The tail end of the rat year has been one of its more challenging times, which is saying a lot in a year that brought us a global pandemic, an economic crisis, and a deep political divide that had friends and relatives at odds with one another. But there’s a lot of reasons to have hope as the lunar new year begins and a stellium of planets in the visionary sign of Aquarius challenge each of us to rise to a new level and undertake a consciousness upgrade.

Let’s talk first about the year of the ox, and how it differs from the rat year. While both are industrious animals, the ox is far more honest and fair than the capricious, opportunistic rat. The rat is very clever, being the first sign in the zodiac, who in legend tricked the ox into giving him a ride to the meeting with the Buddha, then jumping off the ox and scurrying to be the first in line, was given the number one spot. Yes, we saw an uncharacteristic amount of this “me first” type of behavior in the rat year. However, don’t take this story to mean that the ox is not clever. Indeed, the ox likes to plan out his work before getting on with it. And the matter of being duped by the rat was probably a case of “fool me once”, as the ox is one to learn from past mistakes.

And while it’s true that the ox often ends up cleaning up after more careless others–you’ll recall the most recent ox-year 2009 followed the financial crisis of 2008–he usually does it in such a way that systems and infrastructure are improved by these efforts, and the playing field is more level after the ox has hoed it over. I fully expect this ox year to be one in which this happens.

While the ox’s element is earth, this year’s element is metal (the element of the year changes every two years). This adds a dimension of charisma, communications, and modernization to the traditional, hard-working ox’s tool kit. Metal is intellectual, dynamic and innovative. We will see improvements in technologies, as well as more egalitarian policies relating to communications and commerce.

While purchases made in the rat year tended more toward single-use and instant emotional gratification, the ox year will bring back an emphasis on quality and value. The ox appreciates good art, food and materials, and will be less likely to skimp in order to cut corners. Investments will be chosen more for their long-term potential. Good investments will be in property, building materials, bonds, and machinery. While good ideas will be plentiful, given the metal element of the year, as well as planetary configurations, ideas will be only as good as how readily they can be put into action.

Long-term commitments can be successfully forged in the ox year, and workable commitments will thrive. Get married, but make sure the union is built on solid ground and can do the daily practical work required. Most people will have to, or want to, work more than usual in the ox year. You’ve probably heard the adage that success takes 10 years of hard work. Well, if you are on this track, you may be able to squeeze two of those years into one strategically-planned ox year.

If you are like me, and the rat year left you pining for more structure and stability, this is all good news. And if the rat year also helped you to get out of your comfort zone and work smarter, you’re on track to do the kind of work required and rewarded in the ox year.

But I don’t want to give you the impression that the ox year is all work and no play. Or that it’s going to be boring and uneventful.

Which brings me to the new moon in Aquarius that kicks off the ox year. On February 11 at 11:06 a.m. pacific, the sun and moon align in the sign of the water bearer, joining four other planets, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn, in Aquarius. Remember the lovely conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter at zero degrees Aquarius at the winter solstice? It was beautiful to look at through a telescope. But it’s implications are that success and expansion (jupiter) will be very-closely tied to Saturnian pursuits and methods of accomplishment. Consistency, routine and good old fashioned elbow grease will be more of a requirement than ever.

Challenges and setbacks will arise, as Mars and Uranus in Taurus exert their disruptive influences on communications, relationships and business as usual. So expect and plan for obstacles. Know your own triggers, excuses and have a plan for what you’ll do when they arise. In the past, I’ve put my own bugaboos up on the wall, and have advised coaching clients to do the same so that when they arise, we can be present to them, rather than take them as gospel and cave to their demands.

Oh yeah, and it’s still Mercury retro, which muddies up the “launch” capacity of this new moon, although you will likely feel inspired toward new ventures, the best energy now will be spent researching, envisioning and planning the launch. February 20 sees the planet of communications go direct. Heads up for extra shenanigans that day, then give it a few more days to a week before making any life-changing decisions if you can.

And, yes, there will be some relief, that lighter feeling that a new moon brings, but due to some of the tense aspects, mainly Mars squaring both the sun/moon conjunction and Venus, there will be those around you who do not pause in their irritation to realize or allow this respite. So as always, be mindful. Give others permission to feel what they feel, and also to relax.

All in all, I’m feeling optimistic about this time and about the new year. We all have work to do. And some of it will not be comfortable. That’s okay. The best way to work with the ox is to get comfortable with discomfort. But make sure to take care of your body and health, and that you are well-fortified in all the important ways.

The Aquarian energy is calling on us to be better than we have ever been before. How will you do that? How will you become the best version of yourself this year? That is something to meditate on at the new moon, and to bring into your vision.



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p.s.: Don’t forget to clean and organize your home and office before the new year’s official start on February 12!