Astrology Compatibility – Why Sun Signs Cause Confusion

I’ve been a practicing astrologer for over 16 years, specializing in astrology compatibility. Being somewhat of a technophobe, I’ve largely avoided the internet for much of that time. All good things must come to an end however, so here I am, now an avid online reader and writer. When time permits I read and answer questions on various relationship astrology forums. Inevitably I read topics which go like this:

I’m a Leo, am I compatible with an Aquarius?

Answer 1 — yes!

Answer 2 — no! I’m a Leo and I dated an Aquarius. We split up.

Answer 3 — relationship astrology is stupid. I spent 172 hours researching that every single sun sign combination has had divorces.

Each of these answers is wrong, yet typically each will get people agreeing with it. On forums where votes are cast one of these answer is typically selected as being correct, and filed away for future generations of question seekers.

So what’s going wrong here?

It seems like whenever and wherever astrology compatibility is discussed on the internet that there’s an assumption that sun signs are the key to astrology. I suspect this is largely due to the desire to simplify, streamline and condense everything. Astrology however is a subject where simplification often creates problems.

The grim reality is that people are much more than just their sun sign, and if you want a ‘real’ answer to an astrology question, then you’ll need a real astrology reading. Going just by sun signs is useful to get a rough idea of what to expect, but there are many other planets which can override and trample someone’s sun sign traits. Every person and natal chart is unique.

This has led to the interesting situation where probably 80% of all information about relationship astrology on the internet is basically wrong. To qualify that metric, if sun signs could be looked at in a vacuum, then information would be correct. In practice (and people are asking such question to make real life decisions, and not as a hypothetical exercise) it’s just not that straightforward.

One interesting side effect of this appears to be a small army of armchair internet astrologers, handing out parcels of neat and tidy information on all aspects of sun signs. Why do they do this? Because the concept of keywords mean that a potential visitor isn’t going to search for “Aquarius sun, Leo moon, Aries mars etc” – they’re going to search for “Aquarius” – and woe betide any article which dares to lose focus by going off topic with qualifications. Anything more complex than that will lead to the browsers back button being hit, and pretty fast.

Fair enough, perhaps this is happening in all subjects. On the internet education is clearly being led by the student, and the educators are telling them what they ask, and not what they need to know. Search engines effectively force websites to meet the need for instant gratification.

The problem for astrology is that this obsession with sun signs is degrading the credibility of the subject. People are right to say “hold on, I’m a Leo and I don’t get along with Sagittarius! This astrology stuff is worthless!” Are professional astrologers guilty of this too? Yes, we are. Because otherwise, no one would read our articles! It would be fairly easy however for astrologers to put a disclaimer or warning when answering posts or writing articles, and perhaps that’s the solution?

For more information on astrology compatibility please see Just make sure to read the disclaimers…

Chinese Astrology Signs – How Your Three Animal Signs Are Calculated

I get asked a lot about Chinese astrology – not least because I’ve always intended to include it within my website but haven’t yet done so. There is a good reason for this and it’s the simple fact that Chinese astrology is complex whilst web pages need to be simple and quickly assimilated. A single web page for Chinese astrology rapidly turns into several pages of fine details. It’s also very different to Western astrology, using different points of reference both astronomical and cultural. Most of us will be able to say “I’m a Dragon/Tiger/Rat etc” and have a broad idea of the very general characteristics of that sign but few of us will have a clear understanding of their Chinese star signature and how it is determined. Here then, as we began the Year of The Rabbit (Metal, Yin), 78th Cycle (or 79th depending on which calendar version you ascribe to) is a potted summary…

Western astrology is based on a simple twelve months repeating cycle – the Zodiac. Chinese astrology has a zodiac of 12 signs – the Earthly branches – but is based on a sixty year cycle. The mechanics of this are simple enough: Chinese astrology developed in tandem with astronomy which originally recognised five major planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Astrology ascribed key elements to these planets – water (Mercury), metal (Venus), fire (Mars), wood (Jupiter), earth (Saturn). Each of the twelve signs spans a year – this was derived from the orbit of Jupiter (11.86 years) – and each sign comes in five elemental varieties (eg Water Rat, Metal Rat, Fire Rat, Wood Rat, Earth Rat). 5 x 12 = 60. Simples? To a degree, yes. But the sixty year cycle is also derived from two separate but interacting cycles – the Earthly branches, asmentioned above -the twelve zodiac signs rat, ox, tiger, rabbit (aka cat), dragon, snake, horse, sheep (aka ram or goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and pig (aka boar)- and in that order; and the ten heavenly stems – these are the five elements mentioned earlier, each in their ying and yang forms – 5×2=10. As the 12 earthly branches, which give us the animal signs, is divisible by two, each of the animal signs is either a Yin year or a Yang year and this is referred to as the sign’s polarity. Yin years end in odd numbers, Yang years in even numbers. Whilst each animal sign is either Yin or Yang (Rats are always Yang, Oxes are always Yin for example), this is tempered by the heavenly stem which adds the element. From 0 to 9, the ordering is metal, metal; water, water; wood, wood; fire, fire; earth, earth. And Yang and Yin, in that order:

0 Metal Yang

1 Metal Yin

2 Water Yang

3 Water Yin

4 Wood Yang

5 Wood Yin

6 Fire Yang

7 Fire Yin

8 Earth Yang

9 Earth Yin

Thus, years ending in 0 are Metal, Yang years, years ending in 1 are Metal Yin years – 2010 was a Yang Metal Tiger year, whilst 2011 is a Yin Metal Rabbit. It won’t be a Tiger year again until 2022 when it will be a Yang Water Tiger. Tiger is always Yang. Rabbit is always Yin and the next Rabbit year will be a Water Rabbit in 2023. It won’t be a Metal Tiger year again until 2060.

In their true order, the cycle actually begins with Metal Rat (Yang) and ends with Earth Pig (Yin). We are today 28 years into the current 60 year cycle (the 78th, or 79th cycle depending on which calendar is used). Chinese astrology uses a lunisolar calendar which begins with lichun – literally the start of spring, around 4th February, this being what we call the Chinese New Year. It’s necessary to bear in mind that someone born, for example, in January of 2011 is, for the purposes of Chinese astrology, born in a year that ends with a 0 – ie Metal Tiger and not Metal Rabbit. This applies, of course, to every year.

The five elements are of crucial importance in Chinese astrology, at least equal in importance to the animal sign, and the emphasis added by the Yin or Yang factor shows the importance of trinity in Chinese astrology- earth, water and the heavens. Those familiar with the I Ching will not be surprised to learn that the elements in Chinese astrology are seen as being transformative agents of change or transformative energies, not unlike the I Ching’s ‘moving lines’ concept but quite unlike Western astrology’s elements which are seen as building blocks.

Just as you realise the importance of how different a Metal Tiger might be to a Wood Tiger or a Water Tiger, a further degree of complexity comes into the picture. Placing a person within the Chinese astrological system requires a calculation involving the birth day, the birth season/month and the birth hour. In addition to the birth year, this means that a person’s star signature in Chinese astrology is made up of four signs. Three of these are the key elements for any person: –

1. The year of birth relates to a person’s family background and position in society, strongly linked with family ancestry, the grandparents which is a cultural emphasis far more marked in Chinese society. As of today (Feb 4 2011) its a (Metal) Rabbit year – remember, the order of the signs, as given above, is rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, pig. Next February then brings The Year of the Dragon.

2. The birth month or season (note that months are different under the Chinese calendar) determines the ‘inner animal’ – this indicates childhood upbringing, a transformative influence on character and behaviour manifested in adult life.

Spring sees

The Tiger from February 4 to March 5, The Rabbit March 6 to April 4, and The Dragon from April 5 to May 4.

Summer sees

The Snake from May 5 to June 5, The Horse June 6 to July 6, and The Sheep from July 7 to August 6.

Autumn brings

The Monkey from August 7 to September 7, The Rooster 8 September to October 7, The Dog 8 October to 7 November.

Winter sees

The Pig from November 7 until 6 December, The Rat 7 December to January 5th and The Ox from January 6th to February 3rd.

3. The hour of birth determines a person’s ‘secret animal’ – the true person within often only revealed under stress:

11 p.m. – 1 a.m Rat,

1 a.m. – 3 a.m. Ox,

3 a.m. – 5 a.m. Tiger,

5 a.m. – 7 a.m. Rabbit,

7 a.m. – 9 a.m. Dragon,

9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Snake,

11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Horse,

1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Sheep,

3 p.m. – 5 p.m. Monkey,

5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Rooster,

7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Dog,

9 p.m. – 11 p.m. Pig

The day of birth also has some bearing – each animal sign rules one day but that works on the 5 elements x 12 signs basis, each elementary type of animal, and this makes a 60 days basis and things do get complicated… this is more a feature of day to day horoscopic forecasting than birth-charting and it goes beyond the scope of this article.

Intriguingly though, just as the two astrologies seem to be at their most diverse, essential similarities become apparent. Western subjects often focus on the Sun sign without considering the importance, significance and contribution of the Moon sign and the Ascendant in the birth chart. Good western astrology also breaks each sun sign down into four ‘sub signs’ and can be further focused for fine detail by looking at the actual day itself.

Chinese astrology focuses on temperament and character and the interplays and stresses between these two facets, the first being that of predisposition, inclination and tendency whilst the second being that of actual behaviour, habits and learned (current) disposition. It attempts to identify the natural, innate person as opposed to the personality which has been mutated and transformed by life experience, to find nature before nurture and to help us understand our lives by looking at them backwards, as Kierkegaard suggested, whilst living them forwards.

Compatible and Incompatible Signs in Astrology

People are often concerned about compatibility of zodiac signs, if they stand a chance over getting along with their friend or lover purely on the basis of their zodiac signs.

Now some zodiac signs are compatible amongst each other, while the others are not.

Let’s consider a very basic example to illustrate this fact.

Now Gemini and Libra are both Air signs. So if two individuals belong to these two signs, there is every reason to believe that these are compatible with each other.

But merely by looking at an individual’s zodiac sign, we cannot be sure about compatibility. However, it does give a great deal of information about compatibility.

In fact, when an astrologer works towards figuring out compatibility between two individuals for generic compatibility predictions, it is more than the sun signs that he takes into consideration. As an instance, he may take into consideration the individual’s moon signs.

Basically, as a very common practice in Vedic Astrology, the astrologer would check the individual’s natal horoscope chart to figure out the compatibility between the two.

He would check the specific placement of planets in these charts. For instance placement of Venus and Mars in the individuals’ natal chart has a great deal of significance.

At a deeper level, certain astrological signs have characteristics which let them gel with other signs, but in the world, we are sure to find a host of exceptions as well.

As an example, if you’re a Gemini, you are more likely than not to be compatible with Libra. However if this is not the case, it could be for certain reasons. And that could be because the individuals’ natal horoscope charts might not be compatible.

Let us consider the example of the first sign in the Zodiac, Aries.

In general, Aries is known to be zodiac sign which is adventurous, energetic and confident. So if someone is born under the zodiac sign of Aries, he would bold and courageous. Alternately, an Aries individual could be quick tempered, impatient and a daredevil to a certain extent.

Aries is a fire sign, and correspondingly, it is compatible with other fire signs, which are Leo and Sagittarius.

However, Aries known to be very much compatible with the air signs of Gemini and Sagittarius.

Now that we have had a short overview of the zodiac signs compatible with each other, we can go through a quick bit of information about zodiac signs which are said to be not compatible with each other.

Has it ever happened in your life that you came to realize that you are in a bad relationship? A scenario wherein you felt the need to fight with your partner? You had varying opinions, and even failed to understand each other?

Even while you loved your partner, there was something that always messed with your happiness, and you eventually had a reason to breakup?

As per astrologers, there are some zodiac signs which are entirely incompatible. So if someone is in a relationship with an individual whose zodiac sign in incompatible, he or she would be required to work very hard on the same.

Let’s consider just one example.

Aries are well known for their willpower, but Taurus is stubborn. So when they meet, a collision is sure to occur. Someone born under Taurus is always eager to know the stage of relationship that he or she is on, and it is something that would make an Arian very unhappy.

And that’s just one of the pairs that are deemed to be incompatible as per astrology!