In Chinese astrology Ox is after Rat and 2009 is the year of the Ox. In the very beginnings of Chinese astrology, over 3 000 years ago they named the 12 Earthly branches after animals. The 10 Heavenly stems were also named, and this helped people keep the time as well as know when the seasons were changing.
It made sense to name the 12 Earthly stems after animals as people found them simple to relate to and most Chinese people were illiterate in those times. The animals are simple to identify with and consist of mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig in that order.
As legend will have it Buddha invited all animals to his kingdom for a Chinese New Year Celebration; out of all the species only 12 turned up for the festivities, the mouse being the first to arrive, etcetera. Buddha was so grateful that he named a year after each of them. Each year had its own significance and people born in that year were supposed to develop some traits of the particular signature animal, however there are other, more elaborate versions of this legend.
In Chinese astrology, on top of the 12 animal signs we find element signs. These are wood, fire, water, earth, and metal, each of these is represented by a color, and these are respectively, green, red, black, brown and white. The elements are each placed on top of the animal zodiac signs and are indicative of the element they fall under during that year. For instance a "fire Dragon" or a Water Ox".
The elements are then arranged in a cycle of ten and combined with the binary Yin and Yang. Together with the animals and colors this forms a cycle of 60 years, with no animal appearing twice in either the Yin or the Yang years. The animals are divided by two and are either Yin or Yang. For instance a snake is Yin, while a dragon is Yang. We are currently in a 60 year cycle which commenced in 1984 and all Chinese astrology cycles begin with "wood rat" and end with "Water Pig".
The Ox is a very similar zodiac sign to the Rat in Chinese Astrology. It is significant in that it symbolizes a sure and steady building action so good decisions have to be made in 2009, as there are long term implications attached to your decisions. 2009 is an earth Ox year and this has destructive potential as the ruling element of Ox is water. However the past 6 years have been fraught with conflicting Chinese zodiac years and elements, out of these 6, there have been four. Apparently this is why Chinese astrologers believe the world has experienced such conflict during these years.
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