This article will discuss the Twelve Earthly Branches and the Twelve Zodiac Animals. As we have discussed, the true origins of the Chinese Calendar are lost in Ancient Antiquity, although Legend ascribes it to the Third Emperor, Huang Ti, the “Yellow Emperor”. The Sixty-Year Cycle of Ten Stems and Twelve Branches goes back to the beginnings. The ascription of the Twelve Zodiac Animals was much later, date uncertain. There are many Legends about this subject.
Probably the most popular Legends in this vein is that, when Siddhartha Gautama was sitting under the Boddhi Tree, about to achieve enlightenment, the Gods were so pleased, that they commanded all animals to witness this Great Event. Representatives from only Twelve Species showed up, so the Buddha assigned them each to a Year. Of course, the Animals were probably assigned to the Years of the Sixty-Year Cycle long before the Buddha was born, but it is still a Great Story.
The Twelve Branches, with Animals, Elements, Western Months, and Hours are:
1. 子 Zi (Surging): 鼠 Shǔ/Rat (Yang Water) November 23:01-01:00
2. 丑 Chou (Budding): 牛 Niú /Ox (Yin Water) December 01:01-03:00
3. 寅 Yin (Increase): 虎 Hǔ /Tiger (Yang Wood) January 03:01-05:00
4. 卯 Mao (Prosperity): 兎 Tù /Rabbit (Yin Wood) February 05:01-07:00
5. 辰 Chen (Shaking): 龍 Lóng /Dragon (Yang Wood) March 07:01-09:00
6. 巳 Si (Preparation): 蛇 Shé /Serpent (Yin Fire) April 09:01-10:00
7. 戊 Wu (Zenith): 馬 Mǎ /Horse (Yang Fire) May 10:01-13:00
8. 未 Wei (Ripening): 羊 Yáng /Ram (Yin Fire) June 13:01-15:00
9. 申 Shen (Harvest): 候 Hóu/Monkey (Yang Metal) July 15:01-17:00
10 .酉 You (Withering): 鸡 Ji /Rooster (Yin Metal) August 17:01-19:00
11. 戌 Xu (Completion): 犬 Quǎn/Dog (Yang Metal) September 19:01-21:00
12. 亥 Hai (Storage): 豚 Tún /Pig (Yin Water) October 21:01-23:00
Keep in Mind, that the Western Calendar Months are only approximate, as there is an extra Month added about every Three Years. The Hours are used for Natal Astrology, Soon, all this will be combined into the Sixty-Year Cycle.