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Thursday, 31st of December


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

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE HORN, the beginning of the Lunar Lodge cycle, and the first day of the Eastern Palace of the Azure Dragon.  THE HORN is an asterism of two stars representing the horn on the snout of the Azure Dragon, the entire body of which is spelled out through the week-long Eastern Palace.  In one ancient tradition, dragons were regarded as sleeping in the ground through the winter months, and awakening with the spring rains.  Using their horns, they would plough up through the earth, and return to the world above.  In agreement with this symbol of the return of spring and the beginning of the year’s planting, THE HORN is an extremely auspicious indicator for almost all activities.  Things having to do with new beginnings or agriculture, take particular benefit from this Lunar Lodge.  As the onset of spring represents the proper balance of rising Yang, this is an extremely auspicious day for weddings.  The only forbidden activities have to do with delay, and bringing things to conclusion.  These are regarded as “swimming against the tide,” and consequently ineffective, wasteful, and disharmonious.

The spirit animal for THE HORN is the Crocodile ( 蛟 jiāo ), sometimes called “Scaled Dragon” or “Flood Dragon.”  Melting snows and spring rains mount up and frequently cause wide flooding in river plains.  This is a curse and a blessing:  the floods bring much destruction, but they are also vital to the re-nourishment of the land in a river valley, covering the fields with nutrient-laden silt.  The Crocodile, as the image of the “spring at its beginning,” indicates the importance of remembering the dangers as well as the blessings in the annual cycle.  Capture, today, the freshness of the new energy, but keep a “cold heart,” and a “sluggish demeanor,” and save your bursts of energy for when they will really make the difference.  Like the Crocodile, those who do so, will last long and prosper.

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 ( 開 kāi ) 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: The Dog on duty today has plenty of quickness and willingness, but not enough stamina and raw imagination to do well under the Rat-Ox combination.  This makes it a very good day for you to sink down to brass tacks, and to finish the western calendar year on as earthy a basis as you can muster.  Put your inventiveness on idle for a couple of days, and see to your own physical needs.  Midnight’s festivities are better for you if they’re closer to home, and if they don’t leave you spending all day tomorrow striving for recuperation.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Dog on duty today has plenty of quickness and willingness, but not enough stamina and raw imagination to do well under the Rat-Ox combination.  Since the western calendar year is closing today, you might as well take this as an opportunity to un-plug and let things roll forward on sheer inertia for a few days.  The Rat Moon is full tonight, and you’ve got two more weeks for it to engineer good results.  Don’t press matters forward until Monday, and please don’t ignore the radiance of the full moon!  It’s an omen of great benefit for the Clan of the Hooves and Horns.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Dog on duty today has plenty of quickness and willingness, but not enough stamina and raw imagination to do well under the Rat-Ox combination.  This is a very good footing for you to see to whatever matters demand your attention to close out the western calendar year, and you’ll have enough energy left over to glory in the radiant full moon.  You’re one of the few who can afford to “party hardy” tonight, if you’ve the appetite, but you’ll get more enjoyment out of being in good fighting trim tomorrow;  consequently, I advise moderation this evening, and scheduling some personal treat for yourself tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Dog on duty today has plenty of quickness and willingness, but not enough stamina and raw imagination to do well under the Rat-Ox combination.  This will leave you with a pretty wide open range of possibilities for the day, as well as for the festivities closing out the western calendar year.  Celebratory events closer to home will be more satisfying in the long run, but if you’re out in the crowds instead, spend more of your efforts on everyone around you having a good time, than on yourself.  You’ll be surprised at the pay-off.  Your clansman in on view, on the face of the full moon, and it will do you good to cast your appreciative gaze up at him for a long minute or two.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Dog on duty today has plenty of quickness and willingness, but not enough stamina and raw imagination to do well under the Rat-Ox combination.  This could give you the sense that the last two days of relative triumph are turning into a third, but that would be a misunderstanding.  We’ve still got six more weeks of the Ox Year to get through, and the less you make of the midnight festivities closing out the western calendar year, the better.  Next week will give you plenty of opportunities to add triumph to your track record, but they’ll require you to be in a relaxed and recuperated state of mind.  So, minimize your exertions today;  consider making your Big Night Out just an extended moment or two of staring up in appreciation at the fullness of the moon.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Dog on duty today has plenty of quickness and willingness, but not enough stamina and raw imagination to do well under the Rat-Ox combination.  This will leave you plenty of space to draw into order any outstanding matters that require conclusion before the very end of the western calendar year, with energy left over to get out and enjoy the midnight festivities.  The crowds are likely to be rowdy before the turn of the date, but the party atmosphere is going to fade not long after the twelfth stroke of the clock.  Don’t resist the demise of the celebrations;  tomorrow’s Pig day begins at midnight (particularly for you!).  You’ll thank your good sense if you get home and turn in as soon as it’s socially convenient.  The Rat and Ox Moons still have some bon-bons to deliver for you, but you’ll need to avoid exhaustion to catch them most effectively.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Dog on duty today has plenty of quickness and willingness, but not enough stamina and raw imagination to do well under the Rat-Ox combination.  This will make a perfect space for your diligence and spirit of camaraderie to come forward, and I think you’re one of the few who will actually enjoy the midnight festivities closing out the western calendar year.  You’re certainly going to be appreciated by your crowd.  However, most of the good feeling will be about bidding adieu to the stresses and strains of the year that’s closing, and—as we know—we’re not out of the energetics of the Ox Year yet!  Tomorrow’s a great day for recuperation, and enjoying a day off, so begin it early:  12:35 am is not too early to start!

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Dog on duty today has plenty of quickness and willingness, but not enough stamina and raw imagination to do well under the Rat-Ox combination.  This sort of arrangement always presents potential difficulties for the members of the Clan of Fleece and Horns, as the Dog delights in dumping everything in your inbox, and immediately clocking out for the day.  So take today as an exercise—especially for you—in Not Stressing.  Things you can get done, fine.  Things you can’t get done, fine.  Much more important for you is to take at least symbolic delight in the close of the western calendar year.  Do bask in the relaxation and recuperative power of the Pig Shut day tomorrow.  Tomorrow, remember, begins at midnight:  twelve strokes of the bell, champagne toast, “auld lang syne,” kiss your honey, and off to bed.  You’re really going to enjoy lounging about tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Dog on duty today has plenty of quickness and willingness, but not enough stamina and raw imagination to do well under the Rat-Ox combination.  The Raw Imagination Thing you’ve got going in spades, so if you spend even a small part of the day settling any unfinished matters to conclude the western calendar year, you’re going to be in a mood to party through the midnight’s festivities.  Tomorrow though, is a Pig day and Shut, so the celebrations are going to drop off pretty sharply not too long after midnight.  Don’t take it personally.  Console yourself with a long few moments staring up at the radiant full moon.  It will do good things to your spirit, and remind you that we’ve still got two weeks in the Friendly Rat Moon.  You can make best use of them after a good day of lounging through the day off.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Dog on duty today has plenty of quickness and willingness, but not enough stamina and raw imagination to do well under the Rat-Ox combination.  You know how to summon stamina this year, and your imagination is pretty much right on the mark as well, so you’re liable to feel fairly confident as the western calendar year draws to its close.  You might even feel, as dusk arrives, a wild idea or two about getting out and about to celebrate.  That’s perfectly within “normal operating parameters,” as the engineers like to say, but be advised:  celebrations are going to draw to a quick close not too long after midnight.  The Pig day tomorrow is also Shut, and it begins right at midnight.  No harm if you’re one of the last to linger before leaving the party, and do cast your gaze up to honor the radiant full moon before going inside for the deep winter-night’s slumbers.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Dog on duty today has plenty of quickness and willingness, but not enough stamina and raw imagination to do well under the Rat-Ox combination.  This is not a dark situation for you, as long as you aim to finish out the outstanding details to close the western calendar year, by being “quick” and “willing.”  Nobody’s going to get in your way, and you’ll be quite satisfied to see how smoothly you can get things wrapped up.  Do not plow deeply into problems that will require something more than quick attentions and snap judgements.  They will just be a waste of your time, and tomorrow—remember—is “next year:”  do it then.  Get out and party on account of the midnight festivities, if you like, but don’t aim to stay much longer than the twelfth stroke of the clock.  You’ve got some serious sleeping to get in tomorrow, and tomorrow begins at midnight!

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Dog on duty today has plenty of quickness and willingness, but not enough stamina and raw imagination to do well under the Rat-Ox combination.  Now, stamina you’re also running short of, but the Raw Imagination Thing is one of your strengths.  So apply that to whatever details need wrapping up on account of the close of the western calendar year, and start imagining the midnight’s festivities.  You’ll surprise yourself with satisfaction, if you decide to make the observances close to your own homefires, but getting out into the world will be refreshingly joyous for you, as well.  However:  tomorrow’s a Pig day, as well as Shut, and so things are going to start closing down pretty quickly after the twelve strokes of the clock.  If you’re left high and dry at the party, console yourself with the radiance of the big full moon over-head, and spend the trip home imagining all the delights you can pack into your day off…

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

Rabbit, on the face of the moon, pounds out the elixir of immortality.

Diligently, through the night, below the cassia boughs, he labors.

Xī Wáng-mǔ is distant, and she alone decides the immortals.

Still, anyone can watch him work, drink in that radiance, almost taste his potion.

“A wall, certainly, without a door;  but certainly, no door without a wall.”

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Wednesday, 30th of December


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

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE CARRIAGE, last day in the Southern Palace of the Vermillion Bird, and the end of the Lunar Lodge cycle at large.  It’s named after an asterism of six stars, which also make up the western constellation Corvus, the Crow.  There are four stars making the shape of a broad diamond, with two other stars extending slightly out from the broadly opposite corners.  The ancients in China saw in this shape a carriage or chariot, with the two exterior stars suggesting protuding axle-ends on either side.  “Celestial Chariot” ( 天 車 Tiàn Chē ) was one of its alternate names.  The character with which THE CARRIAGE is written ( 軫 Zhěn ) can also mean “to revolve,” pointing to its position at the end of the Lunar Lodge cycle, which begins again tomorrow.

Appropriate to its place in the Southern Palace, this Lunar Lodge is associated with the feasts held for the imperial family members at the end of summer, during the relative lull in farming labors before harvesting began.  THE CARRIAGE, in this connection, represents the carts and wagons in which the supplies for the banquets arrive, and also the chariots and carriages in which the various (and numerous) guests make their journeys to the imperial capital.

THE CARRIAGE thus indicates a time favorable for travel of any sort, and more particularly travel in haste, over extended distance, or on official duties.  Its position at the end of the Lunar Lodge cycle gives it favorability to concluding of debts, or resolving outstanding affairs of any sort.  In fact, it is an almost universally favorable indicator, forbidding only things that will delay concluding matters, or that would bar attendance to social and political duties.  Negotiating or signing contracts, arranging or holding weddings, performing religious rituals, applying for or succeeding in promotion, purchasing property or vehicles, and any number of other commercial and spiritual matters, all gain benefit from the high energy and beneficial influence of this Lunar Lodge.  And if some sort of festivity can be included in the affair—a toast of wine to seal the deal with, or hosting the client at dinner—so much the better!

The spirit animal for THE CARRIAGE is the Earthworm (蚯 蚓 qiú yǐn), certainly the least romantic or noble of the 28 Animals of the Lunar Lodge cycle.  And yet, given the importance of earthworms to the vitality of the soil, and the corresponding importance of farming to human life and culture, they deserve a special respect.  Feeding exclusively on decaying matter, earthworms aerate and mix the soil, foster micro-fungal growth (which releases nutrients for uptake by the roots of plants), and spread nutrients more evenly through soils.  In damp, rich river soils, there may be as many as two million earthworms per acre;  in a year, that many can process as much as 60,000 lbs. of soil, improving its fertility and production, and speeding the return of decaying nutrients to useable form by as much as four times.

The lowly Earthworm adds to the attributions of this Lunar Lodge the reminder that wealth and power at the highest echelons of society are always based on the health and productivity of the lowest.  Thus, this day in the Lunar Lodge cycle is a time to remember with humility the natural relation that human life has to the natural world, and to turn high powers and high accomplishment to the support and benefit of the lowly and powerless.

The Solar Index today is HARVEST, which is the name of the second month of the Autumn in the agricultural calendar, from early September through early October.  It contains the Autumn Equinox, and represents the time when the vitality of the year distills to an essence;  the plants wither and grow stiff while the fruits and seeds grow plump and ready to drop from their stems.  The labors of humans at this time of the year are hard, and must be accomplished with speed.  The results of the harvest, however, fulfill the labors of the entire rest of the year, and are a source of great satisfaction and relief.

In most editions of the almanac, HARVEST days are printed in black, as their association with Autumn makes them inappropriate for weddings.  In terms of industry and production, however, HARVEST symbolizes the gathering in of the abundance of the natural world, and the fulfillment of human labor, in preparation for the sternness and cold of Winter.  This is a favorable sign for commerce in general, and for investing, borrowing, and lending, in specific.  It is not suitable for medical treatment in the Chinese traditions, as the  is going down and thinning, and though the shēn is ample, its presentation can be misleading.  Better to wait for a day, to determine a more accurate understanding of the patient’s condition, and to make an adjustment more likely to “take.”

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Earth Fowl on duty has a refined grasp of the Ox Year’s progress, and a keen sense of what needs to be handled today.  Some of these affairs involve the elegant resolution of outstanding items from yesterday’s agenda;  some have more to do with aiming correctly towards the Ox Moon in two weeks.  None of them have too much to do with your sensibilities or sentiments, but you’ll find them advantageous none-the-less.  So do your best to be tough and opportunistic today;  give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and don’t doubt that you’ll benefit.  Take the back seat today;  you’ll get plenty more driving in before the Rat Moon ends in mid-January.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Earth Fowl on duty has a refined grasp of the Ox Year’s progress, and a keen sense of what needs to be handled today.  Some of these affairs involve the elegant resolution of outstanding items from yesterday’s agenda;  some have more to do with aiming correctly towards the Ox Moon in two weeks.  This will feel like a very sweet day for you, as long as you take whatever small suggestions you’re offered very seriously.  This is not the right day to feature your famous stubbornness;  show instead the docility of your nature.   As Master Vonnegut told us:  “Un-expected travel arrangements are dancing lessons from God.”

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Earth Fowl on duty has a refined grasp of the Ox Year’s progress, and a keen sense of what needs to be handled today.  Some of these affairs involve the elegant resolution of outstanding items from yesterday’s agenda;  some have more to do with aiming correctly towards the Ox Moon in two weeks.  In either case, they’re likely to look to you like they’re a bit beside the point, and presented with far too much insistence.  Now, you never really like being told that something must be done, but if you’ll just get past your resistance as quickly as possible, you’ll find that such indications today will point you towards great benefit.  Think of the Fowl as the Ox Year’s “translator module;”  if you do, you may think by sunset that you know how to speak Ox-ish!

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Earth Fowl on duty has a refined grasp of the Ox Year’s progress, and a keen sense of what needs to be handled today.  Some of these affairs involve the elegant resolution of outstanding items from yesterday’s agenda;  some have more to do with aiming correctly towards the Ox Moon in two weeks.  As bewildering as yesterday’s Monkey might have made things for you, the Fowl may just look totally wrong.  Still, he’s got a better bead on The Ox Thing than you do, and if you’ll just go along with things today, you’ll get a hefty reward tomorrow.  You get special dispensation for the whole day to feel out of sorts, but while pouting in your room might be in order, offering resistance to anyone else is not.  Sometimes wú-wéi should be translated: “stay out of trouble.”

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Earth Fowl on duty has a refined grasp of the Ox Year’s progress, and a keen sense of what needs to be handled today.  Some of these affairs involve the elegant resolution of outstanding items from yesterday’s agenda;  some have more to do with aiming correctly towards the Ox Moon in two weeks.  In either case, you know exactly what to do with the clear directions being offered up today, so lean into your affairs with an equally clear sense of purpose.  Things that don’t get finished today will not be entirely dead in the water, though you won’t get to pick them up and make them finally productive until the weekend.  Only a few will notice how sublimely you’re handling things today, but they’ll be the ones who actually understand.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Earth Fowl on duty has a refined grasp of the Ox Year’s progress, and a keen sense of what needs to be handled today.  Some of these affairs involve the elegant resolution of outstanding items from yesterday’s agenda;  some have more to do with aiming correctly towards the Ox Moon in two weeks.  Both cases will seem almost tailor-made to fit perfectly into your purposes, so take matters in hand, and expect to work pretty-well down your whole agenda without so much as breaking a sweat.  Whatever isn’t brought to full completion today will need to be put on hold until next Monday or Tuesday, but the results today are going to be so solid, that delay won’t cause any serious problems.  Let your cheerfulness show;  nobody’s going to think it’s suspicious today!

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Earth Fowl on duty has a refined grasp of the Ox Year’s progress, and a keen sense of what needs to be handled today.  Some of these affairs involve the elegant resolution of outstanding items from yesterday’s agenda;  some have more to do with aiming correctly towards the Ox Moon in two weeks.  In either case, none of them are going to be very responsive to your will or appetites.  Consequently, this is one of those days when you need to practice “going with the flow,” even if it feels like that just makes you a “dead fish floating downstream.”  You’ll get a chance to re-think everything tomorrow, and come to much more satisfying understanding of what’s been going on the last few days.  Let your friends guide you along today, even if their advice just makes you glower while muttering: “Well…. I don’t know…..”

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Earth Fowl on duty has a refined grasp of the Ox Year’s progress, and a keen sense of what needs to be handled today.  Some of these affairs involve the elegant resolution of outstanding items from yesterday’s agenda;  some have more to do with aiming correctly towards the Ox Moon in two weeks.  Neither of these categories will be pursued the way you’d prefer—it being the Ox Year—but if you give things half a chance, and an honest perusal, you’ll see that the pursuit does seem to be Highly Productive.  Take things at face value today, and don’t pass up opportunities to get rest;  tomorrow, you’re liable to be everybody’s Work Magnet.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Earth Fowl on duty has a refined grasp of the Ox Year’s progress, and a keen sense of what needs to be handled today.  Some of these affairs involve the elegant resolution of outstanding items from yesterday’s agenda;  some have more to do with aiming correctly towards the Ox Moon in two weeks.  In either case, your activities yesterday are going to be well-woven into the fabric of this Moon’s Big Accomplishments, so think of the Fowl today as stepping in to offer you re-enforcements.  You can back off on the energy level without sacrificing any results, and letting others take over what you’ve started will make even you amazed at what’s been accomplished.  Extra points for pitching in to help today, but don’t forget to eat well.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Earth Fowl on duty has a refined grasp of the Ox Year’s progress, and a keen sense of what needs to be handled today.  Some of these affairs involve the elegant resolution of outstanding items from yesterday’s agenda;  some have more to do with aiming correctly towards the Ox Moon in two weeks.  Your attention in both these categories is so well-aimed, and so properly considered, that you should take the simplest angle of approach, and just go.  The only thing that could set things a-miss, in fact, would be doubting yourself and—therefore—over-doing things.  In point of fact, it’s under-doing that should be your style today.  “Sharper the aim, tinier the tap.”  Think of it like acupuncture!

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Earth Fowl on duty has a refined grasp of the Ox Year’s progress, and a keen sense of what needs to be handled today.  Some of these affairs involve the elegant resolution of outstanding items from yesterday’s agenda;  some have more to do with aiming correctly towards the Ox Moon in two weeks.  Both of these categories of success are almost designed to produce some disturbances for you, so don’t think that it’s something you’ve done wrong, or neglected to do.  It’s just the Fowl Thing forwarding the Ox Thing, after all.  If that makes you think you’re liable to end the day tired, I’d have to say I think you’re right.  So, take every opportunity to under-do, today.  You’ll get to catch up and then some, tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Earth Fowl on duty has a refined grasp of the Ox Year’s progress, and a keen sense of what needs to be handled today.  Some of these affairs involve the elegant resolution of outstanding items from yesterday’s agenda;  some have more to do with aiming correctly towards the Ox Moon in two weeks.  In both cases, a lot of the day’s affairs are going to seem rather beside the point, as far as you’re concerned, so you can’t expect too much delight out of the day.  On the other hand, the Fowl’s activities are going to be a bit like a cleaning crew coming in and straightening up the place while you’re trying to do your own desk-work:  disturbing, perhaps, but at least you’ll have a clean house once their gone!  Tomorrow, much more of the day will make sense, and land you in the middle of satisfaction.

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

The winter moon is high in the sky by midnight:  not quite full, not quite still, not quite serene.

Thin clouds offer her the veil, but she declines, passing again out of their reach.

Essence-of-cold, she has no need to shiver,

No matter how frozen is the world below.

“Even with twelve horses to draw the little cart, both wheels should be round.”

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Tuesday, 29th of December


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

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE WINGS, taking its name from an asterism of more than 20 stars which mark out the tips of the wings of the Red Bird of the Southern Palace.  The shape of this asterism suggests a banner hanging down, as if in decoration for an imperial or royal court celebration.  In antiquity, the time of year associated with this Lunar Lodge included a schedule of meetings and banquets where officials and military commanders would make their reports to the ruler, and receive in turn rewards and acknowledgements, and their general orders for the coming year.  The character for THE WINGS ( 翼 ) can also mean “to shelter,” or “to assist.”  As the superior appreciates and rewards those who “assist,”  the officials and commanders honor the leader under whose rulership they “shelter.”

In spite of the banqueting and the festive mood of this season in the calendar of the ruler and his ministers and officers, this Lunar Lodge is regarded as generally inauspicious.  (Perhaps it’s in reminiscence of the worries eternally born by officers up before their superiors for their yearly job reviews!)  In keeping with this celebratory attribution, THE WINGS is favorable to music, festivities, advancement in work, and relying on assistants (who wish, as it were, to ensure that they will get a good report.)  Showing off, bragging, and gambling, are all unsupported, as this is a time for good deportment before “the boss,” and not for carousing with “the guys.”

The spirit animal for THE WINGS is the Snake, the character for which (蛇 shá, or shé) also means “serpentine,” “sinuous,” or “subtle.”  The Snake is an icon of cool-hearted calculation and sensuous charm, and adds to the character conveyed by THE WINGS, a sense of political acumen, and a lack of romantic self-delusion.  It represents, in one sense, the opposite of the “nobility of heart” expressed by the Stag of yesterday’s Lunar Lodge.  The strength of the Snake comes rather from his clarity of gaze, his accuracy of assessment, and his tactical flexibility.  These characteristics harmonize with the somberness of the Lunar Lodge in regard to most affairs and activities.  This is a good time to keep “a cool head and a keen eye,” and not to feel too assured in one’s own abilities, or to believe in the certainty of one’s actions.  Just because one can see the rippling of the waves “as they are,” does not assure that they are rolling in a favorable direction.

The Solar Index today is COMPLETE, which is the name of the first month of Autumn in the agricultural calendar, from early August through early September.  This is the time of relaxation of growth and labor, and of the preparations for harvest.  The  of the year begins to shrink back, and the stalks devote their stored energies to the “completion” of the grains.  The vitality of the growing season is being invested into seed-form, partly to nourish the animal partners of the natural world, and partly to ensure that the plants can endure the coming winter, and renew life when spring arrives again.  This day in the Solar Index cycle is a bright indicator, partly because of the lightening of labor it represents, and partly because it captures the hopefulness of the coming harvest.  Seeing to the fulfilling of promises, and to the preparations for hard work soon to arrive, are both highly auspicious.  ”Don’t delay until tomorrow what you can do today,” is very timely advice.  That “tomorrow” is liable to have no free time available;  in fact, “free time” may be the very thing on shortest supply.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Earth Monkey on duty today is bright and diligent, and under the proper guidance of the Rat Moon.  This is a day for you to pick up lost threads, and re-orient yourself to the details remaining to be dealt with before the full moon on Thursday.  Look more to the present, however, than towards the future:  many more things can be accomplished than you might imagine, if you’ll only deal with them quickly—even abruptly—and without concern for all the rest still left on the agenda.  This is a day for clearing surfaces, not for getting to the bottoms of things.  Pause frequently through the day, but don’t drop into Deeply Considering anything.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Earth Monkey on duty today is bright and diligent, and under the proper guidance of the Rat Moon.  You can more than make up for any sense of lost time you may have had to put up with over the last 4 or 5 days, if only you’ll imagine that things can happen suddenly, and without any double-checking.  You’ll probably not understand why things are working out so adroitly, but that’s not going to be a problem, as long as you keep Understanding Things as the item at the very bottom of your agenda.  The Rat Moon is striving to get everything as it should be before the Ox Moon’s arrival in mid-January.  Help out by being agreeable, today, and specializing in Going Along.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Earth Monkey on duty today is bright and diligent, and under the proper guidance of the Rat Moon.  This produces the very weird possibility that you might even enjoy the ministrations of This Kind of Monkey.  Keep your attention on what it is you’d like the result to be, and trust in the elegant swiftness of things around you.  It’s a bit like placing yourself into the hands of a world-famous hair-stylist.  (This Monkey’s that good!)  The more you think you should be mis-trusting things today, the more you’ll only be damaging the outcome.  Put up with minor annoyances, and let the master make magic!

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Earth Monkey on duty today is bright and diligent, and under the proper guidance of the Rat Moon.  So after a couple of days of stagnation and standing around, things are going to lurch forward and be Full-Steam Ahead before you’ve even finished your breakfast.  Your sense of what you might be able to contribute may be low, and that’s perfectly alright because this Monkey is capable of moving so rapidly he’ll look like he’s just a blur.  So join in, and get blurry yourself, or step back, and let the blur happen.  If you find you’re a bit disturbed, just pick up something mindless to distract yourself for a few moments.  Certainly don’t try to slow things down around you;  tune into the magical hum of Things Working, and get ready to be amazed.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Earth Monkey on duty today is bright and diligent, and under the proper guidance of the Rat Moon.  This is an extra-ordinarily rare platform on which you can rise up, shine bright, and get things accomplished.  You’ll find you don’t need to make many adjustments of any significant size through the day, and the essence of your leadership will be to run a kind of explanatory commentary on What Is Happening Now for those who are a bit disturbed to see things taking shape so quickly.  Some will not even be able to see that anything is happening at all, and for them your task is simply to urge patience:  “Wait.  You’ll see…!  Wait, wait…  There!  You see?  …TA-DAH!!”

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Earth Monkey on duty today is bright and diligent, and under the proper guidance of the Rat Moon.  Given your outstanding ability to add proper guidance for the Ox, as well, there’s not much you couldn’t set yourself to today, and find it pretty fully accomplished by about lunch-time.  Take advantage of the abundance of easy accomplishment to turn your attentions to those around you.  You don’t need to drop your affairs to help them with theirs, but if you pursue only your aims, it’s going to look to some others like you’re just making progress at their expense.  That’s not going to be a fatal error, by any means, but it will require you to spend some of tomorrow’s beneficial conditions in smoothing things over and resolving conflicts.  Better to make it a team effort today;  there’s more than enough good results available to go around!

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Earth Monkey on duty today is bright and diligent, and under the proper guidance of the Rat Moon.  As long as the last few days haven’t put you in too much of a sour or dejected mood, today you have a chance to get so many of your aims accomplished, that it could actually re-define your base understanding of How You Fit Into the World.  So perk up, and get ready to charge into things!  The only thing you’ll have to sacrifice in getting the best results from the day is the idea that you can understand how everything is getting done.  If you look into that question at all, things are just going to start looking blurry and confused.  If that does happen, think of it this way:  when the wagon wheels turn blurry and difficult to make out, …it’s only because you’re going really fast!

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Earth Monkey on duty today is bright and diligent, and under the proper guidance of the Rat Moon.  As difficult as this year is for the Wooly Clan, today’s like something from a completely different menu.  Today’s Monkey is fully capable of snatching up all those items from your agenda that you’re most having trouble with, dashing off with them, and magically returning with two fists full of Problem Solved, before you’ve even finished your morning tea.  So your task today will simply be to aim to be more Monkey-ish, and less Sheep-ish.  Aim to accomplish the surface of things, and refuse to get deeply into the gear-box.  The more you go for “quick once-over” in each moment, the more you’ll look back at your path and see a long wake of deep resolutions.  It’s only one day;  give it a try!

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Earth Monkey on duty today is bright and diligent, and under the proper guidance of the Rat Moon.  This is an optimal situation for you to shine, and show people—including yourself—what the true limits of your applied powers are:  “the sky’s the limit.”  For once, you’ll get the space to just dive into things, and come up with a Problem Solved every time you return to the surface.  Aim for faster and faster movement as you go through the day, and less and less consideration of what to do next.  As the master says:  “You’ll know perfectly well which thing is the proper one to do next:  it’ll be the one right in front of you.”  You’re perfectly entitled to put some drama into the act today, but only if you can remember that all of it is something much more like an elaborate, long-winded joke.  I say: “Make ’em laugh!”

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Earth Monkey on duty today is bright and diligent, and under the proper guidance of the Rat Moon.  You’re one of the few today who can watch the brilliant showmanship of our friend of the Clan of the Long Tail, and actually see what is being accomplished as well as how it’s being accomplished.  You have your choice of joining in with the Happy Mastery over affairs at hand, or of hanging back and just being the best audience for the way it’s going down.  I’d advise the second, as there will come to light tomorrow some random details that clearly did not end up where they were intended to be, and you’ll get your time to shine by casually and exactingly putting them a-right.  Don’t be shy today though, about calling out instructions, particularly if they apply to what you’d like to see accomplished.  There’s room for almost everything today, and there’s no need to leave any of your purposes out.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Earth Monkey on duty today is bright and diligent, and under the proper guidance of the Rat Moon.  As inappropriate as your intentions towards efficiency were yesterday, they will fit right in today.  Just remember that between you and Monkey, you’re the Slow One.  Well, “Slower” One, that is….  Few of us could claim to be as fast as Monkey, today!  Consequently, you can head out for whatever you’d like to claim during the day, and let affairs whoosh and rush around you as you go.  Don’t get distracted by all the hurly-burly of others doing their things;  you’ll only get needlessly confused.  Also, you don’t need to be shy about asking for assistance, but make the request as indirect as possible:  “I wish there was someone to hold this chair for me…..”

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Earth Monkey on duty today is bright and diligent, and under the proper guidance of the Rat Moon.  Good things are going to be happening today, but at a break-neck pace.  So, whereas yesterday you got to be The Adult in the Room, today you get to be The Confused Child.  There are so many things moving forward with a such speed—and without any announcement—that it may put you into a state of rankled bewilderment.  Don’t let this turn into Question Time.  It’s not a good opportunity either to learn things, or to explain them.  That being said, if you can take a naïve—and helpless—attitude about the disturbance, you could just let Them (The Adults) get lots, and lots, and lots accomplished today.  Many of those Lots will be items from your agenda, so you have every right to think you’ll end up satisfied.  Confused, maybe… …but satisfied!

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

It is our problem in the world that it goes on forever.

Think back, you can’t really find the beginning.  Look forward, you can only hallucinate an end.

All around us things are rising up, over-flowing, and drowning our precious singularities.

Tugging at your clothing, an impertinent wind;  far beyond the lake, thunder in the unknown distance.

“Monkey see, monkey do;  thinking means holding-not-acting.”

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Monday, 28th of December


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.  It’s regarded as a sign of abundance in general;  indeed, one of its other names is “Jade Treasury” ( 玉 府 Yù Fù ), and it symbolized the hall in which documentations of gifts to the imperial court were kept.

THE BOW is therefore regarded as favoring hospitality, whether in friendship or as a matter of office, and the food, music, gifts, 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 some family event over a meal, 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 and friendly 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 DANGER, named for the second month of Summer in the agricultural year, from early July through early August.  DANGER is written with the same character as the Lunar Lodge THE ROOFTOP:  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,” “awkward,” “precipitous,” or “tricky.”

The day of DANGER points to the trickiness of this part of the growing season;  things are going so well, so smoothly, so full of good feeling, that there’s danger you’ll drop your attention, inadvertently allowing minor slips to start tumbling towards ruin.  If all goes well, the worry will turn to relief.  If not, there may be nothing to be done about it.  Marking threats quickly, and taking steps to counter-balance them are key to insuring that the efforts already put in are not lost on account of simple oversight.  On the other hand, the heat and humidity in this month’s weather, also present a “danger.”  Working too hard and enduring too much exposure to the summer heat can cause Yang Heat to invade the body, resulting in internal imbalances which put the body in jeopardy through the rest of the seasons.  On both of these accounts, under-doing on a DANGER day is not only called for, it’s regarded as lucky!

Though this Solar Index is noted with double black dots in the Ming Li Tong Shu—to point towards caution and restraint—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.  Family members, honored guest, and even the catering staff will easily share in (and contribute to!) the happy tone called for as the wedding couple begin their new life together.  Tipsy good-feeling and relaxation are abroad today, but once you’ve got the flute of champagne in your hand, you really do need to start watching your step.  For each person at the wedding celebrations, there are other people to consider, whose happiness and good-feeling should rightly take first place on the agenda.  Aim to balance your rising spirits with a deepening sense of respect for your surroundings;  take delight in the warmth you can put in others’ hearts by putting their needs and concerns ahead of your own.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Sheep on duty today will be striving for harmony, but not getting much agreement from the Rat Moon about exactly which way to go about achieving it.  Don’t let your own ideas get enmeshed in the machinery.  Keep your toolbelt to yourself, and let whatever seems to be in the works crank through on its own.  Fortunately, the day’s cycles are basically rising in energy, and aimed for resolutions, so minding your “under-doing”—by yourself—is the best way to reach your aims.  Take note of things that get left undone:  you get command of the machinery back in your hands tomorrow, and you can check them all off with a minimum of fuss.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Sheep on duty today will be striving for harmony, but not getting much agreement from the Rat Moon about exactly which way to go about achieving it.  This will make things look to you like they’ve gone into lock-up, but that’s not the truth, it’s just an appearance.  There’s a pause to work out some kinks, that’s true, but it’s more like letting the clutch out to change gears, than turning the engine off.  The next six days are going to be relatively smooth going, so don’t feel you need to press issues forward today.  Under-doing, if you’ve noticed, is actually lucky today!

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Sheep on duty today will be striving for harmony, but not getting much agreement from the Rat Moon about exactly which way to go about achieving it.  Things may seem a bit snarled, or at least Put On Pause for the day.  Once the details are worked out, movement will be smoother, faster, and more direct, so take the opportunity today to enjoy the sense of no direction, no movement, no particular purpose.  It’s a bit like being on a train that has to stop in the middle of a prairie for unscheduled maintenance.  Why not get out, have a stretch, and a look around?  You might enjoy it so much that getting back on board will seem …a little disappointing!

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Sheep on duty today will be striving for harmony, but not getting much agreement from the Rat Moon about exactly which way to go about achieving it.  You might feel you can put your two cents in, and help them to resolve the disagreement, but that’s probably not a very good idea.  This Sheep has A Point to get across, and won’t be satisfied until he’s had his say.  You can stand back confidently, and let others hash things out (while you make some progress on small affairs within your own purview), or you can back off from major issues to focus down on the things you most enjoy doing by yourself, anyway!  The Rat’s not entirely letting the Sheep do the driving, but if you will supply the Sheep that permission, you’ll be just where you need to be tomorrow, when things start forward again with a lurch.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Sheep on duty today will be striving for harmony, but not getting much agreement from the Rat Moon about exactly which way to go about achieving it.  You may have done an excellent job of referee-ing yesterday (I’d be willing to place money on it!), but you don’t really have that opportunity today.  Your input will only raise the level of confusion, and cause resolutions to take longer to emerge.  You have such a strong leadership role tomorrow, that you should take it as a matter of timing:  anything you’d like to say or do today, should simply be made note of, and delayed until tomorrow.  “Under-doing” for you today should feel like “just waiting.”

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Sheep on duty today will be striving for harmony, but not getting much agreement from the Rat Moon about exactly which way to go about achieving it.  Now, this Sheep has A Point to make, and he won’t be satisfied until he’s had his full say.  But on the whole, what the Sheep and Rat do agree about is their aim to achieve a Practical Solution to the problems of the day.  “Practical Solution” is almost your middle name, so when you feel the back-and-forth has gone on sufficiently, you can step in, place one or two on the table—Practical Solutions, that is—and just step back again.  There will be a bit more debate, but most likely things will go forward again quite soon.  And if they were to go forward in the way you’d like….?  Well, so much the better!  Remember, under-doing is lucky today.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Sheep on duty today will be striving for harmony, but not getting much agreement from the Rat Moon about exactly which way to go about achieving it.  The difficulty this will place in your path is only that the sheer quantity of energy around today will make it awkward for you to feel you’re staying in one place.  So, more calisthenics may be in order for the day!  I’d like to make a suggestion, however:  whereas yesterday called for you to do something just to burn off some energy, today has much more support for doing something fun.  Get out and do something frisky, something with some frolic in it.  It can’t really be productive towards your aims directly, …but since when do you need to be productive, just to have fun?

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Sheep on duty today will be striving for harmony, but not getting much agreement from the Rat Moon about exactly which way to go about achieving it.  This is not a serious snag in your affairs, it’s just that you always want to make sure that you’ve come to a complete understanding of the situation, and that others fully understand your stance in the matter.  Take the time today to indulge those desires.  This is not really a Complaining License, per se, but as long as you don’t go off the deep end about it, there will be room for you to proclaim your woes, …if only to make sure you’ve gotten your point across.  Remember that you’re really working towards the practicalities of progress;  if you’re just trying to get high scores for debating technique, you’ll delay everything, and feel as if you’ve fallen short, to boot.   If you’re hosting, arrange a really luxurious meal.  If you’re being hosted, order off the expensive part of the menu!

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Sheep on duty today will be striving for harmony, but not getting much agreement from the Rat Moon about exactly which way to go about achieving it.  You may not feel that you know what you’re supposed to be doing, while the push-and-pull of them working it out is delaying things.  But it will be very difficult for you to tell when they’re about to finish.  One minute: back-and-forth, back-and-forth.  Next minute: “Okay!  Here’s what we’re going to be doing!”  So you can either divert yourself with some small things of your own that no one else knows about (or would care about), or lounge about as if you’re on holiday.  Just be ready to jump up at a moment’s notice, and to lay hands on The New Plan.  Piece of cake, for you really….  Don’t make up your own solutions, though.  That opportunity is coming for you tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Sheep on duty today will be striving for harmony, but not getting much agreement from the Rat Moon about exactly which way to go about achieving it.  This situation does not quite call for more of the “Just stay out of it,” but it is true that your insertions into the debate going on are not going to move things more forward.  They’re more likely to add a couple of hours to the delay.  It would simply add more topics to cover in the debate, you see.  What you can do (and quite handily, I’d wager) is to play a sort of guessing game as to what people are going to be asking for next, and have it ready for them before they even get the words out of their mouths.  They won’t give you more than a short, curious look when you succeed, but you’ll be laying down the tracks they’ll have to travel on when the Fowl comes on duty in two days time.  Remember: under-doing is lucky today.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Sheep on duty today will be striving for harmony, but not getting much agreement from the Rat Moon about exactly which way to go about achieving it.  This is a day when your normally reliable Wisdom of Laziness is going to be just enough off the mark to be slightly dangerous.  It’s not that the members of the Clan of the Wagging Tail are lazy;  it’s just that they don’t see any Nobility in Labor, per se.  This view gives you an (almost) inerrant awareness of when and how Efficiency can lead to better Effectiveness.  That circuit’s not working today, however.  Trying to turn towards efficiencies, or taking shortcuts, will only get your ears boxed.  So keep to your work, as you understand it, and prepare for a new set of orders.  If it’s some consolation, the New Orders are being prepared with you partly in mind.  And remember:  under-doing is lucky today!

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Sheep on duty today will be striving for harmony, but not getting much agreement from the Rat Moon about exactly which way to go about achieving it.  This will be one of those rare days when you get to be The Adult in the Room.  You can’t really step in and smooth things over, you can’t really order things to go forward on a smoother plane, but you can be a sort of chaperone at this rather fractious dance.  Let the debating society continue its deliberations, just make sure that nobody gets so hot-under-the-collar that they pull a knife.  No need to offer recriminations or propose punishments;  a simple “Hey!  And what do you think you’re doing?” will be entirely sufficient.  Being the one to supply sandwiches and tea while the argument drones on would also be highly effective.

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

The coin is round, as Heaven is round.  In the mysterious distance,

The encompassing horizon circles the visible world.

In the coin is a hole, and the whole is square.  To all four directions of Earth,

The mind reaches out, and rebounds again, meeting its repose in the center.

“For the most abstruse matters, look to the wild birds for answer.”

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Sunday, 27th of December


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 poetic 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 be undertaken with caution), but it’s 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 middle 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 with 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.  Follow the dictates of your physical body, but make sure that if you err, it’s on the side of caution.

The Solar Index today is DESTROY, the agricultural name of the middle month of summer, from early June to early July, which contains the Summer Solstice.  This is a perfect alignment with THE BIRD-STAR, which represents the Peak of the Yang itself.  The “destruction” implied by the name of this time is, on the one hand, applied to the weeds and vermin which are afflicting the crops.  Now that the height of the growing season has arrived, the plants themselves are strong enough to withstand hoeing around their roots, and movement among the stalks to lay traps and snares for pests.  The weeds themselves have accomplished enough growth to be pulled up by the roots.  As they have not yet set seeds, such weeds can simply be left to mulch on the soil, returning nutrients to the plants, and helping to keep moisture in the soil.

On the other hand, the “destruction” implied is also that of the mid-summer’s blast of Yang Heat, which is an extremity capable of causing great disturbance to the body and its proper energetic balance.  While the vitality of the Sun is at its height, exposure to the extremity should be avoided, or at least moderated.  The DESTROY day, then, is a time when removal of obstacles and impediments is to be sought, but also a time when under-accomplishment brings luck, and ensures the safety of affairs as they go forward, and the protection of health and longevity.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: There’s a Fire Horse on duty today, and his tender sensitivities and excess of willfulness, are not in a smooth place between Ox and Rat.  You cannot make much of such a day.  The more you strive to be gracious, the more you’ll be mis-understood.  The more you aim for simplicity, the more complications will abound.  Best to let things rest or flow, in whatever ways they seem to be already arranged.  Remember that “all things are in the Dao,” particularly the appearance that everything is dysfunctional, meaningless, useless.

Born in the Year of the Ox: There’s a Fire Horse on duty today, and his tender sensitivities and excess of willfulness, are not in a smooth place between Ox and Rat.  This means it’s time to take everything as it goes by as just another passing example of the follies of ambition, drive, and accomplishment.  Let the floating giddiness from yesterday roll-over into today, and you’ll find it transforming into rolling belly-laughs.  If you clamp down and strive for the ever-elusive certainties, you’ll be the one to laugh at.  If confronted by tantrums and threats, respond with gentle smiles and a low tone.  The successes of the year are already on their way;  don’t let the feisty Fire Horse shake you from that confidence.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: There’s a Fire Horse on duty today, and his tender sensitivities and excess of willfulness, are not in a smooth place between Ox and Rat.  Your mission—should you choose to accept it—is to take a calm and commanding position on the scene, and bring an air of settled authority to the day.  There’s an electric spark in the air every time the Fire Horse makes his appearance, and your whiskers will be twitching.  Take the referee’s position in the game, and don’t be shy about raising your level of physical activity;  breaking a sweat today will be strangely healing, your repose afterwards will be a demonstration of The Beautiful for those who get to witness it. —This posting will not self-destruct in 10 seconds.—

Born in the Year of the Hare: There’s a Fire Horse on duty today, and his tender sensitivities and excess of willfulness, are not in a smooth place between Ox and Rat.  This can make the day both itchy and drooping for the Clan of the Long Ears, and you may find yourself wanting to nap, but unable to sleep, wanting to move about, but unable to get much done.  This is a perfect set-up for the very ordinary accomplishment of A Day of Mindfulness;  be ill-at-ease when ill-at-ease, slow-of-wit when slow-of-wit, absent-minded when absent-minded.  The pleasant moments (oh yes, there will be some!) can be fullest only if you’re in mind to simply let them pass.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: There’s a Fire Horse on duty today, and his tender sensitivities and excess of willfulness, are not in a smooth place between Ox and Rat.  You can do much to smooth the day, but not much to forward your own purposes.  If you feel you’ve been drafted as referee for a pick-up football game, then you’re perfectly tuned into what I’m talking about.  Mind you, if you’re thinking in terms of the future of your aims, you’ll see that today is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your skills and gain partisans for your cause.  Do that by resolving misgivings, offering encouragements, calling things as you see them.  Everyone will appreciate your steadying hand on the tiller, even if they can’t really see where the vessel seems to be headed.

Born in the Year of the Snake: There’s a Fire Horse on duty today, and his tender sensitivities and excess of willfulness, are not in a smooth place between Ox and Rat.  You can crown the glossy and gleeful accomplishments you pulled off yesterday with another artful demonstration of your powers today:  not by making headway towards anything, but simply by keeping things on an even keel, dead-still in the water.  You have a charm that the Horse finds irresistible, and if you use it to quench fires, and keep them from turning into Burning Down the House, everyone in the room will feel that they owe you a favor.  “Cool the sensitive, divert the willful.”  Piece of cake, for you!

Born in the Year of the Horse: There’s a Fire Horse on duty today, and his tender sensitivities and excess of willfulness, are not in a smooth place between Ox and Rat.  This can be an extremely disturbing condition for the rest of the Equine Clan, and the very worst thing you can do about it is to try to get through it all by yourself.  If you’re lucky, you’ll have a Tiger, Dragon, or Snake to buddy up with;  if you’re not so lucky, you’ll have to make do with whoever else is around.  Don’t think you have to stay with the same people through the day.  You’re going to need to exert yourself towards something purposeless (you know:  treadmill, laps, jumping jacks, walk around the block…), and a lot of folks are simply not going to be able to keep up with you.  For your best peace of mind, remember:  some days are supposed to feel like this.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: There’s a Fire Horse on duty today, and his tender sensitivities and excess of willfulness, are not in a smooth place between Ox and Rat.  You have a masterful touch with the members of the Equine Clan, and you’ll be put to the test today.  At issue for you is the question:  What you can do for others when you’re not in really great shape, yourself?  But if you dive into Service Towards Others today, you’ll be very quickly reminded that this is the only way you actually come to understand yourself and your ambitions.  Now, don’t set yourself too high an ambition in such service today;  if you can just keep things from imploding, exploding, or turning into dirt, then you’re already about to touch the stars.  Any free time you bump into will mean you’ve deserved a snack-and-a-nap.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: There’s a Fire Horse on duty today, and his tender sensitivities and excess of willfulness, are not in a smooth place between Ox and Rat.  If this rather extreme set of tensions makes you drop into your timidity, I’d say that you’re resting in your intelligence.  Hiding out in your own cubby-hole will focus your attention on what you’re trying to achieve before the Ox Year ends, and will give you a chance to put your considerable skills to the task of all that prep-work you’ve been procrastinating about.  On the other hand, nothing is more intriguing to the members of the Clan of the Long Tail than an extreme anything.  If you find yourself hopping up into the saddle to calm the willful beast, just make sure you get your hands on the main, or the reins, or something!  You’re more than up to the task, but it’s going to be an extreme ride.  “Ride ’em, cowboy!”

Born in the Year of the Fowl: There’s a Fire Horse on duty today, and his tender sensitivities and excess of willfulness, are not in a smooth place between Ox and Rat.  Your potential to contribute to the re-balancing of things is pretty well summarized by the phrase: “Just stay out of it.”  If you’ve got a meditative practice, this is a condition in which you can widen the sphere of what you normally fit into your understanding of “mind-full-ness.”  If you’re not one of the sit-still-and-breathe crowd, then think of today as an opportunity to raise your sense of What’s Tolerable Without Responding;  you’ll be able to raise it to hither-to unknown heights.  For the members of the Feathered Clan, there’s nothing that’s more empowering than a chance to re-tune your calibration on what’s good, what’s bad, what’s indifferent.  And today, you can just park on Calibration Central.  Good for you!

Born in the Year of the Dog: There’s a Fire Horse on duty today, and his tender sensitivities and excess of willfulness, are not in a smooth place between Ox and Rat.  You’re always a good buddy for our friends of the Equine Clan;  your earthiness complements their sensitivity, and your agreeability counter-balances their strength of purpose.  The situation today, however, is extreme, and most likely the best contribution you should hope for is to Remain In View.  Anything that seems to you like stepping in, or trying to resolve problems (whether yours or someone else’s), is only likely to get you wedged into a corner, and feeling unappreciated, or even unjustifiable threatened.  Don’t undervalue your presence on the scene, though!  There are times when just hanging out is a huge contribution, and today is just such a day.

Born in the Year of the Pig: There’s a Fire Horse on duty today, and his tender sensitivities and excess of willfulness, are not in a smooth place between Ox and Rat.  Clearly, there’s no place there for you to wedge into.  You do, of course, have your own sensitivities and strength of will, but they are not able to add any balance, explanation, or even commentary on the mix today.  About the best you can aim for is to act as a kind of Referee of Honesty, calling out in very simple and very short terms “That’s true,” and “That’s not really true,” as appropriate.  Do not respond to appeals to your judgement or demands that you explain.  The more you remain aloof and silent after The Pronouncement, the safer you’ll be, and the more likely things will go forward on a more even keel.  Your breadth of experience can provide a sort of Out of Bounds Line, but you don’t want to let it become The Football.

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

Strength at the beginning can be a bad sign;  weakness towards the end, a sign of harmony to nature.

Too long working at my desk, and the failing grey light, like a good wife, urges me to close my books.

Is that rain thundering on the roof, just over head?

…Or thunder in the rainclouds, far off in the distance?

“A fine horse needs a fine bridle, a broad horse needs a broad saddle.”

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Saturday, 26th of December


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 Tài-Yáng (太 陽), the Sun, and were planted near the main doors of residences, to symbolize and attract the Yáng.  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 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 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 Solar Index today is MAINTAIN, named for the first month of Summer in the solar calendar, from early May through early June.  This is the time in the agricultural year when work falls into a regulated rhythm, focusing on whatever minor matter may require attention to keep human engagement in step with the state of the crops and the conditions of the natural world.  The character for this Solar Index, (执 zhí) can also be translated “hold,” “grasp,” ”guard,”or “manage.”  So the task at hand, at this point in the cycle, is to “grasp” what has been arrived at, and “manage” its natural progress forward through time, potentially to the benefits of a bountiful harvest.  Today it is auspicious to keep a watchful eye, a meandering path, and a ready hand.  Let the actions of the moment spring up in direct response to the conditions as they arise.  Proper solutions will be suggested by the problems themselves, and cannot come from some over-arching ideology, or from a pre-determined plan of action.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Wood Snake on duty today is a Happy Master of the Ox’s strengths and weaknesses.  Join him in his practical nature, and look with optimism to the list of things you’ve got in front of you to accomplish before the middle of January.  Your sentimentality can get the best of you, and the Snake’s cool heart is a good balance for that proclivity.  Imagine for one day that all that counts is What Will Work.  You don’t have to follow through on all the plans you make today, but your approach towards the Ox needs a third point of view, and here’s one you can actually understand and make use of.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Wood Snake on duty today is a Happy Master of the Ox’s strengths and weaknesses.  So if you’re feeling a bit giddy or strangely disconnected from your usual sense of duty, that would be at least one good reason for it.  Snakes delight in diverting the Ox’s attention from the Long Term View, and getting their muzzles into more of the satisfactions of the Immediate Moment.  My advice would be to give over your objections and have a great time;  but then the Snake doesn’t really need my approval, or your agreement!  Your momentum is carrying you straight forward, in any case, so why not drop any resistance, and just ….Enjoy!

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Wood Snake on duty today is a Happy Master of the Ox’s strengths and weaknesses.  This will no doubt prove either a little irritating to you, or a bit confusing, or both.  The large scale of the Ox’s energy and commitment is very close to your own, but still it’s hard to imagine how the Snake can produce such a huge change with seemingly no energy input.  It’s like watching an illusionist disappear a 747:  “How did he do that??”  Savor the sense of wonder, and don’t waste any time trying to figure it out.  Tomorrow, the Ox will return to his normal directions, and you’ll feel much more certain about yours.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Wood Snake on duty today is a Happy Master of the Ox’s strengths and weaknesses.  And he doesn’t mind running the Ox through his paces just to impress you!  So think of today as a time when you can ask for almost anything you want, and get at least 60% of it delivered before sundown.  But do make sure to be somewhat conservative—or at least realistic—in what you end up asking for;  once delivery is completed, it’s going to be up to you to handle the follow-through.  The Snake will be departing at midnight, and you’ll be on your own.  Good news if you asked for a new video game, bad news if you asked for a pet elephant.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Wood Snake on duty today is a Happy Master of the Ox’s strengths and weaknesses.  This means you have a straight line through towards actually affecting the path of things today, as long as you bounce the ball off as many surfaces as possible before you expect it to drop into the basket.  Indirect action is very rarely your first choice, but today it will work wonders.  Be very careful not to allow a critical tone or a petulant attitude into your communications today.  The secret power of this Snake is his perpetual joviality and hopefulness, as if nothing has ever, or will ever, go really wrong.  As unsophisticated a style as this might seem to you, the Ox has a sweet tooth for it.  Tomorrow, you’ll get to take a much more usual stance.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Wood Snake on duty today is a Happy Master of the Ox’s strengths and weaknesses.  Join your powers to those of the day, and you’ll be catapulting towards just about anything you care to take aim towards.  But be advised:  the secret power of this Snake is his perpetual joviality and hopefulness, as if nothing has ever, or will ever, really go wrong.  There’s simply no room for snarky attitude, or critical come-backs, or pointed sarcasm, in this day.  If you try to fit them in, the cloud-capped towers you can see that you’re about to ascend to, will vanish away like smoke in the air.  “Be practical:  be happy!”

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Wood Snake on duty today is a Happy Master of the Ox’s strengths and weaknesses.  The jovial and apparently unsophisticated nature of this Snake is more than capable of folding you into the festivities, and ensuring that you have a good time too!  Now, be careful about misplaced curiosity today, because if you spend the whole day wondering how such a magical effect is being accomplished, you’ll only ruin the effect.  Tomorrow, you’ll be feeling the solidity of the ground under your feet again, and the normality of the troubles on your back;  take the Joy Ride today, and be grateful for it.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Wood Snake on duty today is a Happy Master of the Ox’s strengths and weaknesses.  If you hang on to the diplomacy you roused up yesterday, you’ll be able to stand politely back from the affairs around you, and watch this Master work his craft.  Please note that the majority of the technique has to do with maintaining a perfectly jovial (and apparently idiotic) demeanor, as if to declare that nothing has ever, or will ever, really go wrong.  Now, for someone with as comprehensive a view as yours, this is a ridiculous, even absurd, style of approach.  And yet—strange thing—it seems to work!  Not that you need to adopt it, but witnessing it honestly will give you deep insights into your own nature.  You can test new insights tomorrow!

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Wood Snake on duty today is a Happy Master of the Ox’s strengths and weaknesses.  Now, whereas yesterday’s Dragon wanted you silent and out of the way most of the day, today’s Snake is perfectly enchanted to have you up front, and part of the Main Act in the center ring.  Your acrobatics of mind, and dexterity with physical objects, are going to be part of the whole magical apparatus, so jump right in, and have a jubilant time yourself.  If you bump into something that gives you reason to be concerned, just step away and pay not further attention to it.  The one thing that will bring the curtain down today is indulgence in the thought: “I’m not sure this will work…..”

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Wood Snake on duty today is a Happy Master of the Ox’s strengths and weaknesses.  Since you have a brotherly bond (or sisterly bond, as the case may be!) with both of them, you’ve got a ticket for a Truly Delightful Cruise in your hand today.  You get your choice of : (1.) spending the entire voyage on a deck-chair, ordering your favorite tidbits and mixed drinks, or (2.) jumping up and joining into the rollicking conga-line, demonstrating to the (sometimes) dour Ox, that he really does know how to kick up his heels, and get the assembled crowd laughing and applauding at the same time.  Be very, very careful not to be critical today.  The joviality is like a huge soap-bubble:  awesomely impressive, and extremely easy to pop.  As a kind of code for the day, for any comment you wish to make, just say:  “Wonderful!”

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Wood Snake on duty today is a Happy Master of the Ox’s strengths and weaknesses.  In a way, this means the Snake is inadvertently running a diversionary mission for you, like a rodeo clown running out in front of the bull waving a ragged jacket, to give the rider who’s been dumped in the dust a chance to make his escape to safety.  If that means you spend the day in private, pursuing your own favorite pastimes, I’d say it’s a day well spent.  However, maybe you’d like to put on a rodeo clown outfit of your own, and do some hot-dogging in front of the horns?  As long as you keep your confidence high, and promise to retreat to the stands at the first sign of being even just a little bit winded, then I’d say “Olé,” or “Bravo!” ….or “Yeehaw!”  …or  …say, what do you say at a rodeo?

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Wood Snake on duty today is a Happy Master of the Ox’s strengths and weaknesses.   To the degree that you’ve found the Ox Year a bit of a bother, you’d be very wise to spend the day watching The Other Point of View about how to handle it.  It will seem way too puerile and simplistic an approach to take—if you still wanted to retain any self-respect, that is—but the magical power of this Snake is his perpetual joviality and hopefulness, as if nothing has ever, or will ever, really go wrong.  You can’t think you’d ever really want to copy his approach, but I promise you:  if you just disengage, stand back, and let the day roll by, you can have a very happy time of it, and find out something very deep about your own nature, to boot.

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

Do not wonder at the darkness of the world, the willfulness of the mind, the restlessness of the body.

In the days of the Ancient Masters, these things were so.

When you ask the wrong question, you get to ask again.

When you ask the right question, the answer is: “Who’s asking?”

“Don’t try to teach a pig to sing;  it’s a waste of your time, and it annoys the pig.”

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Friday, 25th of December


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

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE GHOSTS, second day of the Southern Palace of the Vermillion Bird.  It’s 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,” its 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.”  The character for THE GHOSTS ( 鬼 Gǔi ) is a cartoon of a human form floating in the air, that is, human spirit without connection to the ground and its physicalities;  the ancestors were conceived as having the shape and nature of living people, but not the bodily form.  Thus, the “ghosts” or “spirits” represented in this Lunar Lodge are not of a “haunting” or “spooky” variety.  This is a sense of the word “ghost” something like “living presence in memory,” and without any presumption of bad influence, or troublesome meddling with the living and their affairs.  Indeed, under the proper invocation, the presence of the ancestral spirits was expected to yield beneficial influence, bringing whatever blessings they had power to bestow.

But since this ghostly presence of the ancestors has a ritual meaning, the influence of this Lunar Lodge is regarded as dour, serious, and austere, like proper deportment in rituals and ceremonials.  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 direct benefits 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 action and demeanor 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 ( 羊 yáng ) 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 SETTLE, and represents the third month of spring in the agricultural calendar, from early April through early May.  This is the time when the previous two months of heavy labor show appreciable results.  The character for SETTLE ( 定 dìng ) is a picture showing “moving things until they’re in the right place in the house,” a jostling of things until they’re brought into the correct arrangement.  (It could also be translated “fix,” “stop,” “determine,” or “arrange.”)  It indicates a time when work can be eased off enough to reconsider the options for work going forward, and adjustments can be made aiming to capture the best benefit.

This is a time to re-tune the intentions laid down during the time of DESIGN, and make sure they stay responsive to the turnings of reality and chance.  As such, this Solar Index is a very bright indicator for the day.  As long as one can shake off any influence of nostalgic pride in “the way it was planned,” there’s still time to meet things as they are with creativity and engagement, and to yield great result.  But the brightness of the day comes partly from the fact that a great deal of the work has already been done.  Don’t drop back and re-design the whole thing;  jostling into position is what’s called for.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Dragon on duty today is resting in his tolerance and wisdom, due to the ministrations of the Rat Moon.  If you remember that your specialty is the low-down view of the world, the Dragon will lend you his wings, and show you the top-down view of what’s on your agenda for the rest of the December.  Take advantage of this aerial perspective, and start down the agenda of Things to Be Put Into Position.  If there’s a bit of hurly-burly left at your work stations, this is just the right time to get that sorted out.  You don’t have to feel like you’re making huge progress today;  more like tiny adjustments, really.  But remember: “In small things is great power.”

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Dragon on duty today is resting in his tolerance and wisdom, due to the ministrations of the Rat Moon.  If you’re wise, you’ll not put his tolerance to the test;  bring forth you docile nature today.  You’re in the cat-bird seat (as the poker players used to say) throughout this year, but there are times when even great power must defer to small wisdoms.  The Rat Moon is working its own diplomacies on you, as well, and if you’re having trouble de-cyphering the events of the day, you have only to take the Rat view to get clarity:  “Bite by bite is how you gnaw through anything.”

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Dragon on duty today is resting in his tolerance and wisdom, due to the ministrations of the Rat Moon.  This tolerance is liable to look more like haughtiness to you;  and the “wisdom” will look laughable.  However, the greatest wisdom often looks laughable at first sight, and so I would advise you to get through the day by invoking your own kind of tolerance.  The longer you spend in your famous “lack of commitment” today, the more the Dragon’s powers will inspire your own.  If you get a notion of the future, you would do well to memorialize it:  journal entry, email to yourself, doodle on a napkin.  The Dragon has much to teach the Tiger, and your year is only a little ways off….

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Dragon on duty today is resting in his tolerance and wisdom, due to the ministrations of the Rat Moon.  This is actually a lucky condition for you, but you could completely mess it up, by messing with other people’s space and situation.  This can be a difficult assignment for our friends of the Clan of the Long Ears;  it’s so difficult for you to determine, sometimes, where your space ends and someone else’s begins.  So the best attitude for you to take today is to stay as still as possible, and as quiet as possible.  You might expect that to be both onerous and boring, but as the Great Sage Yogi Berra once said:  “You can observe a lot by watching.”

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Dragon on duty today is resting in his tolerance and wisdom, due to the ministrations of the Rat Moon.  So: pretty good for you then!  Well, yes… as long as you also “rest in tolerance and wisdom.”  There’s a great deal around you this year that is pretty obviously “just stupid,” and you’re fairly well convinced that your tolerance is completely used up.  As long as you hold your wisdom at arm’s length, I suppose that’s true.  But if you give it half a moment’s attention, it will tell you that “things are never quite as they seem.”  Give the Rat Moon another three weeks to carry your case forward with the (stupid) Ox, and you’ll see what I mean.  The Tiger Year (as I think I’ve mentioned) is going to put you through an Agility Test, and what seems like “stuck in the mud” this year, is going to turn out to be “resting on the bench.”

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Dragon on duty today is resting in his tolerance and wisdom, due to the ministrations of the Rat Moon.  You never really need to do much to get tolerance from Dragons, so perhaps this will seem to you like No Big Deal.  But if you’ll take the opportunity to add the Dragon’s wisdom to your own, you could make magical use of the day settling affairs in advance of the Ox Moon, coming in 3 week’s time.  Not that this is strictly necessary, but when there’s practical advantage to be had, who will put that advantage to better use than you can?  Tomorrow, you get a kind of Free Wish Card to hand over the counter and claim anything on the wall that suits your fancy;  look upwards to the Dragon’s wisdom today, and you won’t throw that opportunity away, picking out something you’ll just find useless in less than a week.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Dragon on duty today is resting in his tolerance and wisdom, due to the ministrations of the Rat Moon.  If you satisfied yourself yesterday with being fascinating from a distance, you’ll find today that the Dragon is more than willing to close the distance, and impart his wisdom to you in very physical terms.  This is a good thing, as the Rat Moon can make you feel a bit out of your body, and the Ox Year can make you feel out of your spirit.  Your own wisdom today is about believing in your body, and in the power of friendship.  Trust both today, and things will go well.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Dragon on duty today is resting in his tolerance and wisdom, due to the ministrations of the Rat Moon.  The “tolerance” today is very likely going to make you feel, and the “wisdom” is going to just make you want to argue.  Now, as long as you can keep it on the level of academic debate, that will go perfectly nicely.  But the danger is that you’ll let yourself spill over into something closer to a hockey match, …or should I say the interruption to a hockey match.  Nobody hates it more than you, when this happens, so please try to remember:  “Diplomacy is warfare by more sophisticated means.”   And you know you look irresistable in your ambassadorial regalia!

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Dragon on duty today is resting in his tolerance and wisdom, due to the ministrations of the Rat Moon.  Now, the Dragon is aiming to handle some very delicate matters today, and what he will not tolerate is any shenanigans from the Clan of the Long Tail.  You’ll be expected to sit quietly on the side-lines, waiting to be called upon.  Boring, I know;  especially when you have 17 or 85 really cool things you’d like to suggest be tried.  Not to worry.  When you do get called upon, it will be for a matter that only you can bring off successfully.  Don’t spoil the dramatic timing.  Timing, after all, is part of Monkey wisdom!

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Dragon on duty today is resting in his tolerance and wisdom, due to the ministrations of the Rat Moon.  At least half of the Dragon’s tolerance has to do with “putting on a brave face;”  and at least half of his wisdom has to do with “knowing when to let the Rooster handle it.”  So all your disengagement yesterday has the potential of paying off big-time today;  your only requirement is to make sure you remain timely.  Your grandest entry will be after you are called upon, your greatest achievements will be after everyone else has had their try.  Do try not to gloat during all the adulation that follows.  Just do your best Queen Elizabeth, waving blandly at the crowd, smiling demurely as you consider your own inner royalty.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Dragon on duty today is resting in his tolerance and wisdom, due to the ministrations of the Rat Moon.  This “tolerance” will extend even to the Canine Clan, and you’d be very wise not to test it.  The wisdom of the Dragon is strangely very close to your own:  you both understand the proper measure of your scale.  But while the Dragon’s is celestial and vast, yours is humble and earthy.  Sink down into that understanding today.  It’s the resource of your strength and nobility.  Any attempts to rise to apparently higher glories will only end up with you being banished to the dog-house.  No harm in asking politely for a little physical attention, though!

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Dragon on duty today is resting in his tolerance and wisdom, due to the ministrations of the Rat Moon.  Now, given the roll you’ve been on for the last 4 or 5 days, you’re going to be sorely tempted to chime in with the Dragon on the topic of “Tolerance and Wisdom As I Have Known Them.”  Please, don’t.  The Dragon is hanging onto his own good graces by a very slender thread, and if you don’t act properly circumspect today, all the Rat’s administerial labors will fall in the dirt.  Then they’ll both be angry with you-knowwho.  You need to save your energies (and your face) for the Snake day tomorrow.  Think of it this way:  “When fireworks are filling the skies, Oooh’s and Aaaah’s are the best replies.”

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

The mid-winter sun is weak but striving;  the moon is already high at dusk, but sinking down to the west.

In a warm coat, I take up the axe grandfather left, and trudge out through the snow.

When the wood-pile grows small, one must make the fire small.

Tend it with care, and think of coming spring.

“Mountain top for a clear view;  river valley for a rich life.”

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Thursday, 24th of December


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

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE WELL, beginning the week-long 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 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 Hare on duty today brings out the resilience of the Rat Moon, and the gentleness of the Ox Year.  This is a comfy condition for the Clan of the Round Ears, as long as you make sure you don’t press too hard on either one of them.  The Dragon tomorrow will be a better comrade for highest progress and satisfaction.  Keep your aim today on continued, steady work, and don’t get petulant over what seem to be obstacles.  We’re still on the up-ramp of the waxing Moon, and it won’t hit the peak until the very end of December.  If you’ve got something to get off your chest, make sure you keep the tone chatty, and don’t act like you require an immediate response.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Hare on duty today brings out the resilience of the Rat Moon, and the gentleness of the Ox Year.  This is not to say that you’ve lost your hooves and horns, or your ability to use them.  But since we’re coasting towards your final ends, there’s no point in missing the opportunity to try a gentle style first;  there’s still plenty of time to show your power and obstinacy, …and even your ire, if it comes to that.  Today if you try any of those, you’ll just put people into shocked disagreement.  Maintain manners, and if you want things to go a certain way, just start doing them while you keep chatting.  A smile in the right direction will work miracles.  If you’ve got a good joke (or two), pull ’em out today.  It’s about time you disarmed everyone with a sample of the charm you’ve been too busy to display so far this year.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Hare on duty today brings out the resilience of the Rat Moon, and the gentleness of the Ox Year.  These conditions will make you look all the more capable and adroit, but you should make sure that your leadership has a bit of the Playground Monitor to it.  This Hare can be a bit of a Wild Hare, and send people charging off into directions they haven’t really considered carefully, into terrain they may not realize have hidden traps and snares.  Your commanding authority will keep everybody inside the safe parts of the Playground, and playing well within the rules:  (1.) Play hard.  (2.) Play fair.  (3.) Nobody hurt.  Eat well, but don’t let yourself delay getting to bed at the earliest convenient time.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Hare on duty today brings out the resilience of the Rat Moon, and the gentleness of the Ox Year.  Whereas you had to defer to yesterday’s Tiger, now the tables are turned, and you get to make the scheduling choices, and pick which games to pull out from storage.  Most likely, you’ll pick the ones everyone is most familiar with already.  And why not?  The satisfactions of the day have to do with familiar jokes, old traditions, and the re-assuring power of Repeated Normalities.  Build the whole day around food, if you want to, but make sure you also fit some Blank Time into the day.  To make a paraphrase: “There’s nothing—absolutely nothing—half so worth doing as simply messing about with Rabbits!”

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Hare on duty today brings out the resilience of the Rat Moon, and the gentleness of the Ox Year.  Neither of these leave you much room for a Dramatic Entry, much less an Impressive Exit.  I advise you, therefore, to follow the Rat’s example, and specialize in the examination of the small, and the pursuit of the modest.  This is nothing like your normal style, even if you can take a pretty serviceable shot at it, from time to time.  But the turn of the year, and the ministrations of the Friendly Rat have put you in a special state of attention, night-and-day to your attitude about 3 months ago.  Think of today as a time to Review the Basics;  tomorrow you come once again into your own, and you’ll be very glad you did.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Hare on duty today brings out the resilience of the Rat Moon, and the gentleness of the Ox Year.  These three Animals are not entirely under your power, but if you present the request to them will all due respect, there are not very many things for which they won’t give you the green light.  The Ox Moon coming up is going to hand an even more liberal license to the members of the Sleek and Scaly Clan, so don’t think you have to go for the Big One, today.  Pick something about half-way down your wish-list to go for, so you can watch the whole thing going down without feeling the need to bounce up and down in gleeful excitement, like Mrs. Homemaker winning the jackpot on some mid-afternoon game show.  Kindnesses you do for people today will really stick in their minds, so try to fit some of those in the day, as well.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Hare on duty today brings out the resilience of the Rat Moon, and the gentleness of the Ox Year.  Now, your natural angle to these three always leads to a state with at least 40% “huh….?” in it.  So clearly, this is not a day for you to go running off in some new direction, or taking steps without getting clearance first.  On the other hand, both the Rabbit Day and the Rat Moon have a great deal to show you about yourself, if you’ll just specialize in Careful Stepping and Standing Still.  Both of these, by the way absolutely charm both Rabbits and Rats, so today’s a good day to get in some practice.  Imagine you’re wearing a Bunny Suit all day.  I promise, no one will notice it’s a costume.  But they will be nudging each other, and whispering “Who is that fascinating person over there?”

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Hare on duty today brings out the resilience of the Rat Moon, and the gentleness of the Ox Year.  In your case, he also brings out Organization Time!  As long as you’re not too insistent about the particulars, you’re going to find your ability to make a quick survey of the situation, prioritize needs, and put steps into action, not just tolerated, but actually deeply appreciated.  The trick here is to stay light-hearted, and not to feel like you’re making up for past slights (that would be the Ox Year), or minor points of disagreement (that would be the Rat Moon.)  In your case today, “success is the best revenge,” particularly if you make that the success of everyone’s interlocking purposes and satisfactions.  …And isn’t that what the Way of the Sheep is all about, anyway….?

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Hare on duty today brings out the resilience of the Rat Moon, and the gentleness of the Ox Year.  You’ll definitely have a part assigned to you in the day’s docile and domestic festivities, and it would be a very good idea not to allow yourself to try to make a Big Show of your part.  Not a good day to demonstrate how you can juggle three pieces of crystal stemware.  Instead, try to guess what you’re going to be asked to do before they ask you;  give yourself extra points if you also get it done before they expected you to.  For the rest of the time, practice your magical powers of Remaining Inconspicuous.  You’re going to need them right at your finger-tips tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Hare on duty today brings out the resilience of the Rat Moon, and the gentleness of the Ox Year.  This is a very tricky condition to find yourself in:  it will look like it’s clear to you what’s going on, and it will sound like you know what people just asked you to do…  But the chances of either one of those things being true, are only about 1 in 4.  Consequently, the more you can satisfy yourself with Hanging Back today, the better.  Don’t be afraid about this making you look inattentive or (worse) stupid;  if you’re just standing around today, for most people you’ll just go invisible.  Spend the time making mental notes, and tomorrow you’ll know exactly what to do, exactly when, and exactly how.  You’ll go from invisible to awe-inspiring in one easy step.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Hare on duty today brings out the resilience of the Rat Moon, and the gentleness of the Ox Year.  You’re going to feel quite happy, though not quite so up-in-the-mind as you might have yesterday, and if you get a bit more active, I’d say that’s staying true to your nature, and true to the time.  Enjoy!  It is a temporary condition, however, and as far as you would like to run with it, it’s necessary to remember that the Ox Year’s not over yet.  You might be running the risk of believing that everything’s All Sorted Out, and that the whole world has finally snapped out of it, and decided to agree with Canine Style.  (Good thing the Dragon day tomorrow is going to snap you back to a sense of reality. )

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Hare on duty today brings out the resilience of the Rat Moon, and the gentleness of the Ox Year.  This is the almost perfect situation to bring out the depth of your knowledgeability about The Human Condition, and how much fun it can be.  Do yourself a favor:  if you finding yourself lapsing into lectures about it, make a small shift, and make them lecture-demonstrations.  By the end of the day, you might feel you’ve left out too many of the Pleasures of the Difficult, and the Joys of Acting Righteous, but if you think about it, those had their time yesterday, didn’t they?  Beginning and ending with a joke is an almost universally good plan.

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

Weeks and weeks more, the trees will be bare, winds will whistle through branches.

If a day comes calm, puffs of breath leap out like little cloud-dragons, coiling and rolling,

Up into the cold, magically vanishing away.  Look again at the trees, where the has gone deep;

Watch them wait, wait, wait to dip down again, into the well.

“Sharp words are like the smallest peppers;  a little is more than enough.”

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Wednesday, 23rd of December


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

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE TRIO, finishing the week of the Western Palace of the White Tiger.  The asterism for which this Lunar Lodge is named is technically the whole of the constellation Orion, The Hunter.  In the Chinese view, he was a Supreme General, displaying all the marks of character, bearing, and intelligence to make him worthy of the command of the entirety of the empire’s armies.  One of his many names was THE TRIO, after the trio of stars at the center (the belt, in the image of Orion) which are so note-worthy in the northern skies.

These three stars had many attributions:  the General and his Left and Right Commanders, the Three Ranks of Command (soldiers, petty officers, and staff officers),  and The Heart of the General (which of course, in Chinese, means also “mind,” that is to say:  strategic and reasoning power.)  In addition, they have association with the Three Gods of Happiness, as well as the Three Pure Ones;  they bear and represent the balance of attributes which make the Supreme General worthy of his command.

The character for this Lunar Lodge ( 參 Cān ) originally meant this particular trio of stars, the focal center of the figure of the Supreme General at large.  By extension from his attributes, the character now also means “resplendent,” “glorious,” “supreme,” “to reflect on,” “to consult,” and “to visit a superior.”  Accordingly, the auspices of THE TRIO are generally favorable, and highly supportive of activity taken in competent response to duty, or pursued with the proper sense of austerity over luxury.  The proper commander may be perfectly comfortable amidst the luxuries and intrigues of the court and palaces, but is more at home in a tent in the same field as his troops, more in his element matching wits with bandits, brigands, and would-be invaders.

The spirit animal for THE TRIO is the Gibbon, which has a special place in Chinese iconography.  It represents the quick wit and nimble mind of the Monkey, but without the knack for falling into (or creating!) trouble.  Perfectly at home in his lofty treetops, and without apparent interest in human affairs, the Gibbon was regarded as the “gentleman of the forest,” and according to one Daoist tradition, was capable of living a thousand years, and of finally becoming human.  As such, the Gibbon is an elegant embodiment in the animal world of the calm and reflective mind—poised well above petty affairs—which is the mark of the Resplendent General, and of the attributes of the day.

The Solar Index today is FULL, named for the first month of Spring in the agricultural calendar, from early February through early March.  While the onset of Spring, in the Chinese sense of the seasons, does not bring abundance of flowers and balmy weather, it has a vitality and promise which must be taken when offered, if the greatest results are to be obtained from the farmers labors towards the distant harvest.  Many plants are not ready to be placed in the soil, but still there’s much preparation to be seen to.  The lengthening days make working more and more productive.

The FULL day offers this same opportunity to “get things going,” so as not to miss warmer and more fertile conditions when they do arrive.  The character for FULL ( 满 mǎn ) also has the meaning of “entire.”  This day calls for whole-hearted commitment of mind and resources, and for the “gung ho spirit.”  This phrase ( 工 和 gōng hé “work together”) was, incidentally, brought into usage in the English language by the U.S. Marines, who picked up the phrase from the Chinese in the Pacific Theater of operations during W.W. II.  To coin yet another Marine usage, it’s a good day to “see the hill,  take the hill.”

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Tiger on duty today is pointing the way forward, from the re-birth of the Yang towards the New Year.  Keep your attention aimed the same direction as your nose today, and don’t hold back on effort.  Though many may want your advice, you have your own purposes to see to.  Be polite, but be terse today.  The more terrain you can cover, the better—even if it’s just to do a “once over.”  There’s still three weeks to go before the Rat Moon completes itself, and today’s an excellent day to start staking out the realities of what you dreamed up in the depth of the Yin.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Tiger on duty today is pointing the way forward, from the re-birth of the Yang towards the New Year.  Think of today as a test-drive of what’s going to happen to your energies once the Tiger Year has actually stepped in and taken over.  Don’t be too quick to brush off people who sidle up to you and want to lean their shoulders into your wheel.  Now that you’ve gotten the momentum of your year truly aimed towards the dock, you’ll only benefit from having “all hands on deck.”  There are some minor tweaks to your charted course that will take place in the next three weeks, but Pilot Rat has the rudder, and all his minions are manning the tugboats.  You’re still Captain, but your presence on the bridge is mostly to keep the accountants and insurance officers happy.  Enjoy the view, but keep awake!

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Tiger on duty today is pointing the way forward, from the re-birth of the Yang towards the New Year.  Today might feel like shadow-boxing, running in place, and getting your blood pounding, but the main event is still several weeks away.  Follow your interests today, and be prepared to want to get really active, for a change.  Not that you’ve been a sluggard this year (hey!  you’ve only been napping….) but your level of engagement, having been rightly low, may have put you out of touch with your true level of ability and accomplishment.  You’re not running a marathon yet, or anything, but reminding your body of what that would feel like if you were, would be very good planning!  Don’t hesitate to offer your skills and powers in the service of someone else’s duty.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Tiger on duty today is pointing the way forward, from the re-birth of the Yang towards the New Year.  Tiger is like an elder brother for you, so you’ll have no trouble seeing the direction, and happily agreeing to it.  You might even have a few tips on how the pathway could be smoothed, and the results made more universally available.  But these should be offered merely as suggestions, and dis-owned as soon as they hit the air.  The Tiger has his own ways, and no real interest in holding a committee meeting on any matter of the day.  The Work is the matter at hand, and laying into it is the method.  Today’s just a rough-out of the way the Rat Moon’s going forward, anyway;  there’s plenty of time left for finishing details and surfaces.  You’ll get to make much more of your contribution tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Tiger on duty today is pointing the way forward, from the re-birth of the Yang towards the New Year.  For you, this is going to mean great challenges, equally great accomplishments, and even greater additions to your sense of your own powers.  But these conditions have to do with the Tiger Year’s arrival;  if next year is a pro golf tournament, today’s a round of miniature golf.  Same activity, really, but totally different scale.  Now the Rat Moon is your favorite caddy (or ought to be), so be open to suggestion, and don’t stick to your usual sense of what’s feasible.  Take a daring shot, and see how it goes.  (Stay attentive when you come to the hole with the Wind Mill…  it’s only difficult because it’s designed to be a bit distracting.)

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Tiger on duty today is pointing the way forward, from the re-birth of the Yang towards the New Year.  That’s going to be a test for you when it arrives, so take full advantage of this baby version to get a reading of (a.) how you feel, (b.) how you feel you should approach people, (c.) whether that works or not, and (d.) how the hell you can get out of the way if that becomes necessary.  The Tiger’s going to be looking off into the distance (in true Ox Style, bless him!) and that will leave you a clear laboratory bench to work on.  Tomorrow you’ll get to do pretty much whatever you want, so look around for the projects of others you can make a contribution to today.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Tiger on duty today is pointing the way forward, from the re-birth of the Yang towards the New Year.  For you, when that arrives, it’s going to feel like a home-coming:  like slamming the door behind you, leaning against it, and calling out “Honey!  I’m home…!”  Now, “Honey” is liable to have a full list of chores for you to attend to, but almost all of them are going to be to your liking.  So keep your ears perked up and your eyes wide open for little clues as to what those chores might be.  You don’t get to work at them today, but the more you find out today, the more you’ll understand how to get through the rest of the Ox Year in just the right way to be of real service when it’s done.  Today:  Get some exercise!

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Tiger on duty today is pointing the way forward, from the re-birth of the Yang towards the New Year.  For all of us, this will afford an opportunity to get a fore-taste of the menu to come.  Now remember, it’s a tasting menu today, and so if you feel at the end of it, that you’ve not really gotten your proper nourishment, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Tiger, after all, likes to keep it light-and-agile.  There’s plenty of big leaping to come, and stealthy hiding, and powerful swimming (this is the cat that likes the water!)  So keep your down, and your attention up.  Permission to take notes?  Granted.  Tomorrow, a box of bon-bons on your desk.  Or pillow.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Tiger on duty today is pointing the way forward, from the re-birth of the Yang towards the New Year.  This is a really good time to test whether you took seriously the admonishment to focus on making distinctions yesterday.  The Tiger Year is your Time of the Awful-Awful, and that being said, I hasten to remind you that you’ve always gotten through them, so far!  Today, you’ll be getting little flashbacks of How It Was Then, and if you keep your calm in your actions, and your hands to yourself, you’ll also see How You Got Through It, playing like your favorite old movie down at the re-run house.  The Rat Moon’s got your corner, so summon your courage, and look for the right moment to pitch in.  Physical exercise is very good for you today, by the way.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Tiger on duty today is pointing the way forward, from the re-birth of the Yang towards the New Year.  Looking off into the future, as you sometimes do, it might be difficult for you to feel you have a clear sense of what the Tiger Year is bringing.  I have news for you:  nobody knows what the Tiger Year is bringing.  That’s half it’s charm, really!  But if you’re at all curious, today’s a day to get a small sampler to hold in consideration, while you’re collecting prizes and adulation for the rest of the year.  Now, you have no particular problems with our friends of the Striped Clan, …well, that is until one of them mesmerizes you with his hot gaze freezing you to the bone!  Then you’re going to be searching your whole interior data-base for:  “Solutions, Tiger.”  If you think you might come up “no search results,” make careful note of what goes down today;  it’s a little seminar you may find that you treasure in 8 or 9 weeks time.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Tiger on duty today is pointing the way forward, from the re-birth of the Yang towards the New Year.  For you, the arrival at that happy destination is probably already looking like “a hot meal, a warm bed, and no duties.”  In other words:  Paradise!  However, none of us knows yet what sort of direction the Tiger’s going to bound off in;  we just know we’re going to have to go with him.  Make good use of the opportunity today to take a reading on the Tiger’s disposition, and how it relates to the close of the Ox’s time.  Those choices you looked into yesterday will make it possible for you to be highly efficient in satisfying what you have to do this year, in the best way to position you to satisfy what you want to do next year, when the Tiger’s handing out presents to his favorites.  You did know you were one of his favorites, didn’t you…?  Don’t eat too much today, and follow orders.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Tiger on duty today is pointing the way forward, from the re-birth of the Yang towards the New Year.  After your long suffering (well… long suffering for a Pig, anyways….), you’re quite happy to feel that the Ox is about to hand over the keys.  The fact that it’s Tiger taking over should be making you go all giddy inside.  However, Tigers like to play, but they like to play rough.  Let’s make sure you haven’t fallen out of practice, shall we?  Take today as an advance report on the journey you’re about to embark on, once the Ox is done.  You’re not going to be having to work as hard towards the end of this year as you have so far, but the Tiger’s going to demand a good sparring partner in you, and a bit of shadow-boxing today is called for, I think.  Don’t be afraid of an argument, but do not let yourself take it seriously.  (Still Rat Moon, after all;  keep giggling!)

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

Happy life comes down to three things: achieving health, achieving contribution, achieving old age.

None of them is a gift, none of them comes through effort.  How then?

Follow your Fate.  Follow your Luck.  Follow your Nature.

The Old One explained this so long ago, and folks still think it’s mysterious.

“When the needle points south, it’s only demonstrating its nature.”

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Tuesday, 22nd of December


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

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE BEAK, the sixth day of the Western Palace of the White Tiger.  The asterism for which this Lunar Lodge is named is a tight triangle of three stars, in the northern portion of the constellation Orion, The Hunter.  For the Chinese the figure of Orion was taken as a great general, and the three stars of this asterism were taken as his head, called by the term “mouth,” as a sort of nickname.  In antiquity, the tortoise was an emblem of the military;  strategic considerations always included divinations taken by crackling tortoise shells in a ritual fire, and interpreting the resulting cracks across the shell.   Consequently the character used for “mouth” is the one used for tortoises and turtles, i.e., “beak.”  The character for it ( 觜 Zǔì ) can also mean “lip,” (as of a vessel or pitcher) or “spout” (as in a teapot.)

Before the era when the 28 Lunar Lodges were formalized as a system used in the daily calendar, THE BEAK was part of the next asterism in the cycle, THE TRIO, which will recur tomorrow.  Having been separated from that Lunar Lodge, THE BEAK represents the “decapitation” of the general, and is regarded, partly on that account, as inauspicious.  It might be more accurate, however, to read this “decapitation of the general” as meaning the separation of the general from his army—or perhaps his distinction from his troops, in rank and authority.  Like yesterday’s auspices, THE BEAK favors relying on superiors, and not relying on subordinates;  this places the burden of responsibility squarely with the commanding officer.  In an extension of that image, caring for children and medical treatment are also favorable.  The military tone also appears in the auspiciousness of virtuous conduct, and of religious rituals and ceremonials.

The spirit animal for THE BEAK is the Monkey, which is an animal that features prominently in Chinese legends, story-telling, and theater.  The Monkey King, Sūn Wùkōng ( 孫 悟 空 , literal meaning: “Grandfather Apprehend-Emptiness”), was a great magician and meddler in the affairs of both demons and gods.  As a popular figure of myth and story, he embodies the highest accomplishments of cleverness, daring, impudence, and unconventionality.  In one legend, Monkey even assaults the combined forces of the Jade Emperor, Xi Wang Mu, and the rest of the celestial pantheon, and emerges victorious.  Perhaps it is this kind of general who should be separated from his troops;  he would be far too dangerous, even to his commanding emperor, to lead an army.  (Even an army of monkeys!)  This sort of acumen must be kept under close watch, and on a short leash, and may frequently earn at least symbolic punishments.  Under this attribution, the auspices of the day are negative as if to prompt caution under this sort of danger.  The Monkey symbolizes the highest of abilities, but also an appetite for creating disorder and inconvenience, if not kept within bounds.

The Solar Index today is DIVIDE, named for the third month of Winter in the agricultural calendar, from early January through early February.  The character with which it’s written ( 孫 chú ) can also be read as “remove,” “subtract,” “separate,” “exclude,” “discard,” or “to end.”  As Winter draws to a close, the days slowly lengthen, and the grip of Yin relents.  As the Yang rises, activity rises with it, and earnest labors for the upcoming Spring must begin.  Inclement weather focuses the work on what can be done indoors: repair of equipment, making of clothes and implements, separation of grain to be used in planting from that to be kept aside for food.  The DIVIDE day captures this energetic quality, and favors separating the important from the unimportant, the immediate from the delayable, the public from the private, etc.  Given the connection with THE BEAK, today, perhaps such divisions should be arranged today, but delayed for a few days to reach final accomplishment.  Hastiness without proper limitation might lead to inadvertent “decapitations.”

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Double Rats are relieved of their duties by Double Oxen today, and the transition from Yin Growing to Yin Declining is accomplished with great stability.  Your nose and whiskers are going to be twitching more and more in the next few weeks, in a way you haven’t felt since 12 or 18 months ago.  Take today to reaffirm your aims and to dump those ideas and doubts that are clearly not in keeping with the honest evidence.  Tomorrow, you’ll be able to take definite and confident steps;  make them small ones, and be assured, there will be many more to follow.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Double Rats are relieved of their duties by Double Oxen today, and the transition from Yin Growing to Yin Declining is accomplished with great stability.  It’s great to have some-one else with your determination and stamina to help draw the load;  how much better to have some-two else!  Think of the next 5 weeks as “all down-hill,” and things will go brilliantly.  You’ve done enough pushing and trudging this year, and it’s time to start coasting in for a gentle, exactly-placed landing.  Start today.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Double Rats are relieved of their duties by Double Oxen today, and the transition from Yin Growing to Yin Declining is accomplished with great stability.  This is a time of serene repose for our friends of the Striped Clan, and if you’re not feeling either “serene” or in “repose,” then you had better review your aims for the year, with a careful eye to strategy and tactics.  Your acumen and powers are going to be so in tune with the world when the Ox Year exits, that you could cancel everything for the next 7 weeks, and still be ahead of the game by March 4th.  Stop chasing after crickets, and hide out in the tall grass.  Big game—actually worthy of your strengths and appetites—will be showing up soon!

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Double Rats are relieved of their duties by Double Oxen today, and the transition from Yin Growing to Yin Declining is accomplished with great stability.  Your power season is the Spring, and that’s going to be showing up sooner than you can sense.  Lay down a good foundation for what you’re going to want to accomplish when you come to your time, whether it’s getting ahead of the pack, or being responsible for food and fun when the pack gets back to the house.  The task at hand today is not a matter of efforts, it’s a matter of efficiencies;  make sure you take the time to recognize the difference.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Double Rats are relieved of their duties by Double Oxen today, and the transition from Yin Growing to Yin Declining is accomplished with great stability.  This might actually feel to you like the stillness after a great storm passes.  The Ox Year, after all, has been for you like trying to make progress against a stiff headwind, or like trying to demonstrate aerobatics in a sky of unpredictable gusts.  As the year is drawing to its close in February, climatic conditions (not to say “climactic” conditions!) will be much more to your taste.  The Ox, in fact, is going to plod out without much dramatics.  So take today to summon your famous “That was then, this is now” attitude, and take aim on the future.  The Ox Year paid no attention to Your Best, but that’s all the Tiger Year is going to want from you.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Double Rats are relieved of their duties by Double Oxen today, and the transition from Yin Growing to Yin Declining is accomplished with great stability.  As the Yin rolls downward, and the Ox Year comes to its end, I’m pretty sure you’re going to be declaring that this is your favorite part of the year.  The work necessary for achieving your purposes has actually already been done—well, at least 95% of it.  And the only part that still remains is the easiest part:  just showing up!  Take some time today, now that we’re on the other side of the Solstice, to re-examine what you’ve been aiming for.  Some of it is still current, some of it isn’t.  Keep the current, discard the rest.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Double Rats are relieved of their duties by Double Oxen today, and the transition from Yin Growing to Yin Declining is accomplished with great stability.  The rest of the run ahead of you is getting smoother, dryer, and easier to see with every step.  Not to say there aren’t a few more hazards on the steeple-chase course, just that they’ll be easier and easier to read and negotiate.  In any event, the Tiger Year coming up is going to be so much more to your liking, and (more importantly) so much more appropriate to your skills and strengths, that there’s simply not much point in straining or stressing for the next 7 weeks.  Look for the difference between what you have to do (for whatever immediate reasons), and what you can simply avoid doing.  What’s truly coming, is coming on its own.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Double Rats are relieved of their duties by Double Oxen today, and the transition from Yin Growing to Yin Declining is accomplished with great stability.  The Ox Year is heading around the bend, and going down the straight-away to its exit.  And (of course) you couldn’t be happier about it.  The Tiger will be a welcome relief, even if it isn’t designed just for you.  In any case, the results still to arrive this year (that is to say:  the BIG ones) are a matter of momentum over the long haul, not a matter of management of the moment, so if you take a “whatever!” attitude, the year will get easier and easier, until it just exits.  (I hope I’m there when you open the bottle of champagne!)

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Double Rats are relieved of their duties by Double Oxen today, and the transition from Yin Growing to Yin Declining is accomplished with great stability.  As the Yang starts to show its baby-strength, and the results of the Ox’s long plodding start to drop into view, the difficult thing for most of us, is making sure that we’re actually available to catch them as they fall.  That’s not really a problem for you, with your darting grasp and nimble fingers.  If you don’t let your own amazement get in the way, you’re going to pull it off with gymnastic precision.  Just remember that your thing is magic, not mass;  decisiveness, not decision-making.  There are two consistent paths for you:  doing or dramatizing.  Take today to remind yourself of the difference between them;  you don’t want to get the two of them confused.  I’m just sayin’.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Double Rats are relieved of their duties by Double Oxen today, and the transition from Yin Growing to Yin Declining is accomplished with great stability.  Now, the Ox Thing is to the work so constantly, so without dramatics, that to a great many eyes it looks like:  nothing is going on at all.  But not to your eyes!  Today begins your stint as Supreme Museum Docent, explaining it all to the confused assembly.  Most of the Ox’s work has already been accomplished (even if most weren’t noticing it), and so one of the first things people need to be told is:  “Relax.”  There are things you can accomplish, and there are things you can’t.  Get clear about that difference for yourself today, because that’s going to be the second thing people will need to hear.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Double Rats are relieved of their duties by Double Oxen today, and the transition from Yin Growing to Yin Declining is accomplished with great stability.  You’ll be happy to discover that the turn of the Solstice brings a deceleration of the Ox.  Well, at least a deceleration of the work of the Ox.  The results of the work are about to start showing up, and speeding up.  It would be adding injury to insult to try to catch all of them.  So it’s very important for you to take some time today and recognize the distinction between the results you want to hold on to, and the ones you want to take a pass on.  Just because someone tosses you a piano, doesn’t mean you have to try to catch it!

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Double Rats are relieved of their duties by Double Oxen today, and the transition from Yin Growing to Yin Declining is accomplished with great stability.  This, like most aspects of the Ox Year, may seem a bit too bland and blah for you to take great delight in, but I think that within a few weeks, you’re going to remember it as one of your favorite things about the year.  It’s like having a rather bland little soup, served before the pièce de résistance of a grand meal;  it sharpens the palate, and leaves it fully ready to be dramatically impressed.  Take the time today to recognize the difference between what you don’t want to do because you don’t want to, and what you don’t want to do because—actually—it can’t be done.

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

Moon goes down early; stars are bright again, night is dark again.

Awake to the morning, and again, the world is not yet done.

Rain’s left the eaves dripping, drop following drop:  time passes, time passes.  Who knows why?

You can’t ask the god of Spring, much less the god of Winter!

“You can buy a cricket cage at any market;  but you have to catch your own cricket.”

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Thursday begins the Lunar Week:

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