Gung Hay Fat Choy!
The Chinese Lunar New Year will be celebrated on February 19, 2015. This year will be the year of the Sheep or Goat (the Chinese pictogram is the same for both kinds of animals). In case you were wondering (or regardless if you were, since I’m going to tell you anyway), the Lunar New Year is celebrated on the second new moon following the winter solstice, which is why the date fluctuates; the night of the winter solstice in 2014 was also a new moon, so that pushes the date of the Lunar New Year ahead about as far as it goes.
Yin, Yang, and the 5 Phases
Just as 2014 was the year of the “Wood Horse,” this particular Sheep year will also be the year of the “Wood Sheep.” Chinese astrology gets a lot deeper than the popular symbolism of the 12 animals; it’s really about something called the “10 Heavenly Stems and the 12 Earthly Branches.” Each of the 12 animals corresponds to one of the 12 Earthly branches. The 10 Heavenly stems, correspond to the Wu Xing, or the 5 Phases. These are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water, which are part of all the ancient Chinese sciences, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, herbal medicine, astrology, and feng shui. In the 10 Heavenly Stems, each of the 5 Phases are represented in a yin and a yang form. So in 2014, we had a Yang-Wood year, and 2015 will be a Yin-Wood year. The whole grand cycle takes 60 years to complete before it starts over again, the last Wood-Horse year being 1954 and the last Wood-Sheep being 1955.
Thunder Horse vs. Breezy Sheep
Just as the 12 Earthly Branches have their symbols in the 12 animals, the 10 Heavenly Stems take symbols from the I Ching, or the Classic of Change, an ancient Chinese wisdom text which talks about how things change and the identifiable cycles of change. Yang-Wood takes the symbol of “Thunder,” so we could say that 2014 was the year of the “Thunder Horse,” which symbolically speaks to the character of the year. A number of very famous celebrities died during the year (Robin Williams and Joan Rivers to name but two), and things happened quickly during the course of the year, as is implied by the symbol of a thunderously galloping horse; in the last Thunder Horse year, the US tested the atomic bomb on the Bikini atoll. In contrast, Yin-Wood takes the symbol of “Gentle Wind,” so we could call 2015 the “Breezy Sheep.” So what the ancient wisdom suggests, is that 2015 should be a little more like the gentle lambs pictured above. There will still be death, war, and famine, but things should take a somewhat more gentle turn, with more care taken toward family and home as the sheep is considered lucky to the Chinese and symbolizes good human relations.
Sage Advice from the Ancients
What the ancients have to say about this coming year suggests that focus should be placed on issues like home, family, and roots. It would be a great idea to keep your home clean, organized, and beautiful this year as a way of taking care of yourself and your family. Eliminate clutter, as it drags on us emotionally (of course this is good advice any year, but with the fallout from last year’s craziness, an uncluttered home will help with the need for greater focus this year). Just as you keep your outer home in order, it is a great idea to take care of your inner home, your body. Eat right this year, get plenty of exercise and plenty of sleep; consider getting a checkup from your acupuncturist to look at the direction your health is going and how best to live a long and healthy life.
Jorga Houy, L.Ac.