Happy Year of the Yin Water Snake!

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Yin Water Snake Greetings from Master Wu

Greetings from bright and sunny Stockholm! Since my winter solstice greeting, the daylight is returning quickly here in Sweden. Karin and I have been enjoying our new home, continuing our inner cultivation practices, writing, hiking in the impressive Royal National City Park, and watching the cycle of freezing and thawing of the waterways in Stockholm (the city itself is made up of 14 islands).   We are still appreciating the strong life energy of the North. After our time in northern Europe last winter, I no longer feel shocked to see green grass patiently waiting under the icy fields. Green belongs to the Wood Element – it is the color of new life energy and the spring season, and it reminded me today to write this seasonal update.

Spring 2013 begins tomorrow! February 4, 2013 marks the beginning of GuiSi 癸巳 the Year of the Yin Water Snake

The Chinese New Year falls on February 10 this year. However, according to WanNianLi 萬年曆, the Chinese Ten-Thousand Year Calender, spring season will begin tomorrow, February 4 at 00:13, which is the same moment that the Year of Yin Water Snake begins.

In China, the Snake is also known as XiaoLong 小龍 (Minor Dragon) and is generally regarded as an auspicious animal symbol.  We commonly say that children born in the year of the snake are likely to be very smart!

Contrary to popular belief, the new yearly animal sign and Chinese New Year do NOT typically fall on the same day

Many people think that the Chinese calendar is a lunar calendar. In fact, it is a lunisolar calendar, called WanNianLi or YinYangLi 陰陽歷. In Chinese, YinYangLi means moon and sun calendar, with Yin representing the moon, Yang signifying the sun, and Li meaning calendar. The fundamental building blocks of the Chinese calendrical system are GanZhi 干支, the 10 Heavenly Stem and 12 Earthly Branches.  This year, year of the Yin Water Snake, is denoted by the combination of the Heavenly Stem Gui 癸 and the Earthly Branch Si 巳.  The calendar tells us information about the lunar phase as well as the position of the sun.

The Chinese New Year falls on the second new moon after Winter solstice each year.  This is why the actual date of the Chinese New Year changes from year to year – it does not follow the Western Gregorian calendar. The Chinese New Year is recorded based on the Yin aspect of the calendar.

The LiChun 立春, or beginning of spring, indicates the beginning of the next yearly animal sign. LiChun is one of the 24 15-day segments in the yearly cycle.  As I discussed in my book, The 12 Chinese Animals, the 24 segments are known as JieQi 節氣, and they symbolize the 24 positions of the sun’s movement across the sky and detail the 24 energetic patterns of each annual cycle – the Yang aspect of the calendar.

The message of GuiSi 癸巳

Each Heavenly Stem and Earthly Branch contain many layers of symbolic meaning. As the situation or context changes, we may interpret the same Stem or Branch in a totally different way. I will briefly decode a Chinese cosmological perspective of GuiSi for you here.

The Heavenly Stem Gui represents Yin Water and the Earthly Branch Si represents Fire and carries the Snake as its spiritual animal.  This is why this coming year, GuiSi, is known as the Yin Water Snake Year. According to Chinese cosmology, Gui Water will transform to a deficient Fire energy.  In general,  I expect that the climate will be drier than it was during the Yang Water Dragon year. Si Fire will transform to JueYin 厥陰 Wind Wood, which provides a clue that the first half year will be windy and the second half of the year will be warm, including an unseasonably warm winter (in the Northern hemisphere). Together, GuiSi shows us that these cosmological energies will weaken the immune system of many people and suggests that the flu season will continue through March 22th.  Of course, each season will have its own impact, and I will go into detail about the next season in a few months.

Daily Cultivation Practice

Although we can not completely avoid the influence of the cosmological energy on our health, keeping a daily Qigong practice is always a great way to strengthen your immune system and maintain balance. I often say that Qigong is easy to learn but difficult practice on a daily basis.  One of my students, an acupuncturist, recently shared her blog with me. She has decided to commit to practicing Qigong continuously for 365 days. With her permission, I am attaching the link to her blog for you here, and hope that it will bring some of you inspiration to dedicate yourselves to a daily cultivation practice (365qigong.wordpress.com).

Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches – study card set!

Karin and I finished our newest project – a Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches study card set.  It will be published by Singing Dragon in April 2013. We are still working with the companion book and hope it will be ready this summer.

Opportunities to study XinYi internal martial arts

We are excited about our Yijing, FengShui and internal cultivation trip to China next month.  For those who are interested in joining us for just the one week XinYi 心意 internal martial arts trip (March 14 – March 21), we still have a few spaces available.  We will be training with my master, Grandmaster Zhao ShouRong 趙守榮.  You are welcomed to email me for details.

I will also offer a Dai family style XinYi workshop in Brooklyn, NYC in May during our upcoming visit to the states.

Updated 2013 teaching schedule

The April life long training program level 1 is now full!  If you would like to be added to the wait list, please let me know. During our trip to the US, I will be teaching weekend workshops in Oregon (Portland) in April and in New York (Manhattan and Brooklyn) in May.  When we return to Sweden, we will offer a Daoist Internal Alchemy and Qi Healing certification program during the week of the summer solstice. Our summer and fall schedule thus far include workshops in Germany, England, and Scotland, with preliminary plans to teach in Spain and Greece – please check www.masterwu.net for details!

Best regards from Karin and I,

Master Wu