The Oracle’s Library uncovers the cosmology of Tao and its link to the Chinese Calendar. The Chinese have used a luni-solar calendar for almost five millennia now. The Chinese New Year is the season for the color red—red clothes, red envelopes and red decorations can be spotted at the festivals, and families come together in reunion for a celebratory dinner. The Chinese New Year takes place on Friday, January 31st this year, upon the arrival of the new moon phase. It marks the year 4712—also known as the year 2014 of the Gregorian Calendar. This celebration welcomes the year of the Green Horse—green for the Wu Xing element Wood.
The Origin of Cycles
The Chinese New Year brings together a set of ancient cycles that connect us to the earliest philosophies and cosmologies of China. The idea of Wu Xing—the five basic elements in ancient Chinese philosophy—is one such cycle. Wu Xing gives us the elements wood, fire, earth, metal and water that are fixed within a connected system in the respective order. The ordering of these elements can never be modified in the cycle of growth, for the water nourishes the wood, and the wood fuels the fire, and the fire fertilizes the earth, and so on. This is the constructive cycle of Wu Xing with each element replaced every two years.
Another cycle is the set of twelve zodiac animals that number the years. These interlocking cycles repeat and start over from the beginning every 60 years. With the twelve zodiac signs, the Chinese astronomers tracked the apparent orbit of Jupiter around the Earth. And, with this information, they also predicted the time it takes for the outer planets Jupiter and Saturn to become what astrologers call ‘conjunct’ every 20 years. This synchronicity between planets Jupiter and Saturn once held special meaning to the ancients—thus, it was named the ‘great conjunction’.
Tao of the New Year
The last is the quality of the New Year or its Tao—either the year is yin or yang. The year of the Green Horse is considered yang. In the ancient cosmology of Tao, the teacher taught that all things are just the seed of the other. Each process is the infinite ‘balancing-act’ between these two forces. There is a dualism with Tao that states all forms of the thing in question can either be classified as yin or yang. The classification, thus is relative to the viewer’s perspective—much as Einstein later agreed with his theory of relativity. It all depends on which way you look at it.
Horse Year Characteristics
The year of the Green Horse brings with it the quality of yang. It is a year of great energy, rapid progression and growth that calls for new beginnings and opportunities to sew the seeds for advancement. This year, action and the quickness of a galloping horse are required to keep up. And if you manage to match the horses pace, you just might reap the long-term benefits when yin rolls back around. For now, try to just ‘go with the flow’ of the horse by taking on a more independent, enthusiastic and cheerful stance, and luck will be yours. For more about the origins of the New Year’s celebrations, check out The History of the New Year.
Thank you for reading at the Oracle’s Library! What are your predictions for the year of the horse?
photo credit: Smithsonian Collections
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