Goodbye, year of the water snake, and hello, year of the wooden horse! The Chinese New Year begins today. Chinese months are determined by both solar and lunar changes. Because the new year marks the beginning of spring in China, the fifteen days of celebration that start today are also known as the spring festival. Hopefully here in Maryland we’ll feel some of that spring energy come through soon, perhaps even this Sunday–Groundhog Day!

Chinese animal signs are a significant part of each year. The horse connotes unexpected adventure, surprising romance, and new beginnings, according to astrologer Susan Levitt. These characteristics are most pertinent to those born in the year of the horse: 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, and 2014.

Each year’s animal is associated with one of the five Chinese elements: metal, wood, water, fire, or earth. The wooden horse, also called the green wooden horse, is associated with greenery and nature. The Year of the Wooden Horse is a year for nurturing dreams, living life, growing new connections, and appreciating the world around you.

According to The Western School of Feng Shui, this year might witness the biggest shift of energies in the 60-year wheel of Chinese astrology. The past two years were associated with water, immersing us in degeneration, dissolution, chaos, darkness, and deep subconscious. For most of us, it was an unsettling time of letting go of many things, either voluntarily or forcefully. It was a time of deep soul searching, with uneasiness and change in family and livelihood. We sought spiritual practice and awakening to explain this energy and help ground us.

In contrast, the wooden horse brings fast-paced energy, hold on to your saddle because we are going to be propelled forward. This is a year to follow your inner voice and trust your intuition, which will have a universal cosmic ch’i within it and energy behind it. Visualize your calling, imagine your best self, and move forward. Start to trot, and pace yourself well. Now is the time to quiet the mind and amplify the heart. Let yang energy take over. After much introspection, you are ready for action!

Happy New Year!