Year of the Metal Tiger

(Credit: This picture was taken by KungFuStu and hosted on Flickr: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

This is a pretty ridiculous thing to worry about, but as San Francisco celebrates the Chinese New Year, I’ve been looking up Davy’s horoscopes: aaaaaand they’re not particularly auspicious.

Let me start by saying that I’m not a believer in astrology in the way people mean when they ask if you “believe in” these things—no, I don’t believe that the pull of the planets has a direct affect on brain chemistry, or anything like that—but I’m attracted to complex symbolic systems of all types, and I do think that we cannot help but use the folklore of our societies as we define ourselves. For instance, I was born in the year of the Dragon—a fact I learned early from the place-mats in Chinese restaurants—and that knowledge has affected me to a certain degree throughout my life.

I have also had at least one experience with Eastern astrology that I just can’t explain. I had a really difficult time in my freshman year of college; it all culminated in a suicide attempt towards the end of the year that landed me in the psych ward for a brief time. It was without a doubt the worst period of my life. My dad was on a Fulbright to Korea at the time—going, he said later, a little bit crazy with worry and the inability to do anything from so far away—so when I got out of the hospital he sent me a ticket to Seoul.

By the time I came to Seoul I was already on the mend. I had made up my mind to live—a decision I never had to revisit again—and my three weeks in Seoul were a great affirmation of the surprises and wonders that the world yet held for me. One of the things we did during that time was to visit an astrologer. (I learned later that the Korean and Chinese zodiacs are the same.)

This old man, he asked me nothing except the exact time and place of my birth. He wasn’t a cold reader. He didn’t fish for information: he wasn’t actually interested in hearing from me at all. He just consulted a lot of charts and papers, and then started talking. He was specific and accurate: one of the things he told me, quite matter-of-factly, was that I had just emerged from depression and danger of death. Then he gave me some herbal recommendations for balancing out my health, and sent us on our way.

So, I guess this is all a long-winded way of saying that I consider myself neither a believer nor a skeptic when it comes to astrology: I mostly just think it’s interesting.

And as it turns out, 2010—year of the Yang Metal Tiger—is something of a “jinx year” in the Chinese calendar. The traits associated with the tiger (courage, ambition, a competitive streak) aren’t well-balanced by the metal element: according to, “We can image that 2010 is a Tiger wearing armor. This Tiger doesn’t like armor on the top its body and keeps jumping around. For safety, we should keep our distance from it.”

Additionally, “Tiger has the potential to become vigorous, ferocious and cruel. So Tiger is a symbol of power and authority. This kind of personality is good for the leadership [but] With the inflexible and destructive personality, Tiger has very poor people relationship, especially, with family members. In traditional customary, Chinese family don’t invite people born in year of Tiger to involve private wedding ceremony.”

Where Robin is a Yin Fire Pig, a well-balanced sign pointing to an amiable and loving temperament, the Yang Metal Tiger is associated with great courage but also extreme combativeness. The metal element only makes the naturally ferocious tiger sharper, inflexible, and more reckless: not a great combo. Plus, Sam, Robin, and myself are all born in Fire years, but Metal doesn’t like Fire.

Astrologically, 2010 is forecasted to be an angry, tense, and violently unpredictable year. Sorry! It’s just what I’ve read! And of course those born in this year (supposedly) risk inheriting these qualities.

At least Davy’s due date will make him a Cancer, a feminine water sign that’s supposed to have a tendency toward caution. I’m mixing Eastern and Western systems with wild abandon here, but I’m glad that his sun sign will provide him with some much-needed balance. I guess he’s also going to need extra water and earth influences around him to balance out the metal/fire conflict he’s born into.

I dunno. If I do end up with a combative little white tiger cub in Davy, maybe I’ll drag him to Chinatown and see if I can find an old astrologer to prescribe some herbs. It worked pretty well for me.

2 Responses to “Year of the Metal Tiger”

  • Nina Says:

    Well, as the picture shows, at least your spitting little handful of fur will be incredibly adorable.

    And don’t forget “intelligent, alert, courageous, honest, lucky, intense, lively, and engaging.” Sounds like someone else I know! Perhaps Sam and Robin will be the peaceable half of the family, while you and Davy keep things exciting…

  • shannon Says:

    Aw, thanks. I do think the image of an armored tiger is kind of awesome.

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