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• Tong Shu Time Workshop • SATURDAY 1 MAY •

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Friday, 30th of April


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

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE OX-BOY, the second day of the Northern Palace of the Black Tortoise.  The character for this Lunar Lodge means simply “ox” (牛 niú ), and in the most ancient tradition, it was related to the time when the oxen were freed from their labor in the fields, and from transporting goods by wagon, because of the onset of winter.  It was also associated with the sacrifice of an ox—dedicated to the sun, moon, and stars—as part of the winter’s feasting, and to prepare dried meat for storage.

Naming this Lunar Lodge for the lad minding the ox (rather than the ox himself) comes from a later tradition linking this Lodge (and tomorrow’s) with the romantic story of “The Ox-Boy and the Weaving Maiden.”  In the old folk-tale, these two are separated by her disapproving father, the King of the Sun.  He places the unlucky lovers at distance from each other in the sky, on opposite banks of the Celestial River (as the Chinese call the Milky Way).  The astronomical results of this sad affair are represented by the bright star Altair, in an asterism actually called “Ox-Herder,” and the brilliant Vega, second brightest in the northern skies, in an asterism called “Weaving Maiden.”

In keeping with the sad theme of this story, THE OX-BOY is an unlucky day, particularly for diversions from duty, and relying on others.  Consequently, new beginnings, contracts, and ceremonial events are inauspicious.  The austerities of fasting, retreat, and stillness are suggested by the lovers’ punishment, and can yield better results today.  Romance is “not to be trusted” today, though flirting is actually favored.  It could be said this way:  if one knows it’s “only flirting” ….then no harm done!  Real estate negotiations might seem a strange addition to the favorable activities, but they are in one sense like flirting;  the “romance of the deal” isn’t sealed, until the deal is accepted and signed-and-dated documents are exchanged.

The spirit animal for THE OX-BOY is, of course, the Ox.  This is the animal icon par excellence of a life of hard work, born with a good spirit, and without complaint.  The Ox has huge reserves of strength and stamina, and they make the Ox the foundation of whatever wealth can be brought forth from the land through labor.  The Ox, however, also has the winter-time away from the fields, and so he is also a symbol of serene solitude, and favors a life partly devoted to contemplation.  Through this attribution, THE OX-BOY is a day for resignation to duty, but in happy anticipation of the time when work will be over.

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 Metal Dog on duty today has a bright attitude, a quick grasp of essentials, and a bone-deep reliance on the power of repose, even though the influence of the Dragon Moon will mean much less resting, and much more snapping into action.  This is a highly workable condition for you, but you’ll have to feature your willingness to join the spirit of teamwork, and make sure your clever ideas are presented in the simplest and most direct terms.  Running ahead of the pack, or taking a side route for your own purposes will produce more snarls than benefit, so keep in agreement with the obvious consensus, and when asking questions, make sure that it’s to actually find out the answer, and not to demonstrate that you already knew.  Tomorrow’s Pig will bring much more opportunity for sheer fun, and for you to show your wit and wisdom, as well.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Metal Dog on duty today has a bright attitude, a quick grasp of essentials, and a bone-deep reliance on the power of repose, even though the influence of the Dragon Moon will mean much less resting, and much more snapping into action.  This condition will add a bit of resistance to your forward momentum, but only just enough for you to feel that you really are applying yourself in the proper direction.  You may have the sense that if you applied just a bit more force, you could break free and re-establish an independent line of progress, but that wouldn’t actually be such a good idea;  keeping your current pace is important for your accomplishments over the next two weeks.  There are some hidden challenges coming up shortly, and while they certainly won’t be insurmountable, you’ll do much better trying to build up momentum just before you get to them, rather than just now.  Tomorrow’s Pig may show you something of what I mean.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Metal Dog on duty today has a bright attitude, a quick grasp of essentials, and a bone-deep reliance on the power of repose, even though the influence of the Dragon Moon will mean much less resting, and much more snapping into action.  The Canine Clan delight in “snapping into action” on your account, of course, and so you can count on plenty of support for your style, and plenty of appreciation for your substance.  Take the day as light-heartedly as you can;  you’re due some free-and-easy time, anyway.  If you demonstrate even a minor willingness to let Serious Things slide, you’ll find the Dog presenting you with a parade of cunning gymnastic turns, and cracking jokes at random intervals, just to keep you in a happy mood.  Tomorrow’s Pig will add intelligence and strategic suggestions to the good feeling, and show you how easy it is for you to make up for any sense of Lost Time.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Metal Dog on duty today has a bright attitude, a quick grasp of essentials, and a bone-deep reliance on the power of repose, even though the influence of the Dragon Moon will mean much less resting, and much more snapping into action.  Normally, the Canine Clan take it as one of their fundamental duties to Get You To Work, but under this alignment, the tables will turn, and you’ll find the Dog exerting himself to offer to do things for you.  Be kind, however, and don’t make him run hither, thither, and yon;  pick one thing you’d like to aim for, and make sure you’ve got it in the bag, before you select and pursue the next.  On this plan, you’ll get lots of stuff settled before the day’s through, and feel like you’re not the one who had to break a sweat.  Tomorrow’s Pig will have a few things for you to do, but they’re all going to feel like party-going.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Metal Dog on duty today has a bright attitude, a quick grasp of essentials, and a bone-deep reliance on the power of repose, even though the influence of the Dragon Moon will mean much less resting, and much more snapping into action.  You’ll find yourself seriously—though temporarily—outnumbered and virtually surrounded under this alignment;  and to maintain composure—as well as position—you’ll have to drop your Full-Court Press, and settle for Bobbing and Weaving.  A Tactical Withdrawal might be entirely appropriate if things look as if they might be turning towards snags or lock-up.  If so, do your best to look like you’re wrapping things up and preparing for your departure, but do it very, very slowly;  if you can string out your Imitation of Surrender until tomorrow’s Pig arrives, you’ll have a fresh opportunity to take up the whole issue again, but from a completely different line of approach.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Metal Dog on duty today has a bright attitude, a quick grasp of essentials, and a bone-deep reliance on the power of repose, even though the influence of the Dragon Moon will mean much less resting, and much more snapping into action.  If you felt you made any progress at all yesterday—or achieved even the slightest level of satisfaction—then I’d advise you to spend today grinning gently, scraping your winnings off the table into your hat, and making gracious salutations to all as you make your way towards the door.  As brilliantly as your powers were functioning yesterday, they will have fallen out of fashion by today, and by tomorrow—when the Pig arrives—they’re going to look to the world around you like Prosecutable Felonies.  Making yourself scarce will be the height of practicality, and starting in that direction today will show your deep wisdom.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Metal Dog on duty today has a bright attitude, a quick grasp of essentials, and a bone-deep reliance on the power of repose, even though the influence of the Dragon Moon will mean much less resting, and much more snapping into action.  As stressful—though certainly not dangerous—as this alignment will be for your Canine Friends, it will be the source of a great deal of exhilaration for you, and an opportunity to feel you’re doing your best work simply by following your appetites towards the things you most like doing, anyway.  Take it as your job, then, to demonstrate to the world at large what Right Living actually looks like, and don’t be shy about expressing your good feeling and your gratitude at being able to Make A Difference.  Tomorrow’s Pig will hold a softer set of opportunities and rewards, and if you’ve blown off some steam today, you’ll be in the perfect mood to show your softer side, as well.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Metal Dog on duty today has a bright attitude, a quick grasp of essentials, and a bone-deep reliance on the power of repose, even though the influence of the Dragon Moon will mean much less resting, and much more snapping into action.  You have a special set of skills, and access to a particularly valuable area of information, which will have the Dog dropping most of what he’s dealing with right in your lap.  This is nothing new, and you’re going to be able to handle it all with your usual managerial mastery and aristocratic hauteur.  In fact, there’s only one thing you could do to turn the day into less than a triumph, and that is:  aiming for a little more, instead of a little less.  If you take your tasks today as an opportunity to demonstrate that we’re smack-dab in the middle of an Era of Diminishing Expectations, you’ll leave yourself that small amount of wiggle room necessary to dodge disaster and saunter on, cool, collected, and ready for whatever the next task might be.  Tomorrow’s Pig will enable you to return happily to your perpetual aim for Greater Efficiency—and might even demand it.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Metal Dog on duty today has a bright attitude, a quick grasp of essentials, and a bone-deep reliance on the power of repose, even though the influence of the Dragon Moon will mean much less resting, and much more snapping into action.  Much will be going on around you under this alignment, and for once, you’re not going to be very much involved in any of it.  To whatever degree you were able to absorb new information yesterday—and particularly if some of it stung your ears, a bit—you will find it much more valuable to spend today ruminating on those matters, rather than to take the much more normal path of diverting your attention with some Things To Do.  So let yourself feel a bit aloof today—and even a bit left out—turning your attentions to your Inward Circus, and leaving Visible Acrobatics to every one else to demonstrate.  When tomorrow’s Pig arrives to call you onto the carpet, you’re going to be glad you took the time to think through your feelings, reasons, and explanatory responses.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Metal Dog on duty today has a bright attitude, a quick grasp of essentials, and a bone-deep reliance on the power of repose, even though the influence of the Dragon Moon will mean much less resting, and much more snapping into action.  Towards the Clan of Feathers and Claws, such “snapping into” can also involve some “snapping at.”  So, as brilliant as your achievements and high feeling may have been yesterday, today you’ll have to settle for something more dull, and perhaps very slightly dangerous.  Mind you, what perils there are abroad today are eminently manageable, so you won’t be needing to check the expiration date on your health insurance card, or plan on fitting a trip to the emergency room into your schedule.  But in the Pecking Order of the world, when a Dog gets glared at, he wants to chomp on a Chicken.  Take yourself out of that loop, today, and find some place of comfy seclusion—even if it’s only in your mind—to review yesterday’s glories, and prepare for tomorrow’s challenges.  The Pig will be arriving, and you’ll likely be given a whole new set of instructions.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Metal Dog on duty today has a bright attitude, a quick grasp of essentials, and a bone-deep reliance on the power of repose, even though the influence of the Dragon Moon will mean much less resting, and much more snapping into action.  This should not be a cause of concern for you, for as much as the Dragon and Tiger both wish to raise your level of activity, the Tiger will be raising your spirit of willingness, and your eagerness to achieve, at least as high as the Dragon will be raising your state of concern, or your level of general alarm.  You should be prepared, however, for an extremely quick set of changes flowing by you, pretty much all day long.  If you can catch sight of 20% of them, and follow along at your best speed, you’ll be doing A+ work, and completely satisfying the demands of the day.  The trick will be to allow your idea of Tiger Nature to keep falling apart, and not to worry about getting it to fall back together too quickly.  This will be Highly Illuminating for you, and if we could only arrange 6 or 7 of this kind of day in a row, I could guarantee you that you’d be enlightened by the end of it.  Keep awake, and try to keep up;  tomorrow’s Pig will ring the meditation bell, ending the Zazen Session, and offering you tea and cookies.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Metal Dog on duty today has a bright attitude, a quick grasp of essentials, and a bone-deep reliance on the power of repose, even though the influence of the Dragon Moon will mean much less resting, and much more snapping into action.  Through your affinity with both the Dog and Tiger, you’ll be catching the angle of the Dragon’s influence in a way that will clarify your position, your aims, your current impediments, and your available range of Best Next Steps.  Whereas the Dog is going to be stimulated to action, you are going to be having a Philosophical Moment, like a Field Marshall looking down at the ongoing battle from a high promontory, and considering not just which steps to take next, but entering realization of the Nature of Engagement, itself.  If you do feel a need to step forward and take part, I can’t imagine that will damage your state of Aloof Rumination, but remember that it’s the Dog who’s on duty today, and when the Pig replaces him tomorrow, your realizations are going to be much more to the point than your recent history, however supportive or instrumental to the successes of the moment you may have been.

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

The night sky is flecked with the sparkling of the stars, giving meaning to her name, Great Black Lake;

The dark lake below lies still, and in perfect response catches the glint of each light, adding only a subtle shimmer.

Our world is a place of Glittering Dust, where we find our happiness at the utterance of a word, our hope in our own imaginations.

The beauty of the passing hour is as stealthy as a Tiger, stalking Time;  it is his silence which fills the heart with contentment.

“In flirting, it’s the eyes.  In asking, it’s the heart.  In promising, it’s the whole body.”

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• Tong Shu Time Workshop • SATURDAY 1 MAY •

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Thursday, 29th of April


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

The Lunar Lodge for today is THE LADLE, the first day of the week-long Northern Palace of the Black Tortoise.  This is named for an asterism of 6 stars, which so perfectly mimic the shape of Ursa Major, The Great Bear, that since that constellation is called “Northern Dipper” ( 北 斗 Běi Dǒu ), THE LADLE is called “Southern Dipper” ( 南 斗 Nán Dǒu ).  In antiquity, it was associated with the part of the year when grain stores were measured out (by the ladle-full), in order to properly plan for usage through the winter, and for payments made in grain.  Ten of the measuring “dippers” made one “bushel,” which is also a meaning of the character 斗 ( dǒu ).

This is an extremely auspicious Lunar Lodge, as might be expected from a sign concerned with “counting out wealth.”  It’s favorable for virtually all matters, from religious rituals, to excavation and construction, to political ambitions and accomplishment.  It is an indicator against nagging and over-indulging, perhaps because both will disturb the proper keeping track of the count.  The auspices of the day are quite favorable, and should not be squandered on such negativities.  ”When heaven sends a good day, don’t insult it with complaints.”

The spirit animal for THE LADLE is the Griffin, which is a rather loose translation for the original Chinese beast.  The Qí Lín (蜞 磷 ), as it’s called, is similarly mythological, and similarly composed of the parts of several different animals.  There is no exact equivalent in western language traditions, though it is most frequently translated as “unicorn.”  That’s understandable, perhaps, as one its animal components is the horse.  However, the Qí Lín has not one horn, but two antlers, like a deer, plus the scales of a snake, the head of a lion, the legs and hooves of a horse, etc.  In any case, like the Griffin, it’s appearance in the land is a beneficent sign of protection of the realm—and of its deserving rulers—and a harbinger of the greatest good fortune for all the citizens.  This underscores the highly favorable tone set by its Lunar Lodge.  As long as one can keep a cheerful and respectful attitude, the day is filled with good prospects.

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 Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant mastery of precision, but won’t be quite sure how far to lean on the good graces of the Dragon, or how deeply to trust in his growing comprehension of the Way of the Tiger.  For you, yesterday’s confidence must yield to today’s perspicacity, and where you had to soften your expressions of ambition and aim, today you’ll have to sharpen them, and make sure that you’re not including any serious omissions or ambiguities.  The Dragon and Fowl are quite capable of catapulting you forward, when they have the chance to act together, but you’ll benefit from having done all your considerations and calculations before you step onto the launching pad.  Tomorrow’s Dog will bring you back into the Tiger’s Gaze, and if you’re feeling triumphant by that time, you’d better do your best not to show it.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant mastery of precision, but won’t be quite sure how far to lean on the good graces of the Dragon, or how deeply to trust in his growing comprehension of the Way of the Tiger.  This particular Fowl has exactly the right balance of deft diplomacy and determined drive to entrance the forces of the Dragon, and put them all at your disposal.  As long as you don’t forget your proper etiquette, or act with such terse presumption that you seem self-righteous instead of grateful, you’ll find yourself firmly on your own tracks, and gliding forward with that kind of ease that makes you remember that actually, you do like feeling that you’re “hard at work.”  Not to worry, you’ll be getting a bit of friction added to the rails when tomorrow’s Dog arrives, so today just enjoy the flow, and make sure you’re taking the extra lee-way allowed you to show your sociable side, and to express your gratitude with enough pause around it that there’s no doubt how deeply you mean it.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant mastery of precision, but won’t be quite sure how far to lean on the good graces of the Dragon, or how deeply to trust in his growing comprehension of the Way of the Tiger.  The Rooster Regimen always seems to include some kind of an accounting, and supported by the Dragon Moon, you can be sure you’re not going to be able to slink through the day without submitting yourself to a proper analysis and full report.  Remember that this is all for your own good—even considering how much you hate being told, “stand here,” and “this won’t hurt a bit.”  Snarl a bit if you must, but the more you apply your scrupulous honesty to your own condition today, the more you’ll gain out of the remaining two weeks of the Dragon Moon, and the better you’ll find yourself functioning for the rest of the year.  Tomorrow’s Dog will arrive with lollipops and comic books to reward you for your tolerance and bravery—even if you were being an Adorable Brat about some things.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant mastery of precision, but won’t be quite sure how far to lean on the good graces of the Dragon, or how deeply to trust in his growing comprehension of the Way of the Tiger.  Your pathway is never quite clear when it’s being shown to you by the Clan of Feathers and Claws, and that goes double when they’re supported by the Pesky Dragon.  Fortunately for you, while the Tiger can’t do much to intercede on your behalf, he can do you the favor of slipping you a mickey, requiring your eyelids to sag, and your limbs to feel very, very heavy, and your will to fail …to resist …the soft suggestion …to …simply…  ….sleep…..  Think of it as battening down your own hatches, and curling up where it’s warm and cozy, to let the storm rage and howl outside.  If you do have to keep alert—and head out into storm—make sure you’re not making the fatal presumption that you can do anything to Fix The Situation.  Just “suffer through” with lowered expectations, and count on the Dog arriving tomorrow to reward your tolerance with hot drinks, dry clothes, and a nourishing meal.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant mastery of precision, but won’t be quite sure how far to lean on the good graces of the Dragon, or how deeply to trust in his growing comprehension of the Way of the Tiger.  With the Moon still so fully radiant in the night sky, this particular Rooster will have you feeling as high as the Silver Orb itself, and floating along on your own sense of proportionality and precision.  Don’t blow it by trying to sound your own trumpet, or by striving to make the feeling last:  it is real, but it’s also entirely ephemeral.  Tomorrow’s Dog is going to put the ball out of your court, and turn your high arc towards a potentially hard landing.  Keep your attention on the powers you wish to bring forward for the full length of the year, and don’t allow fascination with the moment to dull your vision.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant mastery of precision, but won’t be quite sure how far to lean on the good graces of the Dragon, or how deeply to trust in his growing comprehension of the Way of the Tiger.  If you can’t make good use of this alignment of Friendly Forces today, to deepen your comprehension and appreciation of the differences between your natural proclivities, and those of the Tiger (with which you must ultimately harmonize your actions this year) then I don’t know when you’re going to be able to do so.  All your powers of awareness are at their height, and your seductive charm hasn’t had this great a chance of finding a practical target since some time last winter.  Keep your ambitions low and earthy, and you’ll have a jubilant day;  borrow some of the Dragon’s Big View, and the Fowl’s Sharp Exactitude, and you’ll give even your enemies reason to reconsider your track record in a scrupulously positive light.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant mastery of precision, but won’t be quite sure how far to lean on the good graces of the Dragon, or how deeply to trust in his growing comprehension of the Way of the Tiger.  The goofy groundlessness that gave such good opportunity for accomplishment yesterday, will resolve into a sharp sense of exactly where you are, exactly what you’re doing, and—more importantly—exactly what you don’t like about either one.  However, your taste for truth will give you boldness and courage, and if you look beyond the little annoyances, you’ll find that the tasks at hand can provide a satisfaction that far outweighs them.  Expect to be put through your paces, and perhaps to be surprised at how well you perform them.  Tomorrow’s Dog will arrive with your reward for showing a Good Heart, and a Willing Eye towards the high potentials of your Very Near Future.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant mastery of precision, but won’t be quite sure how far to lean on the good graces of the Dragon, or how deeply to trust in his growing comprehension of the Way of the Tiger.  As contemplative and quizzical a spirit as the Tiger can put you in, the Dragon can almost always be counted on to give rise to your critical and interventionary side;  today’s Rooster will make you feel both of these aspects quite clearly, and leave you wondering which of them you should be deepening, and which you should be setting aside—at least for the day.  My answer—of course—is:  do both.  This will naturally enough have the effect of making you take a step backwards, cock your head, put a hand to your chin, and say to yourself:  “Hmmmm…..”  This is exactly right!  The Fowl’s contribution to your palette is to supply you with the technical exactitude needed to apply critique to your own view and function, but you must—unfortunately—put your engine completely out of gear to do so.  Every little “Oh!” you experience today—however inconsequential or ephemeral each may seem at the outset—will be adding Extra Credit Points to your current average;  if you’ve not gotten up to at least an A- by sunset, I’d be highly surprised.  Mark my words:  you’re going to have Stripes and a Long Tail by the time snows start to fall…

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant mastery of precision, but won’t be quite sure how far to lean on the good graces of the Dragon, or how deeply to trust in his growing comprehension of the Way of the Tiger.  Where the Dragon is ever your Mentor and Protector, the Rooster has this knack of being both Good Buddy and Nagging Conscience;  both provide you with benefit, but between the two of them, the Rooster is a little more appropriate for you this year, as his interventions and inspirations fall well out of the view and interest of the Terrible Tiger.  Now, when both of these Benefactors appear together, the onus is on you to respect each style of support, but to lean towards The Buddying and The Nagging.  You’ll find plenty of space today to burble on about your experience, and your position, and your concerns, and your worries, and your hopes and plans;  but you’ll also find a requirement to attend to the replies coming back at you from across the table, and to fully process the meat and meaning of them.  Don’t waste this rare opportunity:  get it all off your chest, and then really listen.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant mastery of precision, but won’t be quite sure how far to lean on the good graces of the Dragon, or how deeply to trust in his growing comprehension of the Way of the Tiger.  You might imagine that, between the Two of these choices, I’d be advising you to turn towards Stripes and Prowling …and I was just about to!  But then, it seems, the radiant Full Moon sent me a Moon Beam with this attached to it:  “Never aim for security at the sacrifice of excellence.”  And the truth is, you’ll have a hard time thinking back to a day when you could so soaringly demonstrate the bright and matchless elegance that this day will be making possible.  So I say:  demonstrate you own good graces, and let your Lessons In Tigering take that slight turn, off into the Chicken Dimension.  Be presumptuous for the day, and test your comprehension through imaginative action.  By the end of the day, you may find Tigers around you wondering how they could get themselves a Suit of Feathers.  Tomorrow—I must warn you—the Dog will be arriving, and the Golden Coach will be turning back into a pumpkin, the Four White Steeds back into lab mice.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant mastery of precision, but won’t be quite sure how far to lean on the good graces of the Dragon, or how deeply to trust in his growing comprehension of the Way of the Tiger.  Every now and then—as if just to prove to you that the world is never a completely resolved place, and that the Will of the Tiger is whimsical and sometimes arbitrary—we have to have one of these days coming back around the circuit, when things don’t so much “go wrong,” as start out in Wrong, twist around a bit to show their Wrong side, and then careen off into some corner of the room, to wheeze and cough up a stinking little pile of Wrong.  Not to worry;  this is all temporary, and will be quite short-lived.  Cherish any boredom that arises today, and treasure any sense that you’re Being Left Out.  If you can face the Wrong, and not feel Wrong, you’ll be doing Grade-A work, regardless of what anyone else says.  Tomorrow, the Dog arrives in the nick of time, and will show you the other side of the Tiger’s whimsy and arbitration.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Earth Fowl on duty today has a mature grasp of proportionality and a brilliant mastery of precision, but won’t be quite sure how far to lean on the good graces of the Dragon, or how deeply to trust in his growing comprehension of the Way of the Tiger.  This condition will not put the steering wheel back in your hands, really, but it will at least give you access to the full set of maps, and—if necessary—the keys to the trunk, where the tool-kit, spare tire, and lifting-jack are located.  Let’s hope you don’t run into any such conditions that might bring the risk of getting your knuckles banged, and your clothing soiled;  but even if you do, I think you’ll find repairs, wherever needed, will go forward quite elegantly, and you’ll soon be back on the road, taking in the scenery, and breathing in the sheer sense of free-flowing movement.  Do enjoy the lack of responsibility on your part, once things get going again. (It is one of your most reliable appetites, after all.)  And look forward to the Dog’s arrival, tomorrow;  he’ll be turning the vehicle right into your own drive-way, and delivering you to your own front-door.

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

The Moon appears in the depth of dusk, and climbs a stairway of clouds, like a queen ascending to her throne.

With casual solemnity, she peers downward into the dark lake, and sends out her heavenly radiance, like a gesture of command.

Cooly, as if to clear her view, she scatters the clouds like a summer bed-curtain, and rises free into the field of stars:

Round as the spreading ripples, glancing across the waters, pure as emptiness, chilling the immortal night.

“Don’t dig without taking up your shovel;  don’t take office without remembering your faults.”

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Wednesday, 28th of April


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

The Lunar Lodge for today, THE BASKET ( 萁 ), is named for the asterism that completes the week-long course of the moon across the Eastern Palace of the Azure Dragon.  The original meaning of the character for this Lunar Lodge was a “manuring tray” or “refuse basket.”  The gatherings held in it would be mixed with soil, discarded plant material, and lime—to lower acidity—and then spread on the fields as fertilizer, and used to sprout seeds and young plants.  (Composting is a very ancient practice!)  Much later, THE BASKET became associated with the harvesting season, and was thought of as a “winnowing basket,” used to separate the grain from the chaff by tossing it up in the air, allowing the wind to blow the lighter chaff aside, and the clarified grain to fall back and be caught again in the basket.  This later meaning may be a transposition of an earlier attribution:  among its many other ancient names, this asterism was also called “Mouth of the Winds” ( 風 口 Fēng Kǒu ), and ruled the Eight Winds, coming from the Eight Directions.

This is a very bright and favorable indicator for the day, which is perfectly understandable when one considers the favorable impact of this very human category of invention:  ”something to carry stuff in.”  The practical utilities of gathering, holding, storing, and transporting, which THE BASKET represents, all contribute significantly to agriculture throughout the year, and so this must be regarded as an auspicious image.  Through this attribution, the day is auspicious for mixing, carrying, storing, transporting in both the literal as well as the figurative senses.

The spirit animal for THE BASKET is the Leopard, smallest of the four Great Cats (tiger, lion, jaguar, and leopard), but certainly the strongest for its size.  The Leopard’s ability to drag the kill up a tree, and wedge it into the fork of a branch for storage, is quite extraordinary.  They can do this with prey that are up to 45% of their own weight.  They’re not particularly picky hunters, and will stalk and kill with equal expertise anything from small rodents and birds, to large antelope and deer.  The elegance, power, and agility of the Leopard, make his connection to THE BASKET an indication that it signifies not just lightness and flexibility, but strength,  sturdiness, and a willingness to accept “whatever is offered,” as well.

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 Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Dragon and Tiger will be pulling his attention in opposite directions, and testing his ability to balance opportunity to move forward against reason to withdraw.  Your affinities with Dragon and Monkey will definitely put your considerations on the side of moving forward, but you’re fortunate to have enough conversancy with the Clan of Stripes and Claws to see the importance of maintaining moderation in the expression of your ambitions, and to adhere scrupulously to the Tiger’s Rule: “Fair’s fair.”  Summon your confidence, and speak from your heart, but remember the Monkey’s ability to jump back suddenly if threatened;  it could come in handy.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Dragon and Tiger will be pulling his attention in opposite directions, and testing his ability to balance opportunity to move forward against reason to withdraw.  This is not a condition with much more fluidity than yesterday, but at least it’s providing more traction.  The Monkey will be adding a different class of opportunities than has been available for most of this year, and with the Dragon’s support, they will provide a new set of foot-holds for your progress.  Tomorrow’s Fowl will clear the path before you, and allow you to recoup almost all the forward inertia you’ve lost in the last couple of days;  let your energetic output rise slowly today, aiming to hit your optimum balance of pace and control, tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Dragon and Tiger will be pulling his attention in opposite directions, and testing his ability to balance opportunity to move forward against reason to withdraw.  Add the Monkey’s pesky teasing to the Dragon’s formidable challenge—requiring you to rise to the level of your greatest potential—and what you have here is a Rather Taxing Day, without even the benefit of the satisfaction due you when you’ve applied yourself fully, done your best, and can therefore reward yourself with one of your favorite indulgences.  Indulgences, I’m afraid, are on the Off List, and you’ll have to make do with small diminishments of What’s Bugging You.  Take a pass on social engagements, unless they’re with those who delight in offering you consolation, encouragement, and support.  Make sure you get your exercise regimen in, today, but don’t let it turn into a heavy duty workout.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Dragon and Tiger will be pulling his attention in opposite directions, and testing his ability to balance opportunity to move forward against reason to withdraw.   If you had a properly comforting rest yesterday—and by that I don’t mean to imply that you did not get a lot of work accomplished—then you’ll most likely feel a rise in energy today, that you could take as meaning that the wind is coming up in your sails, setting you ready for a romping trek across the waves.  Be cautious;  the weather coming in may inspire your appetite for adventure—and even for a bit of swash-buckling and cutlass-swinging—but the system’s front is not really coming through until tomorrow, with the arrival of the Pesky Fowl.  That good reason to raise your sails today, is going to transform into better reason to rig for storm-running, and to batten down all hatches.  So take it lightly today, and don’t be too concerned about tomorrow:  fore-warned is fore-armed.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Dragon and Tiger will be pulling his attention in opposite directions, and testing his ability to balance opportunity to move forward against reason to withdraw.  The Monkey’s thoughtless quickness is going to be turning up the speed of all your concerns, and bolting through problems that have seemed to be in a dead-stall for so long, you might have thought they were never going to budge.  Keep your wits about you, and don’t try to physicalize your gestures more than is necessary;  this is a day for words, indications, and delegation.  The Tiger is not going to be entirely pleased with this condition today, so all your steps of progress should be considered as temporary gains, which will require at some time that you drop back to re-assert them, and perhaps to re-adjust their placements and functions, given the developments of time and personnel.  Still, there may be much to be quite pleased about by the time the sun sets.  Plan on a small celebratory dinner, and don’t stay up too late;  tomorrow will be just as productive, and much less likely to stiffen the Tiger’s recalcitrant attitude.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Dragon and Tiger will be pulling his attention in opposite directions, and testing his ability to balance opportunity to move forward against reason to withdraw.  Even though this Monkey is going to seem rather non-committal, and somewhat confused as to aims to pursue—and, very likely, positions to re-trench—your spirits under the Shimmering Dragon are set to rise high, and you’ll know exactly what you want to do with the day.  Don’t waste time trying to get agreement, or hunting up playmates to share in the fun;  just follow your interest, and let it take you where it will.  The only real warning I must offer you is that you’re playing on borrowed time:  when the Dog arrives in two days, you had better be willing to drop your toys, and find a much lower visibility.  If you feature your love of secrecy today, then you should find plenty of enjoyment, some of it quite goofy and dizzying.  Tomorrow you can afford to be more public, and you will most likely also feel a bit more sane.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Dragon and Tiger will be pulling his attention in opposite directions, and testing his ability to balance opportunity to move forward against reason to withdraw.  Your sense of the stresses that this alignment will bring forward will be quite acute, and if you focus only on how you feel about things—or how you imagine things might turn out—I can’t promise you much enjoyment of productivity through the day.  However, the concrete possibilities for the day are actually quite solid, and if you focus on what you’re actually doing, and aim to find small ways to make physical improvements—as if to develop a more unified sense of your body relating to the space it’s in—then the auspices are excellent for hitting a high level of results, and for reaching a true feeling that you’ve done your part to your utmost.  Now, if you take that path, you should have both the time and the appetite for some “free-running” in the late afternoon or early evening.  Surprise yourself:  don’t decide what to do with that time, just start doing it.  Your appetites and intuitions will be just as reliable as yesterday—but your sense of goofy possibility will definitely be higher.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Dragon and Tiger will be pulling his attention in opposite directions, and testing his ability to balance opportunity to move forward against reason to withdraw.  The speed of action, and the complexity of ricocheting results, which the Dragon and Monkey foster whenever they arrive together, will definitely make themselves clear today, and have you functioning close to your technical limit, just to keep up a minimum sense of responsibility.  There will be many fresh new opportunities seeming to make themselves known, but be advised that a good percentage of them will be False Starts;  consequently, you’ll be wise to limit your investment of commitment at their outset, waiting until a little bit of track-record has been established before you throw yourself whole-hog into their support or resolution.  And beyond that—partially due to the Tiger’s recalcitrance and irritation—not many of the new directions are scheduled to achieve any fulfillment until tomorrow or Friday.  So even if you only succeed in “keeping things from coming completely unhinged,” count that as a score of 80 out of 100, give yourself a solid B for the day, and get to bed early tonight, so you can raise your grade with all the Extra Credit Points that will be available when the Fowl comes in tomorrow.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Dragon and Tiger will be pulling his attention in opposite directions, and testing his ability to balance opportunity to move forward against reason to withdraw.  Now, you might imagine that this sort of push-me-pull-you condition of opposing counter-directions would mean you’re due to find yourself in a state of functional paralysis, as if in a Monster-Chasing-Me Dream, in which you really need to run, but find that none of your limbs are willing to do anything but move as slowly as if they were stroking through thickly gelatinous goo.  If so, you’re to be congratulated for fully recognizing half the truth of the situation.  The other half of it, though, is that it’s not your dream you’ll be running through, but the Friendly Dragon’s;  and all you have to do to summon your lightning reflexes, your supple agility, and your puckishly devil-may-care attitude, is to pay no attention to what you think you should do, and instead look around to see very simply what the condition obviously requires.  If you need to get a bit more personally connected to achieve a sense of certainty and comfort through the day, simply pick someone at random, nominate them as the Designated Dragon, and let them tell you what to do.  Tomorrow, you’ll get to make some sense of the whole thing, in that “Oh!  I had this weird dream!” sort of way.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Dragon and Tiger will be pulling his attention in opposite directions, and testing his ability to balance opportunity to move forward against reason to withdraw.  Your weirdly more global state of attention yesterday is going to resolve into that typical all-over-the-place style of action we’re all so used to seeing, when the Monkey comes in to rule the day.  However, as the Dragon and Tiger are dampening the Monkey’s usual heedlessness, there will be much more room for you to insert small moments of guidance, and to make subtle influence with that deft precision you’re so famous for.  Don’t over-do it;  you’ll have plenty of opportunity for follow-through and rebound points tomorrow, when your Clan-Mate comes on duty.  Think of today as an opportunity to do just the set-up for one of those amazing exhibition shots the pool-player experts do;  I’d use the metaphor of a huge domino array, designed to fall in a long, long wave, each domino perfectly knocking over the next, except that setting up all those dominos is way more work—and far more tedious—than what you’ll need to do today.  If you find yourself whistling while you work today, it’s only because you ought to be.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Dragon and Tiger will be pulling his attention in opposite directions, and testing his ability to balance opportunity to move forward against reason to withdraw.  In the Army, they have this saying:  “Hurry up, and wait.”  It’s part of the Army Way of doing things.  That’s a pretty close description for what you’re facing while the Monkey’s in charge, trying to carry out the Dragon’s directions, but aiming to stay well out of the Tiger’s way.  Not an easy path to tread, even for the Clan of the Long Tail, masters of magic though they may be.  For your part, you’ll notice a great deal of hustling and bustling, and generally frenzied goings-on, and you’ll first get shouted at for lagging behind, and then—once you arrive at your battle station, properly armed and armored—you’ll have to stand around pretty much doing nothing, but without the benefit of actually relaxing, for what will seem like hours on end.  Try not to complain to anyone but a fellow soldier, and cherish the blank times;  tomorrow’s Fowl will turn the tables almost exactly.  To invoke a saying from the Navy this time, used by aviators to describe flying: “It’s hour upon hour of tedious boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror.”  Not to worry, you’ll can fully expect a safe landing—and probably a celebratory round of drinks at the back of the hangar—on Friday when the Dog comes on duty.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Earth Monkey on duty today is normally well-centered and well-organized, but the Dragon and Tiger will be pulling his attention in opposite directions, and testing his ability to balance opportunity to move forward against reason to withdraw.  You’ll have to relinquish your Svengali Command of the world around you today—or at least of the nearby citizens in it.  The Dragon and Monkey are going to be dancing wildly through Tiger Town, and it will be very difficult for you to determine—while it’s going on at least—what part of the frenzied whirling is putting some thing up, and what part is tearing something down;  you certainly won’t be able to tell whether either or both parts are a Good Idea, or Not.  So, let the world have it’s own recognizance for the day, and let things run by their own clockwork, at least until tomorrow, when the Fowl on duty will make a higher priority of clarity, and inspire a tone of rationality, and mechanical good-sense.  At that point, you’ll be able to render even more information from the Trance Induction Seminar you were running yesterday, and you can plan on applying the data to highly efficient effect over the next three to six days;  you’ll be impressed with the results.

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

Well before the glowing Dragon Moon will rise at dusk, like a round lantern hoisted into the late spring skies,

The God of Medicine and the Field Marshall of Wealth come sauntering through town, laughing, arm-in-arm.

With the dawn-light they sweep into view, shedding their radiance with warmth to rival the Sun’s.

Strange traveling partners, perhaps;  but they’d not seem so, if only they’d thought to bring the God of Success along with them.

“The rising moon deserves respect;  the rising sun deserves gratitude.”

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Tuesday, 27th of April


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

The Lunar Lodge for today, THE TAIL ( 尾 Wěi ), is named for an asterism of nine stars which also form the tail of Scorpio, the Scorpion, in western astronomy.  This is of course, THE TAIL of the Azure Dragon of the Eastern Palace.  As THE HEART represented the emperor and his palace, this Lunar Lodge represented the eastern wing of the palace, where the imperial family resided.  It was associated with the empress (embodied by one of its stars), the first rank of concubines, and the royal princes.  This image supports several of the activities for which this Lunar Lodge is favorable:  childcare, reliance on superiors, and rising in office (meaning, in the classical case, “in the service of the emperor.”)  Similarly:  domestic strife, undue emotionality, and over-indulgence, are all damaging to family order and harmony, and therefore are particularly inauspicious under this Lunar Lodge.

The spirit animal for THE TAIL is the Tiger, who is the complement to the Dragon, on the east-west axis.  Dragon-and-Tiger is a ubiquitous icon of expertise in the martial arts.  Their polarity also illustrates the balance of Eastern (Springtime) and Western (Autumn)  in fengshui practice.  The Tiger is Yáng in relation to most of the other Twelve Animals, but not to the Dragon.  In its attribution to this Lunar Lodge, the Tiger shows that it is Yīn (since it is terrestrial) in complement to the celestial energy of springtime and dawn, represented by the Azure Dragon.  Like the Tiger, an icon of boldness and honesty, this Lunar Lodge is regarded as free of impediments to the pursuit of one’s properly prepared actions, and auspicious for those with strength of heart and rectified character.  Avoid scheming and recriminations today;  the straight-forward path is best.

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 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 may find it difficult to take any steps at all when confronted by the alarming and entrancing dance of the Dragon and Tiger.  Your complexity of conception and willingness to respond to changing circumstances are ever the equal of the Clan of Fleece and Horns, but you’re in a much better position to find forward steps, and to evaluate how much progress you can expect by taking them.  Try to keep as close to a 360º awareness as you can, and don’t hesitate to offer suggestions or assistance to those around you.  If you meet with disagreement or obstruction, swerve around them rather than leaning into them.

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 may find it difficult to take any steps at all when confronted by the alarming and entrancing dance of the Dragon and Tiger.  This is one condition in which you’ll find yourself strangely in agreement with the Clan of Fleece and Horns, as events today will put you in an equally distracted state, and leave you wondering which foot goes ahead of which.  On the other hand, as comfortable as you are with generating and then trusting in sheer momentum, you’ve got a very good chance of getting through the day without major mishap—and even without much wasted energy—as long as you take it as a Time for Coasting;  wait until tomorrow to put your oars back in the water to start re-building speed.  In truth, “speed” isn’t really what this Moon is about for you;  it’s more about tolerance in the face of re-adjustments that you don’t really feel are necessary, but are very likely to benefit from, even if they weren’t your idea.

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 may find it difficult to take any steps at all when confronted by the alarming and entrancing dance of the Dragon and Tiger.  The rather slack attitude this Sheep must necessarily take today, will provide you with just the right space to catch your breath and renew your sense of your own composure, before diving back into the next set of tests the Dragon has in store for you.  These are going to be mainly about your own mis-givings, and about your responses to the world when you’re not in your happiest state of certainty or confidence.  The Monkey will be coming on duty tomorrow, after all, and this is almost his Job Description where Tigers are concerned:  tease mercilessly, and stay frustratingly out of reach.  For today however, aim towards organization, and don’t press yourself to do anything you don’t fundamentally enjoy or see true value in.

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 may find it difficult to take any steps at all when confronted by the alarming and entrancing dance of the Dragon and Tiger.  This is a strange Moon for you, when the Tiger is stroking you into calm and inattention, and the Dragon is raising your ire with noisy rattlings you find no music in.  Today’s Sheep is not going to be giving you much of an agenda to demonstrate your progress against, but will at least be offering a kind of reassuring silence and quietude.  It might seem as if you’ve been invited into the really elegant part of the Grand Library, where they have all the overstuffed leather chairs, and the little side-tables where you can accept a cup of tea or a glass of sherry, while you peruse the newspapers from foreign capitols, or curl up with a novel by your favorite long-dead author.  And if you happened to fall asleep in your comfy chair?  Who would even notice?  (Sssshhh…..  This is going to be very good for you!)

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 may find it difficult to take any steps at all when confronted by the alarming and entrancing dance of the Dragon and Tiger.  As argumentative as the Clan of Fleece and Horns can be concerning your aims, motive, strategies, and tactics, this member of the Clan will be more than happy to regard the argumentation as a neatly measured Gentleman’s Game, rather than a pitched battle.  And in truth, he’s more interested in finding what you think about what he thinks, than in addressing or vanquishing the various facets of your position.  Consequently, you may find some respite from the physicalities of the last few day, and the strains—which have no doubt had some stressing effects on your physical well-being—will resolve into mere concepts, as supple and transformable as clouds.  And isn’t that just where the Dragon lives, after all?  So think of today as a chance to touch your home-base, and plan on coming forward with renewed energies when the Monkey comes on duty tomorrow, ready to jump to your command—and maybe even before it.

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 may find it difficult to take any steps at all when confronted by the alarming and entrancing dance of the Dragon and Tiger.  This is a condition offering you more space than substance with which to work, and it presents you with an obvious choice.  You can either increase the Sheep’s bedazzlement by adding even more complexity than the Dragon and Tiger are already displaying, or you can aim to simplify the entire scenario by displaying that Art of Practicality, of which you are the past master.  The first choice will no doubt add to your reputation, and impress everyone with the powers of your alluring charm, but it will leave you in a position of starting from scratch when the Monkey enters tomorrow and shows you in a harsher—and more trouble-some—light.  The second choice will not only give you more concrete and testable results today, but will also put you in the perfect state from which to tap the Monkey for his dance, and waltz across the room in a perfect flow of rhythm and grace.  The Dragon will still be on your side, but as the Tiger may feel more irritated tomorrow, your two choices can hardly be said to be equivalent.

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 may find it difficult to take any steps at all when confronted by the alarming and entrancing dance of the Dragon and Tiger.  The Sheep can sometimes be a bit bossy and presumptuous where the Clan of Hooves and Mane are concerned, though always in a way that is so tenderly congruent with your needs and nature, that you very rarely feel the brunt of the brusque and insistent diplomacy for which they are famous among the entire Menagerie.  Today, however, as the conditions align to put the Sheep into a mood for musing and wondering, rather than marching down his agenda, you have an opportunity to feel the steering wheel fall into your own hands, and to allow the Sheep to take the responding position of co-pilot and navigator.  This will seem entirely appropriate to all observers as well, given your high spirits and glorious accomplishments over the last few days, so don’t worry about appearances;  your intuitions will be at their peak, and your appetites will be sound.  Ask whatever questions you want, and expect well-intentioned answers;  pick whatever directions you want, and enjoy the view.

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 may find it difficult to take any steps at all when confronted by the alarming and entrancing dance of the Dragon and Tiger.  Generally speaking, you view the Tiger as an unknown quantity, and the Dragon as an all-too-familiar wrench in your works;  but their confluence today, under the effect of your Clan-Mate, will offer you an entirely different experience of them both.  You have the chance to see the ways in which the Tiger and Dragon are almost two sides of the same coin, to grasp the manner in which their shyness and drama reflect each other, their directness and elusiveness imply each other.  This is a day, then, to back off on accomplishment, and linger on points of aesthetics, philosophy, and style, tuning your own nature to the Grand Scale of the Dynamic Duo, and expanding your own conception of What’s Possible to match it.  Tomorrow’s Monkey will have you back at Putting Out Fires, soon enough;  you might as well replenish your water-tanks while you’re waiting, and perhaps enlarge them, as well.

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 may find it difficult to take any steps at all when confronted by the alarming and entrancing dance of the Dragon and Tiger.  This condition suggests a quality of high activity responded to with deep calm, the way children sometimes stare up into a sky illuminated by the flash and multi-colored flare of a fireworks display.  You’re naturally more likely to be snooping around to see if you can find any unexploded fire-crackers you can set off, but this is not a year for you to make the fatal presumption of The Usual.  Try something different, and see if you can catch the state of fascinated awe in which the Sheep finds himself.  You have a very rare opportunity to behold the intimate way in which your empowering affinity with the Friendly Dragon interpenetrates your trembling enmity with the Terrible Tiger.  If you can actually see that today, it will make fire-works seem small and uninteresting by comparison.

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 may find it difficult to take any steps at all when confronted by the alarming and entrancing dance of the Dragon and Tiger.  Your more normal interactions with the Clan of Fleece and Horns are troubled by considerations of Final Aim and Immediate Timing;  it’s very common that you find it difficult to come to comprehension of each other’s differences in these matters, and even more unlikely that you’ll reach some level of functioning agreement.  Today, however, the Sheep is in a sort of trance;  not really inactive, but much more willing to “take it all in,” rather than to “lay it all out.”  This will have the rather surprising effect not of quickening the pace of your interjections—as if to take advantage of the Sheep’s lack of objections or re-adjustments—but of broadening the view you take of the options before you, giving you one of the very rare experiences of seeing to the wide sides of questions and opportunities, while still staring straight at the center of them.  You might feel as if you have eyes in the back of your head, and perhaps even a periscope with which to take in a 360º view, as well.  Don’t waste this rare condition on trying to make use of it;  drink it in, and take it as one of the Tiger’s gifts to you for maintaining proper respect and restraint.

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 may find it difficult to take any steps at all when confronted by the alarming and entrancing dance of the Dragon and Tiger.  One of your specialties is the masterful way in which you can work the powers and interests of the Clan of Fleece and Horns against themselves, insinuating your purposes onto their agendas, and then stepping back to watch them accomplish the results.  As much power as the Tiger is lending you this year, however, today’s Sheep has arrived with no agenda at all—at least not one that he’s interested in hanging on to.  Consequently, you’re going to find that your purposes are you own, your powers are your own, your position is your own—and it’s up to you what you decide to do with them.  Given the bedazzled state of the Sheep, I can’t imagine that if you find yoursef standing around looking highly interested in the way space looks, or staring intently at a blank sheet of paper, that it would attract much attention or complaint.  So take this as a statement of your Perfect Liberty to follow your nose as much as your will.  Just make sure that whatever you pursue doesn’t require you spending all day tomorrow just getting back to normal;  the Monkey is going to be demanding “all hands on deck,” and you’ll want to honor your traditional loyalty to his traditional adversary, the Friendly Tiger.

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 may find it difficult to take any steps at all when confronted by the alarming and entrancing dance of the Dragon and Tiger.  Your most common tasks with the Clan of Fleece and Horns involve helping to set and prioritize their agendas, making commentary and inserting navigatory advice, and awarding high praise when it’s appropriate, and structural criticism when it is not.  Today however, the Sheep is in a rather altered state, and your experience and contributions should follow suit.  Assume that everyone you meet is already in a deep state of rapport with all your highest and deepest aims, and will be perfectly willing to Take Suggestion, and submit compliantly to the trial of doing it The Pig Way.  You’ll never have a better experimental opportunity to see what the Porcine Ethic can accomplish in the world, without having to enter into all the explanation, or to deal with all the misunderstanding, or to accommodate all the lack of imagination of others.  Don’t be alarmed if the experiment seems to produce some unexpected—possibly embarrassing—results.  By tomorrow, when the Monkey comes on duty, they’ll all have awakened, “feeling fine, refreshed, awake, and alive, …and remembering nothing.”

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

Like a god in regal repose, the mountain rests its immeasurable weight upon the supporting earth;

Like a great general standing in defiance, the peak extends its towering height into the receiving skies;

How little is our life, how short our duration, how like a brief rainfall the total of our concerns.

The great nourishes the small, and the small passes lightly by;  the Way is everywhere, but only the small travel it.

“To meet, read once.  To question, read thrice.  To study, read five times.”

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Monday, 26th of April


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

The Lunar Lodge for today, THE HEART ( 心 Xīn ), is named for an asterism composed of three of the stars of the constellation Scorpio, the Scorpion, and includes the brilliant red star, Antares.  This asterism marks the “Heart of the Dragon,” (that is, of the Azure Dragon of the Eastern Palace.)  As such it represents the emperor, whose protecting emblem is the dragon.  The brilliant red star in this asterism gives it another name:  “Great Fire” ( 大 火 Dà Huǒ ).  This name is almost a redundancy;  it refers not just to the red color of Fire, but to the heart’s function as well, since that organ maintains the action of the Phase of Fire, and also bears the title “Emperor” among the Five Organs.  In ancient China, there were many regional festivals associated with this asterism, which included ritual bonfires to celebrate and encourage the increasing warmth of weather, and the increased activity in the natural world.

Days ruled by this Lunar Lodge are inauspicious for activities not devoted to honoring the respectful place of humans in the natural world, or the place of individuals within the imperial social and political structure.  Placing personal ambition before social duty and routine responsibilities is to be regarded as “damaging to the emperor,” and through him, damaging to the entire empire.  One could equally say:  ”damaging to the heart,” and “damaging to the entire body.”  It is a favorable sign for distant travel—to the “far-flung corners of the empire,” as it were.  In pursuit of one’s routine duties, it is highly favorable today to request support and guidance from superiors, including through divination.

The spirit animal for THE HEART is the Fox, which in Chinese folklore has many iconographic meanings.  In the north, the Fox is a trickster, capable of invisibility, and devious in all his ways.  In some southern traditions, however, the Fox is an emblem of longevity;   through intelligence, collected teachings, and dedicated practice, the Fox is capable of living many lives—as many as a thousand—and eventually achieving immortality.  In this attribution to THE HEART, the Fox represents the height of human attention, which must be disciplined in order to reach its greatest accomplishments.  Devotion to ambition, or a “me first” attitude, may seem attractive and perfectly justified, in the moment;  but they only serve to cut off access to this higher road.

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 Fire Horse on duty today has tender sensitivities to his surroundings, and an excessive willfulness where his rights and appetites are concerned, but he’ll have to dig deep into his ample resources to answer the demands of both Dragon and Tiger at the same time.  The small scale of your range of immediate action will put you at a tremendous disadvantage, unless you make of it an asset, by filling the day with matters of private logistics and personal preparations;  delay larger steps and direct interactions with people until at least tomorrow, if you can.  Traveling out of doors is ill-advised, and if you must do it, make sure you don’t allow yourself to respond to the notion that you must hurry, as this will put you in extra jeopardy.  Pause frequently through the day to simply stand a second or two, stare into space, and breathe.  Tomorrow’s Sheep will be much more agreeable to your ways of thinking, and more accommodating to your purposes being fit into the overall agenda.

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 he’ll have to dig deep into his ample resources to answer the demands of both Dragon and Tiger at the same time.  This is a condition requiring darting movement, and rapid changes between one speed and the next.  In a word, it’s not going to be a comfortable day for one with such stability of character and style as yourself.  Take it as warning to slow your pace—though not too quickly—and prepare for the even more inappropriate conditions tomorrow, when the Sheep arrives to add Continual Micro-Adjustments into the mix.  The net result of affairs today is liable to be like a reductive process of sculpture;  you may discover that a number of items on your agenda have been rendered obsolete, but that you’re actually better off for having them removed.  Sometimes a big wind arises, and blows your lawn clear of dead leaves;  hunker down for the duration, and don’t let your anger rise over something that’s a sheer matter of Time and Weather.

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 he’ll have to dig deep into his ample resources to answer the demands of both Dragon and Tiger at the same time.  This is a very favorable condition for you, considering the Dragon’s overall intent to bring your ambitions up to their rightful level, and your actions into the full light of day.  Your sense of the terrain in which you find yourself could not be more certain, and your access to your considerable physical powers will seem eminently well-grounded.  Let your attention lock onto the object of your attack, and your sense of timeliness tick away until it goes off like a mouse-trap.  Today’s a day for Full Commitment of your energies, and Full Demonstration of your will;  don’t concern yourself with explanations or excuses, as there’ll be more than enough time dedicated to them when tomorrow’s Sheep comes on duty.

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 he’ll have to dig deep into his ample resources to answer the demands of both Dragon and Tiger at the same time.  This condition will inspire a great spirit of action on your part, but that will unfortunately also preclude any possibility of comprehension of your actions, or of the reasons for them taking place.  Think of it as an opportunity to leap first, and look later.  That’s the reverse of the old proverb, of course, but the good thing today is that the Horse is certifying the clarity and depth of your attention toward the physical world, and sometimes that means it’s your reflexes that are to be trusted, not your reasoning.  And besides, once tomorrow’s Sheep arrives, there’s going to be a complete set of seminars explaining the whole thing to you—and probably everyone else, whether they’re interested or not—and attendance will be mandatory.

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 he’ll have to dig deep into his ample resources to answer the demands of both Dragon and Tiger at the same time.  The Horse enters at a perfect time for your purposes—coming as he does, shortly before the arrival of the Full Moon—and will sharpen your sense of what’s left to be accomplished within the next couple of weeks.  The insistence that he brings—that matters must have physical grounding—will focus your high philosophical perspective to a tight point, the way a magnifying lens—however small—can focus sunlight to a pinpoint of ignition.  Do not stress yourself to make long-range progress, or to push your marker more than a single square across the game-board;  it’s the actuality of things that will impress today, not their aggressiveness.  Tomorrow’s Sheep will take you back towards High Theoretics, but appearing in the form of debate, rather than deliberation.

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 he’ll have to dig deep into his ample resources to answer the demands of both Dragon and Tiger at the same time.  If you’ve been sufficiently wise to maintain a basically low profile since the Dragon Moon entered, and to decline to accept a low-probability of success as sufficient odds on which to take action, then you’ll receive your reward for your patience and discretion, today.  You have such an innate grasp of exactly how to approach the Clan of Hooves and Mane, and such a sensual appreciation of what they are actually good for, that there’s literally almost nothing that you can’t get them to do for you.  As the Friendly Dragon is going to be monopolizing the Tiger’s attention, that leaves it open for you to drive the Horse in whatever way you will, and maybe even sucker the Tiger into going along, as well.  Don’t over-estimate the range of this One Shot, however, and under no circumstances take your benefits and pleasures without consideration of those around you.  The Dragon Moon will be gone soon enough, and the Tiger will have plenty more opportunities thereafter to register his disapproval, in terms perfectly proportionate to the degree in which it’s been earned.  “Fair’s fair,” should be not only your watch-word today;  it may eventually be your chief defense against retribution.

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 he’ll have to dig deep into his ample resources to answer the demands of both Dragon and Tiger at the same time.  For the Clan of Hooves and Mane, the world will seem to have started turning faster on its axis;  or perhaps, as if a signal has gone off, setting everyone to running out of their gates, dashing as fast as they can, to get back to the very place they started off from.  Surrender to the Joy of Dashing, then, and don’t worry about progress, or purpose, or permissions.  “The game’s afoot!” as Sherlock Holmes like to exclaim, when the course was clear and time was of the essence, before dashing off himself, whether into thick fog, or down an empty, sunlit street.  Now, this is all going to feel eerily similar to yesterday’s pace, but the difference is that today, you’ll be feeling your own spirit urging you on, and your own senses filled with the truth of the moment, the power of the World As It Is.  Tomorrow’s Sheep will arrive in time to coach you through your cool-down, and lay out several points of interest that may startle you with their simplicity, and increase your comprehension of your own nature.

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 he’ll have to dig deep into his ample resources to answer the demands of both Dragon and Tiger at the same time.  This Horse is like a highly-powered and low-slung sports car, and while you’re not exactly going to find yourself in the driver’s seat, you are at least going to be holding up advisory signs from the pit each time it passes in its circuit, and perhaps radio-ing instructions to the driver via the ear-piece in his helmet.  Don’t be too aggressive in your urgings;  the day is going to need sense and sensibility added to it, rather than speed or spirit.  It’s rare you get the opportunity to indulge your diplomatic side at the same time as your competitive nature, and I for one, think you’re going to enjoy it.  Remember, of course, that tomorrow’s Sheep will bring you a bit more leverage on the diplomatic front, and that the competitions won’t be entirely through until the Dragon Moon closes in a couple of weeks.

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 he’ll have to dig deep into his ample resources to answer the demands of both Dragon and Tiger at the same time.  The sheer scale of energy inducted into the day by the confluence of this Dynamic Trio will automatically mean that you’ll need to be featuring your agility, deftness, lightness of touch, and quickness of attention, if you’re to render any benefit for yourself.  Benefits will be abounding, but none of them will be particularly aimed at you;  still, I’m certain you can arrange to harvest a few, as long as you don’t get greedy, and you take only One At A Time.  This is not as simple as it may sound for the Clan of the Long Tail;  but if there’s ever a time when you can test the practicality of this approach, it will be today.  Dart in, dart out, and make your accounting: “One.  Yaaaay!”  It will be fun;  you’ll see.

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 he’ll have to dig deep into his ample resources to answer the demands of both Dragon and Tiger at the same time.  The world around us is going to seem to speed up quite a bit, as if to accommodate the increase in sheer power released by the collision of these three mammoth sources of energy.  Normally, this would signal a time quite appropriate to your deftness and speed of action, when you can take advantage of short windows of opportunity with a lightning recognition, and flash in with laser-like accuracy to claim the object of your pin-point aim.  However, this particular Horse presents a major flaw in his character, which will make your normally precise calculation untrustworthy:  he only does things his way.  This means that to whatever degree your sense of the Dragon or the Tiger bleeds into your consideration of the moment, you’ll reach a faulty result, and you’re going to miss your mark—and the results are not going to be pretty.  Consequently, I can only advise you to stand about today, acting aloof and non-chalant, and making only the most casual and general remarks about what you observe, to no-one in particular.  Play it this way, and you’ll not only look Damned Elegant, you’ll end up perfectly safe, and in good position to make friends with the Sheep arriving on duty tomorrow.

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 he’ll have to dig deep into his ample resources to answer the demands of both Dragon and Tiger at the same time.  If you took my warning yesterday with a good heart, then you’ve no doubt already found yourself some perch of safety from which to enjoy the Highly Energetic Proceedings which are to result from the arrival into one moment of this Dynamic Trio.  You’ll have your choice, today:  you can speak up and stay out of it, or shut up and make your contribution.  You can’t really do both.  However, more important than making your contribution—either in word or deed—will be taking the opportunity to let the sheer scale of energy flowing through the day run its course through the entirety of your circuitry.  It has the power to comb out all your kinks, straighten out all your mis-alignments, and make you feel as if you ended up with a new hairstyle and wardrobe, to boot.  Your exertions are not to the point;  the more you let this happen, the more clearly it will seem to you to be taking place.  Tomorrow:  less energy, more work.

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 he’ll have to dig deep into his ample resources to answer the demands of both Dragon and Tiger at the same time.  With the departure of yesterday’s Snake, you’re no doubt already feeling much restored, and perhaps ready to take on so enormous and complex a condition as is brought together by the confluence of this Dynamic Trio.  However, the time is not yet ripe for your entry back onto the field.  This particular Horse has an Extreme Will, no interest in Alternatives and Advisories, and a deaf ear for the kind of Delicate Suggestions with which you prefer to make your contributions to the smooth operation of whatever machinery you find in front of you.  Consequently, by the time you get annoyed enough to raise the volume to a level where you’ll be heard, the only information that’s going be getting through is concerning your level of displeasure and disapproval.  And Fire Horses have no interest in that, either.  Avoid potential embarrassments, and delay your interventions until tomorrow, when the Sheep comes on duty;  your commentary and advice will be more than welcome by that time, and will stand on the benefit of your additional observations.

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

Slowly, slowly the seasons creep across the sky;  day by day, sunlight beams longer, brighter across the land.

Like children growing out of their clothes, the shrubs sprout sudden greenery, and demand to be pruned.

If Spring is so warm and early, one fears what Summer may ask for in repayment.

Carrying cuttings in deep twilight, I smile to see the Moon gliding up through branches, right on time.

“Ambling, not ambition;   striding, not striving.”

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Sunday, 25th of April


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 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 Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, a deep confidence in the power of the present moment, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to find some parity with both the Dragon and the Tiger.  For you, however, pursuing the Dragon’s flexibility today would leave you exhausted and embarrassed;  and trying to emulate the stealthiness of the the Tiger and Snake will put you more in the spotlight than out of it.  Your diplomacy and quick thinking, on the other hand, are not only at their heights, they’re exactly what will be needed as things turn from the Dragon’s challenge towards the Tiger’s response.  Take everything today on face value;  there’s no need to act from suspicion, but your presumptions and eagerness to make contract can get you into trouble.  Tomorrow’s Horse will not make things clearer;  plan on delaying important actions until at least Tuesday.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, a deep confidence in the power of the present moment, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to find some parity with both the Dragon and the Tiger.  Where flexibility and stealthiness are concerned, of course, you’re well known as the counter-example.  However, as the Snake bears a perpetual appreciation of your power and reliable nature, you can count on some of his coiling and re-direction to make your way easier, and to toss a few benefits and helpful surprises into your path, to boot.  Try to allow a certain “swervability” in your motion forward, and don’t let yourself move faster than you absolutely must, even if the way seems clear.  If you go slow enough through the curves, you’ll not only maintain perfect forward momentum, you may just notice the easy pickings that are perpendicular to your normal view.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, a deep confidence in the power of the present moment, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to find some parity with both the Dragon and the Tiger.  This produces a condition in which you can’t really rely on your usual strengths to produce either clarity or success—hence my advice yesterday on “not getting Back To Normal,” you see.  Your non-chalance and witty playfulness, however, are exactly what’s needed to bring out the advantages hidden in the day, and to flummox the conspiratorial twistings of the Scaly Conspirators.  Your powers are going to be back on their proper platform tomorrow, when the Friendly Horse comes on duty, so dance to the Snake’s tune today, and don’t feel you have to surrender the future to your goofy displays.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, a deep confidence in the power of the present moment, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to find some parity with both the Dragon and the Tiger.  Where the Snake has slinky charm, you enter with fuzzy camaraderie;  where he has cold-hearted practicality, you enter with universal friendliness.  Consequently, this can be a very opportune moment for you, if you feature your personal distinctions, from those of the personages within your social sphere, and if you emphasize the differences between the problems swirling around you, and the affability with which you prefer to engage the world.  Now, asking a Rabbit to feature “distinctions” may sound like an oxymoron;  your world is made of the unifying Lack of Distinctions within it.  However, you do know what you want, and as long as you don’t presume that that is identical to what’s available today, strangely enough …it will be.  Just “be you,” today, and see if that doesn’t explain everything.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, a deep confidence in the power of the present moment, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to find some parity with both the Dragon and the Tiger.  It’s natural enough in the flow of Time, but the arrival of the Snake frequently gives you the chance to lighten your load and leaven your engagements, by giving you the opportunity to take up the game of Good Cop, Bad Cop—you of course, taking the former role.  That being said, you must make sure that your noble and friendly demeanor does not stick the Snake with the Stink of Evil, or in fact place blame in any quarter whatsoever;  rather, you must borrow a bit of the Snake’s motive, while you distance yourself from his style, by aiming clearly and exclusively at the pragmatics of the situation at hand, declaring your dedication exclusively towards What Will Work.  The Practical will turn tomorrow towards The Concrete, when the Horse comes on duty, deflecting immaterial philosophical questions with real-world solutions.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, a deep confidence in the power of the present moment, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to find some parity with both the Dragon and the Tiger.  As both the Dragon and Snake are going to be underwriting flexibility today, it’s very important that you don’t either over-do your own, on the one hand, or underestimate the results that a Willingness to Wobble can get you to, on the other.  Where stealthiness is concerned, making your moves with a minimum of disturbance of the situation around you will be a definite plus;  if you’re discovered by mistake, then admit everything, but refuse to take any of the credit if things have been improved by your actions.  You have bigger fish to fry, as tomorrow’s Horse will give you a much bigger engine for your various purposes, and a chance to get the Tiger to do what you want, in spite of himself.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, a deep confidence in the power of the present moment, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to find some parity with both the Dragon and the Tiger.  Now, where stealthiness is concerned, you are usually not only clueless, you’re completely disinterested.  And flexibility, while not beyond your means, is something you have to work yourself up to, and accept only under assurance from a Friendly Source.  Consequently, the game for the day is not going to make a great deal of sense to you, or give you reason to feel confident serenity.  However, your competence with matters in the physical world, and your dedication to concrete accomplishments, will very rarely find as impressive a grounding as with these Three Spirits colliding and colluding to your benefit today.  It might feel like some kind of drug trip—or at least, some kind of cheating—but the ease with which you surmount obstacles, and the directness with which you face difficulties is going to give you a whole new bench-mark for understanding yourself.  Not to worry, tomorrow’s Horse will have you doing it all over again on your own steam and recognizance, and the Sheep on the next day will help you get back down to earth, with your consciousness re-centered.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, a deep confidence in the power of the present moment, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to find some parity with both the Dragon and the Tiger.  For you, the weirdness factor of yesterday’s Double Dragons will resolve into a condition no less bizarre, but with the reassuring justification that there are Reasons why you’re in a state of trance, and that there are Mechanisms that can be observed, and—it is to be hoped—learned from.  It’s not that you should be adopting any stealthiness in your own demeanor:  that would be not only counter-productive for you, but ridiculous.  Then again, your sense of tact is not far off that mark, and there are very few who understand as well as you do, the value of differentiating between what can be said, and what should not be said.  In any case, the more you feel you’re pulling off the accelerator today—as if coasting through the curve—the more you’ll sense the exact amount of urging forward tomorrow’s Horse can benefit from.  Don’t try to be clever today;  do aim to be shrewd.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, a deep confidence in the power of the present moment, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to find some parity with both the Dragon and the Tiger.  All your energies should go into your own kind of flexibility today, and none should go into whatever you might think of as your stealthiness.  You’re going to stick out like a polar bear at a convention of penguins, and trying to imagine you’re acting outside of people’s notice would be as ridiculous as the proverbial ostrich with his head in the sand.  Metaphorical menageries aside, however, there’s a great deal of benefit available for you today, as long as you don’t take the Snake’s ministrations as a reasonable invitation to Have It Your Way, and instead cleave to the demands of the Dragon to Do Your Duty.  Think of it this way: if you’re going to be obvious to everyone, why not use the spotlight to show them what sort of diligence and self-denial you’re capable of?

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, a deep confidence in the power of the present moment, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to find some parity with both the Dragon and the Tiger.  The Dragon and Snake are going to be running the old Good Cop, Bad Cop routine on the Redoubtable Tiger, and that will leave you plenty of clear space to run the paperwork, and see to all the legal niceties and loop-holes that might make your own path easier.  No doubt the extra time behind the type-writer—okay, okay, this is a very retro metaphor I’ve fallen into—will give you time to ruminate on the extraordinary and somewhat confusing events of yesterday, and perhaps to formulate a new set of procedural guide-lines for your work and play into the future.  Do save some time to hang out at the water-cooler;  your fame as raconteur and story-teller will never have a better opportunity to be polished.  Tomorrow’s Horse will add a bit of stress to your social engagements, but if you aim to retain your current State of Cool, I can’t imagine that you won’t skate through like a champ.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, a deep confidence in the power of the present moment, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to find some parity with both the Dragon and the Tiger.  Yesterday’s Dragon Rampage will still be echoing in your ears, and if you feel like it’s left you with a bit of a hangover, that’s entirely normal.  The entry of the Snake never fills you with the glow of good-feeling, and this one may very likely feel like the proverbial “insult to injury,” but it’s only a trough of illness in preparation for the Grand Wave of good-feeling due you tomorrow, when the Horse comes on duty.  Mind you, the Grand Scale of things is still liable to be what you think of as “out of your league,” and you may find yourself wanting to dive back under some heavy piece of furniture for security.  But I promise you, there’s a big difference between hiding out in terror, and hiding out just to keep out of everyone else’s way.   By Monday morning, you’re going to have a clear appetite once again for Stuff To Deal With, and also a clear notion of who to take it to to Get It Done.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Wood Snake on duty today has an incisive curiosity, a deep confidence in the power of the present moment, and enough flexibility of style and stealthiness in demeanor to find some parity with both the Dragon and the Tiger.  For you, however, this Snake spells nothing but trouble.  Well,…  nothing but “trouble” and confusion.   Okay, …nothing but “trouble and confusion” and frustration.  Okay, okay:  it’s not going to be a Happy Pig Day.  But if you sequester yourself in some familiar or cozy nook, where you can struggle though your Writer’s Block, and wrestle your own personal muses into submission, then you’ll find yourself triumphant by the end of the evening with some very well-tuned words on the page, and some highly satisfying results under your belt.  The issue at hand is that the Snake has this way of making you apply the Highest Possible Standards—that is to say, your own—to even your smallest action or choice.  Focus down onto your own concerns, and onto your own purposes, and leave the Outer World alone;  even you may be amazed at the results.

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

Not even Jade Emperor has choice over his Fate,  not even the least beetle can escape the resolution of Heaven’s Decree.

From the Four Directions, the Ways of the World arrive at the Center, and amass their agreement into necessity.

Light incense and bow, respectfully asking for clear signs, and the strength to follow them;

Or toss your cares into the wind, and follow the winding road over that hill.  The Center holds no certainties;  the Path, no particular direction.

“Wealth for one is weight for another;  garbage for one is gold for another.”

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Saturday, 24th of April


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 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 Wood Dragon on duty today is highly engageable, and capable of great vision and enthusiasm, but a little short on following through, and on resisting the tempting diversions of the moment.  The formality it was so imperative for you to maintain yesterday, can dissolve into a much more relaxed style;  it’s your garrulousness and social affability that should come to the fore.  The Two Dragons will be pulling truths and insights out of the very air, and the more you copy their flexible and shifting manners, the more of these benefits you’ll be able to gather up.  Leave your schedule a little slack, if you can, as your advice and support will be needed by others, and today’s no time to turn down requests for your assistance:  responding to them will bring you Luck.

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 following through, and on resisting the tempting diversions of the moment.  Things won’t go any slower, with Two Dragons playing cat-and-mouse with the Tiger, but they will require a noticeable increase in intention and sheer force on your part.  Stay sensitive to whether the progress you’re making is actually worth the energy output;  if you find an opportunity to “just coast,” you won’t lose much momentum, only a sense of control.  Both of them can easily be sacrificed, as tomorrow’s Snake will make you feel again like the coasting is going easily downhill.  The path today may have some hidden twists that you won’t be able to straighten out, but tomorrow’s twists will bring hidden benefits to go with them.

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 following through, and on resisting the tempting diversions of the moment.  These Two Dragons are not really a well-matched pair, but that won’t keep you from feeling that they’ve joined forces with a plan to come at you from what may seem to be several sides at once.  Take it all with the spirit of play;  there’s nothing more beneficial for the Clan of Stripes and Claws than to get some dancing lessons from the Masters of the Skies.  You’ll have plenty of time to catch your breath through the day, but the more you don’t use it to try and get Back To Normal, the better.  Trust in your strength, and in your resilience, and aim to allow yourself to feel so different, that you have a hard time recognizing yourself.

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 following through, and on resisting the tempting diversions of the moment.  These Two Dragons may seem a bit mis-matched, and even rather comical in their interactions, but they’ll still succeed in linking their energies well-enough to flummox your presumptions, and throw continual doubt onto the wisdom of your plans.  Step back and take a deep look at yourself, whenever this happens, and you’ll find there’s a hidden gift in their pesky obstructionism:  they will be pointing towards the essential errors in your presumptions, and the basic flaws in your plans.  If you can stomach the embarrassment, recognizing the truth and taking steps to rectify the situation will be surprisingly easy to accomplish.  Wait until tomorrow, however, to take those steps;  the Snake coming on duty will help your efficiency, and supply you with some rationalizations, as well, as to why it had to happen Just This Way.

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 following through, and on resisting the tempting diversions of the moment.  The Tiger Year is a test for you, and you’ll very rarely get to call the shots, or determine the conditions under which the examinations and obstacle courses will be presented.  Today’s Double Dragons are interceding on your behalf, however, and giving you the rare opportunity to Do It Your Way.  Don’t be too aggressive in your decree, or too greedy in what you state as your aim, as it is still the Tiger’s Test, and you can’t decline or alter the way it will require you to summon all your strength, flexibility, and creative power.  Still, it can make all the difference, being the one who gets to choose which side of the court you wish to take to accept service in.  Once you’ve done that, you can go forward confidently to Play Your Game.

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 following through, and on resisting the tempting diversions of the moment.  You’ll get to step out of the spotlight, with the Two Dragons completely absorbing the Tiger’s energies and attention, but you should take the opportunity not to steal off into solitude, but to stay highly attentive, and to position yourself at an advantageous angle to take in the full drama of their confrontation.  The issue they’re contending over concerns the wielding of Great Powers, and once you tune into it, you’re going to find yourself quite fascinated.  The Tiger has several attributes that are so harmonious with your own that they’re very difficult for you to recognize;  in your experience of watching him dance with the Two Dragons today, and you have a very good chance to start to see what I mean.

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 following through, and on resisting the tempting diversions of the moment.  This condition produces the first opportunity for the Tiger and Dragon to actually enter the ring, touch gloves, and start their contest in earnest, and it’s going to give your sense of engagement a jolt, and your level of available energy an uplifting.  Now, this is an Entirely Friendly Fight, and though it’s liable to get intense, it’s not about enmity or destruction.  Rather, the contenders are aiming to test their respective strengths, and to see what they can demonstrate about themselves—and what they can learn, as well.  You needn’t be concerned, either, that it’s Two Dragons vs. the Tiger;  he’s not even close to being outnumbered, at least not this year.  You’ll definitely want to give your exercise regimen full attention today—even if it doesn’t include road-work and skipping rope—and you’ll have a hard time feeling alone, even among strangers.  And if you come across some tests of your own strengths, I can’t imagine you won’t do brilliantly, and learn something about yourself, to boot.

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 following through, and on resisting the tempting diversions of the moment.  Your position yesterday—while delicate, perhaps—was in no way a strange challenge to your sense of yourself, or to your grasp of your capabilities.  In fact, it may have proved to be entirely reassuring on both those counts.  Today, however, is an arrangement of forces so perpendicular to your interests and comprehensions that it may challenge your sense of contribution quite deeply.  Imagine yourself entering a bank, quite prepared to negotiate a good rate on a loan, and instead finding yourself confronted with a gladiatorial contest, complete with weird armor, flashing steel, roaring crowds, and blood redolently staining the sand.  Well, perhaps that image is a bit too dramatic;  but the point is, you’d be wise to find a seat by the door, put your briefcase neatly on your lap, straighten your tie, and make that the limit of your involvement.  Some of what’s going on today will begin to make sense by tomorrow, when the Wisdom of the Snake will demonstrate its value to you;  and by Monday, you may feel clear enough to post a piece about the experience for your blog.  But for today:  let’s just not get ahead of ourselves.

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 following through, and on resisting the tempting diversions of the moment.  With the arrival of his Clan-Mate, the Dragon Moon is finally ready for actual engagement with the Tiger Year, and today’s the day they’ll touch gloves, start bobbing and weaving, and begin the accounts of landed-and-taken blows.  For your part, you’ve been nominated to be Towel Man, and while this may seem a menial position, think of it this way:  it’s much better than finding yourself billed as the third partner in the Dragons’ tag-team match against the Tiger and all his cronies.  So, keep out of the spotlight, stay inconspicuous, but stay on your toes;  if you can catch any of the Dragon’s competitive spirit, you’ll be happily running favors for Team Dragon, and maybe saving the day through humble action.  And besides, you might learn something important about Bobbing and Weaving from the masters of the art.

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 following through, and on resisting the tempting diversions of the moment.  In the ways yesterday was complex for you, today is going to be quite simple.  Things are going to be moving fast, people are going to be coming and going, conditions are going to be changing without a moments notice, and decisions are going to be required without hesitation.  Most around you are either going to be standing around in startled catatonia, or milling around in a state of fretful indecision.  Since this condition is largely being sponsored by the Two Dragons (in their confrontations with the Tiger), you are going to know exactly what to do, and exactly when to do it.  Simple.  Don’t, however, bother looking for much appreciation of your expertise amidst the hurly-burly and wild to-do;  no one will have the wits available to notice.  Save that for tomorrow, when the Snake on duty will give you a true opportunity to recount the whole thing, once everyone’s settled down a bit.

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 following through, and on resisting the tempting diversions of the moment. The arrival of this Clan-Mate of the Dragon Moon, signals the onset of their engagement in earnest with the Tiger, and I’m afraid the tension, noise, and general disturbance are going to be frightful.  Now, with the loyalty of your nature severely tested by the Tiger’s being apparently out-numbered, I hasten to mention that “appearances can be deceiving,” and that “your services will not be required.”  Not only is the Tiger more than up to the challenge presented by this Scaly Pair, this is actually an Entirely Friendly Fight, intended to be more of an exhibition than a blood-letting, and it will end with good-feeling all-around, and the appreciation of good-sportsmanship and camaraderie.  That’s not going to do your sensibilities much good today, of course, and if you find yourself trying to “get away from it all”—in whatever way that makes sense to you—you’ll have at least my understanding and support.

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 following through, and on resisting the tempting diversions of the moment.  This arrival of reinforcements for the Clan of Scales and Claws will signal the moment when the Dragon and Tiger stop wheeling around each other, and actually have at it.  Now, what’s not going to be entirely understood is—as much crashing and crunching as is going to be going on today, while these Powers square off against each other—that this is in fact an Entirely Friendly Fight, put on as much for show as for anything else, and that the contestants are members of a Mutual Admiration Society, designed to deepen abilities, sharpen awareness, and demonstrate Actuality to all attending.  You, of course, recognized all this as soon as you saw the fight-card, and will be taking notes through the day as to strategies, tactics, blows landed, opportunities missed, and chances for a re-match.  You can leave the decision as to whether to do the write-up as a sports report or as a theater review until tomorrow;  you’ll need something to keep you pre-occupied when the Snake comes on duty.

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

When there’s hardness along the way, one turns to divination;  when it’s ease or generosity, one must give thanks.

The Spring has returned to the center, and the wealth of the world returns to the myriad forms.

If you consult the oracle, the stillness of the heart is what counts, not the radiating lines of the possible;

In the turning of the wheel, the hub’s emptiness is all, and the spokes are all redundant, each as proud of itself as the others.

“Let the doctor feel the pulse, let the patient take the medicine.”

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Friday, 23rd of April


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 ROOT (also called 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 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 Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, demonstrating both the strength of casual warmth and the incisiveness of committed action, and showing equally a deep sense of duty, and the will to pursue it.  As this Rabbit will side devotedly with the Tiger, you’ll be tempted to show your allegiance towards the Shimmering Dragon.  If this results in you taking a conservative stance through the day, then you will be adding to the stability of the situation, and keeping things from turning towards the explosive.  If you get a bit too garrulous, however, or honor your social commitments with a bit too much relaxation, you may end up in a major state of embarrassment, or a minor state of damage.  Let the Rabbit show all the casualness;  you should remain stiffly formal, though friendly, and leave affairs in as high a state of contingency as you can manage.  Tomorrow’s Dragon will tilt forces in the opposite direction.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, demonstrating both the strength of casual warmth and the incisiveness of committed action, and showing equally a deep sense of duty, and the will to pursue it.  The practices and partialities of the Clan of the Long Ears are most frequently matters of great mystery to you, and this Member of the Clan won’t do much to help you break that pattern.  However, you can assume that your inner spirit of conscientious good-will and gentleness is at least partly responded to by this Rabbit, since he’s equally conscientious in taking a starting position resting on the presumption of good-will, and prefers to maintain a style of action based on gentleness and ease.  You can therefore plan on continuing forward movement, but if you meet with obstruction, you’ll have to dip into said good-will to find your way through it, and refuse to invoke any tactic that departs from said gentleness.  That won’t seem like the fastest way, from your point of view, but in the long run—well, at least over the next two days—it will be the easiest.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, demonstrating both the strength of casual warmth and the incisiveness of committed action, and showing equally a deep sense of duty, and the will to pursue it.  If you’ve felt a certain lack of forward movement over the last week or so, you can chalk it up to the sparring distractions of the Dragon Moon, as he delights in testing the Tiger Way, and hoping perhaps to find it wanting.  Today’s Rabbit will join forces with you, to throw a judo move on the Pesky Dragon, and his test will be shedding light not on your forces and foibles, but on his.  Try to act with restraint today, and exercise the full range of tactics involving feint-and-retreat;  put your fullest attention on strategic matters, rather than on the demonstration of your capacity, or the implication that your problems are not yours, and come entirely From Elsewhere.  You’ll have plenty of opportunities for such demonstrations and implications—should they still be appropriate—once we’ve passed the Full Moon next week.  Today, you must let your spirit rise while you harbor your energies;  tomorrow, you’ll have Two Dragons to deal with.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, demonstrating both the strength of casual warmth and the incisiveness of committed action, and showing equally a deep sense of duty, and the will to pursue it.  When the Clan of the Long Ears assembles—even at such a confrontation as the Dragon and Tiger are arranging—its quite usual for you to feel your attention on the world around you sharpen, and your sense of Things To Be Done kick into high gear.  Given the Dragon’s influence, you shouldn’t burden yourself with the notion that those Things need to be matters of great import, or that they are going to be tested or judged in any way that would be truly meaningful to you.  Instead, borrow your Clan-Mate’s “casual warmth,” and try as well to focus on your own “competence.”  You’ll have a much better opportunity to turn productive under Sunday’s Snake;  and tomorrow—when there’ll be a couple of Clamoring Dragons to deal with—your warmth will have shown you exactly where to take steps to get impediments to your productivity out of the way.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, demonstrating both the strength of casual warmth and the incisiveness of committed action, and showing equally a deep sense of duty, and the will to pursue it.  That game face you put on yesterday will be coming in quite handy, as this member of the Clan of the Long Ears understands little of your competence, and any attempt you make to correct his comprehension will summon not his warmth, but his will.  Don’t fall into testing your will against his;  you’ll not succeed today, and it would only complicate your strategic choices tomorrow.  That would be a great pity, as your chances of Stunning Success are rising for the next 5 or 6 days.  Accept any humiliations with tactical grace, and pass through the day in as “casual” a manner as you can muster.  If you’ve felt stiff and constrained due to the inappropriateness of your usual Twisting and Coiling, now is the time to really let yourself limber up.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, demonstrating both the strength of casual warmth and the incisiveness of committed action, and showing equally a deep sense of duty, and the will to pursue it.  As tricky and fraught with complications as your circuit through the Tiger Year may be, the Rabbit Days will usually be providing you with safe-passage, and this one is certainly no exception.  However, the situation today is still complicated; in fact, it’s more complicated, due to the animosity of Dragon and Hare, and the competitive spirit of Dragon and Tiger.  Don’t take this as an opportunity to harvest any bon-bons of your secret desires, which you may find conveniently within reach;  just because everyone seems to be ignoring you in order to glare at their proposed adversaries, doesn’t mean that an accounting will not be coming soon, or that there aren’t uncommitted observers around who will be glad to give testimony later as to What Went Down.  Your purposes will be served best by turning your energies towards a the support of a tense détente, earning points from all sides by demonstrating your charm, your tact, your wisdom, and your pre-eminent practicality.

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, demonstrating both the strength of casual warmth and the incisiveness of committed action, and showing equally a deep sense of duty, and the will to pursue it.  This description is so close in terminology to your own nature, that you might imagine that I’m proposing a reconsideration of your Clan to include “Long Ears,” as well.  But take the similarity, instead, as a warning against presumption;  the outward indications are quite similar, but the resources from which they spring are as different as a Rabbit’s Foot is from a Horse’s Hoof.  Your energies are likely to be keyed up at the same time as your appetites turn to ease and comforts;  the best middle ground between the two will be Healthy Exercise, and social engagements with those who already know you quite well.  If out in public, you’ll need to constrain your natural friendliness, and try to feature Friendly Formality instead.  Failing to do so will be tempting your gullibility to make itself obvious, with hard feelings all around, as a result.  Tomorrow:  lots to do, lots to do.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, demonstrating both the strength of casual warmth and the incisiveness of committed action, and showing equally a deep sense of duty, and the will to pursue it.  The Clan of the Long Ears has many pieces of advice for you this year, and many clear demonstrations for you of proper protocol, and manner of action.  Today, however, they’re all busily feuding with the Dragon Moon, and the One On Duty will be insisting on his prerogative to be Director of the strategy session, and Leader of the sortie they’re planning.  Don’t let yourself get drafted:  in actuality, the Rabbit Forces are not even going to be leaving the kitchen table, and you will need to remain neutral on that front, anyway—at least until the Dragon Moon has passed, still three weeks in the future.  Feature your impressive diplomatic credentials today, and smooth the waters around you.  Now, I don’t need to give you any instruction on how to do this without seeming to obstruct anything.  But I will say this:  you don’t need to feel warmth to be able to exude it.

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, demonstrating both the strength of casual warmth and the incisiveness of committed action, and showing equally a deep sense of duty, and the will to pursue it.  Having passed the latest Tiger Test—you are still reading this, aren’t you?—you’ll have to flip yesterday’s strategy onto it’s head, and follow your original impulse by dashing up into the tree-tops, or hiding under the covers, or burying your nose in a book, or deciding that you’re not answering to your legal name for the day.  It isn’t that this day is particularly dangerous for you;  it’s rather that it could be, if you risk turning in your Cloak of Invisibility, and exchanging it for a Sword and Buckler, or even a Camera and Press-Pass.  You don’t have any natural understanding of the Clan of the Long Ears, and if you inadvertently end up squaring off with them against your Constant Friend, the Dragon, you will find yourself in a minor hell of confusion and disempowerment.  Save your strengths and courage—such as they are—for tomorrow’s Dragon Day, when they might do you—and everyone else—some good.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, demonstrating both the strength of casual warmth and the incisiveness of committed action, and showing equally a deep sense of duty, and the will to pursue it.  The Tiger Year is a conveniently neutral condition for the Clan of Feathers and Claws, allowing a re-assessment of your attributes, and a re-tuning of them to the changing landscape of Time.  However, we can’t really say that about Rabbit Days, can we?  When you add in the complexity of your affinity for the Dragon, the Rabbit’s animosity towards the same, and his affection for the Tiger, and the Dragon’s confrontation to the same, and your quizzical objection to the Rabbit, and ….well you see what a complexity you find yourself in!  Don’t get enmeshed:  minimize your statements today, and soften every action, slow every pace.  The Dragon on duty tomorrow is the one who can actually use your support, and has in fact to power to reward you for it.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, demonstrating both the strength of casual warmth and the incisiveness of committed action, and showing equally a deep sense of duty, and the will to pursue it.  You are going to find your energies coming forward towards their natural obstructions, and your senses of duty and loyalty bristling against the lack of a correct opportunity to fulfill them.  Observe a Tigerly patience, and allow your energies to continue to build, without diffusing them into action.  “Forward” will seem the most natural direction to take, but it will only land you in a Tiger Pit, when the Dragon Moon receives reinforcement by another of his Clan, tomorrow.  The Waiting Game is for you, and if it gives you deeper reason to mutter to yourself, or a longer leash to rush to the end of, where you can bark ferociously—since you’re safely restrained from Actual Engagement—I, for one, will completely understand your action-and-inaction.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Water Hare on duty today is bold, brave, and highly competent, demonstrating both the strength of casual warmth and the incisiveness of committed action, and showing equally a deep sense of duty, and the will to pursue it.  You could rightly expect this Rabbit Day—like so many others—to be your Time of Joy and Usefulness, particularly when it falls under the auspicious protection of the Friendly and Frisky Tiger.  However, we must also account for the Dragon Moon, and while you have a nodding acquaintance with the Clan of Scales and Claws, and easily manage a polite gesture and a gentle smile before you pass on without further dramatics, such elegant formality on your part will not make itself easily available, today.  Forces are squaring off in a form reminiscent of Europe before the Archduke’s assassination, and if don’t want to get dragged into a hell-realm of trench warfare for the day, you’ll have to be both supremely diplomatic, and as non-committal as the shadow cast by a ghost.  Don’t worry if you think this may make you look like you Don’t Know What To Do;  if you look around, you’ll notice that’s a very popular appearance.  Tomorrow:  forming the League of Nations.

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

The Spring rounds off its completions, and the Dragon Moon rises later each night in the sky;

Pear blossoms fade, and apple buds bulge, hidden along the branches arrayed in rich green.

Even so, the grasses begin to show their gold, delighting the small birds with first seeds, good omen for the harvest season.

Lest we forget the Spirits of the Soil, we make our offerings again.  Lest they forget their duties, once more we honor their attentions.

“Do the planning before the gathering;  do the arguing before the ceremony.”

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Thursday, 22nd of April


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 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 Water Tiger on duty today has a cheerful ease concerning the ways of the world, a confident poise in matters where decisiveness counts, and an inflexible irascibility whenever proper protocols are obstructed, or weak excuses aim to replace responsibility.  Show your sunniest face today, and borrow some of the confidence of the Two Tigers;  your cleverness and voluminous knowledgeability will have welcome audience, and you can afford to show a bit of aggressiveness in moving towards the things you truly want, and in declaring the truth—as you see it—to any who seem even the slightest bit inclined to listen.  Spend at least half of your time, though, burrowing into those duties of your own that you’ve been hoping you could entirely disregard;  a bit of diligence on your part will earn you some of the “cheerful ease” floating around today, and put you in a better state of resolve for the entry of tomorrow’s Hare.

Born in the Year of the Ox: The Water Tiger on duty today has a cheerful ease concerning the ways of the world, a confident poise in matters where decisiveness counts, and an inflexible irascibility whenever proper protocols are obstructed, or weak excuses aim to replace responsibility.  If you found some practicality of motion yesterday—though it was at a slow pace, even for you—then you should spend the day leaning into it, and not plan on relenting until at least Sunday, when you’ll be able to let up a little, to shift into a higher gear.  If yesterday went in a more fantastical direction, then you should take today as a perfect opportunity to float high up into the clouds of your own imagination, as if the most efficient form of travel was to lie back on a hill’s grassy slope, staring up into the blue, and simply imagine yourself at your destination.  You’ve some more mud on the tracks to slog through either way, before the Dragon Moon completes itself, but your diligence and good-cheer will both be instrumental to your accomplishments before it’s through.

Born in the Year of the Tiger: The Water Tiger on duty today has a cheerful ease concerning the ways of the world, a confident poise in matters where decisiveness counts, and an inflexible irascibility whenever proper protocols are obstructed, or weak excuses aim to replace responsibility.  Your own Tiger Nature will come sharply into focus with the Two Tigers complementing the day, and allow you to stare down the challenge being posed by the Insistent Dragon Moon, and to come to the selection of a strategy, even if you sense the time may not yet be ripe for its implementation.  Do not doubt your strengths in the matter;  they are formidable, and when eventually released, they may shock even you.  Perhaps you feel that already, in some deep way;  I feel confident in guaranteeing that you will by the time the Dragon’s Full Moon arrives, in the middle of next week.  Don’t be afraid to be Dreadfully Serious today, but do be selective about whom you aim it at;  safest thing would be to do it while you’re entirely alone.

Born in the Year of the Hare: The Water Tiger on duty today has a cheerful ease concerning the ways of the world, a confident poise in matters where decisiveness counts, and an inflexible irascibility whenever proper protocols are obstructed, or weak excuses aim to replace responsibility.  Having Two Tigers hanging around for the day should be strangely reassuring for the Clan of the Long Ears, and you may find that your most natural response will be—given the sense of relaxation this instills—to sense an overwhelming drowsiness, and an irresistible desire to sleep.  If that does in fact prove to be true, I urge you to surrender your own sense of attachment to Duties To Be Fulfilled, and take the Tigers’ invitation to drop deeply into restful slumber.  The Hare coming on duty tomorrow will give you more sharpened senses, and a better platform on which to present your contribution, than even today’s “cheerful ease” can afford;  and anyway, Two Tigers?  Whatever it is, I think they’ve got it covered.

Born in the Year of the Dragon: The Water Tiger on duty today has a cheerful ease concerning the ways of the world, a confident poise in matters where decisiveness counts, and an inflexible irascibility whenever proper protocols are obstructed, or weak excuses aim to replace responsibility.  As we’re still expectant of the Dragon’s Full Moon, coming in the middle of next week, you can be sure that your powers are still on the upswing, and that any tactical steps you’re taking now will have reinforcements to back them up, available soon.  That being said, it is Two Tigers we’re dealing with for the day, and your wisest strategic approach will therefore be to launch a few feints to test the situation, and to allow the adversary to demonstrate his predilictions and habitual rhythms.  Keep him convinced that you’re still only sparring, and shield the presentation of your longer-term plans, and the lightning speed and certitude with which you can act, once the preparations have been completed.  Keep up your game face, but remember: if you’re not finding some fun in these Little War Games, you’re leaving one of your most important motives out of consideration.

Born in the Year of the Snake: The Water Tiger on duty today has a cheerful ease concerning the ways of the world, a confident poise in matters where decisiveness counts, and an inflexible irascibility whenever proper protocols are obstructed, or weak excuses aim to replace responsibility.  With the Two Tigers throwing flanking maneuvers at you, you must consider your camouflage to be incomplete, and your cover to be blown.  To minimize the dangers you’ll face under this circumstance, it’s most important that you keep to your most natural rhythm, and display your own kind of “confident poise,” regardless of the alternative modalities that may suggest themselves.  Your favorite ploys and most time-tested tactics will succeed—with their functional values intact—starting tomorrow, and for the two days following.  But making use of them today would be entirely dysfunctional and counter-productive;  you’d not be proud of yourself to find that you’d blown all your hard-won preparation because you had “telegraphed the punch.”

Born in the Year of the Horse: The Water Tiger on duty today has a cheerful ease concerning the ways of the world, a confident poise in matters where decisiveness counts, and an inflexible irascibility whenever proper protocols are obstructed, or weak excuses aim to replace responsibility.  Your patience with tedium and apparent obstructions yesterday, will have earned you a front row position in today’s proceedings, and whether that row provides a spectator seat close to the action, or a front-line position on the field of the competition itself, is largely up to the exigencies of chance, and to the whims of the Two Tigers.  But, of course, since you’re the first thing they think of, right after the thought, “Personnel,” even if you feel benched at the beginning of the day, don’t imagine that you’re going to spend the entirety of it there.  Summon your own “cheerful ease,” not only because it’s so available today, but because it’s the very best way to attract the notice of Those Who Count, today, and to suggest that you’re eminently ready to be made use of.

Born in the Year of the Sheep: The Water Tiger on duty today has a cheerful ease concerning the ways of the world, a confident poise in matters where decisiveness counts, and an inflexible irascibility whenever proper protocols are obstructed, or weak excuses aim to replace responsibility.  The Two Tigers will bring not only cheerfulness and confidence to the day, but also a brilliant light illuminating the exactitude of position, dimension, density, scale, texture, proportionality, mass, movement, and momentum, of every object and individual in view.  Most are going to take the experience as a kind of Thrill of Terror—which frequently accompanies the arrival of so lithe and lethal a pair—something like the shock of seeing the flashing lights behind you suddenly appear in your rear-view mirror, or the glare of the unbelievably bright spotlight under which you’re instructed to “step away from the vehicle.”  But you are different:  you are rare in your ability to observe, note, memorize, and archive the entire scenic array for further perusal and later use, and you should honor this brilliance of illumination with brilliance of appreciation and comprehension.  Everything’s a test, in the World of Stripes, and you’ll pass this one if you aim for “confident poise;”  extra credit for “cheerful ease.”

Born in the Year of the Monkey: The Water Tiger on duty today has a cheerful ease concerning the ways of the world, a confident poise in matters where decisiveness counts, and an inflexible irascibility whenever proper protocols are obstructed, or weak excuses aim to replace responsibility.  Where you and your actions are concerned, this Tiger’s also excellent at spying from hiding, and stalking in secret, so you’ll have to use a 360º awareness to avoid being caught off-guard.  Since this one also has a Mate in Stripes to back him up, you’re also wide-open to out-flanking maneuvers, and the age-old “frying pan and fire” scenario.  The best you will be able to come up with, tactically, will most likely be to “hide in plain sight,” and to use frozen inactivity as your Cloak of Invisibility.  Rest assured, you won’t be invisible, but the technique may lower the level of your visual interest just enough, so that some other target will be chosen, and you can slink off once the coast is clear.  Tomorrow:  hiding out of plain sight.

Born in the Year of the Fowl: The Water Tiger on duty today has a cheerful ease concerning the ways of the world, a confident poise in matters where decisiveness counts, and an inflexible irascibility whenever proper protocols are obstructed, or weak excuses aim to replace responsibility.  Big achievements yesterday will have earned you a position on the field well out of the way of the Two Guys in Stripes, today, and you may have looked enough like them, to be able to skate through the day in a residue of camouflage.  Try to make it last, as tomorrow’s Hare doesn’t have the same indolent indifference to the Clan of Feathers and Claws, and may be gunning for poultry.  If you aimed instead for small items, close to home, then you’d be wise to stay there, and start battening down hatches, closing shutters, and checking on stock in your pantry.  The Rabbit may sweep in like a light spring breeze, or come in under thick dark clouds with tornado-warning sirens going off all across the county.  Either way, it’s better for you to hide out, and marshall your forces, in preparation for the weekend’s Dragon and Snake.

Born in the Year of the Dog: The Water Tiger on duty today has a cheerful ease concerning the ways of the world, a confident poise in matters where decisiveness counts, and an inflexible irascibility whenever proper protocols are obstructed, or weak excuses aim to replace responsibility.  It wouldn’t be difficult to make the case that you’re the one who actually taught this Tiger his “cheerful ease,” and you’re going to spend most of the day giving him a brush-up demonstration.  You can throw in your version of “confident poise,” for good measure, but ease up on aiming for decisiveness;  it’s the Two Tigers who are calling the shots, and if you’re just hanging out casually, you’ll see quite clearly when and where the stick has been thrown for you to retrieve.  Keep your attention on the job at hand, and don’t even think about slinking off for a bit of a snooze;  the Tigers are doing a good job of inspiring all your other appetites, and you ought to return the favor by honoring them.

Born in the Year of the Pig: The Water Tiger on duty today has a cheerful ease concerning the ways of the world, a confident poise in matters where decisiveness counts, and an inflexible irascibility whenever proper protocols are obstructed, or weak excuses aim to replace responsibility.  This condition will be so congruent and well-aligned to your own nature, that you’ll be in danger of thinking that Tigers—particularly these Two—are actually just Pigs in Big Bodies Covered in Striped Fur.  “Cheerful ease,” and “confident poise” should be your watchwords, as well, and you should not mar the day by allowing yourself to fall into bickering, whether it’s over trivial inconsequentials, or matters of fundamental morals.  If you place most of your energies into appreciation of the moment, and casual investigation of the curious turnings of affairs, you’ll have ample opportunity to  offer your skills in instruction and leadership tomorrow, when an equally cheerful Hare comes on duty.

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

The Tiger creeps unseen through the broad grasslands, and hides in secret in the dark forests;

Above him, in the wandering clouds that streak and flow across the sky, the Dragon is shielded from view.

If they display themselves, Heaven and Earth will startle in alarm, and stop short in anticipation;

The Tiger will have to leap high into the open void, the Dragon will have to swoop down to the hard ground.

“Opening a new book is like planting an unknown seed.”

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Wednesday, 21st of April


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.  In a later tradition, these protruding stars were also taken as meaning the foot-boards, by means of which one mounted and dismounted the vehicle.  The character with which THE CARRIAGE is written ( 軫 Zhěn) can also mean “to revolve,” pointing to its “dismount” position at the end of the Lunar Lodge cycle, which begins again tomorrow with a new “turning of the wheel.”

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

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

Talk to the Animals

Born in the Year of the Rat: The 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 your favorite Friendly Brute runs interference for you, you’ll have a clear chance to jump up on your soap-box and declare your true views, and a raft of opportunities to simply do what must be done, hoping that others are paying attention and will take the hint.  You should save some extra time for any committee or interpersonal situations, as you’re going to have to be instrumental in unsnarling misunderstandings, and setting everyone back on track towards the Common Cause.  Tomorrow’s Tiger will urge you to check yourself, and be truthful about your progress so far this year;  plan on being scrupulously honest about it, at least with yourself.

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.  As meddlesome and thorny as the Dragon’s influence can be to your peace of mind and plans for progress, you’ll have a day’s respite, under the influence of your Brilliant Clan-Mate.  Use it not to raise the ante, or to strive more forcefully against resistance, but to upgrade your perception of The Problem So Far, and to weave more of the many different influences—which have so far been so troublesome—into the solution.  If that sounds “pie in the sky,” or like some kind of psycho-babble, that’s only because it would normally be exactly that.  But today’s Ox has a particular angle of effectiveness, wedged as he is between the Dragon and Tiger, and can squeeze hard practicality out of the conflict between flexible blustering and noncommittal heroism.  Pick something to insist upon, and use your famous unswervability to “unswerve” from it.  Make it something “pie in the sky,” if you like;  it still has a great chance of working.

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.  Your sense of trust in things can easily rise under this condition, and your sense of responsibility can float far away from your notion of responsiveness;  let the Big Guy With The Horns take the brunt of things.  The more you dedicate yourself to casually toying with things today, the more you’ll find your awareness rising to a position of high over-view, and your thoughts turning in characteristically un-Tigerly cartwheels.  Acrobatics aside, you need this day of detachment—even from your most cherished pledges—to shake off Old Ideas and Stale Limitations.  Tomorrow’s Tiger will pull things into very sharp focus, indeed, and several outstanding challenges will ripen to the point that you’ll have to accept them, or risk rueing that you didn’t.

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.  Rest into this Big Brute’s virtually absolute command of the situation, and allow yourself to approach the world and its problems as if they were completely composed of tiny puzzles;  each next one will be easily within your reach, and will require no extra exertion on your part to assess, resolve, and digest.  There are some Big Deals standing around like boulders, apparently blocking the path of things, but these are for others to attend to;  your task is to take up the Small Scale Issues, and see if you might find it agreeable to make a habit of the practice.

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.  Now that your battle plan has been partially unfurled, and you’ve lost whatever tactical advantage you were holding onto by maintaining the cover of surprise, you’ll have to dedicate yourself to force and follow-through, and wait for a response to your Imaginative Ploy in order to determine What’s To Do Next.  That response will show up without delay, when the Tiger takes up his duty tomorrow;  minimize any exertions today that would be mainly for show, and harbor your strength.  You may not feel forward momentum, but that’s only because you’ve finally found the position from which to stop sparring merely, and to apply your full—and considerable—influence.  Borrow some of the Ox’s temperament, and take the long view:  you have many more arrows in your quiver than stubbornness and willingness-to-face-attrition, but they’re the ones you should be rattling at the world.

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 have this Big Beautiful Brute wrapped around your finger, and his grand shadow will fall across a large portion of your world for the day, offering you both a safe place to hide-out—if that seems most appealing—and a veil of secrecy within which to launch your actions—if you’re so inclined.  If you’re wise, you’ll keep your focus on charm, seduction, and sedation, and decline to risk indulging in too much self-confidence, on the one hand, or too much ambition, on the other.  The benefits due you under the Friendly Ox are destined to be quite brief, and when you come to your next point of luck—in three days—you’ll have no such chance to remain unrecognized in the shadows, or to make brief, effective sorties, without risk of capture or reprisal.

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.  You were likely to be overheard yesterday uttering the quizzical musing, “What is that?”—but today it’s much more likely to be, “Oh, not this again!”  The Clan of Hooves and Horns is no enemy of yours, to be sure, but their spirit for labor is so mis-matched—as far as you’re concerned—with their insistence on never coming out of first gear, that you recognize their arrivals with the oddly mixed sensation of comforting familiarity and irritating boredom.  Take the boredom in stride, and focus on the familiarity.  Tomorrow’s Tiger will more than resolve that issue for you, and demonstrate that the Ox’s measured pace, while unresponsive to your appetites, was structurally valuable to the Tiger’s requirements of you.  To bound forward like a Tiger, you must sometimes hold back like a Tiger.

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.  While all members of the Clan of Hooves and Horns are equally able to “get your goat,” as it were, this one at least is fully cognizant of the range of your attributes and the depth of your competence on matters of terrain, whether he’d fully agree with your strategic approach and tactical style, or not.  If you offer even the smallest gesture to show that you’re “willing to agree to have your differences,” he’s very liable to return the favor by tossing you some small opening for you to make your two-cents show up and mean something.  Don’t press the issue—or your Luck!  Your attention needs to be on the Grand Scale, not on micro-adjustments or minor points of advantage.  If you leave your drive at home today, and wander forth—well, it will feel more like “plod” forth, of course—with your critical faculties disengaged, you may very well have a small epiphany, on that Grand Scale.

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.  The durable insensitivity of the Ox’s nature will either lead you to draw back a bit, seeking re-assurance and re-calibration, or to fall forward, due to your Presumption of Perpetual Progress, and your lack of Proper Holding On.  Allow the fog of mystery to arise around you, and don’t imagine that just because you’re having trouble seeing through it, that all the hard truths and concrete facts of the world have de-materialized, or—having lost their polarity with gravity—have flown off into space.  If you achieve a deep enough level of acceptance today (it will feel rather like falling asleep in the middle of sitting-meditation), then you’ll have the chance to slip through tomorrow’s travails virtually unnoticed by the Big Guy in the Striped Suit.  If, instead, your curiosity and reliance on action capture your attention, you’ll have to plan on striking a frozen pose tomorrow morning, and trying to hold it for the rest of the day.  In either case, it’s paying attention to yourself that will get you your pay-off, not diverting that attention by finding something to do, just to satisfy your need to stay busy.

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.  This is one of the best conditions you’ve encountered in the last 8 weeks or so, as both the Dragon and the Ox are willing to offer you cover, and give you an outlet for action that can be both expressive and deftly aimed, as well as satisfying and well-appreciated.  Consequently, this is an optimum time for you to look over your outstanding agenda, and aim either to accomplish as many of the small tasks as the day will allow, or to select the One Big Problem, and take your best stab at reaching its solution, post haste.  If it’s the latter, you will have to count on yourself to go forward with utmost commitment, and without any indulgence in second-guessing or critical editorialism.  Think of it as the next evolution in your study of All Things Tiger;  and if you are able to “fly forward like a cannonball, land like a bolt of lightning,” you have my personal permission to start practicing your Roar.

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.  You’ll have to be careful not to interpret the sense of tedium—or indeed, lock-up—you’re liable to experience today, as a critique on your entire Plan for Life, or as reason to doubt your fundamental value to those around you.  The worst part of the day will most likely be the early afternoon, when the Sheep Hour squares off against the Ox, and threatens to turn your sense of his plodding, into worries that you’ve entered a crack in the fabric of time itself, and may spend the rest of your days in a perpetually frozen state of time-warp.  Okay, leaving apart the question, “Can there be ‘days’ in a state of time-warp, frozen or not?”…. at the very least you must remember:  Tomorrow’s Tiger will have you feeling chipper and useful once again.  If you can’t count on yourself to believe that, just try repeating to yourself: “Maybe it’s just bad dream.  Maybe it’s just a bad dream.  Maybe it’s just a bad dream….”

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.  This will not produce a particularly productive or enjoyable array of forces for your attention and use;  but in truth, the main problem for you will be not what’s going on, but rather what’s not.  The Ox’s plodding pace, however delicately he’s putting his hooves down, and however haughtily he holds up his smoothly polished horns, is not worth more than about 15 minutes of your interest, and after that, only about 35 seconds of your commentary.  After that, …well, you’re just going to have to find something else to do with yourself.  Make sure that “something else” is not designed to throw a monkey-wrench into someone else’s gear-box, or in any other way to create a bon-fire of dramatics with which you can amuse yourself.  If you remember your lessons from last year, it’s actually good for you to be reminded that your clever affability, aesthetic taste, command of understanding, and willful generosity, do find some situations in which they’re all irrelevant.  Tomorrow:  a bon-fire of dramatics with which you can amuse yourself, but it won’t be your fault.

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

The Ruler of the Wailing Hell holds his pity dear, enduring the anguished cries of Those Who Suffer, remaining well-poised.

King Biàn Chéng, calm and upright, is not heartless;  he is, in fact, an emanation of the Goddess of Mercy herself.

Stone mallets to the brains, spiked chains sawing through bodies, flames to scorch the eyes and tongue,

Are not for stoney severity, but for compassion:  to purge the Wailers of their own sorry pasts, and urge them never to return.

“Honor your debt to your ancestors:  live a full life.”

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Thursday begins the Lunar Week:

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