Malvin Artley, who is as accomplished in the mysteries of Chinese Astrology as he is in the esoteric secrets of the West, discusses the meanings of the Chinese Year of the Monkey. The New Lunar Year begins on January 22, 2004, in association with the New Moon in Aquarius. Malvin also publishes a regular astrological newsletter, to which you can subscribe by clicking the link at the end of this article.
Greetings one and all - and another very Happy New Year to you!
As promised, what follows is my forecast for 2004 based upon the Chinese New Year, which this year begins on January 22, 2004 at 8:04 AM AEDT (22 Jan 2004 at 6:04 AM CCT). This year marks the 20th year of the 18th cycle of the 2nd Epoch (an Epoch=3,600 years) in Chinese measure, making this the 4,700th year of Chinese recorded history. Not bad going! Aside from the forecast, which will come to later in this letter, I want to give out some information to you which you might find of interest, for there is much more to Chinese astrology than the 12 animal signs one finds on the place mats in Chinese restaurants - just as there is much more to Western astrology than what we read about in the newspaper horoscope section.
More than the 12 Animal Signs
Chinese astrology is actually an ancient, august system of divination that has evolved quite independently of the rest of the world and is, in fact, the sister system to the astrology we know in the West, giving us - as it were - the missing pages of a long-sought chapter on the mysteries of astrological art and practice. I will also give out more of the relevant information on the year data than I did last year (my last forecast was not a general mailing). With that, let us begin.
As stated above, this marks the year of the Yang Wood Monkey. This is also called the year of the Yang Green Monkey in some circles, denoting the element of Wood. It may be of interest to note that schooled Chinese astrologers do not use the animals at all in their delineations. They use, instead, the Branch, which the animals represent. A Branch is simply a notation of a portion of the greater cycle. It is always a division of the cycle by 12. In this way, we could say that Aries would be the 1st Branch in Western astrology, were we to use such terminology. These Branch numbers have no numerical values. They are simply labels. Animals are a convenient tool for memorizing what the intrinsic meaning of each Branch is, and there is some parallel between the zodiacal signs (Aries=1) as phases of the Western Zodiac and the Chinese Branches, although the 1st Month Branch (Rat) corresponds loosely with Sagittarius, not Aries. Seeming inconsistencies aside, the animal symbolism in Chinese astrology is actually an esoteric blind for what is really a much more profound meaning and mechanism. But, for now, the animal symbols will suffice.
When we sit down at our favorite Chinese restaurant and bemuse ourselves with what we believe to be the quaint and very simplistic system of astrology being presented to us, there are several things we should keep in mind. First of all, the year "animal" is only 1/8 of the birth data from which the Chinese astrologer would work. When we give a Western astrologer our birth details - date of birth, time of day and city of birth - we get a natal horoscope derived from that, which is simply a map of the planetary positions at the moment of our birth. We get that from a Chinese astrologer as well (at least, from a good one), but we also get quite a bit more.
The 4 Pillars
From the Chinese astrologer, as well as getting the natal chart, we also get what are known as The 4 Pillars (Year, Month Day and Hour) - the foundation of their fate calculation systems - the possibility of at least 100 derived "stars" in addition to the actual planets, the further subdivision of the zodiacal wheel into 28 lunar mansions with all those resultant meanings and the inclusion in the analysis of many other cycles--planetary and otherwise - of which Western astrology knows little or nothing. So, when we read about the animal associated with the year, we might be mindful next time that there are "animals" associated with the month, day and hour, as well as one of the 5 Chinese Elements being associated with each one. The learned Chinese astrologer would smile quietly to him/herself at the blissful ignorance of the restaurant patrons so delighted with their new animal labels. To top it off, the Year Pillar does not really describe the person anyway. It describes social contacts, ancestors and extended family. It is the Day Pillar that describes the self.
Secondly, much of Chinese astrology in the public domain is actually what is known as Ming Shu - Fate Calculation - which does not use the actual planetary positions at all. The reason for this goes back to old China where astrology as we know it was reserved for the Imperial court and for people of real importance within the state. Possession of star charts by commoners was a crime punishable by death in those days. The reason for that was the simple fact that the Emperor was supposed to be the representative of Heaven on Earth, so for someone outside the Imperial court to be in possession of star charts, they would be a danger to the state because they would essentially be in possession of state secrets and in a position to usurp the power of the throne, if they knew how. Fate calculation was used in the court as well, but its secrets were not obvious and the veiling of the true cycles and meanings was so complete that safety in the hands of the public was assured. The motions of the stars are obvious. The operation of more esoteric cycles is not apparent to the average person.
Read part two of The Year of the Monkey, where Malvin continues his discussion of Ming Shu in the light of the Four Pillars, the I Ching and other little known, revealing secrets of Chinese Astrology.
Aries, the Ram
Taurus, the Bull
Gemini, the Twins
Cancer, the Crab
Leo, the Lion
Virgo, the Virgin
Libra, the Scales
Scorpio, the Scorpion
Sagittarius, the Archer
Capricorn, the Sea Goat
Aquarius, the Water Bearer
Pisces, the Fishes