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The Four Pillars

The Four Pillars method can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), and is still much used in Feng Shui astrology and general analysis today. The Four Pillars or Columns chart is called such as the Chinese writing causes it to fall into columns. Each pillar or column contains a stem and a branch - and each column relates to the year, month, day and hour of birth.

The first column refers to the year animal and element, the second to the month animal and element, the third to the day animal and element, and the last to the hour animal and element. Within the 'Four Pillars', the Year column is the information about your ancestor or early age. The Month column is the information about your parents or growing age. The Day column is the information about you (upper character) and your spouse (lower character) or adult age. The Hour column is the information about kids or late age.



Within the Four Pillars, the year is the pillar representing information about the person's ancestry or early age. The animal signs assigned by year represent what others perceive you as being or how you present yourself.


As each sign is linked to a month of the solar year, it is thereby also linked to a season. Each of the elements is also linked to a season, and the element that shares a season with a sign is known as that sign's fixed element. In other words, that element is believed to impart some of its characteristics to the sign concerned. The fixed element of each sign applies also to the year and hour signs, and not just the monthly sign. It is important to note that the fixed element is separate from the cycle of elements which interact with the signs in the 60 year cycle.

The inner animal sign assigned by the month of birth represents what motivates a person and it dictates your love life and inner persona.

SeasonLunar MonthZodiac SignFixed ElementWestern Date





Feb 04 – Mar 05
Mar 06 – Apr 04
Apr 05 – May 4
May 5 – June 5
Jun 06 – Jul 06
Jul 07 – Aug 06
Aug 07 – Sep 07
Sep 08 – Oct 07
Oct 08 – Nov 06
Nov 07 – Dec 06
Dec 07 – Jan 05
Jan 06 – Feb 03


A different animal rules each day. The day represents information about the person him/herself - his/her adult and married life.


The Chinese zodiac is also used to label times of day. It is therefore important to know the exact time of birth to determine it. The secret animal is thought to be a person’s truest representation, since this animal is determined by the smallest denominator: a person’s birth hour. As this sign is based on the position of the sun in the sky and not the time of your local clock, it is important to compensate for daylight saving time. However, some online systems already compensate for daylight saving time, and astrologers may compensate your time for you oblivious to the fact that you've compensated it yourself, leading to an inaccurate reading.

The secret animal sign assigned by the hour of birth represents your own true sign which your personality is based on.

23:00 - 01:00   rat
01:00 - 03:00   ox
03:00 - 05:00   tiger
05:00 - 07:00   rabbit
07:00 - 09:00   dragon
09:00 - 11:00   snake
11:00 - 13:00   horse
13:00 - 15:00   sheep
15:00 - 17:00   monkey
17:00 - 19:00   rooster
19:00 - 21:00   dog
21:00 - 23:00   pig

Four Animal Trines

First Trine

The first trine consists of the Rat, Dragon, and Monkey. These three signs are intense and powerful individuals, capable of great good or great evil. They make great leaders, but the three may have different approaches. Frustrated when hampered, these signs are ruled by highly potent energy and unpredictability. At their worst, Rats are ruthlessly power-hungry, vindictive, and Machiavellian; Dragons are inflexible megalomaniacs and narcissists; and Monkeys are destructive manipulators and hedonists. They are intelligent, magnanimous, charismatic, charming, authoritative, confident, eloquent and artistic. They can also be tyrannical, bombastic, prejudiced, deceitful, imperious, and ruthless.

Second Trine

The second trine consists of the Ox, Snake, and Rooster. These three souls conquer life through endurance, application, and slow accumulation of energy. Although each sign is fixed and rigid in opinions and views, they are geniuses in the art of meticulous planning. They are hardworking, discreet, modest, industrious, charitable, loyal, punctual, philosophical, patient, and good-hearted individuals with high moral standards. They can also be self-righteous, vain, critical, judgmental, myopic, narrow-minded, and petty. They are also natural leaders, but are better natured than the first trine.

Third Trine

The third trine consists of the Tiger, Horse, and Dog. These three signs seek a true lover, and are like-minded in their pursuit of humanitarian causes. Each is a gifted orator and excels at verbal communication. Relationships and personal contact are of highest priority and each one seeks their intimate soul mate. Idealistic and impulsive, the Tiger, Horse and Dog follow the beat of their own drummer. Defiant against injustice, these three signs wilt without large amounts of physical affection and loyal support for causes. They are productive, enthusiastic, independent, engaging, dynamic and honorable. They can also be rash, rebellious, quarrelsome, hot-headed, reckless, anxious, moody, disagreeable, and stubborn. Although these three signs are loyal, they can be very protective when lied to. The three signs do not enjoy being told what to do, but will listen when it is a person they love or trust whole-kindheartedly.

Fourth Trine

The fourth trine consists of the Rabbit, Goat and Pig. The quest for these three signs is the aesthetic and beautiful in life. Their calm nature gives them great leadership abilities. They are artistic, refined, intuitive, and well-mannered. These souls love the preliminaries in love, and are fine artists in their lovemaking. The Rabbit, Goat (or Sheep) and Pig have been bestowed with calmer natures than the other 9 signs. These three are compassionately aware, yet detached and resigned to their condition. They seek beauty and a sensitive lover. They are caring, unique, self-sacrificing, obliging, sensible, creative, empathic, tactful, and prudent. They can also be naive, pedantic, insecure, cunning, indecisive, and pessimistic.

Source: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chinese Astrology".