Saturday, June 15, 2024

Time for dragons to roar

| February 6, 2024 1:00 AM

Xin nian kuai-le — happy new year!

Chinese astrology is a lot more complex than its Western counterpart. With comparatively less emphasis on astronomical prognostications, it’s based more on numerology, perceived personality characteristics at birth and compatibilities — with life choices as well as people. It’s also integrated with the spiritual; elements of ancient Chinese culture and religion pervade: man and nature, the magic of 12, and yes, the planets. The thread interweaving it all is the belief that all phenomena are just differentiations of one infinity.

Saturday kicks off the Year of the Dragon, making this year extra special.

Dragons hold great significance in Chinese culture and are the only mythical creatures of the 12 zodiac animals. An auspicious and extraordinary creature, dragons are unparalleled in talent, excellence, and — this should be obvious: Power. Dragons also symbolize nobility, honor, and luck — which is why they feature prominently in Chinese celebrations and imagery (always red, the color of prosperity and the sun’s life-giving energy).

If your lunar birth year was 12 years ago or some multiple of 12, this is your lucky year.

Those born in a Year of the Dragon are said to be intelligent, courageous, lively and gracious. The Chinese believe in balance, so each animal sign has weaknesses as well as strengths. A dragon’s may include an inflated sense of self, restlessness or aggressiveness. They certainly attract attention; who could ignore a dragon?

But this is putting it too simply. Chinese astrology has a lot more layers.

For example, based on my birth year, I am the diplomatic sheep/goat, seeking balance and avoiding conflict. I am also yin and the fire element (emotional? Me?) — based on the final digit of my birth year. My birth month makes my “inner” animal a dog (lovingly loyal, too accommodating).

It goes on with more numerological detail: times of the day and month introduce other personality influences.

You may have read that yin (“female” aspects) and yang (“male” aspects) are about balance, and ideally each person has aspects of both, regardless of gender. If not, that person is believed to be out of balance, with health problems likely to result. Think of yin and yang not as opposites, but as two inseparable aspects of the same, illustrated by another principle in Chinese astrology and religion: “all antagonisms are complementary.”

Imagine how personal, political and world relations might improve if humans could approach antagonisms as potentially complementary. If in conflict and viewpoint we instinctively sought balance, instead of aiming to conquer or control.

These are just simplified drops in the large body of Chinese divination. Note that because the lunar year beginning date varies, generally between end of January and sometime in February, early births often go with the previous calendar year.

For a chart of birth years (with start dates) since 1924, see

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Sholeh Patrick is a sheepish columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Email