In Chinese Medicine we base a lot of our diagnosis and decision making on Yin and Yang and the 5 elements theory, but those concepts go way beyond the medical field. These theories were created by observing all natural phenomena and they are embodied in our day-to-day life. On February 12th, 2021 we are entering the Year of the White Ox. The White Ox is the second animal of the 12-year cycle of Chinese Zodiac.
Each year of Chinese calendar is interpreted based on:
12 earthly branches and the animal associated with it
10 heavenly stems
Yin and Yang of the earthly branches and heavenly stems
5 elements of the earthly branches and heavenly stems
Let’s take a look at 2021
This year’s earthly branch is 丑 Chou, which corresponds to Ox 牛 niú. Chou is the second branch in a 12-year cycle. According to legend, the Rat was able to trick the Ox by convincing him to give her a ride on its back and it jumped off of the Ox’s back right before the finish line beating the rest of 11 animals and appearing in front of the Emperor first. The Ox was set to be the first to arrive but was tricked by an opportunistic rat. Looking back on 2020, I think we are all ready to say goodbye to the cheater rat and welcome the hard working, diligent and dependable oxen energy. The Ox is believed to be a strong –willed, determined animal that values family and team work. This is a perfect energy for us to regroup, rebuild, repair and restore after a chaotic 2020. The Ox gets the hard tasks done. However, the Ox can also be stubborn, slow-going and might not have the best communication skills, which means 2021 will require a lot of patience and focus on the small achievements that will account for something bigger at the end of the year.
Chou is not just a year, it also describes a month, a day or time. Its time is 1am – 3am. It belongs to Yin Earth. Yin Earth represents soil, which nourishes all the plants and helps them grow and develop. It is a very nurturing energy. It gives us an opportunity to collect several harvests this year if we work on it.
2021’s heavenly stem is 辛 Xin. Xin represents Yin Metal. Unlike Yang metal of 2020 that was carved into a sword or an axe, Yin metals refer to soft metals and usually represent jewelry. Soft mendable metal symbolizes flexibility and less violence. The nature of the metal is still looking for justice and defining right and wrong, similarly to the scales of justice. This year personal responsibility is very important; admitting to wrongdoing is a first step to personal growth and being a bigger better self in 2021.
Earthly branches and heavenly stems are paired based on their Yin and Yang nature. As Chou and Xin are numbered 2 & 8, which are even numbers, they belong to Yin. Yin is a calming and relaxing energy, which means 2021 will be more harmonious and chill.
Xin is linked to metal element in 5 elements theory, while Chou is linked to earth. Metal and earth are in harmony with each other. According to the generating cycle earth is the mother of metal. That means that earth supports and strengthens the metal. This points to overall harmony and agreement. However, heavenly stem element is ranked higher than the earthly branch, making metal (child) above earth (mother) making child overpower the parent.
When it comes to health, Metal is related to Lung and Large Intestine organ system. Earth element is related to Spleen & Stomach and the digestive tract. Weak or poor digestion generates dampness that in its turn gets collected in the upper respiratory tract. This means that we are not done with Covid-19 quite yet and can still expect cold and flu type of conditions of damp nature. Lung organ system vulnerability can also lead to more skin rashes and allergies. In order to keep GI tract strong and boost the immune system, it is recommended to maintain a healthy diet this year. Try to eat warm, easy to digest food. Good examples are soups, stews, steamed vegetables, congees and pureed food. Diet should include various types of broths as well. Fire being the weakest element this year may bring about some heart related issues. Try to keep anxiety and stress at ease and work on maintaining healthy weight through proper cardiovascular exercises and a healthy diet.
As Yin Metal is also symbolic of a needle, Acupuncture is expected to be a treatment of choice utilizing a main healing element of 2021 in the core of its practice. Have a wonderful Year of the White Ox filled with kindness and compassion!