We welcome the Yang Earth Dog year on 16 February, 2018!
This article will explain how each year acquires its name and characteristics, and how it might play out in weather, society, relationships and health. And why it’s a good year for singing!
Each year is governed by one of the 12 zodiac animals, according to Chinese astrology. The animal association can apply to a year in general as well as to anyone born in that year. Last year was the Rooster, this year is the Dog . I am a Ram, for example, and my daughter is the auspicious Rat. Each year is also designated as Yin or Yang, and additionally by one of the five elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water). 2017 was Yin Fire year (Rooster), and 2016 was Yang Fire Year (Monkey). 2018 is a Yang Earth Year, also referred to as a Yellow Dog year; yellow being the color associated with the Earth element. The character of each year is steeped in Chinese theory and tradition. The Huang Di Nei Jing (or the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine) describes concepts of Yin & Yang, the Five Elements and how these phenomena and relationships account for the movement of the energy of the universe, of time and the seasons, as well as how to take all this into consideration for acupuncture and herbal treatments!
This comprehensive overview will address literal earth implications such as weather and land. Other dynamics will be societal, communal, individual and interpersonal, such as the power and safety of groups, and working together. And, of course, I’ll be looking at possible health implications for the year ahead.
The Dog is considered a lucky animal, so people who have or work with dogs may experience a bit more luck in 2018. And it might be good for your health. According to research, having a dog in the office reduces employees’ stress levels and increases feelings of happiness.*
ABOUT EARTH; After two Fire years, an Earth year may feel calm by contrast. But Yang Earth indicates major land issues such as moving earth (earthquakes), adding earth (volcanic activity, lava flows) or shifting earth (mudslides). However, the Earth also can also yield treasures, such as archeological discoveries and rare gemstones. Earth years can be warm, which is consistent with warmer weather trends scientists have documented. The Earth element is also associated with Dampness and Humidity; we may see increased humidity in areas and seasons where it does not usually occur, particularly in summer.
But Earth is also powerfully grounding during times of stress and turmoil. So attending to your backyard, garden or balcony plants will help you connect with the stability of Earth. Spend time in inviting outdoor spaces or botanical gardens. Or bring an interesting rock inside and put it on your desk or in your kitchen to remind you of those spaces. Earth energy also represents gathering, mature energy that is sensible, realistic and grounded in Truth.
Speaking of sensible, this would be a good time to schedule roof maintenance, check your home or renter insurance coverage, and bring your emergency kit up to date (or create one if you haven’t already).
METAPHORICAL EARTH CHANGES: Just as an earthquake, volcano or flood results in drastic change, a social, political or cultural shift will also create a profound change to the community or country’s landscape. We’re already seeing signs of shifts underway, with increased political passion and participation, voter registration drives, a surge of new voices running for and earning political office, support for Dreamers, and women speaking out about sexual harassment and violence. We’re also seeing more frequent and violent expressions of hate, mistrust and racism. It’s interesting that the 2017 Rooster year embodied the dynamic of the flock, which was reflected in the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. The Dog year also reflects the power (and safety) of its pack, and that may apply for good or troublesome ends. So group activity will no doubt continue to play a role in how 2018 unfolds.
DOG QUALITIES: Dog wants to keep what is good and right, just and true. Justice may emerge as one of the watchwords for the year. Look for court rulings that reflect fairness and impartiality. This may be the year that unethical and illegal activities are called out and shut down. This is a year to return to high ideals. Dog energy is also practical; it wants to keep using what has worked before.
Organizations involving justice may accomplish great acts, rebuild trust and gain respect. It could be a good year for arbitration and negotiation. However, we may see more small compromises rather than big wins, and incremental progress that will ultimately lead to real gains. According to Lillian Pearl Bridges, “the energy of Yang Earth is symbolic of a Mountain, and people and countries will be feeling particularly stubborn and intractable this year.”
Dogs also defend and protect, so police, military, protection services, customs and immigration may see gains in funding and hiring. Insurance, consumer safety, renewable energy, natural resources, agriculture and recycling also appeal to Dog’s thrift and humanitarian nature. Watch for these fields in the news.
Reflecting the pack dynamic of the 2018 patron, Dog years see Sympathy and Empathy coming to the fore. This year will present opportunities to help others, with compassionate ideals guiding action. We may see grassroots movements gaining momentum, and designated spokespeople conveying the desires of the collective. This will give hope to many who are suffering neglect, poverty, rejection and uncertainty (the “underdogs” if you will). We will hear their voices and be moved to support them.
This is a good year for collaboration and partnerships. If you are self-employed, you may be uplifted and helped by networking or finding strategic partnerships. Working together can yield greater results than individual efforts. Companies or teams who take care of their staff will be rewarded.
WHAT THE EARTH ELEMENT MEANS FOR HEALTH: Earth refers to the digestive organs: Spleen, Stomach, Pancreas and the lymphatic system. So digestion and eating are in the spotlight, for better or worse. The function of the digestive organs is to transform food into Qi and Blood, and transport it throughout the body for health and vitality. When digestion cannot complete that task, either because of overeating or eating inappropriate foods, then the residue of food lingers and becomes Damp. And when Damp languishes, it becomes the more intractable Phlegm. Phlegm is created in digestion, and then is said to be stored in the Lungs, where it can manifest as congestion or sinus problems.
ORGANS OF DIGESTION: Although it is generally considered a good year for health, watch out for a range of potential digestive disturbances. This can include overeating or eating the wrong kinds of food for your particular digestion. Do you know what foods contribute to dampness? Here’s a start: ice cream (especially at night), dairy, sugar and sugary foods, eating cold breakfasts, having an icy cold smoothie for breakfast, and eating cold salads with thick or heavy dressing (a heavy rotation of salads are counter-productive, particularly in the winter). But if you love your salads, then at least let them sit at room temp for 30 minutes or so before eating. Add cooked veggies to your salad greens to make it easier on your digestion (the veggies don’t need to be warm in your salad, just having been cooked changes their nature).
IMPORTANCE OF EXERCISE: Remember the description of Yang Earth, big earth? It can apply to an immovable object or stubbornness. Think of a big rock: it might be hard – if not impossible – to move. We now know that “sitting is the new smoking.” So it may take effort to keep moving this year, therefore, schedule your exercise and shake your booty! This is a good year for exercise classes and group hikes. This could be your year for a little rebounder trampoline, or frequent dance breaks.
DAMPNESS & PHLEGM: One of the weather issues mentioned earlier is the possibility of increased humidity. As without, so within. Inside the body, humidity manifests as Dampness or Phlegm. This might be experienced as chest congestion, a phlegmy cough or sinus issues. Weight gain is often described as excess dampness, another reason to be vigilant about exercise and healthy food choices and habits. If you have been wondering about your blood sugar regulation or endocrine health, ask about it when you next visit your doctor.
EATING WELL: When we make healthy food choices and create healthy food habits, we nourish life. Eating is one of two ways we stay alive (the other is by breathing), so paying attention to your digestive health is important! Learning about or refining your eating habits will help create vitality and help you enjoy life more. You may want to experiment with different eating strategies, like giving up alcohol for one month or having a few meatless days per week. It’s safe to say that less sugar and more vegetables are two great places to begin. Root veggies are associated with Earth (yams, sweet potatoes) so incorporate them into your menus year-round (although practice moderation when ordering sweet potato fries!). Drinking water is beneficial but focus water intake away from meals so you don’t dilute your digestive juices. Drinking water in between meals will also give you a feeling of fullness so you won’t be tempted to over-eat.
CONSIDER YOUR “PACK”: Dogs form packs, and this points to more “be with” time with family and friends. Dogs symbolize faithfulness and fidelity, and these virtues solidify relationships between spouses, friends, parents, and their children. You may feel compelled to “nest” at home with family or friends. You may be inspired to seek out a new “pack” with those who share your interests or feel drawn to old friend groups. Community experiences will become more important, and new friendships may be discovered as a result.
EARTH EMOTIONS: Contemplation is one of the psycho-emotional aspects of Earth. At it’s best, it results in meditation, consideration, and approaching issues logically, thoughtfully. So yeah, keep meditating! When this impulse goes awry, it can result in worry and compulsive behavior, and clutter may overtake your space, becoming more disorganized. In the effort to think logically, we might actually overthink and confuse ourselves – yikes.
THE SOUND OF EARTH: If you feel the urge to break into song, do it! Singing is the sound associated with Earth. So sing along to the car radio, in the shower, to your children or parents, or join a choral group or choir. Or karaoke! Sing to your dog, and maybe your dog will sing along with you.
The Chinese zodiac includes 12 animals, and each of those animals has a particular forecast for 2018. So if you enjoy that sort of information, check out Lillian Pearl Bridge’s short commentary on each animal. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0914/1204/files/Year_of_the_Dog_Forecast.pdf?4554263367526090895
Many thanks to Diane Gallin and Lillian Pearl Bridges’s insights and outlook for the 2018 Yang Earth Dog year.
*2012, International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Barker, R. et al
DISCLAIMER: These comments are based on ancient principles of the Chinese Five Element Theory and on an understanding of animal symbolism in Chinese Astrology. It is intended for entertainment purposes. Individuals are solely responsible for their own interpretation or application to their own circumstances. Further, this is not intended to be a substitute for legal, medical, or psychological advice, evaluation, and/or treatment.