In Chinese Medicine, we base a lot of our diagnosis and decision-making on Yin and Yang and the 5 elements theory, but these concepts go way beyond the medical field. These theories were created by observing all natural phenomena and they are incorporated into our day-to-day lives. On January 22nd, 2023 we are entering the Year of the Water Rabbit. The Rabbit is the fourth animal of the 12-year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac.
Each year of the Chinese calendar is interpreted based on:
12 earthly branches and the animal associated with it
10 heavenly stems
Yin or Yang of the earthly branch and the heavenly stem
5 elements of the earthly branch and heavenly stem
Let’s take a look at 2023
This year’s earthly branch is 卯 Mao, which corresponds to Rabbit 兔 tu. Mao is the fourth branch in a 12-year cycle as the rabbit is considered one of the fastest animals completing the race to the emperor just behind a sneaky rat, an ox, and a tiger. The rabbit is a communal animal, therefore this year is calling for community work and being able to work together as a group. I personally hope that 2023 will be a year of coming together as people, helping each other, and learning to understand and support each other to recover the bonds destroyed by the divisiveness of 2023.
Mao is not just a year, it also describes a month, a day, or time. Its corresponding time is 5 am – 7 am and its season is spring - the most active time of the year when everything in nature comes out of the ground, sprouts, and starts to blossom. The year of the rabbit calls for new beginnings, major changes, and growth. It symbolizes strength and prosperity.
2023 is ruled by Yin Wood. As opposed to the big tree metaphor of the previous year's Yang Wood, Yin Wood represents grass, flowers, and vines that are soft and flexible. This year is the time for creativity and growth.
The nature of the Wood is wind and the wind represents changes. Be prepared "to go with the flow", adapt and adjust easily. The windy nature of the year also brings the potential for windstorms and hurricanes. Because of the shaky nature of the year, there is also a prediction of earthquakes in 2023, especially under the ocean.
2023’s heavenly stem is 癸 Gui. Gui represents Yin Water. Yin Water is like mist or rain nourishing the vegetation of the Wood element. The color associated with the Water element is black, its correspondent organ is the Kidneys and its nature is cold. Kidneys are closely associated with adrenals in Chinese Medicine. To avoid adrenal fatigue, try to get full 8 hours of sleep this year. Laying down flat helps to connect to Kidney energy in order to prevent edema, decreased libido, infertility, lower back problems, and poor memory.
Earthly branches and heavenly stems are paired based on their Yin and Yang nature. As Mao and Gui are numbered 4 & 10, which are even numbers, they belong to Yin. Yin is a consolidating and storing energy, which means 2023 should be calm and restful to balance the sprouting and active nature of the wood element of the year.
Gui is linked to the Water element in the 5 elements theory, while Mao is linked to the Wood. The Water and the Wood are in harmony with each other because they follow a natural mother-son relationship as the Water nourishes and strengthens the Wood. According to the generating cycle, the Water is the mother of the Wood. Heavenly stems are also more powerful than the earthly branches, therefore the hierarchy of power is observed in a harmonious way.
When it comes to health, the water is related to the Kidneys and Urinary Bladder. The Wood element is related to Liver and Gallbladder. If you have a tendency for the liver energy to be stuck instead of moving freely, you can be dealing with anger and timidity this year. The water element is related to fear and willfulness. There is a risk of being caught up in swirling water, having doubts, and feeling stuck. Stagnancy in the liver can also bring about headaches and tinnitus. On the contrary, if you're moving too quickly, the water element will not be able to support the growth leaving you weak and tired. It is extremely important to balance activity with rest this year. Overactive liver energy can also put a strain on the digestive system. It is important to have a regimented nourishing diet and perhaps even incorporate an abdominal massage. Avoid overeating and drinking in 2023. Springtime energetically calls for a lighter diet. Stick to steaming, stir-frying and flash-cooking methods. Eat sprouted greens, more vegetables and sour/fermented foods. Sour flavor goes with the liver and softens the tension of the wood element.
As the Wood element represents compassion, healing, and natural medicine, 2023 is a perfect year to seek holistic medical care, particularly herbal treatments. Also, the rabbit symbolizes love, sex, and easy multiplication which makes 2023 the perfect year to s