There are two commonly used Zodiac or Horoscope systems – the Western and the Chinese – which are distinct from one another.
The Western Zodiac is essentially a celestial coordinate system. It is a circle with twelve 30° sections with the Sun being in the center. Each section roughly represents a constellation on the path of the Sun across the sphere. The signs of the Zodiac represent twelve basic personality types. The twelve signs are divided into four elements: Fire, Earth, Water and Air. Fire and air signs are considered masculine, while water and earth signs feminine. The twelve signs are also divided into three qualities: Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable.
In the Chinese Zodiac is not connected to constellations, but operates in 60 year cycles (5 increments of 12-year periods), lunar months and 2-hour periods of a day. Each period is represented by an animal sign.
The 12 Animal Signs also represent personality types and are divided into Yin and Yang. Then, into 5 elements: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. Each Sign also corresponds to a season and a compass direction.
According to an ancient Chinese legend – the most well-known story – the Jade Emperor summoned the animals to be honored as celestial creatures. But the number of vacancies were limited to 12. In the race to answer the Emperor’s call, the Rat was the first to come, followed by Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.