January 31, 2014 marks the beginning of the Year of the Yang Wood Horse. The Chinese horoscope is based on a cycle of 12 animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig) and 5 elements, (wood, fire, earth, metal and water). Thus, a particular animal-element combination recurs only once every 60 years. During the last (yin) Wood Horse year (1954), Joseph McCarthy's 'red scare' anti-communist witch-hunts dominated but were later condemned by the US Senate, the Viet Cong were created, the first shopping mall opened in the US, the first color television was manufactured, and Rock N Roll began. Famous Wood Horses include: Ang Lee, Jackie Chan, Muhammed Ali, Jimi Hendrix, Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Justice Sonia Sotomajor, Condoleezza Rice, Denzel Washington
The horse in Chinese astrology is a cavalry horse, identified with the nobility and having qualities of vigor, attentiveness, and soldier-like discipline. While 2013, the year of the water snake, was a year for mysticism and non-action, horse energy is plain, direct, and obvious. Wood energy, associated with spring and renewal feeds fire, the native element of the horse, so makes this a particularly vigorous year. Following are prognostications offered by Daoist scholar Liu Ming.
- General Recommendations: While the results of last year's snake energy mysticism, introspection, and transformation may continue to percolate over the next 4-5 years, the wood horse energy is more like a “re-set” opportunity with images of childlike innocence or a sharp blow to the head while meditating. It is a year to refresh oneself. Through the spring, energy is enthusiastic but unthinking, hence has the potential for stupidity and danger. In the first 3 months of the year, lay low and don't overreact to uncertainty. The horse, however, is very trainable and hard-working, so starting educational projects in the spring, especially gradual non-oppressive training programs, may enable the nobility and maturity of the horse to predominate by the fall. With good mentoring, friendship, warmth, and reciprocity, the wood horse year can be very flexible. This is a good year for straight-from-the-heart action.
- Politically, not much will happen. This year is not about power but more about distractedness. Youth will be less depressed and less likely to be recruited as terrorists. The emergence of new ideas is probable. New non-national leaders may emerge. India and China will increasingly shape the world's future.
- In business and finance, new is good, but teamwork will be needed to make new ideas work. Expect growth in young technologies: Internet and popular funding. Expect a narrower focus – local vs. universal where the village emerges as the primary social sphere.
- In health, injuries will be more common than illness and incomplete healing of injuries is likely this year when horse-energy impels us to want to get back to work. On the other hand, this year's “upward and outward” energy can help expel deeply embedded chronic injuries. Try to be thorough and conscientious even though impulses will take you elsewhere. Choose doctors with experience and integrity.
- In the Inner Realm, in horse years, the spiritual path is found embedded in work, ordinary routines, and the Zen of ordinary life. 'Beginner's mind' will be good this year and education will be key to changing the dangerous, compulsive character of the year to wisdom. Romantically, friendship will be more important this year than family – value old and new friends for sympathy and empathy rather than rely on partners. Remember that horse energy favors action not words.
The wood horse year ends and the wood goat year begins on February 19, 2015. Next year's orderly goat energy will be an antidote to this year's impulsive wildness.
~ image and text by Pamela Chang