The twelve animals are used to designate years, months, days, and hours. Each animal is associated with an element, which represents its life force. The Tiger and the Hare are Wood. The Horse and the Snake are Fire. The Monkey and the Bird are Metal. The Pig and the Rate are Water. The Cow, the Dragon, the Sheep, and the Dog are connected with the element Earth. The inherent polarity of an animal corresponds to its symbolism and also bears upon the composition of its psychological character. The Rate is a nocturnal animal and a symbol of prosperity, it is therefore female, as is the Hare, which is associated with the Moon. The Dragon, by contrast, the symbol of thunder, is male; and so on.

The animal associated with a year gives it its specific character and influences the life and the personality of those born under its aegis. Each year of the cycle is designated by one of the symbolic animals. From the astronomical point of view, the twelve-year cycle is known as the Jupiter Cycle. The planet Jupiter takes approximately twelve years to complete one revolution through the zodiac. It traverses on average one sign each year, and this has suggested to some writers a relationship between the animals and the signs of the zodic. The cycle of twelve animals conbined with the five elements gives the cycle of sixty years, or great cycle of Jupiter. Each elements is associated with two successive animals, the first male and the second female. The element alternate in their order of generation: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water. The connection between animals can be favorable or unfavourable. An understanding of their affinities is important when human relationships are under consideration-partnerships, mariages, friendships etc.

Animal categories
Male animals: Mouse, Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Monkey, Dog. Female animals: Ox, Rabbit, Snake, Sheep, Bird, Pig. Male is method - stability, not so sensitive, works steadily.Female is wisdom - sensitive, creative, adapting quickly.

Tiger, Snake, Monkey, Pig arePowerful animals, strong, ambitious, temperamental. Rate, Rabbit, Horse, Bird are Middle category, intellectual, bright, brilliant. Ox, Dragon, Sheep, Dog are Cardinal animals, sensitive, artistic, perceptive, does not hurry.