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 February 10th, 2024 we are entering the Year of the Wood Dragon. The Dragon is the fifth 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 2024
This year’s earthly branch is 辰 Chen, which corresponds to Dragon 龙 long. Chen is the fifth branch in a 12-year cycle because, according to legend, the Dragon completed the race to the emperor behind the Rat, Ox, Tiger, and Rabbit. The Dragon is a mystical animal that brings about profound connections, transformative energies, and a sense of liberation. It serves as a symbol of creativity, imagination, and a strong ability to transform matter. Furthermore, the Dragon signifies qualities of leadership, power, and success. However, like any creature, the Dragon has its weaknesses such as being indecisive, frequently changing its mind, and having a tendency to give up when facing challenges.
Chen is not just a year, it also describes a month, a day, and the time of the day. Its corresponding time is 7 am – 9 am and its month is April - the time when everything in nature transitions from spring to summer. Therefore, the Year of the Dragon calls for a transformative journey from adolescence to adulthood, suggesting a period of significant growth, both on a personal and global scale. It may be a time of progress, development, and forward momentum.
In 2024, the ruling forces are Yang Earth and Yang Wood, because the dragon belongs to the earth element as it resides in the rocks. The imagery associated with Yang Earth is that of a steadfast and stable mountain, promising a year of groundedness, trustworthiness, and practicality.
2024’s heavenly stem is 甲 Jia. Jia represents Yang Wood. Yang Wood is like a majestic tree penetrating the top of the mountain. Its energy is so strong that as it grows and expands it can crack even a solid foundation. So quite literally we can expect more earthquakes in 2024. Mudslides and sinkholes (dampness moving the soil/earth) might also occur. On a metaphorical level, escalating tensions from anger and impatience (Wood traits) may give rise to arguments and power struggles shaking things up in the political landscape.
The color associated with the Wood element is green-blue, its cardinal direction is East, its corresponding organs are the Liver and Gallbladder and its nature is wind. The Liver and Gallbladder open into the eyes and their associated tissue is tendons and ligaments. When not nourished by an abundant supply of blood and body fluids, they may manifest as blurry vision, vertigo, stiffness of the joints, as well as muscle twitches and spasms.
Earthly branches and heavenly stems are paired based on their Yin and Yang nature. As Chen and Jia are numbered 5 & 1, which are even numbers, they belong to Yang. Yang is a moving energy representative of action, the sun & daytime, and masculinity, which means the year 2024 is expected to be dynamic, and full of action and transformation. The Wood element itself is very Yang in nature which further amplifies the above properties of the year. Yang energy encourages taking initiative and embracing innovation. This could manifest as a period where individuals and societies are more inclined to initiate new projects, explore uncharted territories, and embrace change.
Jia is linked to the Wood element in the 5- elements theory, while Chen is linked to the Earth. Wood prevails energetically because the cosmic energy of heavenly stems (the climate from the atmosphere) is stronger than the one generated by Earth. That is where the energies clash: Wood and Earth are in a controlling relationship, where the Wood controls and often overacts on the Earth.
If you have a tendency for Liver Qi Stagnation, you can be dealing with anger, high blood pressure, and migraines this year. On the contrary, if you have weakness in the Liver and Gallbladder you might find yourself feeling timid and indecisive. The Earth element is related to the digestive system, when insulted by an "angry" Liver it can cause IBS-type symptoms. The Fire element is a mediator between the two, thus to maintain digestive and emotional well-being it is essential to activate the digestive fire. Include warm and cooked foods in your diet, and incorporate spices such as ginger, cumin, fennel, turmeric, and black pepper, especially during the colder months. However, avoid overeating and drinking in 2024. 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. A sour flavor goes with the liver and softens the tension of the wood element.
Wood promotes the principles of kindness, compassion, healing, and medicine, giving special emphasis to natural and holistic medical practices. If you've been considering integrating the wisdom of Chinese Medicine into your life, now is the perfect time to start an Acupuncture or Herbal Treatment routine.
As we step into the transformative year of the Wood Dragon, let this powerful energy guide you toward a year of profound healing and growth.