The Year of the Blue Dragon
Happy New Year, for those of you open-minded enough to celebrate with the Chinese people! As of January 23, we have entered another Year of the Dragon. Twelve years have gone by, even though for some of us it has seemed like this time the cycle would never end. It has encompassed the U.S.-Iraq/Afghanistan War. As horrible as those events were, the two Dragons, 2000 and 2012, together did manage to contain it all. Although tensions were mounting before 2001, not until on September 11 of the Year of the Snake 2001 did the disaster erupt, and, in spite of ongoing tensions, President Obama did withdraw troops towards the end of the Year of the Hare. I invite you to investigate all the dates in American history when the USA entered and ceased war. Even when official declarations of war were imminent, not until after Dragon years did they occur, and the coming of Dragon years marked renewed peace. The USA was born in 1776, a Monkey year, and the tradition is that Monkeys and Dragons live peacefully together! Contrary to Christian lore, the Dragon can be benevolent. How do these twelve-year cycles traditionally work?
Besides the repetition of the constant sequence of animal years, the cycles involve the annual alternation of two forces, Yin ( - ) and Yang ( + ), and the biannual progression of the prominence of one of five metaphysical elements: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. Yin is to darkness as Yang is to light: we cannot even think of the one without the other. As for the sequence of the elements, I remember it this way: Wood cannot be without Water, Fire cannot be without Wood, Earth (of which ashes are a part) cannot be without Fire, and Metal cannot be without Earth, from which metals are mined. Any year of one particular animal is always Yin ( - ) or Yang ( + ), depending on the animal. That is, any Rat year is +, followed by an Ox year always -, and so on in the following +/- pairs: Tiger/Hare, Dragon/Snake, Horse/Sheep, Monkey/Rooster, Dog/Pig. Let's consider how two of the cycles go, every sixty years, in order to see the changeless pattern behind the changes. A year of the Water Rat occurred in 1972, to reoccur in 2032. That was followed by a year of the Water Ox, followed by the Wood pair, which in that cycle was Tiger/Hare, followed by the Fire pair, at that time Dragon/Snake, followed by the Earth pair, at that time Horse/Sheep, followed by the Metal pair, at that time Monkey/Rooster. The cycle of the elements takes ten years, while that of the animals takes twelve, meaning that the last pair of the twelve year cycle gets to share the one element with the first pair. For instance, in the 1972-83 cycle, the last pair, always Dog/Pig, got to share Water with Rat/Ox. This also means that in the 1984-95 cycle, Rat/Ox and Dog/Pig got to share Wood, and in the 1996-2007 cycle, Fire, and all four share each of the five elements, to start over with sharing Water in 2032.
Tiger and Dragon years can be especially challenging, disastrous for some of us. Was the year 2010 bad for you? If yes, then beware! This year may be more rough sailing. The Hare year in between them, the past twelve months, may well have been calmer, but, sorry to say, it may well have been just the eye of the storm. The cycle of Chinese years relates to the cycle of Jupiter around the zodiac, because they both take in the neighbourhood of twelve years. In late July, 2010, Jupiter went retrograde in Aries, returning to Pisces by early September. Just as we thought life was moving into promising, spring like beginnings, reflected by the spring sign Aries, the surprising shift happened, as unpleasant to some of us as a snow storm for spring flowers. That is not the interpretation, which applied to most of us, but it did for some of us. It may have been very rough for those of us who, in the neighbourhood of the same time, had day-equals-year progressions to natal horoscopes which suggested rough times, particularly progressed positions of Mars or the sun making hard aspects to outer planets, such as Saturn. Such stormy times were even more likely for those of us with transits of outer planets making hard aspects to natal horoscopes, in the neighborhood of those times likely to be rough according to the progressed charts. All this is in accord with a cardinal rule of astrology: Everything must be interpreted in context of the overall picture.
The point is that the conflicts of 2010 do not usually disappear with the passing of one year. Astrologically this is true, sorry to say, as we start the Year of the Dragon. These years, like Tiger ones, tend to be unpredictable, which may mean the continuation of unpleasant surprises like those which some of us met in 2010. What can those of us at risk do?
Whenever any of us is at risk, it surely pays not to risk anything, if at all possible. Let's think very, very, very carefully before we act, considering all the dangerous possibilities. Sometimes, if anything can go wrong, it will. This year might well be one of those times for some of us. In many ways, some of us may be better off postponing major actions until next year.
An astrologer can give the best advice, but if the client isn't receptive to the warnings, it won't do the person any good. The other side of safe navigation is you learning to be receptive. That is what the teachings of the Buddha concern. They are to help you learn to be receptive to whatever may come, in such a way that you maintain the tranquility of pure love. This state of ongoing balancing towards the potential energy of pure love is what I think the awakening of a person to Buddhahood might be like, as I put it in the following poem:
Is this truly awakening? I mean,
This feeling of love, so pure, so peaceful,
Like crystal, clear water? In it, all hurt,
Lust, hate, envy, sadness, those human things
From which the restless, unhappy life springs,
Conglomerate and settle, like the dirt
Settling through the water to the bottom.
That restores a purity, like pure love.
Is awakening this, like that water
Overflowing in the spring, being kind
And happy, finding that I do not want?
If this is not morning, may it be Dawn,
Rosy fingered, reaching the horizon.
Buddhism and Tao are closely related. The former is about the potential energy of pure love, like the tranquillity of pure water, whereas the latter is the way of the flowing water, when the time comes for it naturally to overflow into moral action. Given time, the flow of water has the kinetic energy to smooth the sharp corners of hard rocks. Think of the Year of the Dragon as like that second, rock-hard block standing in your way. Think of the smoothing energy of the waterflow as like the loving spirit of you, the enlightened person, with the blockbusting power to smooth and level the obstacles before you this year.
Any flat rock has two sides on which it may land. Think of this year as a flat, standing rock, which I have thoroughly portrayed as possibly falling against you or your path, but now picture it with the potential to fall the opposite way, in your favor. Yes, it is a Dragon, but what a funny looking one! Blue! It has the color of water, for it is a Water Dragon. Luckily, at least it is watery, since Dragons are scary enough. Just think, if it were in armor, how it would be, as scary as the Metallic Tiger of 2010, for some of us like a tank that had rolled after us! Out of the five elements, Water is the one I associate the most with beginnings. As the Bible (Ge 1: 2, NIV) puts it, "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Water, in its original, unpolluted state, was the milieu which generated life, and is the symbol of regeneration. A Dragon is a Dragon, so this one also forebodes a potentially unpredictable year, but chances are the changes may well be ones of regeneration, pruning the old for the sake of the new in the way of Pluto, not merely the wanton destruction that seems to be the way of Uranus. For those of us who have not met 2010 as the tanklike Tiger, or who have successfully handled it, 2012 may well be the lucky Dragon of Chinese lore. If you have stayed financially secure enough to take calculated risks, this may be your year, lasting until Feb. 9 of 2013, to launch an enterprise or a business. Just do not go overboard with optimism.
May you make the best out of both the challenges and the opportunities of the Year of the blue Dragon, guided by the stars, and pacified and empowered by pure love! Kung-hsi Fa-ts'ai!