The 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac: 2012 Year of the Dragon

Happy Chinese New Year!  As of January 23, 2012 we are entering The Year of the Dragon which ends on February 9, 2013.  More specifically, this is The Year of The Black Water Dragon.

What does this mean?

Dragon contains Earth, Water and Wood. It is also called Water Dam in Chinese astrology. Water Dam is the source of Water. That means the Water of Black Water Dragon will never dry.

This is the year for innovative ideas, great deeds, and big projects.  People who are dealing with finances, in particular, will see successes.  Hope this bodes well for the current world economies.  This will be the year to begin new business or social ventures.

The Year of the Dragon will usher in a roller coaster ride as it twists, turns, dives and soars in our lives.  But only if we adjust our balance will we be able to pick the most beautiful fruits.

Dragon gives happiness and success to all good and honest people and those who have great talent. 2012 will be favorable for the establishment of family and during this time we should be bold and not humble.

The Dragon is a karmic animal.  Our deeds and actions towards others this year will also be returned to us.  It might not be a bad idea to give love and compassion this year more than ever.

What is the Chinese Zodiac?

The Shēngxiào ( 生肖 in Chinese) is known in English as the Chinese Zodiac.   It’s a 12-year mathematical calendar that relates the aspects or characteristics of an animal to each specific year in the cycle.  What sets the Chinese zodiac apart from the western zodiac, aside from the fact each sign spans a full year rather than a month, is that it attributes only earthly animals to each phase.

The Chinese Zodiac Calendar

Below is a delightful video rendition of the story behind the Chinese Zodiac and how the Jade Emperor chose the 12 animals to represent the months of the year.

Chinese Zodiac Story:  Video

The Personalities of the Chinese Zodiac

The cycle begins with the Year of the Rat.  Below is a comprehensive list of the Zodiac years in order, with thanks to Wikipedia.

  1. Rat –  () (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Water): Forthright, tenacious, intense, meticulous, charismatic, sensitive, intellectual, industrious, charming, eloquent, sociable, artistic, and shrewd. Can be manipulative, vindictive, self-destructive, enviousmendacious,venal, obstinate, critical, over-ambitious, ruthless, intolerant, and scheming.
  2. Ox –  () (Water buffalo in Vietnam) (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Water): Dependable, ambitious, calm, methodical, born leader, patient, hardworking, conventional, steady, modest, logical, resolute, and tenacious. Can be stubborn, dogmatic, hot-tempered, narrow-minded, materialistic, rigid, and demanding.
  3. Tiger –  () (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Unpredictable, rebellious, colorful, powerful, passionate, daring, impulsive, vigorous, stimulating, sincere, affectionate, humanitarian, and generous. Can be restless, reckless, impatient, quick-tempered, obstinate, selfish, aggressive, and moody.
  4. Rabbit –  or  () (Cat in Vietnam) (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Gracious, good friend, kind, sensitive, soft-spoken, amiable, elegant, reserved, cautious, artistic, thorough, tender, self-assured, shy, astute, compassionate, lucky, and flexible. Can be moody, detached, superficial, self-indulgent, opportunistic, and stubborn.
  5. Dragon –  /  () (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Magnanimous, stately, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, eccentric, intellectual, fiery, passionate, decisive, pioneering, artistic, generous, and loyal. Can be tactless, arrogant, imperious, tyrannical, demanding, intolerant, dogmatic, violent, impetuous, and brash.
  6. Snake –  () (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Fire): Deep thinker, wise, mystic, graceful, soft-spoken, sensual, creative, prudent, shrewd, elegant, cautious, responsible, calm, strong, constant, and purposeful. Can be a loner, bad communicator, possessive, hedonistic, self-doubting, distrustful, mendacious, suffocating, and cold.
  7. Horse –  /  () (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Fire): Cheerful, popular, quick-witted, changeable, earthy, perceptive, talkative, agile, magnetic, intelligent, astute, flexible, and open-minded. Can be fickle, arrogant, childish, anxious, rude, gullible, and stubborn.
  8. Goat (aka Ram or Sheep) –  () (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Fire): Righteous, sincere, sympathetic, mild-mannered, observant, artistic, intellectual, ingenious, innovative, creative, mothering, peaceful, and generous. Can be indecisive, over-passive, worrier, pessimistic, sensitive, shy, and weak-willed.
  9. Monkey –  () (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Metal): Inventor, motivator, improviser, quick-witted, inquisitive, flexible, innovative, problem solver, self-assured, sociable, artistic, polite, dignified, competitive, objective, and factual. Can be egotistical, vain, arrogant, selfish, reckless, snobbish, deceptive, manipulative, cunning, jealous, suspicious, and stubborn.
  10. Rooster –  /  () (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Metal): Acute, neat, meticulous, organized, self-assured, decisive, conservative, critical, perfectionist, alert, zealous, practical, scientific, and responsible. Can be over zealous and critical, puritanical, egotistical, abrasive, proud, opinionated, and gives into empty bravado.
  11. Dog –  /  () (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Metal): Honest, intelligent, straightforward, loyal, sense of justice and fair play, attractive, amicable, unpretentious, sociable, open-minded, idealistic, moralistic, practical, affectionate, sensitive, and easy going. Can be cynical, lazy, cold, judgmental, pessimistic, worrier, stubborn, and quarrelsome.
  12. Pig –  /  () (Boar in Japan and Elephant in Northern Thailand) (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Water): Honest, gallant, sturdy, sociable, peace-loving, patient, loyal, hard-working, trusting, sincere, calm, understanding, thoughtful, scrupulous, passionate, and intelligent. Can be naïve, over-reliant, self-indulgent, gullible, fatalistic, and materialistic.

These “yearly” animals represent how you present yourself to the world and are said to be an indication of how people perceive you.  The Chinese don’t just draw on this yearly zodiac though.  They also use animal signs for a monthly zodiac which are called “inner animals,”  to the specific day called “true animals,” and to the hours called “secret animals.”  All aspects are considered critical in figuring proper Chinese astrology.

For even more detailed information regarding the Chinese calendar, click here.

Want to know what your Chinese Zodiac sign is?  Click here.

I’m the Tiger.

Dreaming the Tiger

A few days ago I wrote about dreams and dream journaling.  As I sat writing, my mind was having its usual conversation with itself.

“You know what this is going to do to your own dreaming, right?”  I asked myself, concerned.

“Yep.  I can handle it,” I lied right back.

I knew it would ramp things up.  Sometimes, I must confess, I don’t enjoy it.  I’ve always been a vivid dreamer.  I remember as a small child not understanding there was a difference between dreams and waking reality.  I thought they were both equally real.  This is all good when the dreams are of bird songs and sunlit yellow brick roads; but we all know that yellow brick roads eventually lead through shadowy forests full of lions and tigers and bears, “oh my.”

The dreams descended on me en force last night.  I had asked myself a question before I went to sleep.  My night was busy answering it.  The problem is there were so many remembered, they were lost in the chaos of their own images.  But one remained; the last dream before waking:

I was renting a large Victorian-style house.  I was aware of the presence of my children in other rooms, and although now grown, their presence was still that of little children.  I was feeling restless in the big house, the urge to explore pressed me on from room to room.  I didn’t want to be on the lower floors.  I felt uncomfortable there; haunted.  As I slowly climbed the stairs, the oak railing was smooth and cool to my touch, easing my anxiety with every step.  It felt like a living thing urging me on.

As I reached the 4th landing all the walls were green; the same shade my bedroom walls are in waking life.  I decided I’d stay there.  I had the fleeting awareness of my kids nearby again.

Night time descended and I heard sounds coming from behind a door.  This was the door to the attic.  No one should-be up there.  Feeling a little frightened I opened the door.  To my relief and delight, I discovered three grey kittens with blue eyes tumbling about in play.  I knew the boys would be happy but I worried if the landlord discovered these strays, he or she wouldn’t be.  I needed to do the responsible thing and quickly find them new homes, but I was so comforted by their sudden and unexpected presence I lingered and watched them play.

Then something intangible changed.  The kittens abandoned their play and fled the stairs seeking hiding places out of sight.  Something was coming.

I felt the cold grip of fear but was helpless to move; I was rooted in place.  That’s when the tiger cub appeared out of the shadows, stalking purposefully down the steps, eyes fixated on my own.  I was the prey.  But this wasn’t an ordinary cub.  It didn’t seem flesh and blood.  It was ethereal, emitting a faint glow, intense.  Its eyes didn’t speak of babyish innocence, they burned with such depth the breath was startled from my lungs.  My heart was hammering.  I wanted to run.  It was a fearsome little thing.

My mind kept whispering, “it’s only a baby, it’s only a baby,” but those eyes weren’t the eyes of a baby, they were timeless.  Finally I found legs and ran.

The dream wavered.  Another night descended.  Again the kittens returned in their bouncing and tussling and I watched, smiling.  Again the fearsome tiger cub appeared.  This time the kittens didn’t flea.  They only sat still, watching.  The cub disappeared.

Moved by something beyond my will, I ascended the stairs to the attic in pursuit.  Curiosity was overtaking my fear.  I was pleased and surprised to find the attic bright and painted with the color of the sky.  Nothing at all like the dark cob-webbed shadowy place I expected.

The cub was standing in the far corner, watching with those eyes.  I stopped and watched back, neither of us moving for a long while.  I would be the one who had to make the first move in this particular chess game so I slowly drifted closer.  The tiger mirrored my own actions and stalked slowly towards me, matching my pace, eyes burning unblinking into my own.  Its presence was rife with a crackling ozone smell.

Then I found myself face to face with the tiger.  I cupped its head in my hands and pressed my forehead against its soft forehead.  I was overcome with love.  The cub’s eyes mirrored my emotion and then it was gone.

But I didn’t wake peacefully.  My emotions were in a storm.  I found myself weeping, then angry for no clear reason.  There was just a flood of negative feelings and it was a little hard to deal with.  I took a cold shower to clear my head.  (I really detest cold showers!)  I wondered about all this.  The dream wasn’t a bad dream, but it sure kicked up a thick layer of subconscious “dust”.  I thought about researching the symbol of the tiger in dreams but my inner voice reminded me.  With all the talk recently of it being the Chinese New Year my subconscious chose my Chinese zodiac sign to talk to me.  I am the Tiger.

The dream is about integration.  I made peace with something in myself and made ready for a new life phase to come.  Some unknown fear was faced.  Some heart wound closed.  Now I have to be patient and see what the little tiger with the fearsome eyes has ushered in.  Sometimes that’s harder than waiting for Christmas morning.  At least my question was answered.