The Year of the Ox

chinesezodiacThe Year of the Ox arrived on 26 January 2009, and as I used to enjoy doing when I wrote editorials and wine reviews for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette , I am going to offer my predictions for the coming lunar year for people born under the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac. Readers can be as certain of the accuracy of these forecasts as they can of the authenticity of prognostications made by Western astrologists, since both are equally grounded in reality. However, it might help to establish my credentials if I mention two facts: I did live and teach for a year in Taiwan, during which time I was able to study the methodology of Chinese horoscopes under the tutelage of accomplished masters; second, I spent two years of post-doctoral work at Miskatonic University, where I was a student of many arcane arts.

I know that for most Westerners, the Ox has only a few postive associations, and being called an ox is hardly a compliment, unless you are an offensive lineman in the NFL, but in East Asia people born under the astrological influence of this sturdy beast are respected for being sensitive to the value of tradition while being receptive to new things. At a time when America is facing a severe economic crisis, this is not a bad outlook to have on life. Further, Ox people are usually loyal, determined, and realistic, and it is said that they have the ability to inspire confidence in others. It is perhaps auspicious for America, then, that Barack Obama was born in the Year of the Ox.

chinesezodiacoxIndivuals can determine the zodiac sign under which they were born by counting in multiples of twelve from the dates that I have provided for three of the birth years of each horoscope animal. Finally, it is important to remember there is no such thing as a “good” or a “bad” sign; they each have strengths and at least a few potential weaknesses. However, some signs, like some people, have character tendencies that are particularly annoying, at least to me, and I am the one writing this posting. Finally, I am not going to discuss the sorts of relationships that can obtain among people born under these signs. With Valentine’s Day approaching, there is already enough emotional treacle in the air for me to bother adding to it.

Year of the Rat (1984, 1972, 1960). Rats belong to the triangle of affinity that includes Dragons and Monkeys – the “doers” of the zodiac cyle, and although most Westerners associate them with betrayal and pestilence, in the Chinese view, Rats are usually shy and sensitive people who make good friends. While thrifty, they are also generous, and while uncommonly loving, they also tend to be demanding perfectionists. Because they are such clever, prudent, and hard-working creatures, Rats are likely to have a very properous year during the reign of the Ox. My youngest son is in many ways a little Rat, and the list of famous Rats includes Al Gore, David Carradine, Samuel L. Jackson, Marlon Brando, William Shakespeare, and, for an uncommonly pestiferous example, Ann Coulter.

Year of the Ox (1985, 1973, 1961). The Ox is part of the triangle of affinity that includes Snakes and Roosters – the three intellectual signs, though their intelligence is inflected in different ways. As I have already indicated, the Ox is a paragon of patience, discipline, and hard work who possesses immense strength of character. The Ox should enjoy a year filled with opportunity and good fortune. In addition to President Obama, famous Oxen include Napoleon, Jack Nicholson, Bach, Meryl Streep, and, for hideous balance, Adolf Hitler.

Year of the Tiger (1986, 1974, 1962). Tigers belong to the action-oriented triangle of affinity that includes the Horse and the Dog, and while they are passionate about life and love adventures and enterprises that require aggression and courage, Tigers are often given to extremes. This means that Tigers must exercise uncharacteristic prudence in the coming year, during which they should curtail – or at least circumscribe – most of their personal and professional ventures. It is not surpising that the list of famous Tigers is somewhat polarized; “good” Tigers include Dwight Eisenhower, Alec Guiness, and Karl Marx; “bad” or “paper” Tigers include Tom Cruise, Karl Rove, and Rush Limbaugh.

Year of the Rabbit (1987, 1975, 1963). The Rabbit belongs to the triangle of affinity that includes the Sheep and the Pig, which are generally termed the emotion-guided signs, but which I think of as “The Food Group.” Rabbits are civil, unassuming, artistic, and affectionate, though their love can sometimes be smothering. Many horoscope authorities consider Rabbits to be lucky, though having people cut off your feet and carry one of them around in their pocket is an odd sort of luck. At any rate, Rabbits are usually good with money, and so they will likely have a wonderful year in business ventures, and they are not likely to encounter many unpleasant surprises. Famous Bunnies include Judy Collins, Ali McGraw, Bob Hope, George C. Scott, and that old softy, Mike Ditka.

Year of the Dragon (1988, 1976, 1964). Dragons are powerful, attractive, and vigorous, but they also tend to be pompous and egotistical. It is not surprising, then, that if the Dragons are just moderately prudent in the coming year, they will enjoy good fortune. Unsurprisingly, many Dragons find success in show business, including Al Pacino, Nick Nolte, Shirley Temple, Ringo Starr, and Martin Sheen, along with writers George Bernard Shaw and Pearl Buck.

Year of the Snake (1989, 1977, 1965). Snakes are wise, seductive, and deeply intuitive. Of all the zodiac signs, they are the most mysterious, with an outward calm and inner intensity that can be either immensely attractive or deeply disturbing. Snakes can also be vain and, despite their considerable inner resources, insecure. However, being eminently compatible with the Ox, Snakes should enjoy a year filled with creative possibilities. Famous Snakes include John F. Kennedy, Mae West, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Allan Poe, Oprah, Abraham Lincoln, and Greta Garbo. I think that Snake women are the most beautiful and alluring creatures on the planet.

Year of the Horse (1990, 1978, 1966). Horses are sensuous, fashion-conscious, independent,
and theatrical, though they are just as commonly garrulous, insensitve, self-centered, and impatient. My olderst son is a Horse, and his decidedly Equine character convinces me that there can be a great deal of truth in Chinese zodiac lore. Given their impetuosity, Horses will need to be extremely cautious in the coming year, especially with respect to money and romance, though they probably won’t be. Famous Horses include Igor Stravinsky, Rita Hayworth, the peerlessly graceful Audrey Hepburn, Rembrandt, Barbra Streisand, Sean Connery, and Harrison Ford.

Year of the Sheep (1991, 1979, 1967). The Sheep is the most feminine of the signs, and so Sheep tend to be sensitive, artistic, compassionate, and gentle, though they can also be painfully shy, needy, and given to whining. With this combination of strengths and shortcomings, Sheep will probably experience a fairly successful year under the reign of the patient Ox, though they should also try to burden other people with their problems less frequently. Famous and infamous Sheep include Robert De Niro and John Wayne, as well as Geraldo Rivera, Jerry Springer, and Pamela Anderson.

Year of the Monkey (1992, 1980, 1969). Monkeys tend to be much too clever for their own good; they possess nimble minds and, in equal measure, inquisitiveness and mischievousness. Monkeys are extremely competitive and uncommonly crafty, and they are not above taking advantage of the trust or gullibility of others. In fact, Monkeys are notorious for their slender allegiance to truth, which might be why they make such good writers and excellent hosts, as well as successful politicians. Monkeys tend to land on their feet, and so they will probably have a great year under the influence of the Ox. In my opinion, Monkeys make splendid, endlessly-entertaining friends, though not very good spouses. Famous Monkeys include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lyndon B. Johnson, Charles Dickens, Edward Kennedy, Tom Hanks, and Ian Fleming. Since Monkeys are alleged to be notorious liars, it is perhaps not surprisng to learn that Donald Rumsfeld is a Simian.

Year of the Rooster (1993, 1981, 1969). The Rooster is both the most eccentric and the most misunderstood sign in the Chinese zodiac. Intelligent, witty, adventurous, and almost fanatically devoted to work, Roosters nonetheless can be reckless, overly sure of their own opinions, and insensitive about the feelings of other people. My middle son is a Rooster, but he is much kinder and more thoughtful than some of his zodiac peers, perhaps because he was born in Taiwan.
Because Roosters have so many affinities with the Ox, this should prove a good year for them, and they can expect many projects to come to happy fruition, but they must also exercise caution and be ready to assume a great deal of responsibility, especially in financial matters. Famous Roosters include Caruso, Steve Martin, Neil Young, Carly Simon, Katharine Hepburn, and Alex Haley.

Year of the Dog (1994, 1982, 1970). While Dogs are quite appropriately associated with loyalty, this does not mean that they have the necessary acumen to determine whether the principles or persons to whom that loyalty is directed are worthy of it. Dogs tend to be honest and open-natured, but they can also be secretive, petty, and spiteful. The Year of the Ox should be one of mixed results for Dogs, and so prudence is probably the best approach to all matters, as is generally the case, but especially those concerning business or romance. Famous Dogs include Elvis (nothin’ but a Hound Dog, of course), Cher, Sylvester Stallone, Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton (a reminder that not all Dogs are capable of staying on their own porch), George W. Bush (a reminder that not all dogs are bright, something my border collie constantly insists on), and Madonna.

Year of the Pig (1995, 1983, 1971). Pigs can be gallant and noble, but they also have a tendency to fall apart when their hopes fail to materialize. While Pigs are renowned for seeking harmony in personal relationships, they can also be almost wantonly hedonistic, and this self-indulgence can take many misfortunate forms. Generally speaking, the Pig will probably enjoy good luck during the Year of the Ox, though not necessarily in romantic matters. Famous Pigs include Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Humphrey Bogart, and Arnold Schwarzenegger; Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon are also Swine.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year, and I hope that all my readers enjoy much good fortune and a great deal of happiness during the Year of the Ox.

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