Thursday, January 30, 2014


I'm back from 12 glorious days spent roaming around southern AZ, soaking up the beautiful desert rays, smiling and waving at the human-like saguaros (who, by the way waved back,) making sure I stayed away from the 'jumping' Chollas and barrel cacti, both intent, it seemed, on being quite close to our trail. I'd
forgotten how much I love the desert with its soft, muted colors and sounds, the throaty trill of the cactus wren perched high on top of saguaros and mesquite shrubs alike. Each morning I was greeted by a family of quail, navigating along the top of the brick wall separating our back yard from the other, and the soft gray doves calling to each other, rooftop to rooftop. I love our birds here in MN, hardy and happy as they are, but the desert birds reminded me, as I closed my eyes, hearing the gentle slapping of the palm fronds in the breeze, that I was in a special place, and sadly, not one I was able to spend enough time in. On the bright side, however, I am back home where the air is so cold we sometimes fear our noses will be stuck shut if we breathe in too fast, or worse, our lungs explode, but let's be honest, it's the Northland and we're a hardy lot. Still, I miss Arizona. Miss it dearly. I sometimes wonder if I'll ever move to the southwest. I do have family living in Albuquerque and am fortunate enough to visit often, but to live away from this state? I'm not sure if I ever could. But, as usual, I digress from the topic at hand: our new year, 2014, year of the Horse, said to be a year filled with opportunity, compelling inspiration, uplift and new beginnings. The Chinese New Year calendar commences tomorrow, Friday, January 31st, ending February 18th, 2015, so hang on to your hats, experts say, it's going to be a wild, wonderful year.
As I do quite often in my blogs, I refer to experts to help with the content that I cover.  I am by no means an expert when it comes to speaking of the Chinese zodiac calendar and how to interpret it.  What I can provide you, however, is a brief synopsis describing what the horse symbolizes in their zodiac.  The horse symbolizes graciousness, dignity, momentum and firmness. In Chinese culture, people born in a Year of the Horse are regarded as witty, eloquent speakers, elegant, and charming.  If you're like me, you don't know much about the Chinese zodiac so for the sake of this article, I will take this opportunity and bring you quickly up to speed.
The Chinese calendar comprises 12 animal signs featuring a cyclical dating method that repeats every 60 years. The calendar is based on 2 cycles that interact with each other - the Chinese zodiac, which is divided into 12 part, and the 5 elements: metal water, wood, fire and earth. (Chinese philosophy is built around the five elements and the belief that they interact with natural phenomena.)   Each year of the Chinese Zodiac, a different animal is represented: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. The 5 elements are assigned to the 12 animals (years), giving different characteristics to each animal (year.) This creates 60 different combinations, resulting in a 60-year cycle. In addition,the concept of yin and yang, opposing forces, also affect the Chinese calendar.  Even years are perceived as yang: heaven, (male light, and active.) Odd years are perceived as yin: earth, (female, dark, and passive.)
This is how the horse - element combination looks:
  • Metal Horse (1930, 1990)
  • Earth Horse (1918, 1978)
  • Fire Horse (1966, 2026)
  • Wood Horse (1954, 2014)
  • Water Horse (1942, 2002)
To find more about animal and element that represent the year that you were born, read more here.
So what will this year mean for us? As I mentioned before, astrologists and experts are claiming this year to be a year for new beginnings. Some claim it will be bumpy, others say it will be fast and racy, full of adventure and intrigue. I guess it depends on your perspective if you don't mind things like change, suspense, walking off the beaten path, wild rides, and even romance.
The internet is a plethora of infomation and I've provided for your reading pleasure seven websites dealing with the new year written by astrologists, geomancers, journalists, and even a Buddhist monk.

  • Read here how astrologist Sarah Varcas describes the first month in the Chinese New Year. 
  • Here is a fascinating article from Western School of Feng Shui describing the upcoming year from an astrologist's perspective, looking deeply into the horses's characteristic combined with the 'wood' element and what this means.
  • A geomancer from Hong Kong says this about 2014. Read here.
  • I love this article from Susan Levitt. The author describes, in-depth, the Year of the Horse, horse characteristics, everything about the horse, actually!
  • Here is an analysis from the International Business Times.
  • An article in the Sydney Morning Herald
  • A fascinating account of how the Chinese calendar is created  and what this year entails by Tibetan Buddhist monk, Tsem Rinpoche.
  • Information for the upcoming year by a Feng Shui expert here.
So, there you have it. According to these articles, 2014 should be quite a year, but then what year hasn't been lately? Whether it's a year of water, fire, earth, wood, or metal, it seems our new millenia has a lot in store for us.  Oh, and by the way, 2014 is said to be an auspicious year for pilgrims and tourists planning on visiting Tibet this year to circumambulate the sacred Mount Kailash (Asia's holiest mountain) during the month of June. It is said that your prayers will be magnified ten-fold as it is the Year of the Horse.  Hint, hint, future post regarding this coming soon! :-)