What is the Chinese Zodiac?
Chinese Astrology is based on the theory of the Life Force known as the “Chi” or “Qi”. While Vedic astrology focuses on the heavens and the true position of the planets, Western Astrology is based on arbitrary positions. The Chinese Zodiac is based on the Life Force as carried in the Twelve Animals, who turned up for the Great Race.
These Animals in order of their appearance are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. In addition to the twelve animals, there are Five elements which are essential as per the Ancient Chinese. These elements which are the basis of Feng-Shui as well, are Earth, Air, Water, Fire and Metal.
Together the twelve animals and the five elements form a Sixty year cycle, which completes the Chinese Zodiac. For Example- 2020 was the year of the Metal Rat, and 2021 is the year of the Metal Ox. The last year of the Metal Ox was in 1961.
How were the animals of the Chinese Zodiac Chosen?
There are many versions of the story of the Chinese Zodiac, so I will recount the one I love. What is common in all the legends is, that the Jade Emperor, or the Emperor of Heaven, in the Chinese Folklore, decreed that he needed to have a zodiac set up and that the first twelve animals to reach him would be the ones that would be immortalised in the Zodiac for eons to come.
The myths also agree on the sequence in which the animals came in to the Jade Emperor to be immortalised and take their place in the Chinese Zodiac. While the accounts differ, a third thing that all the versions of the folk-lore agree on, is that the Rat cheated the Cat, and hence they are life long enemies. In some versions, the Rat was to wake up the cat for the race and he forgot, and in others they set out together, but the Rat selfishly left the Cat behind.
The Great Race of the Chinese Zodiac Long Long ago, when the world was young, The Jade Emperor in Heaven decided that his Zodiac would consist of twelve animals. Messengers were sent to set the date of the great race. Only the first twelve animals would be immortalised. All the animals had lofty goals. The Rat was the first to wake up and he began to run. In this version, the Rat did wake up the Cat and they set out together.
The race was the likes of the modern day races, and the animals also had to cross a raging river to get to the other side. The Cat and the Rat befriended the simple minded, hardworking Ox on the bank of the river, and hopped on it’s back. The Ox thought it would be the first to arrive, but the Rat jumped of his nose and reached the Emperor First. The poor drenched cat did not stand much of a chance and had fallen off the back while the Ox swam across. So the Rat came in First, and the Ox came in Second.
In the Third place came the Tiger, exhausted from crossing the raging river. The Fourth was the nimble Rabbit, who almost drowned while crossing the river, but chanced upon a log and clung to it, till a gust of wind blew the log to the shore. The Fifth was the Dragon, the mighty auspicious beast. The Jade Emperor was understandably surprised as to why he would be Fifth when he did not need to run over the land and swim through a deluge. The Dragon humbly replied that he was busy creating rain for a village that would have perished for it’s want of water.
Whilst he was on his way to the Jade Emperor, he saw a poor frightened Rabbit clinging on to a log for dear life and blew him to the shore, thereby coming in Fifth. Then came the Horse, but he had a Snake clinging to his hoof. The Snake gave the Horse such a shock that the Horse stumbled backwards, making the Snake the Sixth Winner.
The Horse thus came in Seventh. He was followed by the Goat, Money and Rooster who helped each other and came in Eighth, Ninth and Tenth respectively. Then came the Dog at Number Eleven. Even though he was a good swimmer, he could not resist the urge to play around some more in the water, and lost track of time. Finally the Pig came rushing in and breathed a sigh of relief that he made it into the lucky Twelve. The Cat came in Thirteenth, and did not make it into the Zodiac. It did however become the mortal enemy of the Rat for ever more.
What to Expect in the Year of The Ox? How will 2021 pan out?
After a harrowing year, 2021 is being ushered in with a lot of hope. The Ox is revered in many cultures for its tenacity, simplicity, hard work and endurance. The Chinese culture views the Ox in the same manner. Feng-Shui experts insist that the Year of the Ox will be auspicious and “lucky”. Yay!! That’s finally some good news. The Ox is hardworking, keeps its head to the ground and pulls the plough without complaining. He is the back on which civilization has been built.
This is a year to put your nose to the wheel and work hard. Like the Ox works tirelessly without complaints, carry on without really engaging in any kind of low vibe drama. This is the time to adhere to discipline and do ones duty. Metal is supposed to be shiny and clean so good luck follows cleanliness. Metal also is a main component in electronics and this will be as per Metal Ox a good year for the internet!
As per the Numerological Value 2021=5=Year ruled by Mercury that also rules over the Internet! So here is to putting our nose to the grind and working hard for the Metal Ox starts the 12 year cycle where in we shall feel the benefits for a long long time to come.
According to Chinese Geomancy:
- Do not give out money on the 12 th of February. It is the day that marks a new cycle so make sure that it is one of growth.
- This is not a great year to start something new. The tolerance and fortitude of the Ox will push doors open. It will ensure a fertile soil for your plans to take root.
3.Things to ponder on in the Year of The Ox.
- What are my goals this year?
- What do I need to push through?
- What will call upon me to have endurance to see it to fruition?
Chinese New Year, is a time for family and friends to call on each other and make some family time. In Singapore, the Lion dance is performed where the dancers move with agility and call in good fortune for the people who commissioned the dance. It is accompanied by the beating of drums.
Lion dance has its roots in the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD) when the Emperor dreamt about a strange beast which turned out to be the Lion. Lion dance is performed by Kung-Fu styled artists and it is suppossed to chase away evil spirits and usher in goof luck. The Lion is gifted lettuce and oranges. Lettuce symbolises wealth.
I wish you all 恭喜发财 Gōngxǐ fācái, and leave you with a clip of the Lion Dance (video courtesy of my lovely neighbour Joyce). I am also leaving in a clip that shows the children singing Happy New Year.
The Lion Dance
Have a Wonderful Year and Blessed Be!
Kamal Bhogal Bhatia
Urban Soul Tarot