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From The Asian Reporter, V20, #6 (February 9, 2010), pages 12 & 15.

Chinese astrology kit serves up detailed horoscopes for the new year

The Chinese Astrology Kit:

Discover Your Personality, Compatibility and Destiny

By Derek Walters and Helen Jones

Tuttle Publishing, 2001

Paperback, 96 pages, plus a 16-page chart & 44 cards, $24.95

By Julie Stegeman

Wondering what the Year of the Tiger will bring: health, wealth, happiness, or perhaps some trouble? The Chinese Astrology Kit offers instructions on finding a potential glimpse into the New Year and beyond.

While many people know the sign of the animal under which they were born, Derek Walters and Helen Jones feel most people are only seeing a part of the picture. "There is, of course, more to the Chinese horoscope than the animal signs ruling a person’s year of birth … there are three other crucial factors involved in the compilation." The birth month, day, and hour — along with the person’s birth year — make up the "four columns," or pillars, of the horoscope and all are needed to obtain the complete picture.

The kit translates the very complex Chinese calendar into western dates and provides step-by-step instruction using birth information to figure out what animal sign (Ox, Tiger, Rat, etc.) and which of the five elements (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, or Earth) correspond to each of the four columns. To that end, the kit provides a book explaining horoscope history and reasoning as well as detailed instruction on setting up a horoscope and how to interpret the finished product; a book of charts to translate western dates into the correct animals and elements; and a set of 44 cards in five colors enabling the user to visualize the resultant horoscope.

Once the birth information is translated into animals (branches) and elements (stems), a seven-sided figure is formed with the cards with the year animal in the center surrounded by three animals and four elements. The kit also explains the roles played by yin and yang in the chart.

The user can then, with the book’s help, look for desirable and undesirable patterns in the horoscope. For example, a horoscope containing Rat, Dragon, and Monkey is considered to have the "triangle of creativity," indicating a person who is an inventive genius. On the other hand, having two animals that are opposites in a horoscope, such as Rat and Horse, may indicate difficulties; however, the book offers solutions to resolve these conflicts — such as partnering with a person who has compatible signs or resolving the problem during a specific time period that falls under an appropriate sign.

The book goes on to list the 12 animals that can be found in Chinese astrology, describing the associated personalities, compatibilities, and how people governed by the signs will fare during periods ruled by other animals. At this point it departs from many Chinese astrology resources to explain how the other three animals derived from birth month, day, and time in a horoscope chart influence the year sign. For instance, people born in the year of the Snake who also have Sheep in their horoscopes have "cultural refinement and a love of the arts, in particular music" while those with Monkeys have artistic eyes but may find frustration at "not being able to put ideas into practice."

The end of the book gives instruction on how to calculate a life-cycle table using the elements derived from the day of birth. The table reveals life-cycle decades, which "determine whether a particular ten-year period is going to be a successful one, or an uphill struggle" and "may even reveal the actual age in one’s life when the various influences are favourable or otherwise." As an example to follow, the authors create an astrological chart for Princess Diana and then interpret the result, correlating the chart to her major life milestones.

Sound complicated? While the process does feel a bit like completing a homework assignment, it is fun to see the finished product of the horoscope laid out using the cards and to figure out what it all means. The book and chart aren’t meant to be quickly skimmed and then put into practice; it takes a thorough read to learn how to do the process properly. But who knows, maybe it will provide an awareness of what the coming years will bring.


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