Most people in the West today are familiar with the twelve animal signs of Chinese astrology, each governing a lunar year and bringing to it, and to the people born in that year, its own individual personality. What is not so widely known is that these animal names were a later addition, dating from the time of the Lord Buddha who, according to legend, assigned a year to each of the twelve animals who came to bid him farewell on his departure from Earth.
In ancient Chinese astrological lore, however, which is now 4,692 years old, the study of horoscopes were based primarily on the theory of the Twelve Earth Branches governed by the twelve-year lunar cycle. Before each year had been given an animal name, these were identified by their earth branches only. In this book I have used the proper branch terms as well as the animal names to identify and classify twelve basic character types, and because the study of human interaction lies at the core of Chinese horoscopes, I have shown the twelve branches in their associated groupings on the Relationship Tree, as a simple way of illustrating how the different personalities relate to and react against one another. Interaction between the earth branches or lunar animal signs is comprehensively explained in everyday terms and examples. By learning how to identify yourself with the correct earth branch you will automatically remember the ranking order and the branch number, which is hard to do when using only the animal names.
For example, if I were to say simply that you are a Dragon, you would not know immediately that the Dragon is actually another name for the fifth earth branch, called Chen.
In Chinese astrology and numerology, the position and order of each branch play a significant role and in the Chinese almanac and historical treatise of astrology lunar signs are referred to by their earth branches, not by their colorful mythical animal names. After reading this book you will know that the fifth earth branch (the Dragon) is most compatible with the first (the Rat) and the ninth (the Monkey) branches and that these three form the First Triangle of Affinity. Furthermore, the fifth branch is in conflict with the eleventh branch (the Dog) which is located opposite it in the Circle of Conflict. In this circle, an odd number is ranged against another odd number directly facing it, while an even-numbered branch will likewise find the most difficulty with another even-numbered branch, 180 degrees away.
Special sets of characteristics are found in each of the twelve types according to its earth branch. These interact with one another in a myriad ways and degrees of intensity. Optimum ways to get desired results, defuse antagonism or discover the most workable approach when dealing with one or more lunar personality types are suggested here.
Don't be surprised if you find that you possess the characteristics of several of the earth branches. This is normal, as few of us are pure signs. In addition to our year signs, we all carry the traits of our ascendant signs which rule our birth hours, as well as our personal month's sign governed by the Twenty-Four Segments. The twenty-four segments are synchronized with all the Western Zodiac signs so it is easy to identify which of the twelve earth branches your Western sign belongs to. For instance, Sagittarius is the first earth branch, Capricorn is the second, Aquarius is linked with the third branch and so on, with Scorpio as the twelfth and last earth branch.
To discover the ruling Earth branch of your Western astrological sign based on the month of your birth, please refer to the following chart. This third 'branch', after the year of birth and the time of birth, also plays a significant role in shaping our personalities and relationships. It is relevant to point out that the segments coincide to the exact day of the Western astrological signs and were marked by Chinese festivals to establish their importance further.The Earth Branches in the Twenty-Four Segments of the Chinese AlmanacEarth branch......Western sign......Dates
1st = Rat......Sagittarius......November 22 to December 21
2nd = 0x......Capricorn......December 22 to January 20
3rd = Tiger......Aquarius......January 21 to February 19
4th = Rabbit......Pisces......February 20 to March 20
5th = Dragon......Aries......March 21 to April 19
6th = Snake......Taurus......April 20 to May 20
7th = Horse......Gemini......May 21 to June 21
8th = Sheep......Cancer......June 22 to July 21
9th = Monkey......Leo......July 22 to August 21
10th = Rooster......Virgo......August 22 to September 22
11th = Dog......Libra......September 23 to October 22
12th = Boar......Scorpio......October 23 to November 21
You will find four sets of triangles in the Chinese cycle of Twelve Earth Branches. These are Triangles of Affinity and they are made up as follows:
1 Triangle of the Doers: Rat--first; Dragon--fifth; Monkey-- month.
2 Triangle of the Thinkers: Ox--second; Snake--sixth; Rooster--tenth.
3 Triangle of the Protectors: Tiger--third; Horse--seventh; Dog--eleventh.
4 Triangle of the Catalysts: Rabbit--fourth; Sheep--eighth; Boar--twelfth.
These four sets of triangles and the resulting interpersonal relationships woven by their interaction will give more insight into the different personality types as revealed by Chinese astrology.
Chinese culture is in itself a most colourful fabric of intricate relationships. Finely woven in brilliant hues and exquisite designs, everything is based on interaction among groups or individuals likely to have the best chance of success. Working on tried and true principles which would produce the highest ratio of affinity or the least amount of discord was the goal of civilised Chinese society.
Success was considered synonymous with good working relationships, the ability and perseverance to make profitable use of the right contacts. Everyone had to possess or develop guan xi
which were the special channels for getting things done. Guan xi
was indispensable. Politically, militarily, personally and commercially, these interlocking relations lubricated the wheels of everyone's life. The careful cultivation of relationships created influential ties that bound and nurtured, and gave birth to opportunities where none existed before.
Of course, present-day guan xi is a polluted word in China and is also used to refer to corruption, bribery or undue influence (going by the 'back door'). However, the essential meaning of guan xi
is that it matters greatly to have the right connections in the right places. Guan xi
is only valued when used, so it is an art to know how to recognize and exploit the opportunities available, and the human ties that result must be acknowledged and honored. It is a system of favors for favors, information for information and mutual exchanges of special treatment. It is the eastern equivalent of clout.
To the realistic Chinese, there are no short cuts in forming and maintaining relationships. People go to painstaking lengths to make the proper links and realize that alliances are never permanent or total--situations could change with the weather. As a rule, nothing is in writing and does not need to be. The links may be as tough and malleable as a fine strand of steel or as transitory as blowing straw. Needs and wants must be carefully evaluated and one must frequently be prepared to ask or accept trade-offs not to one's liking. Time limits are loosely adhered to and can stretch into the next generation if family ties are involved. All relationships bring mutual obligations and are often graded according to the degree of involvement required. In Chinese culture, human interaction is an essential exercise in any sphere of society and must be studied in order to achieve the skills necessary to make relationships work.
This ageless tradition has not changed. Relationships open doors for us. Relationships bring us in contact with people who can effect changes in our lives or make us part of a bigger, better team. Relationships foster synergy and symbiotic bonds. Relationships help us manage what we find unmanageable. Relationships bring influence and control over what was previously not within our grasp. It may sound simplistic, but in the end, everything boils down to good, workable relationships. Society cannot exist without them and we must accept that we are all social animals trying to co-exist harmoniously.
Modern MBAs have created all kinds of new names for relationships. It is now called 'networking' or being part of the 'loop'. People have to 'bond' through sports, common interests, special dubs or experiences in life. Joining up with the right party or parties is the main aim. The link-up of a network is essential to making it in today's world--both personally and in business.
We are all encouraged to send emissaries to sound out the competition and check out their influence. Before any decisions can be made, we must have feedback of how they are linked with other players. News travels through special 'information corridors' or 'highways'. When relations break down or disagreements ensue, we need arbitrators to work out our differences and hopefully patch things up before it is too late. Mediation is highly sought after. Whether we are busy mending broken fences of friendship or romance, building new bridges of communication, making connections to other networks or simply expanding our sphere of influence, we are employing the basic principles of finding and making good relationships.
In this book I shall explain the positive and negative attributes of each earth branch and show how to understand and work with each of the twelve basic personalities of the lunar cycle. Perhaps once you learn to recognize individual traits in yourself and in others, you will be able to deal rationally and objectively with problems that may arise. If one distances oneself, it is easier to observe the subject with a better perspective and thus find or create a workable solution.
You may want to come back to this introduction after reading other chapters in the book, as the charts and tables are provided here for easy reference should you become sidetracked or confused. The brief but comprehensive summary given here can be likened to attending a dinner party where one meets twelve guests for the first time. At first it is difficult to remember all the names of so many new people, but once the preliminaries are over we can get to know each personality better as one chapter is devoted to each of them. Then the introductory part becomes dearer and more comprehensible the second time round.
The Relationship Tree of the Twelve Earth Branches, used throughout this book, was conceived as a symbolic, living home to express the unity of the twelve lunar personality types. The cycle of the Twelve Earth Branches, also referred to as the lunar animal signs, has always been presented in linear form in Chinese horoscopes. I first divided the twelve signs into four independent groups of three signs each and called them 'Triangles of Affinity' in my previous book, The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes.
Each of the residents of the four triangles possesses similar traits and a common outlook. The signs within each duster of affinity will band together and work with each other amicably. Their numerical values are based on the Yang or active male attributes for the odd numbers, versus the Yin or feminine attributes for the even numbers. The first and third triangles are made up of odd-numbered branches while the second and the fourth triangles are made up of the even-numbered branches. Since there are equal pairs of even and odd numbers, everything balances out in the end, there is no strength and no weakness. Like the Tai Ch'i, the ultimate principle of all matter, the goal is to achieve equilibrium. When there is equilibrium or 'give and take' in a relationship, we can truly say there is harmony.
To show that in unity there is also diversity, each branch has its own individual traits and has been assigned its own personality name.Characteristics of the Twelve Earth BranchesBranch name......Animal name......Personality type
1st= Zi......Rat......Initiator......'I do'
10th=You......Rooster......Administrator 'I count'
11th=Xu......Dog......Guardian 'I watch'
Long before psychologists came on the scene, put name tags on the different types of personality and classified us according to groups, the ancient Chinese did a great deal of research and typecasting of their own, based on carefully kept records of arranged marriages, choice of mentors, unions of clansmen, business enterprises, partnerships and conglomerates. This whole intriguing science could simply be defined as 'knowing people'. My interpretations of the descriptions and interactions between the Twelve Earth Branches are but a humble attempt at summarizing this complex and intricate relationship system based on Chinese horoscopes. Common patterns of behavior, thought processes, affinity, incompatibility and predictable reactions of each personality type defined in this book were developed through my study of the Chinese zodiac to bring new light in building the best possible personal and business relationships.
Excerpted from Chinese Horoscopes Guide to Relationship by Theodora Lau. Copyright © 1997 by Theodora Lau. Excerpted by permission of Main Street Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.