Saturday, February 13, 2010

Year of the Tiger 2010

Because the Chinese Year of the Metal Tiger starts this year on Valentine's Day, February 14th—and because 2009 was such a miserable year due to the recession for so many people—I thought I'd take a good look at what a Metal Tiger year might have in store for us.

First, though, let's take a quick look back at what 2009, the Year of the Earth Ox, was all about. Oxen are slow moving, stubborn animals that can bear heavy burdens that would overwhelm any other animal in the Chinese zodiac. Given their way, they tend to stay calm and close to home. They're sturdy, extremely stable and determined. From a mythological point of view the ox is not an exciting sign but it is also not without ambition. In Chinese culture it symbolizes courage in the face of adversity. Qualities the Ox can bring is the ability to hold steady through the hard times. An ox is a supremely grounded, earthbound animal. An Earth Ox is doubly so. Pretty appropriate qualities for getting through a financial recession, don't you think?

By contrast, the Tiger is a dynamo. Remember the old Esso gas station slogan: put a tiger in your tank? Tigers are aggressive predators. They can be patient as they stalk their prey but they're impulsive, like a housecat that leaps at any bird or mouse shaped thing that moves. In Chinese mythology Tigers are associated with sudden growth and expansion. Imagine a tensely wound feline who has the ability to pounce when the opportunity arises. And imagine the ferocity that is released when it does. Now translate that energy into a metaphor for the collective. So many of us have felt frustrated and housebound in the past year. Now we're wanting to come out of our dens and go hunting. And heaven forbid anything gets in the way of our perceived prey! All the predictions for 2010 predict a potentially tumultuous year.

But there's more, let's not forget about the Metal part. Most people know that the Chinese New Year is always represented by an animal. There are 12 in all that are rotated through one year to the next. What you might not know is that there is an element associated with each year, too. The Chinese elements are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal.

The element of Metal is a substance that is found in the Earth -- think gold or silver -- that is relatively useless until refined and shaped by a human hand. In Chinese Five Element Theory Metal represents that act of refinement, the elimination of all that is not necessary in order to uncover and make use of the precious substance that might remain. Qualities associated with Metal include a certain austerity or leanness but it's leanness with a sense of purpose attached. Choices are being made. And values and an ability to discriminate between what is useful and what is not is a big part of what this is all about. No haste, no waste, putting things in order, paying the utmost attention to what's most important—these are the qualities the element Metal can bring.

Unfortunately, Metal and the Tiger are not easy friends. Imagine putting a survival and instinct oriented wild tiger in a metal suit of armor. It might hate it at first, jumping and leaping about trying to get it off! But there's not much choice. Somehow the Metal Tiger has to come to peace with the situation or tear itself apart. That's another thing this year can be about—the melding of discrimination, values and purpose with the keen instincts, timing and ferocious intensity of the cat. In a Metal Tiger Year it is not beneficial to just pounce on the first thing we see to eat. We need to hold to what it is we most want to create, to meld courage with our deepest convictions, and use that talent to watch for, create and go after what we really need and value now.

A Metal armored Tiger, at peace with its true nature, cannot be stopped. It's a force to be reckoned with. In the wrong hands, it could be a tyrannical villain. But in the right ones it becomes an ethical champion fighting for the greatest good for all concerned.

1 comment:

Anne Vis said...

Beautiful description! Let's hope 2010 will be a better year for all of us ...