Wouldn’t it be great if we had some way to assess whether we are a good fit to the person we just started dating? Considering on average how much time and money (not to mention head aches) go into failed relationships, some of us would probably be millionaires by now with a new found skill or talent from the relocation of free time. Well, in Eastern Asian cultures, it is a common practice (at least for my parent’s generation) to consult with an astrologist when there is a hint of marriage in the relationship.
From my understanding of Chinese astrology, your identity and destiny are influenced by the time of your birth; analogous to Brazilian new born whose fathers choose the soccer team they root for. Most of you are aware of the twelve Chinese Zodiac animals. Combinations with the five elements (fire, wood, earth, metal, and water) they complete a 60-year cycle. What is lesser known are the inner animals represented by the 12 months and the secret animals for hours of the day. So for each person, there are (12 x 5 x 12 x 12) 8,640 combinations of animals and elements, wow! To a certain extent, you can shape your fortune or destiny by adjusting your surroundings (the practice of Feng Shui) and choosing who you spend significant time with. You would choose to do so because your fortune changes from year to year as your Zodiac animals interact with the animal of the current year, bringing you good, bad or indifferent luck.
The majority of traditional Asians do not dwell on how to “manipulate” their fortune on a day-by-day basis. Rather, they seek astrological readings for major life events. An industry has been built around astrological readings, from online sites (such as firepig.com and chinese.astrology.com) to services that send daily horoscopes to your cell phone via text messages. But for major events, an in-person reading is usually preferred.
Back in 2004, Jolene and I had our fortune read and compatibility assessed. We were in San Jose, California for my cousin’s wedding and coincidentally so was my mother’s family friend (a well known astrologist from Vietnam). It was my first in-person reading though my mom has had many readings from her friend. My mom isn’t the only one who is convinced of her friend’s gift. Vietnamese Americans have flown my mom’s friend from her home in Vietnam to America to perform these readings; usually it is for a big business transactions or other large investment like buying a home.
Even with the high regard for the astrologist’s ability, I went into it as a casual observer. We all sat down at a round kitchen table with a set of tea cups and pot and proceeded with small talk. The astrologist commented on what a fine adult I turned out to be since she last saw me when I was just five years old in Vietnam. I introduced Jolene to her and she gave us more praises.
My preconception of what this reading was way off. Though we sat at a round table, we didn’t link hands. It was in a brightly lit room. No ominous chants; nothing like in the movies. However, as the session went on, an eerie feeling set over me as she disclosed things I had not shared with anyone. Her descriptions of Jolene, me and our relationship regarding things in the past and present were spot on; keep in mind this was the first time she met Jolene. Since she did not speak English and my Vietnamese was shabby at best, my cousins translated. Some of the personal items she shared made me feel a bit embarrassed to have my cousins present.
After the session was over, I was flabbergasted, but glad that we had a positive reading for our relationship… relatively speaking. Normally, an ox and tiger is the worst combination because tigers tend to eat oxen. Thankfully when our elements, inner and secret animals are considered, Jolene and I are about 60% compatible; 10-15% better than the national divorce rate. I regard this as the best possible outcome. If it was down in the 30% range, we would have been depressed and probably reflect back to this session each time the relationship gets heated. If it was +80% we might not try as hard and thus may end up having a similar outcome as with a low score.
The reading was done almost five years ago. Her predictions were correct. Does this mean I’m a believer now? Not quite. I’m still on the fence until more substantial events come true. There was a subsequent astrological reading to determine the “lucky” wedding dates, but I’ll save that for another time.
Question of the day: If you knew your relationship was doomed to fail, would you still plow ahead and try to make the best of it?