Spring Greetings and Happy New Year!


Dear Qi-Friends,

Happy Spring!
Happy Chinese New Year!
Happy Year of the Earth Dog!


…from not-cold Stockholm 🙂

We are excited, getting ready to leave for our annual US spring trip to the Pacific Northwest next week. As I have much to do before we leave, and will be very busy in the US, I am sending this greeting letter a little early.

Earth Dog begins Feb 4 /
New Year starts Feb 16

According to Chinese cosmology, the Earth Dog Year of 2018  will start on LiChun 立春, February 4 at 05:28 (Beijing time), while Chinese New Year’s day this year will be February 16.

As you can see, Chinese Yearly animal sign and Chinese New Year fall on different days. Why so?

Chinese New Years’ day is the first new moon’s day of the first lunar month each year, as according to the Chinese calendar.  The New Year is dependent on the pattern of the moon (Yin energy of Nature).

The animal sign of the year starts on LiChun, which is the beginning of spring season.  The LiChun is dependent on the position of the sun (Yang energy of the nature).

GanZhi and the Yearly Animal Sign

Professionally, we use GanZhi 干支 (Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches) to represent each energetic Year rather than just the simplified animal sign.

Energy of the Dog (Xu 戌)

For this coming energetic year, the Dog animal sign (Earthly Branch) indicates that the specific energetic qualities of nature associated with the Dog (such as intuitive, smart, artistic, cautious, social, honest, loyal, uneasy, evasive, or stubborn energy) will exert their influences on us human beings.

When properly harnessed, Dog energy will help you channel your truthful and creative nature towards completing tasks and striving to achieve your life’s greatest goals.

Left unchecked, Dog energy can easily trap you in some physical or emotional obstacle(s) that will make it virtually impossible to get anything done.

Energy of the Earth Dog (WuXu 戊戌)

WuXu 戊戌 Year of the Earth Dog

Analyzing the energy of the Year’s Heavenly Stem and Earthly Branch pair together, however, will give us much greater insight into the cosmological patterns of the upcoming year.

WuXu 戊戌 (Yang Earth Dog) energy suggests that we will have  dramatic, changing weather patterns in the coming year.


The War Between Fire and Water

Beginning January 20, 2018, it has been challenging for Hot Fire energy to take over Cold Water in many areas of the Northern Hemisphere.  This war between Fire and Water will be the typical pattern for WuXu year.

Sudden changes between Water (cold, snow, rain) and Fire (hot/warm, heat, dry) will affect many people’s health, especially for those who have weak heart, lungs, and/or kidneys.

The most extreme time period of this pattern will be June and July.

Warm Diseases / Cold Diseases in the Spring

In the early spring, this Fire energy, in the form of erratic temperature spikes, can easily cause what is known as Warm diseases in traditional Chinese medicine in many people. The signs of Warm disease can be fever, headache, sore throat, cough, vomiting, and/or ulcer.

In the late spring, this Water energy, in the form of dramatic temperature drops, could not only make it difficult for some of the more sensitive plants to flourish, but also cause health challenges for people who have weak liver and/or are susceptible to depression.

DaYao 大藥, Your Greatest Medicine

Please do not forget take your DaYao (the Greatest Medicine – Jing, Qi, and Shen) everyday to help maintain your physical and emotional balance, no matter what we expect the external and internal influences to be.

In order to support our Qi-friends being well stocked in this Greatest Medicine, I have decided it is important to offer as many training opportunities as possible this year, in both Europe and the States.

2018 Teaching Highlights

Highlights – Spring in Oregon

During our Spring trip to Oregon, we will be hosting two retreats – LifeLong Training session 5 and JingDao session 2in Sandy (the western gateway to Mount Hood) and Netarts (on the majestic Oregon coast).

In the city of Portland, I will also offer several weekend events, sharing some simple yet powerful Daosit/Shamanic arts during the first and second weekends of March.

If you are planning on joining us for a weekend workshop, be sure to take advantage of the early bird pricing!

Highlights – Spring/Summer

I will be offering weekend workshops in Sweden (Stockholm), France (Avignon, Lyon) and Iowa (Decorah).

Highlights – Fall/Winter

I will also be offering weekend workshops in Germany (Hamburg), Alaska (Palmer, Anchorage), Oregon (Portland), Scotland (Aberdeen) and New York (Buffalo).

GanZhi Advanced Daoist Arts Program begins in US

For those of you who are interested in studying the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, I am pleased to announce the opening of the first session of our GanZhi Advanced Daoist Arts program, at Pendle Hill, PA (USA) December 4-9, 2018.

For more details about my teachings and registration details for an upcoming event in your area, please visit my website:


Fire/Water Harmonizing Qi to you and yours,

Master Wu


Autumnal Greetings 2016

Autumn 2016

One leaf knows it is autumn

Dear Qi-friends,

Autumnal greetings from the peaceful and calm Norrtälje bay (in sunny Sweden)!

In China, we have a famous proverb: YiYeZhiQiu 一葉知龝 , which means ‘one leaf knows it is autumn.’ This red leaf caught my eyes as I was strolling with my daughter in the nature reserve last week … it reminded me that my one month summer vacation (Swedish style) was drawing to an end and that I would be writing this newsletter soon.

Autumn Begins 7 August … 

Although autumn begins on August 7, 2016 and the Cold Water cosmological energy might bring some welcomed cooling for a brief spell (especially in those areas that have been experiencing an unusual heat wave), ShuHuoZhiQi 暑火之氣, or Hot Fire Qi, will be in full force before completely retreating around August 25th.

Expect to have some extremely hot days until then! This will especially hold true for those of you who have experienced an uncommonly hot summer these last couple of months.

HanShuiZhoQi 寒水之氣 – Cold Water Extreme

However, HanShuiZhoQi 寒水之氣, or Cold Water energy, will dominate the remainder of the fall season, with some areas experiencing atypical rainstorms, hail storms and/or snowstorms.

Cold Water Caution! 

This extreme Cold Water influence may cause some difficulties for those of you who have potential weakness in gastrointestinal function, any kind of joint problem, an over heavy body, poor hearing, and/or lower back pain. This harming influence will be strong from September 22nd through November 22nd.

Cold Water Prevention

To avoid the deleterious influence of Cold Water energy and maintain balance in your life, please center your diet around healthy foods and place more emphasis on eating foods with pungent flavors. Also, please keep up with your daily Qigong practice.

Drinking plantain tea everyday will have special health benefits for most of us during this coming autumn season.

2016 Teaching Schedule Update

In order to support our Qi-friends cultivation, we will continue to expand my teachings in the states and throughout Europe.

Two upcoming retreats full

We are excited that many cultivation friends from around the world will be joining us in our next two upcoming retreats:

1. Our two year GanZhi Advanced Daoist Arts Program, in which I will systematically teach the relationships of the GanZhi to Chinese cosmology, astrology, the Yijing, classical chinese medicine, and internal alchemy, is full. We will be welcoming a international group of students to study here in Sweden every 6 months for the next two years.

2. To commemorate the 15th year of the passing of one my most influential teachers, Grandmaster Yang RonJi 楊榮籍 , I will be sharing (for the first time) the first 12 movements of the HuaShan 24 form. For this training, we will be meeting in a retreat style setting in upstate, New York. Although registration for this event is full, you are welcome to join us for part 2, in October 2017.

Still time to join a weekend course!

There are still a few spaces left in several of my upcoming weekend events this fall (in New York city; in Stockholm, Sweden; in Strasbourg, France; and in Aberdeen, Scotland). If you would like to participate, please check out the teaching schedule on my website for details.

Looking Ahead to 2017

During our extended spring 2017 teaching trip to the Pacific Northwest area of the United States, I will offer several events to support our local Qi-friends in Portland, Oregon…

Fire Dragon Shamanic Martial Arts Form Retreat

For years, students have been asking me to teach them the Fire Dragon Shamanic Martial Arts Form. I have finally decided to offer training of this special form from the EMei Shamanic Lineage. In a five day retreat, we will learn and practice this powerful form, which is based on the Yijing Eight Trigrams Arrangement.

Dai XinYi Chopstick form

I will be continuing teaching the Dai XinYi Teacher Certification series. In the next session, held in February 2017, I will be teaching the XinYi Chopstick Form. Each workshop in this series is open to the general public, to students of all levels, and is offered independently, meaning you are welcome to join us for as many of these trainings as you like, in any order that fits your schedule.

2016/2017 Winter/Spring Highlights

Best wishes for a healthy and happy harvest season from Karin and I,

Master Wu

Happy Longevity Peach Day! … and happy summer :)

Santorini - October 13, 2014


9 April 2016

Dear Qi friends,

Happy Longevity Peach Day! Happy birthday to the Spirit of North! Happy birthday to Grandmaster Zhao!

Traditionally, Longevity Peach Day is the day when the Queen Mother of the West would invite all the immortals to KunLun Mountain in celebration. During the festivities, she offered Longevity Peaches … eating one Longevity Peach was known to bring 3,000 years of life!

Spirit of the North is XuanWu 玄武 – and is also the spirit of Water Element.  In Daoism, we believe XuanWu brings new life energy into the world and protects all beings.

Grandmaster Zhao ShouRong carries the lineage of the Dai Family style of XinYi (Heart Mind) internal alchemy and martial arts system. He was born on this special auspicious day, the third day of the third month in lunar calender.

Karin, Zenna, and I hope the spiritual energies of these two immortals (and Grandmaster Zhao) will bring happiness, health, and prosperity into your lives.

Good News!

I would like to share a couple of pieces of good news with you before I share more about the cosmological influences that will be influencing us all this summer.

  • The registration for our newly launched GanZhi Advanced Daoist Arts program is full! This two year course will be held in Sweden. If you would like to be added to the waitlist, please send us an email.

  • Session three of the Lifelong Training Program is also full! This session will meet at a beautiful lodge nestled in the base of Mt. Adams in southern Washington state (USA).  It will be great to spend a week cultivating with old Qi friends.

  • Our publisher, Singing Dragon, is offering a free online Qigong festivalon April 21-22, 2016. Please check out the link – there will be a lot of interesting information available! For this event, I have donated one of my most popular previously published articles, The Pure Yang Mudra part I.

  • My wife Karin is busy writing the GanZhi BaZi Workbook! This book will provide essential and practical information on Chinese astrology … including the secret method (never before published) of how to calculate the astrology chart without a Chinese calendar book or a questionably accurate GanZhi app. Our goal is for the book to be available during the 2016 winter holiday season.

Summer Greetings

You may be wondering why I am sending you all this summer seasonal newsletter almost one month ahead of schedule. The answer is twofold:

Teaching trip in the Pacific Northwest

First, we will be leaving Sweden on Monday for a long teaching trip in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. We will have an entire month of back to back teachings scheduled, which will prevent me from doing any writing!

Third month of Spring – the Dragon month

Secondly, the third month of spring this season has unusual energetic pattern – one that differs from the general spring pattern I wrote about in my last newsletter. As such, I would like to give you a specific guidance about the upcoming Dragon month:

RenChen 壬辰 (Yang Water Dragon)

Even though many friends who are living in the northern hemisphere have enjoyed some nice warm spring energy, this month, RenChen 壬辰 (Yang Water Dragon), will carry in some Cold Water energy. Some friends may have already experienced snow storms during the last couple of days.

Please still follow my previous recommendations for the spring Qigong practice during this Dragon month.  However, please do not continue eating the cooling foods I mentioned in my Spring 2016 newsletter. Until 5 May make sure to consume food and drink with warming energy, such as ginger tea and adding cinnamon spice to your warming foods (like lamb stew).

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

From the Daoist cosmological perspective, the starting point of the summer season falls on May 5th this year. The energy of Mars will definitely dominate the summer – the power of Fire will be in full effect! I predict that many of us will experience an extremely hot summer, especially during the period of May 20 – July 20. This heat wave could last all the way through to the first month of autumn (until September 7th) in some areas.

Supporting patients through the heat

Clinically, practitioners will see that many of their clients will present with problems relating to heat disease, such as poor hearing, nose bleeds, cough, abscess, skin sores, red eyes, thyroid hyperplasia, sore throat, and even sudden death.

Starting on May 5th, please guide your patients to consume foods and drinks that are cooling in nature.

As I mentioned in my last letter, drinking high quality green tea will be a good choice to help disperse the heat this summer. I recently got some fabulous green tea shipped to me from my friends in China – the first harvest of the year! 🙂

Those of you who are tea aficionados may be able to notice the high quality nature of this tea and even its powerful Qi in the photo down below.

Cultivating with the heat

As always, the best way to maintain your balance throughout all the changes life brings is to continue your daily Qigong practice.

The Monkey Internal Alchemy Meditation practice I have shared before (from my book, XinYi WuDao) is still a powerful choice to help you balance your energy.

Regardless of your specific cultivation practice, please remember this advice:

The enlightened being cultivates while facing brightness

Wishing Peaceful Qi to you and your families from the three of us,

Master Wu

Cultivation yields transformation – come join us!

In order to support our Qi-friends inner transformation process, I am expanding my 2016 teachings. Below please find an overview of upcoming training opportunities. Please click the event name for details.

2013 Autumn Greetings from Master Wu

smultronDear Qi friends,

Greetings from the cool and placid Baltic Sea! I am sending this northern Qi to those of you experiencing the late summer heat wave and hope it will bring you some welcomed relief. Although it may still feel like summer, the wild strawberry leaves are already turning red and birch leaves golden, reminding me that autumn is coming.

Autumn Season begins tomorrow, August 7

According to Chinese cosmology, August 7th will mark the beginning of fall. This does not mean everywhere will cool down instantly starting tomorrow! Actually, the heat wave will carry through until late August when the rainstorms will start to visit.

Protect your heart and kidneys

The natural energy pattern this autumn will display the battle between the Fire and Water, with spells of alternating hot and cold. This shifting universal energy will prove difficult for those who have weak heart or kidney function.

Time to take advantage of strong Fire/Water energy

However, it is also a great time for your Daoist internal alchemy cultivation practice.  We can take advantage of the strong climatic Fire and Water energy to fuel our inner transformation. As always, I encourage you to keep up your daily Qigong practice, especially focusing on balancing your Fire and Water in the months ahead.

Upcoming courses in the EU and USA

Karin and I will continue to share our inner cultivation practices with Qi friends in the UK, Sweden, Spain, and Germany this autumn season before we make a trip to the United States to offer training courses in the early winter.

Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches book completed (available spring 2014)!

Also, I would like to share some great news with you! Karin and I have finally finished the draft of our book, Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches (TianGan DiZhi) – the Heart of Chinese Wisdom Traditions.  In it, we have provided hard to find information on the fundamental building blocks of all Chinese wisdom traditions.  We discuss the symbolism and numerology of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, which is the basis of my seasonal cosmological forecasts, all Chinese astrology readings, traditional Chinese healing modalities, and inner cultivation practices. It will be a beautiful full color book, and you can start looking for it in the spring of 2014!

XinYi Daoist Internal Alchemy and Martial Arts – new book project and China trip

Karin and I have already started working on our new book about XinYi 心意 Daoist alchemical martial arts. We hope it will be ready to present to my XinYi master, Grandmaster Zhao in China next April for his 80th birthday celebration. We will guide a XinYi cultivation trip in April for those of you who are interested in XinYi training and participating in the big celebration!

We keep our website updated regularly.  If you are interested in any of our upcoming events, please check there (www.masterwu.net) for details.

Harmonious Red-Golden Autumn Qi from Karin and I,

Master Wu

Happy Year of the Yin Water Snake!


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

Dragon Greetings from Master Wu

Spring begins Feb 4, 2012

Dear Qi friends,

Happy RenChen 壬辰 (Water Dragon) Year!

Although most Chinese and many other Asians celebrate the new year on the second new moon’s day after winter solstice, the astrological animal year actually starts on LiChun 立春 (Establishing Spring), which occurs each year around February 4. According to my Ten Thousand Year Chinese Calender, the Year of Water Dragon will officially begin February 4, 2012 at 18:22.

With respect to traditional Chinese cosmology, this will be the same moment that this spring season will start. My wife Karin and I are delighted for the opportunity to practice Fire Dragon Qigong with some Qi friends here in London this coming weekend when the Water Dragon arrives. I will send the Dragon’s Blessings of Great Transformation to you during our cultivation.

Regarding cosmological patterns, the Water Dragon will transform to Wind Wood and Cold Water. This suggests there will be powerful and perhaps disastrous wind and rain storms this year. The strong Wind Wood and Cold Water energies will also weaken many people’s kidney Qi, immune function and life energy.

On the other hand, Chinese Dragon is also a symbol for great transformation.  As such, the Water Dragon Year will be the best time to commit to your inner cultivation practices. Spending some time everyday with your Qigong practice and other inner cultivation techniques will help you maintain well-being and recover from  sickness or imbalance.

In Chinese, we have a saying – ShiBanGongBei 事半功倍 – which means achieve better results and exert only half of the usual effort. This year, Water Dragon Qi will make your Qigong and other spiritual cultivation practices more fruitful, thereby allowing you to reach your goals with much less effort compared with other times. I hope you will take advantage of this rare opportunity to spend more time practicing your inner arts and make a great change in your life.

After sharing some Qigong and Chinese Medicine teachings in the UK, Karin and I will spend about two weeks in the Arctic circle to cultivate with the Northern Lights in late February, when the Water Dragon will be raising its head on the horizon.

To continue to support our Qi communities, we will finish the Fire Dragon Meridian Qigong Book and DVD as soon as possible, and will offer more workshops across the world during the Water Dragon year.

Also, as requested by some Qi friends, we are considering opening a new entry level of our lifelong training program on the West Coast when we are in Oregon this May.

Please check my website (www.masterwu.net) for updates in my teaching schedule if you are interested.

With wishes for Auspicious Dragon Transformation,

Master Wu

The Darkest Sunshine

Sunset on the Winter Solstice, 2011
Sunset on the Winter Solstice, 2011

Dear Qi Friends,

Solstice greetings from the stormy Baltic Sea!  It was not my original intention to write you a greeting letter before the Year of Dragon begins in February, but this morning during our morning meditation, I felt inspired to share some of the wonderful Qi of the nature surrounding our winter retreat here in the southernmost tip of Sweden.   Our temporary home is only about 100 feet from the beach and we watch the sunrise, sunset and moonlight over the sea, as well as many powerful storms, all from our living room window.

I have been amazed by the strength of life here, especially of the roses still blooming during the cold winter energy of Northern Europe.  During our solstice meditation this morning, I finally feel I truly understand why the first totem of Chinese culture, before the Dragon and Tiger, was the Rose.  The traditional Chinese name for China is ZhongHua 中華 (central flower), which originates from the Rose totem.  The life span of the flower is short and the living conditions can be difficult, yet the rose can still share the strength of its glorious beauty with the world.  Similarly, in our spiritual cultivation practice, the Master will remind us that we must always go through gruel and turmoil in order to reach true Enlightenment.  There is a common phrase in the Chinese education system, “MeiHua Xiang Zi KuHan Lai 梅花香自苦寒來”, which means that the wonderful fragrance of the plum blossom is born of the harsh winter.  I took a photo of a beautiful rose blooming outside of our house, right after our meditation.

Just in front of our house, on the dunes before the beach, is a rectangular stone ‘circle’ from the Iron Ages.  It is known locally as “Disas Ting”.  In Swedish, ting is a community gathering place for legal hearings, and Disa a legendary wise woman from this area. I have been thinking about this wonderful, long stretching time period of human history when Laozi, Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc, came to share their wisdom.  When I was young, I wished I had lived in that time period so I could study with the old Masters directly.  We often seek things that are out of reach to help us, forgetting both our own inner strength and the support of what is around us.  Disa reminds us that wise people have existed everywhere, famous or not.  With her speechless stone circle, she teaches us the same wisdom found in the Chinese classics: SheJinQiuYuan 舍近求遠, which means we throw away what is close and seek what is remote.  My interpretation of this is that although we tend to look far away for the answer, the Dao is actually always very close, within ourselves.

I took a photo of the sunset of this darkest day of the year.  The sun is not that bright, yet it still warms our hearts.  On this day, we know that tomorrow the days will start getting longer and brighter.  I am reminded of this as I drink my favorite Red Robe tea.  After sipping the first bitter notes of the tea, I can feel the sweetness of the tones that shortly follow.

In January, I will start sharing teaching again after a few months personal retreat. Karin and I are looking forward to hosting a number of workshops in Sweden and making another trip to the UK for some weekend workshops, lectures and sharing tea with friends. I hope to see some of you again soon.

Love Qi from Karin and I,

Master Wu

PS  We have received many supportive emails since my last greeting letter, some from old friends and some from people we have not yet met.  We want to thank you for your generous hearts.

When a tree falls in the woods …

When you are sorrowful look into your heart and you shall see that you are weeping for that which has been your delight. (Kahlil Gibran)

In the Chinese 5 Element system of medicine, the Wood element is typically the symbol of spring and new life energy.  The energy of the Wood element is the driving force allowing the potential inherent in the seed, symbolizing pure wisdom and knowledge buried beneath the surface, to burst from the ground and grow towards the sun, the symbol for our heart’s destiny and true path. I find trees inspiring, I appreciate their infinitely inventive strategies, how through twisting, turning, and skirting obstacles, they seem to show great foresight in order to continue their stretch toward the heavens.  They feel benevolent to me, supporting the gracious maturation of generations of animals and insects.  With their upright posture and deep rootedness, they strike me as having a noble quality.  I admire their great strength, so strong, yet with graceful flexibility, they sway and bend in even the most turbulent storms.

One day, after spending time in an ancient forest in the wilds of Alaska, I gained another insight into the nature of the Wood element. Shaken by the chaotic cacophony of a giant tree falling in the woods, I was struck, quite palpably and painfully, by the fragility of life.   It was almost incomprehensible, that something so massive, so strong, and so deeply rooted, could come crashing down to the forest floor.  After hundreds of years, the tree finally released its grip on the earth, and I could not look into the enormous, gaping hole remaining without a sense of anguish.  I found myself wondering how the hole could ever be filled. Marveling at the once totally hidden root system, now exposed in its far-reaching complexities, I was humbled by how shamefully easy it is to take for granted that all goes on beneath the surface.  I felt a sense of grief and heartache for the thousands of organisms that were now displaced — innumerable critters made their home in is roots, on its leaves and branches, relied on its strength and endurance during blustery storms, and sang songs of love from high in its tree tops – what would become of them?  After sitting some time with the fallen Grandfather tree, it became apparent that the forest was still thriving.  Perhaps the tree was simply listening to a Voice calling it home, asking it to return back to the earth from whence it came?  At that moment, it struck me that death is simply a sacrifice we all make, and is an opportunity to become the very source of nourishment for all that is to follow.


  © 2013 Karin Taylor Wu, ND

The Wisdom of Twelve

This is an excerpt from the introduction of my new book, “The 12 Chinese Animals – Create Harmony in Your Daily Life Through Ancient Chinese Medicine”, published by Singing Dragon and ready for purchase in Fall 2010.  It was also recently published in The Empty Vessel, a Eugene, OR based journal on contemporary Daoism.  I hope you enjoy reading about the wisdom of twelve.

The Wisdom of Twelve[1]

Living in harmony within family, among society, and with nature is the ancient Chinese way of life. People in China have been enjoying living in a very harmonious society for thousands of years, since at least the time period of the  Western Zhou Dynasty (1122 BCE – 771 BCE). In Chinese, we have an expression to illustrate this style of life, ye bu bi hu, lu bu shi yi (夜不閉戶, 路不拾遺), which means there is no need to close your door at night when you go to sleep, and you will be able to get your belongings back easily if you lose them because no one will take them away. In ancient China, there were no religions, no police, no taxes, and no lawyers. There was only a special kind of wisdom to guide Chinese people to cultivate their true humanity.  This true humanity contains the spirit of love, compassion, faith, courtesy, justice, and humbleness. With this true humanity, people are able to respect each other, support each other, and create a harmonious community together.

You might wonder what this wisdom is.  This wisdom is still being held in some ancient Chinese classics; Yijing (I Ching), is one of them. Yijing wisdom has guided countless Chinese to live in harmony in their daily life for thousands of years. One of the most important concepts in the Chinese wisdom traditions is trinity; three in one, is one. Yijing contains three secret and sacred layers of wisdom: symbology, numerology, and philosophy. This book will give you a little taste of this ancient Chinese wisdom.  By understanding the twelve animal symbols and twelve tidal hexagrams from Yijing wisdom, you will be able to learn a way to find your inner peace and live in harmony with your family, your community, and with nature

The wisdom of Yijing is vast; it looks like a tree of the universe. The roots of the tree embrace the entire earth and the tips of the tree hold the whole heavenly realm. There is a very tiny branch on this tree, called the twelve animal symbols system, which is related to your birth, your energetic life cycle or destiny, twelve tidal hexagrams of Yijing, and the cycle of nature. It is also a small sub-branch of the Yijing prediction system. As I emphasized in the Afterword of my book Seeking the Spirit of The Book of Change: 8 Days to Mastering a Shamanic Yijing (I Ching) Prediction SystemYijing prediction is magic, but it is also an art, a way of life, a way of nature, and it is a way of the universe. It is a way to express the great universal compassion, which gives birth to all beings and protects them.[2] The spirit of Yijing prediction or Change is to help people find a way to Change their lives and experience living in a consistently peaceful state, especially during difficult situations.  This prediction system provides a way for people to live in harmony.

Life is magic! Twelve animal symbols of Yijing wisdom is a way to help you to understand this magic, to help you live a harmonious life. In this book, I will share with you how these twelve animal symbols can help you understand your destiny.  By using the wisdom of the animal symbols as guides, you will be able to better understand your personality, and make choices that influence your health, relationships, career, finances, the colors you wear, and the food you eat, so that you live up to your greatest potential. It will be easier for you to apply the wisdom of the twelve animal symbols in your life if I provide you with  some fundamentals about the number 12, Chinese astrology and animal symbols, and the 8 trigrams and 12 tidal hexagrams of Yijing.

I. Numerological Meanings of 12

In ancient times, people lived closer to the cycles of nature and followed the way of nature. This harmonious lifestyle is patterned in a Chinese phrase, ri chu er zuo, ri luo er xi 日出而作,日落而息, which means ‘Sunrise, go to work; sunset, go to rest.’ Through their observation of nature, ancient Chinese understood 12 as an important number in their daily life.

In Chinese, the number 12 is Shier十二. It is a symbol for the universal clock, i.e. Shier Chen十二辰, representing both time and space. In Chinese cosmology, we certainly recognize the number twelve as contained in the twelve Chen辰 in a day (1 Chen is equal to two hour segments), the twelve months of a year, the twelve spiritual animals related to the Chinese zodiac, and the 12 years of a life cycle. The number 12 is described as the twelve Earthly Branches in Chinese tradition. The branches are representative of the waxing and waning of the two primal energies of Yin and Yang throughout daily or yearly cycles. As I explained in my book, Vital Breath of the Dao, the chaotic primordial Qi gave birth to two types of Qi:  heavy Qi and light Qi.  These two types moved in opposite directions.  The heavy Qi, Yin Qi descended to form the Earth, while the light Qi, Yang, rose to form Heaven.  These terms, Yin and Yang, allow people to understand any phenomena as the expression of opposites.[3] For example, in the cycles of nature, you have to understand the concept of night which is considered Yin, in order to understand the concept of day, which is considered Yang.  It is said that the knowledge of twelve Earthly Branches comes from ancient Chinese through thousands of years of observing astronomical phenomena.

The number twelve represents the energetic changes our bodies experience in a twelve Chen day, the twelve months of a year, and 12 years of a life cycle. In Chinese medicine, the number 12 also corresponds to the 12 organ meridian systems in the human body.  The human body itself is seen as a microcosmic representation of the macrocosm of the Universe. The number twelve stands for the 12 different energy patterns found in nature. Ancient Chinese shamans used the 12 tidal hexagrams of Yijing to describe the 12 energetic patterns of the microcosm (the human body) and the macrocosm (nature, and the Universe at large).

II. Chinese Astrology and 12 Animal Symbols

Are you familiar with Chinese astrology? You may think of the twelve animals of the zodiac commonly printed on restaurant menus. In actuality, Chinese astrology is vastly more complicated than this.

In the West, most information available to the public on how to find your Chinese animal symbol is incomplete and misleading. Many Chinese animal sign or horoscope books and popular websites will tell you that each animal symbol starts from the Chinese New Year in the Chinese Lunar calendar. This is, in fact, an incorrect method to find your animal symbol.

Generally speaking when most people talk about Chinese animal symbols, they are referring to the yearly animal symbol. For instance, if you were born in 1951, most readily available resources will tell you that your animal symbol is Rabbit, based on the assumption that 1951 is the Year of Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac system. Actually, being born in 1951 does not always mean you will have Rabbit as your animal symbol. Furthermore, according to Chinese astrology, you have at least 4 animal symbols in your birth chart! The yearly animal symbol is related to the energetic year in which you were born, the monthly animal symbol is related to the energetic month in which you were born, the daily animal symbol is related to the energetic day in which you were born, and the hourly animal symbol is related to the energetic hour in which you were born. I emphasize the energetic year, month, day, and hour because they are different concepts than those of the regular solar calendar.

Chinese Astrology is based on ancient Chinese cosmology and the Five Elements theory. Each individualized chart is a life reading that gives insight into a person’s past, present, and future. Through the chart, one can obtain guidance about health, career, relationships, and more.

An individual Chinese astrology chart is constructed with a Heavenly Stem and Earthly Branch for each year, month, date, and time of birth. The combination of a Heavenly Stem and Earthly Branch for each parameter is called One Pillar; all together they are called the SiZhu or Four Pillars. Each Pillar is composed of a Heavenly Stem and an Earthly Branch.  Thus, there are two characters per Pillar. With a total of Four Pillars, the entire chart is composed of eight characters. As such, the name for Chinese astrology is BaZi (eight characters).

It is said that Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches existed even before the invention of the Chinese characters, which the oldest recorded evidence dates back to 8000 years ago.[4] Numerous examples of the symbols for the Stems and Branches are seen in the unearthed ancient Chinese oracle bones from the Shang Dynasty (1766 to 1111 BCE).

As you can see, for any particular individual, there will be eight characters (BaZi) that reflect his or her personal energies. These are derived from all the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, within the Four Pillars, that support the body. In other words, by understanding the energy of the macrocosmic Universe at a particular time, we can understand the microcosm of the individual.

In Chinese tradition, we commonly use the 12 animal symbols to represent the 12 Earthly Branches in the astrological chart, because it is easier for people to understand their destiny through the symbolic meaning of the animals. These 12 animal symbols are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. In The Beginning of this book, I will introduce the way to find your fundamental power animal symbols. You will then be able to learn the wisdom of your personal animals in subsequent chapters, which will support you living in harmony with your family and friends, your community, and with nature.

III. Eight Trigrams, 12 Tidal Hexagrams, and the Cycle of Nature

There are 12 very important hexagrams in Yijing system, known as the 12 tidal hexagrams. Each hexagram represents the energetic pattern of its related animal symbol in Chinese astrology. We often use the wisdom of these tidal hexagrams to give people guidance during a consultation.  Bagua, or Eight Trigrams, form the basis of Yijing. The entire Yijing text book is made of 64 hexagrams, and each hexagram is made up of two trigrams. Let me share some information about the trigrams before we further discuss the 12 tidal hexagrams.  I hope it will help you better understand each hexagram in this book.

Bagua is the model of the universe. Everything in existence, including every part of the body, can be classified by one of the trigrams. Ancient shamans understood this connection and they brought this connection into their interpretations of their divinations.[5] Trigrams are symbols made up of three lines, representing Heaven, Earth, and the Human Being, and reflect the universal energy. The Eight Trigrams are: Qian 乾 (Heaven), Dui 兌 (Marsh or Lake), Li 離 (Fire), Zhen 震 (Thunder), Xun 巽 (Wind), Kan 坎 (Water), Gen 艮 (Mountain), and Kun 坤 (Earth). Each line in a trigram will be either a solid line (–) or a broken line (–). The solid line is called the Yang 陽 line and the broken line is called the Yin 陰 line.

Now, let us let take a look some information about the 12 tidal hexagrams. The 12 tidal hexagrams are used to depict the energetic cycle of nature.  In Chinese, we call these hexagrams Shier Xiaoxi Gua 十二消息卦. Shier means twelve, while Xiao means decrease, reduce, waning, and xi means increase, gain, waxing; together, Xiaoxi means information, waxing and waning of the tides, or the changing faces of the moon. Gua means trigram or hexagram. In general, we translate Shier Xiaoxi Gua 12 tidal hexagrams.

These 12 tidal hexagrams stand for different energetic stages of the cycles of nature or life patterns. These 12 hexagrams help us to understand the 12 month yearly cycle of nature, to learn the 12 meridian systems of the body, and to make sense of the different stages of the life. The 12 tidal hexagrams are: Fu 復 (Rebirth), Lin 臨 (Deliver), Tai 泰 (Balance), DaZhuang 大壯 (Prosper), Guai 叏 (Transform), Qian 乾 (Strengthen), Gou 媾 (Copulate), Dun 遁 (Retreat), Pi 否 (Break), Guan 觀 (Observe), Bo 剝 (Peel), and Kun 坤 (Flow). These 12 also reflect the continuous cycle of energy change, for example, the rhythm of day turning into night, or the change of seasons.

You can look at the energetic pattern of the 12 hexagrams together and see that they depict a pattern of steadily increasing, then decreasing intensity.  This is the natural wave pattern of life.

Hexagram Fu 復 (Recover) Lin 臨 (Deliver), Tai 泰 (Balance), DaZhuang 大壯 (Prosper), Guai 叏 (Transform) Qian 乾 (Strengthen), represent the six waxing stages of the rising Yang energy pattern, until Yang reaches its peak.

Hexagram Gou 媾 (Copulate) Dun 遁 (Retreat) Pi 否 (Break) Guan 觀 (Observe Bo 剝 (Peel) Kun 坤 (Flow) illustrate the Yang energy dropping to its nadir and Yin energy rising to its zenith in the six stages of the declining Yang energy pattern.

Together, these 12 tidal hexagrams symbolize a perfect wave of life. I am sure that all of us have experienced times of great joy and times of sorrow. No one could live in their climax of life all the time. The Yijing wisdom of these 12 tidal hexagrams gives us great guidance to live harmoniously through different life stages. We will discuss some details of the hexagrams as they relate to their associated animal symbol later in this book. Traditionally, these 12 hexagrams are also used to describe your energy state during specific internal cultivation practices like meditation, Qigong and Taiji. I will share different internal cultivation methods connected with the 12 tidal hexagrams at the end of each chapter in the book. I hope you will be able to use the practices to better understand the wisdom the 12 animal symbols and the 12 tidal hexagrams, and to strengthen your life force and find your inner peace.

The chart below illustrates the aforementioned correspondences.

NumberOrder Earthly Branch Animal Hexagram Chen/Time Meridian
1 Zi Rat Fu 復 (Rebirth) 23:00 – 00:59 Gall bladder
2 Chou Ox Lin 臨 (Deliver) 01:00 – 02:59 Liver
3 Yin Tiger Tai 泰 (Balance) 03:00 – 04:59 Lung
4 Mao Rabbit DaZhuang 大壯 (Prosper) 05:00 – 06:59 Large intestine
5 Chen Dragon Guai 叏 (Transform) 07:00 – 08:59 Stomach
6 Si Snake Qian 乾 (Strengthen) 09:00 – 10:59 Spleen
7 Wu Horse Gou 媾 (Copulate) 11:00 – 12:59 Heart
8 Wei Goat Dun 遁 (Retreat) 13:00 – 14:59 Small intestine
9 Shen Monkey Pi 否 (Break) 15:00 – 16:59 Bladder
10 You Rooster Guan 觀 (Observe) 17:00 – 18:59 Kidney
11 Xu Dog Bo 剝 (Peel) 19:00 – 20:59 Pericardium
12 Hai Pig Kun 坤 (Flow) 21:00 – 22:59 Triple burner


Karin Elizabeth Taylor Wu provided editorial assistance for this article.

© 2010-2013 Zhongxian Wu

[1] This article is part of the Introduction of Master Wu’s new book, Twelve Chinese Animal Symbols.

[2] Wu, Zhongxian. Seeking the Spirit of The Book of Change: 8 Days to Mastering a Shamanic Yijing (I Ching) Prediction System. London: Singing Dragon. 2009: 213

[3] Wu, Zhongxian. Vital Breath of the Dao – Chinese Shamanic Tiger Qigong. St. Paul: Dragon Door Publication. 2006: 56

[4] Wu, Zhongxian. Vital Breath of the Dao – Chinese Shamanic Tiger Qigong. St. Paul: Dragon Door Publication. 2006: 10

[5] Wu, Zhongxian. Seeking the Spirit of The Book of Change: 8 Days to Mastering a Shamanic Yijing (I Ching) Prediction System. London: Singing Dragon. 2009: 67