Many in the West are familiar with the Chinese Zodiac, observed throughout
Asia with variations within each country and region. The new moon of February 3, 2011 ushers in the Year of the Rabbit or
Hare for most Asian countries. The first new moon in the solar calendar year marks the beginning of the Spring Festival, which
lasts throughout the following lunar month.
Rabbit is known to be wise, cautious, calm, and loving. These are wonderful
qualities, but Rabbit is a kind of rodent, and Cat hates all rodents, especially Rat. Asian mythology says that Rat conspired
to keep Cat from the feast where the animals won their places in the Zodiac, and so the fourth place of the calendar was given
to Rat’s cousin Rabbit instead. Cat was left out in the cold, and vowed revenge on the Rat.. That is why conflict between
rats and cats is eternal.
Cats are the Zodiac’s smooth-talkers, and perhaps this is why in
Viet Nam, where the Chinese symbol for the word 'rabbit' is pronounced mao, mau, or meo, it was interpreted
as ‘cat’. So, in Viet Nam, at least, Cat has claimed victory over Rat and Rabbit, and enjoys his time of
glory every 12th year!
The year 2011 is associated with the feminine Yin element, which is characterized
as soft, slow, passive, and yielding. Yin is associated with water, earth, the moon, and the night. The wee hours are Cat’s
prime time, and they prowl in the shadows between 5 and 7 a.m. Cats are talented, ambitious , patient, and studious. Their
supple minds and bodies lead to clever strategies, and they know to take advantage of the right moment for action.
This year is also characterized as a Metal year, with the attributes of
strength, persistence, and determination. While Metal’s firmness and rigidity may restrain Cat’s tendencies, it
is said that Cat years are relatively stress-free.
This will be a very welcome change from 2010's Year of the Tiger, which
has been marked by fighting and aggressiveness, risky unpredictability, stubbornness, mistrust and resentment of those in
authority. Crafty Cat is stepping into fierce Tiger’s paw prints, and with any luck, will calm uncertainty and conflict,
and use ingenuity to bring peace and prosperity to the world.
The Year of the Cat continues through January 22, 2012, when the Year of
the Dragon, a very lucky year, will begin. Dragon is considered the most powerful sign of them all, and Dragon years are full
of great luck and opportunity.
The Asian Zodiac’s predictions contrast sharply with the dire prophecies
of some interpreters of the Mayan calendar who say the world will end on December 21, 2012. Some say the Mayan’s calendar
simply resets itself, like the odometer on your car’s dashboard, and that doom predictions are completely wrong.
In consideration of the fact that 2012 will be a Dragon year, and that
Dragons are considered to be the "movers and shakers" of the zodiac, perhaps it might be interpreted that 2012 will be marked
as a time of great change. Change is a coin with two sides, and it is noteworthy that an ancient Chinese curse wishes that
"You will live in interesting times."