How did you enjoy the wild ride with the Fire Monkey? Hang on to your hat because here comes another fiery year!

In my Chinese New Year outlook in January 2016 I wrote  “Expect surprises. Expect the unthinkable. Expect boundaries to be challenged and new lines to be drawn”. And so it was. The status quo as we knew it has been shaken up by events such as Brexit and the US elections. My guess is the same applies to many people’s private lives (to mine certainly). Compared to 2016, 2017 will have a more grounded feel to it but the changes are not done yet, quite the opposite.

Now please join me and pause for a moment. Step back from the noise. Take stock. Breathe and find your center, find your grounding. When I go into this practice, I literally feel myself becoming a tree with my roots reaching deep into the earth. Breathe into the center. Just focus on the breath. Then, from the stillness and stability in your core, choose where you wish to put your attention next, then move forward refreshed and focussed. Be mindful when it’s time to slow down and allow yourself room to pause again, step back from the noise to breathe, ground, find your center. Continue and repeat.

I also recommend to get yourself a book on the Danish philosophy of comfort, togetherness and well-being, known as Hygge.

Mindfulness and going back to the simple things in life should help to manage the journey through the Year of the Fire Rooster, coming in with the New Moon on 28. January 2017.

Let’s look at the energies and their dynamics:

The rooster is of the metal element. The rooster’s nature generally is more practical, methodical and settled than the monkey’s but equally dynamic. Roosters make for terrific leaders who plan and strive for success. They love to be the center of attention and entertain their community. Equipped with self-confidence, charisma and resolve, the rooster is focused on his passion and pursues what he believes in, cheered on by his family, fan club or employees.

But self-confidence can turn into self-serving egotism, passion into obsession, charisma into love of attention and resolve into ruthlessness. The rooster’s family, fan club or employees one day may emerge from their adoration and realise they’ve been used and left behind. The rooster’s lesson is to learn how to keep the balance between these extremes, how to lead with integrity and consideration for the needs and wants of others.

The fire element for this year is of yin quality which is symbolized by a small, unsteady flame. Yin fire is about sensitivities, emotions and tensions which – if not heard and taken into consideration – can gather momentum and cause more upheaval than quick temper yang fire. Think of a tiny spark flickering unnoticed in the undergrowth and eventually setting a whole forest on fire. Fire is said to be in a conflicting relationship with metal, the rooster’s element. The combination of yin fire and metal therefore creates heightened potential for conflict and explosive events.

On the other hand, the benevolent aspect of yin fire is optimism and enhancement of intuition and instinct which – combined with the proactive determination of the rooster – can facilitate swift finding of lasting solutions for complex issues. It’s for example a perfect year for new ground-breaking technologies and major scientific discoveries to emerge, for example how to heal certain diseases.

In summary, I feel the events of 2016 have put our humanity on the line and the alchemy of the Fire Rooster will prompt us to choose. What do we value as foundation of our lives and how will we go about it, especially in relationship to others? Is the choice coming together as a community with respect for one another? Can we agree to disagree while being kind and free of judgement? Or will the emphasis be on polarization, power games and conflict? Will we reach for solutions that benefit the community or aim to win at all costs? Will we choose to see what matters with clarity or be distracted by drama and noise? Will we take responsibility or hand out blame? Will we speak up and be counted or throw in the towel? The elections this year in Europe (Netherlands, France, Germany, Czech Republic, possibly also Italy) will be a litmus test. I for one will be sure to cast my vote for leaders with integrity, who stand tall and firmly but without using the language of fear and threats.

I also expect the dynamics of water and fire will turn our attention to climate change and the earth’s resources, how to use them with care and wisdom for the benefit of our communities – or abuse their abundance to humanity’s own detriment.

In closing, I take inspiration from “The Man Who Planted Trees”, by Jean Giono, one my favourite books. The main character, Eleazar Bouffier, is the embodiment of simple, quiet determination and positive intent that transforms a desolate landscape for the greater good of all  ….free of any need for attention.

“…he began thrusting his iron rod into the earth, making a hole in which he planted an acorn, then he refilled the hole. He was planting oak trees, I asked him if the land belonged to him. He answered no. Did he know whose it was? He did not. He supposed it was community property, or perhaps belonged to people who cared nothing about it. He was not interested in finding out whose it was. He planted his hundred acorns with the greatest care”.

 And with that I’m off to trim the hazel nut trees and check up on my salad seeds on the window sill, followed by a cuppa by the fire and my book on Hygge, a Christmas gift from a mindful friend ….

恭喜发财! May you have a prosperous Year of the Rooster!

Judith x