The Year of the Metal Rat officially starts on Saturday and ends on Feb. 11, 2021 in accordance with the lunar calendar. However, the actual rat ki-ai (essential energy) year has already begun and will probably taper off in the late fall. The phenomena of the energy shift beginning before the lunar year has been the norm for the past few years. Why may this be so? It is quite possible that global climate change has shifted the cycle of universal energy.
Awareness of universal energy is one of the foundational practices at Daihonzan Chozen-ji in Kalihi. In the first hour of each year, an energy forecast is given as part of the New Year’s ceremony based on our own practices and study of the ’ike (knowledge) and ancient observations within the Chinese horoscope. This article is derived from this year’s forecast.
What an adventure the Year of the Metal Rat will most certainly be! This is a time when head winds will be as strong as tail winds. It may feel as if we are facing contradictory conditions, but it is more accurate to understand the Year of the Rat as a roller coaster of high energy that peaks and plunges into canyons of low energy, with clarity followed by fog. This is a pattern that will repeat itself, at first slowly, and then more rapidly over time.
Our human behavior will respond to the extreme fluctuations, creating crises and celebrations. There will be feelings of great power followed by an almost overwhelming sense of no power. It will be a time of vivid and fast-moving events.
To ride the times (rather than having the times ride you), it is important to not get drawn into emotional highs and lows. Instead, hold to a strong and grounded center. Allow the winds and surf to pass over and through you without bowling you over. Follow your na‘au (gut) — one that you have kept grounded through the discipline of work and aloha. Since the roller coaster will get faster and be more dramatic over time, commit to efforts and activities in the first half of the year. And be prepared to weather rougher conditions in the last quarter.
Heed a universal energy forecast as one may prepare for any weather condition. Tanouye Tenshin Rotaishi, Chozen-ji’s co-founder, reminded: We are humans capable of conscious thought and action and being. While subject to the influences of the universe’s energy including the accumulated impact of the imprint upon us from the year of our birth, consciousness offers choice. This is especially important in a year such as the one we are embarking upon! Choose to be the better parts of who we are and shift the course of our places and peoples toward thriving. May you be with the Life Force of the Universe and navigate the way.
1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
Rat: The Rat benefits from the year’s highs while being surprised by the lows. For the Rat to stay on the positive side of the year’s energy, the Rat should remember that natural caution is a positive trait in times that roil. Care needs to be taken to not get backed into a corner — thus the saying, “beware of a cornered rat.”
1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
Ox: The Ox will be rewarded for hard work that started well before the Rat year, and can take advantage of the roller coaster’s momentum especially in the first half of the year. The Ox needs to trust the kind of instinct that comes from the gut rather than the heart or mind and move in rhythm — not in pace — with the year.
1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010
Tiger: The Tiger will experience the times as personally unfair. The changes in behavior that other people have because of their difficulties will be experienced by the Tiger as confrontational. To maximize possibilities and minimize challenges, the Tiger should recognize and have patience with smaller gains, deflect conflict, and plan forward beyond the Year of the Rat.
1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011
Rabbit: The Rabbit is naturally wary and disdainful of getting on to any roller coaster. This will allow for self-created space and time to dream and plot the course for future work and play. The Rabbit will attract people and projects in need of this future focus and the relative calm that comes from having an arms-length observational lens.
1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012
Dragon: In the Year of the Rat, the Dragon is capable of winning big and losing big — without apparent regret for losses. Nevertheless, it would be wise for the Dragon to savor wins and save their bounty. Wins are more likely to occur in the first part of the year, and the Dragon needs to be more cautious in the second half or risk losing big.
1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013
Snake: The Snake’s inherent hard work and organizational habits will equate to gains, even in the fast-moving environment of the Rat Year. To maximize the potential of gains, it will be important for the Snake to exercise discipline and not be distracted by the many projects arising as a result of the problem-rich environment.
1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014
Horse: The Horse is capable of running and pivoting with the changing times and can take advantage of the year’s movement. However, the Horse may become annoyed with family and close friends who are not as agile and are calling upon the Horse for support. Nonetheless, the Horse can weather the year, especially if trusted partners guide the Horse onto less treacherous paths.
1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015
Sheep: Sensing the contours of the highs and lows, the Sheep will be content to stay close to what the Sheep knows and will thus avoid the worst of the big transitions. Ironically, the Sheep will have a somewhat unearned confidence and will attract others who are not faring as well. It will be important for the Sheep not to get entangled in the affairs of others, to listen to an internal rather than external voice.
1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016
Monkey: The Monkey will be energized by the year’s significant challenges, unafraid to meet whatever may come. Therefore, it is critical for the Monkey to be aware that the year will bring real dangers, and to be attentive to karmic opportunities and challenges with sober forethought. If treated as a game, the year will get the best of the Monkey.
1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017
Rooster: The Rooster will struggle a bit with what feels like personally targeted challenges, believing that others aren’t having the same difficulties. Ha! If the Rooster looks up and sees others who are also experiencing challenges, then the sense of isolation will fall away and the Rooster will fare better.
1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
Dog: The Dog has already started to run into the wind, and the early momentum will create its own success — provided that early wins are acknowledged without being mistaken for a trend line. The Dog’s inherent strength will be put to good use, providing a willing and helping hand for others who are less successful in the Rat Year’s energy.
1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019
Boar: The Boar will find the year’s many moving targets confusing and unpredictable. The Boar will see all the ways people are flailing about and will be tempted to make observations that are likely to offend. The Boar would be smart to avoid judging people. Courageously busy, there will be smaller gains than planned — and yet, gains.
This year’s New Year prediction is offered by Norma Ryuko Kawelokū Wong, a teacher at Daihonzan Chozen-ji/International Zen Dojo of Hawaii.