I am the Yang Water Snake!
Today the Chinese celebrate their New Year by welcoming in the sixth sign of the Chinese lunar Zodiac, represented by the Snake ~
“Mine is the wisdom of the ages, I hold the key to the mysteries of life, casting my seeds on fertile ground, I nurture them with constancy and purpose. My sights are fixed. My gaze unchanging. Unyielding, inexorable and deep, I advance with steady, unslacked gait, the solid earth beneath me. I am the Snake”. (The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes).
“The animal that hides in your heart”
The Chinese Lunar Calendar names each of the twelve years after an animal. Legend has it that the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from earth. Only twelve came to bid him farewell and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order they arrived. First came the Rat, then the Ox, the Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and finally the Boar. The Chinese believe the animal ruling the year in which a person is born has a profound influence on personality, saying: “This is the animal that hides in your heart.”
The Chinese Zodiac is more than just a cycle of 12 animals. It is a complete cycle of 60 lunar years made up of each of the animal signs combined with the 5 main elements: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. 12 x 5 = 60 years. So far, so good! But it gets even more complex with further subdivisions of the elements into active and passive sides. The Active side is identified as positive, yang or male, (the Rat, Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Monkey, and Dog) whereas the Passive side is negative, yin or female (the Ox, Rabbit, Snake, Sheep, Rooster and Boar). Each animal has a fixed element assigned to it but each year has a changing element associated with it.
In Your Element
According to the Chinese Zodiac, this year, today in fact, starts a positive or Yang Water year. The fixed element of the Snake however is Fire, with a negative or Yin side. The unique feature of such a calendar is that all information about time – year, month, day and hour are presented in terms of the five basic elements, which are believed to be the basic components of everything in the Universe. The relationship between the five elements accurately helps one predict what is to come by way of one’s fortunes and thus, one can by using this knowledge, multiply the good luck or minimize the bad luck in one’s life. So in our story, the fixed characteristics of the Yin Fire Snake will be tempered by the characteristics of the Yang Water Year of 2013.
The Snake, the symbol of yin, female energy, is believed to be enigmatic and full of unspoken mysteries. It is associated with qualities such as influence and insight, intellect, determination and power, and represents material possessions. A symbol of happiness and auspiciousness, the ancient Chinese believed that a Snake in the house was a good omen because it meant that the family would always be free from want. But it also represents the ability to strike at will, quickly and powerfully!
What does it all mean?
As we slither into the Year of the Snake it seems that there is no reason to be squeamish! The year of the Yang Water Snake will apparently bring unexpected changes, instability, and changeability. That is why the Chinese say that it is important in the year of the Snake to plan everything beforehand, and evaluate adequately before taking any actions. One needs to be more careful and cautious than ever. So there you go!
Famous people born in the Year of the Snake inlcude Pablo Picasso, Howard Hughes, Greta Garbo, Abraham Lincoln, Mao Tse-tung, John F. Kennedy, Indira Gandhi
Traditions and Customs for the Chinese New Year
- Cleaning the house thoroughly in order to sweep away any negative energy and making space for good fortune to enter.
- Decorating windows and doors with red coloured paper and poems with themes of wealth, long life and happiness. The colour red is considered auspicious.
- Exchanging presents and giving children money in red paper envelopes.
- Wearing new clothes.
So Happy New Year – again! And again and again and again…
The Pagans celebrated theirs already at Samhain on November 1st, the Christians on January 1st, the Chinese today, Tibetan celebrations will start on March 5th, the Hindus sometime in mid April (it differs from region to region), the Jewish will observe theirs on September 28th, and the Islamists later on in November!
What ever you believe in and wherever you are – have a good start!