Home/Rod Dreher/Chinese Zodiac Predicts Year Of Suffering

Chinese Zodiac Predicts Year Of Suffering

A Chinese woman wears a protective mask as she walks by a display marking the "Year of the Rat" during the Chinese New Year holiday. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Amazing comment from “Wyoming Doc,” a physician who reads this blog, about what Terry Mattingly calls a “religion ghost” in the China virus story:

As you know, I am married and have lived for many years with a woman from far inland China – Ningxia province to be exact. As such, I feel I have picked up on quite a bit of their culture and to be able to explain it at least to some degree to Americans.

My wife has a PhD in an advanced science field. She was the lone student picked her year of graduation to represent lowly Ningxia province at Tsinghua University in Beijing – their equal to a place here in the US like MIT. She is about 10,000 times smarter than I am.

Over the years, I have come to realize that their “Food Pyramid” is much different than our own. In their culture, good nutrition comes from eating all kinds of different things placed in one pot – different kinds of meat, vegetables and spices. Chinese food is most definitely not the cuisine at your local buffet. In her homeland, meals were accomplished with all kinds of different “protein” sources — hardly any of which are available readily here — a fact that she laments often. One other thing to realize is that the act of freezing anything instantly reduces that thing’s nutritional value to zero in Chinese eyes. Their culture is absolutely allergic to the freezer. The refrigerator is not far behind. Freshness in anything is paramount. Accordingly, when I was in China — you could smell the outdoor markets from about 6 blocks away. Never mind the bats — this cannot be sanitary for anything. All kinds of meat just laying out in the sun — stinking to high heaven. But that is the way it has been done there for thousands of years.

My wife continues this tradition here today — nothing is frozen — fresh meat and food is picked up every day from either the grocery store or preferably the local farmers. I would also like to alert any and all with ears — that much of “Chinese herbal medicine” has everything to do with what Americans would consider very peculiar choices. Please be aware of this when you go and buy anything made of powder in a Chinese drug store. For example, a common “herbal” remedy for the common cold is dessicated powdered snake testicles in small little pills. You have been warned.

We have just had all our neighbors over for Chinese New Year last night — about 20 guests in all. My wife is a phenomenal cook — and spent the whole week making dumplings and noodles made from scratch out of rice shipped from her home province Ningxia. Rice from this province is considered the best rice in the world to the Chinese palate. Add this to the multiple dozens of meat and vegetable dishes and you can only imagine – good times had by all. Their New Year is basically our Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter all wrapped up into one.

Now I am going to get to the part of this whole past few days that has really bugged me and made me hesitate to write this comment. As usual, I have heard not a word about any of what I am about to write in the American media — and I believe it to be profoundly germane to the suffering currently going on in mainland China.

The Chinese people are still very, very attached to their ancient Zodiac. Much much more than our Zodiac affects our lives here. This includes my wife — a woman with a PhD from one of the top universities in the world. This stuff really still matters to her. We had to visit a fortune teller — 91 year old Mr Su — straight out of Hollywood central casting for a Charlie Chan movie — to determine our wedding date and year — whether I, a horse, was compatible with her, a dragon — and what animal our children should be — they ended up being sheep — a winning combo for all, etc. etc. etc. Mr. Su and his tea leaves have played a profound part in our lives. And this plays a profound part in the lives of billions of Chinese — especially those from more rural areas. To some degree in their hearts they really believe this stuff — despite the decades Chairman Mao spent trying to strangle it.

All most Americans are aware of is that this is The Year of the Rat — starting last night. This is true — and determined by a rotating 12 year cycle of animals — sheep, monkey, snake, dog, etc. What most Americans do not know is that there are two other cycles going at the same time — one of earth elements (5 in total) — fire, gold, water, etc — and one called the Celestial Tree — of which I have little idea to explain other than there are 10 of them. Last night actually started the Year of the Golden Rat and then some extra words related to the Celestial Tree which I think do not translate to English very well.

Why is this important? Let me share this anecdote. My wife told me back in November — that starting on JAN 25 — the year of suffering will begin. It is not uncommon in these years for the New Year not to be celebrated either by choice or by force — and that bad things can really get started. She stated this as a matter of fact. In multiple times in thousands of years of Chinese history — this particular Zodiac year has been a turning point and not for the good.

Apparently this combo of these three Zodiac cycles that began last night is snake-eyes — it is the most ominous and foreboding of any year. I know as a rational human being not to believe this stuff — and I do feel my wife feels the same way at least to some degree — but I worry about the Chinese people, and how this kind of thing can rapidly spiral into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Very strange and unexpected things can happen in times of mass delusion.

Readers, note well that Wyoming Doc is not saying that astrology is real. He’s saying that a billion Chinese people believe their astrological system discloses a dimension of reality, and will act on that essentially religious belief. What they do with it, who knows? But I really appreciate the doctor telling me this fascinating social fact about Chinese culture, and I hope that some of you readers can shed more light on it, and what it might mean for how the Chinese people respond to this crisis.

UPDATE.2: More from Wyoming Doc:

Rod, I have two screenshots from her iPhone wechat (Chinese version of Facebook). These are dated in Nov 2019 and were sent to her groupserv for the Tshinghua alumni. This is part of what I am saying – even those very well educated people find the need to send this around.

Both are in Mandarin. One of them lists off all the previous Golden Rat years and lists off the disasters that occurred. It then gets to 2020 – and right off the bat warns that a plague will come early in the year. That healthy people will just drop dead – and exhorting people not to eat wild game meat – you cannot make this stuff up. The remainder of the year will be filled with flooding and great hardship. Then the rest of it is some kind of astronomical discussion that despite my wife’s best effort I just simply do not understand.

He sent me the screenshots. I’m trying to get clear permission from him to use them before posting. It’s all in Mandarin, and I don’t want to inadvertently publish private info about his wife.

UPDATE.3: Here they are:

This is a strange old world, innit?

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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