rooster abandoned its pride. The rooster was made the tenth creature in the zodiac.

Year of the Rooster / Cock Page

THE DOG - The penultimate animal was the dog. When asked about his late-coming, he explained that he was badly in need of a good bath after roaming all around and rolling in mud. When he reached the river, he dived into it to cleanse himself. He lost track of time as he was immensely enjoying himself in the river. The dog was accepted too.

How you present yourself counts too. The dog thought it important to arrive at his decent best. Also, the dog seemed happy combating the challenges thrown at him and enjoyed solving them. Life can’t always be a bed of roses!

Year of the Dog Page

THE PIG - Last but not the least, the laziest of them all the pig arrived grunting. When asked to explain why he was so late, he said that he was hungry and moreover as the others left off in a huff, they had forgotten to clear the mess. The pig took it upon itself to clear the mess by devouring whatever it could find!  

If one acts for the common good, one’s drawbacks can be forgiven. The pig’s intention was never to arrive first, as it always possessed a laidback attitude. However, the pig wanted to complete the task that others had left. It was not afraid to reach late, as it had accepted its shortcomings gracefully.

Year of the Pig Page

The moral here is, that all the animals were invited at the particular point on a certain day. There was one obstacle-the river. Most animals didn’t know swimming and were terrified at the prospect of having to cross the river. How each animal strove to carry out the mission of overcoming this obstacle and reach the spot was based on his inherent nature. The rat’s craftiness, the ox’s determination, the tiger’s never-say-die spirit, the rabbit’s agility, the dragon’s helpful spirit, the snake’s sneaky ways, the horse’s narcissism, the sheep’s spirit of team-work, the monkey’s responsible attitude, the rooster’s grace, the dog’s need to present itself and finally the pig’s act of responsibility all go to explain even human nature of those born in the above animal years.

NOTE: There is much, much more to Chinese astrology than what meets the eye! The above is only a general description. This is only the tip of an iceberg! The birth year only gives you a generalized over-view. The entire birthday along with the time and place of birth will give you details about nature and luck. This information on the hands of an expert will reveal all the hidden truths of a horoscope.


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