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Sunday, 28th of February

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 DANGER, named after the third month of Summer in the agricultural calendar, from early July through early August.  At that point in the Solar Year, the sun is still close to its height in the day’s skies.  Temperatures 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 Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant comprehension of precision, but is still not quite sure what range the Twin Tigers will be allowing him.  Take advantage of the clarity and restraint this condition offers, and allow yourself some time to do a thorough scan of your aims, strategies, and state of preparation for the widest range of possibilities you see before you.  Once the Clan of Stripes and Claws has taken a demonstrated position, you’ll want to make quick readjustments and take speedy actions, in order to be of maximum service, and also to guarantee yourself a shot at maximum safety and benefits through the year.  Developing contingent plans is one of your great specialties, and now is not the day to be a sluggard about them.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant comprehension of precision, but is still not quite sure what range the Twin Tigers will be allowing him.  Consequently, he’ll be relying on your strength and follow-through, against which to test the various theories which need to be given a practical trial.  This is all in order to further the process of this new course of study:  The Tiger Way in Theory and Practice.  Don’t be afraid of taking a leadership position, and for once you can charge straight ahead.  Your fastest pace is as readable as slow-motion to the Clan of Feathers and Claws, and there’s no danger you’ll get ahead of your opportunities today.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant comprehension of precision, but is still not quite sure what range the Twin Tigers will be allowing him.  As the very comforting Dog Day is arriving tomorrow, you should take today as a time of casual restraint, allowing things to fall or re-arrange themselves as they will.  This laissez-faire attitude will give you a palette of new possibilities, and let you see the pattern of things as they are, simply by virtue of the Tiger itself, and not because others are trying to coddle or cajole you.  When in doubt, yawn.  If stress arises, turn and look a different direction.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant comprehension of precision, but is still not quite sure what range the Twin Tigers will be allowing him.  As certain as you may feel the ground is beneath your feet—now that the Tiger has taken over the rhythm of things—this Chicken thing going on today is liable to fill you with doubts and misgivings.  Fortunately for you, the Fowl is still acting restrained and cautious, delaying its more bold and insistent modes until the Tiger has made a clearer and more forthright demonstration of The Way Things Are Now.  Don’t get pushy today, or you’ll drive things around you into a premature dedication of direction.  Float along in any way you can, and wait for the Dog to give you a clear sense of direction tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant comprehension of precision, but is still not quite sure what range the Twin Tigers will be allowing him.  The Fowl is consequently not acting with its usual exact and exacting style, and will be relying on you to supply corroboration and technical support.  Be careful not to push things forward too fast, and don’t supply information and materials before they’re asked for, or as the situation itself calls for them.  You have a great opportunity to smooth the path before you by attending to small details, but it won’t do to think you’re building big momentum.  Tomorrow’s Dog will be dragging you down again, and it would be better if you followed the Fowl’s conservative caution today, so that you can coast through tomorrow on silent running, gracefully eluding notice—or at least not setting off any alarms.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant comprehension of precision, but is still not quite sure what range the Twin Tigers will be allowing him.  Any sense of resignation you were able to summon yesterday will be repaid today with a feeling of correct placement, and with a certainty of which things have already been correctly arranged—even though the Tiger Year is still so young—and which things require further study and adjustment.  Take a scientific view today, and make use of the Rooster Regime to run the standard experimental protocols:  hypothesis, experiment, analysis, and conclusion.  Results gained today will be gold in hand when things get gritty later this year.  Aim to discover What Is, and to settle What Ain’t.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant comprehension of precision, but is still not quite sure what range the Twin Tigers will be allowing him.  As fretful and immobile as yesterday’s minor anxieties must have felt, today’s are more minor, much less fretful, and—while not up to Horse Speed—are at least shifting and sliding towards a clearer arrangement and more certain stability.  This will result in a small but appreciable improvement in the terrain and atmosphere, from your point of view;  let’s say about 25%.  You’ll want to harvest any extra access to space or pace that this allows, as tomorrow’s Dog will give you reason to run, and to feel glad about it.  Spending today getting limber, and gradually warming up, will keep you from getting into troubles—both real and imaginary—and allow you to relax into your exertions tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant comprehension of precision, but is still not quite sure what range the Twin Tigers will be allowing him.  You usually benefit from the the Rooster Regime, if only because you know exactly what to do with small pieces of information in the grand scheme of things.  It’s all about bringing things into trim and creating harmony through tuning, and you understand quite well that the resonance of parts is what produces that special elegance and power you so revel in.  So, think of it basically as a Hands Off Day, and let the small things emerge in their own time.  Tomorrow’s Dog will have you running through your paces, and you don’t want to have to submit to his stress-test with anything less than a Rested Spirit and some Clarified Attention hanging from your tool-belt.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant comprehension of precision, but is still not quite sure what range the Twin Tigers will be allowing him.  There are some days you should consider lucky for the trip you will be taking through Tiger Terrain this year, and today’s one of them.  To whatever degree you may have missed the mark yesterday, the Rooster Rationality is the perfect platform on which to make the minor adjustments—and in some cases, clarifications of statement or action—which will bring things across the finish line if winning form.  Do not decline assistance or advice today, no matter how unreasonable or irrational it sounds at first hearing.  Sift through it for the small chunk that exactly fits the problem as you see it, and don’t take any of the credit for things working out.  You can’t pass the blame very effectively this year, for things that go wrong, but you’ll get gold stars for seeing that others get the full credit when they’re acting in your support.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant comprehension of precision, but is still not quite sure what range the Twin Tigers will be allowing him.  You’ll need to follow your clan-mate’s lead, and delay decisions and new directions as much as possible—or at least until you have clear and convincing evidence of the new drift of things—now that the Tiger is relaxing into his new position.  Aim to leave twice as much free space and wiggle-room as you normally would—for later adjustments and minor corrections—and you’ll hit it just about right.  You also will have to pick up a few of the dropped threads from yesterday’s Monkey Madness, but you do that so frequently that you may not even notice you’re doing it.  In any case, those matters will help you to focus, and to settle your emotional tone through the day.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant comprehension of precision, but is still not quite sure what range the Twin Tigers will be allowing him.  Today will be like a trip to the doctor’s for an exam, or a session at the salon for a complete beauty overhaul.  In other words:  you’re going to feel poked, prodded, and directed to go through strange and mysterious rituals of positioning and stance, in order to enable others to do their work on you.  You should go through it all with a compliant attitude and the confidence of a willing good-grace, since the net result will be a pristine preparation in body, spirit, and attention, for your Special Date with the Twin Tigers tomorrow.  Don’t bother getting a corsage, or making dinner plans;  the Tigers have that all arranged.  And anyway, it’s your earthy good-humor they’re impressed with, not fussy details of protocol or etiquette.  Don’t eat too much today, and do something diverting to help you stay calm through the evening.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant comprehension of precision, but is still not quite sure what range the Twin Tigers will be allowing him.  If you got some of your energy up, and found some ways to direct it out—even if you found that it wasn’t particularly effective, or even needed—then you’ll be in exactly the right state of preparation for the Rooster Regime, today.  You may feel like you’re getting your examination papers corrected, but if you think that’s going to be a bit embarrassing, I think you’ll have no trouble arranging to have it done in private, and—should you wish to take it that seriously—in strictest confidence.  The net result, regardless of how it makes you feel, will be a clarity of mind, and a restfulness of spirit you haven’t felt in quite some time, and on that account I think you should look forward to it.  Your Friend with the Stripes and Claws prizes honesty above all else, and that includes honesty about yourself.

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

In the distance, a flash of lightening fills out the full shape of clouds, startling rain out of the sky;

Water comes down as if Heaven were draining, as if there would never again be thirst in the world.

It’s not the fullness of life that impresses humans, or its vast generosity that we easily see.

The thunder that follows the flash comes as if reluctantly, rumbling across the ground, and rolling away over the hills.

“The best medicine herbs don’t require planting, they require finding.”

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Saturday, 27th of February

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 DESTROY, named for the second month of Summer, from early June through early July.  This is the agricultural month which contains the Summer Solstice.  In farming life, the work in the fields can turn to the destruction of weeds and vermin, since the crops have attained nearly their full height, and they can stand disturbance without being damaged.  Weeds have accomplished enough growth to be pulled up by the roots.  As they have not yet set seeds, they can simply be left on the soil to mulch, returning nutrients to the plants, and helping to keep moisture in the soil.

The character for DESTROY ( 破  ) can also be translated “break,” “solve,” or “spoil.”  This is the month when the Yáng reaches its peak, and its rise is “broken.” For the next 6 months, Yáng will be declining, and pouring nourishment into Yīn.  This alchemy is necessary for the crops to gather their  into useable fruits and grains, and for the year to renew itself in the dark depth of Winter.  Like this month, DESTROY days are appropriate for clearing away inessentials, beginning to give up the rule of Yáng, and yielding to the nourishments of Yīn.  Start turning towards ends and accomplishments;  the time for investigation, striving, and “the big push” is not over, but it’s beginning to fade.

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Two Tigers are putting him into a state of jittery disruption and stuttering inaction.  You must at all costs do your best to maintain a placid demeanor and a soothing tone if you’re to get anything accomplished today.  Don’t be surprised if others are acting either morose and sluggish in responding, or fidgety and inattentive to the point you’re trying to make.  Slow speech and gracious movement will do a lot to move things forward, though you’ll find that there’s more than just one speed bump to get over through the day.  You’re in the referee position today, and you should decline to take personal advantage of that fact.  You’ll get your rewards on Monday.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Two Tigers are putting him into a state of jittery disruption and stuttering inaction.  Most likely this state of dysfunction will be no more noteworthy or impressive to you than a stalk of grass grazing your knee as you stride through a field, but still you’d be well-advised to keep to your slower speeds and pay close attention to where you’re stepping.  Both the Tiger and Monkey share a proclivity for zig-zag patterns of movement and action, and some of what may be crossing your path could be a lot more significant and troublesome than grass-stalks.  Then again, tomorrow’s tune and rhythm are going to much more in the Key of Ox, so anything you can delay until tomorrow will benefit from your patience.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Two Tigers are putting him into a state of jittery disruption and stuttering inaction.  Add you to the mix, and the poor simian is liable to lock-up entirely.  Consequently, this is liable to be a day valuable more for deep consideration—and perhaps re-consideration—than  for clear progress or successfully direct action.  What you should most deeply consider is the ways in which Tiger Style will not work this year.  There aren’t all that many, but those ways that are somewhat dysfunctional will be on clear view.  Since not much of your normal agenda will meet with success today, why not just take a look?  The Monkey has little power this year, but he can still cause an awful squawk if he’s not accommodated correctly.  Since you’ve got all the cards, it’s up to you to be the accommodating one.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Two Tigers are putting him into a state of jittery disruption and stuttering inaction.  Your affinities are clearly on the Tiger side of this equation, and when it comes right down to it, Monkeys frequently seem to you as if they are actually from another planet.  Consequently, it would be very difficult for you to intercede in the snarls and snags of the day with any beneficial effect.  The Tiger is trying to concentrate on this pipsqueak of a speed-bump, to find out if it’s something that needs serious attention, and the Monkey is just trying to get out of the Tiger’s gaze alive.  Stick to your own affairs, and try not to engage with others, particularly those you’re not well acquainted with already.  Tomorrow’s Fowl is going to be more of a problem for you than for the Tiger, and it will be good if you’ve gotten some recent practice in Staying Inconspicuous.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Two Tigers are putting him into a state of jittery disruption and stuttering inaction.  You’re in an odd situation when these two—or three—square off.  Your normal affections fall on the Monkey side of the line, but your vision and insight will force you to recognize that this is the Tiger’s Time, and that his wants and directions must take priority.  Take the middle road, and offer encouragement to those who seem weakened or alarmed, and counsel conservatism and delicacy to those in power, or with appetites to satisfy.  You’ll have tomorrow’s Fowl Day to see to more final resolutions and to the small details of contracts or agreements, so today just focus on trying to get things moving smoothly again, and on raising the diplomatic temperature so things can begin to thaw out.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Two Tigers are putting him into a state of jittery disruption and stuttering inaction.  Any sense of neutrality you were able to indulge in yesterday is liable to feel that it’s wearing thin.  Your Monkey Playmate will inspire your inclinations to offer assistance—particularly to those who in your view are the underdogs—but the situation is not really advantageous for getting anything accomplished on their behalf.  You may simply feel an irritating sense that your playtime is over, and that a Working Life is what you’ve ended up with.  That’s not strictly true—particularly when you consider what’s in store for you over the next 5 or 6 years following the Tiger’s—but it would be very good for your broadest understandings to pretend for one day that it is true.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Two Tigers are putting him into a state of jittery disruption and stuttering inaction.  There’s no guarantee that this condition of fretful stillness will affect your awareness;  it may take place entirely out of your sphere of attention.  But if it does show up on your view screen, you’ve got two ways you can respond.  One is to turn and run to the nearest exit, and don’t even bother to look behind you as you make your escape.  The second is to step right into the middle of things, and assume that you’re going to have to offer yourself up as the demonstrator model of whatever solution they’ve come up with to patch-up the situation, so they can move on.  If you take the second, you should be reassured that the solution will only be temporary, and there’s no chance you’re going to get stuck with it for more than today.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Two Tigers are putting him into a state of jittery disruption and stuttering inaction.  While you haven’t declared your affection or backing for either of these two sides, it is true that your Tiger Training has probably piqued your curiosity for the Stripey Side of Things.  You understand the Monkey implicitly, and you are frequently instrumental—in a friendly way—in keeping his Handy Ways from getting …well, Out of Hand.  But you also are well aware that those of the Clan of the Long Tail as frequently specialize in Making Crisis, at least as often as Handling Crisis.  This knowledge puts you back on the Tiger’s side again, and will help you to realize the nature of his Growling and Glowering.  You don’t need to get any more out of the day than that, but if you’re striving for more, just make sure it isn’t the resolution of this Perpetual Face-Off.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Two Tigers are putting him into a state of jittery disruption and stuttering inaction.  You might hope that adding you to the mix would make the foursome an even match-up, and provide some ground for your feelings to be protected, and your viewpoint respected.  Sadly, it doesn’t work that way this year.  The Two Tigers are devoting the day to drawing a bead on What Does Not Work this year, and it’s got your face all over it.  So don’t resist;  take up the banner as a badge of honesty.  The more you let things fall apart, the more easily you’ll be able to fit them back together.  Try to leave Drama out of the reassembly.  If you can do that with the day, it will be a triumph!

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Two Tigers are putting him into a state of jittery disruption and stuttering inaction.  You have some affinity with the Monkey Nature, and much less with the Clan of Stripes and Claws, but pursuing that friendship—either to help the dysfunctional, or to more deeply observe the powerful—will prove to do neither.  Your best tack is to imagine that you’re partners with Monkey in a tag-team match against the Two Tigers.  Spend the entire day observing points of technique, characteristics of style, and averages of success.  Tomorrow, review your notes, and plan on doing nothing the Monkey did, and as much of what the Tiger did as you can manage.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Two Tigers are putting him into a state of jittery disruption and stuttering inaction.  Having deepened your healing process yesterday, and getting things more correctly arranged in preparation for the demands of the future, today comes as a sort of bon-bon or recreational sport outing.  It’s all spectator sport, so there’s no danger that you’ll trade away the rest you were able to harvest yesterday.  But if you find yourself getting excited, jumping up and down on the sofa, and yelling at the television screen, please try to remember:  the outcome of this dramatic impasse is a foregone conclusion, and you’re not fooling anybody—including yourself—acting as if the Monkey even has a chance.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Two Tigers are putting him into a state of jittery disruption and stuttering inaction.  As neutral and uninvolved as you needed to stay yesterday, you’ll get to really throw your hand into things today.  Mind you, the weakness of the Monkey, and the overwhelming strength of the Tiger—and Two Tigers, after all—means that your contribution is going to be mostly theatrical, and not really structurally necessary.  But as you’re always quite happy to “go along for the ride,” I don’t think you’ll take your involvement any less seriously, just because the outcome is a foregone conclusion.  But remember the Tiger Way, and don’t take unfair opportunities of losers when they’re down.  The Tigers are trying to reckon with the dysfunctional aspects of their regime today, and you’ll be most helpful if you engage such aspects as faults to be improved, rather than evils to be expunged or punished.

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

Wandering northwards, one can always rely upon the Pole Star, whose imperial subtlety never wavers.

But in matters of the heart, there are no points of quarter, not even a wobbling compass needle.

Friends scatter abroad as widely as the stars;  to call them back, not even a star-lord hero would serve.

O, to have a little wine-pot steeping in a bath of hot water, two cups at the ready, the door unlatched, slightly ajar.

“First frost, stop digging.  First rain, start digging.”

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Friday, 26th of February

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

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Fire Sheep on duty today has all the verve, diligence, and organizational skills necessary to step in, take charge, and see that things get done, but unfortunately the Dual Tigers have not yet come up with a mission statement.  While this soft impasse is keeping things on hold, you should be careful not to muddy the issue by taking uncalled for actions, or stepping beyond the bounds of prudent preparations.  If you’re thinking of making moves that might require permission, don’t even bother to ask;  just delay that matter, and take up something that’s well within your purview, what will tighten up your state of readiness for the widest range of eventualities.  If nothing else occurs to you, then stock up on food, and get totally caught up on your laundry.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Fire Sheep on duty today has all the verve, diligence, and organizational skills necessary to step in, take charge, and see that things get done, but unfortunately the Dual Tigers have not yet come up with a mission statement.  You could well imagine that the hold placed on forward movement which you sense today has nothing to do with you, and that you are perfectly free to make your own way, follow your own path, and otherwise mind your own business.  This is not really a bad way to understand the situation, but it would be more correct that say that you don’t yet know whether your direction is aligned with the Way of the Tiger, or opposed to it, or something in between.  Consequently, I’d advise you to make haste very slowly, and not to dedicate your energies any more than your inner motorworks truly require.  The Sheep has something to show you today, and if you’re wise, you’ll ease up on your accelerator, and take a look around.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Fire Sheep on duty today has all the verve, diligence, and organizational skills necessary to step in, take charge, and see that things get done, but unfortunately the Dual Tigers have not yet come up with a mission statement.  This is therefore a day for you to stop, look, and listen—three of the Tiger’s favorite specialties!  You’re still in the mood for browsing, for sensing the drift of things this year, and for testing your inner urgings against a wide array of practicalities concerning strategical style, angle of approach, commitment of resources, and aesthetics of follow-through.  The Sheep can be quite informative on all of these matters, and will help to fill in your table of Necessary Preparatory Information, as long as you can give some reassurance that Something Will Be Done.  You don’t really need to promise a date of delivery, but an estimation of the window of likelihood—subject to unforseen contingencies, of course—would be most welcome.  Get clear on that, and even you yourself will gain the sense that you can relax a bit.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Fire Sheep on duty today has all the verve, diligence, and organizational skills necessary to step in, take charge, and see that things get done, but unfortunately the Dual Tigers have not yet come up with a mission statement.  This sort of impasse is never really seen as disturbing by the Clan of the Long Ears.  If others are expressing doubts and frustrations, you’re liable to spend the day wondering what all the fuss is about.  If that’s true, you should keep your wonderings to yourself, and let any tensions resolve on their own.  When the Tiger and Sheep go into a huddle, they like to take up matters in serious discussion, and they might even drag things over to the border of argument.  Your presence will only cause them to err on the side of etiquette and slow down the resolution.  Find yourself something diverting and unimportant to take care of, and let them hash it out in peace.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Fire Sheep on duty today has all the verve, diligence, and organizational skills necessary to step in, take charge, and see that things get done, but unfortunately the Dual Tigers have not yet come up with a mission statement.  You, of course, have any number of ideas as to what that mission statement should be, and you may yet get a good opportunity to bring them forward.  But today is really the worst day to try to do that.  The sort of lock-up the Sheep and Tiger seem to get into is really more like a secret huddle than a public brain-storming session.  They have some intimate details to work out, and some finer points of negotiation to accomplish, and interference and suggestions from outside parties will be seen as meddling and muddling.  Let them get to their own clarity, and spend your day practicing cartwheels, and generally limbering up in preparation for whatever direction the Tiger might eventually settle on.  (At this point, even he doesn’t know what that is going to be.)

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Fire Sheep on duty today has all the verve, diligence, and organizational skills necessary to step in, take charge, and see that things get done, but unfortunately the Dual Tigers have not yet come up with a mission statement.  Strange as it might sound, you have a perfectly neutral stance in this matter, even considering your sometime antipathy to all things Tiger, and your potential for impatient disdain where the Clan of Fleece and Horns is concerned.  The question today is about direction and timing, and your attention to practicalities may well have a place in the huddle.  But you’d better get in, make your statement, and beat a hasty retreat.  You’ve got no vote in the matter, and making an appeal for a place at the table will get you nothing but sharp words from both of sides of the negotiation.  Be direct, be brief, be impartial, and all things will go well.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Fire Sheep on duty today has all the verve, diligence, and organizational skills necessary to step in, take charge, and see that things get done, but unfortunately the Dual Tigers have not yet come up with a mission statement.  You’re naturally going to find yourself rooting for the Sheep’s side in this negotiation, as you like nothing more than to get the Tiger’s clear directions as to What’s To Be Done.  Standing around in a highly noticeable way won’t get in the way of the outcome, and might even give the Tiger some good ideas, and make the Sheep’s arguments seem more concrete and convincing.  Make sure you don’t butt in, however.  This is something they have to work out between themselves.  You can satisfy yourself that you’ll be catching wind of some very convincing rumors of the final result by Monday or so.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Fire Sheep on duty today has all the verve, diligence, and organizational skills necessary to step in, take charge, and see that things get done, but unfortunately the Dual Tigers have not yet come up with a mission statement.  You’ll feel very sharply the pinch of your own impatience, misgivings, and frustrations today, and in honor of the Big Guy in the Striped Suit, you should hold them with as much patience and forbearance as you can muster.  If you want to convince a Tiger, you’ve got to act like one, and today’s requirement for Restive Impatience will be the greatest lesson you’ve attempted so far in the training process.  The really difficult thing for you will be accepting that the most powerful thing you can do about your frustrations, is Nothing;  that’s the Tiger Way.  Well, to be more accurate:  Nothing, Yet.  Get this down today, and we’ll move on to Glowering and Growling tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Fire Sheep on duty today has all the verve, diligence, and organizational skills necessary to step in, take charge, and see that things get done, but unfortunately the Dual Tigers have not yet come up with a mission statement.  Your confidence in the Clan of Fleece and Horns might just be great enough to give you a sense of expectation that the pause brought on by this impasse might be a good omen, and that it signals the bringing forward of a set of possibilities more to your liking than you had hoped.  Sorry, but this is just the calm before the storm.  Now that we’re between the two Triple Tiger Days, tomorrow’s Monkey Day is going to put you very much in the glare of the headlights, and most likely in the hot-seat as well.  Honor your trust in the Sheep’s commitment to Evenhandedness for All, however, and assume that at least some consideration of your skills, needs, and limitations has been made.  What’s left for you to bring forward is not always convenient or comfortable, but at least it’s much more appropriate and easy to get to this year:  your perfect honesty.  Wait until tomorrow to decide what that is.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Fire Sheep on duty today has all the verve, diligence, and organizational skills necessary to step in, take charge, and see that things get done, but unfortunately the Dual Tigers have not yet come up with a mission statement.  You’ll get your chance to huddle with the Big Cats in two days, and consequently you should observe proper decorum, and let the Sheep have his turn, without having to deal with the extra complexities brought on by comments from the peanut gallery.  The pause in the sense of forward movement the huddle has brought on will give you space to pay attention to a number of details you might even be surprised and embarrassed to discover you had overlooked.  See to them today, and make a mental note to thank the Sheep some time in the future for diverting the Tiger’s gaze today.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Fire Sheep on duty today has all the verve, diligence, and organizational skills necessary to step in, take charge, and see that things get done, but unfortunately the Dual Tigers have not yet come up with a mission statement.  This is going to be a resting day for you, and you’re going to be much more comfortable than most during the deliberatory impasse brought on by the Sheep’s request for audience with the Big Guys in the Striped Suits.  You’d be very wise to take the opportunity to get freshly stocked up on food, and fully caught up on all the little details of living.  Chief among them—you can see this coming—is some Medical Napping.  It won’t take long, as the Way of the Tiger is already accomplishing your return to full health.  Still, no harm in a few minutes of shut-eye.  Once you wake up, please notice that you don’t have to move right away.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Fire Sheep on duty today has all the verve, diligence, and organizational skills necessary to step in, take charge, and see that things get done, but unfortunately the Dual Tigers have not yet come up with a mission statement.  Normally, you delight in rushing to the aid and support of the Sheep, as much as you love encouraging and cheering-on the Tiger.  Unfortunately for these natural appetites of yours, you’re going to have to sit this one out, and bite your tongue if necessary, to keep from disturbing the deliberations.  There may come a time during the day when you’ll be called upon to make a contribution—or at least make a run out for refreshments.  But make sure the call is clear—and clearly for you—and be very direct to the task you’re given.  You’ve got many, many things to say to both parties in this intense huddle, but neither of them wants to be interfered with.

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

When the Temple Day of the God of Wealth and Fortune arrives, the incense pots are jammed with joss sticks,

The brightly ribboned bells calling for the attention of the deity are rung loudly and incessantly.

Everyone imagines they want money, no-one questions the desire to grow richer, to attain a life of ease.

At the gate as they exit, a beggar lounges in sunlight, leaning against the wall, his cup in view, humming the old folk-song, “Welcome to Spring.”

“Planning is not accomplishing;  drawing is not building.”

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Thursday, 25th of February

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 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 Fire Horse on duty today has tender sensitivities to his surroundings, and an excessive willfulness where his rights and appetites are concerned, but will find himself braced and reassured on both sides by the Dual Tigers.  This means things will either stay calm, collected, and rather tense, or launch into their power like a rocket taking off, hurtling into the skies.  Keep your attention sharp today, and aim to follow along, dancing to whatever music seems to be playing.  You can have a lot of success and satisfaction, but only by giving up the idea that you’ll have time to gather extra goodies by acting quick and clever.  Both are actually dangerous to rely upon today.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Fire Horse on duty today has tender sensitivities to his surroundings, and an excessive willfulness where his rights and appetites are concerned, but will find himself braced and reassured on both sides by the Dual Tigers.  This will probably be the first day of the year when you feel your strength and determination are being truly tested.  The wise thing will be to capitulate, and allow things and people around you to win their arguments, even if it feels like that means you’ll be dragged indecorously along for the ride.  Tomorrow, things are going to come to a halt, while the Tigers take a few notes on The Problem This Year, and you’ll be able thereafter to get yourself back on track.  Today though, backing off is the way to go forward.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Fire Horse on duty today has tender sensitivities to his surroundings, and an excessive willfulness where his rights and appetites are concerned, but will find himself braced and reassured on both sides by the Dual Tigers.  You’ll most likely find this situation a very satisfying exercise of your strengths and energetic scale, as it’s an eminently appropriate Scale of Difficulties married to Harmonies of Spirit.  Think of it as taking a new sports car out for a spin, and be kind to the engine and brakes:  you’ve not yet made a full reconnoitering of the terrain this year, and revving the engines and tearing up the track might be thrilling in the moment, but could be a bit embarrassing if you find yourself miscalculating and spinning out, or setting the engine on fire.  The Fire Horse returns five more times this year, and you can make better displays of your fine affinity to each other on one of those occasions.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Fire Horse on duty today has tender sensitivities to his surroundings, and an excessive willfulness where his rights and appetites are concerned, but will find himself braced and reassured on both sides by the Dual Tigers.  You may find this situation thrilling, but it’s best enjoyed from the sidelines.  Even if you’re caught up in the midst of things, you’ll mainly be adding ballast to the party, carrying ancillary equipment for the Big Guys, taking measurements, and being the one holding the camera.  That being said, you always enjoy this kind of Being Along for the Ride, and you’ll delight in the opportunity to be among the High Rollers, soaking up stories and anecdotes for later recounting by the campfire.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Fire Horse on duty today has tender sensitivities to his surroundings, and an excessive willfulness where his rights and appetites are concerned, but will find himself braced and reassured on both sides by the Dual Tigers.  When these sides line up this way, don’t be surprised if you get nominated as The Friendly Competition.  Keep your attitude loose, today, and don’t rely too much on What Has Worked in the Past to see you through.  You greatest strength will not be your commanding authority and broad sweep of view;  it will instead be your deft ability to shift subtly, and to swing around in an instant, ready to respond to The New Direction, as seamlessly as a rodeo rider who really understands the difference between the sky and the dirt.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Fire Horse on duty today has tender sensitivities to his surroundings, and an excessive willfulness where his rights and appetites are concerned, but will find himself braced and reassured on both sides by the Dual Tigers.  You’re going to be highly tempted, teased and tugged by this situation;  the sheer amount of force and potential being released will make your heart sing, your mind race, and your imagination soar.  But you’d be well-advised to harvest that lift of spirit as the benefit of the day, and call it “done” at that point.  Getting more involved, and—worse—aiming to be taken up as a third partner, would not only be inviting disaster to come down on yourself, it would spoil the grand and inspiring spectacle for yourself and all the other onlookers.  You’ll have a much more satisfying—though not perfectly productive—set of duties laid out before you tomorrow, and your uninvolved appreciations of today will provide exactly the sort of toolbox you’ll need to make your proper contribution.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Fire Horse on duty today has tender sensitivities to his surroundings, and an excessive willfulness where his rights and appetites are concerned, but will find himself braced and reassured on both sides by the Dual Tigers.  If you’ve felt that so far this year, you’ve only been drifting at the starting line, and waiting in frustration for everyone else to get correctly aligned, so they can set the damn cannon off, and you can all get the hell out of here:  then congratulations!  This is your lucky day!  The spirit of your Clan will be running things, and your nature will fit you perfectly into the slot they’re running in.  However, you should be aware that this is only the first heat, designed to eliminate those who can’t keep up with the class of competition, or who decide they’re really supposed to be doing Something Else.  Don’t allow yourself to hurtle towards exhaustion;  make a good showing, and grin as soon as you hit the finish line.  It’s only right, since you’re going to finally be really enjoying yourself.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Fire Horse on duty today has tender sensitivities to his surroundings, and an excessive willfulness where his rights and appetites are concerned, but will find himself braced and reassured on both sides by the Dual Tigers.  This is a delicate situation for you, this early in the year, when you’re still tentative about your prospects, now that we’ve arrived in Tigerland.  Fortunately though, you have such a strong, clear, and respectful linkage with the Clan of Mane and Tail, that even if all you do is imagine that your job is following along to deal with small matters of pace, logistics, and potential breakdown, you’re liable to both really enjoy yourself, and polish your reputation, as well.  Every great racer needs a Strong Backer, and a Highly Efficient Pit Crew.  Count yourself in as the latter, and don’t worry if you end up with splotches of grease all over you;  you can wear them grinning, as badges of honor.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Fire Horse on duty today has tender sensitivities to his surroundings, and an excessive willfulness where his rights and appetites are concerned, but will find himself braced and reassured on both sides by the Dual Tigers.  As high, wide, and loud as things are going to get today, it might be a good plan to take in all the hurly-burly from a safe distance, and even better through some kind of remote camera set-up.  However, there is one narrow little avenue through which you could gain deeply helpful experience, and accomplish a higher status in your own estimation, at the same time.  If you can dash in—when you’d normally be dashing away—and get your highly competent grip on the things that are threatening to fly off into chaos, you’ll be able to apply for a very brief time, some of your Potent Monkey Magic, and bring things to an instant calm.  Thing is, it will also be instantly over, so you’ll have to work your wonder, and then just as quickly, get out of there fast.  Vanish into the crowd, and leave them wondering.  There’s no value in aiming to collect public accolades today.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Fire Horse on duty today has tender sensitivities to his surroundings, and an excessive willfulness where his rights and appetites are concerned, but will find himself braced and reassured on both sides by the Dual Tigers.  This is one of those situations in which you might find fascination, but not much joy.  Things are going to be happening far too fast for you to follow with any clarity, and the sheer quantity of force being run across the field is going be more than a little dizzying.  Consequently, unless you happen to be in the mood for a go-’round on one of the more nauseating rides at the amusement park, I’d advise you to sit this one out.  There’s a special pleasure in sitting in meditation, of focusing in on some private point of attention, when all the kids are outside your window in the street, playing noisily, and Leaving You Alone.  Take that as your high accomplishment for the day, and leave busy-ness and engagement for another day to take up again.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Fire Horse on duty today has tender sensitivities to his surroundings, and an excessive willfulness where his rights and appetites are concerned, but will find himself braced and reassured on both sides by the Dual Tigers.  When these forces are set into action, it’s almost like a command performance for you to make your entry, even if it’s just by barking energetically from the sidelines.  Remember to keep close attention of the earthiness and simplicity of your tastes, and don’t be shy about offering them up as the proper solutions to whatever tasks or problems trouble the day.  When there’s this much energy and action banging around in the room, complications—even if they’re designed to lead to beneficial effect—are the last thing that should be given a test run.  As the sun heads towards setting, set the lead in getting calm, comfortable, and properly fed.  In some ways, the sport will be continuing for you tomorrow, and you’ll want everyone to keep in training so their abilities won’t be flagging.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Fire Horse on duty today has tender sensitivities to his surroundings, and an excessive willfulness where his rights and appetites are concerned, but will find himself braced and reassured on both sides by the Dual Tigers.  For this once, your affinities with the Clan of Stripes and Claws are liable to get you into more trouble than out of it.  The sheer scale of energy being released and taken through its paces today will be a wonder to behold, and as the Tigers have been waiting for this opportunity, you should honor their affinities with you, and let them run off and have their fun.  If you want to do something with all the extra verve and enthusiasm running amok through the day, find some way to have things all prepared and set in place as the day sinks darkly into its very satisfied end.  The athletes are really going to appreciate a hot drink, a good meal, dry clothes, and a turned down bed.  You can demand a full recount of their heroic deeds for your record books, before they’ve finished the day, and been tucked in for the night.

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

As a wanderer, one comes to a familiar door, hoping for the faces of friends, the words of welcome;

And as if by an echo, when the door opens, faces of expectation and joy appear, arms of love and embrace.

Setting your gaze down the long road is an invocation to solitude; step after step, and the ways of the world will have at you.

A bowl of braised vegetables, a piece of cold fish;  however grand your stories of harrowing adventure, how can they repay that simple dish?

“Beginning is an art of planting;  don’t be hasty to weed and to harvest.”

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Wednesday, 24th of February

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 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 Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to give the Dual Tigers good reason to pause.  Your romantic proclivities and sentimental connections may prove to be sources of confusion for you today, and may lead others to question the balance and wisdom of your stance.  Try borrowing the cool calculation of the Clan of the Scales and Fangs, and aim more towards rational consideration of problems, resources, and probable resolutions.  Where heat is concerned, apply that more to action-in-the-moment, and if you are going to get angry, make sure that it’s only a ploy, and not the main meat of the matter.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to give the Dual Tigers good reason to pause.  While you’re not really at loggerheads with the Clan of Stripes and Fangs—well, at least not yet—you can certainly take advantage of any pause they might choose to take, to make a reassessment of your long-term plans for the year, under benefit of a sense of relief of pressure, and a sense of relaxation of deadlines.  The Snake is temporarily greasing your rails, and will no doubt be advising you on points of style and approach, as well.  So don’t be stiff about your way of doing things today, and let small divergences from “normal” bring you some unanticipated treats.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to give the Dual Tigers good reason to pause.  Funny:  it’s only such a little Snake, and yet he’s probably got you a bit flummoxed, as well.  You have plenty of choice between Pause and Push at your command today, and more than plenty of the year to go.  So don’t under any circumstances feel that you have to “pull the trigger” when you’re not even sure if you’re aiming at a target.  Arguments arising today are likely to be more about motive than about action, so give pending questions a simple Yes or No, and move on about your day.  If you’ve already hit the Pause Button, then the answer “I’m not yet prepared to make a choice,” is a perfectly acceptable reply to any and all demands for direction or for commitment of resources.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to give the Dual Tigers good reason to pause.  Rabbits sometimes rush in where Tigers decline to tread, and today’s just one of those days.  To be fair, that’s mostly because of your very special relationship with the Clan of Scales and Fangs.  They find your open-heartedness disarming, and the atmosphere of your affability absolutely enchanting.  If you then take up their pragmatic view and skills in practicality, and apply them to the outstanding problems of the day, everyone will be applauding you by nightfall.  Don’t try to explain to anyone how you are getting such slick results;  they most likely wouldn’t understand.  (And to tell the truth, you might not either.)

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to give the Dual Tigers good reason to pause.  This might seem like the perfect opportunity to make progress in your own time and in your own way, now that the Snake—whose style and force you perfectly understand—has temporarily put the Tigers at bay.  This would be bad tactics.  Wait until tomorrow when the Horse takes hold of the day, and gives the Tigers something to act through.  You’ll be able to read your situation with much more accuracy, and won’t suffer the criticism—even if it’s not well-earned—of having gone behind anyone’s back to get your results.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to give the Dual Tigers good reason to pause.  This might seem like a perfect opportunity to act as if the Good Old Days of the Ox Year have returned, giving you a free hand and an open field once again.  However—as you know perfectly well—that clock does not ever run backward, and the situation today is so temporary as to barely offer time for full investigation, let alone harvesting full investment.  Take the day as a chance to demonstrate your deference and good will by refusing to take much advantage of things just because they’re in a state of stalling-out or locking-up.  How To Be Fair is the name of the game this year, and you know how to do that as well as anyone, so long as you know that it’s going to turn out to work.  This year it will, and today’s when you can show your knowledge of it to the world.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to give the Dual Tigers good reason to pause.  You might imagine that any condition that gives qualms or disturbance to your Friends of the Stripes and Fangs would also cause you the same.  However, the Snake has a special hold over you by virtue of his deep appreciation of your Heat and your Heart.  No-one understands the ways to command your abilities as well as the Clan of Scales and Fangs, and—as long as they’re not leaving their intelligence at home—they always manage to get the best out of you, accomplishments that even you did not suspect you were capable of.  This Snake has that intelligence, and more to spare, so let all the stops out, and aim to hit one out of the park.  If there are some resulting Errors of Judgement to attend to, rest assured that they will be on the top of the agenda for the next two days, and all will come out well.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to give the Dual Tigers good reason to pause.  You should properly go into agreement with the Clan of Stripes and Claws, and aim to go on pause, yourself.  This is not because you share with them a lack of understanding, or a mistrust of the Snake.  That’s not true at all;  you understand his sleek and serpentine nature, and trust him to act within it.  Your pause is advised because it will put you in deeper congruity with the Tiger Way—which, at the risk of repeating myself, I point out you are still learning—and because the next three days have eminently better potential for deepening your healing, certifying your position, and collecting higher rewards.  Copy a page from the Snake’s playbook, then, and follow pragmatics:  wait.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to give the Dual Tigers good reason to pause.  As the Tigers appear to draw back for the day, you might be tempted to join forces with your Friend with the Scales and Fangs, aiming to “throw caution to the winds,” “seize the day,” and wait to consider the costs until well after the party’s over.  Fortunately for that sort of temptation, this particular Snake is far too intelligent to roll through with mere frivolity as his accomplishment.  Consequently, you’ll have the very rare chance to demonstrate your grasp of the Tiger Way by seeing opportunities to jump towards Immediate Gratification and Delight, and simply declining them.  Talk about amazement!  People are going to be standing around gasping for breath.  Tomorrow:  Fun At Work.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to give the Dual Tigers good reason to pause.  The more you spent yesterday patiently gathering new information and more comprehensive systems of understanding, the more today is going to bring you those laurels I was mentioning.  When a Snake of High Intelligence comes on the scene—and this one is capable of the highest—the Clan of Feathers and Claws get to don their academic robes and mortarboard hats, and amaze the world with their collection of poignant and pertinent facts, and their solid comprehension of style, methodology, and practical tactics.  While the Tigers are—or are pretending to be—at bay, see how much you can impress them with your value and commitment.  Remember that “he’s very fair” is the highest accolade to which you can aspire, and then take flight.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to give the Dual Tigers good reason to pause.  As the Tigers are forced to stand back—or at least are willing to give that impression—the space will open for you to do a bit of free wandering, snooping around for what evidence of happenings you can discover, and memorizing their locations, estimating probable participants, and noting apparent or likely connections.  This being Canine Espionage, there is no particular reason why you’ll have to feel you have found something concrete in order to nevertheless feel that you’ve had a satisfying and successful outing.  Just be home well-in-time for dinner, and don’t linger in dark places without companions, or without large numbers of passers-by able to see you.  It’s not that the day is particularly perilous for you;  it’s just that you may not reckon the degree of your own gullibility today, and you won’t want the Tigers to return their gaze to you, only to have it fall on your own embarrassment.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to give the Dual Tigers good reason to pause.  This should give you pause as well, though in your case, it will more likely feel like taking a well-earned “time-out.”  Even though the year is still so young, your energetic cycles have been going at full revs for the entire time, and if you don’t learn how to break off from excitement and engagement through the year, you’re likely to use up half the good Tiger , just recovering from exhaustion.  We’ll be getting one of these Snakes rolling through every twelve days—but, of course, you knew that already—and this particular one has a quality of intelligence and directness strangely akin to your own.  Tune in with him then, today, and promise yourself you’ll follow this schedule through thick and thin:  11 days, wheeeeeeee! and 1 day, whooaaaaaa!

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

Look across the lake at dusk:  the dark waters, a thin blue, the high-streaking clouds, a pale grey.

Distant birds swarm across the dimming horizon, and flock by flock pour down into the treetops.

All from the bright world are looking for home, before the world of the dark can bring its close embrace.

The western rim glares back towards the east: old stars as if drawing near, young stars as if learning to fly.

“Stay home to learn the same thing better, leave home to learn everything else.”

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Tuesday, 23rd of February

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

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

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The Wood Dragon on duty today is highly engageable, and capable of great vision and enthusiasm, but a little short on follow-through, and unlikely to present much resilience against the stance of the Dual Tigers.  Do not risk a misstep under the Tigers’ gaze by too casually taking up your normal affinity and support of the Dragon’s grand and sweeping style.  It’s the down-to-earth things that matter today, and even your Dragon friends will benefit from the practical details you can point to, and the freshly-minted news you can deliver.  Sometimes the world needs a small lamp by which to see more clearly.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Wood Dragon on duty today is highly engageable, and capable of great vision and enthusiasm, but a little short on follow-through, and unlikely to present much resilience against the stance of the Dual Tigers.  You, being the master of follow-through, may have an important role to play, but only if you are able to catch the drift of things that are going along with directions already laid out in your itinerary.  This is not a frequent attribute of your normal attentions.  Consequently, you’ll need to stay open-minded and imaginative in dealing with people today, and let yourself feel like you’ve gone a little bit “hog-wild crazy” in your own sense of yourself.  You won’t have to do anything drastically different, but it will be better for everyone if you imagine that you might!

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Wood Dragon on duty today is highly engageable, and capable of great vision and enthusiasm, but a little short on follow-through, and unlikely to present much resilience against the stance of the Dual Tigers.  If you were able to remain undedicated and even aloof yesterday, today you’ll find that stance has turned unnecessary, and that one or two of the various possibilities have captured your attention, bringing you a satisfied sensation of curiosity, and perhaps even enthusiasm.  Go ahead and pursue your interest, but take along some of your “lack of commitment” to refer to;  this is a day for toying with things, and finding out how they wobble if you tap them.  Making further use of your bold powers will land you in something far more complicated than you’ve imagined by tomorrow afternoon.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Wood Dragon on duty today is highly engageable, and capable of great vision and enthusiasm, but a little short on follow-through, and unlikely to present much resilience against the stance of the Dual Tigers.  You’ll see quite clearly today exactly what seems to be wrong with the actions, aims, and intentions of almost everyone around you.  My advice is to remain mum about it all, and to wait until tomorrow to take out your note pad and start handing out the friendly advice.  It’s not that others won’t want your input today, it’s just that they’re going to be more interested today in the sensation of going forward, than in making sure that where they think they’re headed is actually true.  Tomorrow, that practical differentiation will be all the rage, and your helpful observations are much more likely to be seen as supportive and loving.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Wood Dragon on duty today is highly engageable, and capable of great vision and enthusiasm, but a little short on follow-through, and unlikely to present much resilience against the stance of the Dual Tigers.  If you felt uncomfortably eager to “get off the bench” yesterday, today you’ll have the satisfaction of measuring yourself up against the challenges and teachings that the Tiger will be offering you this year.  The information will not necessarily come in coherent or by-the-numbers form, so leave your analytical and decision-making processes on pause until well after night-fall.  Take the time to let your sense of strategy line up with your sense of things-to-be-dealt-with.  It will feel very much like searching a dark room with a small flashlight;  keep sweeping it around and you’ll build up a valid image of the location of everything in the room.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Wood Dragon on duty today is highly engageable, and capable of great vision and enthusiasm, but a little short on follow-through, and unlikely to present much resilience against the stance of the Dual Tigers.  Your inveterate ability to stay close to practicalities will be very valuable to everyone you come in contact with today, and will make sure you don’t follow the Dragon’s strength of movement and weakness of momentum into a situation that’s difficult to get out of, or pass through.  Try to keep a low profile, like a lawyer advising her client by whispering in his ear.  “Act consistently as if in due deference to His Honor, the Judge,” wouldn’t be a bad way to say it, either.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Wood Dragon on duty today is highly engageable, and capable of great vision and enthusiasm, but a little short on follow-through, and unlikely to present much resilience against the stance of the Dual Tigers.  This condition is going to call forth your clear comprehension of the physical world around you—as well as its rules and limitations—and put your command of your own body—and its strengths and proclivities—into service.  You’ll find this both exhilarating and challenging.  Getting put properly through your paces is one of your Most Favorite Things, when the time and situation are right, and they haven’t been this right for quite some time.  Don’t be disappointed if the workout seems all too brief;  plenty more of them are coming up this year, and this one’s just an opportunity to show your potential.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Wood Dragon on duty today is highly engageable, and capable of great vision and enthusiasm, but a little short on follow-through, and unlikely to present much resilience against the stance of the Dual Tigers.  There are small spaces here for you to make headway and establish footholds today.  Keep your attentions to tender beginnings and away from grand schemes or long-term dedications.  You’re still in the mode of gathering information about the Way of Stripes and Fangs, and it won’t do for you to follow the Dragon’s lead into terrains you will simply have to retreat from or lose interest in.  Imagine you are carefully planting seeds, one-by-one, in order to see which ones sprout;  enough of them will flourish this year for you to feel that slow beginnings were well worth the restraint.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Wood Dragon on duty today is highly engageable, and capable of great vision and enthusiasm, but a little short on follow-through, and unlikely to present much resilience against the stance of the Dual Tigers.  When the Dragon tosses aside new directions in order to take newer ones, it’s a field day for the Clan of the Long Tail.  But follow the spirit of the day, and remember that toying with what’s been cast aside will in the end be far more productive than striving to take up the castings, rescue their use, and build something to amaze the world.  This kind of vision is for the Dragon-kind, and for you—this year particularly—it’s a completely unsuitable frame of action.  That being said, your play-time activities will pull forth through your fingers a great wisdom, once you start looking at yourself with small scale and smaller importance.  Great forest, little Monkey:  very wise indeed!

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Wood Dragon on duty today is highly engageable, and capable of great vision and enthusiasm, but a little short on follow-through, and unlikely to present much resilience against the stance of the Dual Tigers.  Your complementarity to the Clan of Scales and Claws will give you many opportunities through the day to be of assistance.  Many gestures will be mis-aimed, many lengths of rope will be cut too short, many phrases thrown into use will be fraught with troublesome ambiguity.  You will see it all.  When there’s time to point out the problem before it’s too late, make sure you do it sotto voce, or at least out of earshot of any onlookers.  If it is too late for that, go directly to comforting words and encouragement for the future.  If I were you, I’d also add advice to wait for another time for further attempts.  This is a day more for gathering information than for gathering laurels.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Wood Dragon on duty today is highly engageable, and capable of great vision and enthusiasm, but a little short on follow-through, and unlikely to present much resilience against the stance of the Dual Tigers.  This situation is a bit complicated for the Canine Clan, in that there will seem to be a lot of flash and thunder going on, but not much wind and rain.  Don’t spend the day bracing for shock-waves that aren’t going to arrive;  tension and anxiety today are a waste of time and energy.  That sense of fretfulness you may feel should be interpreted as the bristling of your Tiger Guardian, and while you should feel free to take a sort of en garde attitude if you like, you can’t seriously imagine that if the Tiger can’t handle something, you can.  If you really do feel you need to do something, you can exert yourself to keep a clear line to the nearest exit.  Then, relax.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Wood Dragon on duty today is highly engageable, and capable of great vision and enthusiasm, but a little short on follow-through, and unlikely to present much resilience against the stance of the Dual Tigers.  Your inner life under this condition is liable to have a semi-sweet dream-time quality to it, as if day-dreaming was one of the top bullet points on your job description.  Your public life, on the other hand, will act and feel more like a mine field or obstacle course, laden with hidden snares and potential explosions.  Consequently, unless you can actually get off somewhere by yourself, strolling alone through your waking dreamland, then you’re going to have to keep your inner video screen turned off.  Keeping your outward attention sharp and open to influence will easily enable you to thread the gauntlet, and avoid needless hassles.  Do not get into arguments today, on any account.  I promise you—no matter how they might seem at the moment—they would be pointless, and about such trivial inconsequentialities that you’d spend all day tomorrow being heartily embarrassed about your position, and the stubbornness with which you refused to give it up.

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

Rising up to a great height, the snowy mountain stands as if painted against the sky.

A broad gathering of hills surround its base, shrugging up from the wider valley plain.

Wisterias grow here, wild and rambling, their long vines tangling and interlocking, supporting each other.

Today the breeze is sweetly fragrant, but not with their drooping blossoms.  The road loops onward, edging the lake.

“Win, and bragging was unnecessary.  Lose, and bragging was stupid.”

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Monday, 22nd of February

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 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 Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, bringing warmth and directness of action to lead the Dual Tigers.  Make sure you retain your best formal demeanor, and don’t assume that any sense of easy going today grants you license to take a casual style.  The spirit of the day is relaxed, but echoing that back is very tricky, and can lead to deep misunderstanding.  Keep as bright as the day by insisting on a civil distance, and on a firm reliance on those social forms that demonstrate respect, support, and deference.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, bringing warmth and directness of action to lead the Dual Tigers.  Make sure you allow space in your actions today which will allow others to step in and make their contributions.  They won’t take long, if they do step in, and you may find that your way has been eased, your direction made slightly more accurate, and your sense of exertion counter-balanced by an increased access to comfort and playfulness.  If leaving such space does not lead to others stepping in, you’ll still harvest a strange sense of certainty that you’re “doing the right thing.”

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, bringing warmth and directness of action to lead the Dual Tigers.  Take a responsive attitude today, and allow things and events to take their own direction, which you can follow.  The more you exercise your famous “lack of commitment,” the more opportunities will come forward.  It’s not “lack of commitment,” of course;  it’s a refusal to act out of hastiness or desperation.  That spirit will be well-supported today, if not particularly well-understood.  Let all the possible choices bloom, and by tomorrow you’ll find that one of them has selected you.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, bringing warmth and directness of action to lead the Dual Tigers.  You, of course, bring more balance to this threesome, making it an even foursome.  Affairs of the day will go forward like clockwork, without need to regulate or stimulate things to get them to turn over and hum.  Just make sure you let things take their proper natural rotations, and fall into place as they will.  Taking a role something closer to Director could lead you to have a grander idea of your contribution than is warranted.  That would not damage results today, but could lead to serious complications and retrenchments tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, bringing warmth and directness of action to lead the Dual Tigers.  You may feel like biting your knuckles in frustration through the day, and by the end of it, you’ll have bitten your tongue more than once or twice to keep from giving someone a tongue-lashing.  This sort of sense of “set-back” is entirely appropriate but not really an indication that old troubles have returned;  rather, it’s a demonstration that new directions are opening up, and that your best way forward is to dis-trust your basic presumptions, and let things blossom forth to lead your actions.  Your famous ability to “turn on a dime” is turning into “turning on a dollar.”  Borrowing the Tiger’s patience, and letting information mount up before taking action, will serve you in good stead this year, even if it does make you restive and ill-at-ease.  Tomorrow you’ll see exactly what I mean, in your immediate sphere of action.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, bringing warmth and directness of action to lead the Dual Tigers.  The Clan of the Long Ears is eminently friendly to your style and purposes, and will ease your way today, but you’d be very wise to take a passive and responsive attitude towards that benefit.  Being over-eager to recognize opportunities, and turning them towards your own benefit by taking charge of the steering-wheel, could lead to sudden bouts of wrangling.  From there, it’s a very short step to Stopping Short, and all the day’s potential for smooth and satisfying results would be in jeopardy.  Tomorrow,  you’ll have a much more active role to play, but it will likewise go better if you wait to be called or invited, rather than trying to take command.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, bringing warmth and directness of action to lead the Dual Tigers.  The Way of the Rabbit can sometimes leave you mildly tranquilized, as if you’re doing all the right things, making all the right moves, but still feeling like you’re disconnected and not fully in your own body.  Consider this a day to imagine that a powerful dream-state has arisen, and that you’re calmly and slowly rehearsing Right Action, without any sense that realities are in the balance, or that haste needs to be added to get things to work correctly.  Tomorrow, the Universe will pinch you to show you that your actions are real, but by then your rehearsals will have given you the power to turn in a commanding performance.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, bringing warmth and directness of action to lead the Dual Tigers.  Whatever your observations or reflections yesterday, your luck will be guided today by a sense of stable and mature repose.  It’s not that you’ll find the day lacking in energy or activity;  far from it.  But the congruity and confidence you feel with the Clan of the Long Ears will give you a hands-on certainty about What’s To Be Done.  Follow that, and it will lead you to increased results with about half the effort.  This is a pattern that will repeat itself through the year, so try to get a sense of it working today, so you can recognize it when it shows up.  (It will be showing up a lot.)

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, bringing warmth and directness of action to lead the Dual Tigers.  Don’t let this sense of easing of tension convince you that it’s not still the Tiger Way that’s in charge.  It’s just that the Tiger’s patience frequently allows the Clan of the Long Ears to step in and do a bit of tidying up.  Your best attitude through the day is to translate this ease into slowness of action, and sleepiness of response.  Going back to old habits, even those that have worked like clock-work before, will not prove very productive this year, and may even turn productive affairs into problems in their own right.  You’ll get an opportunity to work off some of your tensions tomorrow, but don’t ruin that possibility for satisfaction by acting hasty today.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, bringing warmth and directness of action to lead the Dual Tigers.  What was done yesterday to allow clarity to come forward, must be re-doubled today, if only to make sure that you don’t re-muddy the waters.  You may feel energetically through the entire day as if you are playing a game of Frozen Statues, where complete immobility is required every time the leader calls “Freeze!”  As strange and constraining at this will feel, it’s really not a problem for your long term goals.  In fact, it might be even better if you stay frozen from the get-go, on your own responsibility.  Tomorrow, there will be Much Heat Through Frictions, and the resulting thaw will allow you to make a contribution by adding lubricant, and lowering temperatures before they become a problem themselves.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, bringing warmth and directness of action to lead the Dual Tigers.  Everyone else is going to be slowing down, today, and some are even going to go immobile.  You, on the other hand, are going to be as energized as a wind-up toy, with a very long running spring-loaded mechanism.  Consequently, your attention should be not on letting things lead you forward, it should be on making sure that you’re not going, just for the sake of going.  You will have bigger and better opportunities, and bigger and better contributions to offer, as the year progresses, and should be making sure you don’t break training by breaking into the gym at night and doing extra workouts.  When Coach has ordered “lights out,” you had better be in your bunk.  When he’s asked for 10 push-ups, you’d better not be doing 50.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, bringing warmth and directness of action to lead the Dual Tigers.  If you’ve had trouble accepting that the travails and tests of the Ox Year are behind you, today will go a long way to helping you resolve your misgivings and mistrust.  All you’ll have to do is look to your actions, and the naturalness with which you move from one to the other, to see demonstration that your old powers of lubrication and rotation have begun to reassert themselves in earnest.  Use them to inquire politely about the needs and concerns of others around you, so you can fold some offerings and solutions into your recipe for the day, and you’ll go to sleep tonight with a sense of ordinary satisfaction you haven’t had access to in quite some time.

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

At the Western Gate, the Old Man was asked to leave something behind as he passed through.

Casually, he penned some lines on silk, rolled them up, and left them to mystify those he left behind.

The path behind him stretched out long and meandering across the whole roiling world.

The way before him was as simple as starlight, and as complete as the full moon.  Following after?  Even simpler.

“You can’t achieve attending by giving up sleeping.”

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Sunday, 21st of February

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—regardless of what season we’re actually in.  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 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 frequently 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 Water Tiger on duty today makes it a Triple Tiger Day, bringing into undiluted clarity—for the first time—the patient, bold, and cagey powers holding sway for the rest of the year.  Drink in the energy abroad today, and split your time between quiet inaction and public engagement.  The day will provide a little laboratory bench upon which you can run any number of experiments, testing the Tiger’s Nature, and others’ reaction to it.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Water Tiger on duty today makes it a Triple Tiger Day, bringing into undiluted clarity—for the first time—the patient, bold, and cagey powers holding sway for the rest of the year.  You’ll be making good use of the day if you keep your attention sharp for the noticeable shift in public action and private sentiment which this unadulterated demonstration of the Tiger Way will bring about.  People will be shifting attitudes and altering presumptions, and as they do so, it will signal the final passing of the pressures and perquisites the Ox Year brought you.  Aim to catch the new drift of things, and let it lead you forward.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Water Tiger on duty today makes it a Triple Tiger Day, bringing into undiluted clarity—for the first time—the patient, bold, and cagey powers holding sway for the rest of the year.  You, of course, make it a Full Foursome, and you should revel in the gathering of your Clan.  If you’re out and about, pay more attention to how people deal with each other than how they deal with you.  It’s the Tiger Atmosphere that you should be inhaling and annotating today;  it’s announcing itself early in the year, and inspires everyone to get with the program, or get left behind.  Allow yourself some special treat in celebration, but be careful whom you invite to join you.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Water Tiger on duty today makes it a Triple Tiger Day, bringing into undiluted clarity—for the first time—the patient, bold, and cagey powers holding sway for the rest of the year.  This is a lucky day for you, as it will certify your understandings of the Way of the Tiger for the rest of the year, and simplify your engagements will everyone else.  As draining as the Ox Year was for most, the Tiger Year is going to be energizing and inspiring.  True, some of those “inspirations” may be gasps of shock or surprise, but at least after today, we’ll all recognize that “we’re all in this together.”

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Water Tiger on duty today makes it a Triple Tiger Day, bringing into undiluted clarity—for the first time—the patient, bold, and cagey powers holding sway for the rest of the year.  Spend the day in a relaxed condition of heightened attention, and you’ll see exactly what it is you’re up against this year.  You should get out and about for at least part of the day, and tune in on what people are saying and doing, taking note of the subtle but palpable shifts of behavior.  Since the Tiger Alignment comes so early in the year, you’ve the chance to “read ahead” in the Book of Stripes, and begin to line up allies, comrades, and strategic positions.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Water Tiger on duty today makes it a Triple Tiger Day, bringing into undiluted clarity—for the first time—the patient, bold, and cagey powers holding sway for the rest of the year.  Do your best to lie low today, while the Full Parade of Tigers is passing through.  Your capacity to still yourself and silently collect a full dossier of observations will stand you in good stead.  Today, where the Tiger and his potential wranglings with you this year are concerned, “what you’ll see is what you’ll get.”  New realities require new strategies.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Water Tiger on duty today makes it a Triple Tiger Day, bringing into undiluted clarity—for the first time—the patient, bold, and cagey powers holding sway for the rest of the year.  This collection of Stripey Friends is just what you’ve been waiting for, and it won’t take you long to make your assessment, let it sink into your bones, and start your gleeful celebration of Tiger Year as a State of Doing.  Spend at least some to the time today hanging out with anonymous strangers, and pay attention to the shift in the way crowds feel, the way children are playing, the way traffic moves.  The Tiger Way is both insistent and powerful, and today’s the day everyone will have to come into agreement with it—or find themselves Reckoning with Repercussions.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Water Tiger on duty today makes it a Triple Tiger Day, bringing into undiluted clarity—for the first time—the patient, bold, and cagey powers holding sway for the rest of the year.  Now, the Great Stripéd One is not really your optimum dancing partner, particularly when all of his mates are liable to spend the whole time cutting in.  But at least you’ll find him responsive, adroit, and (above all) fair-minded.  You’ll find there are some highly artistic choreographic choices here now, and today’s the day your ideas of movement and form will start to coalesce.  Take notes, do scribbles, and don’t forget to observe the rest of the world.  You’re going to be really happy when you discover that they’re volunteering to form-up the chorus line.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Water Tiger on duty today makes it a Triple Tiger Day, bringing into undiluted clarity—for the first time—the patient, bold, and cagey powers holding sway for the rest of the year.  You’ll need to keep the day very simple if you want to get the best value out of this Parade of the Big Guys in the Striped Suits.  The impressive opportunity the alignment offers—and so early in the year!—is to recognize the Tiger Way in real terms, without a whole lot of false-steps or wasted experimentation.  This year, “what is, is;  what ain’t, ain’t.”  The sooner you grasp this hard line of limitation we’re all going be toeing up to, the better.  So, in that way, the day is quite lucky for you, because “sooner” means “today”…!

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Water Tiger on duty today makes it a Triple Tiger Day, bringing into undiluted clarity—for the first time—the patient, bold, and cagey powers holding sway for the rest of the year.  It’s not to be underestimated, the great benefit we will all derive for this Clear Demonstration of the Tiger Way;  and that goes double for you.  Don’t waste energy trying to make progress or render results, today.  You should be putting your entire effort into taking the measure of What’s Here Now, and considering the full array of conceivable responses to it.  Mis-steps and miscalculations will put you into considerable discomfort this year.  To prevent them, “gather clarity before commitment.”  That’s almost the Tiger Motto, and you’ll see it on full display today, for the first time.  Don’t risk waiting for a second, before you start paying attention.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Water Tiger on duty today makes it a Triple Tiger Day, bringing into undiluted clarity—for the first time—the patient, bold, and cagey powers holding sway for the rest of the year.  The last few years, we’ve had to wait until most of the year has gone completely by before coming to a day such as this, when Simple Clarity finally becomes available.  Take notes today, and rejoice that this year the delivery of your Mission Statement arrives so early.  Pay attention to the rest of the world today, too.  If you can look towards the differences in behavior and demeanor they’re displaying now, you’ll get a sense of the Rules of Engagement we’re going to be acting under for the rest of the year, as well.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Water Tiger on duty today makes it a Triple Tiger Day, bringing into undiluted clarity—for the first time—the patient, bold, and cagey powers holding sway for the rest of the year.  You’ll read the signs loud and clear, today, no matter where you look.  And I think you’ll have no trouble recognizing the riffle of alignment spreading through the world around you, now that the Tiger Way is fully announcing itself.  Make sure you pay very close attention to the Tiger’s scrupulous sense of fairness:  as you fall into line, that sense is liable to be the one that causes you some trouble.  Pigs can do almost anything if they want to, and the Full Tiger Way is no exception.

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

Stare into Yīn, you cannot hold it under your gaze:  Yáng it becomes.  Grasping Yáng, again it’s Yīn.

Inward strength becomes quailing misery;  petty faults transform into inner confidence.

The new as it arrives has already grown old, the trusted and certain become stale and fickle.

The pattern is flickering, remaining inconstant;  as the High One said:  “Change is the nature of reality.”

“Ask the Grain King for the future, ask the Hell King for the past.”

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Saturday, 20th of February


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 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 Metal Ox on duty today has an open attitude, stable habits, and a deep and complex interest in the availability of resources and the tasks to which they can be applied.  This is a very good footing to bring the lessons you’ve learned over the past year into clear and rational focus, and to see them as the proper back-drop to the changes and opportunities arising as the Tiger makes himself more clear.  If you accept your minor scale in relation to the Behemoth Ox and the Bounding Tiger, you’ll be able to make your considerable strengths fall into service towards great purposes.  Use the SHUT Day to keep your thoughts calm, and prepare for your truth to come forward.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Metal Ox on duty today has an open attitude, stable habits, and a deep and complex interest in the availability of resources and the tasks to which they can be applied.  This should be an excellent day for reflection, and you’ll profit from looking back over the accomplishments of last year, and from assessing your ideas of success and failure, satisfaction and disappointment, taking a last view of them from the new Terrain of the Tiger.  After tomorrow’s First Tiger Day, such musings will be more fuzzy, and may tend only to serve your appetites for nostalgia or lingering habits of self-deprecation.  It’s a SHUT Day and the has gone down;  set your past down with it.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Metal Ox on duty today has an open attitude, stable habits, and a deep and complex interest in the availability of resources and the tasks to which they can be applied.  This is a condition highly congruent to the Metal Tiger Year, and should make it much easier to “clear your slate” today, in preparation for the First Tiger Day tomorrow.  Aim to maintain poise, above all else, and if you find yourself getting “thinky,” get outside into some aspect of the natural world, even if that means only staring out a window at the springtime branches of a tree.  This particular SHUT Day is a very powerful moment of waiting for you, and it’s best to feel what you’re waiting for is “nothing in particular.”

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Metal Ox on duty today has an open attitude, stable habits, and a deep and complex interest in the availability of resources and the tasks to which they can be applied.  As it’s also a SHUT Day, the movement of your will be easy and gracious, comfortably settling “inward and downward.”  Take the opportunity to review the last year—now that we’re past it—and breath out any recalcitrance, regret, or recriminations you may be holding on to.  Your Friend with the Stripes and Claws shares with your clan a Springtime Nature which thrives most when focussing on the future.  After the First Tiger Day tomorrow, such looking back will be much more difficult to trust, and even more difficult to work with.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Metal Ox on duty today has an open attitude, stable habits, and a deep and complex interest in the availability of resources and the tasks to which they can be applied.  Even given this Ox’s competence and rationality, I fear you may feel he represents the return of last year’s Nemesis, giving you reason to doubt your growing sensation that the Tiger has promised you a completely different regime, with a new set of challenges and realizations.  If that is so, let your spirits sink down today;  it is a SHUT Day, and a dour state of mind is actually healthy for you.  In addition, it will “wipe the slate” of your imagination, and prepare you properly for the First Tiger Day tomorrow.  Rest today, eat well, and do your stretches rather than exercise, per se.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Metal Ox on duty today has an open attitude, stable habits, and a deep and complex interest in the availability of resources and the tasks to which they can be applied.  You’ll find this condition—particularly as it falls on a SHUT Day—refreshingly cooling, and sympathetic to your nature.  It’s a good time to release any lingering attachments to your triumphs and trials over the year past, and to simplify your attitude in preparation for the First Tiger Day tomorrow.  “Fore-warned is fore-armed,” and if you’re cool and clear enough to make full use of your powers of observation, you’ll see your personal Warning Label for the Tiger Year, fully on view.  It will be written in big letters, so you won’t need to squint or puzzle it out.  Take the day to re-boot, and you won’t spend tomorrow in argument or resistance, based on out-dated presumptions.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Metal Ox on duty today has an open attitude, stable habits, and a deep and complex interest in the availability of resources and the tasks to which they can be applied.  This condition can lead you to a sense of restive frustration, so it’s fortunate that it’s also a SHUT Day, which can counter with a sense of sleepiness and easy-going lethargy.  Mind you, you have every reason to feel a flush of urging you to get out in the open and run free:  it’s Tiger Year!  But your success now depends not on the year’s suitability to your nature;  that should be taken as a fore-gone conclusion.  It depends much more on you commanding your will, and grasping your spirit, balancing exhilaration with poise.  So take the kindly restraint offered by the day, and let things settle.  It’s only for a day, and then it’ll be:  “….And …they’re off!”

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Metal Ox on duty today has an open attitude, stable habits, and a deep and complex interest in the availability of resources and the tasks to which they can be applied.  This is the last echo of the past year you may actually get some clarity from—now that you’re looking at it getting smaller in the rear view mirror.  After the First Tiger Day tomorrow, the view will have receded so far that it will begin to cloud over with skewed considerations, false memories, and habits of thought that express your nature more than they represent your history.  Since it’s a SHUT Day, this Last Look Back can be done with a cool head and a resting body, and will have much the same deep effect as putting the motel-room keys on the dresser, picking up your bag, walking out the door, and hearing the lock click behind you.  From here, you’ve got Driving On to do, down an open road, into the bright morning of a freshly-made future.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Metal Ox on duty today has an open attitude, stable habits, and a deep and complex interest in the availability of resources and the tasks to which they can be applied.  This is strangely predictive of your place in the New Scheme of Things, now that the Ox Year has passed.  If you can mimic this metallic style, keep open in your attitude, stabilize your habits, and attend to the meeting of resources and tasks-at-hand, then you have a good chance to get through the Regime of Stripes and Fangs with a minimum of disturbance and dejection.  Many of these words have the ring of “boredom,” I know, but that is a high virtue in the Chinese view, and in Daoist practice.  Today’s an excellent time to give it a try, and see how it actually feels.  You’ll be very grateful for having had the opportunity, if—under the Tiger’s glaring gaze—you can summon such practice, and put it into use.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Metal Ox on duty today has an open attitude, stable habits, and a deep and complex interest in the availability of resources and the tasks to which they can be applied.  Today will feel like coming to the high pass at the end of a long climb up a mountain road, where you can turn back for a moment and appreciate the grand vista and the very large accomplishment you’ve made, before continuing forward into new terrain, where considering your past Climb to Great Height will soon seem like an exercise in nostalgia or story-telling.  Take that pause today, and take in that vista.  When the First Tiger Day arrives tomorrow, a new view will register, demanding a new set of strategies, a new understanding of rules, limits, and travel advisories.  Let go of one, before you attend to the next.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Metal Ox on duty today has an open attitude, stable habits, and a deep and complex interest in the availability of resources and the tasks to which they can be applied.  While this may sound a bit dry and dull to you—and certainly lacking in opportunities for Frisking and Frolicking—I promise you it’s still a lucky day for the members of the Canine Clan.  Your excitement for the potentials and promise of the Tiger Year can at this point hardly be contained, but this moment of rationality and consideration prepares us all for the First Tiger Day tomorrow, when the stick will finally be thrown and you’ll bound happily after it into the weeds, into the lake, across the road, up the hill, or where-ever.  Take today to make memorial of the travails of the past year, and to grin about your well-tested endurance.  You must learn how you “don’t do well” to fully learn how to “best do well.”

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Metal Ox on duty today has an open attitude, stable habits, and a deep and complex interest in the availability of resources and the tasks to which they can be applied.  He’s also the Perfect Bouncer for temporarily blocking the door before the First Tiger Day, when the Way of Stripes and Claws will register in everyone’s attention, clear, bold, and unavoidable.  There’s going to be a lot of screaming and shouting, high excitement, and thrilling challenges thereafter, and we really ought to take this pause as an opportunity to correctly frame and appreciate just what sort of a journey we’re about to undertake.  “All ashore what’s goin’ ashore!” has been called, and the gangway is being raised.  Remember deeply all the difficulties you’ve gone through to get to this embarcation;  fold them up and stick them in a pocket where you can pat them now and again for good luck.

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

The breath goes out, like a silent sigh flowing down, like the acceptance of peace, and then there is a pause.

The breath comes in, like an ocean of air, like the rise of expectation, and again:  there is a pause.

Pause at the top, pause at the bottom: pause at the top, pause at the bottom.

What need for divinations?  Life passes through death, space above and void below:  “Yīn-and-Yáng in Transformation.”

“After the long day, even the sun wants to lie down.”

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Friday, 19th of February


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 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 Metal Rat on duty today has an eager wit and a cheerful willingness to recognize and maximize all the new opportunities entering with the Tiger’s good graces.  Follow your clan-mate’s example and feature the brighter and more out-going aspects of your nature.  The year is already showing the results of the fresh wind brought in by the Tiger, and your speedy assessments, clever ideas, and inventive practicality will be valued by all, if you’ll just give them time to catch up to the sheer rapidity of your thought process.  The most important resources for you to pay attention to today are your low-to-the ground view, and your from-the-ground-up engineering skills.  Start your foundation small, and build upwards from there.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Metal Rat on duty today has an eager wit and a cheerful willingness to recognize and maximize all the new opportunities entering with the Tiger’s good graces.  Many of them—particularly if they fall at all under the direction or influence of your Friend of the Round Ears—are going to be shuttled over to you, and you’ll know they’re for you, because they’ll appear right under your nose.  Consequently, you should honor both your nature and the spirit of the new time, by keeping your pace calm and confident, and keeping your eyes wide open.  You don’t want to risk discovering the new opportunities today by inadvertently flattening them under foot.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Metal Rat on duty today has an eager wit and a cheerful willingness to recognize and maximize all the new opportunities entering with the Tiger’s good graces.  This is a fortunate day for you, as your Friend with the Round Ears has quite a number of news items to read off to you as you go through the day, timed perfectly for you to first receive them, and then cautiously consider them.  When the First Tiger Day arrives on Sunday, you’ll have the platform to make your announcement of Current Thinking on Present and Future Possibilities.  We won’t expect any promises or commitments, given how young the year still is, but you may surprise yourself at how clear your vision will be.  For today, just let the information accrue.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Metal Rat on duty today has an eager wit and a cheerful willingness to recognize and maximize all the new opportunities entering with the Tiger’s good graces.  You’re going to have plenty of these new opportunities made available to you, but you should be cautious as to how many you entertain or take up.  With your year coming up in less than 52 weeks, it’s much more important for you to spend the Tiger Year at something less than 100% Drive, so you can enter the Year of the Hare without any serious energetic deficits.  For today:  unless you see something really remarkable, consider yourself (as all the little bon-bons of future potential happily float into view) to be merely window-shopping.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Metal Rat on duty today has an eager wit and a cheerful willingness to recognize and maximize all the new opportunities entering with the Tiger’s good graces.  Since the members of the Clan of Round Ears are ever your partisans, many of the day’s serendipities and quirky coincidents will have “Attention: Dragon” written all over them.  Maintain a cautious regard of the array as they pass across your view;  since we’re not yet past the First Tiger Day, it’s still a bit premature to stake your claim or run your flag up the flag-pole to see if anybody salutes.  And if you wait a bit longer—’til Tuesday, in fact—the Dragon Day will help to inform you of what impediments and challenges you may need to build into your equation this year, to get the results you’re after, once all the computation’s worked through.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Metal Rat on duty today has an eager wit and a cheerful willingness to recognize and maximize all the new opportunities entering with the Tiger’s good graces.  This bright condition will have special meaning for you, and holds the prospect of special benefit, as well.  The Clan of Round Ears maintains a wary eye where you and your clan-mates are concerned, but they do understand the strengths of your nature, and the value you can bring to the table.  Consequently, they’re more than willing to run blocking for you in regard to the Tiger’s more severe gaze.  Let the Rat do the driving today, and allow the sense of increasing optimism around you to wash over you like a warming tide.  Note well any rising opportunities as they occur, but try not to show any interest in them.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Metal Rat on duty today has an eager wit and a cheerful willingness to recognize and maximize all the new opportunities entering with the Tiger’s good graces.  The sort of general good-feeling this Rat brings onto the scene this year is likely to make you a bit confused, and perhaps dejected.  Your sensibilities are not strictly what he’s aiming to appeal to, and the speed of his language and thought-processes can seem off-putting, as if he’s only trying to show-off, or take a needlessly dominant position.  But if you remember it’s the Tiger who’s doing the driving for the year at large, you’ll be able to summon the patience and certitude to stay on course for the day.  There’s also a certain Weirdness Factor going on in the world around you today, which could be quite entertaining, if you can dial into it.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Metal Rat on duty today has an eager wit and a cheerful willingness to recognize and maximize all the new opportunities entering with the Tiger’s good graces.  You’re all about new opportunities in the New Year, and you’re also one of the few who can reckon with the sheer quantity of information and schematic diagrams the Friendly Rat can toss into the air.  Don’t bother trying to make any sense of things today;  you’ll only get into an infinite regression with The Tosser, trying to organize and prioritize what is essentially a whirl-wind.  Better to wait for your input until after the First Tiger Day on Sunday, when you’ll have a much better grasp of the Whole Drift of Things.  After that point, you prioritizations will be not only more efficient, they’ll be a whole lot more fun.  For today, be on one of those rides at the park where you’re supposed to get a bit dizzy.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Metal Rat on duty today has an eager wit and a cheerful willingness to recognize and maximize all the new opportunities entering with the Tiger’s good graces.  Your curiosities today are going to be rampant, with new things shining brightly all around you, and just begging to be lifted up, knocked around, or tested for taste, texture, and breakability.  But holding you today—as always—as a Particularly Close Friend, the Clan of Round Ears will be making strong and deft exertions to keep you calm and out of trouble.  The Rodent Plan is to see that you arrive with the proper attitude and preparation at the First Tiger Day on Sunday, when we’ll all get our first unimpeded view of the Great Stripéd One, enthroned in office.  Until then, make your Friend’s job a bit easier, and ask permission from whomever seems to be on duty, before taking steps today.  Come on, you’ll like it!  It’s just like playing “Mother May I” on the school-yard playground.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Metal Rat on duty today has an eager wit and a cheerful willingness to recognize and maximize all the new opportunities entering with the Tiger’s good graces.  Your quick vision and comprehension of Space As Distance will stand you in good stead, giving you a rare ability to grasp the complexities and potential interactions of the myriad happy possibilities the day seems to display.  Most others around you are going to be either mystified, awe-struck, or nursing a head-ache in response to the sheer pace of what’s going by, even though the spirit of the day will be almost universally bright and comforting.  Make remarks on the goings-on, if you like, but make them internally.  Your sense of etiquette is being tested today, and explaining or critiquing the Rat’s Fabulous Display will be seen by all as bad manners.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Metal Rat on duty today has an eager wit and a cheerful willingness to recognize and maximize all the new opportunities entering with the Tiger’s good graces.  If you want to get through the day without a raging head-ache, you’ll need to trust in that deep, newly-discovered sense you’ve been getting, that the New Year has already brought a fresh wind to your sails, and is carrying you to a much happier quarter of the compass.  The slide-show of happy possibilities being presented by the Clan of Round Ears is going by so rapidly that you’d imagine it must be a movie, except that all the frames also seem to have nothing to do with each other.  Not to worry:  it’s the Tiger who’s doing the driving this year, and if choices need to be made, he’ll be the one making them.  Take it all in like light flashing on rippling water, like the wind making wave patterns as it passes over a field of grain.  Sink into your senses, today, and enjoy.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Metal Rat on duty today has an eager wit and a cheerful willingness to recognize and maximize all the new opportunities entering with the Tiger’s good graces.  This will no doubt seem to you like arriving at the center of a Thrilling Carnival of the Possible, with no idea which among the myriad directions being pointed out is the one you want to pursue first.  Now, the Clan of the Round Ears always has a number of tricks available to make sure you can remain well-entertained, but the Tiger driving the year at large has more of a brief to see that you’re brought into satisfaction and a heightened state of accomplishment.  You’ll see that part of things much more clearly, after the First Tiger Day on Sunday.  For today, go ahead:  buy some cotton-candy, and throw some baseballs at milk-bottles.  You could very well go home with a couple of really silly prizes that will set you laughing each time you set eyes upon them.

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

Traveling southwards through mountain passes, and glimpsing dark shapes hidden in mist, suggested, not fully revealed:

Rounded slopes capped by rocky out-croppings, or fringed with somber branches, poised, glistening.

It’s as if the ground had called down the sky to take up its gift:  all yīn, all damp, all vitality of the soil, rising upwards.

With perfect manners, the sky will decline, and return the gracious offering:  Thunder will ring, and rain will come down, into the lake.

“Darkness is the best armor, silence the best shield.”

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Thursday begins the Lunar Week:

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