Hello Astrology Fans! I have finished a month long retreat/training in Traditional Kuṇḍalinī-Hatha Yoga, which I am excited to share, and I am sitting here in a café in Chiang Mai, Thailand, also excited to continue my Blog. I apologize for the long silence, but such is the nature of retreat. When last we left off, I explored the Character of Tiger Qi, which is my own Character. As promised, we now move forward as Tiger changes to Rabbit.
Like the Ox, I feel close to Rabbit Qi, for so many of my friends were born in the Lunar Year of 1987, the Year of the Fire Rabbit.
Rabbit Qi opens us into a dimension of experience we have not yet explored, a dimension unique among the 12 Animals—what we can call “intuition.”
When studying the cycle of 12, we must remember that each Animal transforms into the next in a meaningful, although non-linear, way. The cycle is a whirlwind, centripetal and centrifugal, a tornado of energy, which flows in a kind of lopsided pattern.
If the Ox represents strength, tolerance, and continuity, and the Tiger represents an escape from continuity, through rebellion, creativity, and change, then the Rabbit represents the result of the Tiger’s impulsive revolutionary bluster, which is a kind of raw, open, vulnerable sensitivity, represented by the Rabbit’s native element—Yin Wood.
Yin Wood is innocence, spontaneity, flexibility, renewal, humility, gentleness, sensitivity, subordination, and potentiality. While Yang Wood represents a naïve impulsive force to come into being, Yin Wood demonstrates the outcome of that force, which is exposed, raw, tender, but with great creative potential, like a sprout emerging from the earth, ready to grow into a mighty oak. The Tiger represents the brave and daring impulse of the sprout to arise at all into the danger of the world, and the Rabbit is the tender shoot needing protection and nurturing to thrive.
The Tiger represents a necessary rebellion against stagnation, and the insight of the Rabbit understands that rules (Ox) must have intuition if they are to be free of stagnation. Revolution cannot be sustained (hence the Tiger’s struggle) and should end with a refreshed look at things, and we call this the Rabbit.
The Rabbit sees into and understands the Tiger’s rebellion with a kind of empathy that is beyond the Tiger’s grasp, which is why it is the natural outcome of Tiger Qi. The mystical state (Tiger) needs heart (Rabbit). When this succeeds, the outcome is the Dragon, which is unlimited potential.
In the Chinese View, the qualities of the Rabbit are best described by the term “Lunar,” and the history of the Rabbit as a symbol comes from the Moon. The Chinese call the Moon Tai Yin, which just means Great Yin, so Rabbits are obviously very Yin. When the Chinese look at the Moon, they see a Rabbit. Americans see cheese, or something, but the Chinese see a Rabbit. In other words, Rabbits are lunar creatures; they come from the moon and are seen as manifestations of moonlight.
Rabbits were, therefore, revered, and it was considered very bad luck to harm or eat them. It is surprising how rarely they were eaten, since the ancient Chinese ate nearly everything else. This says something very important about the Rabbit—that they should be protected and revered for what they offer. Daoist alchemists saw the Rabbit as being/producing an elixir of longevity, a nectar from the bardo of night turning to day, from mist and moonlight. The Rabbit, therefore, became of symbol of the inner world, or Nei, associated with Nei Dan or Nei Gong, the practices of Internal Alchemy.
The Rabbit rules the dawn, from 5 am to 7 am, and these Lunar creatures are most active during this crepuscular hour. To understand Rabbit Qi, simply take a walk in the woods at 6 am. The energy is gentle, vibrant, soft, and transparent. For the dawn is a time of transition. Light emerges, and we awake, emerging from the subconscious, and dreams cross into our waking reality.
The lunar image of the Rabbit represents their strong need to escape the light of day, their fear of confrontation, a symbol of the delicate, sensitive, and vulnerable nature of Rabbit Qi. And while this may sound “weak” to some, the Chinese Tradition insists that weakness is very important. Some Characters are strong; some are weak, and each contributes something very important to society.
Traditional Chinese Medicine diverged from Roman Medicine based on this very principal. Around the turn of the Common Era, the main form of medicine around the world was bleeding, which was a very strong treatment that often killed the weak. Romans responded by saying, “good; the weak are unworthy Roman citizens.” The Chinese, on the other hand, said, “wait; perhaps weak people are sensitive and have something to offer society that strong people overlook.” So the bleeding needles became smaller; the treatments became weaker, and according to some, acupuncture developed as a natural outcome of earlier more forceful bleeding treatments.
(Side note—at the turn of the Common Era, the Chinese were already well aware of circulation, whereas the Romans had special chairs that leaned to tip your blood out; the West did not discover circulation until quite recently by comparison. In my opinion, our medicine is still very Roman.)
The instinct to preserve sensitive people is a Rabbit instinct, and Chinese Medicine is “sensitive” or weak medicine and proud of it. Western Medicine is “strong,” and sees nothing strange about hack-sawing people’s sternums open and pulling their lungs out. Nor do they see anything wrong with poisoning people as the main form of treatment (pharmaceuticals). In my eyes, the Rabbit is a symbol of Chinese Medicine, for it represents the sensitive, intuitive, and gentle approach to life.
Energetically, the Rabbit is submerged in the “subconscious” stream flowing beneath everything, a mumbling dialogue our energy has with itself, a constant flow of imagination, and a smooth flow of emotional response going on all the time. Rabbits are like an exposed wire, picking up on signals invisible to the rest of us. This raw exposed quality has many interesting manifestations in terms of Character, but before we discuss these in key terms, we must look deeper into the symbol of the actual animal itself—think bunnies.
The Rabbit or Hare is very small and soft, and they’re not predators capable of defending themselves, so they hide, a symbol of their fragility and paranoia. They are the prey, and anything can come to eat them. They often live in burrows or bushes, a symbol of being beneath, hidden, submerged in the subconscious stream, protected from the light. The burrow also represents the Rabbit’s “nesting instinct,” which manifests in their need for safety and security. They have big sensitive ears, like satellites picking up on frequencies all around them. They live in communal families (Water Ship Down anyone?), a symbol of their social nature and of the importance of relationships to Rabbit Qi. Finally, despite their delicate appearance, they have powerful hind legs and are capable of being absolutely vicious if back into a corner. All of these symbols will become clear as we go through the key terms.
That being said, in order to understand the Rabbit, we must understand its social instinct, which we call “dependent.” Above all, Rabbit Qi is vulnerable yet profound in its intuitive capacity, so Rabbits seek safety, protection, alliance, and stability in the form of “home.” When the Rabbit feels safe, secure, and has a tribe/circle of close friends, or a strong protector/partner, or they own their own home, then they shine; they become the Dragon—powerful and dynamic leaders with insight and heart, capable and successful. If Rabbits have strong sibling or parental guardians, they can learn their power early in life. If they are hurt or alone they close off, put up armor, and their intuitive gifts are often repressed and come out as defensive and vicious.
Not only do Rabbits need good protection as children, but they need an environment that nurtures their intuition. A Rabbit child may be sitting in math class and start channeling spirits from the hills behind the school, drawn to go outside or sing or paint. Instead, they get told to shut up, sit still, and listen. They then internalize and go into their own world, unable to cope with math class. Distracted, they get a D and get told they're stupid. If this happens enough, a Rabbit can close off and not recover their intuition until much later in life if ever.
So the first key term is gentle. The gentle quality of Rabbit people is not always apparent, especially with Fire Rabbits, and this has a lot to do with their childhoods, family circumstances, and current relationships. In their nature though, Rabbits are sweet, kind, nice, and peace loving. Most Rabbits I meet, or people born in Rabbit Hour, have a good natured sweetness to them that I find immediately apparent, but sometimes this sweetness is lying under the surface and comes out only after they trust you.
Conversely, at their worst, Rabbits turn vicious. Energetically, they are like bunnies, so people think they can do anything they want to them or in front of them. They are more often than not the victims of trauma and abuse. Because of their sweet and timid nature, Rabbits can remain frozen, scared, and take abuse for a long time until it becomes intolerable, in which case they often lash out and end their abuse/suffering in vicious and violent ways. I often say, hell hath no fury like a Rabbit scorned. Ming used to say, “Watch out for those hind legs!” When they’re hurt, Rabbits have a potential for darkness far beyond the other signs.
Rabbits are usually quiet by nature, for they are always listening and can’t help it, which is symbolized by the big ears. Rabbits feel at home being hidden, quiet, listening to the ethers. Ming was once interpreting for a Tibetan Lama when a student came back from retreat. The Lama asked, “How was your meditation?” The student replied, “It was amazing; by the second month, my mind was so quiet, I could hear the thinking of the people in the town below me!” This is a very Rabbit response…now I can hear everyone!
On the flipside, being quiet and humble by nature can turn to being a gossipy chatterbox. Rabbits can have a profound capacity for talking, which comes from being slightly nervous all the time. Relaxed and in their power, Rabbits feel no need to speak and are natural listeners, but when out of their element and vulnerable, they tend to speak uncontrollably, trying to get a handle on the situation. I recently met a 5 year old Metal Rabbit, who although sweet as could be, was so skittish and nervous that he never stopped asking questions, as if trying to understanding everything and pin down his environment. Furthermore, since Rabbits are socially dependent in nature, they can use speech and gossip as a tool for manipulation, talking people up and down in order to gain advantage. Rabbits hate confrontation of all kinds, but when back into a corner, they can retaliate with the nastiest most hurtful vitriol you have ever heard.
The positive flipside of this, then, is that Rabbits can be incredibly sweet, supportive, and loving. Rabbits, by nature, are supportive and caring friends, partners, lovers, and parents. The Rabbit is perhaps the most “domestic” of the 12 Animals. Rabbit Qi seeks to nest, to nurture, and to create a loving and supportive environment in which they and others can thrive. I can’t tell you how many Rabbits I know who have become kindergarten/elementary school teachers.
From birth, Rabbits possess a strong social drive to create family and friendship, to bond with others and create tribe/clan, and to belong to and feel part of a group or community. In their hearts, they are not loners, although when in pain they can hide from the world as not to be seen or hurt again. When Rabbits find their home, their tribe, they thrive and become great leaders or successful entrepreneurs. Empowered, Rabbits are among the most authoritative and confident of the 12 Animals, which is how Rabbit turns to Dragon.
Early in life Rabbits often seek a stable base to get “security” taken care of. They can often appear very independent to others, but as soon as they have a protector, a guardian, a home base, something to rely on, they lose their independent nature and become dependent so they can let their other gifts, which need support, come forward. To others, the Rabbit can appear deceptive and lazy, but this is a very lopsided “American” understanding—that everyone needs to be a rugged independent individual. Rabbits yearn to let go of their independence to merge with family, friends, lovers, and so on, in order to offer their big squishy hearts. Others often become dependent on them for nurturing and emotional support, which is part of the Rabbit gift.
Rabbits have a powerful even mystical connection to objects, especially those related to the home—furniture, clothing, cookware, and so on. They love to “feather their nests” and often collect material possessions. They derive nourishment from things/stuff. A Rabbit will make home wherever they go. Travelling, they may bring their power objects and set up a cozy warm environment in a hotel room for the night (Pigs do this too).
This connection with objects is related to the Rabbit’s heightened sense of aesthetics. Rabbits are creative designers with a natural sense of Feng Shui, the auspice of placement. This aesthetic sensibility lends to a deep appreciate into the nature of beauty, which offers artistic depth to the Rabbit sweetness.
Rabbits are naturally intuitive and empathetic. We can also call this subliminal or subconscious. Rabbits are like a radar dish; internally they are open receivers. Rabbits can walk into a room and can immediately feel everything going on. They can sense everyone’s mood, their body language; they intuitively perceive all the unconscious signals people put out through their “energy.” A Rabbit might actually see your Aura.
Obviously, this has positive and negative consequences. Positively speaking, Rabbits have an unusual capacity to feel, to empathize, and their intuition, when properly trained, gives them tremendous emotional intelligence and insight into others/the world.
On the other hand, it is very easy to mistake intuition for wisdom—they are not the same thing. There is a lot of “static” in the universe, most of which is just psychic garbage floating around. The subconscious ethers, the invisible world of ghosts and spirits, the hum of negative habitual emotional facilitation that people emit all the time without knowing it—Rabbits feel all of this more than the other signs. If their vulnerability is exposed to too many influences, their intuition can go haywire from too much “noise.”
Rabbits cannot shut down their intuition. They really should not live in cities, places where there is too much activity, data, noise, pollution, people, and so on. If the apartment building they live in has too much thinking, they can go crazy and not know why. This sensitivity is often embodied, which can lead to all kinds of allergies. They can be affected by minute changes in the weather. In general, they should live somewhere dull.
It may seem unusual to channel a nature spirit, but actually it isn’t. A Rabbit may easily go into a trance and channel a nature spirit, and others may think this is profound, and Rabbits may think so too. But anyone who has seen into the spirit world can tell you that it is absolutely full of useless, dumb, confused, greedy, and hungry spirits milling around all over the place that will appear as anything in order to feed on your Kidney Qi. It may seem “special” to be a trance medium, but actually, you’re just lunch. It is, of course, possible to be a wise medium, but this takes a lot of training, which is the purpose of Daoism. Daoism is basically ritual training to manage the spirit world. Rabbits are natural Daoists, and should receive this training early on, so they don’t become lunch.
Practically speaking, Rabbits are often lunch for other people. Just like most disembodied spirits are looking to feed on others, so are most people who are not self-possessed. Rabbits are easy prey to aggressive people looking to dominate and feed on others. Because Rabbits want to merge and depend, they easily attach to the wrong people. Relationships of all kinds are crucial for the Rabbit. They need training to be self-possessed, and they need to be very careful about who they choose to let in. If a healthy Rabbit lets you into to their world, you should feel blessed, because they are the greatest support.
The receptivity of the Rabbit makes them the most susceptible to paranoia, schizophrenia, anxiety, nervous disorders, and so on. Rabbits can be scattered, twitchy, and they can constantly feel threatened. Rabbits need training in their emotional intelligence from an early age, otherwise they can become “weird,” even crazy. In traditional terms, they are the most susceptible to possession, for they hear the voices of the Ancestors, and can perceive ghosts/demons more than other signs, especially as children. If they have good training, they make amazing counselors, teachers, guides, social workers, and they love serving and supporting others.
The Rabbit’s health and well being has everything to do with how they handle their emotional facilitation. An uneven flow of emotion is the ground of all their illness and compromises their immune system. If they undergo surgery, for example, and the nurse says something terrible before they go under, there will be complications in the surgery. If they feel that the surgeon “understands them,” the surgery will go perfectly no matter what happens. It is important to understand that Rabbits do not “think” this way; it is the nature of their Qi. They’re vulnerable.
Rabbits possess an amazing social charm; they can be incredibly seductive and sexy, mesmerizing and alluring, and they can appear as a kind of “prize” to others wanting to “catch” them. This skill comes from their social instinct, and at their best, Rabbits bring out the best in others, bringing people together and inspiring them. At their worst, this social skill is opportunistic, and they use their charm to gain advantage over others socially.
They can manipulate and control others, especially with their sexuality. Rabbits are by nature one of the most sexual signs (Rabbits can reproduce like crazy in the wild), and they can use their sexual power as a tool of leverage over others as another way to gain security. The need to be safe, if driven unconsciously by fear, can turn Rabbits into superficial snobs who will do anything just to secure a partner or good social standing.
Rabbits are by nature full of love; they are diverse and accepting of everyone. They are unique in their emotional intelligence and empathy. And their intuition is a beautiful gift. Anyone born during Rabbit Hour as well has this capacity.
Rabbits also teach us a lot about the central relationship between Character and Fate in Chinese Astrology. Rabbits have amazing potential, and yet they’re delicate and have no built in “muscle,” so their blooming in life is very dependent upon the circumstances of Fate. If a Rabbit has good fated relationships with partners, family, and Feng Shui, then they bloom. If their relationships are haunted, then they tend to be held back and can become very self destructive. If Rabbits are hurt or feel unsafe, they will do anything including take their own life. Rabbits have the potential to go darker than any other sign, which most people do not want to talk about, but I will say it again: hell hath no fury like a Rabbit scorned. So Fate for Rabbits is very important. Rabbits also bloom when they have modest or gentle fate. A Rabbit born with big Fate to be president is most certainly an affliction.
Free of Fate, Rabbits can most certainly go into the category of mystic and have a tremendous capacity for self-cultivation.
In terms of the Five Rabbits, Wood Rabbits are the most natural and the most vulnerable, probably the sweetest and most sensitive of all 60 signs. Fire Rabbits are the most independent, stubborn, and angsty—the teenage Rabbit. Earth/Metal Rabbits are the most mature, secure, and stable, the least Rabbity Rabbits. And the Water Rabbits are beyond profound, mystical, yet they are perhaps the most troubled and paranoid.
Hopefully, this gives you a window into the depth of Rabbit Qi, the stream beneath appearances. Stay tuned, as Rabbit turns to Dragon, the mystical synthesis of the Zodiac.
Tiger's Play--the View Teachings of Chinese Astrology
This page is your source for short, pithy articles on the view teachings of Chinese Astrology. Here, I will share everything I have learned about how to follow Astrology as a spiritual path.