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The Current Year

An explanation of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches for the year and some predictions as to what the year is likely to hold.

2013 – The Year of the Yin Water Snake

This year the Chinese Lunar New Year falls on February 10th 2013. This date marks the start of the lunar year only and should not be mistaken for the commencement of the solar year on which the feng shui calendar is based. This is always February 4th, except for leap years when it is usually taken as Feb 5th; although I ordinarily stick to the 4th for the placement of the annual remedies as it’s easier to remember one single date.

This year will be the year of the Yin Water Snake. The element of yin water sitting on the fire of the snake means the two are in a conflict relationship as in the cycles of the Five Elements, water conquers fire, and so it suggests conflicts and disagreements, internationally and locally. However, being yin water, the most yin of all the Heavenly Stems, this indicates that there will be a hidden or covert aspect to any such conflicts. In such years, governments and those in authority, tend to want to keep such things hidden and covered up. There is an air of secrecy about events. Terrorists of course thrive in this kind of murky environment and so it is predicted we are likely to see an increase in terrorist acts and subversion. An example of such happenings can be taken from the assassination of John F Kennedy. He was shot 22nd November, 1963, a Yin Water Rabbit year. Theories of cover-ups and conspiracies surround his death to this day. Such is the secretive nature of yin water. Earlier, in 1897, in a previous year of Yin Water Snake, Mohandas K. Gandhi was to announce his first campaign of Civil Disobedience. The active passivity of such a philosophy is an excellent example of yin water at work.

The emotions that attend the element of water are kindness and fear or trepidation. Yin water can be likened to a tear drop or a fine misty rain. So it’s not aggressive like its yang counterpart Yang Water. The fire of the Snake on the other hand is that of early summer, it is a rising and increasing fire. The emotion of fire is joy and celebration. This aspect of the fire of the snake, welling up or rising, means the year is likely to see rebellions and uprisings that due to the yin nature of the year, can take one by surprise.

Since the economy is tied directly to the element of metal (gold), and it takes fire to melt or stimulate movement in metal, we might expect at least some beginnings of recovery in the economy this year. We are entering a three year period of fire cycle (Snake, Horse and Goat), and so it is postulated that this fire cycle will see something of a recovery in the world’s economies over this three year period. Just how far this recovery will work has yet to be seen however.

One interesting aspect of the Snake is the similarity between that of a train and a snake. Both slither along the surface of the ground. The last time the Heavenly Stem of Yin Water appeared above the Earthly Branch of the Snake, sixty years ago in 1953, New Zealand suffered its worst ever train disaster. As a result of a devastating lahar from the crater lake of Mt Ruapehu, the overnight Wellington to Auckland express plummeted head long into the riverbed at Tangiwai on Christmas Eve. 151 lives were lost in that tragedy and it lives on in our national memory to this day. However, it may come as some surprise to New Zealanders that Tangiwai, terrible though it was, was not the only train disaster that week. In fact it was not even the only train disaster that day.

Half a world away in faraway Czechoslovakia, that same day another express train slammed into another train standing still at a station platform. That accident killed almost just as many but the Czech government of the day quickly suppressed all details and at first denied there had even been an accident. Later they admitted there were over 105 deaths and 83 other casualties but the final figures remain uncertain, even now. In June of the same year, Vietnamese insurgents fighting French colonialism ignited charges against the pylons of a rail viaduct across a deep ravine in rural central Vietnam and sent a packed train plummeting to its end, killing over a hundred people in the ensuing carnage. Like their Czech counterparts, the French Colonial government in Vietnam never disclosed a full and reliable account of what had actually taken place, trying too to hush it all up. Such events can be an aspect of Snake Years.

The snake is one of four animals in the Chinese zodiac that form what is known as a Travelling Horse. These four animals indicate years when we can expect extra travelling and movement. Clearly they are good for tourism but with them go the connotation that there are also likely to be more accidents involving travel and modes of travel. Since the snake is similar to a train, we can expect extra train accidents in the coming year, but since fire is related to the air travel industry, we can also expect accidents here too.