The zodiac is shaped to help even the newest practitioner look inwards, find themselves, and cultivate balance. These animals are a mirror. They do not tell us who we are, but help us better ask the question. What are our strengths? What are our challenges? How are we different or the same from what we see in the mirror? Some questions are always worth pursuing.
Furthermore, both the 12 animals and the five elements describe cycles of the universe. Once you know the elements, you can see them in the people and systems around you. There is Wood element in a clean room, Metal in a list of pros and cons, Water in the act of forgiveness. When you learn this, you can also learn how to balance them. Any element in excess can be dangerous—any element too scarce can be fostered.
If you feel stuck in your ways (a symptom of excessive Earth) you may be looking for something new (an influx of Wood) to freshen things up. If you need help with a difficult concept (Metal), it may help to get your hands dirty and see it in action in the real world (Earth).
When followed to the end, Chinese astrology becomes not just a system for predicting one’s prospects, but a philosophy on how one can balance their life.
Advanced astrologers will use the complete chart animals and elements from a person’s year, month, day, and hour to give in-depth year-by-year forecasts about the person’s destiny, wealth, relationship status, and more. If you are interested in learning more about this, you might look into “Bazi astrology.”