I've decided to post some of my 12 Animals posts on this site, because I think they make for interesting reading and they're not being seen enough on the other site. We are in Fire Rabbit month right now - it began on March 5th - so I'm looking at a Fire Rabbit to get a sense of that personality. Of course, everyone has four Animals, not just one, but I think in Sidney Poitier's life, the Fire Rabbit nature is very strong.
Born on February 20, 1927, estimated time of birth 9:00 pm, Sidney Poitier is a FIRE RABBIT, with a Water Tiger month, Wood Rooster Day and probable Fire Pig Hour. Fire Rabbit and Fire Pig would make him able to assert himself, and along with Wood Rabbit, grants him loquaciousness, excellent physical presence and carriage, and according to his Zi Wei chart, his ace in the hole is his Manner and Bearing house with both Granary in its Pleasure position and Elegance in Temple in Rabbit sign. In his spiritual autobiography, The Measure of a Man, Poitier writes that he is highly motivated in everything he does by his sense of of his ancestors, and they would be represented by this house and by his Fire Rabbit pillar.
His strongest Elements are Wood (his day-stem and chief celestial influence), and Fire, his element of self-expression and creativity. Optimism and benevolence - Wood virtues - are hallmarks of Sidney's character, along with good-humor and the inspirational kind of spirituality associated with Fire. He has a very strong mother-child connection in terms of Element-balance, and his autobiography bears this out.
As a child on Cat Island in the Bahamas, Sidney lived a simple life unencumbered by electricity, telephones, television or motorized vehicles. Early on, at age 7, his Tiger derring-do took the form of challenging himself to walk through a covered, diked salt-water inlet from the sea with the intention of opening the dike form the inside, a move that would have swept him to his death if he had been able to accomplish it. In his spiritual autobiography, The Measure of a Man, Sidney refers to his Tiger-penchant for risk-taking as his 'dark side' and in typical Tiger-fashion, he has tested his limits and the limits of his circumstances over and over during his lifetime. The books all say that Tigers are cautious, and that is true, but only because they are very much aware of risks, because they will have often plunged into life head-first in order to learn more about them. Theirs is the School of Experience, with all its hard-knocks.
The main lessons learned on Cat Island, according to Sidney's own account, had to do with developing 'emotional intelligence' and a solid grounding in the instinctual life of nature. Both of these are Rabbit strengths, and also specific to Water Tiger. Theodora Lau writes, "Water Tiger is humane, an excellent judge of truth, and emotionally perceptive about the feelings of others. His intuition and ability to communicate make him an excellent canditate for public relations or other media work." (p.66, The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes) Sidney Poitier also enjoys the Good Partner combination of same element Animals, Tiger and Rabbit (both Wood Animals by nature), and these people usually have excellent emotional intelligence, which makes it possible for them to form and sustain good relationships with partners.
Sidney saw his mother as a very special person, and a look at her photo in the book reveals a woman of great spiritual 'mana' or as the Hindus call it 'Sree' - a spiritual energy that shows particularly in the face as a brightness or light. Sidney credits his mother with granting him a portion of what she had, helping him in his career and personal life as well. She is represented as the Tiger in his Four Pillars, and so we know that, simple woman though she was, she was very strong, idealistic and spiritually powerful.
At age 11, the family moved to Nassau, and Sidney had his first experience of city life, with its colonial-style racism and classism. He encountered it in an even harsher form at age fifteen when he joined his older brother in Miami. However, he did not see himself through a racist or classist lens, and this gave him great personal freedom and optimism about himself and his future. He writes, "Vanity, which the dictionary says is an excess of pride, was the only way I could brace myself against the onslaught of the culture's merciless indictment of me. With no other means at my disposal to fight off society's intent to restrict my range of motion, to smother and suffocate me, excess was engaged to speak on my behalf. I was saying, 'Okay, listen, you think I'm so inconsequential? Then try this on for size. All those who see unworthiness when they look at me and are given therby to denying me value - to you I say, 'I'm not talking about being as good as you. I hereby declare myself better than you.' Later, I would carry that theme, detached from questions of color and race, all the way into the theater world, where it would become a personal standard, applicable to creative excellence and professional competitiveness. I couldn't deal with waiting for society to someday have a change of heart or say, 'I'm gonna be as good, one day, as you are.' My heart said, 'I am already as good. In fact, I'm starting out with better material, and I am going to be better.' How do you like them apples?" (42-43)
Spoken like a true Fire Rabbit, an Animal who is talented, comfortable with notoriety, and expresses his own vanity freely. In his book, Sidney talks about his vanity as a defense, but it seems clear from his prose that this trait has supported him well throughout his life.
All four of his Birth Animals grant him an optimistic, positive outlook, and plenty of healthy self-esteem. In the book, he mentions how, for the dominant culture in both Nassau and Miami, these qualities were completely unexpected in a black youth. Even after his major Hollywood successes, a lot of people, both black and white, seemed to think Sidney Poitier was too good to be true, but he really does view himself as an exemplar of the moral values of his ancestors, sees no substantive difference between white and black people except for the artificial divisions imposed by colonial societies, and possesses an extremely positive, idealistic attitude towards life.
Sidney Poitier chose to play characters on stage and in film that reflected 'who he was,' unbelievable though he may have seemed, representing as he did a black man with a positive self-image not limited by racial stereotypes. His filmography includes: No Way Out (with Richard Widmark), The Defiant Ones (with Tony Curtis), Lillies of the Field (with Lilia Skala), A Patch of Blue, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? (with Spencer Tracy and Kathryn Hepburn), To Sir With Love, and In The Heat of the Night (with Rod Steiger).