Category Archives: Chinese Zodiac

2014 – The Horse Year

The Year of Stable Luck

2014 Year of the Horse greeting cardThe Snake is leaving, but before it leaves, it wants to show its power by swinging its tail so people will remember it.  This can be seen through the floods and cold spells in Europe; cold spells and droughts in the United States; the passing of respected people, like Nelson Mandela.  And now the Horse Year is arriving.

The Year of the Horse will reflect the gentle, mild temperament of the horse.  Natural events will be calmer and less extreme.  There will still be political ups and downs, but they will be smoother and less haphazard.  The economic situation is in a holding pattern in Europe.  While the United States seems to be ready for a recovery, no real recovery should be expected. The economic growth will mostly be in Asia.

There will be some surprising lucky breaks in situations that have seemed unsolvable, like the Korean and Iranian situations.  The situation in Ukraine has been intensifying for the last two months. If people can hold on, there may be a continuation of the Orange Revolution in the form of a Soft Revolution, a transformation that does not involve any major disruptions.

This will also be the twenty-fourth year of the Blue Mountain Feng Shui Institute. From the beginning, the BlueMountain emphasis has been on natural principles, and on Feng Shui as a manifestation of natural principles.  The other emphasis is chi, the formative energy of nature.  The focus was therefore at first, on environmental design.  But chi and natural principles by their very nature are not restricted to one area of activity:  they penetrate every kind of activity, since no activities are outside of nature.  Over the past few years, we have explored the ways in which chi and natural principles work in other fields as well, especially health, communication, and personal cultivation.  The emphasis of focus has gradually shifted from environmental design to the wider range of applications of energy and natural principles, and to understanding how they can be applied in any field.

For this reason, the Blue Mountain Feng Shui Institute will become the Blue Mountain Institute, and the focus will be the spectrum of applications of chi energy and natural principles.  Environmental design will continue to be one focus.  Another focus will be on the direct, simple application of natural principles to health.  The third focus will be the application of natural principles to communication and personal growth.

The long-awaited book, Form Defines Energy, after many revisions, is scheduled to be published in May of 2014.  In addition, the Institute is developing a series of short videos on Feng Shui subjects, to be posted on YouTube and on our web site.

On the personal level, this will be a very auspicious year for people born in the years of the Dog and Tiger.  For people born in the Horse year, too, this will be a year of very positive change.  People born in the year of the Rat may have some challenges.  People born in the years of the Rabbit and Ox can expect some difficulties, and the need to work harder.  However, this particular Year of the Horse is a lucky one. So, even those who can expect challenges will find the challenges easier to overcome.  People born in other years will find that their lives will tend to increase stability, and they will be able to advance bravely and calmly through the year.  Everyone will find the year better than expected.  This is a year of stable luck.  As we go forward through the year, we will experience gentle progress.

In conclusion, after the turmoil of the Dragon and Snake years, things will be calmer.  But horses are brave, and charge forward, so there will be progress and change.  The essence of working with the Horse Year is to approach things gently, and with a quality of low-key humility.  Then it will be possible to maintain a balance between the Yin and Yang aspects of the year, and navigate through its challenges with skill and serenity.

Shan-Tung Hsu

The Wisdom of Chinese Zodiac

In contrast to western astrologers’ fancy celestial zodiac model, the ancient Chinese used twelve simple animal signs to represent the zodiac. It may seem ordinary or mundane, but these simple signs contain rich and living wisdom.  The twelve signs comprise six pairs.  Each pair has one yin and one yang animal sign. It is the balance of this yin and yang that is the fundamental element of philosophy in Chinese culture.

First pair:  Rat (yang) and Ox (yin)

Rat represents intelligence; Ox represents diligence. There should be a balance between intelligence and diligence. Those who have intelligence but are not hard-working will not accomplish much in their lives. Those who are hard-working, but do not use their brain, are foolish.  One needs to work both hard and smart.  The ancient Chinese regarded intelligence and diligence to be the most important qualities for a successful life.

Second Pair: Tiger (yang) and Rabbit (yin)

Tiger represents power and daring; Rabbit represents caution and prudence. When a person is full of valor and vigor, but not cautious, he can became crude and brash. If he has too much caution without vigor, he becomes timid.  There needs to be a balance of daring and prudence to balance and complement each other; an individual needs to have both to draw on in order to meet what life presents to him at different times.

Third Pair: Dragon (yang) and Snake (yin)

Dragon represents strength and determination; Snake represents softness and flexibility. Too much hardness becomes brittle and easy to break. If one is too soft, he cannot hold onto his own ideas and thoughts.  Therefore, there should always be a balance between strength and flexibility.

Fourth Pair: Horse (yang) and Sheep (yin)

Horse represents marching forward courageously, advance bravely; Sheep represents gentleness and peacefulness.  If a person just plods straight forward without considering his surroundings, he may get some surprising bumps to the left or right, and not be able to reach his goal. If he is too gentle and yielding, he may lose his own direction and, thus, his goal. Therefore, be brave, moving forward courageously but with gentleness.

Fifth Pair: Monkey (yang) and Rooster

Monkey represents agility and quick-wittedness; Rooster represents dependability, as it can be depended on to wake people up on time.  Quick thinking without dependable behavior may not accomplish your intended goals.  However, overly stressing reliability could slow things down so much they cannot move forward.  Each person should have a harmonious combination of agility and dependability.

Sixth Pair: Dog (yang) and Pig (yin)

Dog represents loyalty; Pig represents sociability and amicability.  If a person is too loyal to an ideology or anything else, he can become very stubborn, excluding and rejecting of others. On the other hand, if he is too amiable and socially-dependent, he may lose the dedication to stand firm on his principles and beliefs.  One’s loyal, whether to country, to an organization, to oneself, or to an idea, needs to be tempered with amicability towards all. In that way, you have a smooth outside while remaining square inside; yin and yang is balanced.

Keeping the Balance

Whatever sign you were born under, always look for the opposite aspect in order to be a balanced person. If you were born under the sign of the horse, you are brave in charging forward, but pay attention to the qualities of gentleness and smoothness.  If you are of the sheep sign, gentleness and smoothness come naturally to you; you need to cultivate bravery and courage in order to charge forward with your life!

Intelligence and diligence, daring and caution, strength and flexibility, bravery and gentleness, agility and dependability, loyalty and sociability, these are all qualities one should have to create a happy and successful life.  Ancient China passes on to the generations this wisdom in its twelve zodiac signs.

Why is the cat, the most popular house pet, not included in the 12 zodiac animals?

Actually I have an interesting story to tell. For so many years in the past, from time to time I told this story and answered peoples question about the Chinese zodiac.  Although there are many versions of its origin, my favorite is a story from a long time ago.  It is about the one where the animals in China decide to go to India to celebrate Buddha’s birthday.

The rat, cat, dog tiger… all thirteen animals took the journey from China in a race to see who could be the first to arrive in India.  When they reach the Ganges river of India, they all slow down as many animals could not swim well. The water buffalo was the first one to happily jump into the river.  Upon seeing that, both the cat and rat jump on the back of water buffalo for a free ride.  In the middle of the river crossing, the rat manages to push the cat off from water buffalo’s back, which causes the cat to fall in the river and drown.  And since then, as revenge, the cat forever chases the rat.

I told this story for decades on different occasions to many different people and students. No questions were ever asked. Last year I told the same story to a charming little ten year old girl, Rose Li.  Since arriving in the United States twelve years ago, both her parents, who are professional dance teachers, have been good friends of mine.  After having heard the story, Rose Li asked, “If the cat already drowned in river, how could the rest of cats know the story and take revenge?” A good question! How come nobody has asked this question before?  I wonder.  Well, let me think… how do I answer this question…

What is the outlook for the year of Ox?

The Ox is a patient, quiet, hard working animal. It does not shout or growl or complain. We should do as the Ox does. We received a shock in 2008. 2009 will continue to get worse economically, but the shock wave has passed; the reality is sinking in, and we are accepting this new reality and learning to work with it. But progress will be slow, just as the ox moves slowly. This difficult time provides an opportunity for people to reflect, to look inward, to seek the inner-most depths of their soul, their pure soul.