Yang Metal Horse

The Time Warrior: Refinement Through Endurance


Representing both the midday hour and the rise of summer, the Horse is yang energy incarnate. It is the image of the sun blazing at high noon and fruits ripening - an enduring source of fertility and abundance.

Yang Metal is represented by weaponry. Like an ax or sword, what begins as raw material becomes useful through heating, hammering and tempering. The process of continual pressure and refinement gives Yang Metal purpose and power. Coming together to create the great armored Horse, this month shows us the power to acquire great abundance through the development of concentrated, enduring force.

The Yang Metal horse is a great vehicle to carry out our desires and goals. When we learn how to drive and motivate this medium, we can orient our will towards self-imposed aspirations. We are learning about the process of refinement that can only occur through the capacity to endure, outlast and persevere. A gusty wind or violent storm may have awesome power in the moment, but does not last long. Like a river flowing into the vast ocean, what has been developing over time cannot easily evaporate and disappear. The ability to dedicate yourself leads to the power and potential to become a fully realized person. 

What are the mechanisms that make endurance possible? The ancient kings in China had a water vessel that acted as a warning device, standing upright when empty and tipping over when full. This was a reminder that fullness will inevitably lead to decline. When the sun rises, the moon sets; when happiness ends, one is sad. To develop constancy in any one thing, you must protect and temper it from reaching capacity.  For instance, ignorance engenders knowledge. Martial power and courage is preserved by fear. Satiety cannot continue without hunger. So in order to use anything fully, you must take the path of not being full.

We have entered the month of the Time Warrior: understanding how to use time as a primary partner and collaborator. This month we are becoming an endurance artist, where we learn to create our lives using time as our medium. Endurance generates power through friction - the longer the time, the more there is to push against. This is another way of understanding how to temper fullness: we develop constancy through the principles of resistance. 

This month we are learning the difference between material power and spiritual power. Material power is demonstrated through full, sudden force. Spiritual power is achieved through development, or force over time. Every time we meet true adversity in our lives - when no amount of physical power can transform the situation and we surrender to time itself - we come out the other side having gained soul force. Soul force is not just about surrendering to one’s circumstances, however. It is an inner warriorship, which can also be utilized as a political strategy for creating transformational social and spiritual change. Examples can been seen through Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who demonstrated the principle of soul force through non-violent resistance. 

By contrast, how do we know when we have tipped into unhealthy endurance, or endurism? Endurism is an attachment to closure and fullness, the desire for an end result at any cost. Endurance on the other hand, is motivated by refinement, engaging in a distillation process of the self and the situation. One is additive, the other reductive. Endurance is a practice in trust, where meaning and resolution are emergent and creative. Endurism relies on gripping and white-knuckling, a process that closes and numbs the self. It becomes an act of tolerance, normalizing suffering by resisting change. Conversely, endurance is a process of adaptation, requiring openness to create change. Because transformation naturally occurs through continual refinement, the need to endure will instinctively come to an end. 

In ritual terms, refinement through endurance is the offering one makes, which invokes blessings from the ancestors. It is the sacrifice one performs, such as the painstaking process of cultivating and stewarding the land so that one can reap the profit of ripened crops. It suggests success and pleasure when the human world and ancestral world are connected through the sacrifice of a cooked meal. In ancient times, this was done through the dǐng 鼎: a cast bronze sacrificial vessel. Often covered with animal imagery, this cauldron cooked the ritual meal to be offered to the spirits. 

When we give endurance ritual attention, we fix symbols and omens from spirit, giving them staying power in our lives. This month, your situation is a meal that needs to be cooked, your offering which connects you to the ancestors. The Time Warrior is your dǐng, the vessel of time that prepares your sacrifice. You are learning the sensibilities required to recognize when a moment is undercooked or overdone. We refine the self by cultivating our willpower and learn constancy by measuring when to persist and when to be flexible. Remember the path of refinement does not want fullness: endurance is preserved by hesitation; steadiness is preserved by rhythm. The ability to endure and last is illustrated in this statement by the Daoist classic, the Wénzǐ: “A river can go far because it goes along twisting and turning. A mountain can go high because it slopes.”

Discover Your Time Warrior…

This month’s Journey is a guided meditation to connect with the Yang Metal Horse, the Time Warrior, who will be teaching you about refinement through endurance. This journey is about learning how to collaborate with time. If you feel stuck in a situation, unsure about how to persist, how long to endure, and/or when to let go, you can use this meditation as a tool and guide. 

Using breathing, imagery, music and connecting with your body, this Journey exercise is designed to complement this month's forecast. This audio is modeled after techniques for psychological and spiritual growth, such as psychosynthesis, waking dream therapy, Daoist internal alchemy, and trauma intervention.

If you want to go deeper into the themes of this month by meeting your inner Time Warrior, you can purchase the 12 minute audio below. 

Yin Earth Snake


yin earth snake not knowing and imagination

Last month, the Dragon compelled us to make firm decisions, leading to a moment of breakthrough. This month of the Yin Earth Snake, we discover that beyond the threshold of breaking through is Not Knowing. The primary objective of Snake and Dragon is transformation, and the Snake is the yin counterpart to the Dragon’s yang. Whereas the Dragon brought us a flash of illumination, the aha! moment of awareness, the Snake leads us into darkness and the unknown, the Great Mystery where all possibilities are born. 

Yin Earth Snake is analogous to “The Yellow Woman” of Daoist folklore. The Yellow Woman represents true intent and true faith in the center of our being. Truthfulness is associated with the Earth, represented by the color yellow. Woman refers to the mother: the progenitor and genetrix of all things. The first ancestress in Chinese creation myth is depicted with the body of a snake. The Yellow Woman symbolizes our true will to awaken our original spirit, the capacity to return to our source, and she resides in all of us. 

To achieve a state of deep inward journeying requires being a great minimalist. The Yellow Woman is connected to the originating chaos, pregnant with possibility. She knows the universe contains everything you need. In the microcosmic universe of her own body, everything she wants is just waiting to emerge. This simplicity is the understanding that everything we need already exists,  should we cultivate the space for it to arrive.

Minimalism gives us room to breathe and see things clearly. The more empty we can be, the more freedom we can have. Conversely the more we have, the more we must hold and grasp, the more we are burdened. To be minimal invites spontaneity, allowing our  lives to speak through us. Regardless of external conditions, simplicity thrives everywhere because it is rooted in the essential.

The Yellow Woman knows that in order for anything to emerge, one must withdraw. Like a snake, when we shed our outer artifice, we arrive at the center of our being. The truth of what we are is our sincerity within. At our core is emptiness - being empty of obstructions and illusions that separate us from our reality.  Like fish swimming in the ocean, it is this permeable space within that allows the water of life to move through us. Identity is known, fixed states of being, whereas the true self is an eternal void, open and fluid with possibilities. It is a mystery even to ourselves. This month we are are asked to minimize the identifiable self to make room for discovery of the unknown.  Those who cannot be exceedingly small cannot create space for emergence. 

Emergence is a practice in gradualism. Truth and sincerity is revealed in layers of ever-more subtleness. Truthfulness within being put into practice outwardly takes slow cultivation. When we wait, we commit ourselves to a state of not knowing. We open ourselves to wonder, exploration and discovery. 

Not knowing is not a passive state, nor is it ignorance - a rigid refusal to know. Not knowing is an active listening, illogical meandering, existing in non-local and nonproductive time. It is being in liminality, where space and time swing open and close like a gate. It requires evoking the archetype of the artist: the ability to discover and bring into existence that which previously did not exist. 

By placing yourself in a state of not knowing, you enter the realm of the waking dream, the imagination. The imagination is the ability to go out of fixed states, into creative generative realms. It is existing in non-dual time, not belonging to the past or future. In the realm of the imagination, you do not follow time - you create time. 

The capacity to imagine and enter the unknown is inherent in all of us. Yet many of us experience the unknown as a fearful place. Why does the abyss, the birthplace of mystery, strike terror in us? In the West, there is no working metaphysics of chaos and the unknown. Chaos is not a force worthy of its own existence, nor is it seen as essential to existence, having an intrinsic role and place in the universe. Rather, it exists to be controlled, conquered and defeated. 

Serpentine monsters abound in legends, including the Greek mother of monsters Echidna, the Midgard Serpent of Norse mythology, the British Lindworm, as well as Scylla and Medusa in Homer’s Odyssey. All of these serpentine monsters represent untamable chaos, the tumultuous mystical force, stirring in us a primordial fear of the uncontrollable and unknown. The way to deal with them is to tame and conquer these monsters through the ingenuity of human rationality, force and will. When a culture has a pathological obsession with closure, otherwise known as control, chaos has no place. 

The Western trajectory of moving away from chaos, where the anarchic primordial soup exists only so that order can arrive, is antithetic to the laws of nature. Physics shows us that the fundamental force of change and transformation in the universe is entropy. All stars in the universe will eventually burn out, and life feeds off of the heat and light these stars give off on their path to obliteration.  Our lives depend on the unrelenting increase of disorder, the fertile chaos.

Our relationship with the wild untamed world is that of fear. In practical life, this leaves little room for our own raw, wild natures. The dominant belief in Western culture is that human beings have dominion over their individual lives. The narrative of progress - movement always towards a refined and improved state - has led to the development of tools and technology in order to triumph over our external environment. 

But we are being forced to shift. Our mastery over nature has led to colossal problems. Our technology has brought us to the nuclear age, where the only way to conquer the weapons that will annihilate us is to conquer our will to use them.  Climate scientists report that we have just 12 years to cut our carbon emissions by half before we reach irreversible environmental catastrophe. The defining theme of the “New Age,” or the Age of Aquarius is humanity’s transition to an inverse orientation: from mastery over nature to mastery over the self. This is the biggest directive of our era, our price of admission for being born on this planet at this time. 

We must learn how to navigate and enter into the unknown, to the inner potential that allows for the transformation necessary at the deepest levels of our psyche. Our fear of the unknown paralyzes our collective imagination. Because we do not know how to exist in chaos, we lack the courage for divergent thinking, to explore creative potential realities. Thus, we are terrified to create real change in our lives, society and culture. 

What if our god(s) were not just models of harmony, rationality and order? What if we had a spirituality that was inclusive of randomness, spontaneity and unpredictability? What if we prayed to deities of destruction,  confusion, madness and mayhem - not asking to conquer and control them, but to honor and worship them, seeing them as aspects of ourselves? What if we practiced rites of reaching into the unknown: entering into trance or possession, speaking in tongues, embarking on vision quests? Or rituals of impermanence, such as the creation and destruction of sand mandalas, where we let go of our attachment to fixed states? 

This month is the prime time to use the imagination to develop hidden avenues of human capacity and potential. Call on your inner Yellow Woman to give you strength for your journey into ever more subtle layers of truth. When we do only what is known to us, we collapse into fate, repeating the karmic cycle of time. On the other hand, remember that moving into destiny is always a move towards the unknown. 

Journey into the Unknown…

This month’s Journey is a guided meditation to connect with the Yin Earth Snake, who will help you enter into the unknown, The Great Mystery, the birthplace of Imagination. 

Using breathing, imagery, music and connecting with your body, this Journey exercise is designed to complement this month's forecast. This audio is modeled after techniques for psychological and spiritual growth, such as psychosynthesis, waking dream therapy, Daoist internal alchemy, and trauma intervention.

If you want to go deeper into the themes of this month (Not Knowing and the Imagination, or Chaos and Control) through the power of visualization, you can purchase the 12 minute audio below.