Welcome to the Fire Rooster Year! Before we explore the Character of Rooster Qi, I must say something--
Astrology is not fortunetelling. Period. Full stop.
Daoist Priests and Polestar Astrologers take a vow against fortunetelling. Astrology is often used in this way, but fortunetelling is an abuse of Divination. Fortunetelling predicts the future. But no future exists, only a present in movement, so what are we predicting? What is Astrology, then? Astrology is a form of Divination, a Mantic Art, what Ming called “Wisdom Science.” Astrology studies and describes the cyclical and self-resolving movements of Qi/Time. It does nothing other than describe the qualities of this movement with the assumption that we each relate to it differently based on the timeliness of our conception, womb time, and birth. Astrology suggests that we then use this information for self-reflection.
If it is Winter, you will tend to put on a jacket. Did I predict the future? Not really. This is where we find Astrology. It is not something to “believe in.” If you say you don’t believe in Astrology, then by all means, please, walk around in the middle of a Minnesota Winter in flip-flops and a tee-shirt, and please wake up and eat breakfast at 11 pm. You are free to do this. Wisdom Science understands that of our Original Nature is pristine open freedom, and that’s the difference. I can’t predict how you will use your freedom because then it wouldn’t be freedom! But I can say that Winter is Cold and not be surprised when you put on a jacket.
We always have the freedom to choose, and we can resist the cycles of Qi/Time. We can stay up late and eat whatever we want whenever we want. However, from the Chinese Astrological point of view, resisting nature, or living in disharmony with the cycles of Time/Qi, like eating after the sun goes down, is the secondary cause of illness and death.
The primary cause of all illness and death is birth. Period. The second is inappropriate conduct in regards to Astrology/Ancestral Fate. From the Chinese Perspective, no one dies from illness/disease—we die because we were born, and we speed up this process with disharmonious conduct in relation to the seasons of the Universal Calendar (Tongshu) and the personal Calendar of our Natal Chart. The third primary cause of illness is addressed by Chinese Medicine and deals with obstruction and inhibition in the flow of Qi from internal/external climatic factors that inhibit normal Qi flow.
Because I am not a fortuneteller, this blog will not make any predictions about the Fire Rooster Year. Rather, I will discuss the Rooster, and Fire Rooster, as a symbol, a possibility, a tendency due to the influence of Qi/Time. No Astrologer worth their salt will predict what will happen with certainty. We can only say what is likely to happen given the climate of Qi, like saying you may put on a jacket in the Winter. Any good Astrologer will present several interpretations and possibilities given your freedom within the context of the Qi/Time/Weather.
I could say—in a Rooster year, people may tend to argue more. This is a huge generalization, but I’m not talking about anything different than the weather. Rooster is just a much bigger, broader, and therefore more subtilized form of “weather.” It is the pervasive weather of the Universe for the next year, relative to planet Earth. The Chinese Tradition relates everything to internal and external weather, symbols describing movement (Qi) itself.
If we spin out into Astrological details and skip over the View Teachings, the outlook describing what the Universe and Human Beings are, then Astrology becomes easy to dismiss. In this blog, and in my upcoming book, I offer you the View Teachings of Chinese Astrology, so that we don’t spin out nitpicking details/pathologies, which is a tendency in Modern TCM, and to me constitutes a form of madness.
Of course, you may be skeptical of Astrology; that’s your freedom, and I don’t blame you. I only offer this as something to consider in the following Year. Astrology must be tested against your experience, but you’ve probably received the kindergarten version of Astrology (i.e. fortunetelling), so don’t be too quick to throw it out.
On January 28th, the Qi Pattern/Weather of the Year will shift from the Fire Monkey to the Fire Rooster. As I mentioned in the last Blog, the auspice of the Year, like the Fire Monkey, depends on how we use our freedom to navigate the Fire-Metal conundrum.
The Monkey and the Rooster are a pair, for they share the Native Element of Metal. Rooster is the Yin version of Metal, and Monkey is the Yang version. Since it is also a Fire Year, the same wisdom I described in the last Blog applies here. Fire melting Metal does not imply conflict, but conflict is possible if our conduct does not align/go with the tendency of this controlling cycle.
If Fire does not melt Metal, we get rigid, hard, stuck in our ways, and as we go, you will see the possibilities of how Rooster Qi can get stuck or fixated. Fire inspires, illuminates, and shines light on the broader context of our situation, softening the rigid qualities of Metal, which turns Metal to Water, which in turn extinguishes the consuming qualities of Fire.
The Fire Rooster is the least “Roostery” Rooster, since Fire controls the Rooster’s Native Element, meaning Fire softens the tendency of the Rooster to get stuck/rigid. However, if we overdo the Fire and bring too much passion, aggression, inspiration, and so on, then the positive qualities of Yin Metal, such as rational thinking, are eclipsed, and our conduct may drift towards the opposite—irrational thinking and fanaticism, which are depleted Rooster qualities.
The simple difference between this year and last is that Yang Fire-Metal turns to Yin Fire-Metal. We can say, generally, that the outward, expansive, mobile, and active Yang qualities of the Monkey in the past year will turn inward, contract, still, and tend towards the Yin qualities of the Rooster.
The Years rotate Yin-Yang-Yin-Yang, and so on, and Yin Years tend to be more Qi conservative, less dynamic. In many ways, the Rooster turns us inward to a mental/conceptual domain, which the Monkey established with its mischief. Rooster Qi, by nature, thinks a lot, and the Monkey has given us a lot to think about. Roosters practically need pharmaceuticals to stop thinking.
Yin Metal is refined, hidden, matured, withdrawn, distilled, fermented, hardened, crystallized, designated, subtilized, sublimated, conceptualized, symbolically portrayed as ore refined from the Earth through the process of Alchemy (Yang Metal), such as silver/gold, gemstones, and so on. Metal sinks downward drawing in.
I experience Yin Metal as the moment in Time when I form an opinion, when I recognize a thought, a pattern, when I refine my experience into ordered language and logic. Yang Metal represents the active moment of things becoming “thinged,” labeled, and Yin Metal represents the subtle process of refining and drawing together all the details, and the Rooster is generally associated with “details,” corresponding to Virgo in Western Astrology.
I am happy to say that I am part Fire Rooster. I was born in a Fire Rooster Month, so everything I am about to discuss is part of my Qi Display. Again, the Month is not as potent as the Year-Hour, but it is part of me nonetheless. Hopefully, my personal experience as part Fire Rooster can shed light on the nature of this symbol.
The Rooster Symbol in China is complex and a bit confusing at times due to some conflicting images. In general, Rooster (also referred to as Phoenix) includes all birds, such as the crane, owl, and raven—anything with a beak. The Rooster of Chinese Astrology, however, refers to the cock, the male rooster, associated with fertility and aggression, but it is a decidedly Yin Symbol, hence the confusion. Originally, this Character was more associated with the owl, but over time the Chinese decided on the male rooster because of some specific symbolic qualities, which we will discuss.
In China, the Rooster, despite being male, is also a symbol of the Empress and of feminine Yin energy. Perhaps, it represents the subjugation of the Feminine, the Rooster lording over the Hens. The Dragon is a symbol of the Emperor, and together, they constitute a classical marriage pair in Chinese Synastry. Rooster/Bird/Crane all represent the grace, elegance, deportment, and dominance associated with the Empress of Chinese Royalty. The Rooster does not dominate with physical aggression; it dominates with emotion, appearance, ideology, intellect, belief—what we call “Yin Power.”
The Rooster symbol is obviously domestic, one of the barnyard signs. Remember, we’re not talking about hens; the Rooster performs very specific functions on the family farm. These functions form the primary set of symbols associated with the Rooster.
The first and most important symbolic aspect of the Rooster is the sharp beak. The beak represents precision, accuracy, the ability to peck things apart, like seeds, or ideas, to get to the essential quality within (Yin Metal). Crane style Gong Fu strikes at pressure points, hitting the opponent’s weak spots to bring them down with little effort. In the Rooster, this represents a certain capacity for analysis, and it also represents the possibility of getting fixated. Because roosters don’t have much of a memory, if you put their beak to a chalk line, they get stuck there and will peck all day at the chalk line, hypnotized, unable to break free.
The second symbolic aspect of the Rooster is the wings and the ability to “puff up.” When challenged, Roosters flap and beat their wings, taking in air, making themselves appear larger and more threatening than they are. This wing flapping often precedes the cockfight, in which Roosters dual to the death. The wings represent a certain competitive and aggressive nature that appears to be very threatening but is all hot air.
The Rooster puffs up and looks big, but it does not have much physical strength, which is another reason why it is a Yin Character. It makes a big show of wanting to fight but is weak and will not fight unless it knows it can win. When pushed, or backed into a corner, the beak and the claws are vicious, and Roosters can do some serious damage, but this is only after being abused.
Cockfighting is a cruel and abusive sport; they don’t want to fight, but when challenged they will rip each other to shreds because of competitive pride. Roosters can’t fly, so the wings are deceptive, Yin. Strange that the only bird in the Chinese Zodiac can’t fly, a capacity found only in the Dragon, who has no wings.
Crowing is the third symbolic aspect of the Rooster, the call to the Sun at dawn and dusk. Roosters are very vocal creatures. I lived with chickens and roosters in Thailand and they would crow all day, not just dawn and dusk. Crowing represents a capacity for eloquence and “Yin extroversion,” meaning Roosters have a such an intense inner experience that they need to get out, and because of the immense detail and complexity of their inner vision, the outer expression often reflects this, which can intimidate others.
For example, I don’t talk much until asked a question, after which I tend to firehose people with a wall of information they weren’t expecting. I really try to tone it down, but the volume of my inner experience is enormous. I can’t help it. People’s eyes usually get wide, as if to say…whoa, dude, slow down…and their facial expression often communicate regret or overwhelm about 15 seconds after they ask me a question.
The final symbolic aspect of the Rooster is sacrifice. Like the Goat and Ox, Roosters were often sacrificed in Daoist Ritual but for different reasons. Roosters were only sacrificed in rituals that required blood oaths. This symbolizes trust, a quality very important to Rooster Qi.
In Daoism, roosters were used to ward off poison, for roosters in the wild often eat snakes, scorpions, spiders, centipedes, and toads, what are called the Five Poisonous Creatures, which represent our different conflicting emotions. The Rooster has the capacity to digest and transform conflicting emotions into wisdom, and Amulets were often made bearing the Chinese Character for Rooster, used to ward off the Five Poisonous Creatures and their respective emotions.
To understand the Nature of each Qi Character, we must get to the root impulse represented by the Native Element. Control is the main impulse of the Rooster, symbolized by the Rooster lording over the Hens. Yin Metal can be an inward struggle, trying to hold on, control, keep things in order. Fire melts this control, which allows Metal to release and turn to Water, but as an impulse, Yin Metal holds on before death.
So, the Rooster can be wound a bit tight. Inwardly, their impulse is to subtly control, manipulate, and put their experience to order so that it does not go towards death (Water). This impulse has a lot of fear behind it, which the Rooster covers up with a world of intense conceptuality, like the Five on the Enneagram (I'm a Five, if you haven't noticed).
Rooster is the natural outcome of Monkey in the cycle of Time. The Goat attempts to put order to everything based on idealistic principals of interconnectedness; the Monkey says—that’ll never happen, and throws a wrench in the spokes, so to speak, potentially leaving behind a mess. We are now in a bit of a mess. Rooster, then, comes along and goes a bit crazy, working like mad to tidy up, organize all the shelves, label all the boxes, sweep everything under the rug, and put things back in their proper place, which the Dog then guards with its life, so the Pig can party.
Rooster Hour, from 5-7 pm, is the time of completion. In China, this time of day is associated with “coming home to roost,” the time when all the chickens and animals make their way back to the barn. It is the “crepuscular hour,” the transition from day to night. Since Rooster Qi is associated with completion, precision, competition, and confidence, this is the time to go home and take pride in what you have done, to reflect and analyze. If you were born between 5 -7 pm, then you are also part Rooster.
As we go through these Key Terms, try to understand them as potential tendencies in the atmosphere of the coming year. Since I am generalizing about the Rooster, remember the relationship of Fire and Metal, and this will help to understand the Fire Rooster more specifically.
These tendencies, which I am here discussing in terms of Natal Astrology, can display as trends in social, cultural, political, environmental, familial, and romantic relationships. We study these principals in people/human behavior because we are people. If you can observe Rooster Qi in your Dad’s obsessive need to organize the tools in the garage, then you can understand how Rooster Qi might influence the political dynamics of a country.
The first Key Terms are critical and analytical. Like the Rat, the Rooster zooms in close and uses its beak (intellect) to break everything apart. The Rat takes things apart to make them small enough to carry, but the Rooster breaks open the seed to get to the important stuff inside. In other words, Rat detail does not include analysis; Rooster Qi does. This analytic, critical nature, an aspect of Yin Metal, extends to all aspects of the Rooster Display. Inwardly this often expresses as thinking, thinking, thinking—going over and over details, analyzing, reasoning, judging. Outwardly, this analysis penetrates behavior and speech—choosing their actions very carefully, second guessing, double checking. Outwardly, they are meticulous and tidy; they love to clean, organize, and are generally concerned with the outer appearance of things.
Naturally, this analytic nature lends itself to a certain kind of intelligence that is highly valued in our culture—problem solving. Roosters make natural engineers, mathematicians, and scientists but they also make great writers and artist, anything where they get to investigate and express detail and meaning. They make wonderful decorators, designers, and architects. Art critic is perhaps the most Roostery profession I can think of.
Rooster Qi is a kind of competence that can translate into many arenas. They have a tremendous capacity to learn systems, methods, approaches, and so on. They can apply these systems very adeptly to anything they want. There is no limit to what Rooster Qi can accomplish with efficiency, precision, and exactness. I’m sure this sounds wonderful, because our culture highly values these qualities and wants everyone to have them. Roosters are productive, but they have a difficult time relaxing.
Rooster Qi is naturally a bit high-strung, tense, uptight. This intelligent and intense thinking mind can get obsessed, close-minded, even fanatical. Roosters can fixate on problems to solve, situations to manage; they can go over and over things in their mind so much that they disconnect from reality. Of all the signs, I would say that Rooster Qi, especially the Metal/Water Rooster, is the most susceptible to mental health problems. They live in their heads, and the fixation (the beak) behind their Qi can get OCD, anal retentive, a little crazy at times. They’re prone to hypochondria.
Roosters benefit greatly from cultivating stillness, openness, and relaxation; they need to get into their bodies and out of their heads, which for them is a monumental task. When they try to drop into their bodies, their awareness tends to snap back up like a yo-yo.
Rooster intelligence and capacity has profound confidence. Like the peacock or male rooster, Rooster Qi tends to be confident, a bit of a show-off, not physically per-se, but mentally for sure. They like to strut their stuff, tout their abilities, and talk a big game. This may manifest as certainty; they know they’re correct, that their argument is valid and will therefore attempt to dominate in conversation, which can lead to argument.
Confidence is a positive virtue, but it can easily lead to arrogance, rudeness, and pride. Roosters can be very proud. They tend to generate strong and rigid self-images that can’t stand being challenged. This also leads to vanity, which can be concerned with physical appearance but also with what Asian cultures call “saving face,” maintain a good public image.
Roosters are trustworthy, honest, challenging, and forthright. They tend to speak very directly and concisely. In conversation, they tend to challenge other people, for they like to debate. The Tibetan tradition of analytical debate is very Rooster. Tibetan Buddhists have a very well developed system of logic from Mahayāna Buddhism, which they use to develop wisdom.
You begin with a clear format of statement and rebuttal from a defender and questioner. You clearly define all the terms you are using. You and your opponent put forth arguments. You attempt to find the gakcha, the crux of the other person’s view and then you use logic to undermine it, pointing to the emptiness of all fixed views. This process, if done correctly, undermines our conceptual mind and shows us the structures of logic that we use to construct false views about Reality. Ultimately, it points to the non-conceptual state beyond all logic. Again, very Rooster.
The flipside of this turns harshly competitive, snobby, blunt, vulgar, and tactless. Rooster Qi can be volatile and erupt without consideration for others. They can be so sure of their view that they will argue it to the death, pecking and ripping with beak and claw. This impulse to challenge can be competitive, so much so that they will argue even if they know they’re wrong, just so they can be right, so they can win and be in control. They may put down and criticize others, making them feel stupid, and they can do this unintentionally. Roosters need to develop big open minds and include as many points of view as possible in their experience.
Rooster Qi tends be very social and spontaneous. The Rooster tends to be concerned with social dynamics in terms of hierarchy, structure, the “pecking order.” By nature, Roosters love socializing and fun; they like the dynamics of social interaction and relationships. Although they are prone to spontaneous displays of showmanship, invoking reactions from and interactions between others, they are acutely aware of social structure. They like to know where they stand with people; they feel secure knowing who is doing what and with whom. Everyone should have a job, a role, clearly defined. They like to know the reasons why people act the way they do. In the end, Roosters feel uncertain if these things are not defined, and they love being the ones to put everyone to order. This social certainty reflects the sacrifice of the Rooster, the blood oath, making a pact.
Depleted, Roosters can be aloof and closed off. If they lose face, or if their ideas about how others perceive them, about their role in life, fall apart, they may question everything and distance themselves until they can figure it out. They can be overwhelmed by the amount of detail they take in, and if it is more than they can handle, they crumble.
It can be difficult to approach them when they close off; they need to relax on their own and come to conclusions naturally so they can feel in control. If you confront them, they are likely to snap back and get more entrenched in their difficulties. Roosters are adept at justifying their feelings, and if those feelings turn to self-hate or blame, or to blaming others, they can’t be talked out of their point of view. They will, however, respond to logic if that logic is well presented and offers them structure to work with.
Rooster Qi is intense and by nature alert, inspired, and insightful. Roosters, on the farm, are guardians. They are vigilant, observant, watchful, and always alert, aware, perceptive. Rooster Qi can be luminous, awake, present. At its best, Rooster Qi is bright and inspired by life, and they are psyched to wake up and crow. Roosters have an amazing capacity to pay attention and focus. The category of meditation called Vipassanā, which means to investigate with clear or distinct seeing/observation, is very Rooster. Vipassanā is often translated as Insight Meditation, and insight is the ideal outcome of the Rooster analysis.
I would, however, not recommend Vipassanā to most Roosters, especially if they are depleted. They can be too focused, too analytical, too vigilant, and Vipassanā can make them even crazier. If clarity is not met with its sister, calm, then clarity and insight can produce agitation. Roosters can become hyper aware of how messed up everything is, and they may spin off into irritation and reactivity. Non-conceptual meditation, called Zuòwàng, sitting and forgetting, is much healthier for Roosters.
Finally, along with Rabbits, the Rooster is the most sexual of the signs. Everyone is a sexual sign. But as a symbol, we all know what is said about Rabbits and Roosters. If you have one rooster in the barn, all 60 chickens will be laying eggs. The sexual appetite of the Rooster is large. Both signs use sexuality as a form of power but in different ways. Roosters tend to dominate and Rabbits tend to submit.
Each element adds a different flavor to this general image. Wood Roosters are the most spontaneous, idealistic, and inspired and are the most likely to forgive and forget. I’ll get to the Fire Rooster last. Earth adds stability and conventionality to the fussy Rooster image, but the capacity of Earth makes them so strong that they easily go into overwhelm at the amount of complexity they imagine they can handle. Metal Roosters, the Natural Rooster, are the most meticulous, articulate, and fussy of the bunch, prone to mental instability, and often their ability to analyze is a cover for their delicate mental/emotional state. Water puts the Rooster capacity over the edge into mystical territories, so much so that they lack the focus of other Roosters and are the most susceptible to possession and madness. I have met some intense Water Roosters. However, Water Roosters are the most sensitive and are more capable of emotional intelligence and empathy than other Roosters.
The Fire Rooster, the Character of the coming Year, my Month, is the most sensual and restless of the Roosters. They are bright and luminous, able to focus like laser beams, yet they can collapse under too many difficulties. They have strong ambition and yet the Fire-Metal dynamic causes them to flip-flop between iron-clad confidence and hopelessness. Fire Roosters tend to be unapologetic, anti-social, and embarrassment is unknown to them. They probably have the most ferocious sex drive of all the Roosters.
I’m no fortuneteller, but I can speculate about what this image means for the coming Year. The climate of Fire Rooster is intense. Monkey has worked everyone into a bit of a frenzy, and now this critical, analytic, argumentative capacity will be available to everyone. Remember, if our passion turns to aggression, if our inspiration becomes excessive, then in a Year like this, people are more likely to argue, especially over definitions, ideas, beliefs, borders, boundaries, and so on. Expect fanaticism in politics and public discourse. People are more likely to get worked up over compelling rhetoric. Our logic may fail us; or we may twist logic toward selfish and closeminded ideals.
If we meet the Year with an open mind, and if we maintain our health, then the Year offers an amazing ability to focus, organize, and get shit done. This Year, we can see through fanaticism to the conceptual structures beneath and liberate our old fixed patterns. We can soften the hard edges around what we think is possible and envision beautiful and realistic possibilities.
Navigating the Fire-Metal conundrum is simple. Over the coming Year, notice when you get worked up over thoughts, stories, and ideas; notice when you get excitable or excessive in your aspiration; see yourself challenging others; recognize when you’re hard on yourself because of some future ideal of what you’re supposed to be, what’s supposed to happen—notice all this and relax; drop it. Relax and find the thread of inspiration that guides the Fire Rooster. Fire Rooster is luminosity—the Light of the Mind. It can be so powerful that it will do anything to display this Light. Relax and find that the Light naturally goes where it needs; in fact; it’s everywhere. Inspiration and insight are everywhere.
This is a great Year to self-reflect and take stock in a realistic and practical way. Pay attention to your mental health and wellbeing. Easy on the entertainment. Rooster can get drawn into the computer for hours. Relax social-media and stop throwing your opinions at everyone. Don’t believe everything you read, or think. Easy on the idealism. Look forward but don’t strain—remember there’s no future, only a present with a direction/momentum. The direction of the present is not fixed, but it tends to go where the Qi of the Year pushes it. Fire Rooster will ask us to soften our views/opinions to seek logical possibilities.
I know—Trump. With all the political rhetoric being shoved down your throat, this Rooster image may sound a little scary. But remember, the auspice of the Year is created by our Freedom, by how our Character digests the Qi buffet. Ming always likened the Year to a buffet. We go along and choose what our appetite inspires in us; some people belch, others fart, some are sleepy, and some are inspired and energized. There is no other Year available. Fire Rooster is what’s on the menu. I hope you’re prepared to digest it.
Thanks for reading about the Rooster, and stay tuned for the final installment of the 12 Characters of Destiny as I examine the Dog.
Love and Blessings in the New Year!
1/27/2017 12:38:30 pm
Yes, Roosters can be very stupid, fighting against a mirror. We all have a rooster inside, me thinks.
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This page is your source for 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.