by Robert Wilkinson
Today we take a look back at recent years through the lens of Chinese Astrology to learn more about what we've been through and what is to come.
As the coming year is that of the Metal Cat, or Metal Rabbit, it will have a similar elemental quality as the year behind us, which was the Metal Tiger. To remind you how the elements work to condition the various years in Chinese Astrology, years ending in 0 or 1 are said to be Metal; years ending in 2 or 3 are Water; years ending in 4 or 5 are Wood; years ending in 6 or 7 are Fire; and years ending in 8 or 9 are Earth.
So you can see that in Chinese Astrology, each element operates for two years at a time. It is said the first is a "yang" year, while the second is a "yin" year. Each of these qualities has strengths and shortcomings, which are the source of much philosophical speculation.
At this point, for those who are interested in taking a trip back in time, I'll provide a trail of breadcrumbs via links to past articles, as well as brief passages, to help you view recent years in a different perspective. First, we begin with some ancient history (at least for this site!) originally posted on my original Salon blog. And the links still work!!
Here's the article on 2005, the Year of the Wood Rooster, while this link will take you to What the Wood Rooster meant for your specific sign. You may also be interested in 2004, the year of the Wood Monkey, which also contains commentary on 2003, the Year of the Water Goat, as well as Western Astrology influences for 2004.
The year of the Wood Rooster (2005) heralded a new day, even before we awakened to it! It was a time when things were being named, and where we had to be frank with ourselves and others about the truth as we were experiencing it. Rooster years are about vitality, meticulous work, and getting jobs done asap without excess crowing.
A serious year of many short term tasks, we dealt with long term aggravations, annoying talk, and dropped stagnant habits. We had opportunities to find new youthfulness in spirit and approach, new friends and allies, and put on a show!
Conforming to the mainstream paid better dividends than being iconoclastic. At the time, I wrote there would be abuses of police and military authority, and we saw plenty of that, from secret CIA torture facilities to our government being busted for kidnapping foreign citizens in foreign countries.
That changed in 2006, the year of the Fire Dog. Dogs are humanitarians and want equality, fairness, and justice because they believe in the goodness of humanity. That year was about service and a sense of purpose to do our best. Dogs are brave, loyal, and will sacrifice whatever they need to. They are fierce in defending their loved ones when attacked.
We searched for equilibrium, altruism, and what we could care about. It was been a time of social reform and giving strength to others. We examined our faith, courage, honesty, and generosity while defending against those who may not be honorable. Not a particularly relaxing year, we were able to accomplish much through hard work, team work, and intelligence.
As I wrote about 2006:
In the year of the Dog, there is usually a general improvement in the human condition, and an end to wars and conflicts. Expect an atmosphere of confidence and optimism, and temporary improved economic conditions.... expect an increase in humanitarianism, justice, and devotion to higher ideals of service and loyalty.... Science and technology should show some amazing breakthroughs, and collectively we should find solutions to long-standing problems.... Careers should develop fairly nicely this year as a result of prior loyalties and hard work. Find the plan of action, stick with it, and perseverance should bring great happiness and rewards.
...during the year of the Fire Dog, there will be pessimism and anxiety, so be calm and find hope and optimism. Avoid being defensive while taking precautionary steps.... Vigilance is a virtue, practice generosity and goodwill. Generosity is an attitude, a spirit of abundant view that allows for much, so take the widest view.... Because it's such a liberal year, favoring progressive and just policy, expect revolutionary political developments. Idealism and big schemes are in the air, as are prosperity, good will, and generosity. Expect plenty of political action, with a sharp move toward liberalism and reform. The idealism of these years often produces revolutions.
2007 continued the Fiery quality of 2006, offering a continuity in the inspirational, movable, warming and illuminating quality that Fire brings to all things, while moving away from the 2006 qualities of the Dog into the qualities of the Boar. So in 2007 there was less defensiveness, more partying, less guarding, more enjoyment of friends, things, and life.
As I wrote about the Year of the Fire Boar,
"...It's going to be a wild ride with some radical transformations, so get ready to enjoy yourself as friends appear and things accelerate to warp drive speed.... Because the Boar is about justice and enjoyable things, there will be much social and political activism this coming year...
This is a fervent, idealistic energy wanting progress and well being as soon as possible... Some things need to be evaluated as to how realistic they are, or are the rewards worth the effort? The (best use of energy) this year is to find means of securing quick yet moderate gains, one step at a time, so that things don't spin out of control.
This is a stubbornly opinionated energy, and we will see battle lines being drawn between the progressives and regressives everywhere. Convictions run high and strong during this year, so flexibility will be the virtue to bring to all encounters, as well as a moderating calm.... Stay open to new ideas, read more, learn more, blending the wisdom of the old with the acceleration of new energy in the present.
... Intrigues are en vogue this year, so look for clandestine activity that ultimately is exposed when things erupt... These are years of dramatic changes in terms of the luck of wealth, career and relationships. For good or ill, the changes tend to be fairly extreme among all the signs.
Active, outgoing and extroverted, this year should breathe new life into our efforts. This year we should reap the rewards of perseverance in the year of the Fire Dog, so be bold, take calculated risks, and show some Spirit as you work hard to bring things into being.
So in 2006-2007 we shifted out of the 2004-2005 Wood quality into Fire, and warmed up, enjoyed more, and were brightened, though many things also flamed out of control. These important developments prepared us for the new beginnings related to the Year of the Earth Rat in 2008 and the Earth Ox in 2009.
One extraordinarily important factor making 2008 and 2009 so transforming over the long run involved both Chinese years beginning with major Solar Eclipses in Aquarius! As you know, Solar Eclipse influences last for years and shut down some things forever.
So it's safe to say that during those years, many things ended, creating space for new ways of life, experience, and understanding. By all means when you're done here go to the archives if you're interesting in knowing how these eclipses affected you and everyone else.
From Feb 6, 2008 to Jan 26, 2009, the Year of the Earth Rat was characterized by practicality and a no nonsense approach to things, with new initiatives on the horizon requiring intelligence, quick perception, and speedy calculated action. We had to find calm in the storms, disciplined and methodical ways to accomplish our goals, plan for the future, and make long range practical investments.
The Earth Rat brought a grounding energy and sharpness to the twin Fire pulse initiated by the Fire Dog and Fire Boar. We learned how to use common sense and intelligence in our negotiations while letting go of judgmentalism or those who were judgmental in harmful ways.
There was a degree of congeniality and pleasant interactions with others, where we could feel deeply and take care of others appropriately. It was a year of hard work, as well as combining business with pleasure, to acquire assets.
However, there were also confrontations with those who were opinionated or self-righteous. The political realm featured many accusations, attacks, and sudden reversals, appearances, and surprises of major import.
Remember this year was Campaign 2008! As I wrote then, the Year of the Earth Rat can show us narrow political arguments, a lot of dogma and opinion, with critics having a field day, whether their imaginations hold fantasies or realities. A year of pushing beyond limits, we saw the appearance of "bold opportunists who may be inspiring or parasites! Just try not to blow money on extravangances that are over-the-top and unnecessary." (Any candidates spring to mind?)
It was a good year for entertaining, as well as writing, literature, and lively discussions. Also for favorable investments, but not gambling or long shots. It was a year that could "bring BIG gains if you have the will and endurance to calculate the gamble before you bet the farm!"
From 26 January 2009 through 13 February 2010 we continued the Earth element into the Year of the Ox. 2009 also featured persistence, practicality, determination, and hard work to achieve control over life. That year was about finding and demonstrating standards in concrete accomplishments.
That year we maintained and improved what we secured in 2008, and had to be clear and "work the field" to bring forth major harvests to ensure future well being. Earth Ox is fairly conservative, and value work rather than risks. Those who were "willing to do what it takes" found rewards.
Oxen can also be intractable in opposing things through narrow views. 2009 showed "core issues dividing people coming to surface without much wiggle room for negotiation." That said, those who wouldn't work had to get out of the way, and received some "blunt criticism for their lack of effort."
Still, most benefited from sidestepping or backing off from arguments with inflexible, narrow minded, or prejudiced people who were prone to destructive or futile head butting disagreements. We had to learn to spot dictatorial or "my way or the highway" intolerance or stubbornness, and simply walk away.
We left the Earth element and moved into Metal on 14 February 2010 when we began the Year of the Metal Tiger that lasts until 2 February 2011. This past year was about cultivating toughness and a "fighting spirit" which can assure us future victories while also learning not to exhaust ourselves by pushing beyond safe limits.
We had to be speedy in finishing up some things while enthusiastically embracing a challenge with courage, energy, alertness, and seriousness. It was a year to explore how we could be competitive and assertive to achieve our aims while weighing possibilities and consequences.
It's been a year to cultivate friends, positivity, optimism, and not fall into dejection or bad attitudes because of criticism. It was a time to get a strategy and use foresight to embrace an opportunity to capture something necessary for the future while throwing off unnecessary hassles.
As I wrote last year:
These years feature upheavals, mass discontent, and giant clashes of philosophies, if not outright violence escalating into wars. It is also a year to toughen up, work hard to achieve wealth, focus on loved ones, and express your love more through actions than words.
These years bring major political changes and realignments, with powerful new political faces making their play on the larger stage. Action and change are the keywords for the coming year!
Instability is the quality of Tiger, while toughness is the quality of Metal. This is a year to build despite the volatility of the changing conditions on personal and global levels. This year will bring success for those who have flashes of insight followed by quick, bold action.
So there you have a fairly detailed narrative for 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 from the angle of Chinese Astrology. The next article will explore the qualities of 2011, the Year of the Metal Rabbit, or Metal Cat. See you soon!
For more about the year that is rapidly passing, please revisit:
For a closer look at 2008-2009, here are:
For more background about Chinese Astrology and how it's similar and different from Western Astrology, please revisit Astrology 2011 for all signs - What Is Chinese Astrology and Why Is This Called the Year of the Metal Rabbit, Hare, or Cat?
With highest respects, I also want to thank Suzanne White for her life work in the field of Chinese Astrology, and highly recommend that if you're interested in the subject, pick up any of the books she's written, since they're informative, entertaining, and well-written. It's extraordinary material from an extraordinary woman.
© Copyright 2011 Robert Wilkinson