Happy Lunar New Year!

Year of the Horse

Today, we celebrate the Lunar New Year! In Chinese culture, each year is represented by an animal, a totem, if you wish, with an associated element. There are 12 animals that make the rotation and 10 elements, with each of the 5 elements having a yin and yang version. 2014 is the year of the Yang Wood Horse.

“What does that mean, Irene?” you may ask. “It means nothing,” I answer. “What do you mean, nothing? Then what am I reading this newsletter for?” you reply, throwing your hands up in the air, frustrated. “You are reading this newsletter because there is sure to be a witty, made-up banter between you and I, that may or may not have happened in real life.”

By nothing, I mean life goes on. You live each day in your normally awesome way. But sometimes, just sometimes, you notice a pattern of motion in your life that seems odd at the best and disturbing at most. You can’t explain why. This is when you consult the stars (your ancestors, by the way) and seek guidance from universal patterns. My friend, P.A. of Transitions Astrology hooks me up  with Western Astrology readings, but Chinese Astrology can be used in a broader sense. Each animal represents a part of our collective psyche, sometimes drawings us into paradoxical situations, puzzles we want to solve. So read this once, bookmark it, then put it away. It’s not meant to be a map, more of a Lonely Planet guidebook for your life.

The Wood Horse

The Horse is a mythical creature, a gentle herbivore capable of great speed and agility. Its power lies in its legs, used for both movement and attack. But horse’s power is also its most dangerous aspect. This year, expect to feel a lot of motivation, stamina and overall energy, which propels your life forward. Since wood fuels fire and the horse is a fire animal, life moves even quicker. If you have achieved clarity regarding your life path and destinations, then this year will be the year to get there, faster than you may have anticipated. Hold on, cowboy! If, however, you have not taken the opportunity to formulate what kind of life you want, then the horse is going to gallop forward anyway, moving in many different directions at a dizzying speed. Without working towards clarity ( and quick!), you may find yourself, at the end of the year, still stagnating at the same place where you started, but feeling exhausted anyway.

So, homework #1: Spend some time this next week visualizing the life you want, on all fronts: career, relationships, community, intellect, body and spirit. Kind of like planning for a long-term vacation, only your plane leaves in an hour.

The horse is a war animal, having stood in the middle of conflicts for generations. So get ready for some battles in the coming months, both internal and external. A graceful warrior knows when to push forward and when to surrender. With the energy of the fiery wood horse, you may be tempted to carry on with the fight instead of stepping aside. It is the ability to concede with grace that is the warrior’s greatest strength. Knowing what is important to you will help you decide how to act in the face of conflict.

Homework #2: Take stock of your values. In each aspect of your life, know what is important. When confronted with conflict, learn to quickly ask yourself “Do I really care about this?”

Horses love freedom and spontaneity. If you already possess a spontaneous and carefree nature, then this year will be fun and exciting for you. Just stay away from excess. Impulses to over-shop, over-extend, over-anything should not be indulged. However, if you are a more particular and calculated person, the ever-changing patterns of this year can exhaust you if you don’t prepare for it. Flexibility and open-mindedness will help you navigate and stay on track. Also, flexibility of the body stimulates the flexibility of the spirit, so practicing yoga, qigong stretches and receiving massages are great ways to cultivate openness. To exercise the flexibility of your psycho-emotional body, make it a habit to drive different routes, brush your teeth with the opposite hand, eat at a new restaurant, you know the deal. The tree that is capable of bending is the heartiest in the forest.

Homework #3: Practice flexibility. Stay grounded in yourself even when change occurs rapidly around you. Know who you are and you’ll make it out of this year unscathed, reeling from the joyride that can only be taken on the back of the horse.