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Deciphering the Enigma: Unraveling the ‘Year of the Elephant’ in Tibetan Astrological Lore

Dive into the fascinating world of Tibetan astrology and its unique zodiac system, as revealed in the ancient text “Yearly Traditions of Tagzig.” Here, we unravel the mystery behind the unusual reference to the ‘Year of the Elephant,’ a term not commonly found in the traditional Tibetan zodiac.

The Zodiac Puzzle: Elephant or Ox?

In Tibetan script, the word for ‘ox’ and ‘elephant’ is represented by the same symbol (གླང་།), leading to confusion. However, some astute readers proficient in Tibetan might initially see this as an error. So, why does the text mention the ‘Year of the Elephant’ instead of the ‘Year of the Ox’?

Respecting the Original Text:

The original manuscript emphasizes the term ‘Year of the Elephant.’ In keeping with the spirit of respecting the source material, the translation retains this unique terminology.

Insights from Yongzhong Lagong:

In discussions with Yongdrung Lakun, the compiler of the original work, he explained that within the traditional astrological system of the Bon religion’s Zhangzhung Nyengyud teachings, there exists a zodiac system featuring ‘elephant’ and ‘Kyung.’ This system can be further explored in teachings about the ‘Wheel of Time.’ This notion was supported by a 1961 publication on the nine vehicles of Bon, which included an ancient hand-drawn chart, the ‘Gazhi Illusionary Magic Mirror,’ corroborating this view.

tibetan shangshung zodiac
Tibetan shangshung zodiac

An Alternative Zodiac System:

It appears that the Bon tradition may have an alternative zodiac system, and the reference to the ‘Year of the Elephant’ in the original text is based on this. Readers interested in deeper exploration can study the teachings to validate this perspective.

The Controllers in the Gazhi Illusionary Magic Mirror:

Let’s delve into the first vehicle of the Zhangzhung Nyengyud teachings, especially the astrology and ritual sections, which describe the ‘Controllers’ or ‘Masters’ of the world and their powers.

The Earth Deities – The Sadak:

The primary controllers of this world are the Earth Deities, known as ‘Sadak.’ They are symbolically represented in the astrological chart known as the ‘Gazhi Illusionary Magic Mirror.’ This tool is used to calculate important astrological conjunctions, especially during times when the human ‘energy field’ is susceptible to the influences of celestial bodies and other ‘non-human’ entities, thereby amplifying the potential benefits or disturbances they bring.

Exploring the Mystical World of Bon Teachings: The Gazhi Illusionary Magic Mirror in Tibetan Astrology

Embark on a journey into the heart of Bon teachings and its unique astrological system, as revealed through the Gazhi Illusionary Magic Mirror. This ancient Tibetan practice offers a fascinating glimpse into a complex universe controlled by powerful deities and symbolized through intricate astrological symbols.

The Cosmic Turtle and the Universe:

The Gazhi Illusionary Magic Mirror describes the universe’s controllers as a giant turtle with concentric circles on its shell. At the centre are nine coloured squares, each bearing a number from one to nine, representing the powerful ‘Miba’ earth deities and their connection to the five elements.

The Eight Trigrams and Land Gods:

The next circle in the mirror displays the eight trigrams, arranged in the four cardinal and four ordinal directions. These symbolize the eight ‘Poga’ earth gods and their associated ‘life’ and ‘death’ gates, offering insights into the cosmic order.

The Twelve Animal Zodiac:

This system includes twelve ‘Lung’ or zodiac animals, similar to traditional Tibetan astrology but with two notable differences: the elephant replaces the ox, and the ‘Kyung’ bird replaces the common bird. These animals, along with human figures like kings, queens, servants, and messengers, whose heads resemble the animal of that particular year, are detailed in the “Twelve Zodiac Yearly Treasure Mirror”

The Sixty-Year Cycle:

The outermost circle of the turtle shell represents a sixty-year cycle, derived from the relationship between the twelve animal zodiac and the five elements. Each year’s ruler has a human-like body with an animal head corresponding to that year’s zodiac animal, coloured according to the associated element.

shangshung language
Shangshung language
shangshung zodiac language
Shangshung zodiac language

The Bon Teachings’ Influence on Asian Astrology:

The founder of these teachings, Tonpa Shenrab Miwo, influenced various astrological, divination, and Feng Shui systems across Central, East, and other parts of Asia. Notably, the I Ching and Feng Shui, developed from these teachings, were spread to Central China by King Gongze Chijie Jia, one of Tonpa Shenrab Miwo’s direct disciples.

The Bagua, Directions, and Center:

This article also highlights the similarities and differences in the zodiac content between Bon and Tibetan Buddhism’s astrology, specifically the elephant and ox, and the kyung bird and common bird.

Conclusion:

This exploration represents the author’s personal views and invites readers to delve deeper into the teachings or the “Yearly Traditions of Tagzig” to uncover their secrets and realities. Regardless of the zodiac system, the culture of Bon reflects the rich and profound heritage of the Tibetan plateau, influencing local and neighbouring civilizations. It stands as an integral part of Chinese culture and a symbol of unity and interaction among various ethnic groups.

About the author

The Tibetan Travel website's creator, hailing from Lhasa, is a cultural enthusiast. They promote responsible tourism, connecting the world to Tibet's beauty and heritage. Awards recognize their contribution.

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