Chinese Zodiac - Year of the Rat

While the astrology and horoscopes of the west look at the time of a person's birth in any given year, Chinese astrology places significance on the year itself. The Chinese zodiac is a 60 year cycle, containing five sub-cycles of twelve years, in which each consecutive year has its own animal symbol and horoscope.

Year of the Rat

January 25, 2020 - February 11, 2021

Chinese Zodiac
The New Year on 24th January has two additional implications, other than ushering in the new lunar year. The first is that because this is fairly early in the year and because this new lunar year won’t end until February 2021, this is an especially long year and there will be 13 rather than the 12 lunar months that we usually have. As there are only 12 Chinese signs this means there will be a leap month this year. This is something that happens every three to four years and is because of when the New Moons fall. If the first New Moon of any calendar year (2020) falls after the Sun returns to Aquarius, which it does around 20th January each year and the New Moon in the following year falls in before the Sun returns, then there will be 13 lunar months.

As every lunar year begins on the month of the Tiger and ends on the month of the Ox there must be a leap month at some point during the year. This year, the month being repeated is the month of the Snake. The first month of the Snake will run from 23rd April to 22nd May, with a second month of the Snake repeating from 22nd May to 21st June. This is not a two month long month of the Snake, because both lunar months go through the cycle that a lunar month takes you on, which is beginning on a New Moon, peaking on a Full Moon and then moving into a completion phase. We will go through that process twice.

I said there were two implications from the New Moon, other than ushering the new lunar year. The first was its early date and the leap month that will result as a consequence. The second impact is that while this will usher in the Year of the Rat, the Year of the Rat itself is no ordinary lunar year but the start of a new 12 year lunar cycle.

While every lunar year begins with the month of the Tiger, the Rat is the first of the 12 animals in the Chinese Calendar. This is the reason why the Chinese Horoscopes always begin with the Rat first. This means that moving into the Year of the Rat is moving into a new cycle and is therefore considered to be a year for new beginnings, rebirth and a chance to start over. Regardless of where you are in your personal 12 year lunar cycle, the Year of the Rat is a year for new beginnings and for a fresh start.

At the same time, not all Rat years are created equal and 2020 is a Metal Rat, which also happens to be the first in the elemental cycle – metal generates water, water nourishes wood, wood feeds fire, fire creates ash which becomes earth and earth creates metal – and so the cycle continues. So to have a Metal Rat year means we are not just starting a new 12 year lunar cycle but a new elemental cycle as well.

The Rat is a go getter, wanting to make things happen and get things done, so this will always be a vibrant year. The Rat is industrious, quick to take action and to make things happen, but is also just as quick to play and have fun. The Rat likes to work hard and play hard but is also a social year and energy. Metal provides strength and structure to the Rat’s ability to jump in and make things happen. Therefore the Year of the Metal Rat is a year that should not only be successful and prosperous but a year when you have the strength and especially the strength of mind to see things through. Whether professionally or in your personal goals, you are able to recognize opportunities and seize them.

Where the Year of the Pig was a more indulgent year, with the Pig literally liking to roll in mud while putting little effort into foraging for its needs, the Rat scurries here and there, never missing an opportunity and always ready to seize the scraps that fall from life’s table. However, the Metal Rat will also stick to what it starts, allowing you to seize opportunities and then do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to see things through.

When you take into account the fact that the Year of the Metal Rat offers a chance for new beginnings and a fresh start, this makes this a year for branching out in new directions or for beginning new projects. Quick witted, motivated and able to seize and run with opportunities, this should be a successful year for anyone who is determined to not just seize opportunities and make the most of any chance for new beginnings but is prepared to work hard and stay focused. This is not a year for remaining idle or waiting for opportunities to land in your lap, for the Rat is a go getter, more focused on making his own luck.

If something hasn’t worked in the past the Rat will have no taste for flogging a dead horse and will want a fresh start. The Rat gives you the ability to make things happen, but it is the rigidity of Metal that gives you strength and endurance. A successful year lies in wait for anyone ready to invest in their own future, is prepared to reinvent themselves or take action to make a fresh start.

Where the Year of the Rat is the start of a new cycle the Year of the Pig, which ends on 24th January is a year of endings or completion, with not just one lunar year ending and another beginning but the end of one 12 year cycle and the start of the next.

 About Chinese Astrology

People are often referred to by their zodiac animals, so babies born this year will be Rats and expected to have personalities to match.

Legend has it that it was originally Buddha who gave the sequence of years to the dozen animals who attended the farewell meeting he called before he left the earth.

In each of its years, the animals of the Chinese zodiac have an association with one of the five elements of metal, water, wood, fire or earth. Once they have all gone through these five elements, the 60 year cycle is complete, and starts again. The elements also affect the individuals born in their years. But their basic personality traits of the animals remain the same. Here is a run down of the twelve zodiac animals and their characteristics.

From all this, you can see that Chinese Zodiac is not a predictive art as it is for western practitioners. Instead it is an art that is interpretive and philosophical. It is perhaps a way to help us understand ourselves, our partners, and all the other people in both our work and social lives.

Western Astrology is very different from Chinese astrology. Chinese Zodiac is arguably the most developed and the most followed branch of astrology in the world. The portion of Chinese astrology that the Western world is most familiar with is the Chinese Horoscopes.

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