Wheel of the Year

SAMHAIN – THE SACRED NEW YEAR The Cycle of Birth, Life, Death and Rebirth

samhain-stags

In the Old Ways that we still celebrate to this day, Samhain is the Celtic New Year. On October 31st, we once again turn the Wheel of the Year and contemplate life and death and rebirth. It is a night of wonder and magic. The past, present and future are one. On this night, we recognize that the fallen leaves are decaying. We remind ourselves that this decay feeds new life to come. We honor the generations that have come before and we shine the light of our best wishes and most beautiful dreams onto those yet to come.

honoring-trees

Samhain is the night when the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest. Samhain is pronounced SAH-wen or SHAV-na, and it is the night for reconnecting with our ancestors. We honor them for the life and energy they passed on to us through the miracle of our DNA. If we take a Shamanic Journey, we sometimes meet them. An ancestor may show up as an individual personality, or as a general archetype. In any case, we show respect by having no expectations of them and making no apologies for them. We consciously appreciate their efforts on our behalf, and know they watch over us. We can ask for their advice, protection and guidance for the upcoming year. We can converse with them to let them know what we are up to in life. We can assure them that we want them on our side. We want to receive their blessings. We can ask for their blessings for our children and grandchildren, too.

remember-ancestorsThis is the night when the gateway between our world and the spirit world is the thinnest. Tonight is the night to call out those who came before. Tonight I honor my ancestors. Spirits of my mothers and fathers, I call to you. I welcome you to join me for this night. You watch over me always, protecting and guiding me. Tonight, I thank you. Your blood runs in my veins. Your spirit is in my heart. Your memories are in my soul. I remember all of you. You are dead but never forgotten. You live on in me, and within those who are yet to come.

carved-w-moon-stars

Samhain is also a good night to contemplate our own mortality. It is a good time to look at wrapping up the old and preparing for the new in our lives. If anything is left undone, this is the perfect time to resolve it. Once unfinished matters are cleared away, we can begin looking toward the next year, free from restraints and encumbrances. We can then look to see how any unwanted aspects from our personal year can be released and transformed. We can also look into the crystal ball of our mind’s eye and get a glimpse of what is to come in the year ahead. This is, indeed, a most magical time!

 

turning-of-the-year

The Year of the Fire Monkey 2016 Forecasting Fast Progress!

in hoop

As you read this forecast for the Year of the Fire Monkey 2016, you will want to keep in mind that, as with all forecasts and predictions, they vary from source to source, depending on how the forecaster reads the indicators. There can be opposite views – one person may see favorable aspects where another sees challenges. Also, these predictions are based on only a portion of the information needed. It is like reading your horoscope, which is based on only the Sun Sign, not on your complete chart.

So I’m starting out with a reminder that what you read here comes from various viewpoints and is written from the angle of the generalities of the Sign of the Fire Monkey. Still, it is fun to have some idea of what we might expect and get some perspective and guidelines for how to respond. So . . .

Legend says that before the Lord Buddha left this Earth, he summoned all the animals to come to him. Only twelve came. First to arrive was the Rat, then the Ox, followed by the Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar. The Asian calendar employs the metaphors of these 12 Animals to convey a quality of qi (energy) for each year. It is not to be taken too literally! The energy archetype of the fire monkey is one of agility and being fast moving and creative.

The Monkey bursts with exuberance, bringing a lightening fast pace and fantastical motivation. It increases communication, humor and wit, helping us get through stressful times with grace and ease. Business flourishes and risks tend to pan out. The Monkey’s gift is the ability to find unconventional solutions to old problems. Daring to be different can lead to success.

Although a lively, optimistic and progressive year where finances, politics, and real estate should see an upturn, there will be a decided undercurrent of insecurity. Nations that are created in the Year of the Monkey usually spawn great minds. Even though the monkey is impatient and scattered brained, he has a whole lot of ingenious ideas in store. Everyone wants to work the shrewdest angle, get the best deal, and win big. However, business decisions made this year should be based on fact, not emotion. Problems and dishonesty abound, so nothing this year should be taken for granted, whether politically, financially, professionally, domestically or emotionally. It is a year to watch out for deception. Talk can be “fast and cheap.”

The positive and negative qualities of the Monkey Year 2016 culminate in a year that anything can happen. There is little point in storing up goods or planning one’s life. The influence of the Monkey puts everything into flux. Things will get accomplished, but largely through personal and individual efforts. Group movements, such as political upheaval or revolutions, may not make much of a mark during this year.

A particularly auspicious time for new inventions, the Year of the Monkey is for taking risks and being rebellious, a year where agile, inventive minds, sheer guts and bravado will win out. A lot of global economic growth can be expected in the Year of the Monkey. Expect a lot of life changing inventions to be released. Now is the time of courage, action, anarchy, and true devotion to even the wildest of schemes, a time to start new endeavors, for they are destined to succeed under Monkey’s influence. But a word to the wise: those who can hang on for the wild ride, outsmart the confidence-trickster, and bluff their way through, will come out unscathed. Those who are dull or slow-witted, and can’t handle the stress will come unglued.

RedOn the individual level, do go ahead with your life. Move forward, make strides, and stretch out for what may lay ahead. The key to success this year is education. This is not meant as mere college or graduate school but to take up courses that matter for your everyday life not just for your career or status. Don’t be too shy to take up silly little courses at your books shop or join those financial groups to help manage your money or start up a small business. The monkey is all about being creative and innovative with what you have. The Year Of The Monkey 2016 is a time for business considered as risky, and here the seeds of unplanned success lay. Run with ideas, embrace the inventive, and don’t look back.

The Year of the Monkey 2016 is a good year to break free and take calculated risks, as there is nothing more powerful or rewarding than following your heart’s desire. The energies are supporting these changes. Remember that this year will reward the individual effort and those who place their trust in the group collective could face disappointment.

The almanac also states how people born under other signs will fare in the year of the Monkey. This is a generally auspicious year for Rats, Oxen, Dragons, Horses, Monkeys, Roosters and Dogs. This could be a difficult year for Tigers, Snakes, Dogs and Boars. Rabbits should beware their finances. Sheep should take care of their health.

Amazing Year for: Rats, Dragons, Monkeys – brings charm and confidence. Unstable but dynamic!

Positive Year for: Goats, Rabbits, and Ox improvement in all areas of life. Progress finally!

Exciting Year for: Roosters, Horses – Tricky situations abound. Enjoy the stimulation!

Complex Year for: Tigers, Snakes, Boars, Dogs – strong focus and objectivity brings the best results.

with kanji

 

WINTER SOLSTICE: The Return of the Light

mystical iceflows

Winter Solstice is one of my favorite holidays.

I love the magical paradox of Winter Solstice:

that it is both the longest night of the year.

 

Solstice Sunrise

And . . .

simultaneously,

the return

of the light

to the Earth.

 

Snow-covered, Sun's halo

I love the resounding silence that blankets the land when the snow falls. I love the stillness that protects all new life incubating within The Earth Mother.

Winter Solstice signals us to get quiet; to go within; to seek peace. We rest, recharge, and incubate the dream that lies growing within us, in power and beauty, to reconnect us with our own soul’s essence.

 

baby

This is the time to reconnect with your original self, your true soul, and to let yourself rest in its power and beauty.

 

 

Horse in Snow

Great Horned in Snow

Consider what you do, instinctively, to stay connected to your light. Find the deep comfort that restores you at this time of sacred darkness. ‘Tis the season!

The Autumn Equinox Shifting Winds and Crinkling Leaves: The Second Harvest

Dying Horned God

Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, divides the day and night equally. It is a time of balance. It is a time of the Mysteries. We honor the changing seasons and the Aging Deities of the Spirit World, and pay our respects to the impending dark. We watch the earth die a little each day and consciously embrace this slow descent into the dark as another dimension of appreciating the light. Thus begins the traditional time of year for meditating on the themes of life, death, and rebirth.

At the same time, we give thanks to the waning sunlight, as we store our second and final harvest of this year’s crops – the fruit that has stayed on the trees, and plants that have ripened under the summer sun. We thank the Earth, in her full abundance as Mother and Giver, for the great harvest. As Autumn begins, it is the time to stop and relax and enjoy the fruits of our personal harvests, as well.

Big orange moon

Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, is a time for harvesting and reflecting on the past year. Considering the theme of the balance of light and dark, we will take a few moments to contemplate the contrasts in our own lives. Is there any unresolved issue inside you you’ve been longing to reap the rewards of? Now is the time to take this energy and turn it to your own purposes. Regard it as part of the harvest of your life, food for thought, something to chew on, etc. Feast on the nutritious parts – the lessons . . . and eliminate the waste – the pain, hurt, negative feelings. Offer the “waste” to the Earth Mother as compost. It will enrich your ground, the ground of your being. Count your blessings!

May your hearts and spirits

be filled to overflowing!

SOLSTICE

As the light wanes and the days grow colder, the season of stillness returns.  It is the time to go quietly within and incubate the seeds of your heart’s desire, to cradle your hopes and dreams in the protected place of your inner stillness.  This place rests deep within the center of your consciousness, at the core of your being.  You can go there consciously by getting into a state of meditation or deep prayer.  If you don’t do it consciously, you will find that your mind goes there automatically to allow itself the period of inactivity that regains strength, clarity and energy.  It is necessary for health so it happens without conscious thought or intent, just like breathing or blinking your eyes.  You know you have been there when you “come to” from a daydream you can’t bring back or recall.  But why wait until your system has to close down and space out?  Why not, instead, take a moment here and there to rest your body/mind system before it gets overloaded and stressed out?  Here is one simple way:

Close your eyes and count your breaths for six breaths.  For those six breaths, do not allow anything into your mind except the tracking of your breaths.  As you breathe in, count “one.”  Keep that going, that “one,” for the whole in-breath and keep it going for the entire out-breath.  No thoughts but breathing “one.”  Then breathe “two,” etc.  You may find that you cannot even get through a breath or two without other thoughts breaking in.  As soon as you become aware that you are having a thought, just put it aside and begin to concentrate once again on your breathing.  Start from “one” again.  Don’t worry if you don’t make it to six, and don’t get upset.  The effort, alone, has benefit!  The more often you do this, the easier it gets to keep your concentration.  Once you can think of nothing but your breath for six breaths, you can increase it to ten, but you never have to go higher.  If you can get to ten with no other thought than your breath, you are definitely in a meditative state!

Since the beginning of time people all over the globe have honored the change of seasons.  Every season is a gift from the Creator and has its purpose.  Winter is the season for quiet.  The seed lies in the earth undisturbed.  Although it seems dormant, necessary changes are taking place for the seed to be able to shoot up in the Spring.  Interference during this sleep stage puts the seed at risk of never developing.  At this stage, cultivation means leaving it alone to develop in peace and quiet.

When you correlate this idea to the “season” of the 21st Century human, Winter becomes a good time for developing your mind – studying, meditating, planning, letting new ideas gestate, clearing out closets or junk rooms and spaces to make room for new growth, and things of that nature.  It is a great time to develop your Chakras.  Chakras are wheels of light within the body, and Solstice heralds the return of the Light to the Earth.  The timing is perfect for bringing the light of your body into harmony with the light of the Earth.

If you are one who gets disheartened in the cold and dark of the winter months, remember that every season has its purpose.  Although there are real chemical and hormonal influences that may be helped by light, you can also elicit the help of your mind.  Remind yourself that the solstice, while being the longest night, also marks the return of the light.  You may want to ask yourself, “What do I do to stay connected to the light?  How do I prepare for its return in my life?”

For some, it can cheer you up and help you stay positive to do something contemplative – meditation, Chakra development, a silent retreat, even writing a poem that celebrates the cultivation of the seed within the Earth and within yourself.

If the idea of cultivating your Chakras interests you, please come join me at Bridge Between the Worlds this Saturday, December 15, from 10:00-5:30.  See the flyer on my website,www.lindyferrigno.com, for more details about location and cost, and look for the next post for more information about Chakras.

I wish you a Merry Solstice.  May the Longest Night bring you closer to the Light!

 

HAPPY SPRING EQUINOX – March 20, 2014

‘Tis the season of the Spring Equinox, the festival of the greening of the earth,

when the hours of night and day stand in equilibrium.

Happy Ostara!

At 12:57 PM, Eastern Daylight Time, as the sun passes over the equator, the earth’s gravity is balanced in such a way that you can stand a raw egg straight up on end ~ or so I’ve been told. I have never actually done it myself, but I know people who have. If you want to try it, you only have a few moments to make it work, the moments just before the exact time of Equinox. Here’s how: you find a reasonably level outdoor surface, like a sidewalk or driveway; you place a raw egg on the groundwith the wider end down; and it stands up by itself! The people who told me they did this did it as an activity with their kids, and the kids loved it. Even at my age I know I would love it [if only I could remember not to schedule clients . . . ].

Eggs

‘Eggs’ and ‘balance’ are the keynotes of this seasonal marker. The Vernal Equinox indicates the exact midpoint between the Winter and Summer Solstices ~ the perfect balance of dark and light, night and day, feminine and masculine, yin and yang. Of course, perfect balance lasts for just a moment (as is borne out with the egg). The light already begins to grow stronger, and Nature’s ability to renew and rebirth herself strengthens as well. And that’s where the egg comes into play.

Spring is all about Nature’s fertility – new growth and new beginnings – the greening of the earth. It is the time to plan your gardens, start your seedlings, and ready the earth for later spring plantings. It is also the season of mating, which is why the rabbit is another symbol of the season. March hares are famous for their fecundity.  Females can actually conceive their next litter while still pregnant with the first.

Fertility

Bunny rabbits, candy, colored eggs and new clothes are all ancient traditions from Ostara celebrations that have carried through into our Easter customs. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the Vernal Equinox. Ostara (OH-star-a) is the word for the Vernal Equinox from the old Celtic and Germanic languages. It comes from the same root as “east.” The direction ‘east’ is another symbol of new beginnings, as it is the direction of the rising sun.

New Growth

Whether you call it Ostara, the Vernal Equinox or just Springtime, this is the season of rebirth, renewal and rejuvenation. Celebrate this change of seasons by taking a walk in a park or forest. Notice the new growth that is beginning, and feel how its sweet freshness has a power to it. Try eating fresh spring foods like dandelion greens and nettles.  Or . . . consider a cleansing fast or diet. In Asian medicine, early spring is the perfect time for cleansing the liver and gall bladder.

Spring Cleaning

Across the globe, Spring is the time for cleaning.  After clearing out the cobwebs and opening the windows to air out any staleness, you can add another dimension by smudging the house with incense to purify it. Sage and sandalwood are appropriate and very popular, but I don’t find their aromas particularly pleasing. I prefer other purification incenses, like copal, lavendar, cedar or lemon. Walk throughout the house fanning, waving or blowing the smoke from the incense all around the rooms. Intention is everything, so feel free to say prayers as you do this, or voice your needs and wants for the environment.  Don’t neglect the corners and unused areas.  Energy collects and stagnates there, just like dust does. I think you will notice a clear difference after you have completed your purification.

Renewal

Renewal is the theme, and renewing ourselves can be done on more levels than the physical realm. We can think in terms of renewing our thoughts, dreams and aspirations, too. A lovely way to do this is with a simple, childlike ritual. Can you remember how at-purpose children with their activities?

Choose something you would like to see grow in your mind (gratitude, patience, etc.) or in your life (a project, promotion, etc.) and plant it as a seed. Literally. Hold the seed in your hand, empty your mind of everything but your desire for your goal, and pour that desire into the seed. When you feel complete, focus all your intention into that seed as you plant it. Then focus on the pot of soil after you have planted it. Keep the seed alive and grow it to maturity with love and caring. Every time you take care of it, put yourself in that same concentrated mindset as when you planted it and feel the happiness of your heart’s enthusiasm and purpose.

Happy Ostara as you welcome in the newness of Spring with inspiration! 

THE WHEEL OF THE YEAR TURNS – IMBOLC – FEBRUARY 1st – 2nd

…the faint stirring of seeds has begun.

The sap is rising in the trees.  Leaf buds are ever-so-slightly swelling.  Under the snow-covered belly of the Mother Earth, the faint stirring of seeds has begun.  Bulbs are pushing up. Snowdrops and crocuses are breaking through the snow.  You can hear the difference in the chirping sound your backyard birds are making, and you know they are building nests.  Ewes and nanny goats are ready for lambing and kidding.  The Wheel of the Year has turned once more.

Warming The Earth from Winter To Spring

Imbolc marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox.  It is the true start of Spring. – – a new awakening under the sparkling frost of the slumbering fields.  This is the time when the waters begin to melt and flow, a time for cleansing and purification.  It is the time when we notice the sun’s light lengthening and our own spirits grow brighter as well.  This is the time, in the Celtic tradition, to honor Brigid (pronounced Bride), the goddess of water and fire, and the patroness of poetry, smith craft and midwifery.  She brings us gifts of inspiration, creativity and healing.  She is the patroness of childbirth and she watches over pregnant women and mothers.

Now is when we start our Spring cleaning, not only of our homes, but also of our bodies and minds.  It is a good time for purification diets (particularly for the liver and gall bladder) and for new perspectives, ideas, plans and goals.  Like the newborn lambs and kids taking their first wobbly steps and suckling mother’s milk for strength and nurturance, we give life and light to our own visions and wisdom, and take the first brave steps toward manifesting them into reality.  We sweep away the cobwebs from the corners of our rooms and minds and clear space for the newness that is blossoming within.

Life in the Belly

The word ‘Imbolc’ is pronounced IM-oke, orIM-ulg, and has two common translations. One is “in the belly” and refers to the belly of the Mother [Earth] where the seeds are stirring with growth.  This translation can be seen to mean “in the womb,” as it also speaks of lambs, kids and calves that are also “in the belly.”  The second translation is “ewe’s milk.”  These translations point to the traditional honoring of mothers and healers, and all those who nurture us.

I don’t remember where this chant came from, but I find it to be lovely and completely within the spirit of the emerging Spring.  I like to go from room to room in my house, lighting a candle in each room as I go, saying:

I open

Gently open

To the divine inside me

I open

Gently open

To the sacred light

I wish you strength and warmth

I wish you strength and warmth in the returning light of the sun.  May you have a happy and blessed IMBOLC!

 

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR OF THE HORSE!

The Year of the Horse is a generally positive one! Here is what Theodora Lau, renowned Chinese astrologer has to say:

A lively and high-spirited year for all. Life will be hectic and punctuated with adventures. People will find themselves reckless, romantic and carefree. A definite time for advancement. We will find it quite agreeable to keep in step with the delightful Horse.

This will be a time when decisions and projects will be incorporated at high speed and with efficiency. Action will be the key word. Everything is on the go and we should take care not to drive ourselves too hard. It will be a rewarding but exhausting year.

Exhilarating yet frustrating at times, this year’s pace will tax our reserve energies and leave us feeling depleted. It is a good time for letting off steam and doing all the whimsical things you ever dreamed about. Listen to your senses. The wind may be changing constantly, but once you have picked up the scent, follow your intuitions.

Planning and procrastinating will be shoved aside. The impulsive influence of the Horse, coupled with his self-confidence, will dictate our actions and emotions. Industry, production and the world’s economy will be on an upswing. Tempers, too, may be a bit frayed in areas of diplomacy and politics. But good humor will prevail.

Brace yourselves, the volatile Horse will quicken our pulses and bring tension and stress into our everyday lives. The Horse’s tempo is fast, his disposition sanguine but erratic. But in spite of everything, we will retain his common sense approach toward money matters. An excellent time to strike out on your own. There will be freedom of movement this year. Be brave, bold and shocking!

I WISH A HAPPY NEW YEAR OF THE HORSE TO ALL!!!

HALLOWEEN AND HONORING THE DEAD

Although it is mostly a children’s holiday in the U.S., in many cultures Halloween is the traditional time for honoring the beloved who have left us.  They have gone on without us, with the compassionate help of the Angel of Death, to their next experience.  November 1st is the Day of the Dead, but the celebration happens the night before on Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve (like New Year’s Eve or Mardi Gras).  On this night, the Veil Between The Worlds is said to be very thin and the deceased can easily find their way back to earth for a visit.  This makes communication with them more accessible, or you may even see them – thus the familiar ghost costumes.  Some cultures set a place at the dinner table for the departed.  Others put out wine and cakes or cookies.  Most cultures light candles to make it easier for the spirits of the deceased to locate their homes and loved ones.

It was a real joy for me to contribute as a presenter at the Shiatsu Symposium in Chicago in mid-October.  Not only did I have the great pleasure of introducing 40+ participants to their Personal Power Animals and showing them the advantage of giving a treatment using their “animal hands,” but I also got the rare opportunity to be a student in the other workshops.  One of the workshops was about using shiatsu in treating the grieving process.  I couldn’t help but think what a perfect time of year it was for this topic.  In Asian medicine, autumn is the season of the Metal Element, and the emotion connected with Metal is grief.  It was at this time of year I lost some of my most beloved – one of my best friends three years ago, my sister two years ago, and my most influential teacher last year.

Another feature of the Symposium was called “Dinner With The Instructor.”  It was an opportunity for participants to probe deeper on the subject of the class, ask about training, or anything in the field they wanted to know more about.  Instructors were told they could suggest a topic of interest that they would likethe participants to bring up if they were interested.  I chose as my topic the lineage of Zen Shiatsu.  I realized that I may be one of the very few left alive in the United States who studied with both its founder, Shizuto Masunaga, and his Number One Disciple, Akinobu Kishi.

When I was teaching at the Shiatsu Education Center of America in New York City in the 1970’s, I was one of four instructors who carried out the vision of the school.  Three of us – Pauline, Esther and I – took care of Master Masunaga when he came to New York to teach his week long seminars.  We were with him from breakfast until he fell asleep at the dinner table late at night.  It was such a privilege because we discovered that he would teach more of the essence of his work over food and drink than he did in the classroom.  Being privy to this made me hungry for more, but Masunaga lived in Japan and did not teach foreigners.

A different grouping of three – Pauline, Pamela and I – taught in Europe in countries where the school had students.  I had been to several countries many times and loved watching how different cultures understood and used the same information and techniques that we were teaching.  After a couple of years, students in Germany were complaining that we were not there often enough for them to advance their skills, which made me consider moving there.  Then Kishi came to New York.  He came only once, but I knew right away that I wanted to study with him.  He lived in Paris . . . and that was possible.

By the time I was able to arrange to move to Europe, Kishi had moved to Germany.  That meant that there was a student body already waiting for a teacher.  I was able to stay for a couple of years because I had work to support me.  As is the traditional Japanese custom for student-teacher relationships, I lived in the same house with Kishi and had 24-hour access to his teaching.  It was a defining time in my life, and certainly the most fascinating and satisfying learning experience under the sun.  Kishi was extraordinary in his ability to accept life as it was, whatever presented itself to him, and to make the absolute best of it.  And he was a powerful healer of exceptional ability.  Being around him was an absolutely uplifting experience every day.  He has been the most significant influence on my practice – not so much in technique, but in how I understand energy and its movement through a life, the suffering and healing of a human being.

Kishi died in October of last year.  My “baby” sister passed two years ago, and Pauline, whom I mentioned above and who was my good friend and colleague for 30 years, crossed over three years ago.  Esther died the year before Pauline and Pamela passed about 10 years ago.  There is no one left who shares that special part of my personal history that was so formative in molding the woman I have become.  And yet, I have some peace at this time of year because I know they are close.  And I know how truly fortunate I am to have had them in my life.  I am filled with love as I write this.  I feel my love for them and theirs for me.  And, even if there are tears in my eyes, there is a smile on my face and in my heart for all that love and for the sheer luck of having had them close.

On Halloween, what I have done for years to honor my loved ones is to light a candle at midnight and do a loving kindness meditation for my parents and ancestors.  I believe the energy that they invested in making their progeny was strong enough to live on.  In a certain way, I feel there is still a vested interest in my success and happiness.  So after sending love and gratitude, I sit quietly in the stillness, feeling so much love coming right back to me.  I sit . . . and I listen.  After all, if there is, indeed, a vested interest in my life, there may be a message for my future.

This year, as well as including my ancestors, I will add my sister, my teachers and my friends to my meditation.  I wonder what inspiration they will bring!

May this Halloween bring your loved ones closer to you!

CHINESE YEAR OF THE SNAKE

This year, Chinese New Year falls on Sunday, February 10. Of course, the big celebration is Saturday night  — New Year’s Eve!  It is a huge event in Asia (Japan, Korea and many more countries than China), much grander than our own New Year’s Eve.  Celebrations can go on for days with parades, performances of all kinds, music and special foods.  Just like in Euro-American astrology, there are 12 zodiac animal signs.  A big difference, however, is that each Asian sign rules for a year, rather than the month given to the European signs.

HAPPY NEW YEAR OF THE SNAKE!!!

Some famous people born in the Year of the Snake are:

Picasso, Howard Hughes, Greta Garbo, Mao Tse-tung, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, John F. Kennedy, Princess Grace, Abraham Lincoln, Brahms and Schubert.

According to famous Chinese Astrologer, Theodora Lau:

The Year of the Snake is a year for reflection, planning, and searching answers.  It is a good time for shrewd dealings, political affairs and coups d’´etat.  People will be more likely to scheme and ponder over matters before acting on them.  It is an auspicious year for commerce and industry.  Solutions and compromises can be arrived at, but not without some mutual distrust at first.  The Snake likes to resolve his differences one way or another.  If he fails and things cannot be peacefully settled, the he will declare war.
Looking back into history, we find that the Year of the Snake has never been tranquil.  Perhaps this is because, to use the language of electrical currents, it is the strongest negatively charged current in the cycle and it follows the Year of the Dragon, which is the most positively charged current.  Many disasters that began in the Year of the Dragon tend to culminate in the Year of the Snake.  These two signs are very closely related and the calamities of the Snake years often resulted from excesses committed during the Dragon’s reign.

This will be a lively time for romance, courtship and scandals of all sorts.  It is a good year to pursue the arts.  Fashion will become more elegant and fluid; music and the theater will blossom; and people will strive for a more sophisticated life.  Notable contributions will also be made by science and technology.

The venerable wisdom of the Snake will be evident in many facets of our life, particularly in those requiring decisions.  Although everything may look refreshingly quiet on the surface, the Year of the Snake is always unpredictable.  The Snake’s cool and collected front hides the deep and mysterious ways of his nature.  It should be noted that once the Snake uncoils to strike, he moves like lightning and nothing can stop him.  Similarly, changes that occur during the Snake’s year can be as sudden and devastating.
Tread lightly and be more cautious this year.  Gambling and speculation is strictly taboo.  The consequences will be overwhelming.  The Snake is not merciful.

Whatever else happens, the Snake will give us faith in our convictions and coerce us to act and to act forcefully during his reign.  This is not a year for fence-sitters!