The system of Chinese astrology is built around 60 year cycles. In the course of one such cycle, five 12-year periods are traversed. The five periods are related to the five basic elements in Chinese lore, namely; fire, earth, wood, metal and water. Each of the years in one 12-year period represents an animal in the Chinese Zodiac. For instance we have the years of the water rat, the earth rat, the wood rat, the metal rat and the fire rat. One animal sign may or may not be compatible with another. Let us, for example, take the rat sign.
The Chinese believe that persons born during a certain year basically has characteristics that are akin to those of the animal representing that year. The elemental designation of the animal, as in “metal rat” denotes how the person born under that elemental sign will interact with other elemental signs during the 5 elemental cycles. The rat is essentially clever and charming, industrious, curious and purposeful. They cherish those who are kind to them but will not hesitate to do their enemies a disservice of some kind. They also like doing many things at the same time and are very versatile in their skills. They have excellent powers of recall and therefore make good historians, reporters and writers.
In addition to the basic characteristics of the rat, the specific temperament of the person is also determined by the qualities of the element governing his year of birth. In this way, the metal rat has a strong purpose and can be violent about getting that purpose. The water rat, on the other hand is a very diplomatic and sociable being. The tendency to egoism that is characteristic of rats is least prominent in the water rat and he is also the best-liked among them. The wood rat is a vulnerable person who may not be as sure of himself as he would like others to believe. This is the reason why they would much rather spend their free time with trusted friends and family. A very industrious person, wood rats are generally successful at what they do. The fire rat is the most cosmopolitan among the them. They are uninhibited, love fine things and they like to travel. They are also the most generous of the rats and are therefore also well liked. Finally, we have the earth rats who tend to be the least restless of them all. He is industrious and frugal. They prefer to be obscure and they like doing what is routine and ordinary but with great consistency and devotion.
The monkey sign has traits that are similar to the rat’s. Monkeys are also clever wits with an acumen for making money. Unlike the rat, they are very good listeners and quick learners. Because of this, they can do nearly everything they set their minds to and do it well in the process. They can develop extreme distrust if given the slightest excuse. Monkey’s and rats make good partners. They will usually work together to achieve their objectives in no time at all. The monkey learns from the innate ability of the rat to think out problems and to find innovative solutions to all difficulties. However, both should be cautious not to give the slightest excuse for loss of confidence to the other since both tend to have lasting and strong likes and dislikes.