The Chinese Astrology Handbook

by Richard Craze

Published by Lorenz Books

1998, 64 pages


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What's Your Sign?

Reviewed by Linda L. Richards

While my ancestors were still contemplating the best way to keep the rain from coming through the ol' sod roof, there was a land in the east that had poetry and music and art. My own forebears were perhaps using crude pigment to create childish drawings of ill-imagined gods while the Chinese were mapping stars and calculating their place in them. Chinese astrology in pretty much its present form has been around since at least 2630 B.C. Think about it: western mythologies just pale in comparison. For sheer longevity, Chinese astrology rocks the party.

And Chinese astrology is cool and interesting, too. With at least as many of the "Hey! That's true about me!" type of moments that western astrology brings. It's also exceedingly complicated: as other forms of astrology are when administered by experts. In his book, The Chinese Astrology Handbook, author Richard Craze has done an admirable job of simplifying a complicated topic. More: Craze's take is not only easy to understand, The Chinese Astrology Handbook is a thoroughly fun journey: sensible breakdowns of information, lovely illustrations and good, clear explanations make this the best book on this topic it's been my pleasure to spend some time with. It's not surprising: Craze has made a career out of demystifying mystifying things. He's written books on Feng Shui, Chinese medicine, astral projection and others. In all, over 20 books on equally eclectic topics fill out his personal bookshelf. Upon reading The Chinese Astrology Handbook the reason he's so in demand for books on these topics is easy to figure out: he writes with the clarity, ease and understanding that comes from the careful combination of talent and real knowledge. He knows the backstory well, it seems. And from this real knowledge he can draw the bits that will help us with a beginning of understanding.

According to legend, when the Buddha found enlightenment under a fig tree he invited all the animals to share in his joy. Only 12 accepted, however, and it is these who are honoured by being included in the Chinese zodiac. Each animal was allotted its own year to govern.

So begins The Chinese Astrology Handbook with a gentle introduction into the most basic of concepts in Chinese astrology. As the concepts are deftly layered on, Craze doesn't lose him calm, teaching yet highly informative tone.

The animals signs don't just govern the years. They are also allotted a month and a time of day when you were born. So, for instance, you wouldn't just be, say, a tiger -- as that would only refer to your year. You might be a tiger according to your year of birth, but a monkey according to the month of your birth, and a goat according to your time of birth. Each of these animals would bring their own characteristics to your chart.

Space is devoted to the very basic philosophy of Chinese astrology; how to use it, as well as the all-important astrological compatibility. A very easy-to-follow chart lists the years, the corresponding animal, as well as that year's aspect and element. Each animal is given a large section that includes characteristics, suitable careers, compatibilities, and the five elemental types of each animal. All of this is beautifully laid out in easily digested charts and surrounded by lovely thumbnail illustrations: some created for this work, and others collected from both eastern and western art from the past. The resulting book is lovely and easy to operate. Easy, for example, to examine with friends while together you determine what sort of animal you are.

The Chinese Astrology Handbook is not the final word on its topic: nor is it meant to be. If you desire to become a master Chinese astrologer you'll need to find a more comprehensive tome. However, if you have some curiosity for the subject -- or even a passing interest -- there is likely no better primer than The Chinese Astrology Handbook. | February 1999


What animal are you?

Years of the Rat:
1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008

Years of the Ox:
1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009

Years of the Tiger
1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010

Years of the Hare
1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011

Years of the Dragon
1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012

Years of the Snake
1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

Years of the Horse
1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

Years of the Goat
1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

Years of the Monkey
1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

Years of the Rooster
1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

Years of the Dog
1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

Years of the Pig
1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019


Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of Mad Money.