The system of Earth Branches or Dhi Zhi would come from observing the orbit of the planet Jupiter. By analogy, the twelve years of Jupiter are used to designate other cycles of 12 periods such as the twelve months of the year, the twelve animals and the twelve-hour double system.
In its origins the signs or terrestrial branches were used to remember data and did not associate them with animals. Later each of the twelve Earth Branches was symbolized by an emblematic animal.
Legend has it that a long time ago, Lord Buddha wanted to gather all the animals of the earth to designate them one year each. When the cat found out, he told his friend, the rat, and the two decided to go together the next day. However, the next day the rat did not wake the cat. So the cat spent the whole morning sleeping, as is the custom of cats. Therefore, the cat did not arrive on time for the meeting and did not receive his year. That’s why there is no Year of the Cat, and that’s why cats hate rats. In return, the rat won the contest and received the first year of the cycle. This also did not succeed without a trick. Aware of how small she was, she knew that she was not capable of competing with others. She begged the ox to let her ride on her head. The ox consented and they went out together. Just upon arrival, the rat pulled on the head of the ox and crossed the finish line alone. That is why the year of the Rat is the first of the cycle, followed by the Year of the Ox.

The rat

It is the first sign of the twelve terrestrial branches. It reads zi in Chinese and means seed, fruit, root or continuation. It represents the right northern cardinal point. In terms of hours it refers to midnight, from 11:00 p.m. to 01:00 p.m. And as for the calendar it is equivalent to the twelfth lunar month, the end of the hibernation of plants and animals for their own protection and waiting for spring. The hours of zi are those in which the human being rests after being busy in the day. And it’s the time when Rats are usually active. The sign Rat is very beautiful since it is at the beginning of the cycle and refers to new opportunities, entrepreneurship, charm, innovation, creativity and intuition.

The Ox

Chou is read and represents the second of the twelve terrestrial branches. It means rope formed of many threads, with the connotation of union and ordering of things. In terms of the year’s season, it refers to the first lunar month. And in terms of hours it occupies the space that runs from 1:00 to 3:00 and corresponds to the north-northeast cardinal point. We said that the first lunar month is also called the month of harmony. The Ox sign refers to perseverance, resistance, determination, method, tradition.


This sign is called yin, representing the third terrestrial branch. It corresponds to the space of time that goes from 3:00 to 5:00, to the cardinal point east northeast and to the second lunar month.
For the Chinese it is the King of the jungle. The Chinese New Year always begins with the Tiger’s moon. The Tiger sign refers to the passionate, ambitious, authoritarian, impulsive and competitive.

The hare

Named Mao, it represents the fourth terrestrial branch. Corresponds to the cardinal point this just, at 5:00 – 7:00 hours of the dawn and the second moon of the year in which we will find the equinox of spring, that is, period of incipient prosperity of all things. Hares and rabbits are symbols of spring for their ability to reproduce and are associated with Christian Easter, which in the Northern Hemisphere is celebrated in the Spring. Among the animals that serve as signs to the twelve terrestrial branches, the hare is one of the weakest, due to which its docility is virtually synonymous with the warmth of the sun that has just appeared over the horizon. The sign Hare refers to sensitivity, diplomacy, grace, warmth, empathy, love.

The Dragon

This sign is pronounced chen. It is the only fictitious animal of those that represent the twelve terrestrial branches. The Dragon has the long face similar to that of the horse and the body similar to that of the serpent, but with 81 scales on the back, and its four extremities resemble the claws of the rooster. He can fly through the air and dive into the water, and although he leaves tracks, nobody knows his whereabouts. It occupies the fifth terrestrial branch and corresponds to the cardinal point east southeast and at 7:00 – 9:00 in the morning, hours when the sun increases its light to take the world out of sunset. In terms of season of the year it occupies the fourth lunar month. The Dragon sign refers to the vital, exotic, magical, exuberant and audacious.

The snake

It is the sign of the sixth terrestrial branch and it is read if in Chinese. Both the serpent and the horse have the temperament of “fire.” But the first is fire yin (negative) and the second, fire yang (positive). The fire of the serpent is like the fire in the winter, whose flames shelter the people from the cold. Its cardinal point is the south-east. As far as the schedule is concerned, it is equivalent to 9:00 – 11:00 in the morning. And because of its location within the year, it corresponds to the fifth lunar month. It is the female counterpart of the Dragon. The Serpent sign refers to the enigmatic, mystical, analytical, serene, elegant, classic.

This sign, from the seventh branch of the earth, reads wu. Corresponds to the cardinal point just south, at 11:00 – 13:00 noon, with the most intense sunlight, and the sixth lunar month. It is associated with the Yang force, the masculine. It governs the month of the summer solstice, that is, the longest day of the year. The sign Horse refers to the joy, rusticity, sociability, sex appeal. It is associated with the maximum of something, climax, record, etc.

 The goat

This animal symbolizes love and happiness because it is meek and peaceful. Faithfully follows the steps of the shepherd even in places where there is no grass or water. As a sign, wei is said to correspond to the eighth terrestrial branch. For the lunar calendar it occupies the seventh month. Its time slot is from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and its cardinal point is the south-west. It is the female complement of the Horse. The sign Goat refers to kindness, meditation, romanticism, arts.


It is the sign of the ninth terrestrial branch and occupies the eighth lunar month. Its time slot is from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm and its cardinal point is the southwest. Shen says herself, she displays her intelligence as far as she can, but she does not lack the elasticity to retreat. It is also quite irreverent. It is the opposite of the Tiger. The skill of the Monkey is associated with technique, human ingenuity and technology. The sign Mono refers to intelligence, humor, ingenuity, inventiveness.

The rooster

It is the sign of the tenth branch of the earth and it is read by you. It corresponds to the ninth lunar month at 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm, hours when the sun sets, time for recreation and leisure and the west cardinal point. This bird is considered a good “prophet” in many countries. The sign Gallo refers to luxury, fashion, show. It is a direct and assertive sign especially with the word.

The dog

This sign of the eleventh branch of the earth is called xu. It corresponds to the northwest west cardinal point, at 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., the hour when the doors are closed and the houses are protected, the dog is very guardian of its territory and its scope. It is also the tenth lunar month. The dog is the most precious friend of man and raised by him since time immemorial. The coexistence between the two has never changed. The sign Dog refers to loyalty, protection, caution, hardness and distrust.

The pig

It is the twelfth sign of the terrestrial branch, the last, and is pronounced hai. It occupies the eleventh lunar month. It corresponds to the north-western cardinal point and in terms of time it occupies the space between 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., at which time everyone already sleeps. The sign Pig refers to comfort, security, family life, love.

Relations between Signs

The House of Creativity: The Rat undertakes, the complete Ox.
The House of Expansion: The Tiger conquers by force, the Hare by diplomacy.
The House of the Hidden: The Dragon is the Magic power, The Serpent is the mystic.
The House of Sexuality: The male horse, the female goat.
The House of Technology: The Monkey brings ingenuity, the Rooster design.
The House of the Home: The Dog protects, the Pig provides.

In Figure 16 you can see all the possible relationships between the signs. The South quadrant belongs to the Fire element, the West quadrant belongs to the Metal element, the North quadrant belongs to the Water element and the East quadrant belongs to the Wood element; note that there is an Earth sign in each quadrant (Goat, Dog, Ox and Dragon).

The signs that are opposite are slightly harmonic combinations, in the same way the signs that are in opposite quadrants (North – South, East – West). Also the signs that are in square for example: Tiger and Snake.

The signs that form triangles, have harmonic relationships for example: Goat, Hare and Pig.

The crosses form balanced combinations. For example Tiger and Pig or Serpent and Monkey are not harmonic combinations but if they are together they form a powerful combination (Tiger, Pig, Snake and Monkey).

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