On my radar: Year of the snake

2013-02-10 10:00

This Chinese lunar cycle has never been tranquil or predictable, so tread cautiously this year

I don’t believe in daily horoscopes, but I do take note of Chinese lunar cycles. It’s not because I’m culturally wedded to Eastern astrology, but because the mood of each year – designated by a different animal in a 12-year cycle – has been unnervingly prophetic.

Take, for example, the past two years: the Year of the Rabbit (2011) and the Year of the Dragon (2012).

In 2011, we were basking in the afterglow of hosting a successful Fifa Soccer World Cup. The infrastructure we had built for the event had, in many ways, shielded us from the global recession, and this is how my dog-eared book on Chinese astrology described the Rabbit year: “A placid year, very much welcomed and needed after the ferocious Year of the Tiger. A congenial time in which diplomacy, international relations and politics will be given a front seat again.”

Co-incidence? More than likely, but look at how the Year of the Dragon was meant to unfold: “A magnificent comeback after a recuperative Year of the Rabbit. We will throw caution to the wind and roll up our sleeves for all sorts of grandiose, exhilarating, colossal, overambitious and daring projects. The indomitable spirit of the Dragon will inflate everything to larger-than-life size. However, it would be wise not to overestimate ourselves or our potentials in this combustible year. The Dragon will stimulate us to think and act big, even overstepping the bounds of caution.”

I might be reading too much into this, but this describes many of the watershed moments the nation experienced last year: The Spear saga, the e-toll battle (among other civil uprisings), the Marikana tragedy and, of course, the Mangaung congress. A combustible year indeed, and one where there was much “overstepping the bounds of caution”.

So it is with great interest that I track the Year of the Snake. The words are again somewhat prophetic, considering what went down last year.

Apparently, it’s going to be: “A year for reflection, planning and searching for answers. A good time for shrewd dealings, political affairs and coup d’états. People will be more likely to scheme and ponder over matters before acting on them. Solutions and compromises can be arrived at, but not without some mutual distrust at first. The Snake likes to resolve his differences one way or the other. If he fails and things cannot be peacefully settled, then he will declare war.” Charming!

The book goes on to explain that, historically, the Year of the Snake has never been tranquil or predictable. It is allegedly the strongest negative force in the 12-year cycle and warns that “many disasters which had their beginnings in the Year of the Dragon tend to culminate in the Year of the Snake”. So think back on the seeds that were sown last year and watch them carefully.

The chapter ends with a chilling warning: “Once the Snake uncoils to strike, he moves like lightning and nothing can stop him. Changes that occur during a Snake year can be sudden and devastating. Tread lightly and be more cautious this year.”

I hope that government and big business, currently at loggerheads, are taking notes.

Understanding the Chinese lunar calendar and the new year

»?About 20% of the world’s population celebrates the Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year.

»?The Chinese lunar calendar dates back to 2637 BC.

»?Western astrology (based on the movements of the sun) has 12 cycles within a calendar year, while Chinese astrology (based on lunar cycles) works on 12-year cycles.

»?According to legend, spiritual teacher Buddha summoned all the world’s animals to come to him before he departed from this earthly realm.

However, only 12 animals came to bid him farewell. As a reward, he named a year after each animal in the order they arrived: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar (or Pig).

»?As with Western astrology, the Chinese believe that the animal ruling your year of birth has a profound influence on your life. Likewise, the animal designated to a year is also key to understanding the “personality” or “mood” of that particular year.

»?Because it follows a lunar rather than a solar cycle, the Chinese New Year does not fall on the same day every year as with a Western calendar, but falls around the beginning of February each year. This year, the Chinese New Year takes place today (February 10).

»?The Chinese New Year is to the Chinese what Christmas is to Christians: the one time that it is sacrosanct for families to bond.

In China, most migrant workers return to their hometowns for New Year celebrations, putting into motion the largest yearly human migration on the planet.

»?Chang is the founder of Flux Trends. Visit www.fluxtrends.com

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