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Is it just a legend?


Centuries ago, when people did not know how to measure time, the Jade Emperor, the ruler of the heavens, organized a tournament, inviting all the animals to participate in the race. The first twelve to cross the wild river and the order in which they reached the Emperor's palace would represent the next twelve years.

In the morning, all the animals gathered in the forest clearing. Full of excitement and energy, they set out for victory.

The cat and the rat, who were best friends at the time but poor swimmers, knew that they could not cope with the rushing river and asked the ox to carry them across on its back. The kindly ox granted their request. During the crossing, the rat began to doubt whether he had done the right thing by taking the cat with him, because the cat could win the race. He decided to eliminate him and pushed the cat straight into the river, and the current immediately carried him away. This explains why cats today resent water and rats. After the ox had swum across the river, the rat jumped off its back and was the first to rush to the palace, thus taking first place. The ox arrived moments later, taking second place.

After the rat and the ox, a heavily breathing tiger rushed into the Emperor's palace. He explained how he’d had problems crossing the river, which kept dragging him down, but he managed to overcome it thanks to his strength, perseverance and stubbornness. The Emperor gave the tiger the third place in the zodiac system.

The sound of another animal approaching began to echo through the palace corridors. The Emperor adjusted himself on the throne and looked at the door, where, after a moment, a rabbit appeared. He told how he’d managed to get across the river by jumping from stone to stone and then onto a drifting log, on which, with the help of a dragon, he swam the last section of the river. The rabbit became the fourth zodiac animal.

Then the dragon arrived. Surprised, the Emperor asked:
     ‘How is it possible that such a powerful creature arrived fifth?’
The dragon lowered his head and, looking away, replied:
     ‘On the way, I saw people suffering from drought, and I stopped to send them rain. While flying over the river, I saw a rabbit on a log, already starting to drift downstream. I decided to help it by blowing on the log so that it would reach the shore safely.
The Emperor was pleased with what he heard and gave the dragon the fifth place in the zodiac.

A horse came galloping to the palace gate. He was about to open it when suddenly a snake jumped out from behind his hooves. His hiss startled the horse, who backed away in fear. The snake took advantage of the situation and slithered as quickly as possible to the Emperor, who awarded him sixth place. When the horse ran into the throne room, he was given seventh place.

Soon, three animals appeared who had built a raft to cross the river together. The Emperor praised everyone for their efforts; the goat took eighth place, the monkey ninth and the rooster tenth.

The dog was the eleventh to arrive. But he was the best swimmer of all the animals – how did he come second to last? the Emperor wondered. The dog explained that he had not bathed for a long time, and since the water in the river was crystal clear, he could not resist the temptation.

The twelfth animal announced itself, the pig's squeal echoing through the palace corridors. The pig told the Emperor how she got hungry on the way, and right after her meal, she felt tired and took a nap. This made her the last to arrive.

The Emperor had just risen from his throne to announce the end of the competition when suddenly the door burst open and a soaked and exhausted cat rushed in. The Emperor explained to him that there were only twelve seats, all of which were already taken. The furious cat attacked the rat, which ran away as fast as it could.

When my cousin told me this legend long ago, adding that by knowing Chinese characters I would have the key to understanding people, I was sceptical. Just like you do now, I thought it was a fairy tale. However, I decided to check it out, and first, I looked at my friends. I was surprised when the described characteristics of the animals in the Chinese horoscope matched them perfectly. After that, I started observing people more closely, and over time, the Chinese zodiac signs became a good tool at work and in the private sphere. Of course, there are much more advanced and accurate tools, such as the mandala, but this is not my field. Occasionally, I ask my cousin, who does this professionally, to check this and that :)

I strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Chinese zodiac signs. You don't have to believe it. Just do it for fun.