The T’ung Shu is revered and seen by many to have spiritual powers. People keep it in their homes almost as a talisman, believing that owning a copy will bring them good fortune. The Almanac is considered a book of great importance, and used as a guide in their daily lives.
The Almanac is an accumulation of information from over 3000 years, with extensive contributions from shamans, Taoists, Buddhists, Moslems, and Christians. Not only is it significant in the study of the history of religion, but it is also one of the most comprehensive and traditional sources of Chinese beliefs and practices. The T’ung Shu originated as a calendar, explaining the detail of the lunar farmer’s calendar and the seasons, but now includes everything from fortune-telling to herbal medicine, including numerology, palmistry, divination, physiognomy, pregnancy charts, moral codes, dictionaries, charms, talismans, and predictions. The Almanac gives astronomical details, telegram and telex charts, plus it contains interesting stories and legends, all coming from very diverse sources. Of course it also includes a calendar of auspicious and inauspicious days, which people turn to for daily predictions to see if a specific day is lucky or not for planning important events like weddings and travel.
The Almanac was written by the most senior officials within the Chinese bureaucracy and the Imperial Court, but is now constructed annually by astrologers in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
***** old Reading the Chinese Almanac
We begin the first of a series of articles which will decipher the mysteries of the Chinese Almanac with the help of Man-Ho KwokFirst you should be aware that being written in Chinese, the Almanac must be read from the opposite direction to a Western book, beginning at the ‘back’.
On the first page of the Chinese Almanac for 1998 shown on the opposite page, is the traditional illustration of the Spring Festival Cow for 1998. This picture and its associated text traditionally predicts the weather, farming business and harvest prospects for the coming year. Each year the picture changes subtley.
This page also indicates the dates on which the earth god T’u Ti or Tu Wang is supposed to be active. This is helpful to farmers who want to choose the best day for planting their crops. This parallels the old European tradition of only sowing crops at particular phases of the moon.
From a feng shui point of view the days on which the earth god is active are days on which you should not cut or dig the earth, an excellent excuse perhaps for not doing the gardening! But more seriously, it is the days on which you should avoid making feng shui changes which involve excavation such as the digging of fish ponds.
Each of the 12 sections below the picture refer to each of the 12 lunar months in 1998, starting with the first month in the middle of the right hand side of the page, and finishing with the twelfth month in the bottom left hand corner.