Using the Yin-Yang Theory to Pair Animals in the Chinese Zodiac

Dragon sculpture in a fountain in front of an office building.

The Dragon is one of the most powerful of all the animals, using its fiery energy to achieve greatness. (Image: Cameron Norman via Flickr)

The Jade Emperor in Heaven held a race to determine the order of months when constructing the Chinese calendar. Thirteen different animals were invited, and 12 made it across the finish line and they form the Chinese zodiac. The Chinese calendar consists of 12 lunisolar years that are associated with these 12 different animals. A person born in a certain year holds the personality traits associated with one of these animals.

We can use the yin-yang theory to see how these animals correspond to each other. Below, we analyze complementary animals to deepen our understanding of the Chinese zodiac.

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Animal pairings in the Chinese zodiac

Rat and ox

The rat represents wisdom, while the ox symbolizes diligence. If you have wisdom without diligence, you can only be smart in regard to little things. But if you work hard without using your brain, you are merely a fool. Thus, you must balance wisdom with diligence to achieve greatness.

Tiger and rabbit

The tiger represents bravery, while the rabbit signifies caution. If you are brave without being cautious, you create chaos. If you are cautious without taking risks, you are a coward. A combined approach can lead to informed action.

Dragon and snake

The dragon symbolizes strength, while the snake represents flexibility. If you solely rely on strength, you will encounter self-destruction, while if you are too soft, you are easily influenced and controlled. To bring strength and softness together has always been a Chinese ancestral teaching.

The rat is a Chinese zodiac animal.
The rat represents wisdom, while the ox symbolizes diligence in the Chinese zodiac. (Image: Cameron Norman via Flickr)

Horse and goat

The horse represents the steady pursuit of a goal, while the goat represents getting along with others. If you dash ahead without taking others into consideration, you are bound to face conflict and opposition. With opposition, reaching your goal becomes more difficult. This is why pursuing a goal while taking others into account is ideal. If, however, you are always catering to others, you could lose direction and might not reach your goal.

Monkey and rooster

The monkey symbolizes agility, while the rooster represents stability for its habitual crow. If you are agile without being stable and keep changing your course of actions, this will hinder success. If you are stable without being agile, however, you will be hindered by a rigidity that is detrimental in the ever-changing world you live in today.

Rooster sculpture in a fountain in front of an office building.
The monkey symbolizes agility, while the rooster represents stability for its habitual crowing in the Chinese zodiac. (Image: Cameron Norman via Flickr)

Dog and pig

The dog represents loyalty, while the pig represents an easy-going nature. If you are overly loyal without being easy-going and pleasant, you will shut out others and become isolated. Being too easy-going without the noble quality of loyalty, however, can make you lose your principles. That being said, no matter where loyalty lies, whether to a nation, a team, or your dream, an easy-going outlook cannot be lacking.

The Chinese zodiac is one expression of traditional Chinese wisdom passed down through the ages. It uses animals to signify characteristics about ourselves. If you know what your personality traits happen to be according to your birth year animal, you can use the complimentary animal’s traits to find balance. In this way, you can use the yin-yang theory to holistically understand yourself through the Chinese zodiac.

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