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Animal Symbols of the Lunar Calendar

The lunar calendar dates back in human history as the longest measurement of recorded time used by civilization. Animal symbolic correlation to the zodiac is believed to have become common practice by 2637 B.C.E. so that all would have a functional tool to comprehend the measurement of time. Most commonly acknowledged as the Chinese calendar the lunar system has been used by the Druid, Essene, Mayan, Polynesian, Egyptian, Hindu, and Tibetan cultures. In addition, it has been theorized that it was used by the Inca civilization.

Pope Gregory XIII introduced the solar calendar, named the Gregorian calendar, in 1582 and it rapidly became the standard measurement of time throughout the western hemisphere. However, the Gregorian system did not become the international common calendar for business until 1988. While the solar calendar is now used to conduct business, several countries actively follow the cycle of a lunar year as a personal method of understanding time, correctly marking holidays, and as a means of keeping a living link to the philosophies of ancestors.

Still widely used throughout Asian, Hebrew, Muslim, and Hindu cultures, the same animal symbols of the zodiac are shared by China, Japan, and Korea. Vietnam follows a similar lunar calendar with one alteration. Instead of celebrating the year of the rabbit, it is replaced with a cat. Each animal represents the Earthís planetary position for the year, allowing people to better understand in which universal timeline they presently exist.

A Lunar calendar runs on a 12-year cycle and completes a full rotation every 60 years. Each year is broken out into 12 months consisting of 29 Ĺ days with every month commencing at New Moon. While the Gregorian system starts each New Year on the 1st of January, the lunar New Year changes annually to keep correct pace to the moonís cycle. For example, January 23, 2012 begins the lunar year of the Dragon, which is the 5th year of the 12-year cycle and the 29th segment out of the 60-year rotation.

Here are the chronological Lunar cycles in the 12-year rotation along with what each animal denotes.

YearAnimalMeaning
1RatSpirited, sharp-witted, and aware
2OxPersistent, grounded, and straightforward
3TigerBrave, forceful, and powerful
4Rabbit
Cat (Vietnam)
Hope, love, and kindness
Cunning, patient, and kind
5DragonDignity, honor, and ability
6SnakeMalevolent, mysterious, and shrewd
7HorseEnergetic, intelligent, and warm-hearted
8SheepGentle, calm, and good providence
9MonkeyClever, cunning, and flexible
10RoosterLoyal, punctual, and positive
11DogFuture fortune, luck, and faithful
12PigHonest, relaxed, and chivalrous

Animals are so engrained into a majority of everyday cultures that the hours in a day are assigned and correspond to a zodiac symbol with each animalís cycle lasting 2 hours. In addition to providing spirited connectivity to ancestors and animals, this system teaches the correct order of annual lunar cycles.

Hour of theTime
Rat11pm-1am
Ox1am-3am
Tiger3am-5am
Rabbit
Cat (Vietnam)
5am-7am
Dragon7am-9am
Snake9am-11am
Horse11am-1pm
Sheep1pm-3pm
Monkey3pm-5pm
Rooster5pm-7pm
Dog7pm-9pm
Pig9pm-11pm

Remember there is more than one way to look at the world. There is more than one possible outcome and a wide range of perspectives, each contributing to the whole of eternal knowledge. Humans were smart enough to see the intrinsic value of animals early on, well beyond monetary gains. It is incumbent upon us all to reclaim that insight and show proper respect to animal life for all that they have given us and for what they continue to contribute.

2012 Moon Calendar: Enjoy a better understanding to the Universe in which we live.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Deb Duxbury. All rights reserved.
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