Westernized Chinese Astrology

by Jaime Silvela, ages and ages ago

So you want to know the secrets of your personality and that of those around you? Look no further, everything is revealed in this original blending of Eastern and Western astrologies. Like mixing alcohol, mixing astrologies is recommendable to attain enlightenment.

If you want to skip right ahead

Here’s an index of this document. You don’t need to read it in any particular order.

  • Crash course in Western astrology
  • Crash course in Chinese astrology
  • The view proposed in this page
  • How to find your sign
  • Descriptions of the signs
  • The philosophy of the signs: elements and qualities

Crash course in Western astrology

Western astrology is motivated by astronomy. The planets, the Sun and the Moon, orbit around the Earth (Copernicus came long after astrology) inside of a plane called the Ecliptic. This plane was divided into 12 angular sectors, each with 30 degrees, named Aries, Taurus, Gemini… Astrology developed by attaching meaning to those sectors, and meaning to the Sun, Moon and planets, and then interpreting what each configuration of planets on sectors meant. The configuration at the time of birth of a person leaves its imprint on that person’s character.

For instance, a person born on January 9th, 1975, had the Sun in Capricorn, Jupiter in Pisces and the moon in Sagittarius. This means this person is a Capricorn, as the Sun is believed the main indicator of personality. Capricorns are methodical, dutiful and conservative. Jupiter influences travel and expansion, and Pisces is the sign of religion, compassion and the occult, so maybe this person will be attracted by the idea of pilgrimages, will be interested in religion where he goes, or might join Doctors Without Borders. The Moon is a strong personality indicator for women, and for men it symbolizes relationship to the mother, and women in general. A man with Moon in Sagittarius will look for women who are adventurous, spiritual and honest.

The plot thickens when you start to calculate rising signs, houses, aspects between planets (conjunctions and so), duads inside each sign, etc. What this does is give you an enormous level of detail that each astrologer interprets in a unique way, and that makes it easy to tailor your native chart. Oh, and luck interpreting stuff like: you’re very masculine because your Mars is in Aries, but you’re sexually ambiguous because your Venus is in Gemini.

Crash course in Chinese astrology

There is no pseudo-scientific explanation to the Chinese Horoscope. Just the legend that Buddha summoned all animals to meet him, and gave special influence to the twelve who came. Chinese astrology is based on the calendar, with each Sign or Animal having influence over one full year until the Chinese new year, celebrated in January or February depending on the year.

As in western astrology, there are refinements. The year’s animal imprints its characteristics on the people born in that year, but there is also the lunar ascendant, of which there is one each month, the travel companion which is determined by the hour of birth, and the elements, which form 10 year cycles. All in all, there are many less variables than in western astrology, and perhaps because of this, the descriptions of Chinese signs are richer and more convincing.

The view in this page

Given the title, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I favor Chinese astrology. However, it has been noted by many people that there is an equivalence between Chinese and Western signs, based on the Chinese lunar ascendants. I take this one step further, and base the yearly Chinese sign on the motion of Jupiter, which spends about 1 year on each sign, and I also adapt some of the machinery of western astrology to give structure to the Chinese signs.

Equivalence between Chinese and Western signs
Rat Sagittarius Ox Capricorn Tiger Aquarius
Rabbit Pisces Dragon Aries Snake Taurus
Horse Gemini Goat Cancer Monkey Leo
Rooster Virgo Dog Libra Pig Scorpio

How to find your sign

You need to find the positions of Jupiter and the Sun at the time of your birth. You can find this on an ephemerides which you can get in Western astrology guides, or also, online.
Here’s and online ephemerides.
Your main sign is given by the position of Jupiter, the position of the Sun gives the secondary sign, a more subtle influence.

Once you have them, use the conversion table below to find your equivalent signs. One caveat: if you were born in the Southern hemisphere, you should look at your opposite sign (that is, add or subtract 6 signs from your sign). For instance, an Aussie with the Jupiter in Cancer should consider he has Jupiter in Capricorn. Why, I hear you cry? Well, it doesn’t make sense to me that Leo should be considered, the sign of the Sun when August is winter down South. But hey, if you prefer your old sign more power to you because astrology, is, after all, just another pointless but fun pursuit.

Equivalence between Chinese and Western signs
Aries Dragon
Taurus Snake
Gemini Horse
Cancer Goat
Leo Monkey
Virgo Rooster
Libra Dog
Scorpio Pig
Sagittarius Rat
Capricorn Ox
Aquarius Tiger
Pisces Rabbit

Descriptions of the signs

Rat (Jupiter in Sagittarius)

This is the fastest of animals, with the gift of foresight and great cleverness and adaptability. Rats are venerated in Chinese astrology as a sign of wealth and good fortune. The Rat has a brilliant mind, is a great strategist and is believed to have the gift of prophecy. Always busy with some project, always thinking ahead, the Rat is never caught by surprise. They make eloquent talkers and quick listeners, and have an innate understanding of the human mind. Although the appear calm, inside they tend to be nervous, even slightly neurotic, their mind just can’t stop working. Though they make happy and loyal friends, they’re not above manipulating people to achieve their goals, and they can be quite aggressive and covetous. The Rat has a certain charisma that makes it a natural leader, and it is one of the most seductive signs, if it can control its temper.

Famous Rats

Woody Allen, Maria Callas, John McEnroe, Jackson Pollock, Copernicus, Emma Thompson, Vincent van Gogh, Alan Turing, Henry David Thoreau, Antoine de Saint Exupery, Cameron Diaz, Lance Armstrong, Queen Elisabeth I, Hillary Clinton.

Ox (Jupiter in Capricorn)

The Ox is the most industrious of signs. He has an organized and logical mind, a keen eye for detail, and a very high work capacity. The Ox tends to do things by the book, with a methodical approach, and can hone his considerable skills to perfection. The Ox is a builder, capable of forming a big network of professional relationships, and probably becoming the head of a family. For the Ox, duty is sacred, and he tends to become impatient with sloppiness and laziness. He insists in having things done his way, and can become furious if his orders are not obeyed. The Ox will appreciate the material signs of success, and is quite ambitious. He succeeds by his integrity, perseverance and talent, but is set back by his difficulty to cope with change and his occasional roughness and authoritarianism.

Famous Oxen

Walt Disney, Beethoven, Zidane, Marlene Dietrich, Richard Nixon, Yukio Mishima, Robert Altman, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Chaplin, Colin Powell, Malcolm X, Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler, Bono, Gary Cooper, Saddam Hussein, Madeleine Albright, Bruce Springsteen, Margaret Thatcher, Oscar Wilde, Eminem, Albert Camus, Andre Malraux, Marie Curie.

Tiger (Jupiter in Aquarius)

The Tiger is the original mover and shaker of the Chinese horoscope. Rebellious, energetic, youthful and charismatic, the Tiger tends to question authority and status quo, and can easily gather a following thanks to his charm. The Tiger loves challenges and danger, and thanks to his quick reflexes, bravery and sheer luck, he tends to come out the winner. The Tiger will wither in an environment that is too structured, he needs room to roam and possibilities for adventure. In fact, the Tiger will insert a bit of chaos and aggression to make things lively wherever he goes, but is ultimately a benevolent sign, ready to drop things in order to help a friend in distress. The Tiger’s life and career will not be linear, but will show a certain erratic nature and sudden changes. However, thanks to his energy and courage, he stands high chances of success. The Tiger is a born seducer, but his mood swings and unpredictable nature make him difficult to follow. This is the sign for revolutionaries.

Famous Tigers

Romy Schneider, George Eliot, Jim Carrey, Mark Spitz, Charles Lindbergh, Axl Rose, Peter Gabriel, Thomas Paine, Lewis Carrol, Albert Einstein, John Steinbeck, Michelangelo, Nijinski, Nureyev, Hugh Heffner, Dennis Rodman, Ho Chi Minh, Marylin Monroe, Lady Di, Carl Lewis, Manu Chao, Agatha Christie, Groucho Marx, Evel Knievel, Charles de Gaulle, Ted Turner.

Rabbit (Jupiter in Pisces)

After the danger and adventures faced by the Tiger, the Rabbit is a sign that knows how to enjoy the little things. Not to say that this sign lacks ambition, but it tends to look for wealth and prestige rather than more grand plans of heroism or world domination. The Rabbit succeeds thanks to his good manners, thoughtfulness and subtlety. He’s a quick thinker and knows to get out of the way of trouble. He needs a home away from the concerns of the world, where he can spend quality time reading his books, listening to his music and taking it easy. Rabbits are quite the gourmets, in a general sense. They’re always seeking new pleasures whether in art, food or whatever they enjoy. This is an ideal sign for collectors. People generally like the Rabbit, who stays out of their business and has an innate poise. However, Rabbits can sometimes be supercilious, too conservative, and intellectually pretentious. They can easily become dilettantes. Rabbits enjoy mystery, and have themselves a mysterious enigmatic quality.

Famous Rabbits

Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stalin, Ralph Fiennes, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Jordan, Charles Darwin, Douglas MacArthur, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Ford Coppola, Orson Welles, Penélope Cruz, Leonardo da Vinci, Jay Leno, Tom Cruise, George Orwell, Richard Branson, Nietzsche, Cervantes, Erwin Rommel, Leonardo di Caprio.

Dragon (Jupiter in Aries)

The Dragon is a sign full of vitality, independence, and the wish to challenge itself. Dragons have their own ideas about the world, and their own code of honor, and live according to them no matter what anyone says. They are honest, hardworking and loyal but are not interested in regular jobs or a regular life: their rather grand imagination propels them to find adventures and challenges to exert themselves; they are bored by mundane goals. Dragons are good communicators and can easily make friends and influence people, but are very independent and will go their own way. They are idealists, and their goal is to transform the world to fit their ideal. They will often be successful thanks to their insight, willingness to take risks, and capacity for work, but they can be excessively confident, too high and mighty, and unwilling to compromise. They also tend to spark conflicts and trample over others’s feelings.

Famous Dragons

Francisco Franco, Sergei Bubka, Gustave Flaubert, Tiger Woods, Jeff Bezos, Jack Nicklaus, Francis Bacon, Ayn Rand, Ariel Sharon, Chopin, Georg Cantor, Charles Baudelaire, Bela Bartok, Rene Descartes, Serge Gainsbourg, Gregory Peck, Sterling Hayden, Gary Kasparov, Conan O’Brien, Al Pacino, Salvador Dalí, Jet Li, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Zhang Yimou, Sting.

Snake (Jupiter in Taurus)

The Snake is venerated in Chinese astrology as the sign of beauty and wisdom. The Snake is elegant, poised and has an innate sense of measure and moderation. He possesses a sharp critical mind and a keen eye for detail, and is not easily fooled. He wonders about the world, questioning conventional wisdom, and has a philosophical vein. Not fond of great exertions of force, the Snake achieves goals little by little, using strategy, technique and compromise. His ambitions are high but mundane in nature: he wants a good career and seeks the luxuries money can buy. He’s a great enjoyer of the material pleasures, and a native seducer; in fact, his need to seduce can lead him astray. Although the Snake is sociable, he’s very independent and will cultivate a certain distance that makes him appear aloof. He’s a devoted friend and can spend long hours taking care of someone in need. However, the Snake is known for a certain tendency to become possessive and manipulative. The Snake finds success thanks to its clear mind, acute perception, and patience, but can be vengeful, vain and lazy.

Famous Snakes

Bruce Lee, Joseph Conrad, Noam Chomsky, Martin Luther King, Mao Zedong, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dick Cheney, Plácido Domingo, Virginia Woolf, Paul Krugman, Bernardo Bertolucci, Audrey Hepburn, Lenin, Joan Miró, Bob Dylan, John F. Kennedy, Miguel Indurain, Henry VIII, Jean Paul Sartre, Stanley Kubrick, Andy Warhol, John Lennon, Vladimir Putin, François Miterrand, Pablo Picasso.

Horse (Jupiter in Gemini)

The Horse is hyperactive, popular, sexy, classy, and a very fast thinker. Always looking for new adventures, friendly, possessing many talents, the Horse is the original cool guy. The Horse likes being the first at the finish line, he is quite competitive, just for the pleasure of exerting himself fully. He can be a driven workaholic, provided his job can keep him on his toes; otherwise he will soon leave to seek new challenges. The Horse enjoys social occasions, and thanks to his good looks, wit and eloquence, is generally the life of the party and very popular with the opposite sex. But the Horse is also too fast for his own good, and he can carelessly trod on other people’s feelings, or lose chances because of impatience. He was not made for the careful consideration of subtleties, but for exploring new terrain and galloping with energy. The Chinese horoscope says the Horse is the only sign that can take several paths at once, but is capable of leaving everything for love.

Famous Horses

Ben Stiller, Jane Austen, Mohammed Ali, Howard Stern, Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Lord Byron, Rudy Giuliani, William Holden, Steve McQueen, Dennis Quaid, Richard Feynman, Tony Blair, Clint Eastwood, Liz Hurley, Igor Stravinski, J.K. Rowling, Aldous Huxley, Slobodan Milosevic, Robert Mitchum, Yasser Arafat, Alicia Silverstone, Jesse Jackson, Grace Kelly, Theodore Roosevelt.

Goat (Jupiter in Cancer)

The Goat is the artist of the Horoscope. Talented, having a peculiar vision of the world, the Goat is also insecure and fearful, and needs a caring environment around to assure him that he’s good. He has an artistic ideal that he’s trying to build in the world, and will be permanently dissatisfied until he achieves it. The Goat will be cranky if he doesn’t get his way. Although the Goat is fragile and often feels threatened and misunderstood, he can gather great force from his strong belief in his internal vision. In fact, the Goat can have difficulties to adapt to changes in his environment, and can disregard signs of danger. The Goat is a sweet and imaginative companion, and probably operates best by association with someone who can relieve him of the pain of dealing with the world and its conventions. Money is much appreciated as a buyer of freedom, and Goats can be capitalists even if they swear they will never wear a tie.

Famous Goats

Bjork, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Benjamin Franklin, J.D. Salinger, Michael Mann, James Dean, Roberto Baggio, Boris Yeltsin, Bruce Willis, Steve Jobs, Gorbachev, Bobby Fischer, Kurt Cobain, John Major, Katharine Hepburn, Debra Winger, Catherine the Great, Paul McCartney, Laurence Olivier, Eric Cantona, Ingmar Bergman, Kafka, Carl Orff, George Soros, Lilia Podkopayeva, Benito Mussolini, Moby, Kobe Bryant, Michael Crichton, Bram Stoker.

Monkey (Jupiter in Leo)

The Monkey is the game player of the Horoscope. He never quite believes what he sees, and likes trying different strategies to solve problems. A very original thinker, his opinions are multifaceted and unconventional. With this goes certain mischievous maliciousness. The Monkey just doesn’t care for the mundane, and although he can feign conformity to the rules for convenience, inside he’s making fun of the whole thing. Monkeys have extremely flexible and sharp minds, and can solve problems that appear intractable. They tend to be intellectual and critical, but always have a façade of humour to help overcome their frequent disappointments. The Monkey would like to believe, but his curiosity makes him always wonder and question, and generally lose faith. Though very active, the Monkey disdains routine. Anyway he can get away with that thanks to his persuasiveness, flexibility, and his ability to turn arguments around. The Monkey can be indolent, dishonest and manipulative.

Famous Monkeys

Terrence Malick, John Kerry, Federico Fellini, Umberto Eco, Valentino Rossi, Jerry Springer, David Lean, Ashley Judd, Patricia Arquette, Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Euler, Gerhard Schröder, Lars von Trier, George Lucas, William Shakespeare, Ian Fleming, Richard Wagner, Joe Montana, Robert de Niro, Robert Crumb, Jean Piaget, Mick Jagger, Julio Iglesias, Barbara Walters, Buster Keaton, Bill Gates.

Rooster (Jupiter in Virgo)

The Rooster is the teacher of the Horoscope. He has an original mind, is a quick thinker, and has a very good eye for detail. He is also organized, obsessively clean, and very concerned with appearance, especially its own. A dynamic sign, he likes to keep himself busy and is a multitasker. Since he’s analytical and very organized, he usually ends up taking care of other people’s business and dispensing advice. In fact he likes to think out loud and show his originality and logic thought. He can be quite the exhibitionist, and is generally popular and well regarded. However, his incessant advice and criticism, and a certain bossiness, make the Rooster hard to take at times. Also, he tends to lose the big picture because of his attention to detail. The Chinese call the Rooster the small Dragon, and legend says that he is capable of digging food out of the ground by force of his perseverance.

Famous Roosters

Jaques Chirac, Mel Gibson, Sergio García, Susan Sontag, Michael Caine, Victor Hugo, Pat Riley, Severiano Ballesteros, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Houdini, Frank Capra, Renée Zellweger, Louis Farrakhan, Steffi Graf, Eddy Merckx, Frances McDormand, John Glenn, Alexandre Dumas, David Copperfield, Michael Douglas, Will Smith, Martina Navratilova, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Julia Roberts, Sylvia Plath, Gene Tierney.

Dog (Jupiter in Libra)

The Dog is the alarmist and firefighter of the Horoscope. He’s always alert and smells trouble brewing. When trouble finally breaks out, he likes to be there giving orders to solve the crisis. Dogs tend to be funny, lively and witty, they are very sociable and they often have a quick temper and an acerbic tongue. Well suited to popularity, they will nonetheless not stop worrying about the troubles ahead. They also tend to warn others constantly about trouble, and this can make the Dog a difficult friend. Can’t he just take it easy and enjoy the present? Well, only for short periods of time, in which he knows how to be gregarious and charming, but you’ll thank having such an alert friend when you’re in trouble. The Dog tends to be the very visible defender of the weak and denouncer of foul play. He then attacks, and he can bite! The Dog dreams of heroic acts, awards, and a successful career. He tends to always be in some sort of trouble, but thanks to his know-how, wit and vitality he often comes out unscathed.

Famous Dogs: Winston Churchill, Christina Aguilera, Marilyn Manson, Michael Schumacher, Joan of Arc, Jennifer Aniston, Javier Bardem, Ralph Nader, George Washington, Otto von Bismark, Cher, Anna Kournikova, Donald Trump, Naomi Campbell, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Phil Jackson, Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, Hristo Stoichkov, Richard Virenque, Martin Luther, George Patton, Larry King

Pig (Jupiter in Scorpion)

The Pig is an honest, idealistic and romantic sign. He generally doesn’t allow himself to bother others, even when he’s in trouble. And because of his naïve character, the Pig does get in trouble. The Chinese say once the Pig starts rolling in the mud, he can’t stop. The Pig is generally doubtful and tries to research his decisions to make sure he’s correct, but once his mind is made up, his determination makes him unstoppable. He can be quite a force of nature, and when he’s on the move, he can have a dangerous temper. Although the Pig is scrupulous and idealistic, his judgment is not always reliable and he can get involved in dirty business. He is a great enjoyer and accumulator of material pleasures, and can become greedy and materialistic. The Pig is considered the most voluptuous, even raunchy, of signs, and is said to have a dark beauty, in contrast with the Snake’s ethereal elegance. Generally liked by all because of his caring nature, honesty, and ability to enjoy life, the Pig needs good advisors to not fall astray.

Famous Pigs

Steven Spielberg, Britney Spears, Ava Gardner, Humphrey Bogart, Linus Torvalds, Hoagy Carmichael, Elvis Presley, Jack London, Al Capone, David Bowie, Sharon Stone, Jean Harlow, Tennesee Williams, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Andre Agassi, Johan Cruyff, Henry Kissinger, Ernest Hemingway, Alfred Hitchcock, Earvin Magic Johnson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Napoleon Bonaparte, T.E. Lawrence, Michael Jackson, Charles Manson.

The Philosophy of the Signs. Elements and qualities

OK, here’s my nod to Western astrology, which has a nice classification of the signs according to two criteria. Chinese astrology also has a grouping of signs, but it makes less sense, to me at least. However, I like the Chinese choice of elements more than the Western, so here’s my original and capriciously cunning synthesis.

The Elements

If you put the 12 animals on a circle, and make a set taking every fourth sign, you can do it in four ways, giving you 4 sets of 3 signs each. These are the elements, and give an idea of the temperament of a sign - or person.

Water: Rat, Dragon, Monkey

Water signs are intuitive, good communicators, flexible. They rely always an their own internal judgment, and question conventional wisdom. They don’t quite care about social standing, and always seek new situations and growth opportunities. They are open minded, confident, and adaptable but can end up scattering in too many directions, or taking the easy way out of things. Their strengths are their flexibility, critical spirit and capacity to persuade, but they can be overconfident in their own judgement, and can lack focus.

Metal: Ox, Snake, Rooster

Metal signs are great appreciators of detail, beauty and external appearance. They are community oriented and their network of family, friends and business connections is ever growing. Their judgement is based on keen observation, conferral with others, and logic, but sometimes they can get lost in the details. They show and require respect, responsibility, organization and logic, and have high chances of success in society. Their strong sense of duty comes coupled with humor and good taste, but their high standards and unwillingness to change their ways can alienate others.

Fire: Tiger, Horse, Dog

Fire signs are warm, exuberant, active and competitive. They are alert observers of their environment and are ready to strike when trouble comes up. They also have a quick temper and can spark trouble themselves! They are influenced by people’s opinion, and they look for, and often find, popularity and success. Their force is their dynamism, focus, bravery and competitive nature, but they can be insensitive and unwilling to question themselves. Their readiness for trouble, and enjoyment of the limelight, can also tire others.

Wood: Rabbit, Goat, Pig

Wood signs are at once fragile and tough. They are sensitive and tend to obsessively examine their emotions. They often feel troubled, and build themselves shells where they can escape from the rat race and take comfort. They know how to enjoy culture, friends or parties, and can in fact neglect their obligations. However, they can also have an almost unbreakable determination, ambition and faith in their own interior voices. The Wood signs are bringers of comfort and culture, but can be impractical and capricious.

The Qualities

If you put the 12 animals on a circle, and make a set taking every third sign, you can do it in three ways, giving you 3 sets of 4 signs each. These are the qualities, which give an idea of the role played by signs.

Searchers: Rat, Rabbit, Horse, Rooster

These signs are quick thinkers, and tend to anticipate themselves to events. They enjoy novelty and don’t want to be caught unaware. They enjoy leading the way to new grounds and new adventures, often at the expense of leaving other matters unfinished. After all, they are somewhat impatient and get bored. Because they want to be able to keep moving and exploring, they will try to keep possibilities open and won’t like others prying or trying to enclose them to a fixed schedule.

Builders: Ox, Dragon, Goat, Dog

These signs are coherent, intense and talented. They have detailed ideals, and they want to bring them to reality. Once they’re busy, they can become bossy and demanding, and their standards can be very high. They have the ability to think things through, carry out plans, and impose order, but they can become obsessive and tyrannical. Generally, these are the signs that will make things happen, and they are dependable, solid companions.

Experimenters: Tiger, Snake, Monkey, Pig

These signs are the bringers of the unexpected. They are always wondering. What if things could be done differently? They also wonder about their own roles and personalities. In the midst of so much wondering, they will sometimes plunge ahead with an idea that is only half-baked, but that can hit the mark in a way nobody had expected. Other times, the outcome will not be so happy and they will make a big mess of things. They make for excellent innovators, but can also be too unpredictable, and on occasion careless or even negligent.