The year of the yang metal rat

By Valerie Litchfield

Each year, as we have for at least 12 years now, we celebrate Chinese New Year by inviting feng shui practitioner Valerie Litchfield to share her reflections and predictions for the year ahead.

New beginnings and rebirth will quietly emerge from the winter’s snow on January 25, 2020, in the form of a Rat. From its hiding place in the earth, this beady-eyed nocturnal creature will scamper into our lives and become the seed of a new 12-year cycle of Chinese astrology. Though despised in the West for being a dirty nuisance and carrier of disease, rats are respected in the East for being resourceful, skillful, open-minded and one of nature’s greatest survivors in times of danger and scarcity. Regardless of your Chinese birth sign, when the Rat rules, it bestows creativity, passion and dynamic energy on everyone.

The 12-year cycles of the Chinese calendar have now been kept for 4,719 years and are based upon the Hsia lunar farm calendar. Each new year begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice and is celebrated for two weeks. It culminates on or near the full moon with the Festival of Lanterns, in dazzling parades that fill the streets of China with lion and dragon dancers, firecrackers and drums.

Prior to New Year’s Day, houses and businesses are swept clean in a ritualistic fashion with the old energy from the previous year  being discarded along with the dirt. Fresh energy is encouraged to enter by using incense, chimes or bells, mandarin oranges and fresh flowers. Rat figurines are placed near the entrances of homes and offices, inviting good fortune to enter.

In addition to the 12-year animal cycle, two other overlapping cycles influence the ancient Chinese calendar. The first cycle dictates the polarity of the year, with each year being either yin or yang, large or small. The second cycle determines which one of the five classical elements from nature will be in play.

The classical elements—water, wood, fire, earth and metal—and their interplay are believed to be the creators of all things.These cycles combine to create the year. The combination for 2020 is Yang Metal Rat. The positive qualities that accompany the element of metal are courage, purity, generosity and forgiveness. These qualities in combination with the sign of the Rat create a strong and purposeful year.

Rat years are not a time for complacency, as Rats are constantly on the go. 2020 will be a time of regeneration and renewal, the perfect time to lay foundations, launch new projects, get married, start a family and/or buy a house. Rat, in Chinese mythology, was the winner of the race to the Buddha’s door to join him for a great feast. The steadfast Ox led the way but toward the end of the journey, the lightweight Rat secretly jumped on his back to be ferried across a river and then jumped off his head, scampering to be the first to arrive. Even though the Buddha knew that the Rat had cheated the Ox, he admired him for his craftiness and honored him by giving him the first place on the calendar. This story is a great illustration of the year ahead, where opportunities will abound, but you will need to be quick, smart and clever to have them work to your advantage.

Rat years favor well-laid plans, especially in the area of investing, where the new cycle will create significant growth in years to come. The same is true of new business ventures: They will not yield quick returns, but as the momentum builds in the new cycle, so, too, will the profits.

The most unfavorable animal sign in 2020 is the Horse; it is in direct conflict with the Rat. People born in the year of the Horse can anticipate movements such as changing jobs or residence. Carry the image of the Ox as protection and to attract the Rat away from your path. When the Rat signs encounter their own year, they are in self penalty and can experience disharmony, irritation, worries and frustrations, as well as sickness. They, too, should carry the Ox, to minimize the negative effect.


Year of the Metal Rat predictions

The Rat plays an important role in the Chinese creation myth. This myth describes the Universe as an inert egg-shaped space, that was gnawed open by a Rat allowing life-bestowing air to enter. Once this occurred, plants, creatures and mankind took a breath and began to live on the earth. The Rat’s body also represents yin and yang, the driving forces of the Universe. It does this by having a yin or even number of toes, four to be exact on each forearm, and yang, or uneven, number of five toes on its hind legs.

It is predicted that the Rat will once again gnaw open a new era of time that will last for the next 60 years. This occurred 60 years ago in the last Metal Rat year, 1960, when the world saw the values and ideals of the 1950s give way to the new attitudes of the 1960s. These attitudes began in part with the birth control pill, a small object that created a big change, the sexual revolution. Another small object, the microchip, changed the world in extraordinary ways. Be on the watch this year, to see what the Rat will bite into next.

Metal, the ruling element this year, is seen in nature as the season of autumn and begins the dark yin cycle in the rotation of yin and yang. The dark yin places in the earth are where metals such as gold, silver, copper and steel are formed through compression. A yang metal year, therefore, can be seen as a large piece of steel. Steel is supportive and is used in building to create the framework of a structure. Yang metal energy can be used this year to create the framework for the next 12-year cycle, a great time to make big plans.

In the five classical elements, metal births water and Rat is associated with water, making 2020 a year that is elementally harmonious. Years where one element births or produces another create a time of peace. Be aware, though, that metal and water are both dark and cold elements and because of this they can create a slowing down of the energy which can result in stagnation. This, coupled with the fact that there isn’t any fire element present this year, could create an atmosphere of pessimism and fear. Fire sparks the feelings of optimism in people and markets, and when it’s lacking it contributes to economic decline in general.

Another place where we will notice an absence of fire this year is the stock market, which could move into cold bearish territory. Let’s make note here that the bond market signaled recession on August 14, 2019, when the 10-year Treasury Bond yield fell below the yield of two-year bond. It marks the first time since 2007 that the curves have inverted. Interestingly, 2007 was a Pig year just as 2019 was. The signal flashed that year and we went into the Great Recession in 2008, a Rat year. Because it signaled again in 2019, it foretells of another recession coming this year which is usually the case in Rat years. We will likely see it in the fall or metal element season of 2020.

On to a happier topic—love and romance. Rat carries the “Peach Blossom” or love energy in the Chinese system, so 2020 will be filled with many opportunities to find “the one” and settle in for the next 12 years. Children are also part of new beginnings and Rat years are an auspicious time to have a child, as Rat children are intelligent, artistic, well-rounded and grow up to be fine leaders.

In the world of politics, 2020 is a favorable year for President Trump. Prince Charles, born the year of the Rat, could have a new beginning, as the King of England. His son Prince Harry is also a Rat and he, too, could be finding himself in a new place or situation. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, also born in a Rat year, might be willing to once again enter into peace talks.

The Chinese believe there are very few poor Rats, as they are clever, thrifty and have a gift with money, making them good financial advisors. Rat years are the perfect time to save, but not a time to go without. Practice striking the balance of yin and yang this year.


Animal sign forecasts

Rat: 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

A busy year is in store for the ambitious Rat. Rats could be taking a quantum leap into a new job or promotion. There will be new

opportunities for growing your financial prospects as well as widening your social circles. A new relationship this year could blossom into a long-term romance and bring the blessings of marriage and children.


Ox:  1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009

Oxen can expect to do very well in business and financial matters in the coming Rat year. After all, it was the Ox’s solid back that carried the Rat across the river and for this they will be well rewarded. There could be a promotion at work to a position of authority. In matters of the heart, remember that attention and affection will bring harmony to the relationship, while neglect will bring conflict.


Tiger:  1938, 1950, 1962, 1986, 1998, 2010

The fast pace of the Year of the Rat could entice Tigers to overstretch themselves and their resources. Take some time this year to gain greater clarity of purpose and use your persuasive powers to elevate yourself to a position of leadership. Tigers have an abundance of charisma this year and will attract many admirers. Don’t be afraid to let your emotions show.


Rabbit:  1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011

A great year is in store for the Rabbit with plenty of opportunities coming your way that could change your career path or cause you to focus on the positive aspects of your current position. Either will lead to long-term good fortune in the upcoming cycle. Flirtation, love and romance are also in store for the amorous Rabbit.



Dragon: 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012

Dragons will be at their best in the fast-paced, nonstop year ahead. With creative energy at its peak, a stream of good fortune will flow the Dragon’s way. Refrain from being too  impulsive and devote time to considering your options. The course of love runs smoothly for Dragons in 2020.



Snake: 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

Snakes will find the lively scenario of this year to be invigorating, as it inspires them to awaken to new ideas. This will be a good time to pursue different avenues, and to seize the opportunities that the year presents. Gains will come through recognition rather than money. Happy relationships will be abundant.



Horse:  1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

Given that the Rat opposes the Horse, slowing it down with obstacles, it is likely to be a difficult year. This is not the time to start a new venture or make major decisions. Don’t expect a promotion, but job training and education will prepare you to move forward next year. Romance and relationships will cause conflict. Pause at some point to take a relaxing vacation.



Sheep: 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

Rat years offer Sheep a chance to make great strides both personally and professionally. The trends are in the Sheep’s favor for openings and opportunities for advancement. Meeting new people this year could lead to the blossoming of love and romance for those looking for this kind of happiness. This is also the year for travel to new places. Beware of being cheated by people you trust.



Monkey:  1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

Rat years are an excellent time to expand Monkey’s ideas and promote projects close to their hearts.  Monkeys have every opportunity to succeed in almost anything they attempt. Stay positive and be alert to possible opportunities that come your way. 2020 is also the year to be saving a nest egg for growth in the upcoming cycle.



Rooster:  1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

The scurry of Rat year is never easy for Roosters, but with a boost of energy, there is wealth and happiness in store for you. Careful pacing is essential, as quick decisions and emotional outbursts will lead to trouble. Singles could find their soul mate in 2020 but you’re probably going to need to take the first step, as the person may not approach you.



Dog:  1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

An all-around prosperous and auspicious year awaits the Dog in 2020. It’s a year to expand and move forward with their worldly aspirations. Though Dogs are conservative and not known to be lovers of change, their self-confidence is high and creates a time for something different to happen. Although a few obstacles my arise, new ideas that the Dog initiates will bring success.


Pig:  1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019

Rat years bring a fresh start and new opportunities for the Pig. It will take some determination and hard work to attain things you want. Do not give up; be open to the energy the new cycle brings. With steady work, your career will advance into unexpected places. The year also promises success in romance, and marriage is likely.



Valerie Litchfield is a longtime feng shui practitioner with LifeAlign Classical Compass Feng Shui. She will present the Year of the Rat Forecast and Annual Feng Shui Updates for Chinese New Year Celebration twice on January 25, 2020, at Dave’s Health & Nutrition, 880 E. 3900 South: RSVP at 801.913.9018 for the morning session (10am-12:30pm( or afternoon (2-4:30pm). Cost of $38 includes forecast notes.

This article was originally published on December 30, 2019.