Welcome to the Year of the Earth Dog, the eleventh of the 12 years in a 12 year Chinese cycle that begins with the Year of the Rat and will end with the Year of the Pig, which starts next February. The Year of the Earth Dog starts on the 17th February and will run through to the 5th February 2019.
So what changes in a new lunar year? The rulership of the year changes as we move from the domain of the Rooster and into the reign of the Dog and with that the energy changes. Yet as well as the energy changing from that of the Rooster to the Dog, we also have a shift from Yin to Yang energy. One of the most powerful forces in Chinese Astrology is the interplay between Yin and Yang energy and a need for balance between the two. In a Yin year, we need to apply more Yang to balance this out and in a Yang year we need to apply more Yin to balance this out.
Yin is associated with the feminine, is more passive and nurturing, while Yang is associate with the more masculine or assertive energy. Yin is dark Yang is light, Yin is the night and Yang is the day. Night follows day and day follows night. The Year of the Rooster was a Yin year, so to balance that we had to apply more assertive Yang energy to balance this out. This may explain why there was a lot of show of force in the world during the Year of the Rooster. As I am writing this I am thinking of recent headlines about Donald Trump wanting a military parade in Washington. That is the ultimate display in wanting to assert Yang energy to counteract Yin. This is also a case of ‘pea cocking’, the alpha Rooster strutting around the barnyard.
Of the Yang years – The years of the Rat, Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Monkey and the Dog, the year of the Dog is not the most overtly Yang or aggressive and the Earth nature of the year gives even more stability. Because the Year is a natural Yang energy, there will be less need for people to feel they have to assert themselves. Rather than the passive Year of the Yin Rooster, we have the more confident and assertive Year of the Dog.
So who is the Dog. You can pretty much sum up the Year of the Dog by what you think of when you think of a dog. Dogs are friendly, loyal, adore you and are wonderful companions. We find dogs in helping roles, in the police, going into danger zones, finding bodies or missing people, guiding the blind and acting as care dogs for the lonely or disabled. Young autistic children are being given care dogs now and with stunning results. I have seen documentaries of children who have trouble reading, improving dramatically when they get to read to a dog. All the dog wants in return is to be loved. The Year of the Dog generates that energy, so we will find ourselves being helped more and also wanting to help others more.
Most of all, the dog is patient. We only have to think of Hachiko, the remarkable dog that used to go with its master to a train station in Tokyo every morning and wait for him to return at night. Hachiko’s master died, but he continued to wait every day for nearly 10 years for his return. This story was even made into a movie - Hachi, staring Richard Gere. There is now a statue to the dog outside the train station, with Hachiko epitomising the loyalty and patience of the Dog.
You will find in the Year of the Dog that you will be more patient and as this is a Yang and therefore an assertive year and a year for taking action, this will allow you start tasks or projects and finish them. Life will continue to happen, but when we face blocks or encounter adversity, we will be more likely to stay focused as we either take the time to figure out how to overcome them or to work through what we need to work through. The Dog needs to help and to feel needed, so when you do face adversity or challenges there is a need to reach out. You are more likely to find people willing to help. This is also a year where you need to be willing to reach out and help as well, taking affirmative Yang action.
This means taking a more assertive approach to helping others and instead of asking them to take responsibility for letting you know if and how you can help, jump in with suggestions. Would it help if I did this or if I did that? The Dog will be encouraging us all to be more helpful and more patient. Loyalty is also important during the Year of the Dog, both in the giving and receiving.
The one challenge you might face this year is in realising that you can’t solve every problem and you can’t do everything for everyone. There has to be a balance between give and take and if you find there is too much give and not enough take, then this is something you will need to work on this year.
Added to this is the fact that this is the Year of the Earth Dog. The Earth Dog is said to be full of sound advice and also justice. All Dog years are focused on justice and on balancing the scales, but the Earth Dog is particularly wise. The Wood Dog is a slower and more methodical Dog, but also effective and constructive thinking. Earth energy is practical and the Earth Dog is known as a survivor. The Dog doesn’t bring challenges, but the Earth Dog allows you to stoically approach those challenges that life does throw at you, determined to work through them.
So, in a nutshell the Year of the Dog is a year where the focus is on everything being fair and balanced, from a balance between give and take to helping others and receiving help. This is a year for being a loyal friend, where you’re prepared to roll up your sleeves and help out. It is also a year for facing life’s challenges stoically and with patience, doing whatever it takes for as long as it takes. Dogs are pack animals and in the Year of the Dog we will all crave companionship and being with those that we have something in common with. From formal groups, social networking or just friendship in general, this is a year when companionship and the concept of it ‘taking a village’ is really important.