It’s a tradition to associate each year that begins with the symbolism of each of these 12 signs. As in the West, in Chinese culture the Monkey is associated with cleverness, quickness and unpredictability, as well as great fondness for becoming the center of attention, demonstrating its skills.
In historical terms the Monkey consolidated its place in Chinese mythology through one of the characters of “Journey to the West,” one of the “four great classical novels” of China, published during the Ming dynasty.
In the storyline, Sun Wukong, also known as the Monkey King, was a Monkey with supernatural powers, who accompanied a Buddhist monk in search of Buddhist sutras in India. Thus, despite its pesky facet (it stole the elixir of life in heaven, among other exploits…), the Monkey turned out to have a spiritual value added to its reputation, being highly appreciated in Chinese culture. Behind a facade of little credibility, are in fact intelligence and wisdom.
Having regard to the symbolism of the animal, the Chinese almanacs expect that 2016 will prove a time of sudden and unexpected changes and unpredictable circumstances. At this time, in the curious expression of one of the almanacs, you must “be smarter than the Monkey itself, to succeed in 2016”.
On the other hand, this year the Monkey combines with the fire element in its “yang” version. Therefore, as the fire is associated with the color red, some will call 2016 the year of the Red Monkey.
In other words, this will be a “bingshen” 丙申 year, in which the first character is the heavenly stem and the second the earthly branch, which corresponds to the sign of the Monkey.
Fire and metal (the latter of which is the dominant element of the Monkey) are in conflict, so once again the almanacs predicts that 2016 won’t be the year that peace comes to the world.
According to the old Farmer’s Almanac, each group of three signs (i.e., terrestrial branches) corresponds to one of the four seasons.
The last three years, Snake, Horse and Goat (2013, 2014 and 2015), correspond to the Summer, dominated by the element of fire. Extrapolating it would seem that, with the arrival of the Monkey, the “cosmic Summer” will come to an end, giving rise to the “cosmic Fall”, in which the metal element will dominate.
This Fall (years of the Monkey, the Rooster and the Dog) will continue until February 3, 2019. Finally, the “cosmic Winter” (years of the Pig, the Rat and the Ox) will take place between February 4, 2019 and February 3, 2021, with water as the dominant element.
This change of “cosmic season” will have its consequences for people, according to the time of year when they are born.
So says the Almanac of Peter So, “feng shui” master and, at the same time, a media star of Hong Kong, the next six years will be most positive for those born between May 6 and August 7, that is, during the months of the Snake, the Horse and Goat.
What is at issue here is that people born in the month of the Snake, the Horse, the Goat, between May 6 and August 7, are classified by Peter in the Group of “hot predisposition” (i.e. too “yang”), which needs to be “cooled” by the “yin” energy of metal and, even more, of water. While fire is unfavorable for them; “warming up” someone already “hot”.
In the reasoning of Peter So, it is therefore to be expected that these people of “hot predisposition” have been through difficult moments during the years 2013, 2014 and 2015, especially during the first two.
Now, with the “Fall” and the metal element, the “temperature” will lower and there will be less pressure. It is possible and recommended to proceed with your projects and count on the return of “good luck”, which will be further pronounced during the “cosmic Winter”, dominated by the water element, from 2019.
As for the people of “cold predisposition”, born between August 8 and March 5, the recent years dominated by fire have brought good news. There is variation from case to case because of generalizations that do not take into account the “eight characters” (Bazi) that mark the birth of each individual, defining their private “ming” 命. By contrast, years dominated by water (the “cosmic Winter”, between 2019 and 2021) could be challenging.
To Peter So, those born between March 6 and May 5 may belong to the Group of “neutral predisposition”, which allows them to adapt more easily to the years corresponding to any of the “cosmic seasons”.
However, the most desired item of the annual almanacs are the forecasts for those born in years dominated by each of the zodiac signs. On the following pages we present a summary of those predictions.
They are seen by the general population as mere entertainment; one of the ingredients of the crescendo that accompanies the celebration of each Chinese New Year. They are part of the party, as is also the family reunion, the trip to the temples, walking the streets and the bursting of firecrackers. On the contrary, real believers in the arts of “feng shui” and “bazi” don’t resort to the too generalist predictions of the almanacs, preferring the direct consultation of a trusted master.
In a very general way, the signs with more benefits for the year will be the Rat, the Dragon and, although with some contradictions, the Snake. Good news is also in store for the Ox and the Horse.
While the Tiger will be challenged by the “lord of the year”, the Monkey. The two signs are opposed in the Zodiac, which indicates a time of change and challenges to the natives of the Tiger.
The Horse and Monkey may also face tension in the year of the Monkey.
This year’s ‘feng shui’
The traditional divining arts of China have two aspects: the temporal (linked to the moment of birth, studied by “Bazi”) and the spatial/geographical.
The temporal one is developed in relation to the sign and the element that dominate each year, while the spatial/geographical has to do with the art of Feng Shui, currently popularized in the West.
All of these traditional arts have a popular aspect, which is conveyed by the almanacs and known to the general public, and other more rigorous and deep aspects, reserved for scholars and masters. The indications mentioned here, for curiosity purposes, are those contained in almanacs, hence their very general nature, which does not always apply to individual cases.
The art of Feng Shui studies the patterns of “qi” (vital energy) that surrounds each location and which varies from year to year. Its base are the four cardinal points and the four intermediary directions (Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast), but we should not forget a special direction, the “Center”.
The favourable directions in 2016 are: East, Southeast, South and West. The unfavourable are: Northwest, Northeast and “Center”. North is neutral and Southwest is mixed or slightly positive.
These directions may relate to the living areas of the house or to its “front”, this is the direction in which the house/residence faces, and may not coincide with the gateway. The direction in which the house faces is the one that “points” to the street, often reflected by the side that accomodates the stree-view windows.
The bedroom is seen as a key area within the residence.
“Unfavourable” directions or areas should not be “activated”, through noise or much activity or movement. To correct the negative tone of these the “feng shui” masters recommend the use of certain colors or the placement of certain symbolic objects.
The best directions to travel in for 2016 are East, South and Southeast.
This article was first published in Portuguese in MACAU magazine, No. 48, February 2016
Translation by MDT/KTranz