06 April 2012

Astrology Time

Welcome back. Once upon a time, a young man from a faraway land met and fell in love with a young woman, who was from that same faraway land and also in love. They planned to marry, but when his grandmother consulted the astrological signs, she declared, “Over my dead body!” (rough translation). Heartbroken, the couple parted.

Although I felt sorrow for our foreign grad student and his would-be fiancĂ©, I was awed by the power of grandma’s astrologic matchmaking. This saga came to mind as I was tossing out old files and came across a Chinese restaurant placemat I had saved over 40 years ago
Chinese Zodiac Placemat

The Chinese zodiac placement
Warren saved for over 40 years.

I was flabbergasted the first time I saw the new placemats at one of the Chinese restaurants we frequented. There, beneath the empty plate and chopsticks, was my introduction to eastern astrology: the Chinese zodiac--an animal representing each year of a 12 year cycle with a brief description of each.

I was…am…a Horse. Popular and attractive to the opposite sex. How could I argue with that? Ostentatious and impatient. Maybe I’m a little Impatient. One who needs people. Sometimes. OK, so the placemat was a off by a gnat’s eyebrow, but that was me!

My dining partner, the professor from China whom I’d mentioned way back in my second blog post, scoffed. How could the Emperor and everyone else born in the same year of the 12 year cycle be alike? Clearly, he wasn’t a Horse.

The Pillars of Chinese Astrology

Now that I’ve retired and become accustomed to being a Horse, I had a chance to look deeper into Chinese astrology. It’s far much more involved than just the 12 year cycle and 12 animals.

To start with, before the fortune-telling can really get cracking, four components or “pillars” of birth must be known: year, month, day and hour. Each pillar, not just the year, is one of the 12 animals; each conveys different insight. There are thousands of possible combinations.

That’s somewhat of a relief, because looking beyond the placemat, I found different descriptions of the Horse. Along with a few nice words, all of the non-placemat descriptions said that I talked too much. (Is that why my blog posts are so long?)

Some descriptions said I could be fickle, stubborn or worse. Me! Can you believe it? What happened to popular and attractive to the opposite sex?

Even though those Horse descriptions were only the year, not my inner (month), true (day) or secret (hour) animals, they were depressing. As an afterthought, one description did suggest that I would give up everything for love. (Did you see that, Vicki?)

Wrap Up

Learning about my revisionist eastern astrology was only half of my letdown. In delving, I discovered that my western zodiac sign may have changed. Depending on whether the zodiac is based on seasons or constellations or I don’t know what--I was too distraught to read it closely--there may be a 13th western zodiac sign, Ophiuchus, pushing around the other signs on the calendar.

Warren’s Horse, a gift from
China, with chopsticks.
No! You can’t change it. My western zodiac sign describes me better than the placemat Horse. And my sign is the only thing I sort of know about western astrology. I don’t read horoscopes. I’m not superstitious. Yes, I still have the little horse that a former academic colleague gave me 30 years ago as souvenir from his trip to China, but that isn’t only because I’m a Horse. And he didn’t know I was a Horse. Hmmm…Was it more than a coincidence that he gave it to me?

Thanks for stopping by. Tuesday’s photo addendum will be heavenly.

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