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Kingston, NY, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009

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Dear Friend and Reader:

The wonders of the Internet.

Planet Waves
When I was new to reading about astrology, I found a book that covered the Western signs in the context of the Chinese zodiac. It's called The New Astrology by Suzanne White -- a book where you can look up some ideas to go with being a Leo Rooster or a Pisces Dragon, and it was intelligent (the Pisces Dragon, my own sign, should seek employment as a philosopher or photographer, Ms. White suggests, but according to her research, she can think of no reason why one would want to be the boss of anything).

Knowing that I needed to sound vaguely intelligent about Chinese astrology with the New Year happening, I drove to Mirabai Books in Woodstock on Sunday to fetch the book, which is in print and selling copies 20 years after it came out.

Then it occurred to me to call the author and see what she had so say. I found her email address, wrote to her and the next day, we were in a long conversation between sunny Buenos Aries and chilly Kingston, NY about this, that and several other things. And at the end of that conversation, one of the truly eloquent writers on the Chinese horoscope offered Planet Waves readers her Earth Ox article, as well as one about the Leo Ox -- that is, Barack Obama's combined sign.

Suzanne, a Wave of love and appreciation for your work.
Eric Francis
for Planet Waves

The Earth Ox Year
By Suzanne White

1709 Samuel Johnson

1769 Napoleon Bonaparte, Le Marquis de Sade, Adolph Hitler, Jean Cocteau, Erle Stanley Gardner, Robert Benchley, Jawaharlal Nehru, Claude Rains

1889 Charlie Chaplin, Sessue Hayakawa, Jean Cocteau

1949 Ivana Trump, Lindsay Wagner, Billy Joel, Sigourney Weaver, Paloma Picasso, Jessica Lange, Richard Gere, John Belushi, Jeff Bridges, Sissy Spacek, Niki Lauda, Hank Williams, Fanny Ardant, Patty Lupone, Ken Follett, Lionel Ritchie, Meryl Streep, Lindsay Wagner, Shelly Duval, Keith Caradine, Robert Caradine, Twiggy, Ed Begley Jr., Bruce Springsteen, Sigourney Weaver, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Armatrading, Ted Danson, Sissy Spacek, Tom Waits, Victoria Principal

Here we enter the year of the busybody dictator Ox. Curious to a fault, nosy and meddlesome, Earth Oxen think they know best, and they often do. In general, these folks consider themselves superior to other people. They not only think they are better; they believe they were born to lead others, to teach the poor things how to live, and sometimes even to push them around like pawns on the chessboard of life. What we have here is a very nature-oriented, earth-bound, power-mad megalomaniac whose nose for locating flies in life's various ointments is practically infallible.

This is not to say we didn't need such a stringent year to come along in 2009. We did. All of us are suffering. Some of us have too much and are stumbling over glut. Many more of us have nothing. The world financial market, such as we knew it, is over. Change and upheaval are in the very air we breathe. Religious fanaticism seems to have more power among certain young people than either rock music or computer games could ever have inspired. People are slaughtering other people in the name of a god figure. Other people are dropping bombs on peoples' houses and churches and hospitals and weddings in the name of an increasing energy need to fuel more pollution. Our food sources are being poisoned in the name of efficacy.

Let's face it. Things were getting out of hand.

Along comes the Earth Ox to get us back in line, to make order out of all the chaos we have ourselves wreaked on the world. What kind of Ox is an Earth ox?

Well, a more self-possessed type of Ox doesn't exist. The Earth Ox is autonomous and ruthless. The Earth Ox may occasionally appear to cower in the face of something overwhelming. And, deep down, he may really be afraid. But he won't display fear. He will display audacity instead. Many sense his fear. As a result, they do not always feel obliged to take the Ox's haughty posturing very seriously. It is tempting (but unwise) to thumb one's nose at a bossy Earth Ox. These people mean business! Most times, it's "their way or the highway". The Earth Ox's shrewd punitive measures for shirkers are legendary - even shocking!

Earth born Oxen believe that their true goal is to achieve perfection. They never quail at the idea of intense hard work, are terminally organized and cannot so much as a glimmer of spontaneity. The life and soul of the party, this creature is not. The Earth Ox leads. He or she is in charge. Hence they are never really part of any group.

So these Earth Oxen are brave. And bold. Temerity is their middle name. Think about it - Earth and Ox together? A bulldozer. They caterpillar-tractor their way over any number of corpses to get into any board room, cabinet meeting or bedroom where they feel they should be allowed to enter - without knocking. As long as the Earth Ox needs something and wants it, it's his (or hers).

This snatch-and-grab approach may seem horrendously cut throat to others; but these folks carry on as they do because (believe it or not) they are insecure! Yes. Insecurity is the key to all the bullying on Earth, and the Earth Ox is no exception. They secretly suffer from a fear of being unloved, rejected and abandoned. This Ox is never sure of a best friend or even a best bed partner. They are also well aware that they are clumsy and unskilled at appreciating subtlety. So… to spare their own tender feelings, these Oxen use aggressive tactics to fend off aggression from others.

Even the most successful Earth Ox is a bit of a klutz, an awkward peasant in bourgeois clothing. They may wish they had never become so visible as to be obliged to hobnob with all the splendid people who only make them feel more like a hick. What Earth Oxen wanted to do when they set out to take over the world was to lead the people. But they never dreamed that they might also have to learn to drink champagne, make small talk, wear evening clothes or take waltz lessons.

If you or I woke up one day and faced the responsibility of piloting the globe, it might be difficult to maintain our cool. Since Earth Oxen were born with this leadership certainty and are basically sincere, when they accede to the massive job of shepherding the world, they do want everything to run smoothly. After all, while they are in power, the outcome of all human endeavor rests with them. If things go well, and the Earth Ox feels he or she is doing the job correctly, then they can afford to be in a good mood. If the works gum up (which sometimes happens), these Earth Oxen truly believe it is all their fault.

Does he or she get depressed and sulk? Will she explode? Will he knock over tables and chairs? Or might he take to drink or she drugs? No. Earth Oxen are convinced that because they define the limits, they need not hesitate to overstep them - all the time. It's nigh unto impossible for the Earth born Ox to accept advice. They never ask for assistance. He or she expects the best from everyone and when they don't get it, they tend to sanction their subjects…severely.

The one sure path to an Earth Ox's heart is through its stomach. Good restaurants thrive in Earth Ox years. These leaders love to eat thick, country-style soups, platefuls of fried fishy tidbits or a couple of crusty quiches Lorraine. These Oxen can often be master chefs as well.

What about love? For this kind of Ox, sex represents a healthy physical act. Romance may be cute, but it is not the Earth Ox's favorite means of communication. They are not up for employing seduction tactics or whispering sweet nothings. A good hearty meal, a glass of wine and a little sexercise is the best aphrodisiac for this character. Hold the sweet nothings.

Finally, although this Ox makes a meticulous rule maker and a disciplined self-starter, he or she is often literary or artistic in some specialized area. He always finishes what he starts. She can be counted on for promptness and trusted for basic honesty. However, blindness to their own fallibility may lead Earth Oxen to commit some dreadful errors and profound guilt and denial can follow.

During Earth Ox years, the accent is on obedience and hard work. That gigantic stone which hurtled crazily back down the mountain last year must be replaced up there atop the mountain by the end of 2009. And who gets to roll up his or her sleeves and push and shove and sweat and slave till that rock is back on top? We do of course.

Leo Ox Profile, for Obama Fans
By Suzanne White

Suzanne White's work combines the Chinese and Western zodiac. In this article, she describes the characteristics of Leos born in the Year of the Ox -- such is Barack Obama. The character traits below are those she associates with this combination of energies. -- efc







"I will" "I preserve"
Fire, Sun, Fixed Negative Water, Yin

Leadership and dominion combine here to create an unforgettably forceful personality type. The tone of rapport with Leo/Oxen never feels quite intimate or cozy enough. One wonders if there is really a heart beating inside their dense ribcages or whether they are propelled by some remote control device in their garage. This assessment of the indifferent attitude that the Leo/Ox emanates is perhaps harsh, or may seem unfair. But the Leo/Ox is so austere in manner that it's difficult not to imagine him as obdurately insensitive.

Leo/Oxen get places. They never cease pushing and advancing and arriving at goal upon goal despite hurdle after hurdle. We usually admire the Leo/Oxen that we meet and we cannot help but admit that they are amazing: strong, courageous and, most of all, effective. Leo/Oxen take the reins in every situation and when they are onto a project or idea, they never let up until they have mastered it.

These people are opportunists and do not hesitate before the dark wall of the devil. They plunge through fire and never flee conflict.

Normally, Leo/Oxen don't talk very much. Around the house or office, they come off as strong but silent, even stodgy personages. It's always obvious that Leo/Ox feels himself individual and separate from the group. And if he involves himself at all in any group endeavor or communion, he must have center stage, do all the talking, crack all the jokes and generally hold forth. Now, all of a sudden, in company with a captive audience, the Leo/Ox becomes gregarious. When he is listened to, the Leo/Ox is an orator, a performer, a fabulous synthesizer of information and a raconteur par excellence.

Leo/Oxen are "know-it-all" types and rarely let anyone get a word in edgewise when they speak. They are not too curious about others' opinions or reflections on their views. Leo/Oxen are the personification of the Father Knows Best approach. He is the first and final judge of what is suitable and intelligent. If you have a different opinion, keep it. When there is a Leo/Ox in the room, everybody present is on his show. He is intransigently, tenaciously and arrogantly there. You are mere decoration.

The Leo/Ox character seeks permanence and longs for solidity in both personal and public ways. He is as earthy as they come and seems to need to sop up warmth from the outside, to hold on tight to love and marriage and dreams of home and family for dear life. Yes, he is successful and unbeatably strong. But it can get lonely inside that autocratic head. And the Leo/Ox needs somebody else to turn on the heat. He can build and make and do anything at all humanly possible-except simple tenderness. Expressions of affection are not given to the Leo/Ox, and when you get to know them well, you realize that what's lacking weighs them down.

These people have great minds and good memories. In fact, they have trouble forgetting-and forgiving. Humility escapes them. If they goof, they don't want it to show. Failure is not acceptable.. If someone near to their heart disappoints them, they don't just pass it off as unfortunate or even sad. They take it as a personal affront to their dignity. And they cannot, will not, humble themselves to retrieve lost love.

Although this person is brilliant at order and runs a tight ship, his life will be missing a certain spontaneity. He prefers plans and schedules to the impromptu gathering or hurry-up picnic in the park. He's rigidly concerned about his image and maintaining same vis-à-vis his subjects. This, of course, cuts down on the Leo/Ox's jolly times. He's active and busy and energetic in the extreme. But the Leo/Ox is nonetheless ponderous and somehow, despite the velocity of his life, leadenly slow.


For the Ox, romantic love is frequently reduced to the common denominator of sexuality. The Leo is, however, armed by the sun with inner glowing heat. A Leo/Ox will not be cold in bed nor will he reject the idea of sentiment or sweetness. But he will find it difficult to engage in the frolicsome aspect of love. He cannot forget to take everything seriously.

What the Leo/Ox needs as a mate or lover is someone whose sense of permanence helps get the fun together for him. Leo/Oxen are so exaggeratedly sensible that they need to be tickled and teased and learn to accept being jollied up and cheered along by a perfectly adoring and sweet-natured partner.

The real victory in fact, over the Leo/Ox's dense murk of gravity, is to make him laugh, loosen up and enjoy. If you love an Ox born in Leo, you will surely admire him as well. But that is the easy part. Get him to join a roller-skating club or do yoga. Relax him and limber up the stiff-old-geezer part of his nature. He'll love you for it and he will never let you down-so long as you obey his every order and don't get out of hand.


Green light for Rats, Snakes and Roosters of the Aries, Gemini, Libra, Sagittarius and Capricorn class. Scorpio and Taurus/Dragons are off limits for you, as well as Scorpio and Aquarius/Tigers. Taurus/Monkeys annoy you with their eternal antics. And Goats? You eat Goats for breakfast.

Home and Family

The Leo/Ox's home environment will be orderly and impressive. He has always just redecorated and built new closets and bookshelves and had walls removed so that his huge dining table will be better accommodated. Leo/Oxen are big eaters and can learn to be good cooks. They work very hard and need a study or office in their house as well as outside. All will be designed for order and planned to the last butter knife and fish fork for efficient and clean-cut living.

As for his relationships with family and siblings, the Leo/Ox will of course, as always, take all ties and kinships seriously. If he gives a dinner party and doesn't invite his cousins and nieces and nephews, then he'll give them a special party of their own the next week. Leo/Oxen are authoritarian but they like to be thought of as fair and just, too.

Woe unto the child of a Leo/Ox who doesn't toe the mark, work well in school, follow in his mother or father's well-established social pattern, and do as he is told and not what he wishes with his life. The Leo/Ox gives everything to his kids. He provides them with an array of activities and high-minded outings and holidays and clothes and glut of every possible sort. Leo/Ox is an able and sure-footed family person. But he's also positively dictatorial. If the spoiled kid with all the toys and clubs and sports doesn't do what Mama Leo/Ox or Papa Leo/Ox demands, he is exiled.

Leo/Ox kids are impressively self-contained. They want to be allowed to remain separate from the kiddie nucleus and will try to order younger brothers and sisters around. The best environment for a Leo/Ox child is among his peers, where he may find other people of similar strength and sovereignty to learn from. He needs to be taught humility and the value of lightness and frivolity. But he doesn't learn those qualities easily.


The Leo/Ox character requires enormous challenge just to get through the day. He is not interested in crazy new notions or zany schemes. He wants to work and achieve and get on with his career. He must be cajoled and coaxed to want to have fun. Mind you, when inspired, Leo/Oxen can be very amusing. They have an uncanny ability to satirize. But their aura is stodgy. And they struggle and plod and drudge toward every performance.

Now, you cannot very well put a person like this behind a counter in a five and dime. He'll take over the whole joint in ten seconds, replace the manager and rearrange the working schedule. Leo/Oxen cannot possibly be asked to perform subordinate roles in their professional lives. Hence, they need to be independent. They must have a sound education and prepare themselves for their work from an early age. They will always rise to the top of any career organization-slowly perhaps, but intensely and certainly. Bossing is the Leo/Ox's mission in life.

Career possibilities for the Leo/Ox are best selling novelist, Noble Prize winning journalist, president in charge of presidents, king, queen, pope, Dalai Lama, imam or, at the least, chancellor of the exchequer. Another possibility is film director, or any job where a combination of talent for story-telling and dictatorial management is required.

Famous Leo/Oxen: Napoleon, Oscar Peterson, Russell Baker, Darry Cowl, Dustin Hoffman, Louis Armstrong, Menachem Begin, Mikis Theodorakis, Oscar Peterson, Robert Hirsch, Robert Redford, Rudy Valee, Yves Duteil.

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