Year of the Dog 2018

Chinese Astrology

As with Western Astrology, true Chinese Astrology is much more complex and intricate than the characteristics of the twelve animal signs, which is our main contact with the art.  And the ancient Chinese were responsible for some of the names of our Fixed Stars, such as Wei in the constellation of Scorpio, Han in Ophiuchus, Tsih in Cassiopeia.  The Chinese system takes account of both the solar calendar, and the lunar calendar.

The Twelve Animals

These, in order, are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Cock, Dog and Pig.  They bear little relation to the animals of the Western Astrology zodiac and constellations.  Apparently Sheep is synonymous with Goat, so there is a vague resemblance in the Goat following the Horse as in Capricorn and Sagittarius.  The Ox, resembling the Bull, is the second sign of the zodiac, as in Western Astrology, but the Chinese New Year does not start in the Spring.

The Elements

These are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.  Thus, no Air as in the Western system, but the addition of Wood and Metal.


Five Planets are used in traditional Chinese Astrology: Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus and Mercury.  But they have different characteristics than used by the Western Astrologer, for example Jupiter represents birth and motherhood, which we ascribe to the Moon.

Character of the Dog

So we find ourselves (as of Friday 16th February 2018) in the Year of the Dog.  In popular knowledge and use, the character traits of the various signs are important, and the compatibilities are also employed, both between people and in ascertaining whether it will be a good year.

The characteristics of the Dog in Chinese Astrology are first and foremost loyalty, defence and protection.  Home and family are important to them. As with our Western Astrology, there are always negative traits too, and one of these for the dog is fearfulness. These would be the traits of babies born this year, if there are any expected in your circles.  Tigers and Horses make good companions.

In the last century, people born under this sign hail from the following years:

1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

1958 was the last Earth Dog year.

Jupiter Cycle

The popular use of Chinese Astrology is based on each year belonging to one of the twelve zodiacal animals, and this corresponds to the cycle of the planet Jupiter, which spends a year in a sign (in the Western system).  This year Jupiter is in Scorpio, and so the characteristics of this year include greater passion, intensity and drive.  This does not particularly synchronize with the Dog, though it might coincide more if the year was Dragon  or Snake.

Suzanne White

Suzanne White is a pioneer of the synthesis of the Western and Chinese Astrological systems.  Her book “The New Astrology” was first published in 1986.  She combines your Western sign with your Chinese sign to create 144 new astrological signs.  If you would like to know more about her work and the coming year, visit her website:

What the Year of the Dog will bring

Generally speaking, if you were born in the Year of the Dog, you will be more comfortable with the energy of this coming year.  Taking the principles of dogginess forward (loyalty, defence and protection.  Home and family … fearfulness) we would expect an emphasis on these in the forthcoming year, both in our personal lives (we find out who we can count on, we put our money where our mouth is, etc.) and in the world.

The issue which stands out for me in relation to Dog is gun control in the U.S. (perhaps because of the school shooting in Florida this week, and the stand the schoolchildren are making that enough is enough).  It is about whether or not to trust that getting rid of the guns is the best thing to do.  Will Donald Trump’s protection of the right to bear arms be an issue that contributes to his demise?

In the U.K. we have the issue of whether or not to get rid of Trident (do we need it, could the cost go to the NHS, is it worth keeping just for deterrent value?).  We have issues over party loyalties, both in the ruling Conservative Party (are Theresa May’s Cabinet on side?) and in the opposition Labour Party (do the party members back Jeremy Corbyn in loyalty to the party even if they disagree with some of his policies?)

In France, Emmanuel Macron is considering bringing back compulsory military service.

In the Middle East, nobody is quite sure whether or not to trust Iran in its nuclear capability.

I am not a Chinese Astrologer, but in the spirit of empiricism, it will be interesting to see if these issues make progress in the coming year, by the time it is the Year of the Pig.  That will be something to review at the time.

Dog Celebrities

Barbara Woodhouse, the famous dog trainer of the 1980s, was born in 1910, which was a Year of the Dog.  Her western Sun sign was Taurus.  She was born on a New Moon in Taurus exactly sextile Neptune, the latter planet giving her the instinctiveness to work in what was in those days an unusual way.  Her rigid and authoritarian personality was very different to the more contemporary U.S. dog whisperer Cesar Millan, whose intuitive and psychological approach (though equally firm) teaches you a lot about human psychology, the dynamics of the pack, and the role of  telepathy.  However, he is a Virgo in the western system, and a Cockerel in the Chinese system.  His powerful communication is revealed in his chart by a conjunction of Mercury with Jupiter/Uranus/Pluto.

The last Earth Dog year was 1958, and there are plenty of celebrities born that year, among them Madonna, Lenny Henry and Michael Jackson.  Another Earth Dog from that year is acclaimed actor Gary Oldman, who has recently played “the British Bulldog” Winston Churchill (who was himself born in the Year of the Dog, 1874).

Nick Park (a Sagittarian) was also born in 1958.  He of course is the creator of the animated duo Wallace and Gromit, the eccentric inventor and his trusty canine friend.  Since writing about the animal totems, I have been researching dog breeds for the various signs, and Gromit’s breed is apparently a beagle.

Which leads me nicely on to the cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, a Water Dog, born in 1922.  His dog Snoopy is also a beagle. He too is a Sagittarian, with Jupiter in Scorpio like Nick Park.

If you have any thoughts about Chinese Astrology, The Year of the Dog, defence and protection issues, or Dog Breeds, do add your comments below.


Mercury entered Pisces in the early hours of this morning, so if your brain felt a bit fuzzy on wakening,  that might be why.  From the certainty and cut and dried mindset of Aquarius, we are in the territory of seeing more subtlety in the various issues that we are pondering.  We are now looking at more facets of the truth, and feeling the fluidity and ever-changing perception of reality.

Late afternoon, the Sun enters Pisces, joining Mercury, so the feeling of confusion or mellowness deepens and extends to the overall experience of the collective.  It would be a good time to put your feet up and watch the box set of Blue Planet II, the highs of experiencing the life of the whales, and the lows reminding us of the proliferation of plastic.  That would make a good entree into the month of Pisces.

Tomorrow (Monday 19th) Mars trines the North Node, and we might be more galvanized to action, especially from a karmic standpoint.  You may feel there is something you must do, or right a wrong, put something straight.  Dogs, cars and men are ruled by Mars, and these may be involved in the karmic interaction or be triggers, hopefully in a constructive way.

On Wednesday (21st) Venus conjuncts Neptune at 13 degrees Pisces, in the most elevated feature of the week.  It is on this day that you may be capable of your most inspired artistic or musical expression, and giving your best in relationships.  It is a magical, sensitive and spiritual oasis, in which you may be able to lose yourself, away from the everyday cares and stresses.  On the other hand, the inspiration you derive may actually give you a new perspective on those everyday cares and stresses.

In the evening, Mercury is sextile Saturn, and that brings you more down to earth, but in a constructive way, as in seeing a plan forward, and intelligent understanding of a situation.  It is helpful for paperwork and organization.

Fixed Stars

There are no planetary aspects after Wednesday, and therefore I will look at the alignment of our Sun with the Fixed Stars for the rest of the week, providing a seed thought in each case from “Starlight Elixirs” by Michael Smulkis and Fred Rubenfeld.

Thursday (22nd) sees an alignment with Sadalmelik, the alpha star in the constellation of Aquarius:

“A gradual accumulation of the awareness of group interaction and group energy takes place unconsciously for most people who regularly interact in any group  situation.  The use of this star will gradually improve one’s ability to bring the energies that are unconscious into better focus.”

Friday’s (23rd) star is Fomalhaut, the alpha star in Pisces Austrini:

“This star has an excellent ability to release addictive states by bringing to consciousness the purpose of addictions.  These can include addictions to relationship, thinking, sex, or various substances.  The awareness of past-life connections that create the necessity for such addictions also comes to one’s consciousness with repeated use of this star.”

For Saturday (24th) we have Deneb Adige, the alpha star in the constellation of Cygnus:

“Deneb has the ability to create in people deeper inspired states, an awareness of the teachings of the masters, and an enhancement of the channelling process to connect to non-physical beings of light, assistance and love.  There is a deeper stimulation of the higher aspects associated with the lungs and circulatory system.”

The week in bullet points:

  • Today – wishy washy and airy fairy
  • Monday – karmic action
  • Wednesday – inspired arts and relationships; looking at detail
  • Thursday – group interaction
  • Friday – tackling addiction
  • Saturday – connecting with the light