Chinese Zodiac Elements [What They Are & How to Find Yours]


Most of us have heard about the 12 Chinese zodiac signs – the Horse, the Rooster, the Tiger, etc. But did you know that there are Chinese zodiac elements that can give you even more detailed information about yourself?

Read on to explore what each element means, what is the theory behind the elements, and how to find out which one you are!

What Are Chinese Zodiac Elements?

The elements of the Chinese zodiac are wood, fire, earth, water, and metal. They are based on the Five Elements theory or Wu Xing. This theory is the basis of many practices in China, and it is applied in medicine, martial arts, and feng shui.

All elements are equally important (no hierarchy) and interconnected. All the elements belong either to the yin signs or the yang signs. When Chinese zodiac elements interact, they can form negative and positive connections between themselves. If two of the opposite signs – yin and yang, form a connection, change (whether positive or negative) is unavoidable.  

The cycle of the elements is arranged in a special order and comes with defined chains of creation and destruction.

  • The chain of creation is as follows: water feeds the wood, the wood starts a fire, fire creates earth, the earth holds metal, metal carries water.
  • The destructive chain is: water puts out fire, fire melts metal, metal cuts wood, wood separates the earth, and earth absorbs water.

All Chinese elements are interconnected and each comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. People that belong to certain element types are believed to have distinct personality traits.

If you’re trying to form a successful team, it’s best if all the types are present: the wood person brings perspective and stability, the fire person brings courage and initiative, the earth person is the grounding influence, the metal person is orderly and precise, and the water person contributes creativity.

Now you’re probably ready to learn which type you are!

How to Find Your Chinese Zodiac Element

If you’re wondering, “What is my Chinese element?” you can find the answer hidden in your birth date. It’s easy to find out your element, just look at the last number in your birth year and match it to the element listed for that number.

  • 0 or 1, your element is metal.
  • 2 or 3, your element is water.
  • 4 or 5, your element is wood.
  • 6 or 7, your element is fire.
  • 8 or 9, your element is earth.

How to Find Out Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

In the Chinese zodiac, there is a 12-year cycle of animal signs based on the year of a person’s birth: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. This is called a person’s Sheng Xiao (sheng means “the year of birth”, xiao means “resemblance”).

Your Chinese sign is determined by your birth year, but it can be somewhat hard to determine for some people, as there is a difference between the lunar calendar (used in China) and the solar Gregorian calendar. The dates of the Chinese New Year change every year, so people born in January or February must pay special attention to their birth date in addition to their birth year if they want to determine their Chinese sign correctly.

Chinese Zodiac  Year Core traits
Rat 2020, 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, 1924 Patient and intelligent
Ox 2021, 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937, 1925 Diligent and reliable
Tiger 2022, 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, 1926 Independent and passionate
Rabbit 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927 Gentle and kind
Dragon 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928 Powerful and demanding
Snake 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, 1929 Transformational and intriguing
Horse 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942, 1930 Positive and energetic
Goat 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943, 1931 Kind and romantic
Monkey 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944, 1932 Playful and clever
Rooster 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945, 1933 Creative and friendly
Dog 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946, 1934 Conservative and loyal
Pig 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947, 1935 Logical and diplomatic

How to Find Your Chinese Zodiac Element

In Chinese astrology, each zodiac sign is connected with one of the Chinese zodiac elements, and this association is considered your “lucky” element.

For example, if you were born in 1991, then your Chinese sign is Goat. Your lucky element is earth but your real element is metal. So you are both an Earth Goat and a Metal Goat. Goats are generally considered to be gentle, stable, kind-hearted, and just individuals. But the influence of metal creates a cool and detached image. They will hide the fact that they’re sensitive by always showing their cool side at first. The earth element (the lucky element for a Goat) will make the person more grounded.

Here are the “lucky” elements based on your Chinese zodiac sign:

  • Wood: Tiger, Rabbit
  • Fire: Snake, Horse
  • Earth: Ox, Dragon, Goat, Dog
  • Metal: Monkey, Rooster
  • Water: Pig, Rat

According to legend, the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac were chosen by Buddha.

The 5 Elements

Earth, air, fire, and water feature in Western astrology, with each of the signs of the Zodiac corresponding to one of the four elements. In Chinese astrology, there are five elements – metal, water, wood, fire, and earth. Each element has its own features and associations with a different aspect of nature.


Wood people are hardworking and always looking for ways to grow and improve themselves. They strive to be constantly busy and believe that work is the best way to use their strength. Self-confidence and stability are some of their best features.

Wood people can become too competitive or obsessed with success. They tend to disrespect other people’s boundaries when they become too focused on expansion and opportunity. They have a strong vision, but they should make sure it’s not harming other people.


Fire people always strive for adventure and new impressions and will never refuse to explore something new. They are highly active and energetic individuals with leadership qualities. They love to compete and win.

According to the Chinese medical theory of the elements, among the five internal organs, the heart corresponds to the Fire element. Fire types are attractive and charming, they cannot stand loneliness, preferring to surround themselves with people. They are very attached to their loved ones and highly dedicated to family ties. These people are distinguished by high self-esteem and self-confidence, they are smart, friendly, eloquent, and decisive.

Fire people need to take care of their nervous systems, as they are prone to stress and insomnia. They should balance their fiery temper by taking long walks or meditating.


People whose actual Chinese birth element is Earth are patient and reliable. They’re responsible and committed to their family and loved ones. They are ambitious but idealistic at the same time. Earth types rely on a “moral compass” that helps them interact with the world around them.

Earth people are conservative, maintain ethics and discipline, and know how to use their own resources to the best effect. They are restrained in their emotions. They are always likable but may lack spontaneity and adventurousness.


People whose element is water according to the Chinese zodiac elements chart are sensitive and can often withdraw to take time out and understand themselves better. Water people tend to have a great imagination and are not afraid to use it. There are many philosophers and thinkers among these people.

They have perfect communication skills and can be eloquent. They have a strong intuition and often notice the details that other people are missing. These people are good at noticing the special talents of the people around them and helping develop them.

To find balance, these people need to stay alone and enjoy peace. Even though they are perfect at entertaining themselves, they should also get out more often and socialize because this gives them inspiration and motivation. 


According to the best astrology sites, among all the representatives of the various Chinese astrological elements, metal people are the most tenacious, independent, and self-reliant, which is due to their powerful strength of character. They are self-centered, but they know how to care for and respect others. They are distinguished by their reliability and decisiveness, although sometimes they keep a little distance, trying not to be part of the crowd. They aren’t afraid of being alone, and the only thing they want from society is recognition of their achievements and successes.

In order for metal people to get in touch with their softer side, they can try volunteering in various local charity initiatives.

Zodiac Elements Associations

All the elements have their own associations:

Element Color Season Planet  Symbol Climate
Wood Green Spring Jupiter  Dragon Windy
Fire Red Summer  Mars Phoenix Hot
Metal White Autumn Venus Tiger Dry
Earth Brown Between summer and autumn Saturn Cauldron Rainy
Water  Black Winter Mercury Turtle Cold

How Are the Chinese Elements Related to the Spheres of Life?

Even if your elements are in balance, learning more about your element can help you take better care of yourself. According to trusted astrology books, Chinese horoscope elements play an important role in the following areas:


The 5 elements are constantly moving and changing, becoming dominant at different periods of the natural cycles. They can also impact an individual’s health. Each element is associated with different body organs, in a similar fashion like chakras and body organs are connected.  This allows them to generate another, creating one symbiotic whole. Health issues occur when the elements aren’t in harmony and this usually happens when one element becomes too dominant. 


The five zodiac elements are balanced by the Five Spirits which are considered to be the foundational features of our mind, soul, and personality. Each one of the five spirits represents a unique facet of the human psyche and corresponds to each of the elements: Shen to Fire, Hun to Wood, Yi to Earth, Po to Metal, and Zhi to Water. To awaken spirituality and help develop spiritual perception you can also use the best oracle decks or try some of the best tarot decks for beginners.

Feng Shui

The goal of feng shui is to balance the 5 elements in a room to promote positive energy and life harmony. Because it is a simple concept and easy to study, many beginners concentrate on feng shui first of all.


The Five Elements Theory is a concept of Chinese philosophy that identifies and describes the interactions and relationships between things. The 5 elements are wood, fire, earth, water, and metal. Your Chinese zodiac and element are determined by your date of birth.

The Elements Theory can be used in every area of life, including how one should build personal relationships, arrange furniture and decorations in your home, and maintain physical and mental health. Take a look at the descriptions of each element we’ve provided to understand how each one works.


What are Chinese zodiac signs?

The Chinese zodiac or Sheng Xiao consists of a repeating cycle of 12 years. Each year is represented by an animal and has its own corresponding associations. The 12 Chinese zodiac signs are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.

What is my Chinese zodiac sign - yin or yang?

The Theory of the Five Elements is based on the interaction and relationship between the yin and yang energies. Monkey, Rat, Horse, Tiger, Dragon, and Dog are the yang signs, while the Rooster, Rabbit, Pig, Snake, Ox, and Goat are yin signs.

What element is my sign?

Each of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac is associated with an element of Chinese cosmology. The elements are Water (Rat, Pig), Fire (Snake, Horse), Metal (Monkey, Rooster), Wood (Tiger, Rabbit), and Earth (Ox, Dragon, Sheep, Dog).

How many Chinese zodiac elements can I have?

A person can have 2 Chinese zodiac elements. One is considered a “lucky” element and one is considered the “real” element. Your “real” element can be found by the last number in your birth year while your “lucky” element depends on your zodiac sign.


I've loved writing since I can remember, and back in high school, I started loving psychology as well. So I majored in it while dabbling in spirituality and yoga on the side.

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