For thousands of years, the Chinese have used their astrology and religion to
establish a harmony between people and the world around them.

The exact origins of the twelve animals on the Chinese astrology - the Rat,
Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig -
remain a mystery.  Nevertheless, these animals are important in Chinese
astrology. They are much more than general signposts to the year and to the
possible good or bad times ahead of us all. The twelve animals of Chinese
astrology are considered to be a reflection of the Universe itself.

The many differences in our natures, moods, health, and fortunes reflect
the wider changes within the Universe. The Chinese believe that every single
thing in the Universe is held in balance by the dynamic, cosmic forces of yin
and yang. Yin (white side) is feminine, watery, and cool; the force of the
Moon and the rain. Yang (black side) is masculine, solid, and hot; the force
of the Sun and the Earth. According to ancient Chinese belief, the
concentrated essences of yin and yang became the four seasons, and the
scattered essences of yin and yang became the myriad creatures that are found
on Earth.

The twelve animals of Chinese astrology are all associated with either yin or
yang. The forces of yin rise as Winter approaches. These forces decline with
the warmth of Spring, when yang begins to assert itself. Even in the course
of a normal day, yin and yang are at work, constantly changing and balancing.
These forces also naturally rise and fall within us all.

Everyone has their own internal balance of yin and yang.  This affects our
tempers, ambitions, and health. We also respond to the changes of weather, to
the environment, and to the people who surround us.

All that we can touch, taste or see is divided into five basic types of
elements - wood, fire, earth, gold, and water. Everything in the Universe can
be linked to one of these elements.

For example, the element of gold is linked to the Monkey and to the Rooster.
This element is also linked to the color white, acrid-tasting food, the
season of Autumn, and the emotion of sorrow. The activity of these elements
indicates the fortune that may befall us.

Chinese astrology can help you balance your yin and yang. It can also tell
you which element you are, and the colors, tastes, parts of the body, or
emotions that are linked to your particular sign. Your fortune can be
prophesied according to the year, month, day and hour in which you were born.
You can identify the type of people to whom you are attracted, and the career
that will suit your character. You can understand your changes of mood, your
reactions to other places and to other people. In essence, you can start to
discover what makes you an individual.

Rat - Yang - Water
Ox - Yin - Earth
Tiger - Yang - Wood
Rabbit - Yin - Wood
Dragon - Yang - Earth
Snake - Yin - Fire
Horse - Yang - Fire
Ram - Yin - Earth
Monkey - Yang - Gold
Rooster - Yin - Gold
Dog - Yang - Earth
Pig - Yin - Water

So goes the first lesson of Chinese astrology.