Happy Chinese New Year of the Water Snake!!!
The Chinese New Year 4711 began with the new moon on February 10, 2013. The intensely wild ride of the Dragon of 2012 is behind us, and we welcome the down-to-earth, wise and thoughtful Snake! The high-flying, spontaneous and fearless Dragon is followed by the cautious and patient Snake, so perhaps we will experience a slower pace of life. But certainly life will be no less intense this year as ruled by the enigmatic Snake. The mysterious and clever Snake, associated with wisdom, cunning and elegance, can bring innovations, prosperity and creativity. The Snake is Yin to the Dragon’s Yang, so this year, one does well with intuition and thoughtful introspection, keeping careful planning under one’s proverbial hat until it is the perfect time to act.
Snakes, like Dragons, highly respected in China and Asia and elsewhere, have somehow gotten a bad rap in our Western culture. In ancient Egypt, the highly revered snake goddess, Wadjet, the protector of Lower and Upper Egypt, is pictured with the sun disk on the crowns of ancient rulers. In ancient Greece, and throughout ancient Europe, snakes and snake goddesses signify fertility, wisdom, protection, and the renewal of life. According to Gnostic tradition, the goddess of Wisdom, Sophia, born of pure stillness, gave birth to male and female, gods and humans, loving them all. And loving them, wishing to help humans on their evolutionary path, she sent a wise serpent to encourage humans to eat of the (forbidden) tree of knowledge. And they did, of course.
So, let’s just forgive (snakes, goddesses, jealous gods, etc.), and then forget about it and now get on with the renewal of life that is whole, welcoming our friend Snake. As the Mayan calendar has ended (again), it is the perfect time for renewal. “It’s after the end of the world, don’t you know that yet,” says Sun Ra (with a snake and sun disc on his head.) After the hectic season of the Dragon, let’s turn our attention inward, cultivate the mysticism of the Snake, philosophize and strategize, sensitive to the vibrations of the Earth. Like the Snake, we can shed our old skin and start anew.
Chinese astrology, medicine, and Feng Shui have their roots in the ancient tradition of what is known as Taoism. The ineffable Tao is the basis of life, unity. The Tao, unity, gives birth to Yin and Yang, female and male, cold and heat, night and day, the 4 seasons, etc. Yin and Yang give birth to the complexity of the 10,000 things, and yet there is the always the unity of Tao. Astrologically, there are 12 heavenly animals; each rules a year, and 5 elements, which combine to create the 60-year cycle. Now, we have a Yin Water Snake year. The element associated with Snake is fire. The fire of Snake, and the element of the year, water, are in conflict, as water controls fire, in the 5-element cycle.
Why is the Snake associated with fire? Snakes hibernate, emerge in the spring, and enjoy laying on rocks in the hot sun. The Chinese month of the Snake is May 5 to June 5, as spring heats up. The Snake is, therefore, associated with the fertility and fecundity of late spring. We would do well to sit, like a snake, on a warm rock in the sun, drawing nourishing Yin energy from the Earth (and Yang energy from Heaven.) But this is a Water year, conflicting the Fire of the Snake. Our peaceful, intuitive time on the warm rock will likely be disrupted. We may find obstructions to our plans. If we are flexible, though, like a Snake, body and mind balanced functionally, we can adjust plans without getting stuck on obstacles. It is the nature of the Snake to disappear from sight, stealthily strategize, and swiftly act with confidence, focus and control. This is a Yin Water year, sometimes called “Morning Dew”, symbolizing small drops of water, drizzling rain, or, of course, fog. On the coast, we can certainly expect the fire of the Snake to raise the inland temperature, drawing in the Yin Water fog. Some of us may have to journey to find a warm rock.
What else can we expect this year? Snakes like to travel, and Water years are okay for travel and communication, but use caution, as we have a conflict year, and there will be accidents. Yin Water is moderate and flexible, but also secretive, sneaky and can penetrate everywhere. The Yang Water of Hurricane SuperStorm Sandy is transforming into Yin mold and mildew as the weather warms up. Also, the Fire Snake combined with Water causes warm water and warm, moist air, which can trigger tornado and hurricane. As Chinese astrology functions in 60 years cycles, the last Yin Water Snake year was 1953. There were big tornadoes, killing 114 people in Waco, TX, 115 people in Michigan, and 94 people in Massachusetts. Water and heat can also combine to create virus and spread of epidemic, so strengthen your immune system.
Snakes are secretive, cunning and can be ruthless. The general outlook may be easygoing, tolerant, and gentle, but below the surface, a conflict may rage. There is no anticipating the next move of a Snake, which can be sudden and cold-blooded. Snake years have brought us the surprise attacks at Pearl Harbor and the World Trade Center. Also Tiananmen Square, Stalin’s death from stroke, and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall came at Snake year. We can expect secret plots, terrorist attacks, political scandal and sexual scandal. Perhaps the Yin Water will soften the intensity, but we do have continuing conflict.
The Fire of Snake and Yin Water can be guided in positive directions, and we can see innovative ideas, and optimism in the financial markets. Business can grow steadily with determined effort, as we can emulate the person born in year of Snake, patiently striving toward a goal. Snakes admire the power and benefits that money can bring. Art, music and fine fashion are a must. This is not a year for gambling and wild speculation, but we are favored with a more conservative business approach, with careful and imaginative planning. Creative ideas will fuel tech growth. In 1953, 60 years ago, the first color television went on sale and Walt Disney premiered his first feature film, “Peter Pan.” The Snake possesses a sensual allure, and also in the last year of the Water Snake, the first “Playboy” magazine, with Marilyn Monroe on the cover, was released.
Persons born in year of Snake are said to be the most beautiful and powerful. Some persons born in the Snake year are John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Audrey Hepburn, Bob Dylan, Greta Garbo, Pablo Picasso, Dean Martin and Mao Tse-Tung. The new leader of China, Mr. Xi Jin Ping is a Yin Water Snake, born 60 years ago, and hopefully he and President Obama, the Ox, will be buddies, as Snake and Ox are traditionally best friends. Let us maintain cordial communication and avoid excess authoritarianism, keeping our tempers, and perhaps we can all get along.
Snakes are said to hold grudges, so this year it is important not to brood on negativity, which can cause tension, adversely affect one’s health. Avoid rumors, and maintain open communication to avoid mistrust. Snake has a philosophical and theological propensity, appreciating humor, so let the good-natured debates about mystical wisdom ensue. This year, each of us has our unique perspective and understanding of the mystery of the Snake expressed in time. Our observations and take us below the surface into dreams and intuitive experience.
In Chinese medicine, the Fire element of the Snake relates to the Heart, and Joy. The Heart is the Emperor/Empress of organs, as our Spirit resides in the Heart, inspiring thought, plans and action, then accomplished by the process of all our organ systems. According to Dr. Shen’s Compendium of Honoring Life (1773), we can nourish and protect the Heart by not burdening ourselves with depressive thoughts, not getting anxious about future events that may never happen, and not dwelling on things that are well in the past. The Water element of this year relates to the Kidney and our Will. When our Water element is healthy and balanced, we are not burdened by fear and can put the strength of our Will into thriving on our Heart’s path. When Fire and Water, Heart and Kidney are in harmony, the Fire element of the Heart is naturally balanced by Water, we avoid overheating, and we may avoid such vexations as insomnia, mania, and mood disorders.
Snake is happy to take up grand work, resolving karmic conflicts and helping those in need, like the seven-cobra-headed serpent that protected the Buddha for seven days. It is initiating the work of the Heart that brings Joy. The focused intensity of the hard-working Snake must, of course, be balanced by rest, recreation and social celebrations. This year, may we flow with the Water and nurture the Fire. It is a perfect time to enjoy a cup of tea while sharing the secrets of the Heart with a close friend. Snakes may be somewhat guarded, but with dear friends, we can relax and find true comfort.
As the elements this year are in conflict, we may likely experience unexpected obstacles, but if we are intrinsically balanced, we can have the flexibility to adapt as needed. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, based on the balance of nature, can help us function effectively. Certainly, the relationship of the Snake to our own Chinese astrological animal is an important factor and further investigation is welcome. Please contact us with any questions about Chinese medicine, astrology or Feng Shui.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Gung Hay Fa Choi! (“May You Be Very Happy to Receive Lots of Money in the New Year!”) Peace and Blessings of Joy and Good Health!
Jeffrey Haloff, Licensed Acupuncturist and Certified Feng Shui Consultant, operates HUMBOLDT ACUPUNCTURE in Old Town, Eureka with his wife, Chelsea Colby. Please contact them at 707-268-8007 or humboldtacupuncture.com with any questions that you might have about achieving balance, functioning effectively, stopping a cough, reducing pain or stress, sleeplessness, snakes, pigs, rats, dogs, dragons, or anything else that you are curious about.