On the 31st January, we left behind the year of the Water snake
and are now in the early days of the Chinese new year of the Wood horse which will last until 18th February 2015. What does this mean and how relevant is it for us?
What do you think of when you think of a horse? Do you think of a horse calmly stood in a field? Or a race horse? Or a mythological winged horse?
What a horse means to each of us is different and depends on our experience of being with horses and with the culture in which we live. For the Chinese the horse is considered to be brave and noble and a horse year is considered to be one of good fortune. Traditionally horses would be used in battle and many important battles have been won due to the power and strength of the horse. This is where we get the idea of a horse symbolising strength and courage, as well as grace, elegance and nobility.
In many cultures there are magical Horses which have supernatural powers, are heroic, strong, and can even fly! The Chinese goddess Kwan Yin has a white celestial cloud Horse which flies through the heavens, bringing peace and blessings. In western cultures, the horse too is often viewed a sacred and mystical and we have our own winged horse in Pegasus.
In Chinese astrology the horse is one of 12 animals which each appear for a year in sequence. Every 12 years when they appear they are in one of the 5 elements of earth, air, fire, water and wood. This creates a cycle of 60 years. The last horse year was 2002/3 and the element was water. The one before was 1990 and the year my daughter was born: she is a metal horse.
The natural element of the horse is Yang Fire and this year the horse is a Wood horse: so what does that mean about the horse we have this year?
Yin and Yang: night and day, or the shady or sunny side of the mountain: essentially represent the daily movement of energy, which expresses basic life forces of expanding outwards and transforming or moving inwards and building up or forming energy. This movement is expressed in the annual flow of energy through the four seasons with summer being the most Yang and winter being the most Yin, with earth, the fifth element being the transition between each season.
The horse is considered to represent Yang fire energy: day time and summer time: times when we want to connect with others, be outside and be more dynamic than at night or in the winter. This means that the horse is an expression of the most outward and dynamic energy: think of a galloping horse. It is considered a sociable, enthusiastic and happy creature.
This picture was taken at the Relaxation Centre, where I teach my courses in Bristol, but Lucy Trend, one of my trainee teachers on my Teacher Training Programme: thank you Lucy! It is quite a woody horse with the green on it and the greenery behind!
As with everything however, there is another side to the horse energy: it is not galloping all the time. The other side is that if the horse can not learn to moderate its fiery, outward, Yang energy it can get exhausted, and become temperamental, unstable, easily panicked, carried away by strong emotions and influenced by people. They can even tend towards depression.
This year the horse is in the element of wood, which is represented by the season of spring and the element before fire. Wood is of course what feeds the fire, so it can increase the fire energy, but it can do this in a way which is nourishing and helps to keep the fires burning. In this respect it can settle the horse’s fieriness.
Since last year was a water snake, perhaps you can begin to see how this year is completely different: we are moving from an animal which is quite slow and pondering, and in the water, and now a spring horse comes galloping in. It is a sudden surge of energy: and we might expect to see things start moving more quickly and dynamically in our lives.
Of course, this all depends on how we used the water or Yin time. If we rested, gathered up our energy, like animals do when they are hibernating in the winter , then we have the energy and are ready to express all this in new ideas and projects. Since the horse is dynamic, then travel and adventure are often indicated in a horse year. However, it is always important that this Yang energy is balanced by appropriate times of rest. It is a fast paced year so it is important to be sure that you are galloping off in the right direction. If you are, then take that leap and fly!
Whatever you think of all of this, I love Chinese medicine because it offers a way of understanding that we exist in a world with other animals, with different seasonal energies and that each day and each year is different. It helps us realise that not everything is down to us and that we have to be able to listen to our environment. Even if everything I have written above, doesn’t quite make sense, it is worth just noticing how this year might be a different year for you and what opens up in a different way!