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The Story of the 12 Animals of the Oriental Zodiac

Many people have seen these animals. Some people call this the Chinese Zodiac, but in truth, this zodiac is in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, India, and even Mexico.  Some people have asked me to tell more Korean stories, so I asked my Korean son in law for another story that isn’t written in English that he knows, and this is what he told me.  He has read this story in Korean.  This story begins like it is from the Bible, but it isn’t from the Bible. It is a very, very old Korean story.

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A long long time ago, in fact, so long ago that no one knows when, the sun and moon were hanging in the sky. On the ground, the grass, trees, and animals were spread everywhere.  The sea was full of fish.  Next, God created human beings and breathed the breath of life into them.  This story begin pretty much like the creation story of the Bible because after God did all this, he was tired, and he rested.

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As God was resting, he suddenly heard a big noise that woke him up.  The people were screaming to the sky at God.  They didn’t know how to live or conduct their lives, so they were asking God how.  God realized he hadn’t told them how to live, but he was tired and wanted to rest.

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God called to the lesser deities of Heaven for help, and they came. He asked 12 of them to go to the world and teach the people how to live.  First, the god of the mice spoke. This god of the mice managed all the affairs of the mice on earth.  He suggested that the people need to be taught to work hard like mice so they could have full stomachs.  Next, the god of the cows spoke up.  He said people needed to develop their muscles and become strong because without power, they couldn’t work hard.  God liked what they said, so he sent them to the earth to help the people.

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After that, the god of the tigers spoke.  He growled saying even if they are strong, it isn’t enough.  People need courage.  When the god of the rabbits heard this, he also spoke.  He said the people need to be taught the different between right and wrong. If they don’t know the different between right and wrong, they will constantly be fighting.  God agreed with both of them and also sent them to the earth.

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Next, the god of the dragons decided to speak.  The dragon god managed all the water on the earth and helped everything grow.  The god of the dragons said people need water so they can grow and have life. The god of the snakes followed the god of the dragons. The god of the snakes said people need patience, endurance, and persistence.  The god of the snakes said that people need to be trained in these things so they can accomplish.  God liked what they both said, so he sent them to the earth.

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Next, the god of the horses ran to God.  The god of the horses was very manly.  He said human beings need to be taught that the world is huge, then they won’t fight over small things. After the horse spoke up, the god of the sheep decided he needed to speak.  He said even though the world is huge, it can’t be full of greedy human beings.  The god of the sheep said human beings need to learn to compromise and yield to one another.  God liked what both of these had to say, so he sent them to the earth.

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After that, the monkey king came dancing and lightly skipping. The god of the monkeys said people need to be given wit, creativity, and talent. With these things, they can create things to make themselves comfortable.  The god of the chickens was a rooster, and he waddled up to God and spoke next.  He said talent wasn’t enough.  People needed to be given time like a clock. He said people need to know when to get up, when to sleep, when to work, and when to play.  Again, God liked what he heard, so he sent them to the earth.

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Now, the god of dogs came running and shouting, “Faith is more important than time!”  people need to learn to trust one another so they can be close to other human beings.  The god of the pigs decided to speak next.  He said everything everyone had suggested was good, but if people hurry, they will make mistakes and mess up everything they do.  He suggested that people need to be taught to be easy going for their own happiness. The pig had come last because he had walked slowly.  God liked what these two had to say and decided he would also send them to the earth to help human beings.

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These 12 came to the world and God went back to sleep because he was tired.  After God had gone back to sleep, the cat came to him. The cat had been sleeping because he was such a sleepy head, so he was very, very late. The cat woke God up and requested to be sent to the earth to teach the people to live alone, but God refused to send him to the earth. God said the 12 were enough to teach the people how to live.

The 12 were doing their jobs.  The mouse taught the people to save diligently.  The cow gave the people muscles and power.   The tiger encouraged the people. The rabbit taught the people the difference between right and wrong.  The dragon made all life grow well. The snake trained the people in patience. The horse breathed into the people a lot of energy and strength. The sheep implanted into the people’es minds that they needed to be tolerant and share.  The rooster woke everyone up early in the morning.  The dog taught the people to believe in one another. The pig infused in the people to be easy going.  The world became beautiful and peaceful. God was satisfied, and he could sleep because he knew everything was going well.

When God went to sleep, he was woken up by a lot of noise!  The people had been fine because of what the 12 animals had taught them, but the 12 animals were fighting. Each one wanted to be the boss.  They were fighting so much they made the world a mess!  God could not rest.

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God was angry.  He told the 12 to come back to Heaven.  The 12 animals closed their mouths and looked at one another.  The fighting stopped, and God told them the job they had done was good.  They had each taught what they needed to teach.  He decided to give them shared responsibility.  Each animals would take turns being the boss for one year.  He told them that if they fought anymore, he would make the cat the boss. The cat was really glad to hear that! 20181227_001529-1-685931995.jpg

God made a list of who was boss when.  He made the list the order of when they had spoken up with their suggestions. Since that time, the world has had 12 zodiac signs. Hence, the year of he cow, the year of the sheep, the year of the dragon, etc. Every human being has their own zodiac sign of the year they were born.

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The sleepy cat doesn’t sleep at night, but walks around making sure the other animals are doing their jobs. At night, we can see the blue eyed cat. The cat commands the 12 animals.   The blue eyed cat is the 13th god. He is the boss of the animals gods.

 

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