Year of the Ox

This year’s Ox shakes off the shifty Rat
Happy Lunar New Year! Most of us are not sorry to see the last year end. The global pandemic impacted the lives of every person on the planet, along with unprecedented political turmoil, economic decline and social unrest. Though it was the Chinese Year of the Rat—generally considered a year of renewal and change with opportunities for success in new ventures—2020 felt tumultuous and tragic, as if driven by the worst kind of rat.

Thankfully the end of this Rat Year is fast approaching. The Year of the Ox begins on February 12, 2021. The Divination Foundation normally throws an annual lunar new year’s party and though we can’t do it this year, we can still celebrate new energy!

The Ox is a beneficent beast, second in the progression of the Chinese zodiac, like its cousin Taurus in the West. According to ancient folklore, the Jade Emperor said that the order of the zodiac should be determined by when the animals arrived at his party. The generous Ox agreed to give the wily Rat a ride on its back, but just as they were arriving, the Rat jumped off of the Ox and scampered in as the first to the party.

Unlike the shifty Rat, the Ox is grounded, loyal, gentle and trustworthy. It is considered an animal of strength and is associated with fertility and harvests. The Ox is widely represented in religion, art, literature and popular culture throughout east Asia, likely due to its importance in agriculture. In Buddhism, the ox signifies “Buddha nature,” the fundamental state of all beings and their innate potential for awakening.

As the Korean proverb says, “It is a bad plowman that quarrels with his ox.” Ox can seem ornery and slow, appearing to accomplish little after long hours of labor. However, duty, discipline and hard work are necessary for success.

The world went through radical change in 2020, though not in some ways we might have hoped. Despite its challenges, this past year of the Rat brought us the opportunity to change the world for the better. Drawing on the Ox’s balance, stability and steadfast determination, we can persevere and work toward solving our problems steadily, one by one. In this way, we shall reap blessings in this new year.

Divination Foundation’s favorite local opera singer, Jocelyn, holding an apple with the Chinese word for “blessings.”

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