Kung Hei Fat Choi! Happy (Belated) Lunar New Year! On January 25, 2020 we moved out of the year of the Earth Pig and into the year of the Metal Rat.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar: Western astrology foretells the present and future via the reading of the stars, whereas Chinese astrology focuses on patterns of “Chi” (or Energy), based on the belief in a cyclic life force that permeates all animate and inanimate objects. The ancient Chinese calendar, also known as the Farmers’ Calendar, or the Hsia Calendar, is a fascinatingly complex and eerily accurate system which not only records the passage of time, but can be used as a tool for fortune-telling. The Chinese horoscope rests on a sixty year cycle, broken up into twelve year cycles of predominant energies that are based on animal characteristics and the five natural elements of Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire. When a person is born, they take on the particular characteristics present in the Chi of that year, month, week, day, and even hour of their birth.
Based on lunar rather than solar cycles, the Chinese calendar can be used to determine what the general “weather” will be like during a given year, and how each of the animal/element signs will fare in that weather. You can use this “weather forecast” to help guide your choices and avoid pitfalls in the coming year!
So what will this 2020 Year of the Metal Rat bring?
The Metal Rat starts a new 12-year rotation cycle, and is characterized by two Chinese characters: Yang Metal (on top), and Rat (on bottom). Rat is also the element of Water, and because in the five-element cycle, Metal is said to birth Water, there is some degree of harmony possible this year. However, before you get too secure, Yang metal has the quality of destruction, and the Rat is considered to be a more aggressive form of Water, so there is reason to also be on guard...
Those born in the year of the Rat include the years 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, and 2020. Those born in this animal year are said to be passionate about everything they do. They are highly social, but also fiercely independent. Rats love freedom more than anything, and hate being coerced or pressured into situations they find boring or unpleasant. Jealous and domineering, the Rat has an insatiable thirst for recognition and admiration. Brilliant and ingenious when it comes to finding solutions to difficult problems, the Metal Rat nevertheless can have a hard time accepting and learning from his failures. The Rat therefore must be careful not to let arrogance be his or her downfall.
Yang metal is the element of 2020. Yang metal is associated with a destructive weapon like a big sword, but metal is also associated with loyalty, honesty, and reliability. Thus many born in a Yang metal year, or on a Yang metal day, exhibit strong leadership skills and may behave like a hero fighting for social justice and fairness in the world. On the downside, the Yang metal quality creates a tendency to fight and aggression. Thus, this year may see more impassioned protests, angry demonstrations, and riots over issues of social injustice and inequality. However, because Yang metal sitting over the Water element lacks support from earth, a lot of the aggression will lack substance and not turn into anything meaningful.
Devoid of the Element of Fire: Battling the Blues
According to the Chinese horoscope when an element is completely lacking, this can create all sorts of long-term imbalances. Since the middle of 2016, the Chinese calendar has been entering a long cycle of Metal, Earth and Water, without the yang elements of Wood and Fire. The next Wood year will arrive in 2022; the next Fire year in 2025. With Fire essentially devoid this year, we can expect a general lack of happiness, optimism, exuberance and confidence for a while.
It is the element of Fire that boosts the economy and financial performance, and so the general economic atmosphere until 2025 will most likely be sluggish, and there will be more pessimism than optimism regarding trading and economic relations. The world economy has been greatly affected, for example, by the trade war talks between the US and China, which generated a lot of fear and uncertainty for global investors. The general economic atmosphere and pace of growth will slow significantly, and there will be fear and anxiety around finances.
Exacerbating this, Water is the element of fear, and so there may be more economic and financial fears surfacing this year. However, there is some relief: bringing balance to these fears, Yang metal creates an atmosphere of financial opportunity. Because of the cunning yet devious Rat, however, it is wise to be careful of the unscrupulous behaviors of reckless opportunists, ready to do anything to take advantage of profitable investments. Wisdom and diplomacy remain the best allies to avoid the pitfalls of a miscalculated strategy or the betrayal of a partner in too much of a hurry.
Finally, the Rat is a very social animal, and with Fire absent this year, people may feel more loneliness and separation even when surrounded by a community of family or friends. Offsetting the lack of Fire, the Rat is said to stimulate plenty of sex and romance. Intimate relationships may flourish (as long as you aren’t born in the Rabbit year--see below), and the beauty and entertainment industries should see a significant boom this year.
Finally, because the Fire element is totally absent to control the strong Water energy, we can expect to see water and fire related disasters, including sea and air accidents. The weak Earth element could also give rise to earth-related disasters such as landslides, avalanches, earthquakes, or building collapses.
Health Issues in 2020
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Metal element represents the breathing organs, including the lungs, nose and skin. With strong Yang metal this year, these organs should be strengthened.
The Water element is related to the kidney, urinary system, and sex organs, but also includes the teeth and bones; too much Water this year can cause problems in these areas. Because Fire and Earth elements are totally absent this year, this can contribute to digestive problems, as well as issues with the heart, blood circulation, and overall vitality. A lack of Fire additionally leads to too much dark and cold, and this contributes to mental illnesses and disorders.
Warnings for those born in the year of the Rabbit and Horse; Good Year for Ox, Monkey & Dragon
There is a direct clash for those born in the year of the Horse (least favorable), and especially Fire Horse (those born in 1966), this year. Clashes will bring turbulence, movement, accidents, or big changes. It actually is a good year for the Horse to travel (every direction except North), and to change jobs or move offices or houses. It is not recommended that those in the Horse year participate in risky sports this year, as accidents can be expected. Those born in the year of the Rabbit won’t fare much better. These people can expect to see relationship troubles with friends, family, and colleagues, including potential extramarital affairs and betrayals. (See the Feng Shui recommendations below for added protection.)
On the other hand, those born in the year of the Ox (most favorable), Monkey or Dragon can generally expect a year of harmony. (It is important to keep in mind that this is the most simplistic interpretation of the Chinese zodiac, and in depth analysis includes a person’s month, day, and hour, which can complicate things quickly.)
If you would like a more personalized interpretation of how your animal sign will fare this year, I found this website to be helpful.
Using Feng Shui to Bring in Fire and Wood this Year, and Offset Negative Energies
* Adopt some simple Feng Shui solutions that magnify Fire and Wood energy in your home or office. Here are some suggestions:
Nurture the Fire Element here
Nurture the Wood Element here
* People born in the year of the Rat, Horse, or Rabbit are recommended to wear a jade pendant of the Ox to reduce negative influences this year.
* This year there is a negative energy called “Five Yellow” (or “Star 5”) that symbolizes obstacles and misfortune in the East. It is recommended to hang a 6-metal rod wind chime in the East areas of your home or office to disperse this energy.
* Hang a string of six metal coins in the South to offset sickness and worry.
* Hang a piece of red-colored paper in the North to minimize negative influences of conflict.
* Place 3 bamboo stems in a clear glass vase in the Southeast and Center positions of your home or office to ward off scandal or legal problems.
Finally, I want to express my gratitude to Raymond Lo, from whom I borrowed much of the information for this article. Raymond is a renowned Hong Kong geomancer and Chinese horoscope consultant, and one of only five people to earn the title of "Grand Master" from the International Feng Shui Association. For more information, click here.