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Sunday, 31st of January


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

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE ROOM, named for an asterism of four stars, which form a line perpendicular to the ecliptic of the zodiac.  In modern astronomy, they’re part of the constellation Scorpio, the Scorpion.  In its attribution to the center day of the week-long Eastern Palace of the Azure Dragon, THE ROOM represents the position of the Spring Equinox.  The character for this asterism ( 房 fáng ) also means “house.”  It was also called, more poetically, “House of the Sun,” in the sense that at the Spring Equinox, the Sun crosses the ecliptic and begins to be visible in the sky longer each day than it is hidden through the night.  These four stars were also called “The Celestial Four” ( 天 四 Tiān Sì ), or “The Celestial Horses” ( 天马 Tiān Mǎ ), and were seen as drawing the shape of the chariot of the Sun.

The spirit animal for THE ROOM is the Rabbit, which in the Twelve Animal cycle is associated with the month of the Spring Equinox.  Rabbits and hares are symbols of fertility across the globe, and in Chinese culture further represent the balance of a gentle demeanor wedded to a warrior spirit.  The Spring Equinox rituals in ancient China made appeal to the Sun—crossing the skies in his warrior chariot, and moving towards his most extreme strength—kindly to show his gentle and beneficial face on the crops springing up in the fields.

This Lunar Lodge is therefore extremely advantageous for indoor work of any kind, and rites or ceremonies in particular.  As it represents the “center of Spring,” it is auspicious for new ventures, moving house, and taking of herbs for medicinal benefit.  The well-balanced but increasing Yang gives extra potency to such delicate or influential activities, and diminish the naturally inherent potential dangers that may accompany them.  Conversely, THE ROOM is awkward for finishing things (so untimely when the world is awakening and bounding forward in growth), particularly divorce proceedings.  Hurrying and impatience are inappropriate, and are regarded as likely to produce difficulties and mistakes.  The Yang is moving forward;  but like its increase at the time of the Spring Equinox, progress should be made only with “all deliberate speed.”

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 Metal Snake on duty today is tightly bound, slightly irritated, and perhaps a bit resentful for the fading of the Ox Year.  Fortunately for you, the rest of the auspices today are quite bright, and the sinking down of the Ox comes as a welcome completion of your long year of labors.  Take the day slow and easy, and don’t take up any tasks before letting your own drop down in harmony with the Ox.  Only that way can you soak up the vitality that’s available.  Your tenderness of heart can be a valuable perspective for dealing with people, but don’t waste it by trying to fix anybody, and that includes yourself.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Metal Snake on duty today is tightly bound, slightly irritated, and perhaps a bit resentful for the fading of the Ox Year.  As you’ve been carrying the brunt of the year’s burden, you will most likely feel not resentment, but relief.  As your labors are lightening, it’s time to turn your attentions to others and show them that docile and sweet nature that’s been powering the Big Push all along.  It will seem like a small matter for you put your shoulder to someone else’s wheel, but small matters can make big differences.  These last two weeks of the Ox Year are the most powerful, and can recast others’ opinion of you, and reform your own opinions of yourself.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Metal Snake on duty today is tightly bound, slightly irritated, and perhaps a bit resentful for the fading of the Ox Year.  Be careful today not to be too open with your opinions and emotions.  The time for you to roar out your truths will be coming quite soon, but there’s a delicacy of feeling abroad today, and everyone is going to be sinking into their own inner sanctum, trying to work out details, discard justifications, and settle their own inner equations.  Most of the issues about which you might feel resentment are going to be resolving on their own with the passing of the Ox Year, so that itchiness you may be feeling today has its roots in expectations of the future, and can’t be scratched by raking through the past.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Metal Snake on duty today is tightly bound, slightly irritated, and perhaps a bit resentful for the fading of the Ox Year.  You’re in a loop of free-wheeling for these last two weeks of the year, and won’t have any significant energetic duties until the Tiger has fully entered.  That being said, you have great contributions to make today—and quite happily, too—simply by standing around, or seeing to the well-being of others.  Those who are comforted “by the kindness of strangers” will be gravitating towards you with their sorry state clearly registering on your radar.  They may not know that they’re looking for succor or support, but your gentle deftness in matters of emotional weight will bring their clarity out.  You might do well to carry a box of tissues around with you today.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Metal Snake on duty today is tightly bound, slightly irritated, and perhaps a bit resentful for the fading of the Ox Year.  You’re going to feel right in harmony with this doleful and constrained representative of the Serpent Clan, and are likely to find yourself muttering “good riddance!” should the topic of the Ox’s departure come up.  You’ve born much more frustration this year than any Snake you could shake a stick at, so it will be ironic if you come across one:  they’re going to be appealing to you for commiseration and support.  But don’t take offense.  Think of it as role-playing, and deliver to them exactly the things you most need said to you about your unrecognized contributions, your super-human forebearance, and your unrecompensed depletion of inner resources.  Conclude with insistent instructions about “getting back into your own bones,” and plan on following them to the letter for the next two weeks.  Eat simply today, but very, very well.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Metal Snake on duty today is tightly bound, slightly irritated, and perhaps a bit resentful for the fading of the Ox Year.  This will no doubt affect you in a very strange way, turning yesterday’s sense of festivity and accomplishment into a feeling that “something is not quite right, after all,” and leading you to the suspicion that your height of feeling has been completely illusory, as flimsy, insubstantial, and transitory as a soap-bubble.  This apparent sense of deflation is highly appropriate, and actually quite healthy for you at this point in the year, but it is also completely temporary, and merely a momentary interpretation of subjective experience, and not a reading of actual facts in the case.  Your appetites and cool pragmatism will return tomorrow, restoring clarity and re-establishing trust in your innate sense of direction.  For today, let your vision and comprehension expand by allowing yourself to examine the “worst case scenario.”

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Metal Snake on duty today is tightly bound, slightly irritated, and perhaps a bit resentful for the fading of the Ox Year.  You’ll have to make a fair trade today by giving up the sense of What You’re Doing, and accepting instead the feeling you can do Anything You Want.  This is not the happiest of exchanges for the Clan of the Mane and Tail, but it won’t be nearly as challenging as most of the interminable false-choices you’ve been faced with through the year so far.  Most likely, What You’ll Want will be to strengthen connection with friends and family, particularly with any you’ve felt you’ve lost touch with.  I’d say that’s a fine use of the day’s freedoms.  Just make sure that you don’t drag the somewhat doleful attitude abroad today into your reunions.  There’s so much to enjoy before the weekend’s over, it would be a shame to sour it by turning pessimistic or down-hearted.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Metal Snake on duty today is tightly bound, slightly irritated, and perhaps a bit resentful for the fading of the Ox Year.  You, of course, have your own well-earned resentments, but they have nothing to do with the departure of the Ox, as his energy wanes.  You’ll find it easy to ignore the doleful demeanor of the day’s guardian, and will more likely be frisking about in an almost unaccountable state of frivolity.  Now, we’re still under the influence—diminishing though it may be—of the Dual Oxen, so don’t think I’m talking about some sort of ethereal out-of-the-body state of transfiguration;  I just mean you could have a Really Nice Time, if you just aim for one, and plan on keeping things simple.  We’re not yet in conditions when your Highly-Tuned Universal Managerial Circuitry should be plugged in and fired up.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Metal Snake on duty today is tightly bound, slightly irritated, and perhaps a bit resentful for the fading of the Ox Year.  Normally, I’m advising our friends of the Clan of the Long Tail to avoid sinking into the depths of melodrama and self-commiseration.  Today, however, is that rarest of times, when diving into the deep end of the pool and coming out sobbing would do you a world of good.  You’ll have to be careful who you take along for the ride, and scrupulously avoid those who might take you seriously.  This is going to be like a crazy ride in a very, very strange amusement park, where the whole idea is to get unaccountably morose and dejected, over matters that actually have nothing to do with you.  Or you could just cuddle up with a box of tissues, and watch a movie:  “The English Patient”?  “The House of Mirth”?  “Brokeback Mountain”? The list goes on and on….

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Metal Snake on duty today is tightly bound, slightly irritated, and perhaps a bit resentful for the fading of the Ox Year.  Most others today are going to have to make a choice as to whether they want to settle into harmony with this doleful Snake, or rise up high like a balloon lofted into the sky by the bright auspices for the day.  You, however, can flicker back and forth from one side to the other, wringing full use out of the day, with no difficulty at all.  Don’t let anyone talk you into trying to get both things happening simultaneously;  you can’t do it that way, and it would give you a cracking headache even to try.  In fact, it’s a good idea not to let anyone talk to you today at all.  You have a lot to say, and you should find the one—or ones—who are eager to listen.  Tell everyone else to take a balloon ride.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Metal Snake on duty today is tightly bound, slightly irritated, and perhaps a bit resentful for the fading of the Ox Year.  Spending the day trying to figure out how the day can feel so bouyant and uplifting, and you can feel so down and out, is a waste of your time;  that equation really has no solution in the Canine Universe, and attempting to crack it will only make you drowsy-headed and morose.  Instead, think of this as an extension on the Empty Space you got to play in yesterday.  That one was produced by the Dragon and Ox running off in opposite directions;  this one is brought about by the energetic guardian of the day being too doleful and inattentive to properly fulfill his duties.  You don’t have to spend the day playing—at least not playing at a high level of exertion—but please don’t do any work that you can get out of.  I shouldn’t think you’d need me to say that twice.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Metal Snake on duty today is tightly bound, slightly irritated, and perhaps a bit resentful for the fading of the Ox Year.  This means that, for once, you may be able to slink through a Snake Day without the usual muddles, mayhem, and melodrama.  There is, however, a cost:  you’ll going to have to do your very best to sneak through the day with as little extra energy, and as little disturbance to The Way Things Are, as you can muster.  This is a supreme test for the Clan of the Curly Tail, as there are so many things, in almost any situation, which you feel could benefit from your abundance of information, your careful eye, your delicate touch, your deft commentary.  All these things are perfectly true about you, and—given the aspects of this day which are supplying bouyancy—you’re really going to want to step in and “make your contribution.”  Please, don’t.  I say:  “Let sleeping Snakes lie.”

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

Don’t rouse the old man by knocking on his gate;  he might be sleeping, or deep in his studies.

He hates to travel:  departures make the trees in his garden seem lonely, the little bench under the eaves look neglected.

You could take him a pot of winter roots pickled in sweet brine, and leave it with a note wishing “Happy Spring and Long Life!”

Or, send a basket of snow brought down from the peak to honor the passing of winter, as he can’t go up there himself anymore.

“Impatience is the brother of apathy;  hurrying, the sister of delay.”

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Tiger Year Preview • San Jose • Saturday, Jan. 30th • 7-9:30 pm • Call for location: 831-471-0388

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Saturday, 30th of January


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

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE ROOT, the third day of the Eastern Palace of the Azure Dragon.  It’s named for a group of four stars forming a trapezoid, which are part of the western constellation of Libra, the Scales.  The character for this asterism ( 氐 ) originally depicted floating plants dangling their roots into the water, eventually reaching bottom, and making attachment there.  This image also implies its more modern meanings of “sinking down,” “bottom,” “base,” “foundation,” “fundamental.”   It was also called “Celestial Root” ( 天 根 Tiān Gēn ), that is to say, the “Celestial Root of Spring,” as the next day in the Eastern Palace is associated with the Spring Equinox itself.  In the picture of the Azure Dragon, it figures the powerful shoulders and forearms of the celestial beast.

The spirit animal for THE ROOT is the Badger, which likewise has powerful shoulders and forearms, and also specializes in crouching (i.e, “sinking”) down, and digs underground, to “the root.”  Badgers of virtually all species are famous for their physical strength, their solitary habits, and their gruff—not to say, “vicious”—response to being disturbed.  This is a highly suitable image for the quality of THE ROOT, which is an inauspicious Lunar Lodge for all social and legal interactions.  Its only productive capacity is in the furtherance of medical health;  it’s a highly appropriate day to receive a doctor’s assistance and advice.  In keeping with the Badger’s preference for solitude, the day supports spiritual retreat, fasting (and other austere practices), and (sadly, perhaps) finalizing divorce.  The Badger’s stubborn nature suggests the favorability of the day towards the taking of vows, or adopting of new resolutions.  Perhaps on account of the Badger’s physical strength, and because of his close association with his burrow, this is regarded as an auspicious day to move house.

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 Metal Dragon on duty today proposes brilliance of style and elegance of manner to properly celebrate the radiance of the Ox’s Full Moon, and the final, coasting decline of the Ox Year.  Your energies and affection are easily stressed when placed between these two, so it’s a good thing for you that this Dragon delights in his distinction from the Ox, choosing to ride high, aloof and hopeful.  Take your attentions off your labors for the day, stop fretting about those things you’re not quite ready to take steps towards, and revel in your social engagements.  Get out in public this evening, and see how easy it is to make some new friends.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Metal Dragon on duty today proposes brilliance of style and elegance of manner to properly celebrate the radiance of the Ox’s Full Moon, and the final, coasting decline of the Ox Year.  The passing of this Full Moon is like drawing in a great breath to heave a long, satisfied sigh.  Lighten up on your labors today, and let the Dragon show you how to dance a bit.  You don’t have to copy the twisting and coiling;  it’s the flow and follow-through you’ll be really good at.  As the year comes to its close, everyone will finally be ready to acknowledge your sense of humor and your sensuality;  start showing them off today.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Metal Dragon on duty today proposes brilliance of style and elegance of manner to properly celebrate the radiance of the Ox’s Full Moon, and the final, coasting decline of the Ox Year.  This Dragon will seem to you like a kite made of tin-foil floating high above your sphere of influence, and if it seems to offer a challenge, it will also seem to be a rather whimsical one.  Your strengths will be mounting for the next two weeks, and your appetites and sharpness of focus will be rising with them.  Use today to stretch out to your full length, and properly imagine just how big the Tiger will be when it arrives in mid-February.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Metal Dragon on duty today proposes brilliance of style and elegance of manner to properly celebrate the radiance of the Ox’s Full Moon, and the final, coasting decline of the Ox Year.  You may not catch the full spirit of celestial radiance being celebrated today, but you’ll find yourself out-numbered and held to blame if you indulge your earthy attitudes to the point that you just deflate everyone else’s enjoyments.  Whatever you contributions to the situation have been over the last ten days or so, consider them to be more than sufficient, and stop trying to add to them.  Today’s a day to summon your greatest depth of calm, your most settled repose, your most profound stillness.  The world is offering you awe, today, and if you’re silent, it’s awe-struck you’ll be.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Metal Dragon on duty today proposes brilliance of style and elegance of manner to properly celebrate the radiance of the Ox’s Full Moon, and the final, coasting decline of the Ox Year.  Aloofness yesterday was a kind of defense system;  today, it’s a platform for self-expression.  It’s a deep secret of the Clan of the Scales and Claws that their greatest strengths come from their mastery of reflection;  let the Moon be your model, and shine high from the glare of others’ light.  Entering the fray will only soil your immaculate luminance.  Float above it all, and let your indifference glitter on high like a guiding star.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Metal Dragon on duty today proposes brilliance of style and elegance of manner to properly celebrate the radiance of the Ox’s Full Moon, and the final, coasting decline of the Ox Year.  You’ll have a hard time today trying to decide whether you like the day so much because it’s magical, or it’s so magical because you like it so much.  Inner and outer are hopelessly confused for you when the grand radiance of the Ox Moon sets the shimmering Metal Dragon to dancing.  You may well feel like dancing yourself, but you’d better keep close to the ground, where the rest of us mere mortals are cavorting.  The social atmosphere is just the right balance of warmth and cold, and your balance of discretion and directness are going to put your right in the center of the festivities.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Metal Dragon on duty today proposes brilliance of style and elegance of manner to properly celebrate the radiance of the Ox’s Full Moon, and the final, coasting decline of the Ox Year.  This normally combative duo has called a truce to celebrate the fulfillment of the year, and to honor the serene majesty of the Full Moon, gliding so high across the last of the winter’s nights.  The festive air will be felt by all, and most deeply appreciated by those who treasure the presence of others—whether friends or strangers—as partners in the Dance of Being Human.  If you don’t think that means you, then I don’t think you’ve been paying attention.  Don’t be shy of just standing next to people today, and try to get out into the swirl of the public for the evening air.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Metal Dragon on duty today proposes brilliance of style and elegance of manner to properly celebrate the radiance of the Ox’s Full Moon, and the final, coasting decline of the Ox Year.  Any Dragon-Ox interaction can make you feel fractious and fussy, but today’s quite different.  The Ox is beginning its long awaited departure, and everyone can feel it.  The Dragon refuses to contend because the time demonstrates it’s unnecessary.  Copy his glittering example.  Your graciousness and attention to Things That Matter are legendary;  let them rest on the altar of your reputation for the next two weeks, and revel in the distancing clip-clop of the Ox’s hooves.  Between Dragon and Ox today is a vast space:  step into it for the day, and magically hover there.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Metal Dragon on duty today proposes brilliance of style and elegance of manner to properly celebrate the radiance of the Ox’s Full Moon, and the final, coasting decline of the Ox Year.  As strange as it may sound for the ending of so plodding and unrelenting a year as this has been, one could well call this moment the Time of the Dancing Moon:  not “dancing” as in the “Moon is dancing,” but “dancing” as in “Moon for dancing.”  The Dragon’s non-chalance, and the satisfied weariness of the Ox beginning to depart, are reason enough for you to throw up the party lights, break out the drinks, crank up the music, and invite everyone over for a raucously good time.  It’s even reason enough for you to do it all by yourself.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Metal Dragon on duty today proposes brilliance of style and elegance of manner to properly celebrate the radiance of the Ox’s Full Moon, and the final, coasting decline of the Ox Year.  A spirit of festivity is going to be hovering over the day, and it will—wherever it might be necessary—sponsor a Declaration of General Amnesty.  For you, this means it’s the perfect opportunity to hit your re-set button, drop all the weight, weariness, and worry that might be sticking to you from whatever original source, and arise fresh and re-born into the moment.  The Ox will be gliding down for the next two weeks, and it’s time for you to start settling down with it.  Spend today aiming to become “light as a feather,” and to come in for the softest of landings.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Metal Dragon on duty today proposes brilliance of style and elegance of manner to properly celebrate the radiance of the Ox’s Full Moon, and the final, coasting decline of the Ox Year.  Dragon-and-Ox encounters most frequently make you inclined to seek out the nearest heavy piece of furniture that will allow you to wriggle under for protection.  Today however is quite different.  It’s as if everyone can feel that the Ox is finally relenting—since it’s necessary—and the Dragon is declining to contend—since it’s needless.  This leaves a rather grand, mysterious space your Nature will flood into, like light coming down from the Moon.  If you don’t end up feeling stunned into silence, with tears welling up and gratitude filling your heart, then you’re going to end up feeling like dancing about, as if the entire world had turned into Dog Paradise.  Welling up, dancing about, …”It’s all good.”

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Metal Dragon on duty today proposes brilliance of style and elegance of manner to properly celebrate the radiance of the Ox’s Full Moon, and the final, coasting decline of the Ox Year.  Dragons and Oxen don’t usually leave much room for Pig Enjoyment, but today is special.  As the Ox turns to depart, and the Dragon declines to offer argument, the mood will turn distinctly goofy.  Everyone’s been expecting a major row, and instead we get a festive sense of mutual congratulation and appreciation.  When this kind of party falls together, there’s invariably a Pig somewhere near the middle of it.  Do your thing, but don’t feel you need to prepare, or organize, or control.  This is a Bring-Your-Own-Party Party.  Enjoy!

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

No fire this night, even though the winter’s not yet done.

In the far south, Balance Mountain reminds one of the summer’s heat.

Birds have gathered, chattering gaily about their long flight to the north,

Where the days will be long, and the duties of family life will make them all the longer.

“The best solitude is in a crowd of strangers.”

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Friday, 29th of January


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

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE NECK, second day of the Eastern Palace of the Azure Dragon.  The character for this asterism is a homophone for a word written with the same character ( 亢 kàng ), which still carries its original meaning: “to extend the legs apart,” or “to make an effort.”  When pronounced with a softer consonant and a high tone (gāng) it means “neck,” or “throat.”  In its astrological attributions, THE NECK combines these two meanings.  Clearly, it represents the neck of the Azure Dragon, falling as it does between THE HORN (i.e., the snout) and THE BASE (i.e., the shoulders and chest) of the celestial beast.  But THE NECK also symbolizes the effort taken to extend the neck, and therefore, the sense of risk and jeopardy this extension produces.  ”To stick your neck out” is a cautionary phrase in more than one language.

The attributed advice for the day, therefore, is against construction or building, arguments or obstructionism, advancement or ambition, public rituals and ceremonies, and even against gatherings.  If the time is risky, one should err on the side of caution.  Better not to take steps, than to add more risk to the matter.  On the other hand, caution can be “married to luck” by making use of the day for analysis, planning for future possibilities, and the diversions of artistic endeavors (which can also deepen one’s understanding of human nature, and life at large.)  Purchasing equipment, or shopping in general, do not require such a “commitment to action” that they add danger to the moment.  Retreat and solitude (particularly as they may improve one’s analytical skill, and appreciation of human nature) may be the best route to take for the day.

The spirit animal for THE NECK is the Dragon, that is to say, “smooth dragon,” or “Dragon of the Skies,” famous in Chinese iconography, and the very embodiment of “ in motion.”  The Dragon is the guardian image of the Emperor, and the iconographic emblem of his political and spiritual power.  In this Lunar Lodge, the Dragon depicts the vast power and authority of the imperial regime, and stands as a warning to observe the proper scale of ambition and exertion in relationship to it.  Luck is abroad, under the sign of the Dragon, but only for those who observe their place in the natural world, and within political and social structures.  ”Testing Fate and Luck” may be safe on another day, but not on this one.  ”Lie low and observe the time,” is the watchword 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 American 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 Earth Hare on duty today has an inward-turning spirit and a darkly contemplative nature, and will not offer much obstruction to the Ox Duo driving the year home.  Still, complexities can arise and put you in the middle of warring forces.  Your small physical scale doesn’t necessarily mean that you have no contribution to make, but it’s not going to be made by attempting to assist with the heavy lifting.  Grand as your conceptual prowess may be, sometimes your job is simply to lighten the mood, or to clarify and pacify the moment.  Pay most attention today to things you can reach out and touch with a hand;  people around you will benefit most from your undivided attention, and once you’ve arranged that, you should stop short of “fixing things.”

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Earth Hare on duty today has an inward-turning spirit and a darkly contemplative nature, and will not offer much obstruction to the Ox Duo driving the year home.  The danger for you today will lie in the distinct possibility of riding rough-shod over the actualities of the moment, in pursuit of the long-term goals to which you’ve dedicated yourself.  This will be a delicate test for you, as the only way to earn top marks—even in your own estimation—will be to “thread the needle,” keeping one eye on the ground beneath each foot-fall, and the other on the far horizon.   Your willingness to keep a slow and even pace will make the day easier, but you’re going to have to sacrifice your sense of making maximum forward progress, in order to earn it in reality.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Earth Hare on duty today has an inward-turning spirit and a darkly contemplative nature, and will not offer much obstruction to the Ox Duo driving the year home.  Your greater scale of energy, and your cagey wisdom in the ways of the world can do a great deal to level out potential troubles, particularly if they seem to come only from the darkness of the day’s mood.  Where you needed to stand back, or stand off, yesterday, you will now need to step in, and step up.  Think of yourself as the elder sibling of each person you need to confront, and give them the best access to your guidance and experience that you can muster.  Don’t imagine you need to invade their inner worlds, or transform their convictions.  They will want to remain uninvolved in the World of Affairs, and will rejoice to find that you’ve already Got It Covered.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Earth Hare on duty today has an inward-turning spirit and a darkly contemplative nature, and will not offer much obstruction to the Ox Duo driving the year home.  You will have your work cut out for you if you need to maintain a fully public life today:  it will be the over-riding task of Not Losing Your Temper.  The Ox Year has been arduous for most, and oppressive to many, and whereas you’ve been able to avoid the worst of the burdens and injuries, you certainly haven’t felt that it’s been “all tiddly-winks and beer.”  As well-balanced as you’ve kept things so far, today’s the day the lid could blow off the situation;  you’d be well-advised to stay as “inward-turning” as the day’s Rabbit Nature.  If you can’t arrange Perfect Solitude, then just pretend that you’re on staff at a psychiatric facility:  yes, they’re all crazy.  Keep to your professionalism, and don’t display the ways in which you’re crazy too.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Earth Hare on duty today has an inward-turning spirit and a darkly contemplative nature, and will not offer much obstruction to the Ox Duo driving the year home.  You will be able to skate through the difficulties of the day—which, it must be said, are arrayed around you like a proverbial mine-field—but only if you remember to keep your opinions to yourself, and your actions to your own discrete sphere of responsibilities.  The Rabbit Nature today wants to be left alone, and will not brook interference, particularly from someone who so easily appears to wish only to create contention.  Soar high above affairs, and don’t fear the odd sensation of full disassociation from your physical body.  You’ve got plenty of information to gather today if you want to make best use of the Dragon Day tomorrow, and you can’t do that by lingering on the ground, inspiring fruitless squabbles, or getting snarled in the plotline of some petty soap-opera.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Earth Hare on duty today has an inward-turning spirit and a darkly contemplative nature, and will not offer much obstruction to the Ox Duo driving the year home.  Others, if they take my warnings, are following the monkish demeanor of today’s Rabbit and aiming to maintain Spiritual Radio Silence in their own little corners of the world.  When this Rabbit is not disengaged, he’s a Dangerous Force to Be Reckoned With.  You, however, have a secret mastery of the Holiness of the Hare, and may investigate—or instigate—at liberty, and at your whim.  My advice to you, however, is to make sure you do this in as much privacy as is available, since the Rabbit has his own mastery with which to reply. Rabbit’s control of your Nature—while eminently satisfying for you to experience—might be extraordinarily embarrassing, should you suddenly discover that it’s on public show.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Earth Hare on duty today has an inward-turning spirit and a darkly contemplative nature, and will not offer much obstruction to the Ox Duo driving the year home.  The electricity in the air yesterday gave you a sense of clarity, but the charge tingling around you today will probably do nothing but confuse and disturb you.  In such situations, you normally think first of friendly companionship.  While that’s an almost universally effective tactic for the Equine Clan, it will not suffice today.  In fact, seeking companionship will only make things worse, and lead you to question (unnecessarily, as it happens) your friends, your friendships, and you entire reliance on friendliness.  Pass over this needless snarl by accepting a day of Solemn and Soulful Solitude.  You don’t have to like it, and you certainly don’t have to make it a continual practice, but today it will most definitely do you good.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Earth Hare on duty today has an inward-turning spirit and a darkly contemplative nature, and will not offer much obstruction to the Ox Duo driving the year home.  The Rabbit turning to The Dark Side this way may seem to you like a recipe for dejection and despair.  In other years, I’d admit that the Earth Hare can be a bit of a downer for the Clan of Fleece and Horns.  But you’ve experienced such a devaluation of your own coin through the frustrations of the Ox Year, that a bit of solitude, solemnity, and soul-searching will not only seem somewhat appealing, I’d say it’s a recipe—instead—for reflection and repair.  At least once today, get off by yourself, and pretend that you can stop thinking.  Really pretend.  Really.  No, really pretend!

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Earth Hare on duty today has an inward-turning spirit and a darkly contemplative nature, and will not offer much obstruction to the Ox Duo driving the year home.  You’re going to feel itchy all day long, I imagine, or else shaky and out of sorts from yesterday’s harrowing introductions to the Tiger Way of Things.  In either case, the Rabbit Way of Things isn’t really capable of throwing any light on your confusions, or supplying any resolution to what you’ve decided is the problem at hand.  That being said, today is going to be perfectly meaningless for you in the grand scheme of your ambitions, and therefore is an absolutely perfect opportunity for Play Without Obstruction.  Your happiness will be easily accomplished;  look for some little puzzle you can toy with, and carry it off into a quiet corner.  Undisturbed bliss will be yours.  Every one else, by the way, will be off in their own corner.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Earth Hare on duty today has an inward-turning spirit and a darkly contemplative nature, and will not offer much obstruction to the Ox Duo driving the year home.  For your purposes, you could title the day “Attractive Booby-Trap.”  When things go as stone-silent and obdurate as they are today, it inspires a sense of irresistible curiosity among the Clan of Feathers and Claws.  Just being curious will not get you into trouble today, but doing anything about it most assuredly will.  Rely on the Dual Oxen—who are dutifully completing the year—to carry your forces and formulations forward.  Drop into the quiet state in which you so happily brood.  The outer world, today, is not your playground, and running around the neighborhood ringing doorbells, inquiring who can come out and play, will only bring matters to a head, and get the police involved.  Act as if the court has already issued your house arrest orders, and things will go swimmingly.  Tomorrow, the Dragon will show up with your Get Out of Jail Free Card, and you’ll be back on top of the world.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Earth Hare on duty today has an inward-turning spirit and a darkly contemplative nature, and will not offer much obstruction to the Ox Duo driving the year home.  The Grumpiness Index has not diminished today, but at least it’s much more clear to you that people just want to lie around and be left alone.  Your spirit of adventure—and your unfailing wish to accompany anyone off on a jaunt—can get you into deep trouble today.  Observe the dour and droopy character of today’s Rabbit Nature, and settle into your own considerations of Self, Solitude, and Sitting-Down.  You love to perk your ears up and Follow the Hare, but today he’s going deeply down-and-in.  So:  down the Rabbit-hole with you!

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Earth Hare on duty today has an inward-turning spirit and a darkly contemplative nature, and will not offer much obstruction to the Ox Duo driving the year home.  The cautions necessary to observe yesterday have transformed, but not diminished.  It’s one of your great harmonies with the Clan of the Long Ears that you know just when to step forward and get festive with them, and when to cool your jets, and indulge your common belief in the Sanctity of Place.  As daunting as the Ox Year has been for you, I can’t imagine that you’ll think the opportunity that today presents for the latter should be either questioned, or ignored.  Even if the dour Rabbit Nature today seems devoted to the Deeply Spiritual Purposes to be pursued by closing your eyes and sitting very, very still, that’s no reason why you can’t do the same in order to catch forty winks.

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

Great depths of air rest on the mountaintop, like the oppression of the bright surmounting the dark.

In the mind of winter, the pristine cold, the icy persistence of sameness, must hold the true perfection of the world.

But when the Emperor of Sleep grows old and shaggy, he neglects his devotions to stillness, his decrees commanding solemnity.

Then, like children giggling in the next room, the Armies of Spring plot bold rebellion, brace themselves to enter, demanding who-knows-what.

“You can’t count on careful planning;  you can’t ride a drawing of a horse.”

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Thursday, 28th of January


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.  The character for THE HORN ( 角 Jiǎo ) can also mean “corner,” or “angle.”  In this more modern sense of the word, the return of the beginning of the Lunar Lodge cycle means that we have, as it were, “rounded a corner” and come into a new and refreshed view.

In agreement with its symbolism of a fresh start, 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 Yáng, 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,” saving 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 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 Yīn relents.  As the Yáng 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, the practical and efficient from the frivolous and wasteful.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Earth Tiger on duty today has a gruff demeanor and a highly secretive style, but his cagey patience will easily serve to stabilize the Ox Year’s completion, with an expectant eye towards the upcoming New Year.  You’ll coast easily through the day, as long as you keep your gestures and actions to an appropriately small scale, and don’t place yourself in the path of any unnecessary risks, either physical or social.  Both today and tomorrow have the capacity to bring you a great deal of enjoyment, but you’re going to need your sharpest wits and highest diplomacy to bring in big results on Saturday.  Leave your ambitions at home today, and take your caution, flexibility, and deference out into the world.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Earth Tiger on duty today has a gruff demeanor and a highly secretive style, but his cagey patience will easily serve to stabilize the Ox Year’s completion, with an expectant eye towards the upcoming New Year.  This is not a good recipe for social engagements, as they can put you in tighter circumstances than you feel comfortable with, and small obstructions today can turn easily into reasons to act stubborn.  Keep your attention on just what’s in front of you, and be extra-forgiving to those around you.  Even little slights should be met with immediate apologies, even if you feel you’re the one who should be apologized to.  Unless you want to get into a wrangle today, do not indulge in snide irony, or back-handed compliments.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Earth Tiger on duty today has a gruff demeanor and a highly secretive style, but his cagey patience will easily serve to stabilize the Ox Year’s completion, with an expectant eye towards the upcoming New Year.  Another 10% of What You Need To Know will be on view today, and as long as you can keep your rising sense of enthusiasm about the arrival of the next New Moon from running away with you, you’ll have no trouble making all the mental notes necessary to Get It All Down.  It’s also a day to feature your famous Social Stand-off-ish-ness;  in spite of your general good feelings, your temper is going to be on a very short fuse all day long.  Better to slide silently into the Tiger Year in your Full Stealth Mode, rather than sponsor people’s misgivings about you by biting someone’s head off, in response to an unintentional slight.  Keep cool, keep smiling, and keep your distance.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Earth Tiger on duty today has a gruff demeanor and a highly secretive style, but his cagey patience will easily serve to stabilize the Ox Year’s completion, with an expectant eye towards the upcoming New Year.  You can usually read the Tiger’s energy and mood like a book in Big Print, but this one’s different:  he doesn’t want to be read.  Consequently, you may have some sense that your normal social lubricants aren’t working, and that your circle of friends is acting unaccountably cool and aloof.  Your best avenue through the day is to take such isolation in stride, and give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Appetites for solitude or distance—even for indulgence in grumpiness, petulance, and pouting—are not things that need to be fixed today.  And in any case, for you, they’re far too dangerous to get close to.  Your usual deftness in supplying friendly assistance, or sponsoring good cheer, are entirely overborn by the influence of this Tiger’s dour temperment.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Earth Tiger on duty today has a gruff demeanor and a highly secretive style, but his cagey patience will easily serve to stabilize the Ox Year’s completion, with an expectant eye towards the upcoming New Year.  It will be a supreme test of your patience, composure, and diplomacy, just getting through the day.  You’re going to have to try to digest the Tiger in silence, and hope that you don’t end up channeling it instead, biting somebody’s head off for the merest infraction of social decorum, or reeling off a stream of curses that would make a pirate blush, just because someone is still not understanding you properly.  Repose is available, however, if you’ll keep your attention on the Inexorable Flow of Time:  every tick of the clock is a step forward to the New Moon.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Earth Tiger on duty today has a gruff demeanor and a highly secretive style, but his cagey patience will easily serveto stabilize the Ox Year’s completion, with an expectant eye towards the upcoming New Year.  The Dual Oxen are granting you safe passage through the day, and underwriting your strong sense that there’s really nothing amiss here.  This attitude is wise, but let’s be cautious as well.  Tigers have little patience for your style and motives, and this one is actually spoiling for a fight.  Use his caution and inertia against him by simply refusing to produce anything that supplies a cause for notice, let alone pitched battle.  Keeping a low profile socially—and aiming for “silent running” in any affairs that take you out into the world—will bring maximum benefits.  For once, you won’t be called up short for “acting sneaky.”  More likely, observers will only deepen their appreciation for your “discretion and diplomacy.”

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Earth Tiger on duty today has a gruff demeanor and a highly secretive style, but his cagey patience will easily serve to stabilize the Ox Year’s completion, with an expectant eye towards the upcoming New Year.  You’re going to enjoy the state of stillness the Tiger engenders, even if everyone else seems disturbed by the tense electricity charging the air.  You have an almost psychic ability to read the internal state of the Great Stripéd One, even when he’s trying not to be read, so trust your inner sensations, and follow your hunches.  Your greatest contributions today will involve your simple presence, so don’t take the stillness as an invitation to get busy, or—worse—launch into things as if you’re trying to make up for lost time.  Saturday, getting caught up will be highly appropriate, but today it’s “the right idea, at the wrong time.”

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Earth Tiger on duty today has a gruff demeanor and a highly secretive style, but his cagey patience will easily serve to stabilize the Ox Year’s completion, with an expectant eye towards the upcoming New Year.  Easy for me to advise you to emulate his caginess and patience, but very difficult for you to comply.  If you can go through the day as if you’re wearing a Suit of Stripes, and twitching your lengthy tail, you’ll have every reason to feel safe from the pressures around you, and to give yourself great congratulations at midnight.  If not, I’d like to suggest that you try pretending instead that you’ve got a really bad case of the flu.  That sense of diminished expectations in yourself, reluctant disregard for the demands of others, and allowance for focal fascination on exactly how and exactly where you feel Really, Really Awful:  that’s exactly what will protect you from your worst mistakes today.  Mind you, I’m only advising you to pretend.  And if you spend the day feeling “well, pretty good, actually,” I promise you it won’t be me who blows your cover.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Earth Tiger on duty today has a gruff demeanor and a highly secretive style, but his cagey patience will easily serve to stabilize the Ox Year’s completion, with an expectant eye towards the upcoming New Year.  You have a really brilliant opportunity to inoculate yourself against the rigors of the upcoming Tiger Year, today.  Any sense that something is not quite right, however momentary, should be held and examined as if it were a small and beautiful jewel.  Any moment of alarm or shock, how ever quickly passing, should be memorized and rehearsed a couple of times before the day ends.  Any feeling that you’ve not been properly noticed, or indeed, that you’ve been studiously ignored, should be welcomed with open heart and an inner smile.  If you can get through today on these terms, I can’t promise that next year will be as fun as a Barrel Full of Monkeys, but I can promise it will not be nearly as bad as you might imagine.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Earth Tiger on duty today has a gruff demeanor and a highly secretive style, but his cagey patience will easily serve to stabilize the Ox Year’s completion, with an expectant eye towards the upcoming New Year.  The Dual Oxen will be doing their utmost to guarantee you safe-passage under this dour Tiger’s gaze, but you can help them immeasurably by refusing to follow any invitations into new territory, or any inclinations to take a new approach.  Your comfort, productivity, and efficiency will be hiding-out in anything you could label “Same Old Same-Old.”  Your appetite for investigation is not certain to lead you to dangerous results;  but—just when things are going so well this year—why tempt the Universe?  Especially when it’s dressed up in all those Confusing Stripes, and armed with those Long Fangs, Big Paws, and Sharp Claws?

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Earth Tiger on duty today has a gruff demeanor and a highly secretive style, but his cagey patience will easily serve to stabilize the Ox Year’s completion, with an expectant eye towards the upcoming New Year.  Your Friend in the Striped Suit will thus be sponsoring a sort of enforced truce on your behalf for the day, and all you have to do to take advantage of it is to show your most relaxed style, and your happiest face.  Strangely, if you succeed in those two requirements, you’re not going to feel the need—so oppressively present for most of this year—to dive for a comfy cushion, and get deeply un-active.  In fact, the Tiger’s energetic aura is liable to make you feel unaccountably frisky and eager for play.  Indulge that feeling if you like, but make sure you keep the frisking out of view, and the playing on the quiet side.  There’s grumpiness wandering abroad today, and you don’t want to attract its attention!

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Earth Tiger on duty today has a gruff demeanor and a highly secretive style, but his cagey patience will easily serve to stabilize the Ox Year’s completion, with an expectant eye towards the upcoming New Year.  Normally, the presence of the Great Stripéd One inspires a dichotomy of appetites on your part.  On the one hand, you love to sidle up and soothe, stroking the muscular flanks, and admiring the hugely powerful paws, the grand squareness of the massive head, with its teeth like ivory daggers.  On the other hand, you delight in smacking him on the nose, and screaming into his furry ear, demanding satisfaction and redress for your various—and usually quite numerous—points of irritation and complaint.  I can advise strongly for the Sidling Up, and strongly against the Smacking.  The endearment the Tiger usually feels towards your comical bickering has wandered off, and will be unavailable for the day.  The teeth and claws, however, are fully present, cocked, and held on a hair-trigger.

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

The plum tree in my garden is bold and impatient, braver even than the arrival of spring.

A storm in the night, and leaves and twigs litter the yard, shallow rain-pools linger across the lawn.

Afternoon, and robins crowd and perch in the stiff branches, darkly quivering against the grey sky.

Morning sun, and they’ve flown on:  tiny white blossoms, their calling-cards, a perfume like Heaven, floating in the air.

“Call for the ancestors’ blessing, but not at their graves.”

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Wednesday, 27th of January


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, fostering micro-fungal growth (which releases nutrients for uptake by the roots of plants), and spreading 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 DESIGN, named for the second month of Winter in the agricultural calendar, when the Winter Solstice occurs.  Just as the Yang sinks down to its lowest, and is re-conceived by the depth of Yin, the DESIGN month is a time of low activity, and of the desire for warmth and comfort.  The character for this term ( 建 jiàn ) is a pictogram meaning “writing troop movements”, that is, “to draw up orders on how the troops are to be arrayed in preparation for engagement.”  In modern usage the word means “to establish,” “to design,” “to found.”  The first step in construction in ancient times was actually to trace the plan of the building on the ground.  Concrete foundations for smaller buildings on raw ground are still begun in this way.  So draw out your foundation lines today.  Sink down, as if to your roots;  empower strategy and imagination, and let dreaming and planning launch the new cycle of .

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Fire Ox on duty today matches the Moon, and yoked with the Earth Ox Year, makes up a brace of three.  If you’ve not yet caught the knack of “going along for the ride,” this would be the perfect opportunity to hit upon it.  Rather than risking exhausting what little resources you have left at this point in the year, trust your burly friends to plod patiently towards the goals you’ve been trying to reach for the last eleven months.  If you get the chance for a moment of secrecy, or what you might call “intimacy in public,” there’s no harm in whispering once more in the Ox’s ear.  The very best phrase would be:  “You know what to do!”

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Fire Ox on duty today matches the Moon, and yoked with the Earth Ox Year, makes up a brace of three.  Since you’re making up the Foursome, this can be day of lower energy input and higher productive output, all at the same time.  The issue at hand is to believe in what you’ve done in the past, and to allow yourself to trust in what can be accomplished in the present.  That “present” is going to be showing up daily for the next 17 days, and the next 12 of them are packed with potency.  If you’re believing in your own exhaustion and disempowerment—hey, even those born in the Year of the Ox are human, after all—then this is your opportunity to experience coasting through your own space, and allowing the energy of the day to carry you for a change.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Fire Ox on duty today matches the Moon, and yoked with the Earth Ox Year, makes up a brace of three.  These three—well, four if you woke up between 1 and 3, this morning—are displaying the baton they’re about to hand you, and giving you a moment of practice for how you’re going to grab it.  It’s just a rehearsal;  your starting gun doesn’t go “bang!” for another 17 days.  Still, you always prefer to get fully briefed before being required to commit yourself, and about 80% of what you need to know will be fully on view today.  Just drink it all in, and don’t even worry about storing it away, or maintaining any system of organization for its easy access.  In twelve days, you’ll have your final rehearsal, when everything will drop right into the slot, like a sleek shell dropping snugly into the chamber.  Today, consider just where you want to aim, before you confidently pull the trigger.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Fire Ox on duty today matches the Moon, and yoked with the Earth Ox Year, makes up a brace of three.  You’ll no doubt take some comfort in the sense that all stations are fully manned, and that the situation at large seems fairly well locked down.  If you drift off instead into more morbid considerations of “lack of flexiblity,” and a sense of being “robbed of choice,” you only have to remember the imminent arrival of your Great Friend, the Tiger—due to arrive in 18 days—to transform your mood into jubilant and expectant excitement.  Take a moment sometime in the day to review the past months in your calendar.  The progress of your affairs might not look very flashy, but if you’re honest, you’ll give yourself high marks for what you’ve accomplished through sheer boredom and dogged diligence.  Dream up some rewards you’ll allow yourself, once the Ox has completely gone past.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Fire Ox on duty today matches the Moon, and yoked with the Earth Ox Year, makes up a brace of three.  This isn’t the last of your Days of Frustration for the year, but it’s almost the next to last.  Remember that the Tiger, when he enters, will be bringing you challenges requiring great activity and flexibility on your part, and the Ox is partly intending to do you the favor of “keeping you on the bench.”  It will sound like hollow consolation at this point, but the frustrations of feeling ignored for the “first three quarters,” will be explaining themselves in full within about 5 weeks, when your game begins in earnest.  And since you’re perfectly well out-numbered today, you may as well settle down, take your medicine, and draw out of the day the kind of inner strength that only a full “state of compression” can provide.   Growling and grumbling are fine, as long as you promise not to bother too many people with the noise.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Fire Ox on duty today matches the Moon, and yoked with the Earth Ox Year, makes up a brace of three.  Having weathered yesterday’s Shut Day—in whatever shelter you were able to access—you will be in fine form to take the full power of the Ox Team, and aim it exactly where you’d like.  If you didn’t seek shelter yesterday, you’re still in a good position, but you’d be well advised to trust the drift and direction of your Ox Friends, much more than your own.  By this point in the year, they have an almost hard-wired version of your aims and wishes clearly in mind, and are using it to guide themselves into the end of the year.   Any amendments you wish to make at this point will need to be very subtle in scale, and delivered with great delicacy.  Neither of those conditions, however, will feel like much of a challenge to you.  “Subtlety”?  “Delicacy”?  Piece o’ cake.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Fire Ox on duty today matches the Moon, and yoked with the Earth Ox Year, makes up a brace of three.  You’re going to feel penned in on three sides, all day.  As long as you keep your feet underneath you, and don’t let your imagination go running off into the distance faster than your sense of reason can keep up, this can be a very reassuring state of affairs.  True, the chances of following your spirit of spontaneity will probably be low.  And your sense of how you Like to Do Things will most likely end up a bit bruised by the end of the day.  But tomorrow’s Tiger is going to refresh all those parts of your willful and willing character, so don’t take today’s restrictions too seriously.  If you look forward three weeks, you’ll feel a rising thrill of possibility coming up for you.  Don’t be premature in its expectation;  the Ox Team is trying to help your bank your fires, and prepare you most correctly for a time more friendly to your strengths.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Fire Ox on duty today matches the Moon, and yoked with the Earth Ox Year, makes up a brace of three.  I see two possibilities for you today.  One is to try one more time—now that the issue is so undeniably focussed—to demand the acknowledgement and redress of griefs done to you this year.  The other is to simple let go, step up into the Ox Cart, and let them do all the work, for whatever the purposes of the year might be.  Either way, it’s all about finding the way to experience yourself when the rest of the Universe is perfectly indifferent to your ideas and sensibilities.  But most of all, relax:  there’s one more of the Ox Team days coming up, 12 days from now, and so any way in which you don’t master yourself today will have one more chance to drop correctly into the slot.  Don’t talk “seriously” to anyone today unless they’re under the age of 2, or over the age of 60.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Fire Ox on duty today matches the Moon, and yoked with the Earth Ox Year, makes up a brace of three.  What was that phrase of John Lennon’s…?  “Life is what’s happening to us while we’re busy making other plans.”  The Ox has certainly not been considering your plans, and today—in case you needed one—will be a perfect demonstration of that fact.  If you’re wise, and have been paying attention through the year, you’ll take this opportunity to jump up into the Ox Team’s cart, and spend the day waving at the crowds as you go by, wearing a sort of “What? Me worry?” grin on your face, and celebrating the accomplishments of all your inadvertent diligence through the past year.  There’s not really all that much you can do with yourself to prepare for the terrors of the Tiger Year coming up;  but dropping your confidence in yourself, and picking up some trust in The Way the Universe Goes, will lessen its shock value so much you’ll think of it as a minor miracle.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Fire Ox on duty today matches the Moon, and yoked with the Earth Ox Year, makes up a brace of three.  You’re the one who will think you’re in a trance today, most likely, as the Ox Team clears a wide swath for you, and makes you feel like you’re the Grand Marshall of their whole parade.  There’s one more of these Ox Team Moments coming in twelve days time, so don’t feel you must exercise any sense of neediness or haste, bringing things to their closure, or setting them quite firmly into their final form.  In fact, if you aim for today to be a sort of “dress rehearsal” for the completion of your plans, you’ll be able to keep a relaxed and jovial mood, and still get a huge amount accomplished.   This is one time when a good dress rehearsal will not put the actual performance in any risk of coming out a flop.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Fire Ox on duty today matches the Moon, and yoked with the Earth Ox Year, makes up a brace of three.  Now, the trouble with the Ox Year—all year long—has been that you’ve felt as if somebody accidentally tied you up to the back of the wagon, and just forgot about you there.  You almost always have a bouyant attitude about Getting to Go Along for a Ride, but the Ox’s unrelenting pace has been burdensome and exhausting.  Today’s over-abundance of Oxen may seem reason for alarm, but it actually offers a strategic opportunity:  today’s the day when you can finally jump up on the Ox Team cart, and let them do all the work.  The only down side of the equation will be the thought—once you’re comfortable ensconced above the creaking wheels—”Hey, why didn’t I think of this sooner!?!?”

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Fire Ox on duty today matches the Moon, and yoked with the Earth Ox Year, makes up a brace of three.  For you today, the complexities of the year will drop away, and you’ll have the satisfying joy of grasping the Ox Thing in its purest, most highly-distilled form.  That by itself would only be “interesting.”  What makes it truly fascinating—and beyond that, valuable—will be the way the Ox Team Moment clarifies your understanding of your own nature, and its relativity to the rest of the world.  Allow the full theoretics to formulate themselves slowly in your mind;  you have one more Ox Team Moment coming up in 12 days, when you can put your theories to the test, and prepare to publish.

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

I long to push fingers down into the dirt, to feel the dampness of the soil turning warm.

In response, the sun glares weakly though thin clouds, and the winds rustle by, bringing a dull fragrance.

The Yang is rising upwards, but can’t yet vanquish the dark.  The gentle Yin still is soft, lingering, ungraspable.

But even up in the mountains, where snows are piled deep, listen carefully and you’ll hear it:  the God of Springtime, fumbling for his keys.

“A forest doesn’t need landscaping;  a potted plant won’t survive neglect.”

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Tuesday, 26th of January


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 SHUT, named for the first month of Winter in the agricultural calendar.  The character with which it’s written ( 閉  ) is a picture of a pair of doors, closed and barred.  This is the time when the weather grows cold, outdoor labors shrink to almost nothing, and the  slips down into quietude.   The whole natural world is in a state of cold, exhaustion, and rest.  Consequently, the proper pace of human life is interior, inactive, and aiming towards recuperation.  SHUT days are similarly times of deep recuperation and timely withdrawal from the outer world.  Only those who are born on a SHUT day should risk disturbing the when it demands to sleep!

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Fire Rat on duty provides a perfect balance for the Earth Ox Year, but in the Ox Month, he also has no extra energy for the outer world.  In whatever way you can, take the day off, and decline any invitation to take up unnecessary labors or worries.  If you have to be engaged with public matters, you can at least minimize your normal appetite for accommodating the needs of others.  If you think you’re acting noticeably morose, don’t worry;  everyone else is feeling their at an ebb, and will most likely be grateful you’re not your usual pert and inquisitive self.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Fire Rat on duty provides a perfect balance for the Earth Ox Year, but in the Ox Month, he also has no extra energy for the outer world.  In honor of the day, you too should set a very low bar for your accomplishments, and wherever possible, work in relative silence.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but the less you feel you’re adding to the energetics of the day, the more abundantly productive the day will prove to have been.  There are times when “trying less means doing more,” and this is certainly one of them.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Fire Rat on duty provides a perfect balance for the Earth Ox Year, but in the Ox Month, he also has no extra energy for the outer world.  This will produce a certain lack of turbulence in your sphere, which will supply you a precious moment of blank clarity, and an opportunity for your normally self-reflective attentions to turn outward instead.  Don’t imagine you need to be more than interested in the actions and affairs around you;  if you step in to take action yourself, everyone will scatter like dry leaves before a sudden puff of wind.  Your inactive contemplations today will add deeply to your wisdom about the world;  don’t disturb them.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Fire Rat on duty provides a perfect balance for the Earth Ox Year, but in the Ox Month, he also has no extra energy for the outer world.  The guardianship of our friend the Rat always brings mixed blessings for the Clan of the Long Ears, and when there’s a SHUT Day in the mix, it can get even more complicated.  If you feel that you’ve simply not got the energy for being more than symbolically interested in the affairs going on around you, then you should count yourself lucky:  your is in perfect harmony with the day.  If, on the other hand, you think you might dig into things around you a bit more deeply—on account of the fact that is seems there’s nobody “minding the store”—you should proceed with utmost caution, and fully-heightened awareness:  the place is full of booby-traps.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Fire Rat on duty provides a perfect balance for the Earth Ox Year, but in the Ox Month, he also has no extra energy for the outer world.  Your energies have been frustrated at almost every turn through the course of the year, and you may very well feel you’ve got a pent-up abundance ready to let out.  The Rat will give you safe passage for any sojourn you should choose to embark upon, but you will have to promise to keep your scale of energy down to modest levels.  If you feel like you’re letting the air hiss slowly out of a sleeping bag, so you can roll it flat, you’ll have hit the proper scale exactly.  If you aim instead for popping balloons, you’ll have violated the terms of the day’s parole.  Does this phrase ring any bells?:  “Go directly to jail.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.”

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Fire Rat on duty provides a perfect balance for the Earth Ox Year, but in the Ox Month, he also has no extra energy for the outer world.  You’ll have plenty of opportunities to act unimpeded, on account of the Rat’s flagging spirits, but if you sense even the slightest dip in your energies, then you’ll do best to follow the downwards, and take up a station at the Rat’s friendly home-fires.  Your histories, tales, and personal anecdotes will never find more willing ears than they can today, and there will never be a better time to match wits in debate, and end up rolling on the floor in laughter.  You might as well be honest today about what you want;  if you’re trying to conceal your true intentions, people will know.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Fire Rat on duty provides a perfect balance for the Earth Ox Year, but in the Ox Month, he also has no extra energy for the outer world.  This is the time of year for you when Rat Days are the least disturbing, as they bring with them the sleepy and soothing qualities of the SHUT Day.  If you’re working hard, it’s time for one of those ambulatory resting periods you so regularly need, and have had precious little opportunity to fit in over the course of this year.  If you’re already resting, make sure you get yourself comfortable, and head off into dream-land.  I can’t promise you they’ll be peaceful or particularly pleasant;  most likely they’ll be a mix of weird and whimsical.  But if you just go with them, you’ll find that they have done you a world of good by the time you awaken.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Fire Rat on duty provides a perfect balance for the Earth Ox Year, but in the Ox Month, he also has no extra energy for the outer world.  This ornery pair has caused you much misgiving and misfortune over the last two years, and while you might imagine they’ll be ganging up on you today, I’m pretty sure that their partnership will instead have a truly hypnotic effect on the Clan of the Fleece and Horns.  The SHUT Day has its virtues, and one of them is to bring the Sweet Peace of Sleep to the tired and tormented.  Twelve days from tomorrow, we’ll see the very last Ox Day of the year, and you’ll be waving him off in a happy triumph of resolute endurance—and most likely thinking “good riddance!”  Look out, though: you might also be waving good-bye to your license for Righteous Indignation.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Fire Rat on duty provides a perfect balance for the Earth Ox Year, but in the Ox Month, he also has no extra energy for the outer world.  Follow your great friend Rat into his slumbers today, and join him in a surreal wonderland of dreams.  If you must stay active in the world, remember not to believe too deeply in the appearances in the day, particularly if they have a high tone of drama, or a twist towards the bizarre or weird.  It’s not only in dreams that the surreal and the bizarre make their appearance, after all.  Chasing illusions today—as if they’re concrete realities—will leave you in very awkward form when tomorrow’s Ox Day passes through.  Just to be sure, why not try treating everything as an illusion?

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Fire Rat on duty provides a perfect balance for the Earth Ox Year, but in the Ox Month, he also has no extra energy for the outer world.  You have such an abundance of good ideas and energy this year—not to mention, pure luck!—that you’re very likely to want to take up an advisory station to guide things along today.  That intention could be very helpful if followed through, but you’re going to have to regard the Rat Behind the Wheel as a somnambulist:  they’re so good at it that not many know this to be true, but Rats are frequently to be found sleep-driving!  Don’t risk waking him from his trance;  it will be awkward if he wakes up grumpy or startled.  Speak softly, and with a very even pace, and don’t be afraid to keep repeating instructions until they register.  Have you, by the way, ever considered taking up hypnosis….?

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Fire Rat on duty provides a perfect balance for the Earth Ox Year, but in the Ox Month, he also has no extra energy for the outer world.  I know I sound like Johnny One-note on this topic, but the drop in energy today will be highly agreeable to those of the Canine Clan, who have had enough long-distance running this year to make them think they’ll never want to run again.  Fortunately, the Rat doesn’t require a very long nap today, and immediately afterwards there are bound to be stories, and humming little songs, and of course a few tidbits to munch on by the fire.  If you have to stay engaged with work today, promise yourself that you’ll to head to bed early tonight;  the whole fire-side scenario can very easily be fully repeated in your dream-time.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Fire Rat on duty provides a perfect balance for the Earth Ox Year, but in the Ox Month, he also has no extra energy for the outer world.  When the likelihood of the Rat’s more aggressive styles of energy and action drop out from in-between the two of you, it gives you the very sweet sensation that you’re left totally in charge, and that you have—strangely—no particular ambition or drive that you need to demonstrate, just to prove you’re in control.  Consequently, the SHUT Days at this time of year give you the extraordinary sensation that you’re sleeping while still totally awake, and dreaming even though the world is hard, normal, and real.  Keep your eyes and ears open, and take note:  this kind of dream is trying to tell you something.

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

The winter wanes but will not relent.  Weeks seem like obstructions to the approach of spring.

Heaven is full of damp and cold;  the Earth will not rouse from its long slumber.

Neighbors keep friendly distance, dodging raindrops from the street to their doors.

Smile at them, whether they see you or not.  Tomorrow you can ask them to share a cup of hot wine.

“Grateful words are like sunshine;  grateful deeds are like golden grain.”

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Monday, 25th of January


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 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.  After the harvest, the cleared fields offer little shelter for birds and other game, and hunting becomes opportune.  A sense of repose arises, as the wealth earned through long labors is safe in the granary.  It’s 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 Wood Pig on duty today has a natural bent towards optimism, and enough worldliness to have patience through the few weeks left of the Ox, in hopes of something much more workable and satisfying arriving with the Tiger.  It’s not so much patience that you need; it’s stamina.  Now, this is not your strong suit, even if you are famous for your capacity to gnaw relentlessly through things.  Today’s a day when you must be very judicious in picking your battles, and remember that your partnership with Pig always has more to do with enjoying than empowering.  Aim to be small today, and save your cleverness for tomorrow, when it will actually count.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Wood Pig on duty today has a natural bent towards optimism, and enough worldliness to have patience through the few weeks left of the Ox, in hopes of something much more workable and satisfying arriving with the Tiger.  Your job, of course, is not to cater to hopes for satisfaction, or to spin your apparent progress towards mere optimism.  You’re bringing the big vessel into its moorings, and you’ll need to keep your attention on the wheel, and on carefully closing the remaining distances.  Keep your own faith, and keep calm.  Whatever sense of distress is burbling around you ought to be considered to be the churning of the propellers turning up bubbles and mud as they twist into reverse.  You’re not reversing your path, you’re safely completing the voyage.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Wood Pig on duty today has a natural bent towards optimism, and enough worldliness to have patience through the few weeks left of the Ox, in hopes of something much more workable and satisfying arriving with the Tiger.  If you feel the thrill of hopefulness yourself, I’d not be surprised;  but I advise you to maintain a polite calmness about it.  The Pig may be helping you look forward today, but won’t be of much practical assistance in negotiating the close of the Ox Year.  To do that most successfully, you need to stay attentively patient, letting your pool to sufficiency.  To spring up high, one must crouch down low.  And who knows how to do that better than you?

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Wood Pig on duty today has a natural bent towards optimism, and enough worldliness to have patience through the few weeks left of the Ox, in hopes of something much more workable and satisfying arriving with the Tiger.  This spirit of optimism will suit you quite well as your guiding principal, to see the Ox Year out.  The Tiger will have much to offer you that’s far more congruent to your tastes and talents, not the least of which is the opportunity to review the last eleven years (since the last Year of the Hare) and check off items in your long-standing agenda.  You’ll also have an unerring sense of when rest is both available and appropriate;  let today’s Pig help you tune into that.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Wood Pig on duty today has a natural bent towards optimism, and enough worldliness to have patience through the few weeks left of the Ox, in hopes of something much more workable and satisfying arriving with the Tiger.  Now, the optimism, the worldliness, and the patience are going to seem both premature and a bit pie-in-the-sky.  You like such characteristics to arrive by much more diligent measures than just “thinking it so.”  This isn’t to say that you can’t make things appear out of thin air, and without advance notice.  But the Ox Year hasn’t allowed you much room to maneuver, and you mistrust the Pig’s motives and viewpoint.  That being said, you’d do well to pretend you’re siding with the Pig in the matter;  tomorrow’s Rat will give you cause to invest yourself with a much fuller heart and intent.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Wood Pig on duty today has a natural bent towards optimism, and enough worldliness to have patience through the few weeks left of the Ox, in hopes of something much more workable and satisfying arriving with the Tiger.  Your sense of pragmatics, and your willingness to call things as you see them will only get you into trouble today.   Well, that is to say:  they will if you insist on suggesting realism instead of optimism, local truths instead of worldliness, or harvesting what’s clearly available in the moment instead of maintaining patience.  Keep these alternatives in your own mind, if you like, and act on them if you see the opportunity;  but you’d better do it with a low profile and without drawing any attention to yourself.  Tomorrow’s a better time to win philosophical debates;  today, just get the job done.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Wood Pig on duty today has a natural bent towards optimism, and enough worldliness to have patience through the few weeks left of the Ox, in hopes of something much more workable and satisfying arriving with the Tiger.  You have similar optimism, but your worldliness is of a completely different order, and your patience has been pretty well worn out by this point in the Ox Year.  Consequently, you shouldn’t aim to get much out of the day beyond a solid sense of friendly companionship, and a pep rally for What’s Coming Next.  Next year is going to be much more encouraging and satisfying than this one has been, but if you strive to get to anything more substantial than smiling and cheering about it, you’ll only succeed in losing your ground, and feeling that your confidence is draining away.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Wood Pig on duty today has a natural bent towards optimism, and enough worldliness to have patience through the few weeks left of the Ox, in hopes of something much more workable and satisfying arriving with the Tiger.  You’ll get a lift of spirits from the Pig’s point of view, though it won’t be nearly enough to make you feel that it has Made All the Difference.  Still, if it gives you enough to start your organizational mechanisms cranking on what logistics and time-flow management the New Year may require, it will be a very good feeling, indeed.  Don’t call the Pig up short when he’s promising you pleasures, just because you can’t get him to be specific about time, place, and manner.  Consider not that he’s lying, but that he insists on keeping the details secret, so as not to wreck the surprise.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Wood Pig on duty today has a natural bent towards optimism, and enough worldliness to have patience through the few weeks left of the Ox, in hopes of something much more workable and satisfying arriving with the Tiger.  You hear the word “optimism,” and you think “fun!”  You hear the word “worldliness,” and you think “amusement park!”  You hear the word “patience,” and you think “time’s up!”  So the Pig’s little party today is not entirely without its enjoyments for the Clan of the Long Tail, but if you’re not very careful with your actions and manners, you’re likely to get ejected from the festivities with a demerit going on your permanent record.  Pig, after all, likes everyone to at least act like they agree with him, in style as well as substance.  Tomorrow, you get to express yourself to your heart’s content, so today, try to act moderate, mysterious, and mute.  (And remember:  just an act!)

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Wood Pig on duty today has a natural bent towards optimism, and enough worldliness to have patience through the few weeks left of the Ox, in hopes of something much more workable and satisfying arriving with the Tiger.  This will be a very satisfying day for you, as long as you let Pig do all the driving, and don’t insist on calling out alternate routes, dangers of the roadway, or what you “would have done instead” from the back seat.  Balance the Pig’s optimistic mood with your capacity to tune in and enjoy, and all will go brilliantly.  Tomorrow, you can risk nominating yourself as navigator, but you’ll have to use all your diplomacy and restraint to keep from embarrassing yourself by getting everybody lost.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Wood Pig on duty today has a natural bent towards optimism, and enough worldliness to have patience through the few weeks left of the Ox, in hopes of something much more workable and satisfying arriving with the Tiger.  With this kind of leadership, you’re usually more than happy to follow along, and that goes double when it includes the kinds of snacks and travel-toys Pig invariably brings along.  If you feel like sticking your nose out of the window to gather in the vast array of disembodied possibilities wafting past, most likely nobody’s going to be offended or critical.  But if you want to curl up for nap-time in the back seat until you get Wherever It Is We’re Going, I’d say you’re much more attuned to the time.  If you’re working a lot, don’t eat a lot.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Wood Pig on duty today has a natural bent towards optimism, and enough worldliness to have patience through the few weeks left of the Ox, in hopes of something much more workable and satisfying arriving with the Tiger.  Today’s going to feel like a complete change in the weather system around you, in spite of the fact that there are still three weeks to go before the entry of the Great Stripéd One.  Indulge your sense of high energy, and high spirits, but promise me you won’t be dejected and pouty when they completely deflate by Tuesday.  Tomorrow, you’ll get some evidence and agreement to support your hopes for the future.  Tuck them in your pocket, and pat them now and again, to remind you to look towards the future.

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

When you rise to a high place, it’s silly to be shocked that the winds are strong.

When you’ve earned your rest, you ought to take it, and let others strive.

In the little house we lived in when I was a boy, there were three rooms to play in, all day long,

And outside a bush of big yellow roses, climbing up one wall, across the roof, and down the other side.

“Your uncle wants to get you the job, but not so he can do it for you.”

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Sunday, 24th of January


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 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 Wood Dog on duty today has an infectious curiosity and a willingness to receive orders, but he’s been entirely exhausted by the Ox Year’s plodding drive.  Your sentimental tenderness, where appropriate, will have healing powers, but be sure you’ve got agreement before you apply your attentions.  Demanding a signature on the dotted line is not bad form, and will only add to the certainty of the results.  If the world seems stupid to you today, just take that as a given, and speak in slow, clear sentences.  Your grandiose powers of conception are not for everyone.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Wood Dog on duty today has an infectious curiosity and a willingness to receive orders, but he’s been entirely exhausted by the Ox Year’s plodding drive.  If you relate to the tenderness and docility of your nature, you’ll take this as permission to slack off, and to re-group.  Your work has largely been accomplished, and the sense of drive you’re feeling is mostly habit.  It’s not that you won’t get to feel your muscles and strength of will again before the end of the Ox Year;  it’s just that your inner qualities are more appropriate to this day.  You’ll know you’re in exactly the right place and condition when you hear your own spontaneous “Awwww… Isn’t that adorable!”

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Wood Dog on duty today has an infectious curiosity and a willingness to receive orders, but he’s been entirely exhausted by the Ox Year’s plodding drive.  If you can step forward and offer suggestions—however arbitrary and made-up they may feel—you’ll get puppy-kisses in grateful thanks.  Sometimes it’s just the implication of authority that’s needed, and follow-through will never be called for, or (in its lack) missed.   Steps you can take today will receive satisfying rewards tomorrow.  Stretching-out, lying-about, and yawning will be received with thunderous applause.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Wood Dog on duty today has an infectious curiosity and a willingness to receive orders, but he’s been entirely exhausted by the Ox Year’s plodding drive.  Your task today is to offer some friendly diversions, and to talk our Canine Friend out of his bone-deep dejection.  Once a little boy said to his napping father:  “I know, Dad!  We can go out in the yard and play ball!  Won’t that be fun!”  There’s nothing like this kind of juvenile enthusiasm to conquer the depths of exhaustion, and the solemnities of age.  Be juvenile today, and don’t take “no” for an answer, when rejuvenation is the aim.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Wood Dog on duty today has an infectious curiosity and a willingness to receive orders, but he’s been entirely exhausted by the Ox Year’s plodding drive.  As ample as your opportunities were yesterday, that field has completely collapsed.  Your suggestions are mud, your willfulness is insanity, your urgencies are mere trifles.  Pass over the temptation to rise to your full height, expressing outrage and indignation:  you’ll only convince them that you are, in fact, Not To Be Taken Seriously.  Tomorrow’s not the day to aim to re-gain your sometime throne, but the day after has excellent possibilities.  Write down the items of your ambition today, and put them in a pocket for safe-keeping;  they are not for general publication

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Wood Dog on duty today has an infectious curiosity and a willingness to receive orders, but he’s been entirely exhausted by the Ox Year’s plodding drive.  If you’re looking for a Big Engine to commandeer and take around the track once or twice, you’d better pass this one over.  On the other hand, your healing skills are sorely needed today, and your quasi-or-truly psychic powers will be highly impressive, as long as you’re not flaunting them only to get applause.  Look to the practicalities of avoiding imminent break-downs, and be quick to apply that “one stitch in time.”  You’ll need to have a good track record to point back to tomorrow, and friends you earn today will staple themselves to your trajectory with a deep sense of gratitude and loyalty.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Wood Dog on duty today has an infectious curiosity and a willingness to receive orders, but he’s been entirely exhausted by the Ox Year’s plodding drive.  Just by following what seems to be “friendly,” you’ll rediscover your deepest sense of purpose, and the access to your fullest sense of rightness and reward.  It’s not yet the time to test the full muscularity and correctness of your physical prowess, but as long as you are following your inner sense of “uprightness in the field of gravity,” your instincts will prove to be infallible.  Don’t worry today about progress;  it’s much more about keeping those who deserve to be with you, able to keep up and stay “with you.”

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Wood Dog on duty today has an infectious curiosity and a willingness to receive orders, but he’s been entirely exhausted by the Ox Year’s plodding drive.  You know a great deal about exhaustion this year, as well, and your commiserations will be all the more welcome for having been so well-earned.  Don’t succumb to the temptation to fall into a general whine-fest, however, as the accent today is on healing, not righteous indignation.  If you’ve got youngsters around you, you’ll have physical demonstrations of the attitude ruling the day, on immediate view.  If you’ve got old geezers in your orbit, you’d better stop acting presumptuous about their availability;  exhaustion takes it toll not just on the Canine among us.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Wood Dog on duty today has an infectious curiosity and a willingness to receive orders, but he’s been entirely exhausted by the Ox Year’s plodding drive.  Exhaustion is usually more of a state of theater for the Clan of the Long Tail, but due to the interminable demands of this year, theater has become a state of reality.  To whatever degree you feel your energies are drained or tattered, today is a day to access deep—and uncomplicated—recuperation.  It could be as simple as a few minutes staring out the window, after you’ve drained your cup.  It could be as intimate and touchy-feely as extending that hand-shake another moment, and yet another moment, until the message of Truly Caring is fully transmitted.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Wood Dog on duty today has an infectious curiosity and a willingness to receive orders, but he’s been entirely exhausted by the Ox Year’s plodding drive.  Your successes of yesterday will need to be placed on ice today—like a good pot-roast being placed in the ‘fridge—in order to cool and fully season the flavors.  The Ox Year is so much more congruent to your style and wishes than to most of your associates, that you need (every now and then, at least) to pause and give the rest of us a chance to catch up.  Don’t be too critical of those stragglers you see huffing and puffing up behind you.  If you have advice for them, make sure you give them a big, warm smile before your words.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Wood Dog on duty today has an infectious curiosity and a willingness to receive orders, but he’s been entirely exhausted by the Ox Year’s plodding drive.  Everyone’s going to be sharing today in your general sense of depletion, so you have only to look around to feel that you’re among friends.  Take the lead in heaving that Big Sigh of relief, to find a moment of stillness, and the satisfaction of a smooth surface, a comfy cushion on which to take your moment of rest.  Tomorrow you’ll get a couple of tidbits and a caring hand upon your brow.  Remember that line of Tennyson: “Kind hearts are more than coronets,” and smile deeply for your personal circle of the aristocratic, the royal, the god-like.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Wood Dog on duty today has an infectious curiosity and a willingness to receive orders, but he’s been entirely exhausted by the Ox Year’s plodding drive.  Your difficulties this year, as brusque and disagreeable as they may have seemed, have been more to do with humiliation of spirit than weakening of the body, and so you owe some support to those among us who have faced real physical and energetic jeopardy.  Like Florence Nightingale with her lamp, or like those more contemporary angels of good heart and re-assuring voice, hovering over the battle-damaged:  you can bring solace to the many with your quick wit, earthy good-humor, and wicked jokes.  You’ll get to experience your own True Center tomorrow;  let today be about the sweet satisfaction you only achieve when devoted to the cares of others.

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

Like a white shirt, starched and buttoned over a broad chest,

Snow lies without concern across the wide-ranging moutainside.

Don’t think of the lost, the weary, the cold tragedies of the unresolved;

The mountain is as hard as a memory, refusing to yield, even to a thousand winters.

“The fingers remember when the eyes cannot.”

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Saturday, 23rd of January


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 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 Water Fowl on duty today knows what he wants and how to get it, and brings a cool nonchalance to the progress of the Dual Oxen.  Don’t get in the way of this trio of competent authorities;  they virtually wrote the script everyone’s been following for the last eleven months, and they understand better than any how to bring the goods home.  Speak respectfully today, and let things roll out as they will.  Either your ambitions are being accomplished by virtue of your relaxation, or else they are just dreams floating like smoke in the air.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Water Fowl on duty today knows what he wants and how to get it, and brings a cool nonchalance to the progress of the Dual Oxen.  Here’s a day for you to feel gently driven, and to comply with your innate sense of the way things are already going.  Wandering abroad is better than maintaining a sense of drive, and if you feel you’re being diverted, you owe it to yourself to relent to the moment, and swing off your longer term aims.  The day is charged with a sexy and sensual electricity, and you can’t really avoid it.  Lighten your ownership of responsibility today, and succumb to any suggestion to frolic.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Water Fowl on duty today knows what he wants and how to get it, and brings a cool nonchalance to the progress of the Dual Oxen.  You, of course, are the past master of “doing cool,” and so you’ll have an agreeable time of it today, provided you don’t test your temperature against reasonability, or responsiveness to duty.  You have a “get out of jail free” card to cash in today, and since there’s really nothing you’ve transgressed against, the accent will be more on the “free” than the “jail.”  Tomorrow you get temporary access to the brakes on the Ox Cart, and you can command the progress of developments, at least in so far as they might need to slow down some.  Assume the best about the world today, and don’t be so rude as to check to see if your assumptions are in fact warranted.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Water Fowl on duty today knows what he wants and how to get it, and brings a cool nonchalance to the progress of the Dual Oxen.  Unfortunately, what the Fowl wants is frequently obtained at what seems to be your expense.  There’s no use resisting today, though, and you might as well invoke your famous sense of self-sacrifice, and hand over whatever seems to be demanded.  It’s only a temporary condition, and though you may feel as if you’re saying good-bye to your favorite toy or talisman forever, everything’s most likely going to be put right back into place tomorrow, as if it was all just a false alarm.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Water Fowl on duty today knows what he wants and how to get it, and brings a cool nonchalance to the progress of the Dual Oxen.  The frolicsome mood this will produce in the Ox-ish parts of the universe will clear the space for you to get some exercise at the grand scale you’ve been denied for most of the year.  It’s a highly temporary condition, so don’t waste any time taking advantage of it.  The net results are also most likely to be temporary, but you’re in deep need of a good stretch to prepare for the Tiger Year’s challenges, and while this is not the last chance you’ll get before the Great Striped One enters, you can’t afford to miss the opportunity.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Water Fowl on duty today knows what he wants and how to get it, and brings a cool nonchalance to the progress of the Dual Oxen.  “Cool Nonchalance” is almost your middle name, so you’re going to feel as if the dance band has struck up the tune you’ve been waiting all evening to shake a leg to.  When your two best friends are combining their efforts in this kind of harmony, there’s almost nothing they will not see that you get support for.  Wish big today, and don’t be afraid to put in the work to make wishes come true.  It won’t be a waste of time or energy.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Water Fowl on duty today knows what he wants and how to get it, and brings a cool nonchalance to the progress of the Dual Oxen.  Things may click forward a little more rapidly than you might prefer, but you can trust that nothing important is happening by pure accident or without proper monitoring and guidance.  If you can just keep up your momentum, and not get snagged on futile considerations of how and why, a great deal of those happenings will, you’ll find, meet with your approval.  Surprise is not your favorite delivery system, but today you should regard it as your best friend.  Explanations, or at least re-adjustments, will be arriving tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Water Fowl on duty today knows what he wants and how to get it, and brings a cool nonchalance to the progress of the Dual Oxen.  You should regard the day with the sort of polite discretion with which a dance partner withdraws from the floor, once he’s been tapped to allow another to cut in.  This won’t be very difficult to pull off, since you’re not enjoying this year’s set of dance tunes, anyway.  Make your way off to the side of the milling crowd, and linger by the punch bowl.  If you have the opportunity to make small talk with the other dancers put to idle, make sure the conversation stays inane and uncomplaining.  If you have the chance to eavesdrop, you may gain some extremely valuable information, which will help to protect your interests tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Water Fowl on duty today knows what he wants and how to get it, and brings a cool nonchalance to the progress of the Dual Oxen.  Now, a great deal of what the Fowl wants is a direct follow-through from what you tossed in the air yesterday, but it’s no good stepping in today and claiming that you deserve half of the proceeds.  Your profits and recompense are coming later this moon, and you’ll need to let the investment ride today, in order to get the best returns.  That being said, there’s no reason why you can’t throw your efforts into supporting the wishes of others, and earn some favors you can call in later on, when what you’re wishing for comes into view.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Water Fowl on duty today knows what he wants and how to get it, and brings a cool nonchalance to the progress of the Dual Oxen.  Step forward today to complete the foursome, and don’t be shy about taking a stab at what your desires dictate.  Your most important actions have to do with the long-term processes you’ve been fretting over and guiding all year long, but there’s no harm in keeping your eyes peeled for any stray opportunities you can snap up on a perfectly impromptu basis.  Don’t make the mistake of over-steering today;  a very small course correction can produce a quality of perfection.  Acting with desperation and heightened muscularity will only produce regret.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Water Fowl on duty today knows what he wants and how to get it, and brings a cool nonchalance to the progress of the Dual Oxen.  Usually the Fowl’s desires have not much to do with your own, but there’s so much on the table after all these months of the Ox’s plodding, that if you keep a judicious distance, and a sharp eye, you’re bound to find a few precious tidbits bouncing across the floor in your direction.  Don’t make a big show of harvesting them, or you’re liable to have them taken away from you before you can say “ah-chew!”  You don’t have to aim for snoozing today, but following the Fowl’s example and staying cool will keep you out of jeopardy, and in good form for tomorrow’s more agreeable and satisfying regime.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Water Fowl on duty today knows what he wants and how to get it, and brings a cool nonchalance to the progress of the Dual Oxen.  You may think you’re about to sprout feathers and start crowing.  But this kind of “knows what he wants” is about the Fowl’s friendship and affinity with the Ox Year’s trajectory;  it’s not really an invitation for everyone—that is to say, you—to dash forward and start waxing acquisitive.  Indeed, the best way for you to present yourself is with your famously delicate and fastidious attention to proper demeanor and correct protocol.  Don’t lose your poise today, or you’ll put what is due you in jeopardy.  That’s scheduled to start arriving on Monday, by the way…

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

The night is dark, damp, silent.  Working late at the desk, I’ve lost awareness of the clock.

If there’s rain again tomorrow, I won’t be able to work in the garden, or even sweep clear the steps.

Sinking down is not hard work;  in fact, it’s hardly work at all, and happens eventually, regardless.

Thinking of my pillows, I aim to practice “silent snoring,” “spiritual irresponsibility,” and “losing the Way.”

“Travel to new places, and be refreshed;  travel to old places, and be renewed.”

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Friday, 22nd of January


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 DANGER, named after the third month of Summer in the agricultural calendar, from early July through early August.  The sun is still close to its height in the day’s skies, and temperature are even warmer than earlier in the season, and provided there is enough rain or water for irrigation, the crops thrive in it.  However, lack of rain or lack of water in such heat could spell disaster.  The height of heat needs balancing cool.  This is similar to the quality represented by the DANGER day;  the energy is high, and full of potential for accomplishment, but it requires coolness of heart and calmness of action to yield its best results.

DANGER is written with the same character ( 危 wēi ) 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.”  This is actually a bright indicator, and is printed in red in most traditional Chinese almanacs, largely because it’s regarded as extremely favorable for weddings.  The excess of Yáng gives vitality and good luck to the couple, and a feeling of happiness to the ceremony and celebrations.  For practical purposes, and more industrial uses of the day, it’s still favorable, but so “close to the edge” that the pair of black dots in the Ming Li Tong Shu is offered as a warning.  It’s safer today to err on the side of under-doing;  just a touch too much, and all may collapse like a house of cards.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Water Monkey on duty today has an agreeable self-confidence and an acrobatic level of creativity, making him seem largely aloof to the grand momentum with which the Dual Oxen are driving the end of their year home.  If you take your traditional front row seat for the Monkey’s performance, you’ll be in perfect position to spur on his optimistic audacity, and to call out suggestions for his next tour de force.  There’s no shame involved if you happen to pick most of the suggestions from your own wish list, but make sure you match his airy improvisations with your best spirit of light-heartedness.  You’re not really in control of matters today, but if you keep your wits about you, and don’t succumb to wandering attention, you’ll get to announce when the show’s done, and let everybody know it’s time to go home.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Water Monkey on duty today has an agreeable self-confidence and an acrobatic level of creativity, making him seem largely aloof to the grand momentum with which the Dual Oxen are driving the end of their year home.  You’ll therefore have plenty of free space in which to add your best energies to the trajectory of the year, however you have conceived it.  Everyone else is going to be looking elsewhere, so this is one day when you can count on that spirit of independence—which some, it has to be said, find a bit snooty in you—being allowed to go its own way without complaint or critique.  Tomorrow’s better for getting everyone else lined up and signed up with The Ox Program, so focus today on what you need to attend to.  Plan on being billed tomorrow as the Demonstrator Model for everyone to emulate.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Water Monkey on duty today has an agreeable self-confidence and an acrobatic level of creativity, making him seem largely aloof to the grand momentum with which the Dual Oxen are driving the end of their year home.  As agreeable and self-confident as you like to imagine yourself, these monkey-shines are going to seem both so disagreeable, and so flimsy of design and execution, that you’ll run the risk of falling into a pout, prowling about and mumbling crossly:  “I dunno… Looks like nothing special to me!”  If you’ve got enough actual self-confidence of your own, then accept the role of straight man, and take all the laughter and jesting at your expense with a good grace.  If not, then beat a hasty retreat, and do your mumbling alone, and in an otherwise silent room.  It’s not at all that you’re not appreciated, it’s just that nobody can be in their best form all the time.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Water Monkey on duty today has an agreeable self-confidence and an acrobatic level of creativity, making him seem largely aloof to the grand momentum with which the Dual Oxen are driving the end of their year home.  Since you’re always ready for the seductions of a Day at the Circus, you’ll have no trouble dropping everything to accommodate the staging and savoring of this flashy impromptu, even if it does seem thrown together out of nothing special, and aimed towards the accomplishment of nothing in particular.  Tomorrow’s pretty likely to have a couple of rough patches in it—well, maybe more than “a couple”—and getting into a well-diverted and happy-go-lucky mood might very well be the best way to prepare for it.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Water Monkey on duty today has an agreeable self-confidence and an acrobatic level of creativity, making him seem largely aloof to the grand momentum with which the Dual Oxen are driving the end of their year home.  This will be a moment of opportunity for you, when the flash and fascination of the tumblers and tight-rope walkers will divert heavier spirits wandering abroad into believing they can actually fly.  Of course—just between you and me—if they would only follow your path, they would find that they actually could.  But such airy realizations are not destined for this season, in this year.  While they’re all dreaming of levity—if not actual levitation—you can re-position yourself with perfect liberty, and align yourself correctly for Major Moves tomorrow.  Act invisible today, and move with silence and grace.  It’s not really “sneaking around”—but it will feel deliciously as if it were!

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Water Monkey on duty today has an agreeable self-confidence and an acrobatic level of creativity, making him seem largely aloof to the grand momentum with which the Dual Oxen are driving the end of their year home.  You may feel today as if you’ve fallen strangely, magically out of the flow of Normal Time, allowing you to slide as you will with easy grace, through crowds moving as if in a slow-motion sports play-back.  Clearly, you’ll have every opportunity to take advantage of any situation you come across;  or, to accomplish secret and anonymous favors for perfect strangers.  It’s up to you whether you want to perform as the Invisible Pick-pocket, or Everyone’s Ninja Fairy-Godmother.  I’m always advising you to take the latter choice, of course, but more important today is to aim your actions towards tomorrow, when your Chicken Chum will pull everything into perfect focus, and you’ll be able to carry off your seductive wizardries out in full public view, and to great general appreciation and applause.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Water Monkey on duty today has an agreeable self-confidence and an acrobatic level of creativity, making him seem largely aloof to the grand momentum with which the Dual Oxen are driving the end of their year home.  This is not a condition in which you can feel you’ve taken center stage, but at least you can appreciate and (more importantly) participate in the lighter spirit, the devil-may-care attitude sponsored by the Clan of the Long Tail.  Now, your willingness to apply your self to your labors in the most diligent and powerful of ways is virtually unquestioned;  but the Ox Year offers you no really clear field to make that demonstration clearly and without hindrance.  So, if today feels like you’ve gotten the chance to run away with the circus, I say:  “Yippee!”   You don’t need to criticize yourself for neglecting your more proper duties.  Even steeds wearing spangles and feathers can make sturdy contributions, and levity and laughter can be weighty in their impact, after all.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Water Monkey on duty today has an agreeable self-confidence and an acrobatic level of creativity, making him seem largely aloof to the grand momentum with which the Dual Oxen are driving the end of their year home.  Your position in the Circus for a Day will be low-key, and virtually un-noticeable.  Under most considerations, this might rankle you, and make you resentful of people’s willful (or stupid) ignorance and lack of vision.  During the Pesky Ox Year, however, any chance to withdraw from the spotlight—and thereby hide out from further obstructions and embarrassments—seems like a godsend.  I’m picturing you contentedly holding the rope behind the gaudy, gold-trimmed curtain, and walking behind the line of elephants with the scoop, shovel, and pail, whistling to yourself contentedly, and staring inquisitively up into the crowd.  Your office today will make you invisible, and you should take your anonymous enjoyment from it.   Let yourself go, and you’ll feel as sainted as a baby staring at the Mona Lisa.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Water Monkey on duty today has an agreeable self-confidence and an acrobatic level of creativity, making him seem largely aloof to the grand momentum with which the Dual Oxen are driving the end of their year home.  This is your time to take center stage, and throw some cracks into that oppressive heaviness everyone—well, almost everyone—seems to be trudging along under.  When things seem darkest and most obstructed, that’s when comedy really counts.  What’s the phrase?  “I’m laughing ’cause I can’t cry that hard.”  If you take the moment and break free, you’ll dazzle and bemuse even yourself, and the lighter mood—even if it’s just for the moment—will transform the oppression to purpose, the heaviness to consequence.  When they ask “How did you come up with that?” you could say “Oh, it just occurred to me…”  But I’d advise you rather to look coyly up into the air, and smile ever so gently.  As they used to say in the theater: “Give ’em a bit of mystery!”

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Water Monkey on duty today has an agreeable self-confidence and an acrobatic level of creativity, making him seem largely aloof to the grand momentum with which the Dual Oxen are driving the end of their year home.  The airiness and seeming lack-of-consequence which our friend of the Clan of the Curly Tail will engender, will seem like a long intake of breath for you, as if you were preparing to orate the Complete Works of Shakespeare, or whistle so loud the penguins at the south pole would turn in your direction, or blow the moon out of her orbit and careening off into space.  Rather than trying to snap yourself out of the mood of fantasy and megalomaniacal grandeur, I advise you to go into it, deeper and deeper into the circus of your own surreal wonderland of the impossible.  Tomorrow you’ll get to breath out, and your merest murmuringss will have a magical music in them:  the magic of the possible, the love-song of the solid, the dense, the real.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Water Monkey on duty today has an agreeable self-confidence and an acrobatic level of creativity, making him seem largely aloof to the grand momentum with which the Dual Oxen are driving the end of their year home.  If you don’t want to spend the day jumping fruitlessly at bubbles, and being told sharply to sit still, or get out of the way, then you’d better resolve yourself to find something Deeply Normal and pay it your devoted and undivided attention.  Everything else is going to seem as if it’s broken free of gravity, and started rising towards the stars.  It’s only an illusion, and it’s only for one day, so there’s no point in trying to ascertain a new set of rules for such an unlikely new world, or to find some advantage to be acquired while everyone is reeling in a state of happy amazement.  Trust in your own kind of agreeability:  stay calm, and wait for everyone to stop acting goofy.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Water Monkey on duty today has an agreeable self-confidence and an acrobatic level of creativity, making him seem largely aloof to the grand momentum with which the Dual Oxen are driving the end of their year home.  People around you are going to be as festive and distracted as school-children who’ve just found out it’s a Snow Day:  not only are classes cancelled, homework given a day’s extension, and tests postponed—there’s SNOW!!!  If you think anything productive or profitable can be accomplished under these conditions, you’re not nearly as competent as we all think you are.  Take your purposes off the machinery for the day, and get out there to over-see the construction of the snowman.  If you insist on trying to feel productive, do what you can to give him an elegant figure, a charming face, and a wry smile.  …Oh!  And hot chocolate for afters!

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

The ancestors have fallen out of time, and so have no further need of patience;

In spirit form, they hover ever-watchful, ever-detached, not really present, not truly gone.

In daily rhythms their hands are remembered, their work is continued, their words are still sung.

In ancient duty, the emperor mounts the Altar of the Sky, making appeal to Heaven before the dawn of Spring.

“In the proper time, even a curse can give a blessing.”

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Thursday begins the Lunar Week:

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