By Peter Loupelis
The 2015 lunar year begins with the New Moon on February 19, heralding the year of the Yin Wood Goat in the ancient Chinese calendrical system. So what does this mean for you?
Catching your breath
In this calendrical system, the years alternate between being categorised as ‘yin’ or ‘yang’. Nature is observed to generally fluctuate between two basic energies, like poles. The original character for yang denoted the imagery of the sunlit side of the mountain, whereas the character for yin represented the idea of the shaded side of the mountain. Both states exist simultaneously, and of course throughout the course of time, will fluctuate according to the time of day, as the sun moves across the horizon.
So in simple yin/yang terms, this ‘yin’ year promises to be more gentle than last year in the way that change will naturally occur. Another way to consider the differences is to feel the movement of your breathing now: yang is the inhalation, the exertion and contraction of muscles to create the inwards flow of life-giving oxygen into our lungs; whereas yin is the relaxation of those same muscles, allowing the air to gently leave the body, carrying with it the carbon dioxide we no longer need.
The calendrical system of China was made up of two parts: the heavenly stem (represented by one of the ten elemental phases), and the earthly branch (represented by one of twelve animals). This combination of ten stems and twelve branches gives 60 combinations, thus a cycle of 60 years developed. This year is the 32nd year of a 60-year cycle, the time when we enter into the returning phase of the larger cycle.
This year’s stem is represented by yi, which is the second stem, and is the yin version of the wood element. In ancient classics, this phase is likened to the tiny seedling that unfurls its immature leaves towards the sun once having broken through the soil.
Imagine that tiny sprout poking itself out of the soil. It has used an immense amount of energy to break out of the seed and push through the soil. Now in the light of the sun, it can pause and rest and begin for the first time in its life the process of photosynthesis. Much like what happens with an infant on drawing its first breath. The wood element is associated with the season of spring, where after the restfulness of winter new life is encouraged to emerge and begin the cycle anew. And this newly-emerged life begins the next phase of its development towards becoming a mature life-form.
The twelve animals as symbols of the earthly branches were a later Buddhist interpolation. Previously, the earthly branches were also represented by the symbols of the five elements. The earthly branch wei – the goat or sheep- signifies one of the four harmonising and transitory phases associated with the earth element. The earthly branches represented by the earth element are found between each of the other four elements (fire, metal, water, and wood). So in some branches of astrology they also carry some of the energy of the season/element that they are harmonising. So wei is also known as ‘summer-earth’, as it represents the phase between summer and autumn. This branch is likened to the time when fruit is just turning ripe, that sweet flavour which reminds us of the later parts of summer, when the crops begin to be harvested. It is that bright part of the day just after midday.
The serious sheep
The combination of these elements presents a phase where we begin to reap the benefits of the energies and changes that came about in the previous year. There is a sense of abundance, with a continuation of the momentum generated from the preceding wood-horse year. With a slight slowing of the energy, it means we can enjoy the benefits of our previous efforts. However, this is not a time to completely relax, but to continue to work together with those around us who have our highest interests in mind. It is also a time of great clarity that can be shone outwards from our creative and generative hearts/minds into the world around us, illuminating our environment and manifesting all manner of wondrous things.
From the tantric perspective, this is the shakti energy which emanates when we remain strong in our shiva-nature.: greatness is balanced by the important flexibility. We may find that by listening to the creative inner parts of ourselves we are able to shed light on our world and see the opportunities that lie around us, the fruit ready for the picking. We cannot be too dogmatic about how we go about achieving all that we wish to achieve, and if we remain open to all possibilities then we may find what we need, rather than what we want.
This is a year to be bold and to go and grab what is out there for you, whilst you can. It is inevitable; winter is coming! This year (as well as next) is the time to gather what you can, for there is much you will need. Utilise your skills, gather together with like-minds and like-hearts and work together to meet the needs of all.