Thursday, February 19, 2009

Positive and Negative Days in Tibetan Astrology


In 1971, I encouraged the publication of a small (47 page) booklet at what was then called Dharma Press, but was really housed in a commercial operation I jointly owned with a man named Marcus Johnson, called Rainbow Zenith Press, at Berkeley, California.

The rather ambitious title was Kalachakra Tibetan Astrological Chart, and it was compiled by Tarthang Rinpoche, who at the time was in his mid thirties, and still learning English, so "compiling" meant him talking, while whoever was handy did the writing.

I recall that proximate to this effort, I suddenly flew to New York with four friends on an adventure, wound up getting married by Trungpa Rinpoche at Tail of the Tiger in Barnet, Vermont, and then had to disappear on a professional fool's errand.

I think the person I married on that occasion now lives in San Diego County and reads this weblog sometimes.

Hi, honey.


Nevertheless, in the midst of all this flying around, getting married, and making the world safe for rubber and rice by holding back the crimson tide of Communism, I fear I completely neglected the little Kalachakra book.

It was completed anyway, by hands steadier than my own, and became famous for being the first exposition of Tibetan "lucky and unlucky days" in the English language. My main contribution to this work was proposing it, and then getting out of the way. The steady hands were those of Merrill Peterson and Rick Woodbury: two of Rinpoche's most loyal, industrious, and energetic, original twenty-five students in the United States.

Except.....

Except, I wasn't around to proofread and fact check the thing before the Harris LXD 17x22 sheetfed press rolled, and some little anomalies crept in. This has always bothered me. Not only did they creep into the book, but to every other source that made subsequent use of the book. Therefore, one sees these anomalies everywhere -- on the internet, in Cornu's book (p. 184), etc., etc.

Everywhere, that is, until 2007, when Edward Henning published his truly wonderful book Kalachakra and the Tibetan Calendar. You can purchase this remarkable book online, and I earnestly suggest you do so by clicking: here.

In his book, Mr. Henning provides us (at p. 181) with rather different information, that I reproduce herein, below. You can contrast this with the original information we published in 1971, and draw your own conclusions. Please note that what Mr. Henning calls "spirit mansion," we called the "foundation day;" what he calls "life mansion," we called "energy day;" what he calls "power mansion," we called "success day;" what he calls "obstacle mansion," we called "obstacle day;" what he calls "demon mansion," we called "emotional turbulence day," and what he calls "adversary mansion," we called "enemy day." In all cases, the days are reckoned according to the lunar calendar, so "27" for example, would be the 27th day of the lunar month.

Rat
Spirit Mansion: 19, we said 20
Life Mansion: 5, we said 6
Power Mansion: 2, we said 3
Obstacle Mansion: 25, we said 26
Demon Mansion: 9, we said 10
Adversary Mansion: 22, we said 23

Ox
Spirit Mansion: 16, we said 17
Life Mansion: 13, we said 14
Power Mansion: 11, we said 12
Obstacle Mansion: 1, we said 12 (!)
Demon Mansion: 7, we said 18 (!)
Adversary Mansion: 4, we said 5

Tiger
Spirit Mansion: 4, we said 5
Life Mansion: 26, we said 27
Power Mansion: 8, we said 9
Obstacle Mansion: 13, we said 14
Demon Mansion: 11, we said 12
Adversary Mansion: 1, we said 3 (!)

Rabbit
Spirit Mansion: 10, we said 11
Life Mansion: 26, we said 27
Power Mansion: 11, we said 12
Obstacle Mansion: 25, we said 26
Demon Mansion: 14, we said 25 (!)
Adversary Mansion: 17, we said 18

Dragon
Spirit Mansion: 2, we said 3
Life Mansion: 23, we said 24
Power Mansion: 16, we said 17
Obstacle Mansion: 7, we said 8
Demon Mansion: 8, we said 9
Adversary Mansion: 10, we said 11

Snake
Spirit Mansion: 12, we said 13
Life Mansion: 11, we said 12
Power Mansion: 5, we said 6
Obstacle Mansion: 7, we said 8
Demon Mansion: 8, we said 9
Adversary Mansion: 5, we said 6

Horse
Spirit Mansion: 16, we said 17
Life Mansion: 11, we said 12
Power Mansion: 5, we said 6
Obstacle Mansion: 19, we said 20
Demon Mansion: 4, we said 5
Adversary Mansion: 26, we said 27

Sheep
Spirit Mansion: 7, we said 8
Life Mansion: 0, we said 1
Power Mansion: 1, we said 2
Obstacle Mansion: 19, we said 20
Demon Mansion: 4, we said 5
Adversary Mansion: 26, we said 27

Monkey
Spirit Mansion: 7, we said 8
Life Mansion: 0, we said 1
Power Mansion: 1, we said 2
Obstacle Mansion: 8, we said 9
Demon Mansion: 4, we said 10 (!)
Adversary Mansion: 16, we said 17

Bird
Spirit Mansion: 13, we said 14
Life Mansion: 8, we said 7 (!)
Power Mansion: 24, we said 25
Obstacle Mansion: 2, we said 3
Demon Mansion: 10, we said 11
Adversary Mansion: 23, we said 24

Dog
Spirit Mansion: 8, we said 9
Life Mansion: 26, we said 27
Power Mansion: 4, we said 5
Obstacle Mansion: 10, we said 11
Demon Mansion: 2, we said 3
Adversary Mansion: 11, we said 12

Pig
Spirit Mansion: 1, we said 2
Life Mansion: 7, we said 8
Power Mansion: 10, we said 11
Obstacle Mansion: 25, we said 26
Demon Mansion: 2, we said 3
Adversary Mansion: 11, we said 12

The astute reader will now scratch his or her head and wonder who is right, and who is wrong.

That's an interesting question, you know? Not having the primary source used by Mr. Henning, I cannot say whether his translation is accurate or not. At the same time, while I trust that Tarthang Rinpoche gave us correct information, I cannot say that we wrote it down correctly, and as stated above, I never looked back. In any event, the probative points of departure are noted above, in red (!) and I invite anybody who cares to start the inquiry thereupon.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

2 reader comments:

Edward said...

Most of my sources are thousands of miles away in London, but I have three with me, one of which - the "baidurya dkar po" - should probably be considered the definitive one. Apart from two obvious typos in a modern almanac, they all agree with the values I have published. I have never come across any other tradition for these, so cannot comment on your early data. Hope this helps...

Edward said...

Most of my sources are thousands of miles away in London, but I have three with me, one of which - the "baidurya dkar po" - should probably be considered definitive. Apart from just two obvious typos in a modern almanac, they all agree with my figures, which I know were checked many years ago with multiple other sources. I have not come across any other tradition for these, so cannot comment on your earlier data. I shall email you a couple of scans of the relevant texts. Hope this helps,

Edward Henning.