The Chinese horoscope is an ancient practice based on the lunar cycles and the animals that represent them. Each of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac has a special meaning and is believed to influence the personality and destiny of those born under its sign. In addition, in Chinese culture, animals have a deep spiritual significance and symbolize different values and virtues.
In this article, we will explore the spiritual significance of animals in the Chinese horoscope and how this practice can help us better understand ourselves and the world around us.
The history of animals in the Chinese Zodiac
There are different legends about how the 12 animals that are part of the Chinese horoscope were chosen.
The Great Race
An ancient folk story called the “Great Race” tells that the Jade Emperor decreed that the calendar years would be named after each animal in the order in which they reached it. To reach it, the animals would have to cross a river.
The Cat and the Rat could not swim, but they were very smart. They decided that the best and quickest way to cross the river was to ride on the back of the ox. The Ox, kind and naive, agreed to carry them both. When the Ox was about to reach the other side of the river, the Rat pushed the Cat into the water, and then jumped off the Ox and ran to the Jade Emperor. He was named the first animal of the zodiacal calendar. The Ox had to settle for second place.
The third to arrive was the Tiger. Although he was strong and powerful, he explained to the Jade Emperor that the currents were pushing him downstream.
Suddenly, in the distance, a thud was heard and the Rabbit arrived. He explained how he crossed the river: jumping from one stone to another, nimbly. Halfway across, he almost lost the race, but was lucky enough to grab hold of a floating log that later dragged him to the shore. Thus, he became the fourth animal of the zodiacal cycle.
In fifth place was the Flying Dragon. The Jade Emperor wondered why an aerial creature as swift as the Dragon did not take first place. The Dragon explained that he had to pass through a village and bring rain for all the people, and so he was delayed. Then, on his way to the goal, he saw the helpless Rabbit clinging to a log, so he did a good deed and gave a breath of encouragement to the poor creature so it could land on the shore. The Jade Emperor was amazed by the kindness of the Dragon, who was named the fifth animal.
No sooner had he done so than a gallop was heard and the Horse appeared. Hidden in the Horse’s hoof was the Snake, whose sudden appearance gave it a fright, causing it to retreat and giving the Snake sixth place, while the Horse was placed seventh.
After a while, the Goat, the Monkey and the Rooster reached the heavenly gate. Combining their efforts, they managed to reach the other side. The Rooster found a raft, and the Monkey and the Goat pulled and pulled, trying to get all the weeds out of the way. The Jade Emperor was pleased with their teamwork and decided to name the Goat the eighth animal, followed by the Monkey and then the Rooster.
The eleventh animal placed in the zodiacal cycle was the Dog. Although he should have been the best swimmer and runner, he spent his time playing in the water. Although his explanation for being late was that he needed a good swim after a long season. Because of this, he almost didn’t make it to the finish line.
Just as the Emperor was about to finish the race, an “oink” was heard: it was the Pig. The Pig felt hungry in the middle of the race, so he stopped, ate something and fell asleep. When he woke up, he finished the race in twelfth place and was the last animal to finish.
In the end, the cat drowned and did not make it into the zodiac. This is said to be the reason why cats always hunt rats and also hate water.
Variation of the story
Another popular story has it that the Rat tricked the Ox into letting him jump on his back, so that the Ox would hear the Rat sing, before jumping at the finish line and finishing first. Another variant says that the Rat had tricked the Cat into taking his place at the finish line, having stowed away on the back of the dog, who was too focused to realize he had a stowaway; this is said to explain the antagonistic dynamic between cats and rats, beyond normal predator and prey behavior; and also why dogs and cats fight, the cat having tried to attack the rat in retaliation, only to catch the dog by accident.
In Chinese mythology, one story tells that the cat was tricked by the Rat so that it could not go to the banquet. For this reason, the cat is not part of the Chinese zodiac.
In Buddhism, legend has it that Gautama Buddha summoned all the animals on Earth to come before him before his departure from Earth, but only twelve animals came to say goodbye. To reward the animals that came to him, he gave each of them the name of a year. The years were given to them in the order in which they had come.
The twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac were developed in the early stages of Chinese civilization, so it is difficult to investigate their true origins. Most historians agree that the cat is not included, as they had not yet been introduced into China from India with the arrival of Buddhism. However, the Vietnamese, unlike all other countries that follow the Chinese lunar calendar, have the cat instead of the rabbit as the zodiac animal. The most common explanation is that the old word for Rabbit (Mao) sounds like cat (Meo)
What is the spiritual significance of animals in the Chinese horoscope?
Below we will briefly describe the meaning associated with the animals of the Chinese zodiac in different cultures, not only in the Chinese tradition.
In many cultures, the rat has been viewed in a variety of ways. In some cultures, the rat is seen as an animal of ill omen or a symbol of pestilence and disease, while in others, the rat is considered a symbol of good fortune and prosperity.
In Hindu spirituality, the rat is seen as the vehicle of the god Ganesha, who is the god of wisdom, intelligence and success. The rat is believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to overcome obstacles and stubbornness, and is therefore considered a sacred animal.
In Chinese culture, the rat is seen as a sign of the Chinese zodiac and is considered a symbol of wealth and prosperity. People born in the year of the rat are believed to be cunning, resourceful and often successful in life.
In Native American culture, the rat is often associated with intelligence and cunning. It is believed that the rat can help a person find creative solutions to problems and survive in difficult situations.
In general, it is considered a cunning, intelligent and adaptable animal that can help a person overcome obstacles and achieve success.
In the Chinese horoscope, people born in the year of the rat are associated with the following personality traits:
- Cunning and intelligence: People born in the year of the rat are considered cunning and intelligent, capable of solving problems and finding creative solutions.
- Ambition: Rats are hardworking and ambitious, always looking to improve in their career and achieve their goals.
- Sociability: Rats like to be surrounded by friends and family, and are known to be sociable and outgoing.
- Curiosity: Rats are curious and like to explore new ideas and experiences.
- Insight: People born in the year of the rat have great insight and can detect the hidden intentions of others.
- Thrift: Rats are known to be thrifty and careful with their money, which helps them maintain their financial stability.
- Versatility: Rats are very versatile and can adapt to different situations with ease.
In many cultures, the ox has been seen as a symbol of strength, power, endurance and hard work. In Chinese spirituality, the ox represents the second animal in the Chinese zodiac and is considered a sacred animal symbolizing stability and prosperity. The ox is also believed to be a symbol of virtue and integrity.
In Japanese culture, the ox is a symbol of effort and determination. The image of the spiritual ox is believed to represent the spiritual quest, where the ox represents the mind of the person in his or her quest to reach enlightenment.
In Christianity, the ox is associated with sacrifice and humility, and is sometimes depicted next to the manger where Jesus was born.
These are some of the characteristics associated with people born in the year of the ox:
- Patience: Oxen are known for being patient and persevering in everything they do. They can work hard for long periods of time without getting discouraged.
- Loyalty: Oxen are loyal to their friends and family, and highly value long-lasting relationships.
- Determination: Oxen are determined and persistent people, which helps them achieve their long-term goals.
- Confidence: Oxen are self-assured and confident in their own ability to make important decisions.
- Honesty: Oxen are honest and trustworthy people, and expect the same from others.
- Conservatism: Oxen can be somewhat conservative in their thinking and actions, preferring to stay within their comfort zone.
- Firmness: Oxen are firm in their convictions, which can lead them to be stubborn in some situations.
The tiger is an animal with great symbolic importance in many cultures, including spirituality. In Chinese culture, the tiger is the third of the twelve animals of the zodiac and is considered a sacred animal symbolizing power, strength and courage.
In Taoism, the tiger is a symbol of yang energy, which represents strength and activity, as opposed to yin, which represents tranquility and passivity. The tiger is also seen as a protective animal in Chinese culture, and is believed to ward off evil spirits.
In Hindu culture, the tiger is associated with the goddess Durga, who rides a tiger and is seen as a protector and defender of justice. The tiger is also associated with kundalini energy, which is said to reside at the base of the spine and represents vital and spiritual energy.
- Passion: tigers are passionate and enthusiastic, and can be very dedicated to their goals.
- Courage: tigers are courageous and have great willpower, which enables them to overcome obstacles along the way.
- Independence: tigers have strong independence and self-confidence, and can be very self-sufficient.
- Impulsiveness: Tigers can be a bit impulsive and act without thinking about the consequences.
- Dominance: Tigers have a dominant personality and can be natural leaders in social situations.
- Aggressiveness: although tigers can be gentle and loving, they can also be aggressive if they feel threatened or are challenged.
- Loyalty: tigers are loyal to their close friends and family, and can defend them with great passion.
In Chinese culture, the rabbit is the fourth of the twelve animals of the zodiac and is considered a sacred animal symbolizing fertility and good fortune.
InCeltic mythology, the rabbit is associated with fertility, regeneration and abundance. Rabbits are believed to be able to communicate with the gods and to have deep spiritual knowledge.
In Christian culture, the rabbit is a symbol of resurrection and eternal life. During the Easter celebration, chocolate eggs are made in the shape of rabbits to symbolize the resurrection of Christ.
In general, the rabbit is associated with fertility, regeneration, good fortune and eternal life in spirituality. Its ability to reproduce quickly symbolizes the ability to grow and flourish in life, while its gentle nature represents the importance of kindness and compassion in spiritual life.
Some characteristics associated with the rabbit in the Chinese horoscope
- Sensitivity: people born in the year of the rabbit are sensitive and emotional, and can be easily affected by the environment and the emotions of others.
- Kindness: Rabbits are gentle and affectionate, and can have a gentle and peaceful nature.
- Creativity: Rabbits are very creative and have a great capacity for imagination and inspiration.
- Diplomacy: Rabbits are skilled at conflict resolution and can be very diplomatic in social situations.
- Shyness: Rabbits can be a bit shy and reserved in new or unfamiliar situations.
- Generosity: Rabbits are generous and can be very considerate of others.
- Excessive worry: Rabbits can be a bit anxious or worried in difficult or stressful situations.
The dragon is a legendary animal found in many cultures around the world, and has an important spiritual significance in most of them. In general, the dragon is associated with power, wisdom and good fortune, and is considered a symbol of divinity and spiritual strength.
In Chinese culture, the dragon is one of the most sacred animals and is considered the symbol of good fortune, wisdom, power and prosperity. Dragons are believed to have great spiritual energy and are able to control the weather and the elements.
The dragon is also believed to be a guardian of justice and morality, and has an important role in protecting the welfare of the people.
It is associated with the emperor and nobility, and is considered a symbol of power and authority. During the Qing dynasty, the dragon became the official symbol of the emperor and was used on the national flag. The dragon can also be found on many buildings and art objects in Chinese culture, and its presence is believed to bring good fortune and protection.
In the Chinese horoscope, the dragon is the fifth of the twelve sacred animals and is considered the most powerful and auspicious animal in the zodiac.
In Greek mythology, the dragon is associated with strength and power, and is believed to be the guardian of sacred treasures.
In Christian culture, the dragon is associated with evil and is considered a symbol of Satan and temptation.
Some of the personality traits associated with people born in the year of the dragon are:
- Ambition: People born in the year of the dragon tend to have great ambitions and a strong desire for success and recognition.
- Self-confidence: Dragons are usually self-assured and confident in their abilities and talents.
- Enthusiastic: Dragons are usually enthusiastic and passionate about everything they do, which helps them achieve their goals.
- Creative: Dragons are usually very creative and innovative, which allows them to find original and unique solutions to problems.
- Independent: Dragons prefer to work alone and do not like to depend on others. However, they are also capable of leading and motivating a team.
- Temperamental: Dragons can be temperamental and have strong tempers, which can lead to conflicts and difficulties in interpersonal relationships.
- Honest: Dragons tend to be very honest and loyal, and expect the same from others.
The snake is a very ancient and complex symbol that has been used by many cultures and spiritual traditions to represent a wide variety of meanings.
In some cultures, the snake is associated with wisdom, renewal and regeneration. This is due in part to the snake’s ability to shed its skin, symbolizing the ability to leave the past behind and be reborn as something new. In some spiritual traditions, the snake is also associated with kundalini energy, which is believed to be a spiritual energy found at the base of the spine that can be awakened through meditation and spiritual practice.
In Chinese culture, the snake has been an important symbol for centuries and is attributed various spiritual and cultural meanings.
In Chinese mythology, the snake is considered a deity, and is known as the“Great Snake God“. The snake is also associated with Yin energy, which is considered a feminine and passive energy, and represents darkness, dampness and earth.
In addition, in the Chinese zodiac, the snake is the sixth of the twelve animals used to represent the years, and those born under the sign of the snake are believed to have qualities such as cunning, wisdom and intuition.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the snake has also been used for centuries as a symbol to represent certain aspects of the human body and is believed to have healing properties. For example, snake skin is believed to be effective in treating certain skin diseases, and snake meat has properties that can help improve blood circulation.
However, the snake may also have negative symbolism in some cultures and spiritual traditions. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, for example, the snake is seen as a symbol of sin and temptation, due to its role in the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Some personality traits associated with the serpent zodiac sign are:
- Intelligent, shrewd and very observant.
- Very perceptive and with a great sense of detail.
- Very intuitive and with a great instinct.
- They prefer to trust their intuition and make decisions based on their feelings and perceptions.
- Secretive and enigmatic, they often keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves.
- Cautious and distrustful of new people, but loyal and committed to those they trust.
- Selective about their friendships and interpersonal relationships.
- They can be successful in life because of their intelligence and cunning.
- They may seem aloof and difficult for others to get to know because of their secrecy and enigma.
- They have a complex and unique personality that makes them stand out in any situation.
In Native American culture, the horse was considered a symbol of freedom, courage and strength. It was believed that the horse possessed a free and wild spirit, and that its energy could help humans connect with their own free spirit and inner strength.
In Celtic culture, the horse was revered as a sacred animal representing strength and wisdom. It was also associated with fertility and healing, and it was believed that its energy could help humans find healing and renewal.
In Chinese culture, the horse was considered a symbol of success and prosperity. It was believed that its energy could help people achieve their goals and attain happiness and success in life. It is the seventh animal in the Chinese horoscope.
- Independence: people born under the sign of the horse are independent and like to do things their own way. They do not like to be told what to do and prefer to make their own decisions.
- Enthusiasm: the Horse is a very enthusiastic and energetic sign. People born under this sign are optimistic, cheerful and have a positive attitude towards life.
- Impulsiveness: although horses are enthusiastic, they can also be impulsive and make hasty decisions. Sometimes, their impatience can lead them to make mistakes.
- Sociability: Horses are very social and like to be surrounded by friends and family. They enjoy the company of others and are good at making new friends.
- Honesty: people born under the sign of the Horse are honest and straightforward. They dislike falsehood and prefer to be honest and forthright, even if that means saying things that may not be popular.
- Versatility: Horses are very versatile and can adapt to different situations and environments. They are able to face new challenges and adapt easily to change.
- Restlessness: Horses can be restless and do not like to sit still for long. They need to be on the move and busy to feel fulfilled.
In Greek mythology, the goat Amalthea suckled and nursed the god Zeus during his infancy. As thanks, Zeus placed the goat in the heavens as the constellation Capricorn, symbolizing wisdom and goodness.
In Celtic culture, the goat is related to divine nature and is considered a symbol of fertility, renewal and life. The Celtic goddess of fertility and life, Cerridwen, is often depicted as a goat.
In Chinese culture, the goat has also been associated with yin energy, which refers to feminine, soft and receptive energy. This energy is believed to be an important balance to yang energy, which refers to masculine energy, strong and active. The goat is also associated with harmony and peace, and is considered a symbol of the connection between heaven and earth.
In the Chinese calendar, the goat is the eighth animal in the cycle of the twelve zodiac animals. The goat is believed to bring good fortune and protection to people born in its lunar year, and is considered a sacred animal symbolizing prosperity and happiness.
In some religions, such as Christianity, the goat is associated with the devil and darkness because of its tendency to be seen as a wild and undisciplined animal.
Personality characteristics associated with people born under the sign of the goat are:
- Kindness: people born under the sign of the goat are known to be kind and compassionate to others. They are people who seek the welfare of others and are concerned about their happiness.
- Creativity: They have a great creative capacity. They are artists by nature and can express themselves in a variety of ways, whether in the arts, music or literature.
- Sensitivity: They are sensitive and emotional. They can be easily influenced by their environment and the people around them, and have a strong need to feel loved and appreciated.
- Patience: They are patient and gentle. They prefer to resolve conflicts through negotiation and understanding, and rarely get involved in arguments or conflicts.
- Shyness: People born under the sign of the goat may be shy or withdrawn in new or unfamiliar situations. They may need time to adjust to new people or environments.
- Indecisiveness: They can be indecisive and a bit insecure. They often need the approval of others before making a decision, and may doubt their own abilities and talents.
- Conflict avoidance: They may be evasive or run away from problems, rather than face them. They prefer to maintain peace and harmony in their environment.
- Generosity: People born under the sign of the goat are known to be generous and selfless. They are people who do not seek recognition or reward for their actions, but act altruistically.
In Hindu culture, the spiritual significance of the monkey is related to the figure of Hanuman, the monkey god. Hanuman is a very important mythological figure in Hindu culture, considered an incarnation of the god Shiva. He is known for his unwavering loyalty and selfless service to his lord, Rama.
Hanuman is a symbol of devotion and selfless service, as he is always depicted in an attitude of worship and service to Rama. According to Hindu mythology, Hanuman helped Rama in the fight against the evil demon king Ravana, who had kidnapped Rama’s wife Sita. Hanuman used his cunning and skills to help Rama rescue his wife and defeat Ravana.
One of the most famous characters in Chinese mythology is Sun Wukong, also known as the Monkey King. He is considered the god of the monkeys and is one of the main characters in the classic Chinese novel “Journey to the West”. Sun Wukong is known for his great wisdom, his ability to transform into different forms and his great power, which makes him a popular hero in Chinese culture.
In addition, the monkey is also considered a symbol of immortality in Chinese mythology. According to legend, monkeys can live for hundreds of years and some of them can even acquire immortality. Therefore, the monkey is believed to be a sacred animal representing longevity and immortality.
In Chinese culture, the monkey is also believed to be a protective animal that can ward off evil spirits and protect people from bad luck. For this reason, statues of monkeys can often be found in Chinese temples and houses.
Personality traits associated with people born under this sign are:
- Intelligent: They are considered very intelligent and cunning. They have a great ability to solve problems and find creative solutions.
- Playful: They are known for their sense of humor and playful nature. They like to make jokes and enjoy playing games and having fun.
- Sociable: They tend to be very social people and like to be around people. They are friendly and enjoy the company of others.
- Adaptable: They are very adaptable and can cope with difficult situations with ease. They are able to change and adjust to new circumstances quickly.
- Curious: They are very curious and like to explore and discover new things. They have an open mind and are willing to try different things.
- Restless: They can be a bit restless and often need to keep busy to feel satisfied. They like to be on the move and explore new activities.
- Insightful: They have a great ability to perceive things and understand complex situations. They are very observant and can read people easily.
- Independent: They tend to be very independent and do not like to depend on others. They prefer to do things by themselves and make their own decisions.
- Competitive: They are very competitive and like to win. They like to overcome challenges and excel at what they do.
In Christian culture, it is associated with vigilance and the announcement of dawn, as well as representing repentance and redemption.
In Chinese culture, it is the tenth animal of the zodiac and is associated with good luck, honesty, courage and strength.
In Japan, it is considered a symbol of good fortune, happiness and prosperity, and in Mexican culture, it is associated with virility, fertility and victory.
In Celtic culture, it is attributed with the ability to foresee the future and herald a new era, while in African culture it is seen as a guardian that protects the family and community from danger.
These are some traits associated with people born in the year of the rooster according to the Chinese horoscope:
- Responsibility: those born in the year of the Rooster are known to be responsible and reliable. They are diligent and hardworking, and always strive to do their best in everything they do.
- Honesty: Roosters are honest and straightforward people. They are not afraid to tell the truth, even if it may be uncomfortable or unpopular.
- Perfectionism: Roosters are perfectionists and can be very critical of themselves and others. They want things done the right way and can be quite demanding.
- Organization: Those born in the year of the Rooster are very organized people and like to have everything in its place. They are natural planners and can be good leaders.
- Observant: Roosters are observant and analytical. They are able to see details that other people may overlook and are good problem solvers.
- Vain: Roosters can be vain and like to be admired and praised for their appearance and accomplishments. They can sometimes be a bit conceited.
- Conservative: Roosters are conservative people and stick to traditions. They can be a bit stubborn and do not like to change the way they do things.
In Egyptian mythology, Anubis is the dog-headed god who presides over the mummification process and the judgment of the dead in the afterlife. His canine form is believed to symbolize the dog’s ability to detect the smells of death and guide spirits to the other side.
In Greek mythology, the dog is a sacred animal that is associated with the god Hermes and his role as messenger of the gods. Also, in the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, a dog named Cerberus guards the entrance to the underworld.
In Norse mythology, the dog is also considered a sacred and protective animal. In the Ragnarok legend, the dog Garmr is the guardian of the entrance to the realm of the dead and is destined to fight the god of thunder, Thor.
In Celtic mythology, the dog is associated with the god Cernunnos and is believed to represent wildness and a connection to the spirit world. In some legends, dogs are also used as guides and protectors on the journey to the other world.
The dog is the eleventh animal in the zodiac. In Chinese mythology, the dog has an important presence as a sacred and protective animal. The dog appears in many Chinese legends, and is considered an auspicious animal that can ward off evil spirits and protect people from danger.
One of the best-known myths in Chinese mythology is the legend of Panhu, a god who transformed himself into a dog to fight a demon. According to the legend, Panhu turned into a black dog with a golden collar and helped defeat the demon and save people. Since then, the black dog with a golden collar has been considered a good luck and protection animal in Chinese culture.
In Japanese mythology, the dog is a protective and loyal animal that is associated with the god Inari, the god of fertility and prosperity. Also, in the legend of the dog Hachiko, a faithful dog waits for years at the train station for its deceased owner.
Some personality traits associated with people born under the sign of the dog are:
- Loyalty: People born in the year of the dog tend to be loyal and dependable. They are people who can be trusted and who highly value friendship and stable relationships.
- Honesty: Dogs are very honest and sincere animals, and this is reflected in people born in their year. Dogs of the Chinese zodiac are known for being direct and frank, and for always telling the truth.
- Intelligence: Dogs are very intelligent and cunning animals, and people born in their year tend to have these same qualities. They are quick learners and have a good ability to solve problems and make important decisions.
- Protective: Dogs are protective animals by nature, and this is reflected in people born in the year of the dog. They are people who highly value the protection of others and are willing to fight for their friends and family.
- Sensitivity: Dogs are also very sensitive and emotional animals. They are people who care a lot about the feelings of others and have a great ability to empathize and understand others.
In Celtic mythology, the pig was considered a sacred animal associated with fertility and abundance. Its meat and blood were believed to possess healing powers and its fat was used in magical rituals.
In Greek mythology, the pig was associated with the goddess Demeter, goddess of agriculture and fertility. Pig sacrifices were offered to honor her and the animal was believed to be a symbol of prosperity and wealth.
In Egyptian mythology, the pig was considered an impure animal and its consumption was forbidden. The animal was believed to be a symbol of darkness and death and its meat was toxic.
In Chinese mythology, the pig is the last of the twelve animals of the zodiac and is associated with prosperity and fortune.
In Christian mythology, the pig is an impure animal and its consumption is forbidden according to the dietary laws of the Old Testament. It is associated with lust and gluttony, and is believed to represent vices to be avoided.
Here are some personality traits associated with the pig in the Chinese zodiac:
- Kindness and generosity: Pigs are known for their kind nature and their ability to help others. They are very generous and like to share what they have with those in need.
- Honesty and sincerity: Pigs are honest and sincere people who are not afraid to speak their minds. They do not usually have double intentions and do not try to deceive others.
- Sensitivity and empathy: Pigs are very sensitive and can easily perceive the emotions of others. They are empathetic and concerned about the welfare of those around them.
- Tolerance and compassion: Pigs are very tolerant and compassionate towards others. They tend not to judge others and have a great capacity for forgiveness.
- Love of life: Pigs enjoy life and the little things. They like to enjoy food, music and the company of others.
- Lack of ambition: Although they are hard workers, Pigs do not usually have great ambitions. They do not seek power or wealth, but prefer to live a quiet and simple life.