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From The Asian Reporter, V19, #3 (January 20, 2009), page 12.

What does the Year of the Ox have in store?

Chinese Astrology: Plain and Simple

By Suzanne White

Tuttle Publishing, 1998

Paperback, 387 pages, $16.95

By Josephine Bridges

Chinese legend has it that the order of the twelve animal signs was determined thousands of years ago by Buddha himself," Suzanne White writes in the introduction to this updated edition of her 1976 classic.

"Buddha felt that the Chinese nation was sadly in need of some reorganization," and "called all the animals in the kingdom together for a meeting. But only twelve beasts showed up for this convention." What you may not know is that "the hardworking Ox" was the second to arrive, preceded only by the Rat.

Similar to many books about Chinese astrology, this one describes the characters of people born under each animal sign and how well they are likely to get along with each other. Whatís unique about Chinese Astrology: Plain and Simple is its last section, called "The Chinese Years," in which the author outlines how each year may affect people born under each sign.

What does the Year of the Ox have in store for you?

In general, during Ox years, "everybody has to buckle down and tote those barges," writes Suzanne White. "Dictators flourish in Ox years," but these years are also "benevolent for farmers." As for specifics, "the Ox should be happiest in his own year. He can make his best decisions when his authority is unquestioned." In addition to the Ox, the Monkey, "who usually manages to find a way," will have a good year. "Court jesters are useful to the grave Ox king."

For the Horse and the Rooster, an Ox year holds both promise and problems. "Work, for the Horse, will be profitable in Ox years. But love will dry up and blow away." As for the Rooster, an Ox year will "make or break" him. "If he applies himself, much profit lies in store."

The Cat, Dragon, and Pig will have neither their best nor their worst years. "Though the Ox does not directly threaten the Catís equilibrium, he is not very indulgent with his prissy ways." The Dragon will not be at his best this year, either. "Not much in the way of authority seriously affects the dauntless dragon," but "Oxen think Dragons are false Gods. They do little to make a Dragonís life easier." The Pig "will have to adjust to the intemperate climate of hard work and stodging. Not his worst years, but perhaps his least amusing."

Rats, Tigers, Snakes, and Dogs will not fare well under the reign of the Ox. "Rats like to live off the fat of the land. The Ox does not take kindly to poachers." Tigers are encouraged to "sit tight and wait until better things roll their way, as all enterprise is ill-advised for the Tiger during Ox years." The Snake, too, should "Sit this one out ... Oxen donít give away prizes for beauty while they are on the throne." This year will not be one of the best for the Dog: "Though you may try to play your greatest deeds, the Ox will find you out."

But the worst year is in store for the poor Goat, "who loves to pasture in repose. The Ox will come along with his plow and turn over all the sweetest clover."

The bulk of Chinese Astrology: Plain and Simple is 12 chapters of exhaustive descriptions of people born under the sign of each animal. Thirty pages are devoted to the Ox, 12 of them under the subheading "Oxen I Have Known and Loved," and including a number of famous Oxen and one fabulous unknown. "Madame Ox" and "Monsieur Ox" are self-explanatory.

"Co-Signs" is an intriguing subsection bringing together Chinese and Wes- tern astrology. An Ox/Virgo and an Ox/Capricorn, for example, donít appear to have much in common at all.

"Prescription for the Future" is something of a rambling exhortation to people born under the signs of each of the animals, in the case of the Ox: "Nature has invested you with power. You are stronger and more able to cope than most. It is your lot. But is it a reason to preach at us? Must we forever sneak around avoiding your wrath when we feel like enjoying ourselves? We are not like you."

The final subsection, "Compatibilities," deals with love, friendship, business, and family. In the case of the Ox, the Rooster is an excellent mate, the Tiger a "durable friend," and the Rat a good business partner, while "the secret to getting on with an Ox parent is apparent acquiescence."

"Oxen really do mean well," writes Suzanne White at the end of the chapter. Letís all keep that in mind this year.

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