During this Lunar New Year period, traditional news and social media provide a lot of coverage about the Chinese Spring Festival. There are usually articles about the 12 zodiac signs.
To the common man in the street, it is already a challenge to remember all 12 animals of the zodiac, as compared to me who has been working in this profession of Feng Shui and Ba Zi, who has this information on my fingertips. It is a bit more technical, as they are called the 12 Di Zi / Earthly Branches, but I will write this in a simple to understand way.
Many by now will be familiar with the 5 Elements of Chinese metaphysics, or wú xíng. These 5 elements are not static, they are dynamic in that they are constantly interacting with each other.
There is a circular sequence of "producing in":
Wood -> Fire -> Earth -> Metal -> Water -> Wood
And a circular sequence of "controlling in"
Wood -> Earth -> Water -> Fire -> Metal -> Wood
The "producing in" circular sequence is used for the Chinese calendar. For each of the 12 zodiac signs, we pair them up with one of the five elements, resulting in a total of 60 pairs (technical name sexagenary cycle). So, for example, for the Pig sign, there are:
Metal Pig, and
Hence the title of this article, 5 Elements 5 Pigs.
Just as an interesting aside, the 60 pairs represents a full cycle, which is why in Chinese customs, the 60th birthday is a big celebration. It celebrates the completion of a full cycle of 60 years, and it is called 六十大寿 (60th grand longevity). *edit 10 Feb 2019
There is Mathematics in using the 5 elements and the 12 zodiac signs even though they seem to be non-numerical nouns. When you follow the "producing in" sequence of the 5 elements on the paired Pig signs, you can count in multiples of 12.
For example, Wood comes before Fire, and so we know that someone born in the year of the Wood Pig is 12 years older than the Fire Pig. As Earth comes after Fire, we know that the Earth Pig is 12 years younger than the Fire Pig.
In reality when you see a young adult and a teenager together who say they were both born in the year of the Pig, this method of pairing up the zodiac signs with elements can help us deduce that they are either 12 years or 24 years apart in age, plus judgement on how physically old they look like.
And if you can further memorise the sequence of the 12 zodiac signs, you can work out people's age by knowing their zodiac signs; which is useful for making conversations. This is very different from the western Gregorian calendar that uses numerical system. The Chinese calendar system may use Chinese characters, but in the end the calculation of age is still mathematical, just that numbers are not used to denote the year.
If you are interested in Chinese metaphysics, then you have to take it a step further by memorising the 12 Di Zi names of the zodiac signs, because that is the universal language that all practitioners use in Ba Zi birth charts and Feng Shui methods.
zǐ - Rat
chǒu - Ox
yín - Tiger
mǎo - Rabbit
chén - Dragon
sì - Snake
wǔ - Horse
wèi - Goat
shēn - Monkey
yǒu - Rooster
xū - Dog
hài - Pig
One last fact to end this article, the Pig or Hài is the last sign of the 12 in sequence. Next year, the circular sequence starts at zǐ or Rat again.
All the graphics in this article are produced by me, Mr. Chua and the article is written by me. If you want to reproduce in part or full, please quote origin Pure Feng Shui, Mr. Chua and the web site address.