Virtue of the Small – Qì in the Year of the Yáng Metal Rat – Gēng Zĭ 庚子 – Year 2020/4718
道 – Dào/View
Astrology, 星命家, and Geomancy, 風水, are two premier subjects of the Chinese Traditional Mantic Arts. Their development in China over the last 2,500 years continues a tradition whose history is incalculable.
The teachings of Kŏng Fū Zĭ, or Confucius, are at the heart of Chinese Astrology. Are we isolated individuals? Or do we live as the center of interpersonal relationships? These are the fundamental questions of the Confucian Tradition. Today, we must ask these questions more than ever, for we are more isolated than ever before.
Confucius established a secular, non-theistic society in which the Dào is unknowable, and all Gods/spirits are equally unimportant in the light of our primary goal – learning to be human, 仁.
In contrast to Western notions of “basic brokenness” (Original Sin), in the Confucian Tradition, human beings and nature are intrinsically good, and there is no salvation or enlightenment required of us. Our original nature is complete and found self-existing, already within.
In the Confucian Tradition, the self is a dynamic center of Creative Transformation defined by relationship. We possess no abiding self that is separate from our relationships with nature or with our ancestors, family, community, country, world, and universe.
The starting point of the Confucian path is Self-Worth derived from education and Self-Cultivation for its own sake. The impetus and commitment to change the world must come from within. Therefore, Self-Cultivation is not done for social improvement; it is an end rather than a means to an end.
The central teaching of Confucianism is, however, Human Relatedness where community is the most necessary vehicle for human flourishing. Personal development expresses within an open-ended series of concentric circles of relatedness.
The creation of a society in which everyone is taken care of, has a place, and has the freedom to cultivate themselves and actualize their full potential is the goal of Confucian spirituality.
We should not, therefore, choose to be loners, for the dignity, autonomy, and independence of each person need not be based on individualism. Human fellowship does not undermine our individuality, but rather each human being reaches their highest potential through communication and communal participation with other human beings.
This worldliness is, then, the core Confucian value. Nature is our Home, revered for its generosity and grandeur. The fair use and distribution of our natural resources is the primary responsibility of each generation, and one that we must see to now.
Transcendence is found in Immanence – what is the unknowable Dào doing? Constantly displaying itself as all phenomena. In other words, what is apparently knowable and absolutely unknowable are not different. The ordinary world is the unknowable Dào, manifesting in and as the cycles of Time. A natural morality is therefore defined by our relationship to Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.
In the Confucian Tradition, people may worship whatever god/s or spirits they choose if those beliefs do not interfere with the responsibilities of human relatedness. However, non-theism states that knowledge of an Ultimate or the existence of a one true God are not required to return to Dào. We need only to cultivate our humanity with other humans. No god/s or spirits need be supplicated.
In the Unknowable Dào, everything is 自然 “self-resolving.” Everything that goes out returns. Everything that is compound dissolves. Everything that struggles exhausts itself. Human beings, then, cannot be “perfected.”
We do not evolve toward any kind of ideal state, but rather we are cyclical, and our life is a dynamic rhythm (yīnyáng), sometimes wonderful, sometimes painful. Since we cannot be perfected, we are relieved of any permanent notion of progress or self-improvement.
Without a creator or an event of creation, without sin or salvation, without beginning or end, without any notion of perfection, we simply respond naturally to the ever changing present, the Immortal Procession, here and now.
The Confucian paradox – all human beings are inherently and inevitably a Sage, 聖人, but no human being can ever become one. Education in our humanity never ends.
This Year of the Rat will bring forward the inescapable reality that we are not isolated individuals. We are defined by our relatedness.
Gēng Zĭ 庚子
Year of the Yáng Metal Rat
Welcome back to the year of the Yáng Metal Rat, Gēng Zĭ 庚子, also known as the Rafter Rat, which begins officially on January 25th! As always, it is important to remember that Astrology is not fortunetelling! There is no auspicious year, for each time and place must be read against the unique Character and Fate of the individual. What follows are broad generalities and suggestions.
Before we continue, I encourage you to reflect, briefly, upon the major themes of the Yīn Earth Pig in both a positive and negative sense--family, rest, sleep, nourishment, sex, comfort, protection, luxury, food, the senses/sensuality, indulgence, honesty, completion, endings, tolerance, generosity, humanitarianism, compromise, care, intelligence, storytelling, luck, humor, hard-work, lethargy, will power, joy, and depression to name a few.
The first and most important aspect of this year’s transition is that we have completed and are now entering into a new 12 Year Cycle. The Earth Pig was an ending, a demonstration of everything you have cultivated over the past 12 years. It was a year of completion and (hopefully) resolution, albeit a sticky one. How did that go? Chinese Astrology teaches us that everything is self-resolving, but the idea that things resolve well is naïve!
Last year was not one to move forward or start over, but this year is! Look back over the past 12 Years – Pig Year was the fruition. Metal Rat is a new jumping off point…but wait!
The Yáng Metal Rat is a new beginning, yes, but it is a small one. Momentum has not yet arrived. However, the first step in any journey is still important. The Rat is retrospective; so is the Ox. It looks backwards, observes the details, and plans for the journey ahead.
In order to fully understand the Metal Rat Year, we must look to its symbolism, Qì dynamics, manifestation, and applications.
象 – Symbolism
A famous Chinese story describes a contest set by the Buddha, or sometimes the Jade-Emperor of Daoism—a race to determine who would be the first Animal in the Cycle of Time. At the end of the race, there was a mighty river. Ox was the only animal strong enough to cross. Rat, small yet clever, jumped on Ox’s back. Undetected by Ox, clever Rat jumped off his nose just in time to cross the finish line first. Rat won the honor to be first in the cycle, and the Character of Rat, or Rat Qì, came to represent the wisdom, virtue (Dé), and resourcefulness of all things small.
Of the 12 Zodiac animals, some are small, and some are large. The difference in size symbolize the Chinese view that strength comes in all shapes and sizes. Every perspective is valuable and has a proper place.
As a cycle of View Teachings, the 12 Qì Characters are a study in perspective and represent 12 (or really 60) ways of viewing the world. We find wisdom by learning our own perspective in contrast/relation to others. The tallest rat will never see the same world as a Horse. Which perspective is correct? The question is of course meaningless—both are valid and describe different perspectives. Rat Qì represents the perspective of little creatures, the most “zoomed in” quality of life. Most importantly, it represents the fact that all beings must make alliances to survive.
The Natural Element of the Rat is Yáng Water—the power of the weak, the yielding, the adaptable, the soft, the pliant to overcome all obstacles, like water carving the Grand Canyon. Water may be weak, but through diligent perseverance it carves canyons, and in great mass, water can devastate. This is the Yáng Water nature of Rat Qi--the paradoxical strength of weakness.
Rat represents “start,” but it starts at the end (Water). Rat Hour is from 11 pm to 1 am, a time when we are supposed to be asleep. Pig Hour 9-11 pm, is fall asleep, Yīn Water, and Yáng Water is an active time of dreaming in which we disassemble and process the previous day. Rat, therefore, represents the active imagination of “backward” dreaming. The Rat and this time of day are also associated with the element of Yáng Wood and the Gallbladder in Chinese Medicine, which is responsible for catalyzing and rectifying the movement of Qì in the body. Rat Hours, Rat Months, and Rat Years, then, catalyze and initiate change.
This Year, however, the Heavenly Stem is Yáng Metal, the mother of Water and controller of Wood, so the Qì Dynamic takes on the quality of Metal giving birth to and restraining the natural Rat elements. I will examine this dynamic in more detail later.
Rat Qì is Yáng, active, dynamic, and the power of the Rat is ambitious and unstoppable like water, so don't let the image of smallness fool you; Rat Qì is anything by “mousy.” Yáng Water also represents synthesis, sentiment, sensitivity, reflection, cooperation, persuasion, and effectiveness, among other virtues.
Of all the 12 Animals, I find people most dismayed to find out they are Rats. This is due largely to the image of the Rat as a rodent, vermin, and carrier of disease in Western culture. In Asian cultures, the Rat has a much different image that I would like to encourage.
The Rat of Chinese Cosmology was well known to farmers as the “Grain Rat.” Grain Rats would appear with the harvest. So, in Asia, the Rat has always been associated with prosperity, wealth, resources, and with the rewards of diligent hard work. In many forms of Asian lore, the Rat is the God of Wealth, and Rat Years in Asia are expected to be profitable in every sense of the word.
The symbol of wealth is important and often glossed over. People are all too quick to associate wealth with money, especially Americans. Understanding wealth, however, is essential to understanding Rat Qì. What is wealth? In short, wealth is resources—material, food, energy, land, intelligence, labor, and so on. Money is an abstract symbol measuring these tangible/demonstrable realities.
But why are resources important to the Rat? Because they are tiny.
Individually, Rats are small and weak, so they always appear in groups and work together to manage resources. Together, Rats can undermine an entire building by gnawing and nibbling away at the foundations, piece by piece. For this reason, Rat Qì represents the Confucian teaching that all humans must make alliances to flourish. Alone, we can’t do much, but together, we can accomplish anything.
In the Chinese View, individuals are redundant. It is only through alliances that we do anything. No person ever did anything great. Period. Our culture exalts heroes, saints, sports stars, and so on, but all sports stars play on a team.
So, Rat Qì is the antithesis of American Individualism and demonstrates the ideals of the Confucian Tradition, for it views social life as central to existence and represents the human virtue of community. Sociability is required to survive, and no person is special. This is a “Rat realization. Rat Qì, in a sense, stands for the little guy, the underdog, the meek, and the unacknowledged, and it abhors the abuse of the strong over the weak. The Character Piglet from Winnie the Pooh represents this Virtue of the Small, and there is a popular book on this very subject.
Rat Qì represents a fundamental insight into the nature and value of “things,” appearances, stuff—the resources that compose the world. And in order to work with resources, Rats must take them apart. Not to analyze them (that’s Rooster), but to make them small enough to carry.
Rat Qì represents the most “zoomed in” quality to life—the Rat is very close to everything and, therefore, sees how everything works, how everything is composed, sort of like a magnifying glass or microscope. The impulse to “zoom in” in order to understand is a Rat impulse. The impulse to take apart, dismantle, and dissect are also Rat impulses, again not to analyze but simply to observe, look closely, and take in the details. Modern science is very “Rat,” and I in fact know many Rat scientists.
Rat Qì probes, inquires, and studies in order to make sense of the overwhelming amount of data we perceive through the senses. Rat power breaks everything down into bite sized manageable pieces. This ability allows for incredible “productivity” in the Western sense, and as such, Rats are very capable people.
Rats (the animals) tend to have big bulging eyes, and they make short, quick, twitchy movements. Rat Qì has a nervous quality due to its constant observation, evaluating safety, taking stock of their surroundings.
Rat Qì is the wisdom of the compound nature of things, that everything is composed of pieces ad infinitum. This wisdom communicates that everything compound is impermanent, which is the source of the Rat’s power and fear.
Rat Qì restarts the Cycle emerging from the Pig. If the last year of the Pig represented dissolution, everything falling apart, then Rat Qì this year represents everything coming back into fragments, still dissolute but active, the dust cloud settling, coming back into focus, starting over. Pig is the final blowout, the party, the big bang, and Rat is left to pick up the pieces.
氣 – Qì Dynamic
The Native Element of the Rat, as I have already mentioned, is Yáng Water, but the Heavenly Stem for this Year is Yáng Metal. Since Metal is the "mother" of Water, the elemental balance of this Year is supportive and generative, which means the positive attributes of the Rat are more available, and we are less likely to struggle against them. They are empowered and strengthened for better or worse.
Metal adds refinement, discretion, and fastidiousness to the Rat image. The Metal Rat is more withdrawn, confident, and self-reflective than other Rats. Spiritual, political, and intellectual matters are enhanced, and transcendent mysticism is more available. Since Metal precedes Water, the Metal Rat waits on the precipice of action in a penetrating state of observation.
Yáng Metal represents the process of refining ore from the Earth into precious metals. It therefore represents transformation, distillation, fermentation, maturation, and examination. All the Rat qualities are therefore sharpened, focused, and actively internalized in the following year.
This is an excess Metal Year, with dry and cold as the fundamental Qì dynamics. This Qì is sharp and subtle, a noticeable change from last year, which was murky, muddy, and sticky. This year is not so warm and fuzzy; it is clear and clean, which offers great virtue to the themes that are available.
Emotionally, we can expect to dry out a bit. Last year was juicy, albeit heavy and overbearing emotionally. This year we may feel parched, stretched thin. Our mental/emotional energy may race and run wild, but we may also be capable of greater focus and tenacity.
In Chinese Medical terms, Lung and Large Intestine Qì are in excess and the Liver and Gallbladder are damaged. Anxiety and depression are elevated, respiratory conditions – cold, coughs, asthma, flu, fatigue, and the like, may be exasperated. Hypochondriac, chest, shoulder, and back pain are on the rise, so are problems with hearing and vision. Women’s health is challenged. Skin conditions can flare.
Th first half of the Year is governed by Shăo Yīn Imperial Fire, the second half by Yáng Míng Dry Metal. The first half of the Year, then, will give rise to heat symptoms in the Upper Burner, highlighting the mental/emotional turmoil available, especially in the form of grief and sadness, so there may be more problems sleeping due to counterflow and rising Qì. This inner heat will dry out in the second half of the Year, with a second dose of Dry Metal, which in Fall will highlight the excess Metal dryness attacking the Lung and Liver symptoms described above.
This Year the Heavenly Stem creates what is called Tōng Tiān Fú, 同天符, which means that Qì has the generally tendency to become excessive, so there will be greater changes in weather, more acute diseases, and the overall tendency of the Year will be somewhat forceful and chaotic. Overall, the Qì dynamic of this Year will be a sobering jolt, a wakeup call from the sloppiness of the Earth Pig.
形 – Manifestation/Character
Before, I delve into my specific “prediction,” I will explore how the Rat Character manifests in people—what about babies born in this or any Year of the Rat? This year, these characteristics are more available to everyone, which I encourage you to observe!
Rat Qì, embodied in individuals, is first and foremost charming. As astute social observers, Rats make fantastic actors, mimics, and they love being center stage, especially when they can play at being someone else. For Rats, other people are valuable resources, so Rat charm is a kind of social power, and it is often their greatest resource in life.
Rat Qì is fundamentally social/community oriented and cooperative but more in the sense of making things happen than out of pure enjoyment. That being sad, Rats are fun loving and funny, and they often possess a rye kind of wit derived from their astute social observations.
Rat Qì is and methodical and “detail oriented.” Many of the professions we value in our culture are very “Rat.” Engineering, accounting, “I-T,” consulting, what we can call information work, anything that requires manipulating data, money, or numbers, moving around bits and pieces, filling out spread sheets and forms—all of this is Rat work, busy work, and it goes to show that our culture actually exalts and highly values Rat Intelligence. Math and the sciences—chemistry, physics, biology, and western medicine are also very Rat like, what we can call "reductionist disciplines."
Rat Qì revels in detail. And although I have mentioned science and math, Rat Qì can be wonderfully artistic. Rats can spend hours painting and penciling in detail, focusing in and fleshing out pattern, shade, and texture. A famous architect once said, “God is in the details;” this is a very Rat sentiment. Shakespeare, in theory, was born in the Year of the Rat, and he invented thousands of words by taking apart existing words and putting them back together into new formations, words like auspicious, sanctimonious, and multitudinous. Shakespeare also exemplified the poetic nature of Rat insight.
Rat Qì also exemplifies the Chinese Virtue of industry, diligence, and perseverance. Imagine you’re on a long journey and come across a mountain in your path. Some characters might go around; some might climb to the top heroically overcoming obstacles; some might wax philosophical and never go anywhere. Rat Qì would probably get a shovel and carve a path through the mountain one shovel-full at a time. You may laugh at such an approach, but Rat Qì can move mountains in this fashion.
At its best, Rat Qì is diligent and patient. Perhaps your family lost everything in a war, exiled to a foreign land with nothing. So, the family bands together and starts a small dry-cleaning business. For three generations the family perseveres and eventually builds back their fortune. This is Rat work ethic—eventually the little things pay off. Since Rats are famously discrete and frugal, they can manage resources, money, and make a little go a long way.
As you can imagine, the virtues of Rat Qì have their opposites. Rat charm and social observation can turn to nervousness and complaining, seeing endless faults and problems in themselves and others. Rat Qì can be self-conscious, worried about appearance, nitpicky, and overly critical of details.
At its core, Rat Qì is very susceptible to the fear of impermanence, deficiency, and loss, which can turn to a panic over resources. This can turn to scheming, manipulating situations, people, things, money, and so on, in order to create safety and security. This can also turn to emotional and material stinginess and selfishness, and Rats are often stereotyped as hoarders, living in clutter, developing strong attachment to material possessions.
Rat can turn cowardly, afraid to take risks. Rats can easily become overwhelmed with details and so become paralyzed, over analyzing and never acting. “But…wait!” is a very Rat like response. Rat Qì can feel small in a big scary world. Alone Rat Qì is vulnerable. Without a nest—resources, friends, partners, family, or a support system, Rats are at their weakest and can wander, felling lost and depressed.
Rat Qì at its best has an immense ability to focus, but depleted, the close-in quality of Rat Qì can turn fidgety and restless; it can turn to over-concentration and a racing mind, endlessly thinking, reevaluating, second guessing, a kind of mono-focus or tunnel vision that can be obsessive.
Because Rat Qì is fragmented, Rats can compartmentalize their experience. They can put memories, feelings, thoughts, emotions, and so on into categories and boxes and “think” their feelings. If traumatized, this compartmentalization can become detached, unemotional, and unable to connect.
The fundamental impulse of Rat Qì is to make sense of the world. Rat Qì represents active dissolution, characterized by Yáng Water, what we can call “activated impermanence,” a primal fear which can easily turn to the spiritual path, and I have met many Rats with a strong spiritual bent. Rat spiritual insight awakens through deep observation, breaking down appearances.
This observant quality of the Rat is available to all of us all through the following Year. It is also especially available during Rat Month, which is in the beginning of winter, every Rat Day, and every Rat Hour, which is between 11pm and 1am.
器 – Application and “Predictions”
Now for the fun part! So, what’s going to happen! I began this exploration of the Rat with teachings from Confucius because the first and most important theme of this year is to re-value and dismantle our society, personally and globally, for our survival and relationship to resources come to the forefront. Dismantle! Change! The media is already telling us our survival is in danger, and it just so happens that this theme will come front and center. A few politicians are already branding the perfect Rat Year slogan, “not me, us!”
Metal Rats have a strong personal sense of moral and spiritual values, and it's time to stand firm. Our social responsibilities must be examined. We can do all the self-cultivation we want, but no human being can be separated from their social context. Confucianism teaches us that we simply cannot heal and become whole human beings alone and adrift in a disordered, individualistic society of “everyone for themselves.” Inequality, poverty, lack of access to food and health care, social isolation…these will be felt like a sharp knife. Metal Rat is a fragmentary energy. Will we step up and unite to dismantle our systems of oppression? Or will fear get the better or us?
An acute awareness of our long-term situation will be felt sharply in all aspects of life. There may be a subtle air of panic this year. We all know the saying, “first rat to abandon a sinking ship.” Rats can sense when danger is coming, especially the portentous Metal Rat, and this Year we may feel said danger, even when it isn’t there.
Foresight is strong; anxious, nervous anxiety about the future is, unfortunately, more available, so watch out for the sky is falling apocalyptic doomsaying. We need to band together and speak up, but we cannot lose our cool. Pressing your face into the dashboard doesn’t get you there any faster. Dystopia isn’t part of this cosmology. For that matter, neither is utopia, so calm down.
It is an important time to act, but panic will breed chaos in a year like this. The Metal Rat offers us clear, rational decision making. The political world has been feeding off people’s gut feelings, but in order to move forward, we need to ignore our gut reactions and invoke critical thinking. Last year was a “feeling” year; this is a “thinking” one. The Metal Rat is disciplined and structured, and for the Rat, last year was sloppy and gross, frankly speaking.
It is difficult not to read this symbol considering the current political climate. Global social themes, environmentalism and climate change, universal health care, affordable housing and education, increased minimum wage – these are all perfect Rat themes because if we do not change the world, we might not survive. The real question is – do we want to? Are we supposed to? What are we saving? Pig Year should have revealed this, and without knowing true value, what are we working for?
Remember, according to Chinese Cosmology, everything we do is a natural adaptation to our situation, and right now we are committing suicide as a species. Why? In this Cosmology, no individual is important, and “leaders” are nothing other than symptoms of how we collectively adapt to Time. What kind of collective inner state are we adapting to by producing people like Trump, Putin, Bolsonaro, etc., and their opposite in people like Bernie Sanders?
Cultures all over the world are in a position to change, and there is an opportunity this year to initiate a total reformation of our social structures. Wood Goat Year (2015) set a precedent (feel the Bern?), but we have not had the momentum to initiate real change until now. So, the election this year is well timed. But I’m not predicting anything in that regard…lol
This is a time to start over, to re-fresh, to reset the dial back to zero. In doing so, it is important to look back and take stock of everything, so that we can edit. This will be a deeply reflective year. Introspection, analysis, and self-reflection will be high on everyone’s radar.
Deeply examine your life. Hold a mirror up to everything and be honest. But watch out for self-hatred and self-cherishing. American life is plagued by the view of original sin and salvation. So many of us struggle with self-worth, which is why so much of the popular self-help rhetoric out there preaches the self-affirmation that we are enough, that we are just fine/complete the way we are, because so many of us do self-work out of a deep sense of self-loathing.
We have deeply internalized the “basic brokenness” and judgment day of salvational Christianity and perpetuate it through the media. We also go to the other extreme and can demonstrate dangerous forms of selfishness in the name of self-care. Remember, the Confucian Path begins by establishing Self-Worth through education and cultivation assuming our basic goodness. You can love and accept yourself and enact constructive self-criticism at the same time (with practice).
Most importantly, examine your relatedness – are you an isolated individual? Or do you live as the center of interpersonal relationships? Keep asking this repeatedly because it is very easy to feel alone in this culture. We have become a society of floating heads. We connect wirelessly, but in reality, we connect very little. It has become easy to ruin relationships with little other than a text.
During Pig Year, our job was to forget our past grievances, to love, and to enjoy each other’s company to the best of our ability. Pig Year was not a time to complain, nit-pick, or analyze, which is why many did so ad nauseum, lol. It was time to rest and forget, to fall asleep all year in a sense. Now that we’ve fallen asleep, it is time to dream. This is a year of practical vision.
In theory, now that Time has fallen asleep, it moves forward in a kind of uninhibited, dream like state of retrospection and analysis. Usually the first dreams you have upon falling asleep in Rat Hour, from 11 pm to 1 am, the time of Yáng Water, are full of wake world reflections, taking apart the previous day. If you record these dreams on a regular basis you should find this to be the case. This is followed by deep sleep in Ox Hour and visionary dreaming in Tiger Hour.
This kind of dreaming is an editing process that allows us to let go and get to deep sleep, and often these dreams are the most honest and telling we have. They show us our fears, regrets, and desires in a way that is often brutal to admit. But these are the important reflections. What are your deepest fears and regrets?
This Year make a list of all these and do something about it. Apologize to that person; apologize to yourself; what are you really afraid of? Where are you an absolute unmovable fortress? Get all that stuff out, so you can let it go and move on. Leave behind everything that doesn’t support you. Don’t drag the garbage of the past 12 years into the next 12 years. But don’t be too eager to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Revalue – some things/people are worth saving, some relationships are worth mending, and some are not. Who shows up without you having to ask? Who loves you unconditionally despite your flaws? These are the keepers.
The Rat is a pivot point between the last 12 years and the next 12 years, a kind of rectification of Qì related in CCM to the Gallbladder. How we choose to advance determines everything; timing is everything. And the central theme is relatedness in the sense of the Confucian five relationships – to your family, partner/s, community/friends, country, and world.
What works for you? What doesn’t? Are you in the right place? Are you on the right path? With the right person? On the right team? Create a plan. Make a dream team. It’s time for the old interview question – where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? How are you going to get there? Who is your support? The Rat realization is – WE DON’T ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING ALONE! All humans must make alliances, and our alliances make or break us. So, extend some olive branches. Connect and get busy.
This is a very social year, but in a much different sense than the past two, which were much more touchy-feely. This year is practical. This year is about social structure, hierarchy, order, alliance, responsibility, and obligation. This sounds like a drag to Americans, but remember, the most successful culture in human history (ancient China, arguably) was successful because of Confucian social order, which is again based on examining our social responsibility.
Clubs, teams, and networks, at school, work, religious institutions, or in political and social arenas – these are highlighted this year. Join a cause, go to an event. Protest! March in the damn streets! Alone, rats can do very little, but together, they can gnaw away the foundations and bring down a whole building! There is power in numbers. And there are more of us.
But you may be the one who needs to get the ball rolling! Reach out and get people together. Party! Rats love social gatherings, tea parties, group events, and so on. Connect people; let’s use social media as a tool rather than an addiction.
I titled this exploration – the Virtue of the Small. This year is about the small, the weak, the meek, the poor, the unseen, the unacknowledged, the forgotten, the oppressed, the powerless, the young, the old, the marginalized, the women, the people of color, the LGTBQ community, the disabled…you see where I’m going with this. It’s time to speak up and fight with and for these people. The Metal Rat carries forward the humanitarian themes of the Pig into itinerary action.
This is a Year to zoom in and pay attention to the details. In order to survive, we must break everything down into small manageable details that we can accomplish. Rats are clever, so get clever! And get to work!
This is a year of arts and crafts, of doing small precise work with our hands. Unlike the craftiness of the Horse, Rat craft is more of an artistic meditation rather than a functional project. This is a great year to learn new precision skills like making jewelry, sewing, tattooing, drawing, computer coding, and so on.
This is a fantastic Year to start new projects, to start a business, to start school, to initiate new relationships. Firm, clear goals, passions, aspirations, and ambitions will pay off. The year is all around good for work, productivity, and industry, but mostly for information work. Physical/manual labor is not particularly auspicious though, for it is a trait related more to Rat’s opposite – the Horse.
Most auspicious, perhaps, are financial matters. Metal equals money, and Rats are ruthless and calculating in matters of finance. The world economy will fluctuate widely, but overall, expect the year to be financially viable. So, invest, save, buy, sell, all financial plans/moves are fruitful, but no foolish risks! Rats are extremely cautious, careful, and frugal. Save risks for Tiger or Monkey years!
As always, do watch out for burn out, stress, and anxiety. The excess Yáng Qì of the Year may push people into manic overdrive, and our ambition may get the best of us. We may bite off more than we can chew. Remember, small bits. Rats are tiny. So, take care of yourself. The themes of rest and nourishment from Pig Year don’t stop; we always take Time with us. Metal Rats often have meticulous personal habits, so ride the wave. Metal Rats internally brood and worry over the slightest things, so please take care of your mental health and watch out for the mental health of others. Mental illness is a big theme this Year. Check up on how your “strong” friends are doing. They may be the most vulnerable.
Although this Year is great for minutia, it is not great for organizing. Rats tend to accumulate, so watch out for mess, clutter, hoarding, and the like. Extra attention to cleaning will go a long way.
This Year is most Auspicious for Dragons, Monkeys, Rats, and Oxen, especially if your Outer Element is Metal or Water. Dragons, Monkeys, and Rats make a trine of basic compatibility. And Ox is a special Confucian pair…remember the story of the Rat riding the Ox to win the race?
Rat’s opposite is the Horse. I do not, however, buy into the notion that the opposite relationships are negative. Most Chinese Astrologers will say that opposites are a bad match, but this is nonsense. This is a silly superstition based on the Chinese distaste for “passionate relationships,” which are seen to cause chaos. But this isn’t ancient China…we are a passionate culture.
The opposite relationship is mirror-like; they are complementary opposites. We tend to have trouble with our opposites because they mirror back to us the most challenging aspects of ourselves. For this reason, they can be explosive and charged. So, if they don’t like personal growth and self-reflection, then Horses will have a challenging year, for they tend to jump over small details.
What will happen in the world? I’m just not the kind of astrologer to guess. Astrology is not fortunetelling. My hope is that you take this all to heart--CHANGE THE WORLD and don’t forget to HAVE FUN doing it!
I wish you the all the best in this New Year!
Every harmful action I have done
With my body, speech, and mind
Overwhelmed by attachment, anger and confusion,
All these I openly lay bare before you.
While circling through all states of existence,
May I become an endless treasure of good qualities--
Gathering limitless pristine wisdom and positive potential.
May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.
May they be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.
May all beings remain in boundless equanimity, free from attachment and aversion!
FATE IS NOT ACTUALLY CREATED (HAS NO BEGINNING) BUT
IS THE PREDISPOSITION TO RECREATE AND SOLIDIFY KARMIC PATTERNS.
THE EVER-PRESENT OPTION/DISPOSITION TO OPENLY EXPRESS OUR TRUE NATURE IS FREEDOM.
TOGETHER FATE AND FREEDOM CONSTITUTE THE NATURALLY DYNAMIC
DIMENSION WE ARE IN.
1/24/2020 02:30:33 pm
Wow very very informative!Full of clear insights, guidance!,gratefully☯️🌈🐀
1/24/2020 04:38:59 pm
Wow!!! Such a wonderful article. Thank you so much for your time and good efforts to write and share this valuable info and your insights with us.
1/25/2020 10:17:16 am
Love your work man 🙏🏻🐁💥🤛🏻
1/25/2020 02:21:46 pm
I keep Tiger’s Play tab open on my iPad...I’ve been hoping you’d publish again. This is so important and I appreciate your talent in explaining what the year can mean to us. Thanks so much!
1/25/2020 05:30:03 pm
Beautifully informative —Thank you!
1/25/2020 08:47:47 pm
I am a Metal Rat. This is the best Chinese Astrology site I've ever seen, and I love Chinese astrology and philosophy. Thank you so much for your perspective and insight!
1/25/2020 09:16:11 pm
Happy New Year my friend!
5/21/2020 10:21:36 pm
I’ve just reread your prescient article. It’s so amazingly accurate. Thank you again for your generous heart and gifted mind.
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Tiger's Play--the View Teachings of Chinese Astrology
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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.