While each sign of the Chinese Zodiac repeats every 12 years, the specific combination of animal sign (Earthly Branch) and element (Heavenly Stem) occur only once every 60 years.
In addition to the 12 animal signs, traditional Chinese astrology or "Chinese chance," as it is sometimes called, is modified or flavored in a different way by each of the five basic elements. Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water constitute these five elements, or "courses." The interrelationships between these basic elements constitute a fundamental principle in Asian philosophy. A well-balanced mix of each element in one's birth chart and environment is desirable.
There exist two natural, complementary (yet contradictory) forces in our universe—the yin and yang. The yin (negative) represents the female, dark, soft, moist, nighttime, and docile aspects of life; the yang (positive) represents the male, positive, bright, hard, dry, daytime, and dominant aspects of life. The yin and the yang are continually in a state of movement and change, and are always seeking "balance." When one moves, the other responds.
Our universe consists of five basic elements. These elements are Wood (growth), Fire (leadership), Earth (stability), Metal (structure), and Water (feelings). Everything, including humans, in the universe between heaven and Earth has a relationship with these five elements. These five essential elements apply to all physical phenomena, including colors, directions, seasons, and sounds. They also apply to the years, months, days, and hours of the Chinese calendar.
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