There's a variety of approaches in the traditional Chinese healing arts. These include feng shui, which looks at the physical environment, as well as astrology, which looks at the movement of heavenly bodies in relation to your birthdate and time. The study of Chinese astrology is called the Four Pillars, also known as BaZi. Many feng shui practitioners study and apply Four Pillars analysis to inform their feng shui adjustments because these modalities are interconnected.
The Four Pillars are made up of the 12 zodiac animals (also known as the Twelve Earthly Branches) with the five elements (also known as the Ten Heavenly Stems). Together they create the Cycle of Sixty, which covers all the possible combinations of the 12 zodiac animals and the five elements. In Asia, this system is said to reveal your fate or destiny, show you times in your life where you may have more or less support, and indicate your strengths and weaknesses.
Astrology forecasts, like the weather, may show a high likelihood of a storm, but, sometimes, it will end up a sunny day. Feng shui is used with astrology to support your natural energy, however it doesn’t have the ability to change it.
The Four Pillars consist of one pillar that relates to your year, another your month, your day, and finally the hour of your birth. There is an animal and element associated with each of your pillars that follows the Cycle of Sixty. Four Pillars practitioners place the most emphasis on your day pillar, or your Daymaster.
When we talk about Chinese zodiac signs, most people are generally referring to the year pillar. Each pillar has an association, the year pillar being the most broad and general. Typically, the use of the Chinese zodiac animals and their elements by the year of birth are an exploration of personality archetypes and compatibility.
If all of this this piques your interest, definitely check out a Four Pillars calculator and reach out to a practitioner to analyze and interpret your astrology for you. Meanwhile, here’s our list of each of the 12, so you can find out which zodiac animal and element corresponds to your year of birth.
The 12 Zodiac Animals
The Chinese calendar starts on or around Feb. 4 (depending on the year), so if you were born between Jan. 1 or Feb. 2, you would consider yourself born the year prior.
For example: If you were born Jan. 20, 1978, you would use the year prior, which is 1977.
If you were born on Feb. 3, 4, or 5, you will need to consult a Chinese almanac for the exact transition time based on your birth date and time.
- 2020, 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, 1924
- Intelligent and opportunistic
- Compatible with: Dragon, Monkey, Rat, and Ox
- 2021, 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937, 1925
- Hard-working and dependable
- Compatible with: Rooster, Snake, and Rat
- 2022, 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, 1926
- Optimistic and passionate
- Compatible with: Horse, Dog, and Pig
- 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927
- Sensitive and kind
- Compatible with: Pig, Ram, and Dog
- 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928
- Powerful and demanding
- Compatible with: Rat, Monkey, and Rooster
- 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, 1929
- Transformational and intriguing
- Compatible with: Rooster, Ox, and Monkey
- 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942, 1930
- Quick and active
- Compatible with: Tiger, Dog, and Ram
- 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943, 1931
- Good-natured and romantic
- Compatible with: Rabbit, Pig, and Horse
- 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944, 1932
- Playful and clever
- Compatible with: Rat, Dragon, and Snake
- 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945, 1933
- Confident and talkative
- Compatible with: Ox, Snake, and Dragon
- 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946, 1934
- Loyal and honest
- Compatible with: Tiger, Horse, and Rabbit
- 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947, 1935
- Social and diplomatic
- Compatible with: Sheep, Rabbit, and Tiger
The Element for Your Year of Birth
Here's how to find out which of the five elements is connected to your year of birth.
- Metal: Birth years ending in 0 or 1
- Water: Birth years ending in 2 or 3
- Wood: Birth years ending in 4 or 5
- Fire: Birth years ending in 6 or 7
- Earth: Birth years ending in 8 or 9
Using the five elements, you can begin to explore the element connected to your year of birth and see how you can nourish it with feng shui.
Metal is nourished by the element of Earth.
Feng shui tip: Bring in yellow, brown, and other earthy colors and grounding crystals, like fancy jasper.
Water is nourished by the element of Metal.
Feng shui tip: Whites, grays, and metallic colors support you, as does the sound of metal chimes.
Wood is nourished by the element of Water.
Feng shui tip: Dark blues, charcoal, and black colors or water fountains support you.
Fire is nourished by the element of Wood.
Feng shui tip: Living green plants as well as the colors green, blue, and teal are suggested.
Earth is nourished by the element of Fire.
Feng shui tip: Try out some fiery reds and oranges, triangles, and candles.