Ancient Chinese Astrology is based on two wheels moving at a different rate. One wheel gives the zodiac of twelve animals and is based on Jupiter’s zodiacal position. The second wheel has the five elements and thus gives a complete cycle of 60. The polarity alternates.
Compiled in 1653 by the Polish Jesuit missionary Nikolaus Smogulecki (1611–1656), or Mu Nige穆尼閣, in cooperation with his Chinese disciple Xue Fengzuo薛鳳祚 (1600–1680), the Tianbu zhenyuan 天步眞原 (True Principles of the Pacing of the Heavens) is one of the most important works on “Western Learning” from the Early Qing period. Despite of this, there are a lot of uncertainties concerning its publicaiton history on account of the big differences between the existing copies of the book. Besides, the following two features of the book seem to be very incomprehensible: on the one hand, the book includes a full-scale version of Western astrology, not only medical and meteorological one permitted by the Catholic Church, but even natal astrology forbiden by the chruch as well; on the other hand, at the high time when the Tychonic system of calendrical astronomy constructed by Johann Terrenz Schreck (1576-1630), Johann Adam Schall von Bell (1591–1666) and Giacomo Rho (1593－1638) had been contributed by Schall himself to the newly founded Qing dynasty which had officially adopted it immediately, Smogulecki was preaching in the book a system based on Philippe van Lansberge’s (1516 – 1632) heliocentric astronomy, and openly claimed that Schall’s Tychonic system still committed a number of deficiencies and was outdated, and therefore should be replaced with the Lanbergian system.
In Chinese astrology the zodiac of twelve animal signs represents twelve different types of personality. The zodiac traditionally begins with the sign of the Rat, and there are many stories about the Origins of the Chinese Zodiac which explain why this is so (see below). The following are the twelve zodiac signs in order and their characteristics