On February 15, 2018 under the New Moon in Aquarius at 4:06PM EST, we welcome in the Lunar New Year – The Chinese Year of the Earth Dog! This lunation also happens to be a solar eclipse – which supercharges the energy of the 2018 Lunar Year, making it a powerful year for change and soul evolution. This year will be a significant turning point -- with many choices made during this year having a lasting impact on our lives, as well as setting us up for the major astrological alignments that are to come within the next several years. This year, it is all about seeing the long view and integrating all of the lessons and realizations of recent years to create our lives from a place of wisdom and clarity.
Please enjoy this perspective on the spiritual lessons and projects ahead of us during this time period. I hope that you find it helpful and illuminating with regards to your personal direction and process at this time :)
First, a bit of background on the Lunar Year Cycle and why I use it:
As a practitioner and teacher of the Chinese Taoist Arts, I work with Taoist cosmology and energy theory on a daily basis. Although my primary astrology work is based in the Tropical perspective, I am greatly influenced by the Taoist system in many ways. In observing both people and current events, I have found the lunar years to be extremely useful in understanding the overall themes and character of a year. The correlations between East & West are often uncanny – and so I have found drawing from both offers a well-rounded view of what’s ahead.
The Lunar New Year begins on the 2nd new moon after the winter solstice. This is a time period where we are beginning to transition from winter to spring, and as such naturally feel a sense of settling more fully into the energies of the year. In the Chinese Zodiac, those energies are defined by the 12 animal signs and 5 elements, which are paired and cycle through over a period of 60 years. Each year within this 60 year cycle has its own distinct flavors based on the animal/element combination and of course the planetary and star-based factors that we know so well from the Tropical astrological view.
When I look at a Lunar New Year chart, I observe both the patterns of the animal/element from the Chinese / Taoist Cosmology point of view, as well as the Western Astrological planetary factors that are shown at the time of the New Moon. This helps me see a lot about the function of a year as a spiritual process, as well as what it might be like from the mundane view. The natural interweaving of these is what I will describe in this post – with an emphasis on the former (the year as spiritual process), rather than the latter.
2018 Year of the Earth Dog Analysis:
As mentioned earlier, 2018’s Lunar New Year energy is especially powerful as it is also a solar eclipse. The eclipse that initiates the Earth Dog Year directly corresponds with that mega-powerful Solar Eclipse that crossed the USA back in August. In fact both eclipses in this cycle (January 31’s Total Lunar Eclipse & Feb 15’s Partial Solar Eclipse) activate many of the same degrees as the August eclipses -- So everything that came up last summer has been back up this month with a vengeance, and we may feel that the time has come to make the decisions and commitments that will define our lives going forward. It is the implementation of and dedication to these decisions, commitments, and projects that will characterize 2018.
However, this does not have the same “hit the ground running” feel that the previous years have had. Earth energy, is by nature, measured and methodical – which is quite the opposite of our recent experience. The last two years were fire years – the Yang Fire Monkey & Yin Fire Rooster/Phoenix. Two extremely strong characters paired with an extremely potent element – about as unpredictable as you can get! Fire energy is the most unstable and most difficult to control element in the Chinese Zodiac and this energy was very strongly reflected and even amplified in Western charts -- especially in 2017 with a massive grand fire trine dominating the sky for a good part of the year. Under these energies change flew into our lives rapidly and wildly, and for the most part all we could do was respond.
Moving into the earth year, the momentum is slowing waayyy down. Since the winter solstice, which was strongly defined by Saturn’s transition into Capricorn, we have been actively feeling this deceleration. This is not to say we are less busy or experiencing less change – we may in fact feel we are facing more than we ever have before in terms of workload, karmic backlog, and transformation – but the tone of the process has become quite a bit more heavy – more meticulous, more deliberate, more “at the bottom of Mount Everest looking up.” This tone shift may have felt somewhat abrupt after how hectic it has been, but it offers something very important – which is the time and space to “digest” all that has come to pass in recent years.
In Chinese astrology, the Earth element is the element that combines and harmonizes all of the other elements. It is the pure “yin” – the absorbing element – and is literally correlated with the stomach and digestion in Chinese medicine. If earth is weak or imbalanced in the body – then the entire system is affected. When Earth is restored, the center is restored, and balance can begin to return to other areas as well. As such, Earth times are not a time of fast, intense, hard change, but a time of integration, introspection, moderation and establishing stability & strength by way of the insights gleaned from previous years.
In this case, the process of integration is quite involved. From a cyclical perspective, earth element years fall about a decade apart -- and in the past decade, the world has seen incredible change!!! Back in 2008 (Year of the Earth Rat), the world economy was greatly disrupted when Pluto made its first ingress into the sign of Capricorn (the sign of the government/social order/financial institutions), followed quickly by many other significant planetary shifts and alignments that have shaken up our world, inside and out. In the process of the past decade, many things that had been long established shifted dramatically. And our ideas about what is important to us, what we really need, and where we’re going have also shifted as a result.
So the integration, rebuilding, and stabilizing process that we are currently facing is one that involves the transformation of ourselves and society. Quite literally. And what that really means, at this time in history, is a total reform of many pre-established social constructs that we carry deeply within ourselves, as well as those institutions and systems that pervade culturally throughout society.
Incidentally, the Earth element in the Chinese system is also correlated with Saturn – the planet that speaks specifically to creating order and new structures - and Saturn’s influence during this period of time is extremely powerful on all counts.
- Both 2018 & 2019 are Earth element years, and therefore Saturn ruled.
- Remember how I mentioned it was Pluto’s transit into Capricorn that initiated the huge economic collapse of 2008? Well, now Saturn is transiting that same sign over the course of the next 3 years, stirring up all of the broken pieces left behind in Pluto’s wake.
- While in Capricorn, Saturn is going to make an extremely potent, epochal conjunction with both Pluto and Jupiter in 2020, an alignment that will undoubtedly trigger a significant sea change with regards to Capricorn institutions (governments, banks, the structures that hold society together).
- In fact, from now until 2023, Saturn will be in its own favorite signs of Capricorn & Aquarius – strengthening its general vibration for this time period and putting a special emphasis on social/societal overhaul.
- And on top of all this, Saturn is the ruler, and therefore influencer, of the transiting South Node (representing karmic past and shadow self) until May of 2020, making us truly aware of how deeply embedded the issues really are, and how much will power, attention and care is needed to overcome these.
All of this basically spells: MAJOR OVERHAUL! It really does not get more Saturn than this!
With an energy like this operating as the primary baseline for the next several years, it is essential that we take the time to fully digest our lessons and regularly evaluate our lives for authenticity, clarity, and alignment with our karmic purpose – or we will find ourselves running headlong into obstacle after obstacle. The next two years are years of learning to respond to change – not impulsively or purely on instinct as we’ve had to in a lot of recent times – but having thought it through, weighed it out, and consciously decided.
Saturn in Capricorn is especially focused on taking our life and whittling it all down to the most essential aspects, and creating the order of our lives in the image of our ideal. This is the planet and sign of mastery over the material realm – the ability to navigate our lives in the highest perfection possible. To do this takes discipline, focus, and discernment – the ambition to look realistically at what our lives ARE, and make cold evaluations on where we’ve succeeded and failed, as well as how to make actual, tangible improvement.
Saturn can be a challenging influence for many people, as it constantly pushes our growth and doesn’t leave room for excuses. In general, because 2018 is influenced by an eclipse, the lessons and triumphs of this year will be greatly amplified. Because this eclipse is also ruled by Saturn, this is doubly so. All of our personal Saturn missions are UP – BIG TIME! Our karmic lessons, inhibitions, spiritual obstructions – especially those focused around our earthly mission and embodiment, are all going to be a source of great focus for this year. We are likely to feel a lot more pressure to make the right choices, as well as a lot more kick back for even the most subtle missteps. However, when we are able to adhere to Saturn’s promptings for growth and maturation through its tests and trials, we will emerge feeling empowered and more in control of ourselves and the direction of our lives.
If I were to draw out one major theme for the 2018 Year of the Earth Dog that pulls all of this together – it would be Mastery of Mind. Dog is an animal that is extremely loyal, protective and fierce – but there is a huge difference between a wild or feral dog and one that is well trained and obedient. From an alchemical perspective, the Earth Element in Taoist cosmology is linked with the intent. Intent, in its highest sense, is the directive we receive from spirit. The mind can be like an untrained dog, running rampantly with distracted thoughts, emotions and misdirected aggression – but is most useful and effective when it knows what its purpose is, and how it can serve its master, the true self. Dogs respond well to boundaries and to direction that comes from “a higher place.” Where is your truth, your intention, and your direction in life really coming from? That is the question we must really get clear on this year – and ideally strive to more deeply develop our connection with the “true” intention that is held within our souls. Discerning this takes focus, discipline, training and effort, but it is a skill accessible to each of us just as it is for our canine friends.
Clarity of mind and sincerity is what will allow us to access the evolutionary & manifestation energy that is represented by the many archetypes at play in 2018. The soul aspiration, represented by the North Node in Leo at this time, is about a life created from the pure genius of the heart. In order to move in that direction, a direction that is desired by many people, we have been undergoing a profound purging of socially embedded core patterns and beliefs – all constructs of mind that present obstacles to the realization of this dream. Many of the active planetary influences at this time are really feeding this process – inspiring us to dig deep into the darkest areas of our life, society and self, and seek the necessary counsel to become aware of and overcome these burdens to our being. Not just to “get rid of” the bad feelings, but to resolve real problems at their root, so that the dis-ease can be removed rather than suppressed.
What this time period is really about on the spiritual and evolutionary level is revolutionizing the order from the inside out. Eclipse periods are always gateways of alignment and deeper visioning, where we have a cosmic opportunity to examine our lives from the soul level. Eclipses often give us big clues about whether or not we’re on track and are known for doling out “course corrections” that can show up in the form of sudden endings, failures, or new and unexpected opportunities. A year that is influenced by such an energy is a cosmic opportunity expanded over a larger period of time, with a deeper and more collective push toward change. The visibility and tangibility of the change, which has already taken root in many individuals, is only going to increase -- with greater and greater ripples out into the culture at large.
This is the true meaning of manifestation – that is, making tangible the vision of the spirit. This sort of manifestation is not something propelled by the emotion driven will, but an alignment of the self with divine will. As each year passes, the world becomes more and more Aquarian – with information traveling quickly, both literally and etherically. When individuals make strides in regaining autonomy from the societal dysfunctions, society can also start to evolve. Because we have changed, all of those things that we are tied to have the possibility of change.
2018 is an excellent year to get proactive and serious about changing your life for the better, and should be very fruitful for the motivated. However it is also a year where we ALL will be faced with our shadows and obstructions with greater intensity – and so we must learn to be at one with the process wherever it takes us.
Discipline, focus and order are a huge focus this year – but good will, fellowship, and enjoyment of life are also important to keep the heart remembering. This is a period of balancing and harmonization, as well as commitment and dedication to what’s truly important to us. Remember to take your time this year, even when the pressure is strong. Great change is achieved gradually, deliberately and with wisdom. On the path to mastery, there is no need to hurry.
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