Nature of the beasts

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 November, 2010, 12:00am

The snake, the sixth animal in the Chinese zodiac, signals the first month of spring and represents the elements fire and metal. Unless one has a predilection for keeping snakes as pets, however, it might be more practical for those who benefit from the fire and metal elements to keep other reptiles, such as iguanas. Salamanders, lizards and newts also qualify.

The peak of summer is the time of the horse, which represents the fire and earth elements, but keeping horses or donkeys is challenging in terms of space and cost. From a metaphysical perspective, equine enthusi- asts (polo players, jockeys, etc) would probably have the fire element as their most auspicious element.

The sheep symbolises the last month of summer and represents the earth, wood and fire elements. But unless one is living and working in a pastoral environment, it would not be practical to keep these animals as household pets. There is no direct substitute for the sheep but it is part of the wood combination of animals, which includes the pig and rabbit, so, at a push, a rabbit would suffice.

The first month of autumn is represented by the monkey, which also symbolises the metal and water elements. Although Michael Jackson had one, there are many hurdles to straddle before you or I would be allowed to keep a simian as a pet. However, you could consider keeping fish or hamsters if you want to use water energy - monkeys are part of the water group - positively.