From now until February 3rd, we are under the reign of the Yin Water Ox.
The 12 signs in the Chinese zodiac each rule a year, month, day and hour. We are currently in a Rooster year and beginning the month of the Ox. This month is also colored by the qualities of Yin Water.
Although we have just begun a new year in the Gregorian calendar, we are finishing the last month of the Fire Rooster year in the Chinese lunisolar calendar. The Chinese new year always begins at the dark (new) moon midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox, this year falling in mid-February. It is timely that we end this annual cycle with the month of the Ox, the totem of formidable perseverance and resolve, also known as the "great finisher" in the House of Creativity (the Rat starts, the Ox finishes). Coupled with Yin Water, the element of deep cleansing and reflection, it is the perfect time to contemplate endings so that we can ensure the purity of our next cycle.
The ancient pictograph for the sign of the Ox is a symbol of a hand being bound (丑). A shackled hand requires great tenacity, willpower and endurance to accomplish feats. It is the force that works against the grain, the power that making a commitment has to outlast the winds of change. The Ox is that last reservoir of stamina we dredge up when all outside momentum is lost, in order for us to see things to completion.
The ancient pictograph for Yin Water shows feet hanging above heaven (癸): when standing in a still pool of water looking down into your reflection, your feet will appear to be in the sky. Another way to interpret this is to visualize hanging upside-down. Imagine the decompression you feel in your spine in this symbolic act of emptying oneself out, and the fresh outlook that being upside-down brings. Through reflection, emptying and cleansing our perspective, Yin Water brings us the power of purity.
How to work with this month's animal and element:
Many of us couldn't wait another moment to put 2017 behind us; we may have eagerly set new intentions and looked towards the future with urgency. Yin Water Ox reminds us that in order to begin any venture with a truly fresh start, we must complete our endings. While on the outside we may be reaching forwards in the direction of a new beginning, internally we must coil backwards for a cleansing of the past. Look inwards to resolve your worries and inner contradictions. Complete your unfinished business with praise for each hardship and triumph you've met along the way. Take inventory of the past with the honest clarity of a pool reflecting moonlight. Aim for purity before you begin the next movement.
Purity may seem like a charming, antiquated value that can lead us into religious and dualistic thinking. But when was the last time we stopped to identify for ourselves the meaning of purity? What does it mean to be of pure mind and heart, or to make purity a goal in everyday life? The Dao teaches us that the way to achieve purity is to realize our essential nature, which connects us with all things. If you are one with everything, even filth is pure. Distill yourself to your essence. Celebrate each turning of the wheel of your life by completing this revolution. This is how you persevere with joy.