Welcome in the Year of the Black Water Snake
This year the Chinese New Year begins on February 10. The traditional holiday begins on the first day of the first month on the Chinese calendar, and culminates on the Lantern Festival on the 15th day. Traditionally, families gather for a reunion dinner the night before the Chinese New Year. Home is a place where we we ground ourselves in all that gives us a sense of safety, harmony, belonging, and connection. When our homes are in disorder or our lives seem out of balance, it is home we long for. By reestablishing our connections to the changing seasons, the natural movement of the Earth and all the other heavenly bodies, we begin to walk more in harmony in all areas of our lives. One of the great times in the current season of mid-winter (in the Northern Hemisphere; mid-summer in the Southern Hemisphere), is the movement into a new lunisolar year. February 9/10, 2013 ushers in the Year of the Black Water Snake.
The Year of the Black Water Snake is meant for us to make steady progress and pay attention to detail. In order to attain our goals, this is the year we discipline ourselves to focus on that which we hope to achieve. Somewhat like the energy of Taurus, the Black Water Snake time prefers quiet and predictability. It’s a year we may seek more peace and solitude. We may find that this year that we receive the grace of our past struggles and efforts. This is a year that may be full of sudden and unexpected changes, making us feel like we are on shaky ground. The Year of the Black Water Snake begins in the first month of the Chinese calendar, the Tiger month. It is said that the Dragon fell down to the earth and became the snake, and so the Snake is sometimes called the Little Dragon. What we set forth and put into motion last year, we now continue to work with on a very pragmatic, down-to-earth level.
Chinese New Year is based on the lunisolar calendar, a calendar used in many cultures worldwide. It is based on the phases of the moon and the movement of the sun. The Hebrew, Buddhist, Hindu, Tibetan, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean calendars, to name just some, are cultures that use a lunisolar calendar. Just as Easter is based on the movement of the Sun and the Moon (Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full Moon after the Spring Equinox), the lunisolar calendar is based on different criteria than just the Earth’s rotation around the Sun.
The Chinese New Year celebration is the most important holiday season of the year, and is celebrated throughout the world by families of Chinese heritage.
The Year of the Black Water Snake
If you were born in 1905, 1917, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, or 2001, you were born in the Year of the Snake.
Snake years always follow Dragon years. Recent Water Snake years were 1953 and 2013.
Different cultures and families have different traditions to celebrate the most important holiday of the year. It is not uncommon for families who have immigrated at some point, to adapt their customs to the new surroundings and homes, thus carrying on some traditions and adding new ones. This has been done with spiritual and religious traditions throughout human history. Rather than worrying about ‘doing it right,’ enjoy using the customs that hold meaning for you and adding some ideas of your own to your New Year’s Celebration.
Hang something resembling the Sun and the Crescent Moon in your home and workplace symbolizing balancing and nourishment of each heavenly body.
Use of the colors Red and Gold are used in decorating and attracting abundance and good fortune into the home. Gold jewelry attracts positive Chi. The traditional little red envelopes are placed in significant corners and places in rooms throughout the house. Placing a coin or other form of money n the envelopes symbolizes wealth, and wealth attracts wealth.
Create sacred space in your home. Set aside a special corner to set up a space where you can take time for some quiet reflection, meditation, and prayer. Dedicate this space for the purpose of maintaining both sacred space and time. Include a chair or love seat, a small table, a candle, some flowers, perhaps a sacred piece of writing or other sacred object. You might have a whole room to dedicate to this or you may have a corner of your bedroom, living room, kitchen, garden, or porch. Make it a space that you are likely to spend more time in. For example, in the summer I like to be in the garden and have made a special spot in my garden for reflection. Also, the porch can be a special spot. In my first place in Monterey, I had a lovely brick staircase where I kept red geraniums, tulips, and some herbs growing. I could sit on the porch and look out at the beautiful Monterey Bay. It was a quiet, sacred place of meditation. It is where I stood each night to listen to Taps play, ringing out from the Presidio. Find that special spot in your home, and dedicate the space and commit some time each day to spend some time in quiet reflection, prayer, or meditation.
Holy objects placed in revered spaces in the home, bring protection. In some families that might be a statue of Quan Yin, the Buddha, or Confucius. Place a sacred saying over the doorway to remind guests coming in and going out of Divine protection. The Jewish custom of putting a Mezuzah on the right side of the entry door on the upper third of the door. Inside the Mezuzah is a piece of parchment on which the Shema is written (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Use whatever it is that you consider sacred, and avoid worrying about picking something that might hold meaning to your friend, but doesn’t for you. Selecting something that has meaning to you and your family is what is important.
At times like the turning of the lunasolar year, developing a ritual or way of honoring the change without as a reflection of the change within, provides us with a way of connecting body, mind, and spirit within ourselves and our families with our connections to the world in which we live. We recognize ourselves as members of a greater whole, and we connect with that from our past that continues to live with and inform us. We carry on some traditions; we let go of others that no longer hold meaning. We do this with mindfulness and intention, and it allows us to refresh and reconnect with our ongoing experience of Life.
Honor and acknowledge your spiritual guides and friends and teachers. Take some time for reflection to quiet and humble yourself in the presence of the Divine Being, inviting and invoking the angels, saints, teachers, and spiritual guides to bring more positive Chi into your life. Show your gratitude and respect for Divine power and energy. Start simple, doing what you normally do when you want to celebrate or rejoice.
Sing, chant, and say your prayers, mantras, and other uplifting songs of praise, thanksgiving to raise your spiritual and mental vibrations and energy.
Create a ritual to call in the Golden Light to warm and nurture you. The symbol of the Sun and the Moon are very important this year, reminding us of our connection to the Universal energy, light, knowledge, and Divine Consciousness.
Mindfully prepare a special meal for your family and friends. Invite guests for a simple celebration, or prepare a family dinner to honor each family member in a special way. Choose the foods that hold symbolic meaning. In some families, eating long noodles symbolizes attracting a long life. Be creative and learn more about the holiday customs of friends and relatives, and slowly incorporate some meaningful ideas into your celebrations. Eating the seasonal foods is always a good idea, reflecting our ability to honor the bounty of the places we live and the seasons of our lives.
For yourself, think of this as a time when, like the snake, you can shed the skin of the past, and take on a new and reinvigorated view of the future. As the New Moon of February 9/10 (11:00 P.M PST; 2:00 A.M. EST) signals the start of the 15-day celebration of the Chinese New Year of the Black Water Snake, use this time to set your sights on that which you hope to attract into your life in the new year, and that which you are ready to release and let go.