THE snake is a mysterious, elusive, strong, graceful and seemingly treacherous creature. It is an ancient, universal symbol of wisdom, cunning, unity and rebirth.
People whose Chinese zodiac sign is the snake are often clever, calculating, aloof, wise, determined and self-reliant. They can be seductive, charming and sympathetic.
They are often contemplative and always private.
Snake women are often beautiful, elegant and graceful, while snake men are attractive, aggressive and dangerous - appealing to many women.
This Snake Year, beginning on Sunday, is linked with the color black and the element water, so these snakes can have many different characteristics.
According to traditional Chinese feng shui theories, snake people are extremely determined and filled with energy because the animal is strong, sheds its skin and is "reborn." Snakes are ambitious, ruthless and single-minded in pursuit of their goals.
Snake people are often good in business and it is said that finding a snake in the house or courtyard means a family will never starve.
Snakes born in spring and summer are the most vigorous, sometimes dangerous, while those born in winter, a hibernation period, are reserved, contemplative and seemingly compliant.
Chinese call the snake "the dragon on the ground" (di long μ?áú) and the "little dragon" (xiao long D?áú) and because the dragon is so powerful and auspicious, many snake people are thought to have dramatic lives, with triumphant or tragic endings.
Snake people are clever, refined, cultured and polished and may be enthusiastic about reading, classical music and fine food.
However, snakes are mysterious, guarded and seldom open up, even to their closest friends. They keep secrets and often hide their true feelings. They can be suspicious and rely only on their own judgments because they do not trust others.
Snakes can be religiously devout, intellectual and philosophical or they can be hedonistic.
The most difficult part of dealing with snake people is recognizing that looks can be deceiving and that they may not be what they seem. A snake person might appear to be mild and agreeable, while they are actually very intense and passionate.
Snakes have sharp and quick minds. They like to think a lot but once they make a decision, they act swiftly. They are generous with money and they don't like owe others. But they can be ruthless and devious.
Many snake people have a strong sense of humor and are often mocking and satirical. When there is an emergency or chaos, snakes remain calm and know what to do.
They make good politicians, bankers, philosophers and theologians.
Liu Bang (256-195 BC), founding emperor of the Han Dynasty (202 BC-AD 220), was a snake. Chairman Mao Zedong, born in 1873, was a snake person. Lu Xun, considered the father of modern Chinese literature, was a snake born in 1881.
Famous "snake" people also include Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Audren Hepburn, Dorothy Parker, Oprah Winfrey, Virginia Wolf, Charles Darwin, Martha Stewart, Henry Fonda and Charlie Sheen.