Happy New Year! February 19th was the first day of Chinese New Year. Last year was the year of Yin Wood Horse and 2015 is the year of Yang Wood Sheep/Goat. What does this mean? I am not claiming to be an expert astrologist, but I have studied with a number of Chinese medicine teachers in my years of training as an acupuncturist. I’m currently studying with Master Zhongxian Wu (www.masterwu.net), a master of Classical Chinese art of internal cultivation. With my knowledge of ancient Chinese cosmology I have gathered over the years, I have some information and intuition about the energy flow of the current trend in our yearly cycle that I would like to share.
First of all, it is helpful to know the concept of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang represents a way of seeing the world in duality, recognizing that energies of nature can be separated into two polar opposites. As I often explain to my patients, Yin is the watery, cooling, feminine aspect of life that tends to be more passive and Yang is the fiery, hot, masculine aspect of life that tends to be more active. In our annual cycles of energy, Yin and Yang energies alternate with coming of each New Year.
Another way of looking at the energies of our universe is through the system of Five Elements. Water gives birth to Wood, Wood gives birth to Fire, Fire gives birth to Earth, Earth gives birth to Metal, and Metal gives birth to Water thus continuing the cycle of the Five Elements. These elements are not stationary in their existence in our world but they are constantly transforming into one another as well as supporting and balancing one another. The same kind of interaction happens with Yin and Yang energies.
Finally, there is the concept of 12 Animals, a more extensive system used to describe the energies of our natural environment and our physiology. These 12 Animals correlate with the 12 Organ Systems that Chinese medicine uses to diagnose and prescribe treatment. These 12 Animals represent different energies of the universe and these also rotate through each year completing a full cycle every 12 years.
Let’s start with last year’s energy. Last year was Yang Wood Horse year. It was a pretty powerful year. Yang energy as I mentioned earlier is externally active. Wood energy is related to strongly moving energy that is full of vitality. It is related to growth, plants’ relentless will to thrive, spring season, teenage years in human development, etc. When this Wood energy is combined with Yang energy, it creates a force that is likened to a role of a sergeant in an army. A sergeant will enforce the executive plan on the battlefield. A sergeant will mobilize the forces to achieve a tangible goal where the result of the action taken is immediately apparent. This energy is represented by Gall Bladder organ system in our body according to the Chinese medical theory. Gall Bladder is responsible for moving the Qi (vital energy) in the body as well as managing the body’s immune system. Gall Bladder is in charge of mobilizing our immune responders to fight pathogens and protect the body.
So what is the symbolic meaning of the Horse? Horse in the 12 Animal system is related to the Heart in the theory of Chinese organ network. Horse is obedient to its leader and it will carry its rider till its own heart stops in devotion to its owner. Horse represents immense power along with its delicate sensitivity and great loyalty. Last year was all about following our hearts. 2014 was the year in which great measures were taken to align ourselves with our hearts’ true calling. Things may have shifted dramatically. Big changes may have been made to set ourselves up to finally follow our dreams. Perhaps we didn’t have a choice in the matter. Perhaps it may have been harsh in the execution of it all but in accordance with energy of the sergeant and the Horse, necessary actions were taken in service to our hearts.
This year’s energy is gentler and more internally oriented. The universe is giving us a little break after meeting the great challenge proposed by the universe last year as we aligned with our hearts empowered by our great warrior spirit. Yin Wood energy is related to the Liver in the Chinese organ network. Like Gall Bladder, Liver also has a job of moving the Qi in the body. Liver is a Yin organ. It has more of an internal and softer quality compared to its Yang counterpart, the Gall Bladder. Liver is related to the eyes and is closely related to vision. The energy of Yin Wood therefore works with making plans, envisioning how to manifest our intention. Liver and Gall Bladder both work to get things done but the difference between Liver and Gall Bladder in their designated tasks is that Liver’s job is about long term planning as opposed to Gall Bladder’s job, which is about immediate action. Liver will gradually move towards the desired goal with endurance looking far into the future as whereas Gall Bladder will do what needs to be done taking the necessary action to address the task at hand. Liver energy of year 2015 indicates that this year is about working on our vision of the future that we dream of for ourselves. It is about acknowledging how we want to live our lives so that it may bring us true happiness. Connecting with our broader vision as well as fine-tuning the details of that vision, meeting with those that we want to collaborate with, finding the resources that will support us manifest that vision; these are some of the activities we may be preoccupied with this year.
That leaves us with Sheep or Goat energy of this year. Sheep and goat historically have been animals of sacrifice in human civilization. They have been often used in sacrificial and celebratory rituals in many traditions. They give up their lives to nourish and honor the path of human growth. They provide meat, milk, and offer their fur and hide for various uses. The sheep and the goat are related to Small Intestine in the Chinese organ network. Small Intestine is the fire yang organ and Heart is the fire yin organ. Small intestine’s job in the body is assimilation of nutrients. In Chinese medicine theory, Small Intestine is said to transform and transport the nutrients from the food ingested. It also performs the task of sorting, taking in what is needed by the body and passing on what is not needed. As the yang counterpart to Heart, Small Intestine directly serves the Heart. If Heart is the emperor of the body, then Small Intestine would be the closest imperial advisor. Realizing our true potential means surrendering to our Heart’s mandate. This year is about nourishing ourselves as we prepare and make plans for the journey to follow the path of the heart that we worked so hard to orient ourselves toward last year. It’s about discernment where we pull in closer those that nourish us and pass on those that do not. We do this with love for ourselves and trust that caring for ourselves in the most authentic way will bring harmony and wellness for us, our community, and our world.
So, cheers to the year of the Yin Wood Sheep! May we always stay connected to our hearts and remember to keep nourished on this path as we visualize ourselves fully manifesting our hearts’ true desires.