YEAR OF THE FIRE PIG - ELEMENT ANALYSIS
Here we are, 2007, the year of the Pig, but it is not all about the Pig! In fact each year is designated by two Chinese characters. They both are equally important for Chinese astrology. The ruling element for 2007 is Fire, and that makes a ton of difference. The Pig is normally thought of as a laid-back, easy going type. The Fire Pig, however, is more like a wild boar than its placid, barnyard relative.
Looking at history we find the 12 animal signs came into usage about a thousand years ago. Throughout history, however, scholarly treatises rarely mentioned the animals, referring instead to the 12 earthly branches. On the other hand five element theory dates back over 2,000 years and every major Chinese treatise on astrology addresses the five elements. An early application of the theory, for example, is to be found in ‘The Spring and Autumn Annals of Mr. Lu (written about 240 BC).
Perhaps the earliest integration of the five elements into Chinese thought involves their association with the five directions (in Chinese center is a direction). To be more specific there are five cardinal points and eight directions. The eight directions are relevant to discussions of feng shui and the luo pan compass. All we need to say here is feng shui practitioners make extensive use of the five elements.
Characteristics of the five cardinal points lend themselves to those of the five elements. The points and elements are matched as follows: Center – Earth, North – Water, South – Fire, East – Wood, and West – Metal. These also dovetail with an association with the seasons that also dates back over 2,000 years. The Book of the Prince of Huai Nan identifies five seasons and their corresponding elements: Spring – Wood, Summer – Fire, Middle Season – Earth, Autumn – Metal and Winter – Water.
In the northern hemisphere (China) the sun is in the southern sky in summer, a time of heat, hence Fire. With heat you get plenty of action, physical and mental, but also stress. On the other hand life is easier during warm weather and plentiful food, so there is also an association with relaxation and nowadays vacations. Summer is also a time of danger, especially from fires and drought.
Rains generally come to China in Winter, hence the association with Water. New plant growth tends to be in Spring, so that is the time ruled by Wood. Metal is connected with Fall, as that is the time metal tools are used to bring in the harvest. Earth has been assigned to a fifth season, occurring what in the West would be considered late summer and early autumn.
Seasonality recalls a very important aspect of Chinese thought, cyclicality. The seasons follow one another year after year in a predictable cycle. In China circular reasoning is more prevalent than in the West, where linear dominates. This has two, major implications for Chinese astrology.
First, the most basic procedure for dividing a person’s life into periods follows the five-element, cyclical pattern. The associations are also in harmony with the changing of the seasons. Birth, the period of new growth is governed by Wood, as is Spring. The second, Youth, is the Fire time, a time when children are very active, begin developing their mental capabilities, and test the limits of acceptable behavior. The expressions “down to earth” and “earthy” are familiar to the West. The same idea holds for Chinese astrology. Earth is the time of maturation, the time of crossing the bridge from youth to adulthood. A person identifies with the practical needs of job and family, arrives at a measure of self understanding, and adapts to their surroundings. With full maturity comes mid-life, a time to harvest the fruits of previous education and present labors. As with Fall, Metal rules here. Then there is Water, the element associated with retirement. As Youth is the hot time, the later years are the “cold” time. This is not the end, however, as the cycle begins again at 60, a most important birthday in China.
A second, vital consideration is the idea of constructive and destructive cycles. When the elements follow in order, Wood – Fire – Earth – Metal – Water – Wood …, there is harmony or a constructive cycle. Water makes plants (Wood) grow and Wood fuels a Fire for example. In a destructive cycle there is disharmony. That cycle is Water – Fire – Metal – Wood – Earth – Water …. Water puts out Fire, and Metal destroys (chops) Wood.
This has many implications for astrology. Here are two. A life cycle chart is part of a Four Pillars reading. Each of the five periods of life is governed by an element. If that element is in harmony with the normal element of the time, the person will have a favorable chart. As birth is the time of Wood, Water is the best element to have in a chart at that time. Conversely, if the person’s birth element is Metal, the person could be in for a challenging life. Elements are also crucial for relationships. According to Chinese astrology a person born in the year of the Sheep is extremely compatible with a Pig partner. What, however, if the Sheep was born during a Water year and the Pig in a Fire year, is the compatibility? In Chinese the characters for fire and water together spell disaster!
Speaking of the Pig, it is now time to look at the year of the Fire Pig and apply this background knowledge of the elements. What does the year portend, and what kind of “luck” can a person expect? Perhaps the best place to start is to look at the constructive and destructive cycles again.
The year 2007 is a Fire year. From the constructive cycle we see Fire is very beneficial for Earth. Thus people born during an Earth year have the best chance for a favorable year. Since Wood precedes Fire, it is in harmony with it and bodes well for people born in a Wood year. Fire year people can expect a mixed year. You’re in your element and will find the pace and environment agreeable. Unfortunately there is the old problem of too much of a good thing. You will be vulnerable to Fire’s excesses/weaknesses as well as benefited by its strengths. The destructive cycle shows that Metal people will have the most difficulty in a Fire year. Water is a close second, as Fire plus Water in Chinese equals disaster. Note: At www.firepig.com there is a tool you can use to find out your sign, to include your year element.
Fire is associated with many aspects of our lives. It is in those areas where those with a favorable cyclical relationship with Fire (Earth and Wood) will tend to experience the most positive results. Likewise Metal and Water people can expect the most difficulty in those. Health issues, for example, are most likely to involve the heart, tongue or small intestine.
Action is synonymous with Fire in Chinese astrology. Signs that love action include the Rat, Tiger, Dragon, Horse and Monkey. One aspect of action is passion. Whether it is directed toward work, hobby or a relationship it could produce some significant results for those having a favorable year. If this is not your year, the negative results of too much (passionate) activity could include stress, strained relationships, and a hot temper.
A second aspect of action is decisiveness. Fire favors those in leadership position and anyone who needs to make a quick decision. The negative side of this is a tendency to rush into things without thinking through the consequences. Remember, “Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread.”
A third is energy. People will not just be doing a lot, but they will be acting with gusto. This is a great time to dive into a project that takes everything you have---assuming the year is favorable. If not, you could become a victim of “burnout” or just find yourself “spinning your wheels,” that is doing a lot without much to show for it. The negative side of energy is violence. Things are going to heat up in a Fire year. It could be a good time for revolutionaries and terrorists.
Water is the element normally associated with mental activity, for example, academic success. Fire, however, does favor some aspects. Inspiration and innovation flourish in a Fire environment. This is a time to brainstorm and to make a serious effort to act on some of your more outlandish ideas.
Finally, it must be said Fire is the element linked with career. If you are an Earth year person with a favorable year you could be looking at significant success and possible advancement. You certainly want to give it your very best effort. If this is not your year, you want to play it close to the vest. In other words avoid risky new projects, conflicts, especially with your boss, and a career change. Play it safe.
There is another, major way elements affect your success. Each of the animal signs has a fixed element. The Water signs are Pig, Rat and Ox. The Wood signs are Tiger, Rabbit and Dragon. The Fire signs are Snake, Horse and Sheep. The Metal signs are Monkey, Rooster and Dog. The same correlations stated above concerning the constructive and destructive cycles also apply here. Analyzing the results here, however, is more difficult. This is because the favorability of the sign, for example Snake (and Pig), might be radically different than that of the elements Fire and Fire (the Snake’s fixed element). Although the fixed element is neutral, the sign relationship (Snake-Pig) is very negative. Rather than trying to work this out, it is probably best to just start with the favorability rating of each sign and then consider the effect of your year element, as described above. In general people born in an Earth year can raise their rating by at least 10%, while those born in a Metal year need to lower their rating by at least 10%---regardless of animal sign.
Here is a favorability rating for each of the 12 signs for 2007:
Rat – 65%
Ox – 42%
Tiger – 65%
Rabbit – 79%
Dragon – 69%
Snake – 37%
Horse – 50%
Sheep – 73%
Monkey – 58%
Rooster – 50%
Dog – 64%
Pig – 49%
Clearly the elements play a major role in Chinese astrology. With the knowledge in this article you will be able to come to more accurate conclusions than by just using the 12 animal signs. In fact much more can be said about the five elements and Chinese astrology. One of the best sites for Chinese astrology is www.firepig.com. There you will find free, general information such as this essay plus a variety of readings you can order at a modest cost. Each reading looks at the many implications of the five elements.
Detailed information on the five elements in print is not easy to find. One book that addresses the subject in depth is Chinese Elemental Astrology by Crawford and Kennedy. There are a few used copies on amazon.com, several for a very reasonable price. Derek Walters’ Chinese Astrology: Interpreting the revelations of the Celestial Messengers is perhaps the best book in English for probing the depths of Chinese thought as it pertains to astrology, including the important role played by the five elements. Perhaps Fire will inspire you to learn more about this fascinating subject.