Happy New Year, Let’s Celebrate!
The Chinese New Year is actually known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year in China and other parts of Asia. It begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice and generally lasts two weeks. There are numerous folk traditions that are practiced during this time including eating certain foods and avoiding certain activities. For example, everyone’s birthday is celebrated on February 6th!
The Chinese calendar is a very complex and sophisticated science. Every year the animals and elements of the calendar change creating a unique energy for the year. Last year was a Water Snake year while the year before that was a Water Dragon year. This year is Wood Horse. The element and animal are based upon two aspects: the heavenly stem (yang wood) and the earthly branch (horse) and follow the natural sequence of the cycle. Upon examination of this combination, adept cosmologists and those who are versed in the energies of the cycles can make predictions about the weather, disease, and social and political tendencies for any given year.
This year the prediction is a cold spring and ice storms in late March and April. There will be an excess of Earth energy because wood feeds fire and fire produces lots of earth. People who are prone to digestive issues should give this special attention and self-care this year. All people should take preventative measures to maintain good digestive health – which directly correlates to brainpower, the nervous system and the immune system. As too much earth element results in “dampness” we will see this in both weather patterns as well as in our bodies. Limit intake of mucus producing foods like dairy and cold, raw foods. Get some herbal support during the spring and summer especially. Ginger and atractylodes are good general digestive supports. Seek a qualified Chinese or western herbalist for medical advice. Qigong practice is another way to strengthen the digestive and immune systems and enhance overall vitality. (http://www.examiner.com/article/2014-year-of-the-yang-wood-horse)
As Wood feeds Fire in the 5 Element cycle, it is clear that this year will be a potent year for movement, action and manifestation. Yang Wood is the phase that actually begins the cycle. It is found both in the Eastern direction and the Northern direction. The East carries energies of the dawn, new beginnings, planning, strategizing, birth, upward movement, idealism, generosity, fertility, growth, leadership, and determination. The image of wood in the East is bamboo or a tree with deep roots. The tree is firm yet yielding and flexible. Yang Wood is the Gallbladder and can also be found in the Northern direction on the “organ clock” -another perspective of the wheel of life in Chinese zodiac form. Yang Wood Gallbladder is located at the very bottom of the zodiac, directly opposite the heart.
The image of a seed sprouting in the soil is another adept metaphor for the energy of Yang Wood: the courage, strength, and magic that it takes to burst forth from it’s shell and reach it’s roots downward, just as its first stem and leaves are branching skyward. It is this downward rooting that is made possible through the potential, infinite energy and life force that is found in this Northern part of the wheel (and within the seed itself). This position also correlates to the Winter Solstice – the return of the light. Again another example of the dawning energy of wood. The fact that the gallbladder and heart are “clock opposites” is significant because the horse is the animal that belongs to the heart. Not only are wood and fire a harmonious pair in the 5 phase cycle, but also do they mutually support each other: yang wood as the birthing and bringing forth the energies of the unseen world, the heart of the Earth; and horse (heart) is the manifestation of this energy into the physical world. A north south polarity is created and is seen as the “axis of power” – a channel of energy that connects earth and sky. Likewise, this “light pillar” polarity represents the synthesis of two archetypal energies: the warrior and the healer. The former exudes a sense of power, firm rooting, strength, and courage; while the latter enables an ability to nurture, care-take, love, and have compassion. Balancing our strength and softness is a key to health and healing this year.
Ken Cohen, Qigong teacher and shamanic practitioner, eloquently states: “Because the Horse is related to fire, this is a Wood Fire Year. The first element symbolizes heaven and spirituality. The second element, fire, symbolizes the physical world, especially the environment and economy… this year spirituality has the potential to feed and transform our physical, earthly existence…there are good opportunities for people to make better, ecologically-informed choices, so that their lifestyle is more in harmony with their spirituality. (Ken Cohen, 2014 Chinese New Year newsletter Jan. 24, 2014)”
The Horse has a long and rich history in both the development of civilization and in the mythology of most cultures. This powerful animal represents good luck, supernatural powers, adventure, travel, wildness, intuition, healing, self-expression, free spirit, sensuality, sexuality, impulsiveness, and connection. The horse was domesticated and played a role in bringing people together – people began to travel long distances and learned of other cultures, trading and communication grew. Horses also have connotations of bravery, war, battles, and heroism. They say a horse year can end in triumph or tragedy and to be careful: is this a year for you to lead the way or a year for you to follow in the footsteps of others’ success? Horse, Tiger, Dog, and Sheep people can benefit the most from the energy of a Horse year.
The Horse correlates to Fire, the heart, summertime, and spirit in Chinese medicine. Just as the heart keeps the rhythm, the beat of the heart is akin to the sound of a galloping horse. Drumming is a powerful practice that helps strengthen the heart and cardiovascular system. Because the spirit is said to reside in the heart of each human, this year is perfect for aligning and talking with your heart. Your spirit knows why you are here on earth – it carries great wisdom and guidance – are you listening? Are your actions in alignment with your heart? One of my Chinese medicine teachers, Heiner Freuhauf, says that all disease comes from the heart (http://www.thelightclinic.org/literature/fruehauf_alldisease_1.pdf). This is a way of saying that when we are not aligned with our spirit – and hence the dream we came here to weave- the body, mind and emotions become diseased. The element of fire and the heart organ are both associated with the archetypal energy of healing as brought forward by Angeles Arrien in her teaching about cross-cultural wisdom of the 4 Directions (The Four-Fold Way, 1993). These four aspects: Fire, Healing, Heart, and Spirit are all intimately linked together and the horse embodies these like no other creature on Earth. Making healing a priority in your life can go a very long way this year.
The heart is known as the primary organ of perception and emotion. The state of the heart is directly correlative to our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Scientific research show that “…the positive heart-based feelings of appreciation, love, compassion, and care ‘generate the smooth and harmonious heart rate variability rhythms that are considered to be indicators of cardiovascular efficiency and nervous system balance.’” (Plant Spirit Healing by Pam Montgomery) Gratitude is a simple and profound spiritual practice that actually increases harmony and feelings of well-being in the physical, emotional, and mental bodies. In a horse year, this practice can be particularly useful in healing, especially issues around abundance, finances, and relationship.
To get an idea of the power of the heart and hence the horse, listen to this: it is known that the electromagnetic field of the heart is about five thousand times greater than that of the brain and can be measured up to ten feet away from the person! (The Heartmath Solution by Doc Childre) This is decidedly a year to come into a deeper understanding of living life from a heart space – it is a place of love and compassion, but also of great power and guidance! Learning how to communicate – to give and receive from each other and nature- is a skill and gift centered upon heart consciousness. Perceiving with the heart we are able to deepen our sensory capacity. For more information on this process please read Plant Spirit Healing by Pam Montgomery.
The Horse is a sensuous animal. This year is a good year to really take it all in – divulge in sensory pleasures, eat good food, drink good wine, enjoy the feel of your own skin. Think chocolate and sunsets and long, steamy baths. In a horse year things are going to get sexy! Not only are the senses ready and willing to expand their horizons, but also expect unexpected romance. The Horse is a symbol of desire, especially sexual desire, as noted by the representation of the stallion (Andrews, Ted: Animal – Speak). With the energy of impulsiveness and freedom, it is wise to use caution this year: watch out for unrestrained desires, not just with sex, but also in spending and other activities. It will be easy to run full speed ahead on a whim. So use your intuition and the integrity of your heart to make decisions. Heart, mind and action need to be in alignment. With that said, the year of the horse can be a great time to buy that home, launch that business, travel the world, make a big purchase, or a have a breakthrough. Keep your eyes open, take off your blinders and make sure it’s a good thing: denial can be an issue in a horse year, so face reality and don’t ignore details! The Horse is fun loving, social, friendly and needs ample room for self-expression. It’s okay to not work so hard this year. Remember balance – work and play – enjoy yourself and celebrate life!
A horse meditation is perfect to come back to routinely through the year for guidance and healing. Some questions to ask include: What color is the horse? Is it running or standing? Are you riding or watching? Are there fences or open fields? What word(s) come when you ask her for advice? The answers that come are symbolic and can help you understand where you are energetically and where you would like to be.
The ‘green horse’ brings new journeys. Are you ready? Is it time to assert your freedom and your power in new areas of your life? Or is it simply time to awaken your own freedom and power? Overall this Yang Wood Horse year is great for planning and enacting new beginnings in your life. We have “…the potential to channel the powerful new upthrust of Wood’s Ch’i through the Horse’s Heart energy of Fire and into every project we start, every desire we reach for. It will keep our eager plans from being dominated by too much ‘head’ and not enough ‘heart.’” (Wood horse article). This is a year for emotional and spiritual healing of the heart, reconnection with your wildness and self-expression, a time to have fun and be bold and time to really manifest abundance! Pay special care to your digestive and immune systems with herbs, drumming, and diet modifications. Use your intuition, get inspired and communicate with your whole heart.
Many Blessings to you and yours this year.