Whether you believe in astrology or not, chances are you’re familiar with the Western zodiac. We bet you know your starsign and the common traits associated with it...any proud Leos out there, harmonious Libras, practical Capricorns?
Astrology - the practice of divining information from celestial movements - has its fair share of sceptics. People who doubt astrology and horoscopes normally do so because they consider it arbitrary or coincidental. But the idea that our personalities and fates might be shaped by the celestial world doesn’t have to be wishy-wishy conjecture.
In older times - both ancient and not-so-ancient - people were far more influenced by the cycles of the natural world. Our lifestyles, systems, ceremonies and ways of living and working were very much shaped by the seasons and the cosmos. So perhaps it’s not too much of a stretch to believe that a child who was born in January - the dead of winter - would develop hardier more resilient personality traits, than one who was born in July - the high summer - an easier more pleasant time.
Certainly, many cultures throughout history have believed something of the sort. The Western branch of astrology is actually just one kind. Do you know your Chinese zodiac sign? What about your Celtic Tree sign? Let’s take a look at some other astrological systems from around the world.
Celtic Tree and Animal Astrology
If you’re familiar with the the Druids - the spiritual leaders of the Celtic tribes - you’ll know that trees were very important to them. They believed that trees contained great spirit, wisdom and power. In some stories, it was even told that Druids believed humankind was born from trees and that trees consequently shape who we become.
Animals were also a big part of this ancient culture. The Celts saw elements of themselves - their personalities and behaviours - reflected in creatures of the natural world.
In Celtic Astrology, the year is broken into 13 lunar months, based on the cycle of the moon. Each month then has a corresponding ‘tree’ and ‘animal’ sign, similar to the Western zodiac.
Like all information passed down from ancient times, there is some disagreement over the exact timings and breakdown of the thirteen-month calendar, and the corresponding animal signs - though the tree signs have remained mostly consistent throughout the ages. Here’s a quick summary of each sign, their animal and tree association, and their key characteristic.
December 24th - January 21st: BETH ‘The Achiever’
Tree: The Birch Tree, Animal: The Stag/Deer
January 22nd - February 18th: LUIS ‘The Thinker’
Tree: The Rowan Tree, Animal: The Dragon (sometimes The Cat)
February 19th - March 28th: NION ‘The Enchanter’
Tree: The Ash Tree, Animal: Merfolk (sometimes The Snake)
March 19th - April 15th: FEARN ‘The Trailblazer’
Tree: The Alder Tree, Animal: The Falcon (sometimes The Fox)
April 16th - May 14th: SAILLE ‘The Observer’
Tree: The Willow Tree, Animal: The Sea Serpent (sometimes The Cow)
May 15th - June 12th: UATH ‘The Illusionist’
Tree: The Hawthorn Tree, Animal: The Seahorse (sometimes depicted as The Chalice in non-animal iconography)
June 13th - July 9th: DUIR, ‘The Stabiliser’
Tree: The Oak Tree, Animal: The Horse
July 10th - August 6th: TINNE, ‘The Ruler’
Tree: The Holly Tree, Animal: The Lion
August 7th - September 2nd: COLL, ‘The Knower’
Tree: The Hazel Tree, Animal: The Salmon
September 3rd - September 30th - MUIN, ‘The Equaliser’
Tree: The Vine Tree, Animal: The Swan
October 1st - October 29th: GORT, ‘The Survivor’
Tree: The Ivy Tree, Animal: The Fairy (sometimes The Butterfly)
October 30th - November 27th: NGETAL, ‘The Inquisitor’
Tree: The Reed Tree, Animal: The White Hound (sometimes The Wolf)
November 28th - December 23rd: RUIS, ‘The Seeker’
Tree: The Elder Tree, Animal: The Raven (sometimes The Hawk or Falcon)
Do you feel an association to your Celtic sign? An affinity to your tree, or a connection to your animal? We’ve got a beautiful range of pewter pendants for your Celtic zodiac sign here.
The Chinese Zodiac
Like Celtic animal astrology, Chinese astrology is based on the animal kingdom. But unlike Celtic and Western astrology, the Chinese zodiac is not split into months, but years. The Chinese zodiac, or ‘shengxiao’ is a repeating cycle of twelve years, with each year corresponding to an animal and its attributes.
The Chinese zodiac is believed to influence both on an individual and universal level. The animal of your birth year determines your personality and character make-up, while the animal of the current calendar year will impact community and world events.
A lesser known fact about the Chinese zodiac is that the animals also correspond to a 2-hour period in the day, and that these hours directly relate to that animal’s ‘special time’. So for example, the hour of The Rat is 23:00 - 1:00, when rats are seeking food, and the hour of The Monkey is 15:00 - 17:00, when monkeys are most lively and active in the wild.
Below is a list of each year, hour and its corresponding Chinese zodiac animal. Remember that the Chinese New Year falls between January 21 - February 20, so if you’re born between those dates you must check the year of your birth to see what Chinese year you were actually born in.
Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960 (Hour 23:00 - 1:00, when rats look for food)
Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961 (Hour 1:00 - 3:00, when oxen start tilling the land)
Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962 (Hour 3:00 - 5:00, when tigers hunt)
Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963 (Hour 5:00 - 7:00, when the jade rabbit on the moon starts grinding herbs, according to Chinese myth)
Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964 (Hour 7:00 - 9:00, when dragons start marching westwards in legend)
Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965 (Hour 9:00 - 11:00, when snakes leave their holes)
Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966 (Hour 11:00 - 13:00, when the horse is most rigorous)
Goat: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967 (Hour 13:00 - 15:00, the best time for goats to eat grass)
Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968 (Hour 15:00 - 17:00, when monkeys are lively)
Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969 (Hour 17:00 - 19:00, when roosters return to their coops)
Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970 (Hour 19:00 - 21:00, when dogs guard the house)
Pig/Boar: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971 (Hour 21:00 - 23:00, when pigs are sleeping)
If you want to show off your Chinese zodiac sign or find a gift for your zodiac-loving friend, have a look at our Chinese astrology pendants.
The traditional Hindu astrology system is called 'jyotisha', from the Sanskrit jyótis meaning 'light/heavenly body'. This is an apt name for this ancient science, which studies and interprets the 'lights' (celestial bodies) in the sky.
Vedic astrology has some similarities to its Western counterparts and is based on the same constellations. But it is far more specific. The key difference is that Vedic astrology is focused on your 'rising' sign, rather than your 'sun sign' as in Western astrology. While the sun stays in the same sign for the whole month (roughly), your rising zodiac sign is accurate to your exact moment of birth.
Because the 'jyotisha' is much more specific than the other astrological systems we've explored, it's best to use a calculator to find out your chart. We'd recommend this one here, thanks to the Vedic Astrology Centre.
Sceptic or supporter, it's hard to deny that the celestial world has fascinated humans for millennia and that we're constantly drawn to the meanings in the sky. And even thought we try to intimately know ourselves - what influences our personalities and dispositions, our fates and decisions - it's compelling to think that perhaps it is all written in the stars. Which system do you find has the most significance to you? Let us know in the comments below!
Our beautiful range of Josephine Wall Zodiac cards are the perfect addition to a birthday gift.
Our Zodiac Fairy trinket boxes are gorgeous little treasure chests for precious jewels or dainty knick-knacks!
Other astrological gift ideas