Malvin Artley continues his discussion of Ming Shu in the light of the Four Pillars, the I Ching and other little known, revealing secrets of Chinese Astrology. Malvin also publishes a regular astrological newsletter, to which you can subscribe by clicking the link at the end of this article.
Thirdly, there are many different methods of Ming Shu, some of which are very simple and others of which are very complex, such as the Tzu Wei (Purple Palace) system. The latter, though complex, is not the be-all-end-all of Ming Shu, however. There are some methods that are amazingly exact, but these are generally kept out of view from the general public and, due to the nature of the calculations involved, are prohibitively expensive for the incomes of most Chinese.
As an aside, there is a method of Ming Shu which can actually give one their birth weight, among other things. This system works, and it is reasonably accurate. The system is called San Shi Xiang Fa - Three Worlds Physiognomy Rules, and it is based upon the 4 Pillars. Each Pillar is assigned a weight, the summation of which yields the person's weight at birth. This system is well-known in China and it appears in many dictionaries there. There is another system called "Plum Flower" I Ching, which relates astrology to that well-known system of divination, the I Ching, or Book of Changes. This is one of the more accurate systems, but it is virtually unknown in the West. Yet another system is called "Iron/Wood" Ming Shu - the "Iron/Wood" being a description of what we know in the West as a slide rule. (I actually learned how to use one when I was coming along, which dates me a bit.) It has as its basis a plethora of calculations all done on a slide rule (I suspect they are computerized by now) which also yields remarkable results. But, just how does all this stuff work if they are not based upon planetary cycles, one might ask?
This is one of the more obscure parts of Chinese astrology. The fact of the matter is that all these methods of Ming Shu and the 4 Pillars themselves are, in fact, based upon real planetary cycles, even though there is no correspondence with the actual orbital positions of the planets. As an explanation, just as anyone has their own physical cycles, such as respiration, heartbeat, sleep, etc, so we also have cycles associated with our psyches. Just as we breathe in and out ceaselessly through life, so our psyches do as well. To use a simple analogy, there are times when we are more outwardly focused and times when we withdraw inwards, and these periods have their own cycles and timing. And, as surely as we do this, so the planets as great Lives do as well. The esotericist will recognize these periods of in-breathing and out-breathing of the psyches of the planets as "Ray cycles". These Ray cycles are indeed bona fide planetary cycles, and they condition the psyches of humanity, the lower kingdoms and all other kingdoms in nature, throughout the solar system. To give an example of how this might work, consider the following:
Cycles of Fate
The Chinese have used a cycle of 9 years in their Feng Shui calculations for many centuries. It is used to determine a person's orientation within the environment. The Chinese also listed this cycle centuries ago as the lesser cycle of Saturn, their Earth Planet. Saturn, as we know in the West, governs a person's placement within the greater scheme of things and it astrologically defines the boundaries within which we must work. But, for the most part, this is a subjective matter. It governs our place upon the earthly sphere through the very power of our thinking. This number 9 is also recognizable as a subdivision of one of the Ray cycles as given out in the Alice Bailey material. Although this particular cycle does not figure in Chinese astrological calculations, there is another one that does - the number 5, which is a lesser subdivision of the Ray cycle for Jupiter. In fact, the entire 5-element, 12 Branch hexagesimal cycle is governed by Jupiter, the Branches being governed by its 12-year orbital cycle, and the cycle of the 5 Elements (Stem cycle) being governed by its Ray cycle. Jupiter is said to be their Year Planet, or that planet whose orbit maps out the course of the Great Year. There are others of these Ray cycles embedded throughout Chinese astrology, but all we are doing here is indicating that these fate cycles are not simply based in fancy or used as matters of convenience. They have been arrived at through many generations of careful observation and study, for which the ancient Chinese were renowned.
The Lunar Year Ahead
This brings us, then to a consideration of the year at hand. We will go through all the relevant data the Chinese astrologer would use - though very briefly--and then see what the year really holds for us, aside from being a year which is classed as one with a lot of activity. We should keep in mind that the Chinese year is a lunar year, and that its length varies year to year because of the varying lengths of the lunar months. As another aside, all of the ancient calculations that yield up the secrets of the greater cycles and that have been passed down to esotericists and Initiates through the ages, have as their basis a lunar year. The Moon and the lunar cycles are those that govern the periods of manifestation for all life on this planet and within the solar system, for our bodies are said to be "lunar vehicles"--the vast bulk of the life on our globe having come from the Moon, the mother of our Earth - and it is the Lunar Lords who provide us with our very bodies and the forms of all that we see around us. But, that is another letter.
In the Year Pillar we find the following: Stem=1 (Yang Wood), Branch=IX (metal monkey, Monkey in the Trees), resultant element=Water (Rains and Springs). In all Chinese mundane charts the Year Pillar represents the biggest body of people involved. In the individual it represents extended family, ancestors and social contacts aside from friends. In the New Year figure, then, the Year Pillar represents the world at large and, to a lesser extent, the major nations of the world on the basis of population. Subjectively (as indicated by the Stem, Yang Wood), this is to be a year of prolific expansion outward. Wood is the Element associated with the planet Jupiter and it is the Element that governs growth, imagination, inventiveness and creativity. It also governs electricity, the wind, acidity, verdancy, and the Soul. The 9th Branch represents a phase characterized as a final phase of reaping (feeding) and a sort of frenzied gathering-in of forces--hence, the connection with the Monkey. It is "the final ingathering before the retirement from activity". The combined element - Rains and Springs - is what can come to pass if the energies of this Pillar are correctly handled.
Jockeying for Power
Putting all this together, what we will see as this year progresses is, in one way, a general expansion and feeling of growth and creative imagination evidencing therefrom. But, this is all geared toward a harvesting of what was sown in the period of 1996 and just after. I will leave it to the reader to work out the particulars for your own area. In that period of world history the economy was in full swing in the West, the Euro was introduced as the European currency, there was trouble in the Balkans, we had the Asian financial collapse, Hong Kong was returned to the Chinese, Clinton was impeached, Princes Di was killed, the first cloned sheep was "hatched", Mad Cow disease appeared in Britain, the testing of nukes by India and Pakistan and the appearance of the Hale-Bopp comet, to name but a few. As we begin to reap the results of those times and then begin to prepare for the next cycle of the Great Year in 2008 we will see a lot of jockeying for positions of power (re: US and Australian elections), much "creativity" with flows of money around the world and into government coffers, expansion of public works projects, a general instability in the economy due to public insecurity, the exposure of many things that have lain hidden due to the unscrupulous dealings of public officials and people behind the scenes and the general growth of the film industry and the arts.
Read part three of The Year of the Monkey, where Malvin continues his discussion of Ming Shu in the light of the Four Pillars, the I Ching and other little known, revealing secrets of Chinese Astrology.
Aries, the Ram
Taurus, the Bull
Gemini, the Twins
Cancer, the Crab
Leo, the Lion
Virgo, the Virgin
Libra, the Scales
Scorpio, the Scorpion
Sagittarius, the Archer
Capricorn, the Sea Goat
Aquarius, the Water Bearer
Pisces, the Fishes