Captain's Cabin

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Myth Monday - Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac or astrology is the divination of the future from the Chinese calendar which is based on astronomy and ancient Chinese Philosophy.

The calendar was set over 6 thousand years ago and is split into sexagemary cycles of 60 year each.

The animals that you see in Chinese restaurants are called the "Zodiac" and they are the Rat, the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Sheep, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog and the Boar.

Aside from the animals being assigned to a person by the year (outer animals), they are also assigned by month (called inner animals) and by the hours of the day (called secret animals). This creates a total of 8,640 possible combinations that a person might be and all aspects are critical for the proper use of Chinese astrology.

But the purpose of this post is not to explain how to do Chinese Astrology, which would take forever.

Dave from the Cat's Eye blog linked to a post called Satan in the Litter Box in the Rake Magazine.

It is a commentary piece by someone who does not have a good relationship with their cat, and it is not a well researched or thought out piece either. She writes - among other things - that there are no "Man's best friend" genre movies staring cats, or bomb sniffing cat or seeing-eye cats. There are actually "seeing-eye cats" that see for other cats. We are a little short to serve as guides for humans, but there are cats that work as hearing-ear cats for humans.

As for movies try 1965's That Darn Cat! or 1978's The Cat from Outer Space, both of which have heroic cats in them. There are more, I just cannot think of them all right now.

Then the writer goes on to say:

"The next time you go out for dim sum, check out the animals on your placemat. You’ll find a pig, a goat, a rat, even a snake! There is no year of the cat in Chinese astrology. They have a dragon. A pretend animal was better than a cat."

Cat was domesticated in Egypt about 5 thousand years ago, a full thousand years after the Chinese made their calendar. So they could not include a domestic cat because there were not invented at the time. Dragons on the other hand, were known from fossils of Dinosaurs and were more "real" at the time then a Domestic Cat.

Felines are however represented in the Chinese Zodiac by the Tiger, which is associated with good fortune, power and royalty and which is viewed with both fear in respect. Generally all Eastern cultures believe the Tiger, not the Lion is the king of beast. (I tend to agree, Lions are lazy and selfish.)

The Tiger is similar to Aquarius in the Western cultures, but its fixed element is wood, not water.

Tiger people are difficult to resist, for they are magnetic characters and their natural air of authority confers a certain prestige on them. They are tempestuous yet calm, warm-hearted yet fearsome, courageous in the face of danger yet yielding, soft and mysterious in unexpected places. (This sounds very much like a Cat, does it not?)

They enjoy a life full of challenges and unexpected events, like visiting unusual places and meeting interesting or outstanding people. Other people in their area are easily attracted by the tiger's enthusiasm and way of life. Tigers find pleasure in the unpredictable, and while other people would rather make a backward step, they are not afraid to explore the new and unusual. But it is not that simple to interest the Tiger. What they really need is first-hand experience.

Usually open and frank, these people are likely to withdraw and can be aggressive when trapped. As soon as Tigers have regained their sense of security their confidence also returns, enabling them to set out once more. These people usually tend to trust their instincts, though there is another side of their personality, which assesses situations thoughtfully before they launch any actions.

Their friends usually secretly admire their determination and optimism, though sometimes may find it complicated to share the Tiger's enthusiasm and can be pushed away and left behind. Although Tigers can be courageous and generous friends, if they are not able to achieve what they want, they can be inflexible and self-centered. So if your friend was born in the year of the Tiger, there will be highs and lows in your friendship, but the friendship itself will remain firm.

Tiger people are most compatible with Horse, Dog and Pig people, but they do not like Rat, Ox, Snake, Rooster or Monkey people.

Tiger is a winter sign, associated with the month of February, their color is Green, and their gemstone is the Sapphire.

The last Year of the Tiger was from 28 January of 1998 to 15 February of 1999 and it was an Earth Tiger year. The next "Year of the Cat" will be from 15 February of 2010 to 3 February of 2011 and it will be a Metal Tiger year.

Years are assigned one of the five elements (energies, or forces) - Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water - just like they are assigned cycles of animals. These are considered modifiers to the characteristics of each of the 12 animal signs. Each of the animal signs is governed by a Yin or Yang direction as well.

Again, I do not wish to get into the whole system of Chinese Astrology here, although it is really a fascinating subject. Much information is available on line and there are a number of good books available on the subject if you should wish to learn more.

I just find it unfortunate that there are so many ignorant individuals in this world, and that some magazines or newspapers actually allow them write and publish things.

Vine Line

Bloggers of the World AwardI had meaned to write this on Saturday, but I got distracted and before I knew it, Saturday was all over. Then Sunday came and went as well.

In any case, Catnip Corner has given me this Bloggers of the World award. This award was created by Colin and the only rule for this award seems to be that you link back to Colin as the point of origin of the award.

In turn, I would like to pass this award on to Dragonheart and Merlin in Germany, Adan in Taiwan, Mickey in Nova Scotia, Yao-Lin on Isle of Wright in the UK, and Pablo Down Under.


Tybalt said...

How sad that there are so many ignorant people out there! Thanks so much, Diamond, for correcting them. Of course we kitties are great!
(My mommy is a Horse in the Chinese Zodiac, so she gets along well with Tigers. . . of course!)

I also wanted you to know that I tagged you for a meme!

Donny and Marie and Casey said...

I'm sorry that you had to come across an ignorant writer. Tigers are cool.


HRH Yao-Lin said...

That post was fascinating. I have concluded that my human was born in the year of the pig.
Mwa ha ha ha

Also, many thanks for the award! I shall endeavour to pass it on to as many cats as possible!! xx

cotojo said...

Hello Diamond Emerald-Eyes,
Alas, I am but a mere human from the year of the snake!
Wonderful reading and it also shows just how ignorant some people can be.
Congratulations on your award, it is nice to see it being passed on to more worthy nominees.
Have a purrfect week :)


-d ma said...

I appreciate the thoughtful response to the article I posted. You provide excellent info.

I think the writer of the article wrote somewhat tongue in cheek but I couldn't help but wonder if she really finds no enjoyment in living with a cat, why bother?

jan said...

Our human likes to read mysteries and she says that cats are much better detectives than dogs.

Trixie said...

I hope that the miserable person who wrote this article finds a loving home for their cat. No animal should have to live with a bean who hates them.

Cheysuli and gemini said...

In some parts of China, the year of the Rabbit is actually the year of the cat. He should check that out too!

The Furry Fighter said...

my bean was born in the Year of The Ram (Sheep). I thoroughly enjoyed this post - I enjoy astrology and find it interesting to read about the various systems of astrology across the world.

Karl & Ruis said...

Thank you for that long informative post! It is bad that there are so many ignorant humans, yes! When everyone knows that cats are gods and nothing but!
We will have a surprise guest coming tomorrow and a big party on Thursday!!!

Tyler said...

That poor poor cat. I would like to rescue it away from her. Starting to read that article makes me want to run home from work and hug my babies. Ewwwww, what a retch of a person.
Tyler's mom (a cat person for sure)

Mickey said...

That was a most interesting post!! I liked it :) The writer of the article must have been a mouse in a former life ;)
You always find such cool things to write about.Thanks!!
Thanks for the award too!!! I am very excited! WooHoo!!!
Purrs Mickey

Pablo said...

Hey- thanks heaps for the award! As far as the astrology goes, to paraphrase the poet Christopher Smart, everyone knows that cats are 'of the tribe of tiger'. Can't wait for metal tiger year! Sounds hardcore.

Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

Sheesh, dat bean should find someone else to give her kitty a loving home. Mom called her a name, um, we don't think her parents were dogs but that would explain a lot.

Karen Jo said...

Congratulations on your award. Your article on the Chinese Zodiac is fascinating, but I think you meant that cats were domesticated five thousand years ago, not five million. I also think that the woman who wrote the article should find a new home for her poor cat.

michico*Adan said...

Tiger year.... I think Michico will look forward to it~!
Thanks for this very special important informtaion~!!!

And congratulations to your award~!!!