by Dr. Sonia F. Tan, DAOM, RAc, RTCMP, Certified Astrology and Feng Shui Practitioner
It’s time to grab your cup of tea and dive into another annual outlook of the upcoming year through the Chinese metaphysical lens. What are the Heavens trying to signal to us about where we are heading and what our purpose is? What is in store for the world? Put your feet up, pull up your socks, and let’s take a sip. This article is a longer version from postings earlier in January that were shared on other platforms and via other providers. For those who saw my earlier shorter article, keep reading for expanded musings.
I mentioned in last year’s Water Rabbit outlook that it was a year of subtle and intuitive change if you could listen, learn and make that movement. It may have come with anguish or overthinking, or it may have been liberating. That depends on your personal Bā Zì 八字 Birth Chart. One reason I still write these outlooks every year is to remind you that ascertaining one’s energy by one animal sign, or one year pillar, is misguided. If you do that, you only have one-eighth or one-quarter of your entire Bā Zì 八字 Birth Chart—and therefore, only some of your “constitutional energetic DNA.” Chinese astrology and your “fate” is determined by your entire chart—year, month, day and time pillars—which interact with the current year, your 10-year fate cycle, Feng Shui cycles and human relationships, with the month and day pillars having the most influence. An annual astrological outlook is pretty general. Please keep this in mind as you read about the Wǔ Xíng 五行 Five (5) phase / interactions/ behaviours / elements / energetics and the animal energies.
Why does astrology matter (even just a bit)? I always like to restate this. Simplistically, chronobiology and circadian rhythms look at how time and light affect health. Astrology is one of the Chinese metaphysical ways of looking at the energy of time, light and other sensory phenomena, and seeing how they affect our human health, nature’s energy cycles and the world’s health as a whole. As Chinese metaphysicians, we also use tools such as Flying Star Feng Shui, Qi Men, and the Yi Jing, together with the Ba Zi. Despite the potential shortcomings inherent in taking something complicated and speaking about it in simple terms, I appreciate that people like to have a general idea, like to be prepared, and like to be provided with context and understanding of their path. So while I will give a general synopsis, keep in mind again, your personal path may be different, depending on your “energetic DNA,” or your complete Bā Zì 八字 Birth Chart. Globally, my perspective on the general 2024 Wood Dragon trends will be based mostly on both the Ba Zi and Flying Star Feng Shui. Let’s dive in!
This looks to be a bold, pushy, impatient, justice- and peace-creating, yet grounding and creative year. Wait, that sounds like a contradiction, right? Yes, I did mean to say all of those together. This year of the Jiǎ Chén 甲 辰 Wood Dragon in 2024 begins on February 4 in the solar calendar (the true astrological date) and on February 10 in the Lunar calendar (the more commonly celebrated date). Big and bold is Yang Wood. It stands tall like a tree, reaching and growing high, yearning for movement, growth, vision and change for the betterment of society. It must be able to see, and also visualizes well, thus making it one of the best planners of all the Wǔ Xíng 五行 Five phases or interactions. Yang Wood also comes with a quickness and moves quite fast like a lightning strike, which also means attention to detail is a weakness. Visionaries and visual artists are often Yang Wood selves. These are people who fight for justice and righteousness in the world to make it a better place. This is a key to understanding the year–impulsive, moving, bold and aggressive at times. If Wood is in excess, it gets frustrated and angry. If Wood is balanced, they are kind and benevolent saviours. With this coming year being a bold approach to implementing change, that could be just the push you need. Or it could be too pushy for your chart and feel like overload. If you didn’t listen before to my hints on what Wood wants to help move you toward, you’d better listen now. It should be heard clearly. Sometimes, let’s be honest, with the directness of Yang Wood, it’s more like a shove or slap. The key is listening to the message and then knowing what to do with that information. Knowing what your personal helpful phases are is one way to navigate the energetics of the year to amplify the good or minimize the bad.
In this year, we couple the Heaven’s descent of Yang Wood with the Earthly Branch of Chen, aka the Dragon. Dragon is a Yang Earth as its majority core self, with a little bit of Yin Wood and a little bit of Yin Water. Dragon is a very tolerant and hardy sign, with the Yang Earth in its constitution acting like a mountain. It’s trustworthy, solid, reliable, and grounded. The Yin Wood in it motivates it to create growth and kindness in the world, and the Water is an intuitive and wise sensitivity that guides its decision-making. Dragons are comfortable with being in a position of leadership and control, with the inherent controlling dynamics within it. The bit of Yin Wood roots and makes the Yang Wood of this year even stronger. Repeat: really strong Wood energy this year! There is a whole lot of doing this year!
While Dragon has some hidden phases within it (anyone thinking about a famous martial arts movie with a famous sword right now?), there is, in fact, more to a Dragon than meets the eye. Dragons have a self-sabotage energy. Maybe some of you know it or have it too… you self-sabotage unknowingly at the time, and you feel the effects later. You really know better deep down in your unconscious or subconscious, but yet, your conscious brain tells you “I’ll be fine!” (Insert laughter here!) And it’s not fine, or you do something that hurts you in the end. Be mindful of this if you have a Dragon in your chart because the year of the Dragon will create friction with it.
Dragons are hardy, but the Earth in it is about routine, unchanging ways, and that is one of the reasons why it may keep sabotaging itself instead of learning and moving on—which it does like to do, but can find challenging. Being an Earth sign, and one of the four animal signs that are earth signs, it is both a transition time and also an “ending” time. Some call the Earth animal signs graveyard animals, but as depressing as that sounds, it is about bringing things to an end or reaching the end of a cycle, and preparing to begin a new cycle. We return to the Earth as we die. The Earth compounds and processes in order to transform and release nutrients to then create a sprout from the ground as we grow new life again. While Earth signs are attuned to people and stable relations, Earth, especially the Dragon, sometimes has a twist in the Purple Stars Chinese Astrology (zǐwēidǒushù 紫微斗数; 紫微斗數), where one may feel some loss or solitude this year. Keep in mind, this is meant for you to learn how to live in peace with that solitude, and then evolve into a new version of yourself. One other important note about the Dragon is that it is a myth—let me say that again, a MYTH—that Dragons are the luckiest sign in the Chinese astrology charts. What is your definition of lucky? Survival? Financial wealth? Opportunities? Leadership? Each of the five phases in either the “weak/deficient” or “strong/excessive” form has the ability to generate wealth. Keep that in mind and chuck that myth out the door!
So we’ve looked at the Heavenly Stem and Earthly Branch on its own, but truly, one needs to look at it as a pillar. Yang Wood the tree is on top of the Mountain of the Dragon with a little vine and river running around the mountain. It’s beautiful at the outset… but let’s look deeper. My fellow practitioners know that in the Wǔ Xíng 五行 Five phase/interaction law, Wood controls Earth. This tree is and will break down earth, destabilizing it as it grows. Globally, we may see instability—literally, too, in the form of more earthquakes than normal. We may see arguments, anger, conflict, controlling back and forth, and impatience. Wood’s anger and impatience is trying to break through a stubborn and immovable mountainous Earth, and that causes conflict. Earth will fight back by trying to pile on more mountainous walls and boulders, to maintain its status quo. But this is a year meant for change, and positive change…eventually. Looking at the pillars of the year that give a general idea of each quarter, the first half of the year will start off with impulsive and temperamental Fire, Wood aggression, arguments and conflict. Sick of waiting, impatience may take hold and impact decisions. While Wood can be a motivating force, ask yourself: is this the right thing to do or the right way to be? You’ll know, based on the outcome of your actions if it is, and if it wasn’t or impulsive, you’ll get a chance this year to re-organize yourself and your life. It’s best if you can hold space and fill it with a dash of Fire’s love and compassion (the bridge between the two phases that diverts any conflict) and Earth’s patience and time to think things through.
Thankfully, with the Wood in the Dragon, benevolence and peace will eventually come around in the second half of the year. As we head into the fall in the Northern Hemisphere, the economy should feel a more stable shift and lift as the world steadies and finds more peace. It’s worth noting that in this year, a year that we end off with Earth, it would be wise to clear out things from the past as we prepare for the future. Moreover, ensure you have the tools this year that bring about stability and peace within you. If there was a windstorm around you, what is it that you do or need to do in order to create groundedness, peace within, and a protective Wèi-Defensive Qì bubble or a Jade curtain around you? These tools are important to learn this year as we transition in an Earth year, and from one cycle to another.
Speaking of cycles, in 2024 while it is a 3-Wood star year (still action oriented), at the Solar start of February 4, 2024, we begin a new 20-year Flying Star Feng Shui cycle of the Age of 9 Fire/Li. Some Feng Shui masters feel this began a few years ago. I personally believe the “preparation” towards the Age of 9 started a few years ago, but not officially. The Age of 9 is a time of Fire and the Young Woman. While this is not a Feng Shui article, I mention this so you can take note we are entering into a time of a big shift, a new era, a new age. Look at how technology and social media has already changed how we live, learn and connect with the rest of the world the past 20 years. Expect more of that and a momentous change to our way of living and being, especially in 2025 and beyond. And with that, I’m reminding you to use your tools to stay grounded with all that Fire flickering and flaring. Remember, Fire creates joy, invention, inspiration, connection, love, and motivation, yet it is also temperamental, fickle, moody, and inattentive, and prone to burnout and Shen disruption. Even though I make a small mention of this Age of 9, Fire and the new 20-year cycle here, this is a significant event that kicks off this year to the change and transformation it will bring. Remember along the way to be compassionate, flexible and tolerant, and may you have a smooth flight!
Fellow Chinese medicine practitioners, time for some health insights possible this year. As you know, (Yang) Wood is associated with the Wood organ channels of the Liver and Gallbladder. More specifically, this is the Gallbladder organ channel system. That may mean if Yang Wood is not good for a person or creates excessive Wood, then more migraines and headaches may come about as an example. Or we may have more mood disturbance, trouble sleeping, and body temperature regulation problems, since 20 of the 44 acupoints of the Gallbladder Foot Shaoyang organ channel system are on the head making the Gallbladder in Channel theory (the original way acupuncture is practiced) an important mood/head/Shen regulator for the body, mind and spirit. Balance Acupuncturists, I’m sure you will be implementing yet again Jueyin-Shaoyang III-VI or the 12 Magical/Meridian System in your sleep. Mindful modified forms of this would be even more effective!
Hang on, we also have Earth present and impacted this year! While this may be good for those who have a truly weak Earth system, remember this Earth is being controlled by Wood. Hence you may still see digestive problems rise this year. Offset this Wood-Earth controlling cycle with the Wǔ Xíng 五行 Five-phase law of the Tōng Guān 通關 (simp.通关), the gate to pass or the bridge to smooth out the conflict. In this case, I mentioned the Tōng Guān 通關 (simp.通关) earlier in this article. It is Huǒ–Fire 火. Therefore, add Fire in the Wood channels (a likely first choice in a Yi Jing channel theory way) and increase more Fire with Chinese herbs, diet and lifestyle. Fire globally, when we are dealing with a Wood-Earth conflict, would be infusing love, compassion, joy and connection. Love & empathy will help save the day!
Finally, I’ll end with something I think is one of the most useful things about Chinese astrology. That is, understanding people better, and how to interact better with your patient/partner/child/friend/sibling/colleague. After all, this is partly an Earth year which is related to the human factor. Think for a moment. How would things change for you if you knew that your partner’s Rì Yuán-Day Master 日元 (core constitutional self) is a Wood self? Wood self people tend to move or tense up quickly if they are stagnant in body and mind, and they get things done fast (sometimes too fast). Would it be useful to tell them to slow down and sit down to watch a movie with you, or would you instead stop saying anything to them every time they get up to move around because you realize now that is the essence of who they are, that they stiffen up quickly and need to move and release? The latter approach would reduce your frustration and bring about more compassion, yes? Okay, maybe it won’t put an end to your frustration unless you were the same Day Master (LOL); however, it might make the situation less intense and instead infuse it with more compassion and understanding.
Imagine now if that was your patient. They asked you what they could do to help with their health outcomes. And you said to them, don’t eat this and that, and meditate. Asking a strong/excessive Wood person to sit still for a long time is laughable to all of us professional Chinese astrologers! Are you laughing with me?!? Instead, they need output, motivation and purpose to create and control. They need Fire and Earth phases. To help them transform and utilize their energy, give them an inspiring task to do. That might be a new routine, maybe it is increasing certain foods and reducing others, or perhaps creating an overall plan with small tasks each time. Most importantly, I’m encouraging you to remember that the year of one’s birth has the least impact on someone’s personality and destiny. Like Western astrology, the Month pillar is very important; in Chinese astrology, the Day pillar is most important. On this note, in the year of the Dragon, the months of August and December are your buddies, creating harmony and more Water. The Phoenix is your best friend, creating more Metal. And If you happen to have both a Tiger and a Rabbit in your chart, you’ll have extra strong Wood in your chart this year with the Wood Dragon. If those elements are your favourable ones, it will be a helpful year for you. Jump for joy—or run and hide! Dog months or days, this year you are in opposition to the Dragon, who is the Chief. While this is not one of the biggest clashes in all the animal signs, it is still a stubborn one (two mountains clashing), and in this case, it tends to bring more insight with this clash when these two opposing Earth signs meet.
As I wrap up and leave you with the dregs of your tea, I’d like you to remember these things. It’s a bold year. Conflict and impatience may arise; however, Wood is about growth, learning and benevolence, and Earth is about grounded stabilization. Enlightenment, vision and peace will come about and along the way in the midst of the destabilization. Infuse Fire’s love, compassion, joy and warmth to bridge the gap of conflict. Find your own tools to ground and replenish yourself, your strength within and your Wèi-Defensive Qì globe around you. Know your helpful elements/phases, and know yourself and others to bring about compassion. Transform and move past your past. Bring those things to an end, and prepare for the new era of light and inspiration we are flying into for the next 20 years. Be a part of continued benevolent change collectively by amplifying the good and the positive force of the Dragon’s drive to ground, survive and thrive into a kind and grounded world.
- Sonia F. Tan, BA, BA(H), DAOM, RAc, RTCMP
Certified Astrology and Feng Shui practitioner since 2011, Master of Balance System Acupuncture, Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM degree). www.SoniaFTan.com
Founder of Tan Academy of Balance Inc and the Balance System Acupuncture Certificate Program. www.TanBalance.com
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By Sonia Tan