Chinese Astrology

Less difficult than Astrology is Chinese Astrology. A sign in the Chinese Zodiac lasts a year and is named after a limited number of animals so they are pretty easy to remember. Better still, virtually nobody knows anything about it.

There are 12 signs which change every year some time in January or February according to some obscure reference to the Moon. Here is a concise summing up of each personality with the suitable years.

Rat - Charming opportunist.

1936.1948.1960.1972.1984.

Buffalo - Placid and patient.

1937.1949.1961.1973.1985.

Tiger - Magnetic leader or rebellious hothead.

1938.1950.1962.1974.1986.

Rabbit - Peace-loving and affectionate.

1939.1951.1963.1975.1987.

Dragon - Gifted perfectionist.

1940.1952.1964.1976.1988.

Snake - Elegant snob.

1941.1953.1965.1977.1989.

Horse - Quick-witted extrovert.

1942.1954.1966.1978.1990.

Goat - Graceful hedonist.

1943.1955.1967.1979.1991.

Monkey - Intelligent, amusing egotist.

1944.1956.1968.1980.1992.

Rooster - Day-dreamer.

1945.1957.1969.1981.1993.

Dog - Loyal, courageous and faithful.

Pig - Totally honest and gullible.

Signs are always attributed one of five elements in the Chinese system, earth, fire, air, water or metal although bluffers have been known to use elements like concrete or tapioca when feeling really silly. Nothing is more fun than telling someone that according to Chinese astrology he or she is a tapioca Gerbil.

Pick a good sign for yourself - a Tiger or a Horse sounds better than a Pig or a Rat. A good technique is to pick out the sign of everyone in the company. If it's someone you don't care for, say something like "You'll be a ferret, I would think. What year were you born?" Then no matter what year they say, smile and say "Oh yes. A plastic ferret" and go on to give them as accurate a summing up of their characters as your imagination will allow.

If anyone starts being clever and points out there is no Hippopotamus or Ferret in Chinese horoscopes, ask if it is Cantonese or Shanghai astrology that they've studied and be an expert on the other one.

Obscurityrating - 8/10 Artistic interpretation - 5/10 Technical merit- 2/10

The Tarot

Let fortune tellers "read the future in cards", you will "practice cartomancy".

It is supposed to be possible to tell the future using a normal 52 playing card pack, but bluffers will carry a pack of their favourite Tarot cards.

In many ways Tarot is ideal for bluffing. It is by far the best known method of cartomancy, which gives others confidence and (thanks to countless Hammer Horror films) it carries an air of danger and mystery. Yet Tarot is seldom used for fortune telling other than by professionals.

This can probably be put down to the fact that there are 78 cards which have two separate meanings (depending on whether they are the right way up or reversed) and most people foolishly consider you would have to memorise 156 different interpretations before you could start interpreting (especially when you recall that it is very bad form to look up the meaning of any of the cards in a book).

Experienced bluffers will immediately recognise the potential for practising their own special arts with the Tarot pack.

Tarot has an impressive history. It was brought out of ancient Egypt by the gypsies and is really a method of encoding the secret wisdom of the Pharaohs in symbolic form. Or, if you prefer, the ancient Tarot evolved in the mists of antiquity in India and portrays a secret path of initiation. Both histories have been popular in their time and are usually swallowed without comment.

The facts are that there is no evidence of Tarot being in existence before the 14th century but that doesn't sound very romantic - unless you want to be really obscure and tie it in with the hidden symbolism of the heretical Albigensian sect in France. The average individual will still prefer the one about the gypsies and the Egyptians.

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