Features and Occasionals

Happy (Chinese) New Year!

By Valerie Litchfield

You may know your Chinese astrological sign—knowledge likely gained from a placemat in a Chinese restaurant. Fair enough. If you’ve dined there recently, you probably know we are leaving the Year of the Horse and entering the Year of the Sheep, also sometimes referred to as the year of the goat (no relation)—or the ram—which is a male sheep.

The Chinese zodiac, made up of 12 animals that stand as metaphors for 12 temperments, dates back thousands of years. Instead of the sun, it is based on the moon’s rotation, so its New Year’s Day varies from mid-January to late February.

The Sheep is the eighth animal sign in the Chinese calendar. Eight is a luckiest number of all in Chinese beliefs, infusing the year with good luck and prosperity.

Chinese astrological signs—the animals—pass through five elements: Fire, Wood, Water, Earth and Metal. The behavior of the animal changes, depending on which element it is interacting with. To further enrich matters, each element has yin characteristics and yang characteristics.

This is the year of the Wood Sheep. The wood element for 2015 is yin, which will make it easier to work with than the yang wood energy of 2014. This will create the greener pasture in which to rest from the last year’s unruly energy that created the wild, at times untameable ride.

Unlike last year’s Horse, the Sheep is not fond of sudden change or impulsive decisions, so 2015 will also be a favorable time for creating stability. Well laid plans will replace the chaos that has defined the world and the lives of many people for the last several years. Sheep seek safety; they tend to flock together and only on occasion butt heads. The year of the Sheep will allow us a place to create the small paradise that we might be dreaming of, and to focus on domestic life.

Sheep revel in their homes, families and close friends. Life’s hectic pace will slacken and value will be given to caring, mindful behaviors. Creating spaces where family and friends can gather comfortably will be a priority. Both male and female Sheep find contentment in cooking, baking and flower arranging, all done while a log is crackling on the fire (though not on Red air days).

New and more honest patterns

of relationships will be formed in 2015, and people in general will be more open to love and acceptance. Tempers will cool and disruptive choices will be laid aside to heal.

Capture this moment to mend fences and forgive past grievances. Don’t become discouraged if you haven’t lived up to your own expectations. There’s no backing up or going sideways, for Sheep can only move forward! So keep the peace and set the pace this year, while following and developing your unique path and exploring your creative side.

Sheep years are a time for healing and reconciliation as well as using diplomacy over force for making progress in relationships. Aggressive people will to be out-maneuvered by strategy and common sense in 2015. Though there are still cries for war, conflict can be averted through strategy and diplomacy. Sheep years are periods of mending and compromising attitudes, making it easier to reach agreements before larger clashes arise.

It will be a year of banding together with the belief that good will prevail over violent forces. The calming spirit of the Sheep year will spread, love will be kindled and wisdom will prevail.

Predictions for year of the Wood Sheep

A stable economy. In general Sheep are materialistic in the financial sense and have a knack, through grazing their way over hills and valleys to accumulate money and assets. By adapting this slower pace technique we can all look forward to having a greater amount of money and assets by the end of 2015.

Industries that will prosper this year are energy, air travel, entertainment, restaurants and the innovation of new products.

Heightened attention to the arts and education. If you have ever wanted to explore your creative side, now will be the time. Creativity and education go together in the Chinese Feng Shui system, so for some this will be the time to create something new through higher education.

In the forefront: ecological issues, environmental protection, healthy eating habits and healthy life style. Wood is the embodiment of the forest and pastures where Sheep graze and live. 2015 will be a time of making further improvements to preserving the overall environment and, specifically, neighborhoods where we live.

Holistic medicine and the healing arts. In the Chinese metaphysical system, wood element is related to the neck and spinal column of the human body. Myofascial release work, chiropractic care or other structural therapies will assist in correcting postural issues and reinvigorate the concept of wood element within us.

Politically: Sheep years are a time of reaching across the aisle, working together and reconciliation. Politi­cal problems and economic issues will be viewed differently and compromises will be reached. As the summer months approach, positive events will begin to overshadow negatives ones and people will be able to restore their faith in the future.

Life-style innovations and modern inventions will be key in 2015, as Sheep years have changed the ways we live. 1955, a Wood Sheep year, gave us color photography, Disneyland and “fast food” at McDonald’s. 1967, another Sheep year, brought us Woodstock and the Summer of Love. 2015 is a promising time to bring new concepts to the world stage and the marketplace.

Who’s challenged: Ox is the animal sign that is in direct clash with the Sheep. People born in the year of the Ox can anticipate change: movements such as travel, or changing jobs or residence. It is necessary to carry the pendant of a Horse, the Sheep’s secret friend, to attract the Sheep away from the path.

Contrary to what one might assume, Sheep are also out of favor this year. Because it’s “their” year, they are in “self penalty.” Such penalties bring disharmony, irritation, worries and frustrations. This is the time for Sheep people to go within. Sheep can carry the Horse pendant, to minimize the negative effect.

Here’s some ADVICE for having a great 2015: Year of the Wood Sheep

1. 2015 is a time to slow down, draw a breathe, and consider taking up meditation, yoga or relax with massage.

2. Allow yourself to graze this year, eating smaller amount of food more often. Remember to incorporate more greens into your diet.

3. Sheep years are the perfect time to settle into domestic life and strengthen family ties.

4. Reconciliation comes easily in 2015, so take the time to mend the fences that might have been broken down in past years.

5. Diplomacy and negotiation as well as treaties will be effective ways of solving conflicts this year.

6. Attend to your creativity needs, however that manifests for you. Take an art class, visit art galleries and museums, attend concerts.

7. Sheep years are an energetic pause. In a position to take a sabbatical from work? This would be the year to do it.

8. Sheep years are about being polished, cultured and well put-together, so dress it up this year.

9. Sheep are known for their generosity; make giving—and there are so many ways to do that— a priority this year.

10. 2015 is the perfect time for businesses to launch new products or to strike out in new directions. In case you needed that nudge….

11. Throw a fabulous party this year! The “flocking instinct” is strong and people are in the mood to socialize.

12. Spend time in pastoral places—or, at least, places that invite you to relax and gather your energy.

13. Remember, when making your vacation plans, that Sheep are drawn to water. Or maybe you could walk in City Creek Canyon, ride your bike along the Jordan River or drive out to Great Salt Lake.

14. Does the house need some remodeling or repairs? Bring it on!

15. If graduate school is in your future, Year of the Sheep is the time to begin and settle in to your studies.

16. Beware of getting “fleeced” this year, as events in Sheep years can be subtle and you might not have any idea was has happened until it’s too late.

Valerie Litchfield is a longtime feng shui practitioner with LifeAlign Classical Compass Feng Shui. She lives in Salt Lake City.

This article was originally published on December 30, 2014.