Happy new year of the Metal Ox. This Chinese year, which starts on 12th February and will last until 30th January 2022, is very dear to my heart because I am a Metal Ox. It should be a calmer year than the year of the Rat, which is the first sign of the 12 signs in Chinese astrology. The beginning of a new cycle can create upheavals – and certainly the beginning of the Rat year on January 25th was the beginning of a year full of upheavals bought about by COVID-19. Ox is a slower moving animal than the Rat and so perhaps will bring some calming influence on the new year ahead.
I have been writing these Chinese animal blogs since my first one on the Snake in February 2013. Unfortunately, I missed out writing about the year of the Rat last year, partly because of all the shifts which were going on.
If you want to understand a little more about Chinese astrology, you might want to read some of the posts I have already written. In them, I give general information on the significance of the animal signs in Chinese culture and reflections on how we can relate to them today. The Horse was in 2014 (my daughter’s sign) followed by the Goat in 2015 the Monkey in 2016, the Dog in 18 and the Pig (my son’s sign) in 2019.
The Year of the Rat is the first zodiac sign. According to the Chinese story, the Jade Emperor held a competition to decide the order of the animals. The quick-witted Rat asked the diligent ox to carry him over the river and jumped down before the Ox crossed the finish line. The Rat won the race and became the first of the zodiac animals.
I don’t associate myself entirely with the characteristics of the Ox, although there are some I do. Those of you who know me might want to see which of Ox’s characteristics they see in me! Ox and Rat are said to be quite compatible: Rat is Yang and Ox is Yin. Metal is also Yin, so this year of the Ox is a slower moving quality than the Metal Yang Rat of last year.
I like how the Chinese attribute human characteristics to animals. It helps us to remember that they are our fellow creatures, sharing this earth with us and that we need to treat them with respect.
We need to remember that some of the characteristics attributed to the Ox, are linked to traditional associations with the ox, which had an important place in traditional Chinese culture and religion. I think the Chinese were referring to both male and female cattle. An important animal for farming, families often sold an Ox to pay for their children’s education. The Ox was also important in religion representing the power and stability of nature. Respect was shown for this creature.
The qualities which are celebrated for oxen therefore are hard- working, diligent, dependable, honest, strong, and determined. These reflect traditional conservative characteristics. Oxen are said to be slow, down to earth, and often stubborn. Although they are considered to be more placid in their nature, they can also be creative. They represent the harvest and fertility.
Having great patience and a desire to make progress, Oxen tend to achieve their goals by consistent effort. They are not so much influenced by others or the environment but persist in doing things according to their ideals and capabilities. Before taking any action, Oxen will have a definite plan with detailed steps, to which they apply their strong faith and physical strength. As a result, people of the Ox zodiac sign often enjoy great success.
Oxen are considered to be weakest in their communication skills. They are not good at communicating with others, and even think it is not worthwhile to exchange ideas. They tend more to stubbornly stick to their own ways.
Compare that with how we treat oxen these days. We don’t tend to use them as working animals to pull ploughs. Most cows today are bred for milk or meat and increasingly spend their lives inside, fed and milked by machines. They are not living in the outside world, receiving her light, and chewing her grass. Indeed, many fields are cultivated with sunflowers, maize and beans to feed cattle, rather than being fed to humans.
So, I wish you well during this new year of the Ox, and I look forward to hearing your reflections on what this year of the Ox might mean or bring for you.