In Chinese astrology Ox is after Rat and 2009 is the year of the Ox. In the very beginnings of Chinese astrology, over 3 000 years ago they named the 12 Earthly branches after animals. The 10 Heavenly stems were also named, and this helped people keep the time as well as know when the seasons were changing.
It made sense to name the 12 Earthly stems after animals as people found them simple to relate to and most Chinese people were illiterate in those times. The animals are simple to identify with and consist of mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig in that order.
Legend tells that Buddha was celebrating Chinese New Year and he invited all animals to partake of the festivities. Unfortunately only these 12 animals arrive. In honor of them he named the years after them. There are other variations of this story, but for the purposes of this information we shall use this one. People who are born in the year of the animal it is represented by are supposed to have some traits of these animals inherent in them.
On top of each of the animal cycle, you find a cycle of the five elements; these are wood, fire, earth, metal (gold) and water. Unlike western elements, earth, wind, fire water and surprise (just kidding about the last element!). The year sign of the person would then be a gold dragon, wood dog, etcetera. In ancient times match making took place in China and couples were brought together under compatible signs. The elements also have a traditional representation in color, with fire being red, wood green, earth brown, metal white (not gold) and water black.
These elements are enlarged into a cycle of ten and combined with the binary "Yin and Yang" cycle. Odd years being Yin and even being Yang! As there are 12 animal zodiac signs which is divisible by two, each zodiac animal is only able to appear in either a Yin or Yang year. For instance the dragon is always yang, while the snake is Yin. The combination of the zodiac animals, colors and elements makes for a 60 year cycle which starts with "Wood Rat" and ends with "Water Pig". We are currently in a cycle which commenced in 1984.
In Chinese astrology, ox, is very similar in nature to Rat and it is the second zodiac sign. The year of the ox signifies steady building or slow, sure action. There are long term implications to the decisions you make in the year of the Ox, so good choices need to be made. Unfortunately 2009 is an earth Ox year and water is the ruling element of Ox. This creates a conflict, and in fact of the last six Chinese years four have had conflicting element signs, this tends to be destructive and Chinese astrologers believe this is why the earth has undergone so much upheaval in the last 6 years.
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