It’s almost that time again, the time when the actual character and  energy of the year changes, unlike the flip of a calendar page that is the January 1st “new year”, we have a real time of renewal headed our  way as the lunar new year approaches. And the cycle begins anew with the first Chinese sign, the rat at this January 24th new moon. If I could only give one piece of advice  to those who want to be successful and happy in the rat year, it would  be to embody the essential characteristics of the rat. As I have said before, I think this gives you a better chance of success than merely being one of the signs that is friendliest with the rat (that would be monkey and dragon if you’re interested).

In order to play the rat’s game, we need to start at the beginning, which, as you’ll soon see, is something that the rat can appreciate. Legend has it that the Buddha summoned all the animals for a meeting. Twelve animals attended, but the first one to show up was the rat, therefore being the first character in the lunar zodiac.

Being early is essential to success in the rat year. And if you can be the first to show up, all the better. Generally, the first offer put in on a house is the one that is accepted. When you show up first at a gathering, or even better, hold the gathering at your home (the rat loves to host), you can set the energy in the space. Show up with a sense of what you would like to achieve, and if you can, close your eyes for a moment and visualize it, or send energy to that intention, something that is harder to do when others are milling about in the room.

Another quality of the rat is adaptability. The rat is, of course, not the largest or most ferocious animal. But the rat knows how to adapt to almost any situation. The rat’s size is a key part of this, though we can’t change our size too much, we can change our focus. The rat does this constantly. If you know people born in the year of the rat, most of them are excellent conversationalists, that is, if they can avoid the common rat-trap of self-centeredness and trying to make oneself bigger by boasting. If you can adapt, you can steer the conversation and if you can be humble and allow the others to be larger than you by focusing on them, you will have mastered this trait.

The rat may be a homebody at times, they love to decorate their nests, but most rats are natural extroverts and thrive at gatherings and parties. As I mentioned, they love to entertain, but can also be gracious guests. They always bring something to the party. Do this often in the rat year, even when it’s not expected.

Another rat quality is preparedness. Rats are almost never caught out without the resources they need. They save and stock up on bargains. Don’t take this to the extreme and hoard things, of course. But do have a first-aid kit in your car, a few snacks in your purse, and extra bottled water just in case.

Here’s a handy tip I like to share every year to pay tribute to the animal of the year: buy a small statue of your Chinese lunar animal, and a statue of the rat of the same size. Place them next to one another, facing east. You are saying: it’s your year and I will play your game. Do this for each member of your household. No, don’t share the same rat. After all, you don’t want a rat coming between you and your partner or you and your kid.

Okay, I have much more to say on this topic, and I will share more on Facebook and at my Moon Circle on January 24. But now I want  to talk about the qualities of the new moon that will occur on January 24 (1:41 p.m. pacific), and how to best maximize your effectiveness during this time.

New moons are all about new beginnings, and the innovative, non-conforming energies of an Aquarius sun/moon conjunction may be just the ticket for making a fresh start with the lunar new year!

This is the first new moon following a pretty intense eclipse cycle, which makes it all the better for kicking off a program of new habits and fresh starts. If you read my last few articles, you have probably begun to notice old patterns, habits and responses that are no longer serving you. And maybe you’ve started to notice when these are triggered, and even begun to fashion new responses. If so, you are ahead of the game for the events of the next two weeks and beyond.

Another aspect of this new moon is a square from Aquarius’ ruling planet, Uranus to the sun/moon conjunction. A square is a challenging aspect, and in this case, a nice way to meet that challenge is to begin stepping out of your comfort zone. Uranus/Aquarius is all about upsetting the apple cart. How can you be more of an activist for what you believe in? Have you recently had a brilliant idea that won’t leave you alone? Are you feeling pulled to do things that scare you a little? It’s time to formulate a plan and take  action.

I’ve spoken a bit in recent posts and newsletters about the biggest transit of the year being the Saturn/Pluto conjunction which will be exact next December, but which is close enough now to make some major waves in just about every area of life. Saturn is the planet of discipline and authority, and Pluto rules power and transformation. This is the transit of (to paraphrase Thoreau) building castles in the sky, then putting foundations underneath them. But it’s also about challenging power structures that are not serving us as they should. Doing this in an organized, systematic way is the key to working with the energies of both planets.

Aquarius is also the sign of friendship and community, so this would be a great time to gather with other like-minded souls. Groups forming to advance a common good are very favored during this time, and while social time will need to be balanced with alone time to pursue Saturnian tasks, much of what we accomplish during the next two weeks will be inspired by meeting with others. Even things usually done alone can have more of an impact if done occasionally in a group or public setting. Examples include writing at a coffee shop, joining a group meditation once a week, or working in an artist’s studio if you usually create alone.

Another aspect captured in the new moon’s chart is a Venus/Neptune conjunction. This is the intersection of romantic love with spirituality and unconditional love, and you may have transcendent moments in your partnership, most likely by doing things a little differently. Again, looking at your reactions and habits may provide clues to how this might play out. This conjunction happens in the sign of unconditional love, Pisces, so if you and your partner meditate, do yoga, create art or do humanitarian work together, all the better. Or, if single, maybe you meet a potential partner while engaging in these activities.

So all in all, it looks like the next couple of weeks will be provide a few interesting opportunities to say the least, particularly if you widen your definition of opportunity, and see almost everything as such. New habits  can be formed, new alliances and new or renewed dreams will be launched.

Happy new moon and Happy  lunar year of the rat!



p.s.: San Diego area friends, rsvp to attend my January 24 Moon Circle!