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Finding Love In The Year Of The Rabbit


Chinese New Year falls on February 3, 2011 and marks the beginning of the Year of the Metal Rabbit. If you’re looking for love, get some insight from the Chinese zodiac’s complicated clues here!

By Kent Miller

hinese astrology is more fascinating than you’d suspect from perusing those paper place mats you’ve probably seen in restaurants. That shouldn’t be any surprise — the ancient Chinese were quite brilliant in art, architecture, science, mathematics and medicine, discovering and studying everything from sun spots to the circulatory system long before anyone else knew to do so. With that in mind, why wouldn’t you use Chinese astrology to get a better understanding of your love life? Laura Lau, coauthor of The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes, Seventh Edition, agrees: “Chinese astrology really helps you look at relationships in your life from a different position.” With that in mind, let’s break down Chinese astrology into its components so you can get a better understanding of how it applies to you and your personal search for love in the Year of the Metal Rabbit.

Everything is elemental
When it comes to romance, Chinese astrology is all about helping a couple find their own unique balance and harmony; by using it, two people in a relationship can help bring out the best in each other. With that in mind, understand that each year has its own element — Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. But these elements aren’t fixed; rather, each of these elements (or wu-hsing) is continuously changing and transforming. Metal, when cast into a bowl, contains Water, which is necessary to grow Wood; Fire converts Wood into ash, and hence, Earth; we mine Metal from Earth — and the cycle begins anew. Combine Chinese astrology’s various animals and elements and you actually have a somewhat complicated 60-year horoscope cycle.

Each wu-hsing conjures endless associations — with seasons, parts of the body, senses, compass directions, mountains and oceans, weather, planets and colors. But let’s try to keep things simple, starting with the elements’ characteristics:

1. Metal — People born during one of these years can be firm and resolute, but they also have a tendency to be rigid in their thinking. There’s never been a more driven Hollywood legend than Walt Disney (sign: Metal Ox), who overcame an early bankruptcy to build an empire.

2. Water — People born in a Water year are flexible, good listeners and communicators — just like Oprah Winfrey (sign: Water Snake). However, too much flexibility can lead to indecisiveness.

3. Wood — Natural leaders who combine high moral standards with compassion, those born in a Wood year are prone to trying to be too many things to too many people at the same time. For example, Elvis Presley (sign: Wood Dog) certainly burned his candle at both ends.

4. Fire — Individuals born during a Fire year are naturally dynamic and passionate people, like Sir Laurence Olivier (sign: Fire Sheep), who is considered to be one of the greatest actors of all time. But watch out — like dropping a lit match onto dry grass in the summertime, Fire people can be prone to sudden, destructive outbursts of anger.

5. Earth — These stalwart citizens are calm and practical, but could use a little more imagination and optimism. Katharine Hepburn (sign: Earth Rooster) is an intriguing example who, true to her element and her animal signs, was both a brilliant actress and a sharp businesswoman.

The 12 Chinese zodiac animals: a different kind of menagerie
According to one story that’s as charming as it is ancient, Buddha decided to call together a meeting of all the animals on New Year’s Day. Only 12 showed up, led by the clever Rat, who rode Ox there but leaped off at the last moment to arrive first. Next came Tiger, and the last to arrive was the Boar. Buddha showed his appreciation by naming each year of the Chinese zodiac after one of these animals. Hence, the 12-year cycle made familiar by those aforementioned place mats.

Here in the West, we’re sometimes bummed by the imagined injustice of being born, say, in the Year of the Snake — but, it turns out, snakes are regarded in China as sophisticated, elegant and successful creatures that also possess deep feelings. On the other hand, it may strike you as very cool to be born in the Year of the Dragon. But beware: Dragons can be a royal pain as they are judgmental, full of themselves and easily irritated (like today’s reality TV stars). To get a better understanding, here’s a rundown of the Chinese zodiac’s 12 animals and their characteristics.

1. Rat — Positive attributes: Rats are smart, honest, social, charming and generous. Negative attributes: Rats are also manipulative, suspicious and greedy. With the exception of Ratatouille, these creatures tend to get a bum rap in the West. But in ancient China, the Rat proved his mettle by being the first to come when Buddha called.

2. Ox — Positive attributes: The Ox is proud, calm, precise and family-oriented. Negative attributes: an Ox can also be obstinate, conventional and jealous. The Ox is patient, hard-working, dependable and a solid citizen within the Chinese zodiac.

3. Tiger — Positive attributes: Tigers are self-assured, generous, noble. Negative attributes: they can also be vain, impulsive and undisciplined. Tigers hunt alone at night; keep that in mind when dating one.

4. Rabbit — Positive attributes: being generally calm, kind, sensitive, gracious and reserved. Negative attributes: Rabbits are sometimes moody, cunning, aloof and timid. If you’ve ever come across a rabbit bounding into a thicket, you’ll know just how much they prefer to avoid conflict.

5. Dragon — Positive attributes: Dragons are energetic, passionate, brave and charming. Negative attributes: Dragons are occasionally irritable, judgmental, impetuous and stubborn. Frank Sinatra was a Dragon; need we say more?

6. Snake — Positive attributes: Snakes are wise, elegant, sophisticated and successful. Negative attributes: Snakes are also prone to being lazy and very hard on themselves. Snakes are richly appreciated in China, where their ability to shed their skin is viewed as a sign of rebirth.

7. Horse — Positive attributes: Horses are cheerful, energetic, sensual, popular and self-possessed. Negative attributes: some Horses can be vain, selfish and hot-tempered. Being the most high-spirited animal of them all, a Horse will demand much care but can give back enormous rewards in return.

8. Sheep — Positive attributes: being creative, generous, sincere and peace-loving. Negative attributes: Sheep can appear to be pessimistic, insecure, dependent and naïve. Sheep-man Mikhail Gorbachev couldn’t have brought freedom to the Soviet Union without the help of a fellow female Sheep — his brilliant and beautiful wife, Raisa.

9. Monkey — Positive attributes: Monkeys are witty, playful and enthusiastic. Negative attributes: Monkeys can behave in ways that read as opportunistic, juvenile and wily. There’s never a dull moment when dating one of these charming tricksters, which can be both good and bad.

10. Rooster — Positive attributes: Roosters present themselves as self-assured, assertive, courageous and quick-witted. Negative attributes: appearing pompous, argumentative, wasteful and egotistical. A Rooster man or woman likes to see and be seen.

11. Dog — Positive attributes: acting in ways that are attentive, altruistic, honorable and intelligent. Negative attributes: seeming judgmental, pessimistic and anxious. It may take a few dates for you to fully appreciate the Dog dater, who is amongst most amiable of the zodiac’s animals.

12. Boar — Positive attributes: intentions which are loving, scrupulous, sincere, cultured and sensual. Negative attributes: coming off as insecure and naïve. Sometimes referred to as “the Pig,” a Boar really has a heart of gold; treat it tenderly!

The moon’s influence on your horoscope
Any proper horoscope should also consider the phase of the moon during which a person was born or is considering a major life change, like getting married. The new moon is associated with springtime and adventure, while the first quarter is full of youthful energy; the full moon is a time for maturity, and the last quarter is a time for finishing up projects and moving on. To take it one step further, ambitious astrologers can map Chinese signs against Western ones for a fuller picture. Again, the key point here is to be aware of the interconnectedness of all things, including the couple involved.

Yin and yang
Elements cannot be separated from their own yin and yang qualities. Come to think of it, you can’t separate anything from its natural yin/yang tendencies — and that includes you and your partner. “Yin and yang as a principle assumes that each contains the other,” says Whalen Lai, a religion professor at the University of California at Davis who has written extensively on Chinese philosophy and religion. “They are not opposites, but rather, complementary attributes.” Each element has a yin side to it, sometimes thought of as “feminine” or “passive,” and a yang side as well, considered to be “male” or “active” in nature. Metal is thought of as yin when it’s used to create a container or piece of jewelry, but if it’s been melted down and recast as a surgeon’s knife, it becomes yang instead. The dew that nourishes crops is a form of yin water, while yang water might, when it’s positively influenced, form a powerful river that irrigates a field or become destructive if that same river leaps its own banks during a flood. Yang wood is still growing as part of a tree; yin wood is the lumber cut from that tree that’s used to build homes and other structures.

Love in 2011, the Year of the Metal Rabbit
This year (actually, Feb. 3, 2011, through Jan 22, 2012) is the year of the Metal Rabbit. And isn’t it more fun to say “Metal Rabbit” than “2011?” Let’s take a look at what the Metal Rabbit’s year has in store for love: When you combine the Rabbit’s naturally shy, introspective nature with Metal’s uncompromising drive to succeed and yin’s inherent sensitivity, you have a year that’s filled with intense emotions, giving singles the potential to build intimate relationships and set realistic, short-term dating goals. Date to your heart’s content, but don’t be too stubborn; if things aren’t working out, be tactful when it’s time to split from your flame and move on. After all, there are plenty of dating options out there for you. However, if you’ve been dating for awhile now and feel that you’re ready to commit to the person you’ve been seeing, this year’s tranquil nature could inspire you to settle down.

Finding harmony in relationships
It’s vital to remember that yin can quickly become yang and vice versa. A yang form of Earth (say, a mountain) can plunge quickly downward into a yin valley. A yin-like hearth fire can burst into an out-of-control yang blaze that burns a home down. In relationships, one partner might be shy while the other seems bold; sometimes one feels ill while the other remains strong and is able to act as a caretaker. But then things inevitably reverse themselves, turning the caregiver into the one requiring a partner’s care. Chinese astrology advises you to always be tuned into your own feelings — and your partner’s, too. And really, isn’t the way that things should be?

When it comes to compatibility, three’s company
Chinese zodiac animals are grouped into sets of three, with each group sharing common traits that make them the most compatible when it comes to romantic matches:
  • Tiger, Horse, Dog
  • Rabbit, Sheep, Boar
  • Rat, Monkey, Dragon
  • Ox, Snake, Rooster
Making a connection outside of your particular group can be more challenging — but it can also be exciting. Here are some of the more intriguing match-ups:
  • Tiger with Ox or Monkey
  • Rat with Horse or Rabbit
  • Ox with Sheep or Tiger
  • Rabbit with Rooster or Tiger
  • Dragon with Dog or Ox
  • Snake with Boar or Tiger
  • Horse with Rat or Monkey
  • Sheep with Ox or Tiger
  • Monkey with Tiger or Dog
  • Rooster with Rabbit or Sheep
  • Dog with Dragon or Sheep
  • Ox with Snake or Dog
Additional timely insights…
Animals define each 12-year period, but each one has a corresponding time of day, too. Starting at 11 p.m., astrologers assign each two-hour period to an animal in the same order in which they appear within the Chinese astrology cycle. These are called “Ascendant” or “Rising” signs, and they correspond with your (or your partner’s) time of birth. Find yours from the list below:
  • 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.: Rat
  • 1 a.m. to 3 a.m.: Ox
  • 3 a.m. to 5 a.m.: Tiger
  • 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.: Rabbit
  • 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.: Dragon
  • 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.: Snake
  • 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Horse
  • 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Sheep
  • 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Monkey
  • 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Rooster
  • 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.: Dog
  • 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.: Boar
If your year and ascendant sign are identical, you’re more likely to be self-aware and have a more settled personality. If they’re in conflict, you’ll likely experience more internal turmoil, which will make you a more fascinating person. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

Deciphering all of this information sounds complicated, but it’s not. Done correctly, Chinese astrology offers not exactly ironclad rules about who to date and marry, but it can give you some helpful insight. Bottom line: If you and your partner are considerate enough to try to understand each other, the two of you can forge a rare and beautiful relationship.

Click for A Visual Guide To The Chinese Zodiac


Kent Miller is currently writing a comic young adult novel. His articles have appeared in Nintendo Power magazine, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The San Francisco Chronicle and The St. Petersburg Times (Florida).

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