Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Mightiest of Signs

Just a quick observation.

A trawl through Western Zodiac signs, meanings and personalities doesn't really seem to reveal any ranking. Libras are balanced, Virgos are  smart, perfectionistic and a bit cold, Pisces are sensitive and easygoing, Gemini are creative and indecisive, Scorpio are distrustful, a bit dark and passionate, Aquarians and Sagittariuses (Sagittarii?) are independent and a bit emotionless, mean and aloof. Etc. etc. all the way through the signs.  Every sign has negative qualities as well as positive ones.

Then you go look at Chinese Zodiac animals and while most of them are similarly structured - having good qualities as well as bad ones with a reasonably flat hierarchy, when you get to a few of them, you do see some sort of rank.

Dragons are the "mightiest" of the signs and while they're not first in order, they seem to be first in preference. Rats, despite how people feel about them in the West, seem to be similarly prominent, and while tiger-born women are supposed to be bad luck at weddings, generally it seems to be considered a powerful sign. Meanwhile other signs are considered less desireable, sometimes even along gender lines (ie a tiger boy is OK, but a tiger girl is not desired). My point is, faint as it is, there's a bit of a ranking system. You don't hear people in the USA saying "We're going to try for a Gemini baby!" the way you hear "we're going to try for a dragon baby!" in Taiwan (of course one is based on a month and the other a year, so the former is quite a bit harder to "plan" for than the latter - but you don't hear preferences stated regardless).                                                               

I don't actually believe in any of this stuff, mind you, but it is an interesting bit of culture. So I'm not writing this due to any inherent truth in astrology but rather what the astrological organization and belief systems mean regarding culture.

It just made me think - I feel this is an era when "flat hierarchy" is a buzzword back home, and we revere people who made it big on their own rather than via social rank, where everyone dresses similarly (I don't know about you but these days I can't figure out who has money and who doesn't on the streets of New York) and we pretend to be all the same - even though we're not. Does our culturally inherited sense of astrology - different but checked and balanced, varied but mostly equal - point to a cultural tendency to evolve toward flat hierarchies? Can I blow some more smoke into it and say that representative government (including democracy) is a Western invention and did not come to Asia on its own, and that says something too? And does the Chinese system, which has faintly stated but still present ideas about rank and preference, say something about the importance of rank in Chinese culture and the influence of Confucianism?

Which, by the way, I'm no fan of Confucian philosophy. Just to be clear.

Anyway. I swear I'm not high. I don't even smoke pot, even though it sounds like I do from this post. Just an idle thought in my head that I figured I should explore a bit and see what the world has to say. Feel free to shoot me down!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and find that it does open some doors to thoughts I never considered. Brian