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From The Asian Reporter, V16, #4 (January 24, 2006), page 14.
The animal that hides in your heart
The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes
By Theodora Lau
Trade Paperback, 421 pages, $18.95
By Josephine Bridges
The martial strains have summoned me
to hear your sorrows,
still your pain.
I am the protector of Justice.
Equality ó my sole friend.
My vision is never blurred by cowardice,
my soul never chained.
Life without honor
is life in vain.
I AM THE DOG.
Since we will soon welcome the Year of the Dog ó the Fire Dog to be exact ó letís have a look at what Theodora Lauís 25th anniversary edition of this classic work has to say about what "may be the most likeable sign in the Chinese horoscope."
The Dog personality has so many excellent attributes, itís impossible to list them all here. To begin with, people born in the Year of the Dog are "honest, intelligent and straightforward." Like manís best friend, "the Dog-born sometimes sticks to the object of his affection no matter how unworthy the person may be." While Dogs may be "prone to bouts of erratic and cantankerous behavior," they are also able to "carry on revolutionary activities while holding pacifist views."
The Dog child is "friendly, happy and well-balanced Ö Open, confident, and loyal, he will perceive other peopleís viewpoints with amazing clarity while still maintaining his own convictions and dignity."
The influences of five elements can bring about five distinct Dogs: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth. The Fire Dog is "highly dramatic and attractive" but beware: "This Dogís bite is just as strong as his bark."
People born in the Year of the Dog are highly compatible with Tigers and Horses. "Extroverted, energetic and united against adversity and injustice, they will get along fabulously together." The Dog "will encounter his greatest personality clashes with someone born in the Year of the Dragon."
Characterized by Theodora Lau as "a shadow that follows us through life," a personís ascendant, "the animal sign that rules the hour of our birth," can modify the basic personality of anyone born in a given year. A Dog born in the hours governed by the Dragon ó between 7:00 and 9:00am ó may be "a miracle worker or a missionary," while a Dog born in the hours of the Rooster ó from 5:00 to 7:00pm ó may be "conservative and cautious." Someone born between 9:00 and 11:00pm, the hours of the Boar, "could be one burly, sensuous, and emotionally charged Dog."
One of the more interesting aspects of The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes is its discussion of combinations of "Eastern and Western horoscope cycles." A person born on January 29, the day the Year of the Dog begins, will be an Aquarius Dog. "The strongly individualistic Dog is made more changeable, adaptable and daring by the Water Carrierís sign."
Who are some famous people born in the Year of the Dog? Chiang Ching-kuo and Mother Teresa are Metal Dogs, and Golda Meir and Chou En-lai are Earth Dogs. Wondering in which year the United States was born? Hereís a hint: Among the qualities this sign displays are "inventiveness, communication skills and leadership in commerce."
The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes comes to a close with chapters on choosing wedding dates and the 144 possible marriage combinations. We already know that Dogs and Dragons will bring each other difficulties, so letís have a look at the ultimate challenge. In the marriage of a Dog husband and a Dragon wife, "the Dog thrives on cooperation and may resent the Dragonís audacious, high-handed and overpowering tactics Ö at its best, this could only be a love-hate relationship." When the wife is a Dog and the husband a Dragon, "each may be trying to attain the attributes of the other that he or she lacks. However, they donít have the first idea of how to go about it Ö A great many adjustments are needed in order for this marriage to work, perhaps too many."
I have one quarrel with this basically enthralling book. Each chapter contains a paragraph or two about the female of the species, as if male is the default setting and female is some sort of aberration. In 1979, when the first edition of this book appeared, this was a minor offense. Today itís seriously offensive.
Theodora Lau lets us know at the bookís beginning that she is at work on a book about charting your own Chinese horoscope. Thatís something to look forward to.