Chinese Horoscope versus Western Astrology
How do Chinese Zodiac signs compare with their Western astrology star sign counterparts?
Both the Western and Chinese horoscope consists of twelve Zodiac signs. Western astrology derives the names for its star signs from the constellations all along the ecliptic, whereas the Chinese Zodiac stems from an ancient myth: the animals are all called to a race by the Jade Emperor in the 6th century B.C. and those who heed the call become the twelve Zodiac animals, ranked by their finishing place in the race. Both systems also have elements in their arsenal, like fire (enthusiastic), earth (practical) and water (emotional). The West has four elements, the fourth one being Air (intellectual). Chinese astrology has five elements, the fourth and fifth being metal (organisational) and wood (exploratory).
The Chinese Zodiac Signs are (in order, beginning with the winner of the Emperor’s race): Rat, Ox (or ‘Water Buffalo'), Tiger, Rabbit (or ‘Cat’), Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat (or ‘Sheep’), Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig (or ‘Wild Boar’).
The Western Zodiac Signs are (in order, beginning with the sign that heralds the Spring Equinox): Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.
Both Western and Chinese horoscopes are actually far more complex than simple Zodiac sign astrology suggests. In Western astrology, you have to also take into account your Ascendant and houses, your Moon sign, the planets and their aspects to give a full horoscope reading. In Chinese astrology too, you’re much more than your Chinese Zodiac sign. A full reading consists of your elements, the balance of yin and yang and the different animals and branches that rule your day, month and hour of your birth.
Despite some superficial similarities, Western and Chinese astrology systems reflect very different world-views. One obvious difference is that your Zodiac sign in the Western horoscope is determined by the month of your birth whereas your Chinese Zodiac sign is determined by the year of your birth. A deeper difference underlying these divisions is that the West uses a solar calendar, its first astrological month beginning at the spring equinox, while the East uses a lunar calendar, each new Chinese sign beginning on the Chinese New Year, which falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice.
So, given these different systems, can we match the Chinese Zodiac to the Western signs in an intelligible way? Actually yes! There are two ways to put the Chinese Zodiac in a 1-1 correspondence with the Western star signs:
- Look for twelve year cycles in Western Astrology: do the Chinese yearly Zodiac animals correspond to a significant Western astrological cycle? Yes. Jupiter takes exactly 12 years to go through the Western Zodiac, spending roughly one year in each star sign. And so, each Chinese Zodiac sign corresponds to a Western star sign, the one that contains Jupiter in that year. As a general rule, Jupiter is in Sagittarius in the year of the Rat, Capricorn in the year of the Ox, Aquarius in the year of the Tiger and so on. But note that this is a purely symbolic correlation, measured in averages and not Jupiter’s actual movement. Going by statistical probability alone, Jupiter would rarely, if ever, change signs at the exact same moment of the Chinese New year and then stay in that sign for the exact required period.
- Find out which Chinese Animal rules which calendar month: each Chinese Zodiac sign has a period of four weeks attributed to it by Chinese astrology. This provides another comparison scale for Chinese and Western signs. Indeed, if you look at this you’ll find that the Chinese new year begins with the Tiger in February, a month which mostly belongs to Aquarius in the Western horoscope. Accordingly, Rabbit covers March, Pisces’ month, Rat covers December, Sagittarius’ month, Ox January, Capricorn’s month and so on. This corroborates the match we get by linking the Chinese animals to Jupiter through the Western signs. And so we have our correspondences!
Chinese to Western Zodiac Equivalent
So without further ado, let’s have a look at the Chinese Zodiac signs versus their Western star sign counterparts!
Rat and Sagittarius
The Rat is extremely clever and adaptable, able to use any situation to its advantage. If you think of the animal itself, it’s a fast learner and a master at taking instant advantage of all and any opportunities to survive and thrive. So, it’s no wonder that Rat is the first animal in the Chinese Zodiac. According to the myth, it used its incredible cunning to outwit the other animals (for instance, the Ox, which carried it across the river on its back) and win the race. The Rat corresponds to Sagittarius in the Western Zodiac, not nearly as cunning but a fitting tribute to always being a winner, since lucky planet Jupiter is right at home in Sagittarius. The Rat is considered a sign of luck and wealth in Chinese astrology and this also fits well with lucky Jupiter being at its most powerful on its own turf, in Sagittarius. Just like the Rat, Sagittarius is an adaptable, mutable sign, able to look for the silver lining in any situation and quickly take advantage of opportunities. Both Western and Eastern counterparts also have the gift of foresight.
Ox and Capricorn
Here we have the builders of East and West! Capricorn is one of the most industrious, bossy and responsible of the Western star signs. It’s highly organised, rational and able to work tirelessly to achieve its ambitions and Ox is no different! Power and steady progress are key-words here. The Ox is solid and strong and so is Capricorn, especially when placed in positions of power, which Capricorn actively seeks out. Both the Eastern Ox and Western Capricorn honour the material world and seek to possess wealth and honours and display symbols of their achievement and worldly success. Both can be rather authoritarian and headstrong. The Chinese Ox corresponds to Jupiter in Capricorn, which gives integrity and many opportunities to rise up the worldly, corporate or political ladder, build something long-lasting and achieve a position of power and respect.
Tiger and Aquarius
Tiger is the rebel of the Chinese Zodiac so no wonder that it corresponds to the Western rebel, Aquarius! Jupiter in Aquarius believes in technology, innovation and in coming together to change the world. Tiger and Aquarius both are highly sociable signs but also intensely individualistic, always having to be part of a group yet set apart from it, unique, free. This is the anti-conformist of the east and west, totally anti-establishment and revolutionary. There are strong leadership skills here and honour, and a strong need for absolute freedom. Neither Tiger nor Aquarius respond well to people telling them what to do and both can be quite disruptive and difficult to live with. Jupiter in Aquarius symbolises luck through progress and going your own way. Luck is where you find your people - an elite group you can belong to yet still be an individual and go your own right. Freedom is essential to these star signs and both can be unpredictable in nature.
Rabbit and Pisces
Just like Pisces, Rabbit is attracted to all things pretty, imaginative and artistic. These signs are dreamers, pacifists and Jupiter in Pisces is a symbol of luck and abundance. The only problem with Rabbit and Pisces is that they can be easily fooled by romance and glamour. Pisces is Jupiter’s second home so no wonder the Rabbit, which corresponds to Jupiter in Pisces, is considered an extremely lucky Chinese animal, bringing wealth and happiness in all areas of life. Rabbit is an escape artist just like Pisces, needing time alone in its own little burrow to escape the woes of the world. It is a peace-loving, imaginative sign and lovely to be around. Rabbit and Pisces are arguably easily taken in by a sob story and can be quite passionate about their views and opinions without necessarily having the research to back those up. There is a protection spell that goes everywhere Rabbit goes and that fits Jupiter in its second home sign Pisces, very well too.
Dragon and Aries
The Dragon is the most venerated of Chinese Zodiac signs with many Chinese people doing their best to plan their pregnancies so that they give birth to Dragon babies! Not quite the same can be said of the Western Zodiac sign Aries but it does hold the number one position in the Western Zodiac. Aries is first and best (at least in Aries’ own head), the launchpad from which everything follows. In that sense, both Dragon and Aries march to their own tune and will never suffer anyone telling them what to do. Dragon is the king and Aries the leader. Jupiter in Aries brings luck to those who become pioneers, who plunge head first into unfamiliar territory and go their own way in life. Both signs are idealistic, expecting - and making it to be the case! - that the world conforms to their vision rather than the other way around. They are not very adaptable but are willing to take a risk to make their dreams come true. Both Dragon and Aries are highly independent and honourable.
Snake and Taurus
Snake is intensely loyal and devoted and so is the sign of the bull, Western Taurus. Once these signs make you their friend, you are friends for life! Both are also pretty shy or introverted, not interested in much of what goes on around, except when it concerns one of their own. Both are strong animals and fierce when challenged! Snake corresponds to Jupiter in Taurus and this is one of the most materialistic placements for Jupiter in the Western Zodiac, bringing money and ensuring your survival. Jupiter in Taurus thinks of luck in earthly terms, seeking to cover the basics but also enjoy earthly delights. Snake is also often concerned with mundane pursuits - like getting a good career, earning money to live well and providing for your loved ones. Both Taurus and Snake are associated with a desire to live lavishly and enjoy luxuries. Both are also intensely sensual and seductive signs, they can be vengeful and lazy and often appear snooty and aloof.
Horse and Gemini
There’s a ‘catch me if you can’ vibe when it comes to both the Chinese Horse and Western Gemini. There’s tons of nervous energy, wit and intelligence in these highly sociable signs. They are fast thinkers, their curiosity excited by every little thing and always looking to kill boredom with new adventures! This is Jupiter in Gemini: multitalented, the jack of all trades and a master connector of dots (and people). ‘Cool’ is Horse’s middle name and that’s true of Gemini too, who never goes in so deep as to end up with pie on their face. Eastern Horse and Western Gemini are the charmers of their respective Zodiacs and equally eager to drop everything for the promise of love! What these signs need is focus (like a horse needs a good rider) if they want to get anywhere. Jupiter in Gemini brings luck through communication and intellectual pursuits.
Goat and Cancer
Here we have two of the most artistic and imaginative signs of the Chinese and Western Zodiacs! The Goat / Sheep is quite peculiar and emotionally volatile and so is its Western counterpart, Cancer. Both Goat and Cancer are talented, sensitive signs, who nonetheless have intense insecurities and need constant care and reassurance to feel at ease. They don’t much like change as their overactive imagination tend to imagine the worst. Cancer is the moodiest of signs and Goat is no different in that respect, often feeling cranky when things don’t go their way. Both Cancer and Goat are also rather materialistic simply because of the security money can afford. The year of the Goat is associated with Jupiter in Cancer, where great emphasis is placed on roots, the home and family or heritage. Any philosophical views or religious beliefs acquired by Goat or Jupiter in Cancer in the early years stay with them for life.
Monkey and Leo
Chinese Monkey corresponds to Leo in the Western horoscope and how fitting, since both signs are masters of showmanship! Monkey loves to play and so does Leo, who’s motto is “let's have fun!” They are both highly creative and bold, willing to take great risks to realise their creations. If anything, Monkey is more flexible, intellectually curious and unconventional than Leo, who’s more loyal, but both put on the same impressive fireworks show, even if Monkey is only just messing with you. This is Jupiter in Leo at its best, not worrying about appearances, just having fun and expressing its creative talent. Both Monkey and Leo abhor the idea of living an ordinary live. Leo is the natural child-king of the Western Zodiac and Monkey is mischievous like a child. Jupiter in Leo, bestows leadership skills and performance talent, which attracts others like moths to a flame. Monkey is also extremely persuasive. Both signs can be quite arrogant and yet so adorable that they can get away with murder.
Rooster and Virgo
Here we have the true sign of the professional. Roosters announce the morning, when it is time to get to work, something both Virgo and Rooster love to do. They are both good teachers, serious thinkers and very concerned with doing a good job. Chinese Rooster’s attention to detail is only matched by that of Virgo in the West. Both signs are analytical, logical and well organised. They like to keep busy, dispense advice to less fortunate souls and keep everybody in check. Jupiter in Virgo, corresponding to the year of the Rooster, has a drive for excellence that is characteristic of these signs and there is absolutely nothing they cannot cope with and excel at. One major difference between the Western Virgo and the Chinese Rooster is that Rooster likes to put itself forward and be seen and admired much more than the its more shy Western counterpart would dare to.
Dog and Libra
Chinese Dog seeks companionship above all things and so does its Western counterpart, Libra. A lonesome dog is a sad sight and so Dog is always in search for its companion and will travel miles to find the One. Again, this is not much different to Libra who is always searching for their soulmate and never gives up until they find them. Jupiter in Libra, in particular, signifies good luck through finding partnership and social connection, but also through being just and fair. In Chinese astrology, Dog is a protector of the underdog and, in the west, Libra is particularly eager to take on the fight for those who cannot defend themselves. Libra will even play Devil’s advocate in the interest of a fair hearing. Dog and Libra both love to fight fair and square and can be fierce when challenged. These are very socially aware signs and, wherever you find them, trouble is not far behind.
Pig and Scorpio
Pig and Scorpio have a penchant for the dark side, for intensity and carnal pleasures! Both signs can be rather pig-headed. Meaning? Nothing can stop a pig once it starts rolling in the mud and nobody can stop a Scorpio once they’ve got you in their sights! These are secretive, private signs who don’t like to share their thoughts with others. Once their mind is made up, they’re stubborn, even dangerous! Both are passionate, although Pig is more naive and idealistic, while Scorpio more cynical and suspicious. Scorpio is the sexiest sign of the Western Zodiac and Pig the raunchiest! Both signs are lustful and greedy for love and money! Pig brings financial abundance in Chinese astrology and Jupiter in Scorpio, too, is often found alongside piles of cash. These signs are intense, concerned with the pursuit of sex, power and intense transformative experiences. This gives Pig a dark edge and an unholy allure to match that of Scorpio in the Western Zodiac.