The 5 Zodiac Signs Elements: Theory, Personality, and How to Find Yours

The 12 Chinese zodiac refers to a repeating 12-year cycle of animal signs that can tell a person’s personality, love compatibility, career aspirations, and horoscope for each year. Few people know that the Chinese zodiac signs are in fact inextricably linked to the five elements (五行) -- metal, wood, water, fire and earth. Even the same Chinese zodiac sign has different elements depending on the year, which means, people that have the same zodiac signs may not have similar personality.

Read on to know the correspondence between the 12 Chinese zodiac signs and the five elements. And you can find your Chinese zodiac signs element yourself.

Chinese zodiac five elements

2024 is a Year of the Wood Rabbit

Take’s take the new year 2024 as an example, a person born in 2024 is born in the year of Dragon and the year of wood. So this person is a Wood Dragon, and he/she has different personality with a fire Dragon or earth Dragon. The Wood Dragon people born in the year 2024 are introverted and quiet, so they don't have many friends. However, the Wood Dragons are very talented, good at inference, and they have a rich imagination and a thirst for knowledge.

Chinese Zodiac Calculator

Select your date of birth and find out your Chinese zodiac sign.

The Five Zodiac Elements Theory

The five Chinese zodiac elements, according ancient Chinese culture and philosophy, are a fundamental way of understanding the world. The theory of the five elements encompasses five basic dynamics that lend themselves to the evolutionary process of yin and yang -- metal represents convergence, wood represents growth, water represents infiltration, fire represents destruction, and earth represents integration. Ancient Chinese philosophers used the theory of the five elements to illustrate the formation of all things in the world and their interrelationships. It emphasizes the unity and aims to describe the forms of movement of things as well as the relationships of transformation. Yin and Yang is the ancient doctrine of the unity of opposites, and the Five Elements is the primitive system theory.


The concept of the five zodiac elements was first seen in the Book of History (尚书), which simply referred to the five common natural materials of water, fire, wood, metal and earth. Later, through the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States period to the Han Dynasty, a complete model of the five elements system was formed on the basis of the idea of mutual promotion and restraint, along with the elements of yin and yang, the four seasons, the five directions and the five virtues considered.

Initial Meaning

★ Wood represents plants

★ Fire represents heat energy

★ Earth represents land

★ Metal represents metal

★ Water represents liquid

Five Elements and Fengshui -- Corresponding Yin/Yang, Direction, Mythical Creature, Color

 Zodiac Element
Yang (阳)
 Yin (Yin)
 PositionMythical Creatures
 Wood Jia (甲)
 Yi (乙) East Blue Dragon
 Fire Bing (丙) Ding (丁) South Vermilion Bird Red
 Earth Wu (戊) Ji (己)
 Middle Dragon with Wings
 Metal Geng (庚) Xin (辛) West White Tiger
 Water Ren (壬)
 Gui (癸)
 North Black Tortoise Black

Five Elements for Chinese Zodiac Year

The combination of the ten Heavenly Stems and twelve Earthly Branches (Tiangan & Tianzhi, 天干地支) creates a cycle of sixty years as a cycle, which is repeated in an orderly manner, forming a stable cyclical pattern. As the cycle created by the combination of the heavenly stems and the earthly branches begins with the "Jia (甲)" and the "Zi (子)", this cycle of sixty years is also known as the "Jia Zi" cycle.

The Chinese zodiac years are calculated based on the above theory. And each year is associated with one of the five zodiac elements, determining people born that year the characteristics of that element.

Chinese Zodiac Element Chart

 Wood Fire Earth Metal Water
 1958, 1959, 1964, 1965, 1974, 1975, 1984, 1985, 1994, 1995, 2004, 2005, 2014, 2015 1956, 1957, 1966, 1967, 1976, 1977, 1986, 1987, 1996, 1997, 2006, 2007, 2016, 2017 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 1978, 1979, 1988, 1989, 1998, 1999, 2008, 2009, 2018, 20191962, 1963, 1970, 1971, 1980, 1981, 1990, 1991, 2000, 2001, 2010, 2011, 2020, 2021
 1964, 1965, 1972, 1973, 1982, 1983, 1992, 1993, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2013, 2022, 2023

Personality of the Five Zodiac Elements

Wood - Merciful

Recent years: 1958, 1959, 1964, 1965, 1974, 1975, 1984, 1985, 1994, 1995, 2004, 2005, 2014, 2015

A person in the prime of wood is slender, elegant, and beautiful, with delicate hands and feet, a beautiful mouth, and a greenish-white face. While a person in wood decay, has a long and thin body, with thin hair, a narrow-minded personality and is jealous and unkind.

Their personality is characterised by fraternity, compassion, simplicity and innocence. They are stubborn and have a strong will, preferring to die standing up rather than kneeling down, especially those with a stubborn streak.

The Wood person is easy-going, affectionate, spontaneous, broad-minded, optimistic, good at making friends, noble and confident. They have their own plans and ideas in everyday life, usually do not follow others.

However, the Wood person lacks tolerance for others, being jealous, straightforward and defiant, loves to contradict others and has weak management skills.

We should treat this type of person with courtesy and respect, and avoid confrontation.

Chinese zodiac signs and five elements

Fire - Polite

Recent years: 1956, 1957, 1966, 1967, 1976, 1977, 1986, 1987, 1996, 1997, 2006, 2007, 2016, 2017

A person with a strong fire has a small head and long legs, thick eyebrows and small ears, and a sparkling spirit. He/she is modest and polite, pure and impatient.

A person with a weak fire has a thin, yellow, flabby body, a delusional language, and a jealous and envious spirit.

They are warm, generous, spontaneous, emotional in heart, calm in appearance, active, hospitable, powerful, intuitive and very sensitive.

The fire personality is modest, radiant, impetuous and intelligent. They are also fierce, emotionally volatile, quick to anger, passionate, straightforward, and good at making friends. Warm and kind persons, they are respect both the old and the young, not afraid of the weak or evil, and bear courageous in the face of justice.

However, the Fire person does not have enough energy to get things done and often exaggerates and gives up on himself. He/she is also obsessive, perfectionist, hateful and greedy, and sees the flaws of others but not his own.

Earth - Trustworthy

Recent years: 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 1978, 1979, 1988, 1989, 1998, 1999, 2008, 2009, 2018, 2019

If the earth is too much, the person's mind will be rigid, dull and unintelligent, introverted and quiet. But a person with too little earth energy will have a flat and sad face, with a low nose, and will be ruthless, untrustworthy and unreasonable.

A person with an earthy character is unconventional, loyal, filial, generous, and trustworthy in word and deed. They are usually loyal and honest to others.

Regarding the career, they are capable of action and hard-working, always persevere in their work, and have a sense of purpose. However, a person with a lot of earth likes to be quiet and does not like to move, so he or she is prone to lose good opportunities.

The earthy character often experiences mood swings, is suspicious and often indecisive, thus needs help to get things done.

Additionally, the Earth person is a bully, a brutal and unreasonable person with a strong sense of revenge, almost foolish and straightforward.

Metal - Righteous

Recent years: 1962, 1963, 1970, 1971, 1980, 1981, 1990, 1991, 2000, 2001, 2010, 2011, 2020, 2021

A Metal person usually has a square white face, high eyebrows and deep eyes, a healthy body and a clear mind. If a person lacks metal, he/she will be thin and small, mean and poisonous, like to be miserly and greedy.

Metal people are heroic, righteous and generous, with a strong sense of propriety and integrity, self-esteem, and has a proud, unassuming personality.

However, they are also eccentric, stubborn and conservative, which may easily offend others. Sometimes they seem to very overly critical of others’ mistakes.

Metal represents "righteousness", so metal people always stick to principles and would like to talk about the rules and regulations.

It is also important to note that people with too much metal have valour but lack strategy, and tend to be greedy and unkind.

Water - Wise

Recent years: 1964, 1965, 1972, 1973, 1982, 1983, 1992, 1993, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2013, 2022, 2023

A person with much water speaks calmly, is thoughtful, resourceful and knowledgeable. If the water is too much, the person is likely to be gossiping around, lascivious and greedy.

If the water is not sufficient, the person is usually short, unpredictable, timid and unpredictable.

The Water person is very calculating and has a high intelligence. They are introverted, tolerant, conservative and frugal.

However, the Water person has poor characterisation, lacks drive, is dependent, worries a lot and often regrets things that have happened years ago. In addition, they are usually angry, sloppy and untidy.

Twelve Chinese Zodiac Signs and Fixed Elements

Each Chinese zodiac sign corresponds to a fix element. The correspondence between the 12 zodiac signs and the five elements can be derived from the heavenly stems and earthly branches. The Tiger and the the Rabbit are wood, the Dragon, the Goat, the Dog and the Ox are earth, the Snake and the Horse are fire, are earth, the Monkey and the Rooster are metal, and the Pig and the Rat are water.

Below the chart can help you better understand your zodiac fixed element and personality.

Chinese Zodiac Fixed Element Chart

 Zodiac Signs
 Fixed Element
 Tiger, Rabbit
 Snake, Horse
 Ox, Dragon, Goat, Dog
 Monkey, Rooster
 Pig, Rat

Interactions Between the Chinese Zodiac Elements

There is a law between the five zodiac elements that they mutually reinforce and neutralize each other. Mutual vitality means mutual nourishment and promotion. Mutual grammaticality means mutual restraint and inhibition.

Mutual promotion and restraint, like yin and yang, are the two inseparable aspects of things. Without promotion there would be no occurrence and growth of things; without restraint, the balance and harmony in the development and change of things cannot be maintained.

★ Positive generating relation: wood → fire → earth → metal → water

★ Wood generates fire: wood dries and warms to produce fire.

★ Fire generates earth: fire burns wood to produce earth.

★ Earth generates metal: earth deposits minerals to produce metal.

★ Metal generates water: metal condenses to produce water.

★ Water generates wood: water moistens wood.

★ Negative restraining relation: metal → wood → earth → water → fire

★ Rigidity prevails over tenderness, so that metal prevails over wood; for a knife may cut down a tree.

★ Specialization prevails over dispersion, so that wood prevails over earth; for trees may take root in the earth.

★ Solid prevails over void, so earth prevails over water; for a dam stops the flow of water.

★ The multitude is better than the few, therefore water is better than fire; for great water quenches the flame.

★ Fire is better than metal, because fire melts metal.

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