In early 2015, Mama was so excited about my engagement to Derek, she told everybody about it. Her friends congratulated her, of course. She was beaming. Most of our family members were also happy for me, except for Aunt Lily. According to Mama, she was hesitant about my engagement.
Mama wanted Aunt Lily’s approval since she’s a reader of Zi Wei Dou Shu (紫微斗数), also known as the Purple Star Calculations, one of the Chinese astrological forecasting methods known to be accurate.
“Why can’t you be happy for Kayo?” Mama demanded.
Finally, Aunt Lily spilled the beans. She told Mama that according to my chart, my first marriage was supposed to fail.
Mama considered my first marriage to be a shameful family secret and didn’t tell anybody about it. She was a little rattled that Aunt Lily knew of it. At the same time, Mama was impressed with her ability.
“It’s okay,” Mama told Aunt Lily, “She’s already been married once. This is her second marriage.”
Relieved, Aunt Lily congratulated Mama. “Kayo will be very happy in her second marriage. She’s found her perfect match.”
When Mama told me this story, I was a bit skeptical, but unlike when I was younger, I was also a little curious. For as long as I could remember, Mama always saw Chinese fortune tellers. I always considered it to be some silly superstition—the whole thing seemed so nonsensical to me.
When I was young, I used to crash my car on a pretty regular basis. Do you know the stereotype of an Asian woman driver? She drives with both hands on the wheel in a death grip, make a left turn from the right lane and never checks her mirrors because she never moves her head from the “straight ahead” position–that was me. I was a hazard on the road.
Every time I crashed my car—anything from a minor fender bender to a huge accident where half of my car was totaled, Mama shook her head. “I shouldn’t have let you drive, the fortune teller did tell me that this is going to happen.”
After high-school, I wanted to take a year off before university. I might have even said I wanted to go to a community college first. She wouldn’t have any of it. According to the fortune teller, I was supposed to be “well-educated.” I scoffed. I went to university as I was told and almost flunked out my first year. I tried to defy what the fortune said.
18 years later, I am working on my third master’s degree.
There were other things Mama told me, but I don’t remember what they were. For the most part, when she started to tell me something about my future, I shook my head and told her I didn’t want to hear about it. At that time, I believed that fortune telling is a bit of a sham, like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
As an adult living in Asia, my feelings towards fortune telling has shifted. I thought it was wild that Aunt Lily could see that I would be married twice, though she didn’t know that my first marriage had already happened. I still wouldn’t call myself a believer, but I am intrigued. I did some research to get the gist of what Zi Wei Dou Shu is all about.
Zi Wei Dou Shu is a complex system involving using “stars” to tell a chart, which represents someone’s life or destiny. The chart is organized by the 12 “palaces” arranged and plotted in an anti-clockwise rotation.
- Self Palace (命宮)
- Siblings Palace (兄弟宮)
- Spouse Palace (夫妻宮)
- Children Palace (子女宮)
- Wealth Palace (財帛宮)
- Health Palace (疾厄宮)
- Travel Palace (遷移宮)
- Friends Palace, or Subordinate Palace (交友宮)
- Career Palace (官祿宮)
- Property Palace (田宅宮)
- Mental Palace, or Karma Palace, Ancestor Palace (福德宮)
- Parents Palace (父母宮)
There are 100+ stars in the system, and they are graded according to brightness. The brighter the star, the more influence it has in a palace. Some stars include Ziewei (The Emperor, the Purple Star), Tianji (The Advisor, Heavenly Machine or Heavenly Secret), and Wuqu (The Finance Minister or the Military Bureaucrat, Martial Tune).
Like the Chinese Gods, Zi Wei Dou Shu is part of the Taiwanese culture and I find it fascinating. It’s not an infallible guide to what will happen, but it’s more of a forecast that provides a direction. While I used to scoff when Mama told me things on my chart, now I can’t help asking Mama, “What does my chart say about Derek and me having kids?”
I am sure Mama had Aunt Lily look at my chart. However, her answer is ambiguous. I guess it will the revealed itself to me when it does!