13 February 2013

The Year of the Snake

I have been looking forward to this year of the Serpent and not just for the vanity of the Snake being my personal zodiac animal. The way I understand the Chinese zodiac, aside from the streaming of time in regular twelve-year cycles and their corresponding rotation of the five elements, each of us enjoys a personal twelve-year cycle corresponding with the zodiac animal present in the year of our birth. Inherently this makes sense to me in the evolution of personal consciousness. My self at age 12 and at age 24 began and ended very different cycles in my personal development, struck in their own ways by the serpentine characteristics of wisdom and vanity. But the serpent´s shadow which accompanies me in my 36th year is unveiling a clarity in my consciousness that my previous cycles lacked. For once I feel adult, my own, not bound physically or financially to my parents, not obligated or controlled by expectation, but simply carving out a life uniquely abundant which brings me daily happiness. Perhaps it is a natural phenomenon of aging in the mid-thirties to live life for one´s self, embracing adulthood freedoms without lamenting lost childhood, but I feel that analyzing my cycle´s completion within the context of time´s 12-year zodiac brings me added clarity.

The year of the Serpent is the middle-mark in the 12-year zodiac which begins with the Rat and ends with the Boar. Each zodiac animal embodies their corresponding year with certain aspects of their nature as seen from the Chinese cultural perspective. The Boar is the last in the cycle of 12, but is seen as very important since the Boar is the animal which in quiet slumber dreams the ideals for the next cycle of 12. The Rat receives the dreams of the Boar and with its cunning intellect dedicates its year to forming a plan that will help bring those dreams into reality within the new 12-year cycle. The Ox always follows the Rat and through its strength and labor begins to manifest the plan. But diligence alone is not what brings forth true dreams. A Tiger year is necessary to take risks, offer change, inspire adaptations. Usually this tumult can be exhausting and a peaceful Rabbit year follows with pleasure, ecstasies for the greatest believers, or abundance, which in itself can be sometimes overwhelming. The Dragon´s arrival is one of shared luck for all those on their correct paths, festively distracting those who are not. And then comes the Snake, a year of wisdom awakening, checking that the mid-way point in the cycle is unfolding according to plan.

So it has been for the forest of Los Brujos and our growing family living within its sanctuary. We first arrived in the last days of the year of the Dog, completely given over to our fate, making our home in a cabin without electricity, running water, or neighbors for miles around save loggers and their oceans of exotic tree plantations. The Boar year began just as we began settling in, dreaming out loud all the possibilities, remembering our fantasies that had begun a few years before in the year of the Monkey when we had collectively decided to change our lives, leave the big cities, move to a small fishing village in southern Chile. Our second year we really began in rhythm and the Rat accompanied us as we learned what worked and what didn´t and imagined how things might improve. The Ox year we labored into being many plans and our family grew as other courageous hearts joined us and put muscles to action lifting new shelters from mud and wood. We embraced new technologies in the year of the Tiger, taking risks, adapting to illnesses, and changing our relationships inward and outward. We had the courage to fall in love again and the Rabbit year relished in the ecstasy of new abundance, honey harvest overflowing, conserves accumulating, mud-brick oven pizzas to share as the family continued to grow. The Dragon shined down a lucky smile doubling the forest of Los Brujos to 9 hectares with sunny, open land for large vegetable gardens and additional housing. And now the Serpent uncoils and we watch our own wisdom unfolding, how a true dream aligns and continues to manifest.

For the first time I celebrated Chinese New Year without anxiety that I had to correctly replicate my grandparents´ traditions. We celebrated with the essence of their practices very present, but the details were our own: altars adorned with seasonal offerings from our gardens instead of imported fruits, dumplings folded in the traditional half-moon style as well as sealed with Argentinian seams, steamed buns filled with berry-apple sauce and local sweets, ancestors invited with Andean flute and a dancing dragon made from recycled sheets, paint, and paper supported by hula hoops. Our houses were clean, our altars shining and every guests´ belly full to bursting, merriment carrying us off to sleep with Wisdom growing in our hearts, a deep knowledge that our celebration, a unique fusion of our various traditions, was well-received in every dimension. No longer a child seeking approval, I have come finally to embrace my own relationship with my ancestors as eternal beings as myself, not seated on-high judging my actions, but reincarnated on their own journeys. The ceremony of ghosts and guilt no longer holds sway. I have looked behind the curtain and have reinvented my own understanding: the New Year celebration as a guide to our personal destinies, as a moment to feel the nostalgic presence of loved ones that have passed and to fill that memory with so much love and abundance that they can feel it in their present incarnations, that we receive it in our own incarnations.
The Serpent stretches Wisdom across the year, reflecting in the wisdom we have gained and the wisdom we still lack as we come to better understand ourselves and our relationship to the world around us and to each other. In how we carry our traditions, how we mark the years, and how we recognize our accomplishments, the essences of my upbringing will always guide me, but the details are no longer bound as I am no longer bound, embracing my power year for my next cycle of twelve, consciousness evolving