2022 – The Yang Year of the Water Tiger

Kung hei fat choy!!

1 February is when 2022’s Chinese Lunar New Year is celebrated, marking the end of Winter and the long-awaited beginning of Spring. I’m especially excited as we’re moving from the Yin Year of the Metal Ox to the Yang Year of the Water Tiger. Not quite the Wood Tiger year of my birth – I’ll have to wait ‘til I’m 60 for that one to come back round – but I’m confident this year promises to be a special one.

The energy of the 2021 Metal Ox resonated with stability, steadfastness, and toil. Dreaming big, overcoming obstacles and grafting hard towards our goals. This year, we bound ahead into great adventure, being prepared to ring the changes, and take risks we perhaps would or could not have contemplated before. Excitement abounds as we leap forwards towards achieving our wildest dreams; for many, the landscape of our lives will look completely different by the time the year draws to a close once more.   

According to Chinese Mythology, the creation of the Zodiac and the order of its twelve animal members was decreed by the outcome of the Great Heavenly Gate Race. Tiger, fast, competitive, and proud, was dismayed to find the final stage of the race – the crossing of a great river – exhausting on account of its strong currents. He took bronze position in the race, behind Ox, and wily Rat but ahead of Rabbit, who managed to float across on a passing log once his supply of steppingstones had dried up; so avoiding the need to get his fur wet.

In the Far East, the Tiger is associated with power, ferocity, courage, and strength. To the Chinese, Tiger, rather than Lion, is the King of the Beasts. The Chinese character that translates to the western meaning of ‘King’ resembles closely the typical markings seen on a Tiger’s forehead.

Tiger is woven into Chinese culture and its attributes are revered – the highest-ranking Imperial army generals were referred to as Tiger Generals. Similarly, the 16th century Japanese feudal Lord, Takeda Shingen, was sometimes referred to as the “Tiger of Kai” on account of his legendary combat prowess. Indeed, even though Tigers have never been indigenous to Japan, it has continued to honour this animal by including it in its own Zodiac and New Year celebrations. In both cultures Tiger is regarded as the protector of good men, and the dead. It is believed that Tiger has the power to ward off evil.

On its own, Tiger is a Yin animal and considered ruler of the Earth, while the Dragon is Yang and regarded as ruler of the Heavens. Thus, both Chinese and Japanese cultures often depict these creatures together, as the perfect embodiment of Yin and Yang.

With Tigers calling forth the wind, and Dragons bringing the clouds, together they are custodians of the delicate balance between wind and water in nature so peace can prevail.  And according to Chinese folklore, no less than five tigers hold the balance and maintain the order of all universal cosmic forces: the white, black, blue, yellow, and red Tigers.

Tiger is also the national animal of Bangladesh and India. It is associated with the Hindu deities, Shiva and his consort, Shakti, who – in her manifestation as Durga, protective mother of the universe – is revered for her power, strength and protective energies. Durga would battle the forces of evil, slaying demons and defeating darkness, while riding on the back of…why, Tiger, of course!

Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest systems of medicine is, along with Classical Chinese Medicine, predicated on the belief that health and wellness depend on balance of mind, body and spirit. Pitta – the perfect mix of fire and water – is one of the Doshas, the trinity of subtle energies that flow through our bodies. Relating to the digestion of food, as well as thoughts, emotions and experiences, Pitta is characterised by its heat and intensity; once again it is associated with Tiger.

Tiger resonates too with the Spring season, together with the expansive and flexible element of Wood. The energy of tiger is competitive and ambitious, yet with a deep-seated sense of compassion and a desire to achieve the right outcome and help others.

2022 is the year to take risks and to turn our dreams into reality. If you were born in the Year of the Dragon, the Horse, or the Pig (the Chinese zodiac animals regarded as most compatible with Tiger) yours is said to be an especially lucky 2022. Of all the elements, Wood is the one that grows. So when combined with the additional Yang of Water – the strongest element – we see the potential for breakthrough, exponential growth and resounding success in all our endeavours. Unlike the steadiness of last year’s Year of the Metal Ox, the year of the Water Tiger will be dynamic, and courageous, driven by raw emotion and power.

If all that powerhouse force-of-nature-energy can be harnessed and channelled effectively, great achievements can be made. Obstacles can be overcome with tenacity, even for those born in Tiger years, as one’s own zodiac sign year is traditionally viewed to be unlucky. But beware the potential quickness to temper and rash impulse of the Tiger energy, which can lead to conflict. The course of our lives can also turn on a sixpence this year. So while we should allow our intuition to guide us, we must be wary of the ego’s capacity to deceive and mislead us into crashing headlong into chaos and being burned.

“Life is a tiger you have to grab by the tail, and if you don’t know the nature of the beast it will eat you up.” – Stephen King, ‘Different Seasons’

Perhaps Water’s calm and reflective side might succeed in tempering some of that explosive, fierce intensity so that goals centred on justice and empowerment can be achieved for the greater good of all.

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