I used to be a student of Chinese astrology and feng shui. Yet I was also a “banana”: A Chinese descendant who tended to go for “white” (ie. English) media. I read English non-fiction and academic material, including Chinese history and culture–mostly because I found outsider takes less trapped by propaganda, assumptions, and frog-in-the-well perspectives.
My first desk-job in 2001 after earning my Journalism degree was in a small translation and printing house, where I found myself (according to the clients) better at identifying Chinese poetry and well translated work than my non-banana, exclusively-yellow (ahem) Chinese-speaking coworkers. I suspect it was because I was less literal and could spot context better with my “outside” view.
This is the same lens I’m going to be using on Tai Sui, the scary bogeyman of Chinese astrology. He’s feared particularly before and around Chinese New Year, when practically everyone is looking up their upcoming luck for the year based on their Chinese animal sign.
I’m using the less obfuscating and more visual Western astrology (gasp) to illustrate that Chinese “shopping mall astrology” based on the 12 animals is oversimplified advice that keeps its adherents anxious and walking on eggshells.
Chug your rice wine and LETS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS
Offending The Grand Duke of Jupiter
To go by some Chinese astrological writing, Tai Sui is a deity who gets mad at different animal signs every new lunar year. “Offending Tai Sui” can be googled to find out if Jupiter’s targeting you for his fight club in any year.
So what do you do if your zodiac animal, based on your birth year, is offending Tai Sui?
SUCK IT UP.
KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN.
DON’T PICK FIGHTS AT WORK.
DON’T ARGUE WITH PEOPLE.
DON’T RENOVATE YOUR HOUSE.
STAY AWAY FROM HOSPITALS AND COURTS (of law, not badminton or furniture).
DON’T LOOK IN THE DIRECTION OF NORTHEAST, IT’S FKING MORDOR OUT THERE.
PLACE PROTECTIVE CRYSTAL IN BAD CORNER OF HOUSE. (Probably northeast.)
Reading enough world mythology, Jungian psychology, fantasy and science-fiction, I’ve long been ruined for a “worshipful” and fear-driven view of dieties. It didn’t help that with the AD&D Dieties & Demigods tome, I “knew” the armor classes and battle stats of various gods of the different pantheons, which remains vastly amusing to my nerdy blasphemous butt. I enjoy reading profiles of various spiritual power figures and their portfolios; I can do it with respect and curiosity, but refuse to fear them or to enter a dynamic with any concept where I have to relate to them (or anyone) like they’re an abusive partner.
- No trying to “read the mind” to “anticipate” the passive-aggro needs of any person/planet
- Calling out abuse instead of appeasing someone so that they’ll stop my abuse at their hands.
Empowered Relationships, Spirituality and Astrology
No authority figure, real or not, is getting unquestioning promises or efforts that can harm myself, and definitely not for any arbitrary results determined by the other side only.
This sits with the way I use and respect astrology: I recognise that the planets may influence, but they do not determine my actions. Understanding their influence means I take more and better responsibility for my choices and actions, because I have considered their possible influences on my choices.
This also means that as long as I remain in a self-aware and empowered place, I can’t and won’t blame gods/planets/other people/circumstances/invisible beings for the decisions I make. (This says nothing of how I assign blame for the circumstances in which I find myself, but let’s not digress.)
Disempowerment happens whenever we put any power outside and above ourselves, and believe that we cannot own, overcome, or emulate those powerful traits and qualities. If we grew up in environments where we were severely and consistently overpowered by the adults around us, even if they meant well, the trauma and compensatory survival habits get written into our bodies and nervous systems.
Many of us may remain unaware that the “message” and conditioning we got was that we needed to appease and not question authority figures. From a survival standpoint, this worked when we were kids because we depended on our adults for our needs–developmental, physiological, and emotional ones especially.
But even if some adults can’t ever admit it, our authority figures are also human, fallible, flawed, and can be capable of breathtaking ignorance and damage. Our powers of discernment and of leaving behind damaging circumstances/relationships are also part of our survival toolbox, but not all of us may have been encouraged to exercise these.
We might even have been encouraged to only listen to external authorities (or a certain authority figure) over our own discernment, knowledge, experience, self-trust and autonomy.
This reliance on codependent, appeasing tendencies in people can be exploited well into adulthood, and even more effectively when survival and well-being are threatened.
To get back on topic: No one wants to offend a scary planet or sky daddy (sorry, a Grand Duke) who can “cause” us monetary losses, sicknesses, and bad romances in a particular year just because we were born in a particular set of bad (naughty, naughty) animals. Plus, we seem to be offending this guy every 3 years.
WTF is going on?
Jupiter in Astrology
Jupiter is one of several planets in our solar system, and in the Vedic and Western astrology systems, it is generally seen as a benefic, a planet that confers a good influence.
With astrology concerned as it is with cycles, Jupiter roughly takes 12 years to go around the zodiac from earth’s point of view. So we all get what astrologers call a Jupiter Return every 12 years, and it’s generally seen as a good thing.
Unless you’re subscribed to Chinese astrology. Because even though it’s just about rolling back into your own animal sign from Jup’s point of view (just roughly; Chinese astrology runs on a 60-year cycle that’s not always reflective of actual planet positions), that alone just isn’t scary enough. The general advice (subtle pun there since the dukes are also called generals, says ADHD Janet) is:
Keep your head down and DON’T FKING OFFEND HIM, HE’S SENSITIVE.
AND AGAIN OMG DON’T LOOK IN HIS DIRECTION
It all makes this astrologer salty about how Jupiter, a good influence, got lowkey awarded by Chinese astrology with malignant narcissism, or at least an ego needing appeasement from 4 out of 12 different animals every Chinese calendar year. (Some sources explain that the malefic effect of Grand Duke Tai Sui comes from the point opposite of Jupiter; but whatever, you guys can duke it out, ha.)
In any case, dividing the zodiac wheel into 12 is common to both Chinese and Western astrology, and signs that are 3 years apart “square” each other. This is usually seen as a stressful (rather than chill) dynamic where changes can happen quickly; and fear-driven, anxiety-ridden divination often paints this as catastrophic.
To get a little philosophical and Nietzschean, I think we can choose better archetypes and approaches to spotting patterns and cycles in time, especially points that bring changes. Do we need arbitrarily drawn paper generals to blame for shit happening, and do we need to make their appeasement part of an already hypervigilant, traumatised worldview? (What kinds of monsters and unsafe, un-ironic Dom/sub relationships are we subscribing to in our consciousness, spirituality, and real life? This is a good time to insert that the 60-General personifications of a 12-sector × 5-element system were historically created to make Chinese astrology more relatable to the peasantry–a kinda ancient fear-based marketing, complete with Sky Force military action figures.)
Breaking out of limiting, survival-mode-triggering views is also why I’m bringing up the fact that Jupiter is a benefactor in Vedic and Western astrology. And even so, more nuanced astrologers will point out that Jupiter energies aren’t always good, but they do always expand whatever they’re influencing. If Jupiter is transiting a career house, for example, you could get more recognition and money, but also more responsibilities and stress. Or in a health house, you could feel on top of the world, but also be expanding your appetite, waistline, and diabetic risk.
These two examples actually underline that transit Jupiter is always moving somewhere in our birth chart, and it doesn’t necessarily wreck more damage every 3 years. Not everything that challenges us to make adjustments is worth a panic.
Expansion is not inherently good or bad, and we just want it to happen in harmony with everything else.
Challenges in Life and Astrology
Helping people cope with the unfairness of life is actually a big part of counseling. Setbacks are part of life, after all, and maybe astrology can help us anticipate challenges. But setting ourselves up for #GOODVIBESONLY, smooth roads and status quo forever (even with astrology/spirituality/diety appeasement/Cthulhu sacrifices) is a recipe for disappointment. Or,
It’s showing a lack of resilience, resources, or confidence in our ability to overcome difficulties and periods of change. And THIS is something worth working on.
All schools of astrology have their own ways of anticipating difficult patches. Call this a last raspberry I’m blowing to bogeyman astrology, but there are more, different signs in Evolutionary/Western astrology for spotting tough times. We can’t always avoid these times entirely. And, it’s not a reflection of our worth nor abilities when we bump into them.
Jupiter, in my practice (and for most Vedic/Western astrologers), is a benign planet. It’s Saturn and Pluto transits (which easily stretch 2-3 years or even more) that more accurately describe restrictions, tests, and deeper evolving mindset challenges, including depression and mid-life crises. The farther-out planets (Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, asteroid Chiron) with their longer cycles may not even be recognised in older astrology systems (Chinese astrology included). IMO this is a huge drawback because human life, roles, archetypes and psychological understanding can and should evolve with increased awareness, sensitivity, learning, and sharing.
In bringing these other influences and perspectives into the open with you, I want to get away from the “appeasement” of arbitrary figures and to reach awareness. (It goes without saying I’ll never charge extra for “appealing” for favor/protection from the gods on your behalf.) Astrology charts speak to my predilection to understanding life, people, and time visually, through patterns and symbols that for me illustrate different fields and dynamic forces.
Astronomy and human history show that nothing in the universe stays static, and ultimately all the tools that can help us move, grow and evolve are gifts. (And I dedicate this rant to all our continued journeys of evolution.)
This is a fantastic read. Funny. Holographic. You’re a writer’s writer. I learned so many little wonderful things in this article. Thank you.
I’m so pleased–thank you for the comment!