Chinese Zodiac and Ancestral Spiritual Philosophy
Each zodiac animal has an astrological designation rooted in the spirituality of Taoism, and a corresponding ethereal element that is rooted in the alchemical legacy of Wu Xing natural philosophy and plant medicine.
The central virtue of the 3,000yr old religion and philosophy of Taoism is the pursuit of balance between opposite but interconnected forces that form a non-binary dualism, as exemplified by the harmonious coexistence of the Yin and the Yang. Yin (陰) is the darkness, associated with dark, cold, negative energy, and Yang (陽) is the brightness, associated with light, warm, positive energy. Yin is also associated with the feminine and odd numbers, and so years that end in odd numbers are Yin/feminine; while Yang is associated with the masculine and even numbers, such that years ending in even numbers are Yang/masculine.
Around the same era (5th century BCE) that Greek philosopher Empedocles proposed that all matter is comprised of 4 basic elements (earth, air, fire, water), Wu Xing philosophy emerged in Ancient China postulating that phenomenological cycles ranging from cosmology to natural philosophy to human physiology are the result of interactions between 5 elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Like Yin-Yang and the classic game Rock-Paper-Scissors, balance of these 5 elements is the result of an endless cycle of generative interactions:
- Wood fuels Fire
- Fire forms Earth
- Earth materializes Metal
- Metal transports Water
- Water nourishes Wood
and destructive interactions:
- Fire melts Metal
- Metal cuts Wood
- Wood degrades Earth
- Earth absorbs Water
- Water extinguishes Fire
While zodiac animals cycle once every 12 years, Wu Xing elements cycle twice every 10 years, and so 2023 is more than just the year of the rabbit. 2023 is the year of the Yin Water Rabbit who along with the Yang Water Tiger, was carried by the Yin Metal Ox and will nourish the upcoming Yang Wood Dragon. In Wu Xing natural philosophy 2023 is a year of caring for the kidneys, the organ in Traditional Chinese Medicine associated with our body’s fight/flight fear response, with plant medicines that are cold and salty such as kelp seaweed (used to eliminate toxins) and indigo leaves (used to treat ulcers).
Food: Plant-Based Sources for Health
Like American Thanksgiving, the tradition of Chinese New Year is for families to gather socially in a ritual of meal preparation. A common dish served, in the natural philosophy of wellness, is longevity noodles. Left long and uncut to symbolize long life, they are prepared with ginger – one of the most common herbs used for thousands of years in TCM plant `medicine tradition, to treat afflictions ranging from gastrointestinal disorders to stress and anxiety. Jasmine tea is also commonly served during Chinese New Year meals, which is believed to have a calming effect on the mind and body, helps with anxiety and insomnia, and possesses a wealth of anti-inflammatory brain-health benefits similar to Espand.
At a time where we would all welcome peace and kindness in our world, we at Magi wish you a prosperous year of the Yin Water Rabbit, and encourage you to think of this gentle and compassionate animal in your journey to find balance in this world. Happy New Year! / 恭喜發財! / Gōngxǐ Fācái!