Birth clinics, douals, midwives, and pediatricians all across China report a sharp decline in birthing and pregnancies in the year of the sheep. Apparently, it is an undesired sign and many parents in China would rather wait till 2016 and have a little monkey baby
instead of a sheepish sheep. A Chinese old saying tells of a dreadful statistics: "only 1 out of 10 people born the year of the sheep finds happiness." Why? What is it about sheep (2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943) that makes them persona-non-grata in China?
In many different traditions, ranging from China to Levant, the goat and the sheep (both symbols of the Year of the Sheep), have been associated with sacrifice. They are thought to be creature that are led to the slaughter. Abraham ended up sacrificing a ram instead of his son and in Ancient Israel, once a year, the high priest would lay his hand on a goat, transferring the sins and karmic debt of the people into the scapegoat. Then, the goat would be released into the desert.
“The goat will bear all their faults away with it into a desert place.”
The sacrificial lamb archetype was later adopted by early Christians (especially influenced by the gospel of John) to depict Jesus who died on the cross, atoning for the sins of humanity.
A sheep synchronicity
When I was in Sofia, Bulgaria, preparing my power-point presentation for a lecture on the year of the sheep, I took a jujitsu class and there in the studio, I saw a few black bags with the Bulgarian flag stamped on them. My teacher explained that they are Bulgarian Bag.
It was invented by a Bulgarian wrestler, Ivan Ivanov, to develop core strength especially for martial artists (Mars is the ruler of Aries, the ram). Apparently, in the old days, villages all around Bulgaria would hold wrestling tournaments in which the winner's prize was a ram. The exhausted winner would then have to lift the prize on his back, just like the picture of Jesus above. Who knows, maybe Jesus was a formidable wrestler and the twelve apostles his team mates. That would explain how he could purge the temple from money exchanges and ruffling, unscratched. Below are a few samples of what one can do with a sheep turned Bulgarian bag. That is by far the recommended routine for the year of the sheep, unless someone can think of a yogic Sheep Pose...
From Bulgaria, I flew to Konya, to honor the great Sufi poet Mevlana (Rumi). Dec 17th was the day he died but being the mystic poet that he was, he wanted his death itself to be a poetic as well. So he instructed his followers to celebrate his day of death as his wedding anniversary with God. After all, most of his poems voice his ecstatic passion to unite with the beloved, and when one dies, one truly joins God. In Konya, I was invited to witness a Sema, (Arabic for "listen") celebration of the whirling dervishes, the followers of Rumi. When I walked into the hall, I smiled to myself as I saw almost 100 sheepskins laying on the floor. Indeed, the year of the sheep...
Then, the leader of the ceremony walked in carrying a red sheepskin and placed it at the center. The red sheepskin (red is the color of Aries, the ram) was told that represented the shepherd, Muhammad. After all, it was he who said: "There is no prophet that was not a shepherd first" (Hadith 618)
Once the red sheepskin arrived, the rest of the flock walked in and the ritual begun. It was hypnotic, well choreographed and yet seemed spontaneous, all the wonderful sheep dancing around their shepherd. I was reminded again, there is nothing bad about the year of the sheep or being a sheep. It is actually wonderfully spiritual to follow the right leader back to the One. Click HERE
for a short video from the Sema.
I don't believe in the Chinese zodiac, so what do I care?
Before you send this email to your trash on the account that you don't follow Chinese astrology, bear with me. Even if you don't believe these next twelve months are governed by Green Sheep, over 1.3 billion people do, and therefore they will flood the astral collective unconscious with unhappy green sheep. My suggestion is that you better learn how to be a good shepherd since the sheep, they are coming to graze in the green fields of 2015.
Happy New Year on the New Moon
On the New Moon on Feb 19th, we bid farewell to the noble horse and welcome the meek sheep. Sheep are compassionate, great artists, wonderful healers, very attentive, empathetic, a bit passive and receptive but very well mannered, calm and creative. They are good diplomats, always seeking a compromise, and will do everything to regain harmony and equilibrium. What's so bad about that? If everyone would rush to have a baby during this year instead of avoiding it, we will have world peace, no disease and the messiah would come faster!!!
What to focus on in the year of the sheep?
This is the year to renovate your home, to nest, to get pregnant (which will make your baby a little monkey). This is a year for cuddling, nesting, nurturing your body and family members. It is a great time to throw (or donate) old clothes and change your wardrobe, clear cluttered closets, rooms or storage spaces. These next twelve months offer an opportunity to learn to play a new instrument, take painting classes, get into pottery, glass blowing, design and gardening. It is a year to chill out and relax before 2016 arrives heralding the year of the monkey, which will offer more excitement and change that you might ever wish for. According to Chinese astrology, this is the year of the quiet before the storm.
2015 is the year of the Wood Sheep and therefore it is associated with the color green. Psychological research on colors show that green promotes and instigates creativity. When subjects were asked to preform a complicated tasks demanding creative solutions, they did a far better job after staring at green screens compared to other colors. In another experiment, subjects were asked to either hike in a forest or in an urban setting for 30 min before completing a task. Those who spend it in green environment scored higher. Green traffic-light signals bid us to move forward and apparently, the attraction to color green is embedded in our genes (biophilia), since early hominid learned that green places also means food and water. These studied recommend to paint a wall or add a green accents in a work-space in order to promote creativity and innovation. This is the year to surround yourself with green, so go hiking in Mother Nature's groves, paint some walls green and drink lots of green juices.
Feng Shui for the Year of the Sheep
Below you will find an excerpt from my book, Cosmic Navigator
, that explains how you can feng shui your office and home. For the year of the sheep, it is recommended to add more green to your spaces and work on remodeling or improving your kitchen and bathroom this year. Use the Bagua image below and this year pay extra attention to the "helpful friends" and "Knowledge" areas of your home (lower left and right boxes).
The Chinese apply special attention to their homes and living environment. They developed a system called feng shui, a term that means “wind and water,” to help them to live in harmony with their environment and to transform their living spaces into temples. I am not surprised that the culture that built the Great Wall also provided us with a spiritual science of spatial arrangement and home design. What follows is merely an elementary introduction to this complex and beautiful tradition. For more information, consult one of the many feng shui books designed to prompt a spiritual makeover of your life and home. Feng shui places your house or office space on a Bagua, an eight-sided diagram. Each of the sections of the Bagua represents an aspect of your life. For example, in the section that relates to relationships, you might want to place a painting of two people hugging or an object that was given to you by your lover. In the money corner, you might want to install a fountain, which will symbolize a constant stream of abundance. The whole process simply attempts to accentuate the flow of energy that will deliver good fortune to that area of your life. so that it lines up the words front door on the figure. If possible, use the room that falls in the “partnership” area of the diagram as your master bedroom, and the room that sits near “wealth” as your office.
It is often impossible to move rooms to fit the diagram, but you can then work with the Bagua and add and subtract objects to any space to fix your spatial problems. One woman, for example, told me that she had not had any success with relationships since she moved into a new house. It turned out that the room she had dedicated to storing her junk fell smack in the corner of relationships. We cleared out the storage and moved her bed into that room. Six weeks later she started to date a new man. Within a year, she was engaged. Miracles do happen. Sometimes they just need a helping hand.
Much love, and happy new year!