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Chinese and Tibetan Astrology

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Chinese astrology is more than the animal of the year. It is a complex discipline in its own right and intimately linked to Chinese philosophy as a whole, especially to the I Ching. We have gone out searching and can report only a tiny handful of really good books on the subject. Though we all appreciate the external beauty of their ancient culture, China remains a great mystery.

Indicates a book on our Top Ten list. These are in two categories: Serious overviews of Chinese astrology, suitable for students, and the best of the popular Animal of the Year. If you would like to find more good books, click on the star.

THE CHINESE ASTROLOGY BIBLE The definitive guide to using the Chinese zodiac - Derek Walters, $14.95


1. What is Chinese astrology?
2. The twelve animals
3. Relationships
4. The year ahead
5. Calculating the hour, month and day signs
6. The broader horoscope
7. The 60 stems and branches
8. Exploring further



I had put off stocking this book as I have found in the past that popular books by famous and respected authors were often trivial and useless. That the publisher had traded on the author's name, without the content to justify it. I am pleased to report this book, which is printed in full color and is very pretty, is an exception. It's a very good book.

Much of this book reads like the author's Complete Guide (above), with the exceptions of the purely popular sections on the 12 animals and how they fare in each of the twelve years, which are fairly trivial. The introduction is excellent, as are the instructions for finding the Hour animal, the Month animal, the Day animal, complete with easy to use tables.

The second half of the book, which digs into Chinese astrology far beyond anything you've seen before, is simply excellent. Simple, clear, easy to use, to the point. Columns, Years, Stems, Branches, The Animal of the Day, Mansions of the Moon, Clothes cutting days, the Three Fates, Feng Shui, Tai Sui, Color, Matching houses to people, the Magic Square of Nine (Luo Shu), and more. You won't become an expert at any of these from this book, but you will get a good grounding.

Sterling, 400 pages.

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Contents: Introduction: The animal that hides in your heart. Tables & charts: Lunar signs, 1900-2007, The exact lunar years, 1900-2007; Interaction of the five elements; Animal signs & their fixed elements, seasons & stems; Ascendants: 12 animal signs & their hours; Months of the lunar signs & their matching solar astrological signs; Long & short lunar years & the influence of the Li Chuan; Understanding the five elements; Influence of the moon's four phases

Chapters 1-12: Each of the 12 animals, in turn: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Boar. For each, introductory notes, personality, children, the five different varieties (one for each element), compatibility & conflicts with the other animals, the various ascendants, how the animal fares in the lunar cycle, when moon signs meet sun signs, seasons of the animal, famous persons born in each of the years.

13. Choosing wedding dates by the lunar almanac
14. The 144 marriage combinations

Comment: Not the usual animal of the year nonsense. This is probably the most accessible of all books on Chinese Astrology. Each of the animals is qualified by one of the five elements (air, earth, water, fire, metal), so the entire cycle is 60 years, not twelve. Some tigers are metallic, some are wooden, some rats are of the earth, while others are full of fire. We know a water dragon, however strange it may sound. Each of the animals rules an hour of the day, so we can talk of an air monkey with an ox rising. So from a simple 12 possible types, we already have 720 (12 animals times 5 elements times 12 hours). Then, wouldn't you like to know how any given animal does in another animal's year? 1996 was the year of the Rat. Was that good or bad for a wooden sheep? Lau gives compatibility of the various animals & also her own (& possibly unique) view of how the animal of the year relates to your sun sign. As a friend of ours pointed out, the Chinese managed to do all this just with the moon.

February, 2009: Sixth edition, with tables from 1912 to 2014. By that time there should be a 7th edition. The section entitled, How the _______ (animal) fares in the Lunar Cycle, ie, annual forcasts for each of the twelve animals, now runs from 2007 to 2010, inclusive.

Collins, 421 pages.

CHINESE POWER ANIMALS, Archetypes of transformation - Pamela Leigh Powers, $16.95
Contents: Preface; A chinese power animals fairy tale;

Part 1: Introduction to your power animals: Chinese power animals: archetypes of transformation; Chinese power animals & the meridians; Fundamentals of the meridians;

Part 2: More about your personal Chinese power animals: Wood element: Rat & Ox; Metal element: Tiger & Cat; Earth element: Dragon & Snake; Fire element: Horse & Sheep; Water element: Monkey & Rooster; Fire element: Dog & Boar;

Part 3: Relationships with power animals: Primal relationships, Mom, Dad, You and your shadow (your mate), Your children, Minor characters, Case history: Michaela, Advanced techniques;

Part 4: Celebrities as contemporary gods and goddesses: Celebrity archetypes, Bill and Hillary Clinton, O.J. and Nichole Simpson, Prince Charles and Diana, Richard and Pat Nixon, The United States of America

Part 5: Chinese power animals & health: Chinese power animals & illness, Case history: Michael J. Fox

Part 6: Healing therapies for the power animals: Chinese power animals & Bach flower remedies, by Pamela Galadrial; Chinese power animals & essential oils; Tarot cards of the Chinese power animals; Colors of the power animals; Healing herbs & the Chinese power animals, by Caroline Patrick; Postures of the meridians; Numerology & the Chinese power animals, by Joe Ivory

Appendices: A. The power animals and the sun signs; B. The years of the Chinese power animals; C. The minutes of the Chinese power animals. Bibliography; Index.

Comment: The author was a western astrologer for 20 years & then, starting in 1990, sort of stumbled into Chinese astrology. She matches sun-signs to animals (Aries = Rat, Taurus = Ox, all the others follow in sequence), which she does not attempt to justify. She has the usual two-hour daily table, and her own 10 minute table, which she does not source, nor explain if we should use straight clock time (ie, daylight in summer), or standard time year 'round, or LMT, or based on sunrise/sunset. The example on pg. 54 is ambiguous, as she seems unaware the time given was War Time. Animals get slogans: Rats are adored, Ox are independent, Tigers are recognized, Cats are sacred, etc. Her explanation of ascendants is puzzling: From 11 am to 1 pm, Cats have Horses as sons (?). Born from 1 - 3 pm, professor Cats have Sheep for students (?). Next, she takes the strength of the twelve meridians through the day & relates them to the animals of the 12 ascendants. She then draws psychological interpretations from the relationship of animals to meridians. This series of "logical" deductions starts on pg. 53 & runs for most of the rest of the book. I confess that I could not make them work for me.

Weiser, 322 pages, paper.

THE NEW ASTROLOGY: A Unique Synthesis of the World's Two Great Astrological Systems: Chinese & Western - Suzanne White, $19.99
Contents: Introduction: The western astological reference chart; The Chinese horoscope historical reference chart

The western astrological signs, Aries through Pisces
The Chinese animal signs

The New Astrology: Each western sun-sign is paired with each of the 12 Chinese animals. Ie, Aries/rat, Aries/ox, Aries/Tiger, Aries/cat, etc.

Comment: The unique feature of this book is that it pairs the animal of the year with the sun-sign of the month. So, for example, 2000 was the year of the Dragon. Starting in February, 2000, you have Aquarius/Dragon, Pisces/Dragon, Aries/Dragon, Taurus/Dragon, etc. At the start of each of the 144 combinations (12 signs times 12 animals), she gives her fundamental keywords. For Virgo/Dragon: I analyze, Earth, Mercury, Mutable, and, I preside, positive wood yang. From this she derives her delineations, which include introduction, love, home & family, and profession. Surprisingly, the author has a good sense of what she is combining. She reminds me of Linda Goodman, whom I regard highly.

In the back of the book is a listing of animals of the year from 1516 to 1899. In the front of the book are the years 1900-1999. As the sequence of animals follow a regular pattern, finding the proper animal for years since 1999 is easily done. Dear Ludwig was a Sagittarius Tiger (December 16, 1770). She nails him. One of the best overviews of Beethoven's temperament I have read.

St. Martin's Press, 690 pages, paper.

THE CHINESE HOROSCOPES GUIDE TO RELATIONSHIPS: Love & Marriage, Friendship & Business - Theodora Lau, $13.95
Contents: The twelve earth branches in the relationship tree;

Introduction: The twelve earth branches, Ascendants, Triangles of affinity, Circle of conflict, Relationships, How to use this book

Each of the 12 chapters below also include Triangle of Affinity, Circle of Conflict, Relationships with the [____] (rat, ox, tiger, etc.): Within the family, As a teacher, AS a lover & spouse, As a business partner, As a boss, As a friend & colleague, As an opponent, As teh mediator, Relations with other branches:

1. The Zi Branch - The Rat: The initiator's song, Years of the first branch, The first earth branch: The sign of the rat, see list above for the rest.

2. The Chou Branch - The Ox: The Enforcer's song, Years of the second branch, The second earth branch: The sign of the ox, see list above.

3. The Yin Branch - The Tiger: The idealist's song, Years of the third branch, The third earth branch: The sign of the Tiger, see list above.

4. The Mao Branch - The Rabbit: The conformist's song, Years of the fourth branch, The fourth earth branch: The sign of the rabbit, see list above.

5. The Chen Branch - The Dragon: The visionary's song, Years of the fifth branch, The fifth earth branch: The sign of the dragon, see list above.

6. The Si Branch - The Snake: The strategist's song, Years of the sixth branch, The sixth earth branch: The sign of the snake, see list above.

7. The Wu Branch - The Horse: The adventurer's song, Years of the seventh branch, The seventh earth branch: The sign of the horse, see list above.

8. The Wei Branch - The Sheep: The peacemaker's song, Years of the eighth branch, The eighth earth branch: The sign of the sheep, see list above.

9. The Shen Branch - The Monkey: The innovator's song, Years of the ninth branch, The ninth earth branch: The sign of the monkey, see list above.

10. The You Branch - The Rooster: The administrator's song, Years of the 10th branch, The tenth earth branch: The sign of the rooster, see list above.

11. The Xu Branch - The Dog: The guardian's dog, Years of the 11th branch, The eleventh earth branch: The sign of the dog, see list above.

12. The Hai Branch - The Boar: The Unifier's song, Years of the 12th branch, The twelfth earth branch: The sign of the Boar, see list above.

Comment: For each of the twelve animals, after an extensive introductory section, there are paragraphs comparing the animal to each of the others.

If I've not mentioned it elsewhere, a Chinese astrologer in Thousand Oaks, CA, once mentioned that he was unsure if the date of the Chinese New Year, from which the animal of the year is derived, should not be a month earlier than it is. So that some late Capricorns, and most Aquarians, might be the animal of the previous year. In my case, this theory shifted me from a Dragon to a Rabbit, and though I'd like to think of myself as a Dragon, I'm much more comfortable as a Rabbit. If this applies to you, you might consider.

Doubleday, 299 pages, paper.

Contents: Acknowledgements

Part 1: Taoist Astrology: The way of the Tao, The twelve earthly branches, Your rising sign, Five elements & ten heavenly stems, Taoist alchemy, Harmonies & conflicts.

Part 2: The Twelve Earthly Branches: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon, Serpent, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Phoenix, Dog, Boar.

The lunar calendar from 1900 to 2020.

Comment: From the back cover: In Taoist astrology the year in which you were born determines your character. The years form a cycle of sixty unique signs, each with distinct strengths and weaknesses. In this book, the five elements are further qualified by color. Fire is red & purple, Earth is yellow & gold, Metal is white & silver, Water is black & gray, Wood is green & blue. For each of the twelve chapters on the animals, there is a list of lunar years for the animal, an overview of the mythology & tendencies of that animal's year as a whole, the animal's personality, the animal with the other animals (relationships), the animal as child & parent, the animal in the 12 branch cycle (ie, how the animal fares in each of the 12 years), and delineations of the animal through the five colors, aka elements.

Destiny Books, 216 pages, paper.

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