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Monday, 30th of November


Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Master Mouse Says:

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE BOW, or more fully, “The Drawn Bow” (张弦 Zhāng Xián). This name comes from an asterism of seven stars which suggest a shallow curve (the bow) and the angled shape of a drawn (or, “extended”) string, marked by two stars where two fingers would be placed to pull it away from the bow.  When, for purposes of brevity, this Lunar Lodge is written with one character only, it’s Zhāng, “drawn,” “extended.”  Ancient texts connect this asterism to a time in the annual calendar dedicated to hospitality and feasting, when cloth is spread out, or “extended,” on the ground or a table, where the welcoming feast is to be laid out.  THE BOW is therefore regarded as favoring hospitality, whether in friendship or as a matter of office, and the food, music, and entertainments which complete the festivities.  It’s favorable also for new acquisitions, including property, especially in the sense that they can help to show a sense of higher respect to the invited guests.  Commerce and contracts are inauspicious on such days, in the same sense that inviting someone to join your family’s annual reunion for Thanksgiving dinner, and then cornering them to ask if they’d like to buy some of your company’s product, would be both socially rude, and commercially insulting.

The spirit animal for THE BOW is the Stag, the male of antelopes and deer.  This animal image symbolizes poise of stance, grace in movement, strength of purpose, and nobility of heart.  The powerful strength of the stag, and his capacity to leap high into the air, bounding over obstacles, signify “clear aim,” “bold determination,” and “rising to high office.”  These are exactly the qualities which can bring the most propriety and benefit, given the hospitable atmosphere induced by this Lunar Lodge.  In Chinese folklore, those born under the sign of the Stag are “kind, and fond of eating,” which qualities equally express the graciously welcoming auspices of THE BOW.

The Solar Index today is SETTLE, relating to the third month of Spring, from early April to early May.  This is the time when the spring-time expresses itself in no uncertain terms;  “April showers” and “May flowers,” after all.  In the agricultural cycle, this is the time when the strength and development of the crops give the first opportunity to assess the potential abundance of the harvest.  Now, adjustments can be calculated and put into place to make best use of what has been accomplished, and to steer towards optimization of net results.  There’s work left to be done, of course, but as the Yang of the year draws closer, it is the vitality of the natural world itself that will be most influential towards the success of the crops.  The SETTLE day, then, is a time to allow the energies devoted to labor to slacken a bit, and to apply some attention to assessment, re-adjustment, and planning for potentially altered outcomes.   The dedication and trusting hopefulness that have powered the work done at its beginnings, give way to a shrewdness and rationality;  the phrase of the day might well be, “that was then, this is now.”

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: Taking steps forward is not as straight-ahead is it may seem today, and while you don’t have to be paranoid or tense, a bit of judicious caution is called for.  You’ll get extra points for over-doing little points of etiquette, and as long as you do it with a relaxed and friendly manner, contacting friends and business associates, just to “keep in touch,” might be the very best use of the day.  The buoyant mood most people are experiencing today will be good for your spirits, but don’t make assumptions about the future based on that alone.

Born in the Year of the Ox: You’re going to be left happily to your own devices, today.  Well, at least mostly to your own devices.  There are a couple of people who will want to take the glassy-smooth seas the day seems to be sailing on, as an advantageous time to pull alongside, and jump on board.  If you’re available for hosting the festivities, you can be sure that they will eventually result in benefit to your plans;  if you’re not available (or don’t want to be), you had better be prepared to “repel all boarders!”  Be terse about it, if that’s the case.  Polite, but terse.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: Yesterday was lucky for you in the ways that it protected your actions from blundering;  today is lucky for you in the ways that it makes you feel:  happy, satisfied, productive, self-reliant, friendly, trustworthy, reliable, take your pick!  The best use of the day (whether you’re staying close to your desk or sofa, or you’re wandering abroad in the world) will be to make yourself available to others, through whatever favors you can offer.  They won’t take very much out of you, and you’ll get lots of strokes back in response.  Also, they’ll help you get warmed up for tomorrow, which will be a challenge (though not a serious one.)

Born in the Year of the Hare: There’s a Rabbit on duty today, but instead of feeling an extra boost in clarity and productivity, you’re going to find yourself pleasantly out of focus.  The Pig Moon wants to party, and you’ve been drafted, you see.  Whether you feel like you’re being waltzed across the floor, to the dreamy music of strings in 3/4 time, or you feel like you’re being dragged up on a dais to be given congratulations and awards by every other person you run across, today’s for enjoying the moment.  Tomorrow, you’ll bump into something that looks like the “price-tag” for today, but you’re entirely entitled to enter serious haggling, if necessary, to bring the cost down to what seems reasonable.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: You’ve got your choice today of:  (a.) hiding out of sight of The General Public; or  (b.) simply lowering your expectations as to  (c.) what you’re going to be able to get away with, and  (d.) how well (or not) people are going to respect your personal authority.  I’d recommend (b.), (c.), & (d.), but that comes with a piece of advice:  the most powerful thing you can do for your “personal authority” is to let people exhaust themselves in trying to demolish or disregard it.  They think, after all, that it’s something you’ve claimed or accomplished for yourself;  we, on the other hand, both know that it’s something you simply exude.  You’re going to get to exude righteously for three days in a row, this week.  But that won’t start until tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The world doesn’t turn rosy for you today, but it does turn simple.  It’s as if everyone has seen a “take a number” machine at the entry door, pulled out their own little paper ticket, and fallen into line for you to handle one by one.  What you’ll have to do with each one may be completely unrelated to any of the others, but I’m pretty sure you’re going to feel that’s where all the fun is.  The more privately you can deal with each individual, the better.  Your motto for the day should be:  “Maintain mystery.”  Stay in the moment today, and tomorrow you will have earned some serious mentoring.

Born in the Year of the Horse: You have some exhilaration and challenge lined up for you tomorrow, so my advice today is to lower the scale of your actions, pretty much across the board.  You can’t do anything grand with their attentions, but a number of people around you have an inherent sense of curiosity about you that they’re finally going to feel ready to express.  Take such expressions as completely about them (rather than about you), and don’t feel you have to go into a lot of detail, or make a response of any significance.  In any case, it’s going to be more like valentines in the third grade, than a proposal of marriage.  Follow your appetite for nourishment, more than your ideas on diet, today.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: Lucky you!  A “nice” day, for a change.  This is the perfect opportunity to put our little Seminar in Fun into the lab.  Keep putting your attention on something (besides you), and then (when you notice how much fun you’re having), spend no more than 15 seconds noticing who is having the fun, before finding something else to put your attention on (besides you).  What should you be putting your attention on?  That’s right: “Anything.”  Even this simple practice is somewhat difficult for you to take up and feel you’re succeeding with, this year.  But as it happens, today is the perfect day to try it on for size, and succeed brilliantly.  Lab write-ups on my desk by tomorrow afternoon, please…

Born in the Year of the Monkey: Today is likely to feel like everyone else has strangely left the building, or even the entire neighborhood.  It’s not that they know something you don’t, or that they’ve escaped something dire which they simply neglected to inform you about.  It’s more that you have fallen into a different rhythm than the rest of the world for 24 hours.  It’s as if they are out-of-phase with you, so that you’re temporarily invisible to each other.  Use the apparent solitude to indulge in any secret appetites you have, if you like, but do make sure you don’t leave any evidence lying about!  At midnight, Cinderella’s coach-and-six turns back into a pumpkin and a bunch of mice, remember.  Until then?  Dance!  Dance!  Dance!

Born in the Year of the Fowl: If you took my implication to heart yesterday, and got off by yourself, you are definitely going to want to stay there today.  If you slowed down a notch yesterday, you’re going to want to slow down two more, today.  Tomorrow, you’ll get your accuracy back.  Or to be more exact, people will get their ability to notice your accuracy back.  They’ll be able to ask, you’ll be able to deliver, deal done, wrap it up, everybody goes home happy.  But today, you really can’t trust your clarity and their attention to line up at all correctly.  Nothing worse than trying to hand someone something really valuable, and watching it instead dropping to the floor and smashing to bits.  So, just enjoy the garden.  “….Care for another cup of tea?”

Born in the Year of the Dog: This is one of those Super Fortunate Days, for you.  The Pig Moon is like a really friendly and clever younger brother, and the Rabbit on duty is like the Highly Attractive Date he’s set you up with.  Your appetites are clear and responsive to your earthy intelligence, so even if you normally try to be careful, and avoid what you feel you “shouldn’t get into,” today you can just go for it!  It’s like a package cruise:  The whole deal is pretty well worked out, already, and all you have to do is:  go along with things, and …Enjoy!  (Particularly because: it’s only going to last one day.)

Born in the Year of the Pig:  Well, here’s a change for you! In the words of the immortal Emerson: “Our moods do not believe in each other.”  And so, if I were to point out the sense of degradation and exhaustion you had to submit to yesterday, you’d very likely respond today, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  It’s as if you’ve been transported to the other side of the globe (the bright, sunlit side….), and haven’t a care in the world, or an enemy on the planet.  It’ll just last today, so do indulge.  Think of it as your worthy reward for lying low under the Ox’s hoof.  I’d point out that there’s a couple more hoof-marks you’re going to receive before the year’s done… But you aren’t about to believe me, today.  Tra-la!

Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Words to the Wise:

The Yin is soft, yielding.  Triple Yin is cloudy, enveloping.

Earth is dark, heavy.  Quadruple Earth is massive, enduring.

The Moon is pale, changeable as waves at the shore.

The Shut Moon is brilliant, high in the center of the sky.

“When the egg is angry with the stone, it’s not the stone that’s going to crack.”

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Sunday, 29th of November


Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Master Mouse Says:

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE BIRD-STAR, named after an asterism of seven stars, one of which is the brightest star within a field of lower magnitude stars.  The Arabic astronomers called this star Al Fard, “the Solitary One,” from which comes its modern astronomical name, Alphard.  Technically, the character for this asterism (星 xīng) means “star,” “stars,” or …”asterism.”  But it has always had names relating it to the Southern Palace of the Vermillion Bird, of which it forms the very center;  hence, THE BIRD-STAR.  Among many other names, the classical texts refer to it as “The Heart of the Bird,” and “Fire of the Phoenix.”  In any case, it represents the peak of the Yang, the Summer Solstice, when the Sun is highest in the sky, and its life-giving warmth and light are at their maximum.

Once the Solstice is reached, the second half of the year has begun, when the Yang is not growing, but fading.  Consequently, this asterism has an association with the cautionary moment of “changing gears,” and with the sense of bridging from one time or place to another.  The idea of travel conveyed by this movement makes THE BIRD-STAR helpful for journeys (though they are to undertaken with caution), but more appropriate for correspondence, i.e., for journeys “undertaken by message.”  It’s completely inappropriate for anything that re-doubles the sense of change or instability:  moving furniture, changing residences, or changing jobs.  Likewise, important ritual or business activities will benefit from letting this “crossing of the bridge” pass by, before they are taken forward again.

On the other hand, building is regarded as deriving great benefit from the height of the Yang.  Laundering or making clothing (or shopping for them) are seen as auspicious, primarily derived from the fact that Mid-Summer is the optimum time to gather plant materials for dying textiles.  Gardening (even if it’s just puttering in a little patch of flowers) is favorable, due to the summer-like vitality of the day, and it’s also a highly appropriate way to honor the beneficial effect of the Yang at its height. Don’t stay out in the sun too long today, though (even if we are in the first month of winter.)  Extremes, particularly of the Yang, are more health-giving when witnessed rather than absorbed.

The spirit animal for THE BIRD-STAR is the Horse, or more properly the Stallion, as each of the animals in the Lunar Lodge cycle is the male of the species.  The Horse is another emblem of Summer, and combines strength of the physical body with delicate and sharp senses, and a valiant but cautious spirit.  The Horse Moon always contains the Summer Solstice, and as its Earthly Branch holds the Yang of Fire, the Horse symbolizes the most forthright and upward-moving energy in the circling of Time.  It is, in this sense, the most “masculine” of the Twelve Animals.  This image shows the benefit of staying deeply connected to the physicalities of the world today;  if you are going to be “crossing waters,” let the sure-footed steed under you be the one who picks where to place his hooves.

The Solar Index today is LEVEL, the character for which (平 píng) could also be translated “even,” “balanced,” or “calm.”  It implies a certain sense of placid boredom, which (to the Chinese way of thinking) is essential to healthy and proper conduct, if one wishes to achieve the deepest, sweetest, and most lasting end results.  LEVEL is the quality of the second month of Spring, from early March to early April, when the weather begins to warm appreciably, and the sweetness of the season starts to make itself visible.  The high labor of the previous month continues, and can be applied to the actual planting of crops.  Keep up your drive today, and focus on following through with the intentions and actions of yesterday.  Don’t push too hard;  drama is only distracting, and you’re going to need the same “level” of exertion tomorrow.  Sounds “boring,” maybe, but:  “Just keep up the good work.”

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The world seems to relax around you today;  the Tiger on duty is a bit cranky, but is being mercifully soothed by the friendly and jubilant Pig Moon.  As matters calm down, and drop almost magically into their own slots, your inner movie screen is going to be displaying images of the near future, as if you’ve gone “all psychic” on us.  Some of the pictures are warnings, some of them are direction signs;  you won’t know which until the middle of December.  But keeping uninvolved with any matters that require your full (and rather extraordinary) brain-power, will leave you free to watch the movies, and make mental notes.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Tiger on duty today is like the engineer on yesterday’s “train;”  his job is to make sure your logistical framework remains clear, and your supply of fuel is sufficient to the plans at hand.  He might sound a bit brusque and brooding, growling complaints at you, and swearing under his breath about “inhuman expectations,” and “damn fool ideas,” and “how do they expect me to….”  But fundamentally, today is about the rightness of your course, and the directness of its aim.  Don’t let yourself consider swerving;  but do give Those Who Must Obey a few odd reasons through the day to think you might.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: Your words and behavior, today, are liable to make you stop, drop back, and think to yourself: “My! …Did I mean to do that?”  In other circumstances, such questions are signs that you need to do a Serious Re-Think;  but today, the Pig Moon is on guard, and you’re being kept well out of any arena where you might be about to blunder.  Considering how much you hate embarrassments, this makes it a very lucky day, indeed.  Don’t spend too long in any one position, or in any one place.  Honor that need to “prowl around” you so frequently feel.  It’s your safety valve today, and your best way to keep up with your exercise regimen.

Born in the Year of the Hare: Most of the folks around you are either feeling a need to be very careful in their social engagements, or that they want to stomp around like Children Who Need Naps.  You fall under neither of those descriptions, and strangely, what’s making everyone else either cautious or grumpy, is making you highly attuned to your inner compass, and to the magnetics of your terrain.  Dodge all the others, as best you can, and leave your thoughts free to roam while you’re doing shopping, desk-work, laundry, whatever.  You eye is highly likely to hit on something familiar, which you will suddenly see in a highly unusual way.  You won’t be able to do much with that new vision until Tuesday, but stick it in a back corner of your mind, and let it ripen.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: Today’s the day to experiment with your situation by inventing and installing a short series of very small stress-tests.  I can’t stress enough the phrase: “very small.”  Everything is on a hair-trigger, and while people are not actually close to their failure points, most of them will feel that they are already there, or well beyond them.  The purpose of the experimentation today should not be to find out what’s useful for getting someone “really ticked off!”  (That’s an extremely long list, today.)  It’s to find out which of the things they’re focusing on are real and functional, and which of the things are imaginary and completely beside the point.  That second category could also be described with the phrase: “highly dramatic.”  But I wouldn’t waste time by pointing that out to anyone.  [ See above, in re:  getting someone “really ticked off.”]

Born in the Year of the Snake: Any way in which you try to make progress is going to be thwarted, any way in which you try to explain is just going to cause irritation.  So, instead, remain as boringly level, as smoothly immobile as is practical, and try to feel the shape of the world moving around you.  If you can just get a “picture of the whole,” however vaguely it’s forming in your mind, you will be able to look into it, and find the “non-visible center.”  Voilà, that will be you.  Turn your view then, towards everybody looking at that, and you’ll be able to read, in a quite rare way, exactly what people’s individual objections of the moment are.  A simple matter for you then, to deal with the objections, one by one.  And that’s going to go like clockwork, tomorrow….

Born in the Year of the Horse: The deep difficulty for the members of the Equine Clan, this year, is the problem of pace:  so difficult to find when you get to the time of resting!  That by itself wouldn’t be a Really Big Deal, but this year you’re also not getting your usual opportunities to just run, either!  Today is a lucky (if however temporary) resolution of these twin difficulties.  Both the Tiger and Pig on duty today are taking steps on your behalf, and as long as you don’t make a Really Big Deal out of it, you’ll be able to find space for whichever suits your fancy:  Running, resting, …you get to decide.  (You probably won’t get both.)

Born in the Year of the Sheep: This is like a day of respite for you, not because the Ox Year has magically relented, but because your attention is magically free of The Usual.  Attention, if you remember, is a component of fun.  Let’s review:  “Fun is only happening when you’re not paying attention to who is having it.”  This implies a question:  “What are you paying attention to, then?”  Simple answer:  Anything but you.  Anything.  Anything, but you.  So there you are, not thinking of yourself, and (wow!) fun is happening!  Then you think:  “Hey! This is fun!”  Sweet!  But look out!  You’re very close to thinking of who is having the fun, and….. “Oh, that’s too bad!…. And you were having such fun!”  Tomorrow, trying it with training wheels on.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: If you followed my suggestive invocation of Miss Jane Austen yesterday, you’re highly likely to leave your nose pointing towards her elegant and evocative words for the entirety of the morning, afternoon, and evening.  That’s just as well, because venturing forth, into the world at large, will only give you pause, and convince you that perhaps the whole day has unaccountably had “NO MONKEYS ALLOWED!” stenciled all over it.  Curiosity will lead to mispresumptions, comments will lead to misunderstandings, remonstrance will lead to misapprehensions.  Rather like a Jane Austen plot, really….!  Better to leave it on the page, as if stapled there by her magical and masterful pen, rather than wandering abroad and stirring up trouble across the country-side.  Tomorrow: pleasures of the flesh.  (No, not necessarily that kind.)

Born in the Year of the Fowl: Your accuracies and thoughtless boldness of yesterday, will not bring you any joys today.  Having discovered and mastered “Zen and the Art of Archery” for one day, you’ll do better to retire in triumph from the field, nodding graciously at the stunned on-lookers, or slinking un-noticed through the crowd, to find a comfortable place out of the way to accept a small cup of tea, or breathe in the delightful view in the quietest corner of the garden.  It’s not that you’re in any jeopardy today, or incapable of your normal tasks and level of accomplishments.  It’s more that, compared to yesterday, …well….!  Why push your luck?  Not even Heaven can make it rain every day.

Born in the Year of the Dog: You have a much more normal, settled, and “level” view of things today.  It will feel a bit like discovering a small, comfortable island in the middle of that vast, cold, and interminable lake you’ve been asked to swim across.  Haul yourself up onto the shore, take care when you shake the water off that you don’t drench any bystanders, and allow yourself a deeply earned rest.  Recovering may take you much less time than you would have imagined, but do not get back in the water any sooner than you have to.  After today’s rest and satisfactions, tomorrow’s appetites will set you off on just the right course.

Born in the Year of the Pig: It’s a gift from Shòu Xīng, the God of Longevity, himself, if you felt your ego was dented a bit yesterday.  Things are going so well this month for you (“Finally!” I hear you say…) that I’m afraid you’ll be sorely tempted to chalk it up entirely as a result of how effectively you’ve been complaining for the last 10 months, as if the world had somehow snapped to attention, and started doing it your way.  Now, of course, the Pig Way is the Correct Way.  For Pigs!  You’ll feel that, bone-deep, today.  I say: Enjoy!  (Remember:  they’re your bones!)

Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Words to the Wise:

The wind rises in the dark, setting the trees on the cliffs to sighing.

Windy, but not cold, wintry, but not severe, it’s a strange night to look up into the stars.

The year is settling downwards;  why is the heart so light?

Du Fu sang of the western sun, “not to be granted us for long.”

“Old soldier reaches for his sword;  finds not even an empty scabbard.”

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Saturday, 28th of November


Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Master Mouse Says:

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE WILLOW, or “The Willow Branch,” which is suggested by the shape of the 8 stars forming the asterism for which it is named.  Willows have very ancient associations with the life-giving vitality of Tai-Yang, the Sun, and were planted near the main doors of residences, to symbolize and attract the Yang.  The hardiness of the willow against wind, water, drought, and disease made it a symbol of strength, endurance, and resilience against hardship.  In addition, willows quite easily sprout roots, even from cuttings, or broken-off branches.  Seeming in this way to “defy death,” they are therefore symbols of the eternal, and of continual connection with the spirits of those who have gone past death, the ancestors.  Willow branches have long been carried as funeral ritual tokens, and the trees themselves therefore represent sorrow and loss, as well as the wish to remain in spirit relationship with the dead.  Even when simply leaving the presence of a loved one or friend, breaking a willow branch is a sign of deepest grief at the separation, a promise that presence in memory will be maintained.

The spirit animal for THE WILLOW is the Roebuck, the male of a species of rather small and quite delicately formed deer, which ranges through the northern and western mountains of China and Mongolia.  Roe deer are primarily solitary, except during mating season.  Secretive and elusive, they are active mainly during the pale light of twilight hours.  Extremely shy, and scrupulously avoiding humans, domesticated animals, and even the fields where cows or sheep have been grazing, they are rarely to be seen in the open.  Like mysterious “masters of the mountains,” they are regarded in folk-tales as having special knowledge and ability in finding medicinal plants, particularly those enabling long life.  In Daoism, they are premier symbols of longevity, and of rising with ease to “high office.”  The Roebuck, the male of the species, is a frequently depicted companion to Shòu-Xīng (寿 星 ), the smiling and beneficent God of Longevity.  The Roebuck is an image advising solitude, restraint, and a turn away from public life and its sorrows, in order to “rise high,” and “find the elixir of immortality.”

THE WILLOWS is, not surprisingly, an inauspicious indicator for most activities.  The indications of this Lunar Lodge point towards the sorrows of loss, and towards the resilience one must summon under suffering.   The vitalities of the day are connected to the difficulties of human life, and have, in a sense, already been dedicated to the ancestors.  Thoughts and actions must not be diverted to mundane, personal, or commercial concerns.  The only public action appropriate is the paying of debts.  This is reminiscent of the funereal affairs of settling accounts on behalf of those who have died, so that their spirits may achieve release from their former lives, and maintain the proper relationship with their lineages.  Actual funerals are inauspicious, as the sorrowful nature of THE WILLOW may disturb ritual propriety, and send the departed off with grief only, and without the proper  respectful remembrance.  Think today of what you have received from those who have gone before;  consider what you are doing in your life, to honor the appetites and labors of the past, and to aim for their fulfillment in the future.

The Solar Index today is FULL, and is derived from the third month of the Solar Calendar, when “Spring Begins,” and the agricultural year springs into activity.  By that time, the daylight hours are long enough again to make work practical, whether it’s the clearing of damage from the winter’s storms, preparations for ploughing of the fields, leveling and trenching for irrigation, or any of dozens of other matters to be accomplished before planting itself can begin.  The sun’s rays may still be weak, and the nights cold and long, but work completed will make the time of planting, when it comes, that much more efficient and productive.  The FULL day, then, is the “kick-off” time of this “solar fortnight,” and should be used in similar willingness to “get a lot accomplished.”  As the Chinese say:  “Well begun is half-done.”  Today’s the day to “make a good start,” and see how far the luck of the day will take you.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: If you didn’t press yourself too hard yesterday, and kept to a reasonable meal schedule, then you’re going to get a good leg up today;  …up onto the back of the Fire Ox on duty, that is.  Take advantage of your sudden height of view to take a good look around;  if you’ve been delaying some correspondence, or “getting back to people,” now is the time to do “full” follow through.  Much of interest and accomplishment is coming within two weeks or so, and you’ll want to have set your social and business connections back into a friendly and functioning state.  Tomorrow: Psychic Rat!

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Fire Ox on duty today is the perfect yoke-partner for you, stoking your engines, and keeping you active and cheerful.  Your train pulled out of the station at such a slow pace last February, that many ticket-holders were convinced you were standing perfectly still.  Progress has been slow, but very, very steady, and—trust yourself—you’re about to ramp up so stiffly that the passengers are soon going to be fretting over speed limits, train-wrecks, and over-shot destinations.  So calm them and yourself today;  apply just a little more energy.  Ask up and down the aisle:  “Anybody want a sandwich?  Magazine?  Cup of tea….?”

Born in the Year of the Tiger: Today you have a clear view in your psychic rear-view mirror, and I advise you to take it firmly, and with both hands.  Look backward over the last nine months, and you’ll have a stunning new awareness of “what has been going on,” that might set you back on your heels in stunned silence.  No need to take new steps, or come up with some way to describe the experience, just yet.  In fact, no one even needs to know, ….just yet!  In three months time, the past is going to be your platform to spring forward from, and for anyone else, that wait would be a kind of prison.  But you Tigers…?  Well, you practically invented patience!

Born in the Year of the Hare: Your springtime spirit is feeling the deep doldrums of Winter’s Grip, today, and there’s not much you can do about it.  However, if you focus way down on the truly small things, and make the willful choice to stroke the day really s-l-o-w-l-y… even the pebbles in the pathway are going to display their gem-like nature.  Children will need to be told the same thing, one more time, …again….. But if you do that today (okay, it might take three or four more times…) they have a very good chance of finally… actually… getting it!  Tomorrow’s a day for Inspiration.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: Things will look more obstructed today than they actually are, so don’t get drawn into the raw appearances of things.  Your deliberation and deftness in delegating tasks and responsibilities will stand you in good stead, and get you through to a full day’s results.  You’re going to feel like a starter’s pistol has gone off in the middle of December, so the sluggishness of affairs this month is actually a kind of gift.  Sometimes Coach wants to keep you on the bench until the opposing team has laid out it’s whole strategy, and it’s best players are feeling drained…  (Yup!  Got my whistle and clip-board right here!)

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Fire Ox on duty today is going to clear the path for you, and give you back that sharp and unromantic view of things that you’re famous for.  It’s not going to last long, so take a full 360º view while the fog has lifted.  Pay special attention to the pathway behind you:  if you’ve dropped something, neglected someone, or left something off the agenda, you’ve got just today make the corrections.  Okay, I’m speaking hyperbolically;  you are going to get two or three more chances…  But you’re going to be very busy on those days, so make it easy on yourself, and strike now…!

Born in the Year of the Horse: Today will feel like the last 2 miles of a marathon:  lots accomplished so far, and the finish line is not actually that far away, …but it certainly feels like it is!  This is where your great tolerance for work, and your grasp of your own will, can make you shine out and impress everyone.  Nobody will say anything about it until tomorrow, but just getting yourself to endure the plodding of “the last two miles” will earn you a big round of applause tomorrow.  Look around for those who look worse off than you;  show them how to act committed….!  Inspiring them will inspire you.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: Your pleadings before the Court of the Ox fall, of course, on prejudiced ears. Worse, today you’ve drawn Judge Fire Ox, and no matter what you might argue, he’s having none of it.  Still, when the case is prima facie against you, there’s the satisfaction of having done your research, having presented your best argument, and having taken the verdict like a …Sheep.  A legally appropriate indulgence, “just to soothe the soul,” will seem quite appropriate.  And I say:  permission granted!  Now a note about fun: it’s only happening when you’re not paying attention to who is having it.  Explanation tomorrow, demonstration the day after.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: Some days are sweet because, since no one is watching, you can do anything you want.  Other days are sweet because there’s nothing you particularly want to do, so not even you are putting any limits on what could happen.  Today falls into both categories.  …So: “Sweet!”  Make sure, if you get out into the world, that you practice your High Art of Invisibility.  Slipping in and slipping back out, with not even a ripple on the surface of the stream, will mean you can stay free of anyone else’s limits, as well.  Tomorrow’s a bit trying, and you can’t really prepare for it, but you’ll be more satisfied facing it, if you’ve spent today “out a-roaming,” or “parking you nose in a book.” (May I suggest Miss Jane Austen?)

Born in the Year of the Fowl: We’re at that point in the year when the Ox is starting to show some speed, though not many are able to see that.  “The Boiling Frog” syndrome could equally be called “The Accelerating Ox” syndrome, I suppose.  You, on the other hand, have a clear sensation of the sort of velocity we’re heading for, and you’ll be very helpful in keeping people from freaking out about it, once they wake up to it.  (That should start about the middle of December, by the way.)  For today, your clear thoughts are not for sharing with others;  your best way of influencing them is through clear action.  You can select what to do, either after due deliberation, or suddenly, “on the fly.”  But once selected, just go straight on through!  As the Zen masters say:  “Directly forward, without hesitation!”  …It’s …uhm… ….more impressive in Japanese….

Born in the Year of the Dog: Your deeds, if they got you any praise yesterday, will be treated as “mere memories” today.  Satisfy yourself with the fact that you’ve learned some new tricks, and focus on just getting through the day.  Where the tests yesterday were about sharpness of attention and quickness of response, today they’re all about duration of will and refusal to give up.  If you show good spirit until at least lunch-time, you may be able to sneak off for a wee snooze… But keep an ear lifted for oncoming foot-falls!  Acting as if you were “just heading back to work” will be almost as good as staying in harness.  Tomorrow’s going to be lots better.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Ox takes its work very, very seriously.  And where the Clan of the Curly Tail is concerned, that work looks like “accomplish their humiliation.”  Tra-la! The Fire Ox on duty today, makes it look like “really accomplish their humiliation.”  Now, the prospect of getting humbled looks really bad and disturbing, but think of it this way:  it only means “sinking down to the root.”  Get past the apparent embarrassment, and you’ll be half-way to your Daoist Sainthood Award….!   Tomorrow’s Tiger is going to make you feel you’re just fine, in any case.

Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Words to the Wise:

The rise of Fire is no problem, if Water is on watch.

Cresting of Water is not a difficulty, if Earth has proper mass.

Weakening Earth is not fatal, if Fire maintains action.

Sleeping Wood is no worry, if Metal is not yet born.

“Highest-grade tea, lowest-grade tea, the tea-pot doesn’t care.”

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Friday, 27th of November


Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Master Mouse Says:

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE GHOSTS, named for an asterism composed of four stars, forming the corners of a square, with a bright nebula in the center.  In the western zodiac, this square of stars is the body of Cancer, the Crab.  The nebula inside is known as Praesepe, Latin for “the Beehive,” the cloudy glow being taken for a blur of many bees impossible to pick out individually.  In ancient China, THE GHOSTS was associated with the ritual offerings made to the ancestors at the beginning of each of the four seasons.  The ancestors were invoked for guidance on a ritual hunt, and the results of the hunt were brought back for the offering ritual itself.  The nebula, described in one text as “like a cloud, but not a cloud;  like a star, but not a star,” represented the ancestors who guided the hunting parties, and for whom the offerings were dedicated.

In a later era, the four stars were given the poetic description of “chariot” or “carriage,” i.e., the vehicle used to carry the offerings to the altar, and the asterism came to be known by the phrase “The Carriage of Ghosts.”  Thus, the “ghosts” or “spirits” represented are not of a “haunting” or “spooky” variety.  But since their presence has a ritual meaning, the influence of this Lunar Lodge is regarded as dour, serious, and austere.  In a much older tradition, this asterism was known as “Willow Pollen,” the nebula in the center depicting the dusting of pollen from the neighboring asterism, “Willows,” the next Lunar Lodge.  Willow trees, willow branches, and (here) willow pollen are signs of departure, loss, grief, and sorrowful respect for the dead.

This Lunar Lodge is lacking in benefit for the living, except through the showing of proper respect for the remembered dead, and for the ancestor lineage at large.  Ritualized gestures and offerings to them, acts of generosity, and properly serious deportment are all auspicious.  Enjoyment of leisure pursuits, commercial or legal activities, and certainly weddings are ill-advised.  Divinations, and direct address to the ancestors, are proper; as are funerals, and other, less formal memorial acts, such as the simple preparation of dishes specially enjoyed by the departed, now to be enjoyed in their stead by the living.  Burials, however, are inauspicious, as they have to do with the disposal of remains in the human world;  this day is for the direct relationship with the ancestors, as spirits or “ghosts,” themselves.

The spirit animal for THE GHOSTS is the Sheep, the character for which is generic, and used for all kinds of sheep and goats. The Sheep has a special range of meanings in comparison with the other eleven of the Twelve Animals, but its attribution as spirit animal for THE GHOSTS is more specific.  There is anthropological evidence that in many places, sheep and goats were the first animals drawn into domesticated service to human life.  They certainly have a very long history with human culture and its ritual traditions.

Sheep and goats are the source of many benefits to those who keep them:  meat, milk, horns, wool, and even (in places where they live in the dwelling with humans) heat.  They form the basis, in many traditional cultures, of the system of wealth and inheritance.  They require proper care, and diligence of attention to insure these benefits, and that too, is a basis of the development of culture.   This ancient cultural relationship, not of ownership, but of proper attention and care, and the benefits which can thereby be earned, is a model to be emulated in relationship with the ancestors.  They too require proper attention, and thoughtfulness in action, to ensure the maintenance of the long link back into the past.

The Solar Index today is DIVIDE, derived from the month following the Winter Solstice in the agricultural calendar, running from early January to early February.  The darkest time is past, and the light is returning, but the world is still in the depth of winter, and human life is primarily still indoors.  As the world brightens, however, and the rises, the “dreaming” of the DESIGN month turns gradually towards activity.  When Spring (in the Chinese sense) arrives again in early February, work will begin once again out of doors, and there is much to be accomplished in the month before it does.   Sharpening blades, building or repairing tools, making or repairing work clothes, and many other tasks are best done before the weather relents and makes working the fields the primary concern.  Similarly, the DIVIDE day is properly a time of logistics and preparations, when hard work done with an eye towards its future value, can make it more likely that opportunity, when it does come, can be caught “fresh,” and turned to greatest advantage.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: In spite of a buoyant and bouncing social life yesterday, you won’t need to list yourself as “down for recuperation,” today.  Small as your battery sometimes seems, it’s more likely to have seen you off to bed last night with quite a bit of charge left.  Better, the spirit of festivity has drifted across the date-line, and will be staring at you over your favorite hot drink in the morning.  Today, you’ve got a very good chance to make that happy marriage between What’s You Need to Do, and What You Enjoy Doing.  Keep your eye on the clock through the day, however;  you don’t want to get so caught up in the “marriage festivities,” that you miss meals, or break times.  Do that, and tomorrow you will need to be “down for recuperation!”

Born in the Year of the Ox: As promised, you get to crank up the engines a bit today, and satisfy your perpetual appetite for “diligence in work and steadiness in progress.”  You’ll make a grave error, however, if you indulge in the “all work and no play” thing.  Several really brilliant ideas and a few rather clever short-cuts are hidden about, like easter-eggs strewn about the garden.  If you keep a spirit of playfulness, and allow those around you to do the same, you’ll double your progress, gather in all the goodies, and win a couple of new friends in the bargain.  And tomorrow—what joy!—you’ll get to “crank up the engines a bit,” yet again!

Born in the Year of the Tiger: Your accomplishments by the end of this Pig Moon are going to seem legendary, but today is not the day to push forward with them.  Your energy will be strong, your appetites clear, your thinking lucid;  therefore, it’s one of the best days you’ve had in quite a long time for “access to resources.”  Any projects under consideration for the next few months are on schedule to jump forward in about two weeks time, and now is the time to get a start on all the expert advice you’re going to need.  This is “information gathering” only, mind you;  no need to settle decisions, or your mind, until the middle of December.  Leave time for a nap, or note-taking.  Don’t be surprised by little bursts of emotionality or wistfulness;  the ancestors have some expertise for you, too.

Born in the Year of the Hare: If you didn’t remember to schedule today for “recuperation,” don’t worry;  it’s going to happen anyway.  Not the “lying flat, exhausted” sort of recuperation.  More of the “think I’ll just straighten up this desk a bit!” sort of recuperation.  Bustling (for pretty much the whole day) is an “energy positive” behavior for you.  You can also use it to stay out of the way of anyone who just happens to be in a foul or cantankerous mood.  Getting into the details of why that is going on for them will not shed any light on the problem.  And besides, it will get in the way of all the tidying up you want to do!  Do not skip lunch, today.  And please:  make sure it includes something you really like.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: Most everyone you know is going to be spending today groaning in fat-bellied satisfaction, or dashing off right after breakfast for a full day of “things to get done.”  You, however, will be in a strangely philosophical mood.  Not that you’re not doing some dashing yourself.  But while you’re checking off each item of the day’s agenda in rapid order, another sort of agenda is going to be forming in a back corner of your brain.  Stopping to talk things over is the very best way to get this inner agenda to form up correctly, and to begin to see when-and-how you want to bring it forward, to be dealt with.  Not important that the talk lasts long;  more important who’s doing the talking.  Pick someone with their feet on the ground, and their fingers already on the keyboard.

Born in the Year of the Snake: You’re one of the folks who are going to be relatively worn out from the Duo of Happy Pigs on duty yesterday.  So today, I’m advising you to move slowly in the morning, and to gather speed only as you get through the day.  You aren’t truly running on low battery, but it’s a much better starting point (to get the full benefit out of the day) if you act like you are.  Tomorrow, you finally get to stop the acting, and thereafter you’ll gain a clear view of the terrain you’re dealing with, and a better idea of which way you want to be going.   Today, ask before you grasp.  (Your Cloak of Invisibility is at the cleaners.)

Born in the Year of the Horse: You’re assailed by doubt, confusion, and misdirection today, and the only way out of the predicament is to:  stop moving, and spend a few moments staring at your feet.  Suddenly, the problems will lift.  Oops, then you’ll start moving, and they’ll be right back again.  What to do?? Simple:  stop (again), and spend a few moments (again) staring at your feet.  If you get in the rhythm of it today, this could turn out to be one of the most valuable things you could learn this year.  It won’t be quite as useful tomorrow (or feel as necessary), but the problems then are going to be lighter, and about duration, rather than progress.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: To think clearly, one must start with thinking.  The Chinese character for this word, “think,” is a picture illustrating: a.) the presence of, b.) a sensation, c.) held still in, d.) attention.  That’s not what most Sheep think “thinking” is.  Wheels have be moving, items have to be shifting, results have to be accruing. Progress! Progress! Progress!  Try the Chinese way, today.  Really, you’ll be quite good at it.  Not taking steps is the first practical step.  If you’re just infuriated or frustrated by this sort of zen-freaky mumbo-jumbo, then that’s the first “sensation to hold still in your attention.”  Now, you can’t think your way to “happy,” so don’t think that’s what this is about.  If you do get to somewhere, write it down.  Tomorrow, next practical step:  Fun and How to Get It.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: If you were able to exercise your patience yesterday, you’re going to feel like you’re taking off today, like a small stone out of a slingshot.  The more you have to get done, the more efficiently you’ll find yourself working, and if you were to set your sights on getting the next full week’s work finished up by lunch-time, I would not be betting against you.  That being said, today’s not really about diligence for you;  it’s about guidance, advice, and education.  So keep a conversational stance with those around you today.  Your hands will have minds of their own, and very competent ones they are, too.  Chatting and joking above it all will tune you into your own personal news and information channel.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: You have much to tell, today, but until you come across just the right person, it’s going to be very difficult to get the words to come forth.  Better to stay in action, and not worry about words, until that “right person,” shows up.  There’s plenty of wave-action going on behind you, and that means there’s some fun available, if you brought something like a surf-board.  But remember, its the rarest of surfers who never gets “wiped out.”  Do avoid the waves that carry you over the coral beds, today.  The tide’s low, and you may be surfing towards the hospital.  Oh, almost forgot:  the “right person” might be the one staring back at you in the mirror.  Tomorrow:  Clear Thought!  Clear Action!

Born in the Year of the Dog: Having done your proper duty all day yesterday (being simply adorable, that is), you have some Extra Special Attention coming down the track towards you.  Not to worry, it’s going to mean finally getting the instructions in a form that makes sense to you, and with just enough time to practice them, that you don’t feel like you’re only being set up to fail.  To take the very best results home with you, keep your attention on the eyes, lips, and fingers.  If the words start piling up like a confusion of consonants and vowels, just repeat the same thing you did “a moment ago.”  Deeds lead to understandings, today.

Born in the Year of the Pig: Today is going to be close to 24 hours of pure “after-glow.”  The fun’s not over, …but that mysterious and perfect alignment that produced the fun, most probably is.  Don’t try to hang onto it, or you’ll only speed it’s departure.  Even if you’ve got diligent labors to attend to today, try dealing with them as if you’re just shuffling the cards for the next hand.  In a way that’s exactly what you are doing.  Let your hands do the work, and let the past sense of fun linger.   Good work and more fun are scheduled for Sunday.  Keep shuffling!

Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Words to the Wise:

Three months of winter, and each is colder than the last.

At the end everything flattens, and lies low, staying close to the center.

Long for spring if you want to;  it’s on its way, in any case.

Think of the ancestors if you want to;  already they have prepared the way.

“The mouth should remember the stomach.  The stomach should remember the mouth.”

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Thursday, 26th of November


Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Master Mouse Says:

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE WELL, which begins the week of the Southern Palace of the Vermillion Bird.  This asterism consists of eight stars which very clearly depict the shape of the character for “well,” or “deep pit” (井 jǐng). It’s also known poetically as “Head of the Phoenix,” as it forms the head of the Vermillion Bird, the body and tail of which fill out the rest of the Southern Palace.  Astronomically, this is the widest Lunar Lodge, and it takes the moon almost three days to traverse it.  Astrologically (as each of the Lunar Lodges is assigned to one day in the 28 day cycle), the attributions of THE WELL are therefore regarded as being made more gentle (and in some ways, weaker) because of the moon’s “slow” movement across this portion of the zodiac.

This is a generally favorable sign, but it does not favor initiation of activities or new pursuits.  Carrying on-going things forward, and even better, bringing things to conclusion or certainty, are highly auspicious.  Not surprisingly, THE WELL is quite favorable for actions regarding or involving water, or travel by water;  by extension, servicing and repair of vehicles of all kinds are also particularly appropriate.  As the earth gives forth water through springs and wells, this Lunar Lodge is also a particularly appropriate time for giving gifts or rewards.

On the other hand, the attribution to watery things makes THE WELL inauspicious for complaining or criticizing.   Water being the Phase ruling death and dispersal, such negative expressions are liable to have a destructive (rather than corrective) effect.  Because the character for “well” also means “deep pit,” this is not a good day for ceremonies (which are favored by more Yang conditions.)  The negotiating or signing of contracts should likewise be delayed, to a time when a greater over-view of matters is available;  water from the well, as it were, must first be spread over the fields, or used to wash down the vehicle, before values and prospects can be accurately ascertained.

The spirit animal for THE WELL is the Tapir, which is an ungulate, most closely related to horses and rhinoceroses (which are also odd-hooved.)  Tapirs look much more like pigs, with rotund bodies, and stout, powerful legs.  They are most active in twilight or night-time hours, hiding and sleeping through the days.  They have thick hides (like elephants), particularly around their massive necks, making them difficult prey even for the larger cats.  As they are short and bulky, like pigs, they similarly feed close to the ground, and are able to dart nimbly into undergrowth in the forests and jungles where they live.  Like horses, they are quite swift and agile.  Due to their elusiveness and speed, they are better hunted with traps and snares, rather than by stalk and chase.

The character for “tapir” (貘 ) was originally used for a mythological beast having some attributes of the horse, but with the the trunk of an elephant.  The character is natural to use for tapirs, as well, since they have extremely long snouts, which are so flexible and dexterous as to be partially prehensile.  The Tapir is an image uniting delicacy of action, with speed and mass in movement, in a form that seems to imply the opposite.  The Tapir represents the “hidden resources” tapped by “wells”  …and perhaps also, the “deep pit” necessary to capture so elusive a quarry.

The Solar Index today is DESIGN, which relates to the month in which the Winter Solstice occurs.  This is the very depth of the Yin, when Yang is at its conception point, and the cycle of the agricultural year is at renewal.  As activity of is at its lowest point, human activity is forced indoors.  This is a kind of “dream time” in human affairs.  The long nights and short days are answered in the body by an increased appetite for sleep, and the diminished daily agenda for “keeping life going,” frees human attention to imagine and create.

This day is therefore, a proper time for review of the past, and planning for the future.  New possibilities and inventions can be hoisted into place, run through their paces, and judged for efficiency and effectiveness, with no worry as to collapse and clean-up;  they are, after all, “just some ideas!”  This sort of “dreaming” whether in sleep, or in a “cloud-gathering” wakefulness, plumbs the depths of what is known, and summons up new combinations, new bridgings, new associations.  These are the hallmarks of technological invention, and of the practice of wisdom.  The fanciful contructions of the free-wheeling mind will later be tested in practice, and re-tuned for actuality, once the “springtime” of affairs has arrived.

THE WELL seems a particularly harmonious omen in its alignment with today’s Solar Index.  Don’t begin action in earnest yet;  dig down deep, and see what can be pulled up into the light, only later to be spread across the fields, to foster and nourish production and contribution.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: If today is for “the life of the mind,” your only difficulty is going to be picking which part.  The members of the Clan of the Round Ears have small and relatively weak bodies, but huge and powerful brain capacity.  “The mind,” as a contemporary master used to like to say, “thinks everything.”  For you, that is truth, times seven.  So pick your spot for the picnic, and don’t concern yourself with whether or not you brought the basket of goodies.  You’re going to be far too fascinated with what’s going on around you to worry about that;  and most likely, the Double Pigs on duty will have more than enough to share.  Don’t forget there’s a firework show after dark! >WHEEE!<

Born in the Year of the Ox: Resistances ease up a bit today, and whatever tracks you feel you’re riding on, they will seem a bit more well-greased.  Now, that means also:  there’s no point in trying to get some acceleration back into the system.  You’ll just find that you’re spinning wheels.  Tomorrow you’ll get to crank the pistons up a notch or two, so satisfy yourself with the smallness of the delay.  For today, you should be spending as much time as possible looking perpendicular to the tracks, and enjoying the scenery.  And say!  I’ve heard the dining car on this train has a very enticing menu.  Like to try it out?

Born in the Year of the Tiger: Today has so much luck in it for you that I’m tempted to send you immediately to the nearest legal casino, or local vendor of lottery tickets.  Probably, that’s not what your whiskers are twitching for, however, and you’ll devote yourself to social delights and conversational roaring.  Aim for full engagement, by all means, but if there’s exercise involved, make it mild exercise.  Though I see you with good friends, good food, and good drink, I’m hoping that the emphasis is not on the “drink.”  Tee-totaling is not necessary, but indulgence will have a way of snow-balling on you today.  Have the party at your place, or make sure to give someone else the car-keys.  (Make it someone who’s as strong-of-will as you are.)

Born in the Year of the Hare: Not that you’re going to find yourself following anyone’s advice today, but if you’re asking me:  just make sure you keep asking yourself, “what’s good for health.”  You’re not in any true jeopardy;  in fact, the Double Pigs on duty today are going to be like a couple of burly body-guards, one on each of your arms.  But these two do like to tease you to try “just one more thing,” and they don’t have any certification in dietary or medical expertise.   Oh, they like to talk as if they do, but for the Clan of the Long Ears, it’s best to use your own judgement.  That being said, it’s going to be a great day.  But you’re going to want to schedule tomorrow for recuperation.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: This is a day you could equally spend all by yourself, or with a crowd of people.  If it’s the latter, remember that your thoughts are still forming (or re-forming), and though you might be done with the first (or even second) draft, you’re really not ready to publish.  Any hecklers who seem to be presenting all the counter-arguments to your main thesis, as if they were reading your mind, and trying to thwart you at the same time, need to be left to themselves.  If that’s not possible, then stay mum, and give them “enough rope to hang themselves.”  Engaging them, and throwing down your best debating form will lead to nothing but disturbance, and (once the gathering is over) a hefty raft of “Oh! I wish I’d said this!”  If necessary to keep you from arguing, just shove some food in your mouth. …I’m pretty sure you’re going to find that it’s delicious!

Born in the Year of the Snake: You’re going to be out of sorts all day long, and well into the evening, but you don’t really have to make a show of it.  In fact, you’re not only capable of getting through the entire day in “social lie mode,” I’d heartily recommend it.  Perhaps it will seem unfair to you, or unfair to the things you’re trying to accomplish, or unfair to those who would benefit, that you don’t get to “speak your piece,” and “act authentically.”  But think of it this way:  this is the only practical thing to do.  If you find yourself about to utter the phrase, “Well, this is the way I like to do it…,” then you are about to enter a very embarrassing condition that may take a very long time to work your way out of.  Today, it’s all about social conventions, and attention to pragmatics.  You’ll get praise from someone who was watching, tomorrow.   (If I’m there, it will be me.)

Born in the Year of the Horse: Today’s a bit like an inadvertent trip down Alice’s Rabbit Hole, or an instantaneous invitation to a wedding celebration where nobody speaks any of your languages, …or wants to!  That being said, the day holds a dozen delights for you, which will flicker and change on a speedy pace throughout the day, like a kaleidoscopic and rotating buffet table.  Stay close to the person you trust most implicitly, and follow their lead as to manners and steps-to-be-taken.  Everybody, I assure you wants you to enjoy yourself, and they’re really not going to hold an exam at the end of the affair.  Really not.  Really.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: Today, if you can’t let go of all the ways the Pesky Ox seems single-mindedly devoted to tripping you up, and kicking you downstairs…. then you’re not half as smart as we all think you are.  “When life gives you lemons…” as the saying starts;  but what if it gives you a banquet?  “Make a banquet!”  “Be at the banquet!”  “Enjoy the banquet!”  Plenty of time tomorrow to get back to high philosophy, connivery, and planning.  (I’ll have a couple of things to say about that then, I can assure you!)  Sheep and goats are even-toed ungulates, yes.  But you can do the Tapir thing with the best of them!  Eat like a Pig!  Run like a Thoroughbred!  Dart off into the brush, and sleep in until twilight!  Tomorrow:  clear thinking, and practical steps.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: It’s quite irritating to be “having a good time,” when you don’t actually want to be having a good time.  It’s quite dissatisfying to have plenty of “delightful diversions” passing under your nose, when there are other, more serious things you feel need attention.  (Yes!  It’s true!  …Monkeys do, at times, “pay attention to serious things!”  I’ve seen ’em!)  But today’s a rest-stop in whatever caravan you may feel you’re trying to goad on its way.  You need a break, and the camels need water.  You don’t have to get all chirpy about it, but do let the pause happen.  Tomorrow: very busy, very productive, very satisfying.  You’ll feel lucky you had the chance to re-fuel.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: There are times when hurly-burly activity tends to make you queasy and confused.  Then there are times when lots and lots of stuff going on about you, just makes it easier to zoom in and focus on one thing, and lock down on it like a vise.  Today’s different.  There are lots and lots of things going on around you, but you have that very rare and special ability to both be in the hurly-burly, and outside the hurly-burly, at one and the same time.  If a novelist, you’ll be taking sharp mental notes on characterization.  If a chef, you’ll be noticing exactly how and what people are eating, and in what order.  If an engineer, you’ll be analyzing the efficiency of the layout of the room, and movement patterns of the occupants.  If a ….Oh, you get the idea.  Do not try to figure out how you’re doing this.  Just be …in …The Zone!

Born in the Year of the Dog: Today, the world is full of delights, and the very air seems a-blur with a blizzard of satisfactions, each one unique (you know, like snow-flakes!), each one just like all the others (you know, like snow-flakes!).  This will produce, for you, the very heady sensation of being perfectly bewildered by “the unfamiliar,” and perfectly comforted by “the familiar,” at the same time.  I say:  yield to the bewilderment, and indulge in the comforts. Tomorrow, you’re going to get some Leadership Training, …and be astonished that you like that, as well!

Born in the Year of the Pig: Everybody wants to do it your way, today.  Well, just about everybody, which is—functionally—the very same thing.  (That’s FUNctionally, by the way…)  Be very careful how you give orders, because they’re all going to try following them first, and considering what you really meant, second.  As for the ones who don’t want to do it your way:  recognize them as soon as you can, and take whatever steps fit in your plans to just “leave them out of it.”  They will not drop off the end of the bus, I promise you.  What they really want is a nap on that extra-wide seat in back.  Don’t be surprised if they wake up in time to join in for pie and coffee….

Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Words to the Wise:

Strength on strength, stability on stability.

At the base of things is acceptance, at the peak of things there’s no accomplishment.

When serving up food, we think of the ancestors,

Bowing in gratitude, striving to do well.

“Just digging doesn’t make it a well.”

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Wednesday, 25th of November


Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Master Mouse Says:

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE TRIO, named for the constellation of “Resplendent General,” one of whose honorific titles is “Three Stars,” or “Trio of Lights.”  These “three stars” are highly recognizable in the night sky;  they form the bright belt in the constellation of Orion.  They also represent the military rank of the “Resplendent General,” showing his power (as he is the center star) buttressed by supporting generals to the left and right.  In another tradition, the “Trio of Lights” represents the “Three Pure Ones”(三清  Sānqīng), and in another, the “Three Gods of Happiness,” (福祿壽  Fú Lù Shòu).  The latter are commonly referred to as the “Three Star Gods,” (三 星 神 Sān Xíng Shén), even though they are not regarding as residing in these three stars.

It is the “three-ness” of this asterism that unites these attributions.  In classical Chinese thought, central power is properly advised and wielded with the assistance of balancing sides of support and argument.  This is the ideal pattern of power structures in both political and military classical traditions.  The commander, whether emperor, general, or magistrate, relies on supporting officers to argue the case from opposing sides, bringing forth the best understanding of the situation at hand, and of the options for moving forward.  Once the decision is reached by the one in power, all sides will diligently support the choice.  At the personal level, this image depicts the rational (or “rectified,” 正 zhèng) mind, buttressed by “senses and appetites” on one side, and “responsibilities and duties” on the other.  THE TRIO therefore signals a time when human nature is in its proper seat, and the balance of life can be confidently reviewed and adjusted.  Decisions can be made with full and proper consideration, and without foolishness or over-blown ambition.

The spirit animal for THE TRIO is the Gibbon, similar enough to the Monkey;  but as they are apes rather than simians, gibbons have demeanor and social habits much closer to humans.  They are the great specialists of brachiation, swinging from branch to branch with extraordinary agility, power, and speed.  With their powerful hands and lengthy arms, they are the very fastest animals in flying through the tree-tops (except of course, for those that actually have wings.)  Where monkeys show irresistible (and sometimes ill-advised) curiosity, gibbons show a cautious repose, slower and less nervous patterns of movement, and greater tenderness and calm in their social relations.  They are quite territorial, and the males (and in some species, the females) sing, both to signal territorial claims, and to announce themselves as available to potential mates.

The Gibbon is thus an animal emblem of human nature, in its amorous, social, and martial styles.  In addition, that “repose” the Gibbon so frequently shows in its sweetly wistful expression, is an animal picture of that “uprightness” human nature must properly achieve, in order to guarantee its correct balance and function, and to justify its place in the larger natural order.

The Solar Index today is SHUT, reflecting the month of the solar calendar in which we find ourselves on this date.  The month from early November to early December is when the entire agricultural world has effectively gone to sleep.  The harvest is in, the weather becomes more frigid and inclement, and the solar power system has waned so far that the plant world itself has come to a halt.  Plants have either ceased growth, as if put on “pause,” or gone entirely into a death-like concentration, dropping leaves and vitality, and sending the  deep into the root.

For humans, then, this month is for staying indoors, and for keeping the doors and windows “shut.”  The is down, the mind is sluggish, the body weighty, and rest and recuperation are very easy to accomplish.  Study, conversation, and domestic duties (all strengthening family bonds and traditions) are quite suitable, as we hover around the home-fires.  The only public activities appropriate for such a day involve banking.  Money, being regarded in Chinese thought as having the character of water and its flow, the cold and congealed conditions of the SHUT days make it “stay put” when placed into accounts, and make it “stick to the hand” when taken out.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: To reach your highest level of success today, you’ll have to cut your pace by half, and think and talk in extremely simple terms.  The more you have a small encyclopedia article on any topic that comes up, the more you’ll need to boil it down to 7 words, or less.  Focus on the most earthy of your appetites, and you’ll find yourself wallowing in satisfaction.  Don’t try to explain them (even to yourself).  Don’t try linking them to anything else you think you might want to go to next.  Linkages are your specialty, but today, you’ll just get all snarled up in them.  If you want to look really smart… act really stupid.

Born in the Year of the Ox: You never like to stop, unless you’ve been planning on the halt for quite a long time.  Equally, you never think of yourself as slowing down, or at least needing to.  But today, some sluggishness and slackening of pace seems strangely attractive.  It’s not going to last for long;  by Thursday, you’re liable to be back up to your standard juggernaut pace.  So today, just for the sake of curiosity, give it a try:  ease off of the accelerator, and put the whole thing on cruise control.  If that sounds completely unappealing (or simply not feasible), then prepare yourself for a bit more work, and zero increase in progress.  I’m just sayin’.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: Today you’re getting lessons from all sides in “under-doing.”  You might feel you’re in danger of losing muscle tone, getting rusty on your entire base-skill set, and convincing everyone around you that you’re turning into an Olympic-level couch potato.  But even just lying around today, you’re going to be impressing everyone with your fine fighting trim, and the power you have available to throw around, if-and-when it were to come to that.  There will be certainly be enough going on around you that you won’t be bored.  But the experiment today is about scale: just how little can you get away with?  Go on, impress us that way!

Born in the Year of the Hare: Today and tomorrow are going to go down as red-letter days in your diary.  As long as you’re not aiming at something that’s a completely new item on your agenda or itinerary, just about everything you get into is going to turn gold under your touch.  (Well, some things are liable to turn chocolate or vanilla, but… is that a problem?)  New things that pop up need to be put down on a list for later consideration, unless there’s no time to think, because you’re just doing them already.  In that case, you should just go for it.  It may seem like a sort of very pleasant and complex dream-theater, but at the end of the day (quite appropriately) you’re going to feel mystified, delighted, and fully rested, all in equal measure.  Tomorrow, aim for whatever seems to forward your health.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The gears in the machine look well-oiled, the settings all look to be “operating within normal parameters,” but movement seems to be stuck, or at least snagged.  Pressing harder won’t accomplish much, except of course for dramatizing your predicament and irritation.  Trying to wriggle free is equally ineffectual, at least for now.  Instead, catch the spirit of the SHUT day, and drop down into deep repose.  Let your sink down to the root, and rummage around there for your primordial reset button.  Tomorrow, you’ll be rubbing the sleep out of your eyes, and catching glimpses of several Interesting New Possibilities, and the day after, the will be rising back up again, prompting you towards engagement and success.  (When you get right down to it, it’s all just part of the machinery’s normal cycling, isn’t it?)

Born in the Year of the Snake: The tripod balance of yesterday vanishes like smoke floating away on the breeze.  I hope you made some notes, therefore, of yesterday’s accomplishments and realizations.  They are going to bloom again, in a new direction, in about three days.  For today, you can’t count on them impressing anyone, even yourself, so my advice is to just stay mum about them.  If you stay in your calm today, and give up any hopes of convincing others of what they don’t already know—or pushing yourself towards what you think you ought to be doing—then you’ll achieve a kind of zen clarity for tomorrow.  That clarity, you should be warned, is the opposite of activity;  “za-zen” clarity then, for tomorrow.  “Sitting meditation.”  When you get to the weekend, you’ll congratulate yourself for not having wasted energy, when it would have also just been a waste of time.

Born in the Year of the Horse: Difficulties and misgivings from yesterday, flow to the ground and run down the drain, like soap suds carrying off dirt and grime.  Speaking of which:  the sooner in the day you get a brisk shower, or a relaxing bath, the better.  This is not because you’re going to stay clean for the day;  you’re much more likely to spend the day pursuing your favorite ways to get dirty.  Working up a good sweat, rolling on the grass, or tumbling boxes through the dust, you’re going to feel much more free and relaxed.  Working hard and relaxing?  Second nature to the Equine Clan.  At the end of the day, you’ll truly have earned: a brisk shower or a relaxing bath!  “See how the circles close!”

Born in the Year of the Sheep: You have a job, or a task, or a duty, or a worthwhile suggestion to follow, and it’s right in front of you.  It doesn’t have to feel native to your intelligence;  most likely, the most immediate problem (as far as you’re concerned) is that it’s “pretty damned alien!”  Maybe you’re willing to try it on for size….(grumble, grumble, grumble) …but you’d prefer to be trying something that’s parked well within the box marked “What Is Usual.”  It’s your great good fortune (terrifying, yes, but still great good fortune) that this year is demanding something broader, less comprehensive, and far more relaxing for you to practice.  Here’s my aphorism for you today: “When it’s that bad, go on a hunt for the weird.” Tomorrow, the zen of indulgence and familiarity. >whew!<

Born in the Year of the Monkey: Today you are free-wheeling, and pretty much roaming the world on your own recognizance.  It’s not that you’re invisible, or of no interest to others;  it’s more that what you’re demonstrating to people is out of phase with their attention.  They may even be looking really hard… they’re just not able to see.  Don’t let this be a reason to ramp up, to start adding force, speed, or volume.  None of those will make a difference, and if you go even just a bit too far, you’ll spend the entire day tomorrow just trying to get them all to calm down!  Settle down, yourself, and satisfy your impatience with simple repetition.  Simple. Repetition.  Simple.  (I know, I know:  boring.  …But simple!)

Born in the Year of the Fowl: It’s to be hoped that you got to show the softness of feathers yesterday, and to work the charm of that special purring noise you make when you’re Really Doing Your Best Work.  Today, the backwash of success is sweeping all the little sand-castles out with the waves.  If you indulge in disappointment, you’ll feel quite justified, but you’ll miss the realization:  “Hey!  Clear, damp sand!”  So, if you don’t get taut or dejected, you’ll recognize the blank canvas, and you’ll top your highest accomplishments, tomorrow.  For today:  nudge, don’t jab.  And be ready to duck!

Born in the Year of the Dog: Today, the party is in your own backyard, and as far as you’re concerned, you don’t even care whose birthday it is!  The Ox Year is not particularly kind to the Canine Clan.  Even worse, it’s highly indifferent.  So when the sense of “time off” arrives, you’re quite wise to grasp it firmly, and ride it as far as it will take you.  (Sadly, it’s not far, this year.  Ah, well…)  But you’re on a bit of a lucky streak this week:  the Pig Moon is running interference for you, and it’s holding another party tomorrow.  And that’s right next door!  Time enough to feel like you’re back at work on Friday.  Today: howl at the moon, all day long.

Born in the Year of the Pig: Your intelligence stands you in good stead today, but it’s your demonstrations which will more clearly communicate.  Earthy pursuits are destined to be far more satisfying than anything in the Life of the Mind.  Be careful of your appetites, today;  they’d love to run off into the woods with you.  That would be okay, but when the Big Bad Wolf arrives, they’re going to shove you forward, and vanish behind you into the shadows.  Keep your feet under you, and you’ll ward off most difficulties.  For the others, just hold up a finger, say: “Just a minute…,” and depart.  You can deal with them tomorrow, when you’re In Your Power.

Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Words to the Wise:

The mountain rests upon the earth, and weathers in patience the changes of wind.

The broad sky is above, the dark valley is below.

In the riverbank village, children laugh,

Chickens scratch the ground.  Dogs bark, and go silent.

“At the peak of the mountain one can view the peak of another mountain.”

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Tuesday, 24th of November


Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Master Mouse Says:

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE BEAK, named for the three stars forming the head (or, “mouth”) in the figure of Orion, which constellation is regarded in Chinese tradition as depicting a great military commander.  In his martial identity, the “Resplendant General,” as he was called, was associated with a tortoise.  This was not, as one might imagine, because of the armor of the tortoise’s shell, but because the shell was used (particularly in the autumn) for ritual divination, so essential in deciding military tactics and timing.  This asterism, the “mouth,” therefore, is written with the character for the mouth of a tortoise, that is to say, “beak.”

THE BEAK was separated from the commander’s body at an early point in Chinese astronomical lore, to form its own Lunar Lodge, and so it bears the dark connotation of “decapitation,” and is regarded as generally negative in its indications.  It signals a time when punishments and re-payments are due, and therefore, it is inauspicious for extending one’s will or influence forward, in anything hoped to prove advantageous or profitable.  Once the magistrate has announced that he is ready to rule, the wise litigant ceases his arguments, and maintains respectful silence.

The spirit animal for THE BEAK is the Monkey, which of course suggests the natural attributes of this class of primates.  They are curious to the point of foolhardiness, intelligent but gullible, defined by their social order (and disorder!), noisy and fractious in argument, and easily sent into alarm.  They are quick-witted and inventive, and are renowned masters of mimicry.  In association with this Lunar Lodge, however, it is the mythological image of the Magical General-King of the Monkeys (known quite simply as “Monkey”) which most deeply embodies the energetics and attributes of THE BEAK.

It was Monkey who infamously crashed the Jade Emperor’s birthday party, and through cleverness, stealth, and magical powers, stole the Peaches of Immortality before the assembled deities could partake of them.  It was only by submitting to extortion that the Jade Emperor got the fruits back;  Monkey returned them only after being given the perpetual title, “Great Sage Equal to All of Heaven.”  The Monkey therefore represents both the appetites and foolhardiness which may lead to crime, and the wits and daring which may lead to escape, and indeed, celebrity.

The Solar Index today is OPEN, which relates to the month in the agricultural calendar directly following the harvest, from early October to early November.  The hard labors and tense worries of the year are largely past, and a season of festivities, congratulations, and camaraderie begins.  The only concerns for the near future have to do with preparations for the depth of winter, and its cold and storms.

The character for OPEN is a picture of a pair of doors swung wide.  The feeling of this time is adventurous, light-hearted, and free-wheeling.  The Chinese say, “Go out the door to find fortune!” and today certainly feels like the time to do it.  Normal constraints drop away, and new (though temporary) options are suddenly available.  The time after harvest, when the wealth earned through long labors is safe in the granary, is also, however, the time when bandits and thieves may feel that it’s finally worth their time to come calling.  The “open doors” are a welcome to friends to share in leisure and hard-won luxuries, but they are no barricade to wanderers who wish to crash the party, and pilfer a few valuables.  Keep a light heart, but also, a sharp eye.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: Your devotion is always available to others, but it does have to be earned.  Today’s the day when you get to go over everyone’s accounts, and make a reckoning of “how well they’re doing.”  You don’t have the option of foregoing the neck-deep sentimentality you’re so often swimming in, but your spirits will dry off enough for you to take a higher view, and get broader bearings.  Tomorrow will be the day to have a few simple words with anyone you’re still feelings questions about.  Today, just breathe, think clearly, and don’t be afraid of honest numbers.

Born in the Year of the Ox: Somedays, it’s all green lights in traffic, and cars moving magically out of your way.  Okay, not all green lights today, but it will feel as if you have a secret siren on top of your head blaring out unheard instructions to the confused masses (usually falling under your feet), and suggesting to them, quite powerfully, to “simply move aside.”  Beyond that, much to your delight, you are likely to find one or two people moving along with you, who actually seem to get it!  The Ox Year Plan, that is…!  They won’t necessarily be able to guide you around the boulders you have scheduled on your through-line into The Future, but they’re going to lift your spirits, nonetheless.  If you have a short list of things you’ve not been able to get to, they’ll be perfectly happy to help you with those, as well.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: There’s a quality of clarity in the air today, and a topography one could only describe as “wide open spaces.”  This is a good thing and a bad thing.  The bad thing is that it makes hiding out or stealthy stalking pretty much not available.  (Highly deflating for most Tigers.)  The good thing is that Things to Pounce Upon are visible in any direction you care to look.  (Highly entertaining for most Tigers.)  So, on the one hand, today’s a rare opportunity to rapidly rip through any agenda you happen to have on hand, and to get things effortlessly “in the bag.”  On the other hand, it’s a terrific day to drop all duties and indulge yourself in “simply larking about.”  Which will you do?  I don’t know, …but you do.

Born in the Year of the Hare: Things aren’t getting clearer, today, they’re just getting more exact.  This is not a happy condition for the Clan of the Long Ears.  The liberal wobble of things is where you most easily find your sense of confidence.  Things going into “stark actuality” are difficult for you to digest, as if the stillness of a photograph had somehow stopped the actual heart-beat of the subject.  It’s the flexible contingency of things that seem to give them their vitality, and it’s very disturbing for you to find things going Certain.  Fortunately, that’s not actually what’s happening today, …but it will seem like it is.  Invoke your famous bravery, and stare back at the frozen world around you.  The alarms you feel today will be easing by sundown, and tomorrow everything will go back to running smoothly.  Better yet, back to wobbling!

Born in the Year of the Dragon: Today you have all the proper introductions, credentials, and marks of safe passage, to get you almost anywhere you want to go.  The situation will shift almost exactly 180º tomorrow, so make sure to get your head and heart clear, as early this morning as is practicable.  Gathering information, and dispersing orders should be at the top of your list.  If you happen to be currently snagged in the gears of some “unfortunate machinery,” you can engineer your artful escape in the fairly near future.  First step is making a clear analysis of the way the whole thing is functioning, the second is to make a simple shift in position today that will place you, as the gears go ’round, into proximity to The Exit.  Don’t make a dash for it today;  that’s premature.  But aligning allies, and mentally mapping the terrain?  Perfect timing.

Born in the Year of the Snake: Your inherent nature, your longest-term plans, and your shrewd coolness come together and form a Grand Alignment today.  The danger will be that you might choose to use this rare occurrence to harvest only “immediate gains,” and to miss the huge results you can get by “holding your investments.”  These days, cash-flow seems to be what’s driving things for almost everyone, but for you this year, it’s the future that’s driving everything .  Today’s the right day to get a clear view of what that future actually means, both in aspiration and in potential reality.  There’s no point in re-hashing the past;  but it can be re-formed, and pointed, like a dart, exactly where you want it to go.  Remember, please: “Your inherent nature.”

Born in the Year of the Horse: The world may seem a little brusque today, and if so, it will put you out-of-sorts.  But you’re famous for finding the way to go along with even the most irritating of situations, and finding in turn, the way to make it work.  Once you invoke that ability, you’ll find people being more agreeable, machines looking more self-explanatory, processes appearing more self-guiding, and arguments turning back on themselves, and transforming into dances, both seductive and revealing.  You have a chance to be taken through your paces in a truly flashy way;  even you might be amazed.  The knack of it is to look at the work available today, and to turn towards it.  Tomorrow, you’ll get to run free, and then settle down to the satisfactions of home-life.  Make today the earning of that.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: Theatricality, tedium, and logistics have turned a cartwheel and smashed onto the floor like an up-ended box of toys.  Now, all is stillness, repose, clarity.  Of course you’re thinking:  stillness of death, repose of the grave, clarity of failure.  But that’s just the residue of yesterday’s theatricalities.  It’s not a wisdom you naturally turn to, given the vast array of …well, let’s say “characters” you’re capable of portraying.  But, to follow the metaphor, the cast list has been posted back stage, and you’re down for “the smart but geeky guy who figures the whole thing out half-way through the third act.”  We’re still in the middle of Act 2, of course, but if you’ll just get into the part, I think you’ll actually feel the cruelly rational wheels turning by sundown, and the onset of dark will convince you that the critics are “gonna love this…!”

Born in the Year of the Monkey: Strangely, every one else seems to be doing the “tightening up” today, and you get to go indulgently sloppy.  Well, not too sloppy, of course.  You can see that.  But now you’re playing with that whole wide range between 4.95 and 5.08, where you experience complete freedom, and everyone looking at you sees competent adherence to 5.0.  Best thing to do for future success is to use any extra minutes (or hundredths of a point) to attend to the mopping up left over from yesterday.  You can take full credit for any accidental corrections that take place virtually on their own, but I can’t advise you to show off about it.  Too many people around you have BIG magnifying lenses in their pockets, and you don’t want to smash your hard earned impression with an embarrassing examination of Very Fine Differences.  Let them all rest in their presumptions, at least until tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: As the slow and measured were your best friends yesterday, today it’s the quick and the well-aimed.  Happy you!  You’re in the very best state to grasp your circumstance and limits, with a kind of global awareness you usually find completely unavailable to you.  Those around you, sometimes in spite of themselves, will have to recognize the correctness of your technique, and the sharpness of your distinctions.  Aim to impress them further with that clear spirit of “making contribution,” that’s at the heart of it for you.  So difficult for some to see that, you see.  When they blush in embarrassment, or well up in disappointment with themselves, go all Mother Hen, and fuss over them like little chicks.  “People who don’t like chickens, don’t really know chickens yet.”

Born in the Year of the Dog: You’re in for some discipline, and a few harsh words, today, in spite of your best efforts to make things simpler (yesterday), and to lie low and out of everyone’s way (today)…  Your earthy good-nature, and honest loyalty come up short in almost everybody’s opinion, and if “acting protective” or even “showing initiative” is what got you into trouble yesterday, you certainly won’t be well-advised to try “more of that” today.  Better just to listen attentively, as if you know perfectly well what they’re saying.  Of course, you don’t.  What they’re saying is gibberish and lunatic raving.  But they’ll calm down by tomorrow, and at that point you’ll do well not to try to explain, but to demonstrate.

Born in the Year of the Pig: When you go to the dentist, you want one who knows exactly where the point of the drill is, at all times.  When you go to the hairdresser, you want one who knows exactly how long to leave the solution on for.  When you go to the tailor, you want one who knows exactly how to lift the fabric so pinning it never means pinning you.  Today is the day for you to discover  …no, to experience this truth.  Tomorrow you’ll be planning seminars to give about it, but today just be humbled by the prevalence of mastery, wherever you find it.

Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Words to the Wise:

The seasons move towards rest, as mountains rest upon mountains,

Endlessly, as far as the eye can see.

The Bright falls upon the Dark, and shows hardness.

The Dark takes in the Bright, and shows the same.

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“If you lose your head, you may lose your head.  If you keep your head, you may keep it!”

Monday, 23rd of November


Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Master Mouse Says:

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE NET, a collection of stars in the Western Palace depicting a sort of net, set on a handle, like an etymologist’s butterfly-net.  THE NET is a bright indicator for the day, favorable to searching, researching, making divinations, and relying on superiors (whether for guidance, arbitration, or requesting additional resources.) The character for this asterism is, in its original form, a very clear version of the picture spelled out by the stars.  One can easily imagine reaching up and grasping it by the handle, following with sharp attention some elusive item, swooping down suddenly, and  …bagged!  In spite of the fact that in contemporary use, this character means “to end,” or “to finish,” this is not a good sign for coming to completions, or for signing contracts.  It’s a bad day, also, to simply “drop the ball,” or to choose to abandon what has been accomplished so far.  Asking for support or actions from assistants is not strictly to be avoided, but their results should not be counted on.

The spirit animal for THE NET is the Crow, which has mythological and alchemical associations with the Sun.  The Crow is also an icon of intelligence and bold opportunism in the animal world.  In some cultures, the Crow represents ancient wisdom, or the trickster-thief par excellence.  It adds to the Lunar Lodge the sense that THE NET is not about capturing random items, or gathering all sorts of things which can later be sorted through.  The Crow’s sharp eyes, and sometimes whimsical fascinations, imply a quality of discrimination and selection in choosing what to collect.  This sense is quite harmonious with the Metal association with Autumn, which the Western Palace of the White Tiger represents.  Better to reckon exactly what is wanted, and to take only that today, rather than take in and store away without discrimination.  The gathering implied by THE NET is in consideration of quality, not quantity.

The Solar Index today is HARVEST, which has a special harmony with the Lunar Lodge.  HARVEST is obviously representative of the month in the agricultural cycle when the labors and worries of the entire year come to fulfillment, and crops are gathered in and secured into storage.  The work is hard, and should be faced with willingness and diligence.  Delaying, or acting without proper speed, could ruin the entire year’s profit, particularly for some crops.  The Yang of the year is sinking, but it is evenly balanced with the rising Yin;  proper action at the proper time can capture the vitality of the crop in optimum condition for storage, as well as for optimum nutritive value.  In combination with THE NET, this Solar Index puts the emphasis on using one’s time and energy with the greatest efficiency, and selecting the actions which will yield the greatest result in the end.  Today’s a day to look over the entire set of possibilities before choosing an option.  It’s a day for selecting that which you can honestly hold and manage, over that which appeals to raw appetite or greed.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: There’s a dilemma abroad today:  fun, or function?  Trying to hold either one without losing grasp of the other, will lead to loss of both.  Better to look for the hidden “third option.”  This may look to everyone else like indecision or dilatory tactics, but it’s actually an exercise in “thinking outside of the box.”  Well, “outside of the boxes,” is more like it.  Don’t trust the flash of sudden opportunities;  if you’re not disappointed that you fell for them, somebody else will be.

Born in the Year of the Ox: Patience, yesterday;  tolerance, today.  The crowd around you seems full of very small people, and though they can’t match your strength, determination, or stamina, they can certainly make it confusing for you in trying to get securely across the room.  Tomorrow, ushers are going to arrive to clear a path for you, so don’t be too quick to make long-term judgements based on progress today.  Rest in your tough-hidedness, and keep your mind in the future (where you like it!)

Born in the Year of the Tiger: If you didn’t get your proper rest yesterday (I did warn you!), today is going to seem extremely annoying.  Bad enough when things get in your way, or people refuse to acknowledge the strength of your direction, and clear-heartedness of your purpose.  But when things are so clearly arranged to go just as they “ought to,” and they don’t, for whatever minor little reason…  Well, it’s “extremely annoying!”  Try not to agree with others’ complaints, or chime in on their negative analysis.  They’re not talking about the same thing you are, and you need to endeavor to hold your gaze in a stalking crouch today.  Bull’s-eyes are appearing tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Hare: You’re on the side of the “right way of doing things” pretty much all of this Moon, i.e., until about the middle of December.  Today, however, you could lose sight of your alignment, on account of the Weirdness Factor that seems to have things bouncing off the walls.  Keeping to domestic duties (which are “pleasures” for some, of course!) will keep your attention grounded.  Either the water’s boiling, and ready for the pasta; or it isn’t.  Either the door got closed behind you;  or, it didn’t.  “It isn’t” and “it didn’t” might seem like they’re winning the day, but keep a simple mind, and you’ll eventually outnumber them.  “Just sweep the steps…” as the zen saying goes.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: This is a great day to stretch yourself, and get caught up on things you’ve felt have been dragging, or that have been dropped from proper attention.  It’s also a good day to see to the management of supporters and their tasks.  But (in case you skipped the Lunar Lodge discussion above), remember that giving clear orders is no guarantee of correct results.  Tomorrow will be perfect for re-tuning everyone’s understanding, and for making adjustments, based on new and clearer information.  So, get things whipped up today, and get ready to guide them into proper place tomorrow.  Special note:  some people are just going to be irrationally and itchily frustrated.  Use your Big Quiet Confident Voice to re-assure them, and get them back on task.

Born in the Year of the Snake: Today has great promise for delight, exhilaration, and a magical sense of fulfillment, but if you’re wise, you’ll aim for these three as far from public view as is at all possible.  Your reputation could easily suffer while you’re busy chasing your favorite amusements, and once the day’s gone, it’s the reputation you’ll be dealing with for the rest of November, and maybe longer. (The Ox Year likes you, but the Pig Moon doesn’t like that the Ox Year likes you.)  That being said, the ground-work you lay down in private today, can be re-shaped and re-considered tomorrow, with much happier results for your public face, and for your sense of what you want to accomplish during the next three Moons, to boot.   “Fun, but in private?”  I think you can do that!

Born in the Year of the Horse: You’re liable to fall out of your clearest sense of yourself, today.  This makes it more likely that you’ll be willing to follow a suggestion, from whatever quarter, that you would normally not even consider.  Thing to do is to consider from whom the suggestion is coming, and devote your energies and pace to it accordingly.  You have great sensitivity and intuition about the ground under your feet, and if you appreciate the wisdom (or lack thereof) of those who are suggesting directions, you’ll be able to make strong progress in any situation.  Be in your strength.  (Easy for you!)  Don’t presume the strengths of others. (Harder…  but possible!)

Born in the Year of the Sheep: Today your entire sphere looks like a set of cardboard cut-out directions:  Slot A, Tab A…. Slot B, Tab B….  This doesn’t mean the day is going to go smoothly or with a minimum of fuss.  The simplicity of the process doesn’t mean there aren’t some tricky logistics to negotiate.  Until the entire construction is tabbed together, parts aren’t fully bracing other parts.  You may feel the whole thing’s going to come disassembled, even as you’re diligently plowing through the Little Instruction Booklet.  Not to worry:  if you have to, just drop back, re-boot, and start over.  (It’s the very best style of learning for you, anyway.)  If some people we know get fussy or stubborn, do your best to loom over them, and speak in a very soft voice;  their objections are only theatrical, today.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: What you most enjoy accomplishing will be offered up on a silver platter, today.  (I might have mentioned?)  However:  the silver platter is a signal that you are required to be on your best behavior;  and that you are to observe all those little appurtenances of decorum and etiquette which seem the most silly and meaningless to you.  Pay that small price, and the day could go by without a hitch.  Drop your manners, and you’ll ruin the results for at least the next week.  If you accept the strait-laces today, you’ll find they’ve improved your stance and carriage immensely by tomorrow.  At that point, you won’t be criticized for loosening up a bit while things are falling into their proper slots.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: There will be many problems around you, today. (Not of your doing!)  And most things will seem a little out of line, or a little out of order, or both.  (Again: not of your doing!)  However:  you are the one who most clearly sees the misalignment, and the solutions to be tried, so you have a contribution to be made.  The contribution does require proper timing, though.  If you spend the day mostly in a waiting mode  (that is “making pause before taking any action”) you’ll clearly see the when and the how of it.  If you were at all successful at slowing yourself down yesterday, this is going to seem really easy… and obvious!  (Make a note of successes for future reference.)

Born in the Year of the Dog: Levels of sheer activity, and the resulting sense that people around you are losing focus, are likely to give you a queasy feeling all through the day.  If they all seem to be going crazy (or at least seriously out of balance) there’s most likely nothing you can do about it.  Just try to stay out of their way.  If, however, something else is arriving to add to the complications, you can do great service by standing guard duty.  “Yes, can I help you? Whom did you wish to see?” Take a name, and a number, and repeat after me: “She’ll be contacting you as soon as she’s free.  Thank you!”  You won’t get any pats on the head for this sort of service, but it will ease everyone’s life today, and simplify your agenda for tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Pig: If you think you’ve about hit the boiling point, today, you’re probably quite correct.  It’s not so much that things have come to a head.  (That would imply that there’s a logical, natural progression to what’s bugging you.)  But the way things are bugging you today, is not because things are seriously wrong.  It’s precisely because:  there is no logical, natural progression to them!  This is the final state of awareness before seeing “the knot as it is,” and you’ll thank yourself if you maintain poise, hold your temper, and be really, really angry.  It’s okay to go to another room, and make faces, if necessary.  As the Tibetan Buddhists say:  “Confusion and paradox are the guardians of truth.”

Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Words to the Wise:

Monkey sees Ox:  “How to catch it?”

Monkey catches Ox:  “How to tame it?”

Monkey tames Ox:  “How to ride it?”

Monkey rides Ox:  “What Ox?”

Monkey releases Ox:  “What Monkey?”

“A small jade can equal eight bushels of rice, and fits into a pocket.”

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Sunday, 22nd of November


Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Master Mouse Says:

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE WATCHERS,  the center of the Western Palace of the White Tiger.  This asterism is known in classical western cultures as The Pleiades.  It consists of a tight cluster of stars, six of which are easily seen, and the seventh, barely so.  There are many more stars which require optics to see clearly, but which make a kind of bright blur, binding together the Seven Sisters (as they’re called in classical Greek mythology.)  Their appearance is so unique in the northern sky, that virtually every different culture of long tradition has some set of mythological stories appending to them, explaining their history and identity.

The Chinese character for THE WATCHERS is equally unique, as it has no other meaning than this particular asterism and its Lunar Lodge.  Translating the name, therefore, poses a difficulty.  “Pleiades” transports the wrong set of stories into its name.  Some have followed the phonetic suggestion of the character’s pronunciation, “mǎo,” and render the name as “Hairy Head,” that is, of the White Tiger.  In one classical tradition in China, however, this asterism bears the attribution “Eyes and Ears of Heaven.” In this sense, the translation, “THE WATCHERS,” conveys the proper authority and function of this Lunar Lodge to its usage in the calendar.  It is a time of delicate but powerful visibility, when every gesture seems to appear under a spotlight, every word is heard magnified, every action is well-noted, and registered in memory.  It is an inauspicious sign, as it means that every action, every word, is a gamble.  Such days are fine for the “perfectly upright of heart,” but who is so foolhardy as to test themselves against that claim?  Better to avoid engagement, and wait for a day when a slight slip will not ensure misunderstanding, resentments, or disaster.  Family meetings are certainly to be avoided if at all possible;  better to keep silence and distance, than to invite divisions and wounded feelings.

The spirit animal for THE WATCHERS is the Cock, which is to say, the male chicken.  (All of the Lunar Animal images are written, where there is a distinction, with the character meaning the male of the species.)  The Cock’s sharp eyes, clean discrimination, and accuracy in striking with claws or beak, point to the dangers of the day.  Many practices in traditional Chinese life relate to techniques of concealing human life from the notice of wandering spirits, or from bad influence, or from the gods.  If these concealments fail, perhaps there’s an approach to bribe the members of the Celestial Government, so that they intercede on one’s behalf, begging mercy and leniency.  But under this Lunar Lodge, it’s as if the Celestial Police are staring straight into the human world, with every intention of making a clear and concise report should they need to testify before a Celestial Magistrate.  The wise take the warning, and let the Cock strut by, without giving any pretext for him to take notice, and start writing!

The Solar Index today is COMPLETE, which describes the month in the Chinese calendar in which Autumn begins:  the weeks from early August to early September.  As autumn begins, the structural strength of the crops begins to fade, and vitality is stored in grain, fruit, seed.  In the agricultural partnership between Nature and humans, Nature is fulfilling its part.  What remains for humans is to prepare for the heavy labors of the harvest, and for the happy logistics of storing away the wealth produced by the dancing abundance of Heaven and Earth, now standing expectantly in the fields. This is a bright day in the cycle, as it signals a time of temporarily reduced effort, and greater attention to preparations for the near future.  The feeling of the day is like coasting the last few feet before the boat comes up against the dock;  as soon as the coasting’s done, lots of details will need quick attention.  Stay attentive, but rest a bit now, and prepare for heightened activity, …and potentially great profit.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: Big Feet are stomping all over the room, making an equally Big Noise, but it will be quite clear that none of this is really a Big Deal.  Well, at least it’s not your Big Deal.   Hang out at the edge of things today, and keep the squeaking to a minimum.  You can’t necessarily count on being able to stay “well out of it,” but you can trust in your caution and dexterity to keep from being drawn into someone else’s difficulties.  Be little and agile!  Philosophical questions should be answered with: “Well…. What are your thoughts about it…?”

Born in the Year of the Ox: Issues are coming to a head today for you, and even you may find that the best response may be a bit of a pause.  In fencing, this is called “waiting for time.”  The full attack has gone forward, and been been parried, but no return attack is coming.  Maybe swords are locked hilt to hilt, adversaries moustache nearly to moustache.  “Waiting for time” means observing tense patience until you’re not waiting any more, swords are flashing again.  If you fully rest (yes, “tensely”) in patience, when that arrives time, it will be yours.  Your path is long;  what use is there for impatience?

Born in the Year of the Tiger: A clear calm descends on your sphere today, like the white noise of a fountain in the garden, or the distant sound of wheels on freeways.  There’s action going on around you, or at least it seems to be trying to go on, but you’re in the epicentral eye of it all.  Retreating to a place of comfort is not only appropriate, it’s going to seem like your Best Idea of the Week, once you get to the middle of tomorrow.  Irksome irritants are going to be swarming about you, and it will only be worse, if you’ve not had your proper snoozing time.  Snooze on!

Born in the Year of the Hare: Things are much more calm today, but they’re also much more tense.  This will seem very strange, and yet strangely familiar.  If you keep clearly in your mind the aim of “preventing further damage,” you’ll be making your best contribution.  The stormy snarls of family affairs today are highly temporary, and the politics and economics of “keeping it all going” are still in the process of defining themselves.  Trying to take lasting steps in this situation is not really called for.  Comfort, caring, and togetherness, these are your High Callings for the day;  didn’t I say it would seem “familiar”…?

Born in the Year of the Dragon: O, you’ll be the Happy Dragon if you’ve arranged for “personal time,” today!  The Sheep on duty is diverting the ever-recalcitrant Ox, and allowing you free, unfettered access to your own devices.  Leave the bull-fighting to the guys in the flashy suits, and find your quiet place in the solitary garden.  Conversation, philosophy, friendly chit-chat, they’re all off the mark until tomorrow morning.  Let your eye fall on the nearest objects of beauty and drink them in.  If you’ve got cats… boy, are they going to be happy!

Born in the Year of the Snake: Your great friend, the Ox, is highly diverted by the Sheep on duty today, and not a bit happy about it.  You’ll be doing things on your own hook, and you should take, in great earnest, the advice to “avoid engagement.”  If you can find some global interest to forward, whether concerning the fates of penguins and polar bears, or the practical accomplishment of transformative technologies, then you can really get your wheels spinning.  But searching the field for the next thing you want, will only lead to embarrassment or dissatisfaction.  Tomorrow, great fun;  today, do your research.

Born in the Year of the Horse: Great forces are clashing around you today, but you’ll be very relieved, I hope, when you hear that it’s not “about you.”  If you’re looking for answers, they’re widely available, but you’ll have to be satisfied with the short version.  Insisting on the “full explanation” will get you a harsh word, and an impatient departure.  If you’ve got Tiger friends, they’re the best companions for you.  It’s not what they’re doing today;  it’s what they’re not doing.  Your favorite Life Coach is busy today, and not answering his cell phone.  Satisfy yourself with a play-date out of the rainstorm.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: It’s the great gift of this year’s turning, to rip from your tightly tensed fists, the dual reins of Confidence and Drive.  …Well, that’s what you call them, anyway.  Once you’ve dropped them, you can more closely examine the tags they bear:  they read “Arrogance” and “Presumption.”  This sounds like a harsh augury, I know.  But the very best thing that can happen to you this year, is to discover the Daoist truth that you don’t actually know what’s going on here.  Drink that down, and everything after that is all chocolate pudding.  Think about this a bit, please.  …And then:  have some chocolate pudding!  Yes!  Chocolate pudding!

Born in the Year of the Monkey: Your specialty is the instantaneous grasp of the moment, and the deft juggling of What Might Be Here with What Might Be Coming.  Not to much purpose today, I’m afraid, as the world seems dedicated to lumbering mass, and attachment to position.  You can pretty much dart happily about, like a humming bird in the midst of a battle-to-the-death between a couple of Galapagos tortoises, but you shouldn’t spend any time darting for your favorite treats.  They’re going to be served on fine china tomorrow, and today you’ll just get your hand slapped.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: Yesterday, things were all about slow-motion, and a kind of gooey poise.  Today, that knack of yours to see everything with greater quickness and greater clarity than almost anyone else in the room, is going to come in very handy;  you’ve been nominated Chief Referee.   Whistle, striped shirt, the whole works.  There’s a problem, however;  you are going to find you’re not entirely impartial.  When in doubt, don’t use your “sense of things,” as accurate as it usually is.  Refer to the video-tape!  You’ll save yourself a world of embarrassment!

Born in the Year of the Dog: You’ll find yourself asking today: “Uhm…. Excuse me!  Can you take care of this for me?”  All you’re going to get in reply is:  “Sorry.  Busy.  Sorry.”  This will sound entirely cold and unfeeling in your ears, and your first instinct (as per usual) will be to fall into dejection about it.  But this terse rebuff is actually an invitation to do Something Nice without being asked.  “Holding door,” “watching pot on stove,” “sweeping porch,” “sorting laundry,” and “emptying cat litter box” (<ewww!>) all spring to mind.  But be creative!  Turn the tables, and watch the astonished gratitude.

Born in the Year of the Pig: You’re going to feel like your best friend is in a duel, and you’ve been drafted as “second.”  Don’t spend the day worrying about what a bad shot your friend is, and how you’ll likely have to step into the line of fire, if it comes to that.  The Argument is going to be all stance, and posing, and huffing about: “Oh yeah?”  “Oh, yeah???”  “…Oh, yeah…???”  Don’t go directly for a diplomatic resolution;  you’ll just get into trouble yourself.  But when energy starts to flag, and the merest pathway to Simple Exit appears, throw your towel over your friend’s head, and get out of there!  Your friend will make repayments tomorrow.

Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Words to the Wise:

No one knows the purpose of life.  No one knows the meaning of meaning.

Language is a beautiful music of the heart;  music is a beautiful language of the mind.

The master said: “The man of profit is gladly received by profit.

The man of loss is gladly accepted by loss.”

“The sheep’s fleece is hers only to start with.”

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Saturday, 21st of November


Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Master Mouse Says:

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE STOMACH.  Among the Five Organs in the body, the stomach occupies the center position, and functions within the phase of Earth.  This Lunar Lodge is not the center of the Western Palace;  that comes tomorrow.  But among the four Saturdays in the cycle, this is the strongest, the most tolerant under stress, and the most solidly well-balanced.  In the picture of the White Tiger spelled out this week through the Western Palace of the zodiac, THE STOMACH is almost at the center;  not quite in the center position, but perhaps leading there.

The character for THE STOMACH is a picture of food being contained within the hollow organ.  There, food begins its transmution into a form which can benefit the purposes of the body at large.  This Lunar Lodge thus implies the appropriateness of things going to their proper place, to supply their proper benefit:  money into banks, medicines into the body, even corpses into graves.  The actions most indicated today are not heroic, or highly dramatic, or uncommonly note-worthy.  The emphasis is on the regularities of life, and the way proper actions interact with other proper actions, making rhythm, flow, responsiveness, and vitality.  This is the model of the Five Organs in maintaining health, the balance of the Five Phases in maintaining life.

The spirit animal for THE STOMACH is the Pheasant, which is almost a “mascot” for the Autumn.  After harvest, the fields are cleared.  This makes them attractive to birds and animals gleaning through the fields for fallen grain, and for insects uncovered and easier to catch in the increasing cold.  The fields are also conveniently open for the hunter, able now more easily to see the quarry, to get a clear shot, and to bring home a full bag of game to help fill the larder for the long winter.  Interestingly, pheasant meat is one of the few foods which enters all 12 meridians equally.  Thus the Pheasant points again to the broad tolerance of THE STOMACH, and to its function of receiving the wide and variant richness of the outer world, and effectively beginning its dispersal to all the other organs and body parts, in balance and counter-balance.  The Pheasant is an indicator that on this day, dispersal is not random or unintelligent;  it is direct, efficient, nourishing.

The Solar Index today is DANGER, and is associated with the month of high heat in summer, from early July to early August.  This Solar Index is written with the same character as the Lunar Lodge THE ROOFTOP.  This character is a picture of a person standing on the edge of a cliff or precipice.  In the case of the Lunar Lodge, this means the caution necessary when working on the roof of a house;  working on the roof equals danger, as it were.  In more general use, the character can be translated as “danger,” “daring,” or “tricky.”

The high heat of summer is a condition of “danger” in its own right, as the blast of Yang Heat can sink deep into the unprotected body, and produce a raft of imbalances and difficulties through the following seasons.  Excess Yang Heat deep in the body can well up suddenly during Winter, when it should more properly be slowly sifting out of the body;  this can give opening to disease, and make symptoms during illness more volatile, more problematic to re-balance, and even bring on permanent damage or death.

The day of DANGER also points to the trickiness of this part of the growing season;  the crops are full and high in the fields, and their very fullness makes them open to any number of sources of damage.  Wind and hailstorms, whipped up by the excess Yang in the weather, can bring mechanical damage.  Thunderstorms can bring lightning, and if they don’t also bring enough rain, lightning can lead to fire.  If no rains fall at all, the high heat can quickly wither the crops.  If too much rain falls, some crops will burst open before fully ripe, others may develop mold or other damp problems.  It’s a time of worry for the farmer;  the harvest is so easy to visualize, yet might be so easy to lose!  If all goes well, the worry will turn to relief.  If not, there may be nothing to be done about it.

Though this Solar Index is noted with double black dots in the Ming Li Tong Shu, in many almanacs it is printed in red.  This is both to signify the high Yang energy of the day (which gives it a buoyant, productive feeling), and to note that it is particularly appropriate for weddings.  The feeling of “getting close to the edge” (but not over it!) sets the proper tone of tipsy good spirits so important for family and honored guests.  Capturing the energy of high Yang as it begins to move towards Yin, also nourishes fertility in the couple, and encourages boys to be born in the next generation.  This is a day for feeling “brilliant,” …and not dancing blithely too close to the edge.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: Today’s not a day of “full blockage,” but any way in which you decline the Herculean choice of “duty before pleasure,” will make you feel that you did the right thing.  Staying close to home is more productive than leaving the house, and if your vitality or mental focus sag, try doing something that’s “just a frivolous lark” for 15 minutes or so.  Set a timer.  When you hear the “DING!” you’ll be perfectly ready to get back to work.  Gardening or house-work are fine, but do not allow it to turn into a marathon session.  If you are working outside, avoid the mid-day.  Even if it’s cold outside, the middle hours today have a lot of turbulent Yang in them.  Too much for you!  Meeting and conversing are also fine, though not optimum.  Just don’t let things get serious.  Go on:  giggle!

Born in the Year of the Ox: You may find yourself groaning, rolling your eyes, and muttering: “Here we go again!”  Nothing much to surprise you today, but it’s not really going to last long either, so try to keep a jovial tone.  Well, at least you should think it’s “jovial.”  Folks around you are liable to accuse you of acting grim, or worse.  Do not allow yourself to utter the currently universal “Whatever!” unless you really want to spook people.  They’re liable to interpret it as The Sinking of the Titanic, when you only meant “oh, well….”  If you wanted to act at the height of efficiency, you’d adopt a different phrase: “How are we doing here?”  This should be uttered after a 3 second pause in activity.  The strange thing is that even if those around you think they need a two-hour nap, just that question will feel to them like you’ve hit their reset buttons.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: Today you get to play, play, play.  Planning a clear schedule will keep you available to make happy response to impromptu invitations, or to dash out on calls for a full-on Tiger Team Rescue Response.  You also have the option of packing every hour with Plans (….though, of course, I’d recommend Plans with Three Levels of Alternate Contingency.)  Please pass on what seems to be a “deep opportunity to explain things.”  Those around you want to see the muscles rippling, and the tail flicking, and the Big Teeth glinting in your glee.  And you’ll only really be enjoying the day if you’re satisfying their desires.  Tomorrow you may get the cozy hour by the fireplace to think back, and hold forth in high philosophical tone, either with others or all by yourself.  Today: instead of discourse, roaring and purring, please.

Born in the Year of the Hare: Things relax a bit today, and strangely, also get more exciting.  The whole world will seem like a day at the races;  not that “everything’s a gamble,” but that everything has the tingling sense of danger, possibility, and confusion that fill a world where the people think “everything’s a gamble.”  Now, if you want to turn today into a very instructive experience:  Hey!  Go to the races!  But whether you’re watching the sheets tumble dry at the laundromat, or picking out a tasty-but-not-too-expensive cheese for tonight’s dinner, pay attention to that zing in the air.  If you’re feeling lucky about it, taking a chance is highly auspicious.  If you’re feeling dejected or frustrated, I repeat myself:  “pay attention to that zing in the air.”

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The reins are falling into your grasp today, but if you’re wise about it, you’ll pass over the obvious Dragon option of swooping off in your most dramatic manner.  Instead, render the trick of slo-mo shock and awe.  Think of it as hypnosis-marrying-art:  first we create rapport, then we test the willingness to go along, and then we lift the huge vehicle miraculously off the pavement.  This advice will also help you avoid the embarrassment of discovering (as you are likely to do tomorrow) that the vehicle wasn’t fully gassed up before you rose up into the clouds.  Even if it’s not your “regular style,” aim for small scale, and precise attention.  The world will give you much more than you seem to be asking for.  If you find yourself arguing, you don’t have to be the one who’s “wrong,” but you do need to stop arguing.

Born in the Year of the Snake: You’re in great danger today of nominating some innocent bystander to be your Immediate Savior, and placing your whole portfolio of irritations into that person’s hands.  Unless you know you’re only engaging in delaying tactics, this will accomplish nothing.  In the words of Ace of Base: “No-one’s gonna drag you up to get into the light where you belong.”  Or in the words of the traditional Appalachian saying:  “Never try to teach a pig to sing.  It’s a waste of your time, and it just annoys the pig.”  That being said, you could flip the whole thing around for everybody, by nominating some innocent bystander to be your Immediate Protegé.  Don’t try to resolve the entire portfolio of their irritations.  Instead, show them what you can see they are good for by leading them to “just do it.”  Sometimes the art of succeeding lies in not pushing your agenda.

Born in the Year of the Horse: We are all very much aware of how much you take delight in “getting to work,” and feeling the results drop artfully into the slot.  Today there’s a confusion between “the work” and “the delight.” This may cause you to think the entire machinery of your world has developed a deep and serious flaw.  This isn’t really the case, and looking deeper and deeper into the space between “what is done” and “why it’s done” will produce only deeper and deeper confusion.  Fortunately, no one around has any investment in letting you jimmy around with the machinery in this way, today.  In fact, almost everybody around you has a Really Cool Idea of what to do at the moment (whenever that turns up) that requires only one reponse: “Let’s try that!”  Soon you’ll be up and running, and who cares how?  Tomorrow, if you’re still interested in that question, you’ll have several chances to button-hole a wandering professor, and demand a sidewalk seminar.  Tomorrow: “Why?”  Today:  “Wheee!”

Born in the Year of the Sheep: Not everyone around you today is interested in clarification or explanation, but some are.  Not everyone around you today is looking for a waltz across the floor, a deep bow, and a polite departure, but some are.  Not everyone around you today is asking you to take a look at the whole problem, draw up a white paper, and submit it in triplicate for dedicated review, but some are.  So, quite obviously, your task today is to figure out:  Who is who???  Think of it as a social matching puzzle.  Ask some brief, simple questions, and start the Contingent Lists in that enormous mind-space you’ve got going.  Once you’ve got the greatest likelihoods lined up, the questions can get deeper and more definitive.  The whole thing will be highly entertaining, I promise you, even if slightly tinged with possibilities of doom.  Possiblities, I say.  (That’s just to keep it interesting.)  Tomorrow:  Chocolate pudding.  Yum.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: It will be easy to focus today, and really get some things accomplished if you just remember not to play “Good Cop, Bad Cop.”  Truth of heart is key, and we’re not talking here about talking about “truth of heart.”  If you’ve said more than three words in explanation, then you’re no longer explaining;  you’re still trying to figure it out.  That’s not bad, as far as it goes, but it will mean you miss the opportunity of the moment.  It’s better to excuse yourself for a moment, lapse into silence, and then just start giving directions.  If it seems fitting to dress them up with exuberance and showmanship, that’s fine.  Just not necessary.  The brave among you will take this advice as permission to drop into Full Drill Instructor Mode.  To which, I say:  “SIR!! YES, SIR!!”

Born in the Year of the Fowl: Things today are made difficult by the issue of pace.  The slower you go, the faster you’ll make progress.  This will seem the opposite of your inclinations, but it’s nonetheless true.  If you’re busy with things, take any opportunity to put a pause into the affairs of the day.  Even 1.5 seconds between words in a sentence will work wonders.  Practice saying to yourself:  “Relax!… There’s all… the time… in the world….”  Better, say it aloud in any conversation you can!  The world, I promise you, will be hungry for this reassurance.  And your famous exactitude will suddenly appear brilliantly clear, and even heart-warming, to the others-in-the-room.  As remarkable and captivating as hummingbirds are, one cannot truly appreciate their special powers and elegance until they are seen in super slow motion.  Catch that pace today, and you will hummmmmmm…….

Born in the Year of the Dog: You may well have promised yourself that this would definitely be the day you get to ease off the pace, and (finally! >whew!<) get caught up and recuperated.  Strangely, that will most likely happen in full by about 10 in the morning.  Well…. Then what are you going to do?  The answer is:  follow pretty much whatever passes under your nose!  This is one of those truly sweet days when each event folds seamlessly into the next, with no concerns over completion, or rationality, or schedules, or even (gasp!) good manners.  Well, …I say “no concerns,”  but I mean: “no concerns, today.”  There might be a bill to pay tomorrow, but it’s not going to be onerous, and it might well be quite satisfying.  So: “no concerns, today.”  And:  “Enjoy!”

Born in the Year of the Pig: Today you can exercise the delicacy of your taste, and the sophistication of your view, to your heart’s content.  Almost everyone is willing to pull up a chair, and drink it all in.  The only danger for you is the teasing temptation to go right off the deep end.  Even if you’re telling The Truth As It Actually Happened, going into every detail is frequently more interesting to the teller than to the audience.  Leave some mystery in the air.  Practice the art of the tease.  It’s not that you’re not going to follow through, but that you want to save something to savor next time.  Your “character from history or literature” is Scheherazade, who began each new story with no intention of completing it …until tomorrow!  Come on, you’re good at this!

Text © Robert Fenwick • The Fenwick Academy • (831) 471-0388 • Words to the Wise:

The Year is Purple Fire:  traveling north is difficult.

The Moon is Yellow Earth:  don’t go out the door.

The Day is Purple Fire:  north-west for lucky repose.

“First three bites: soothe starvation.  Last three bites: shorten life.  Middle three bites:  balance Five Organs .”

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