The twelve animals of Tibetan astrology according to Yungdrung Bön are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog, and Pig. Each animal has a specific element associated with its lifeforce and a positive direction determined by that element. Each year, one of these twelve animals is associated with one of the five elements of either metal, wood, fire, water, or earth. In other contexts, metal is referred to as space, and wood is referred to as wind or air. It takes sixty years for all twelve animals to be associated with each of the five elements. When this happens, it is considered one complete cycle that repeats again and again.
February 21, 2023 begins the Tibetan Royal New Year and the Year of the Water Rabbit. The year of the Water Rabbit continues until February 9, 2024. Therefore, people born on or after February 21st will have the natal astrology of a Water Rabbit with its associated characteristics. In general, Rabbit years are considered to be times of calm and ease that bring beauty and harmony. They are periods with less suffering and conflict. Thus, people have more time for entertainment, pleasure, and enjoyment. Because of this, there is the temptation to become lazy and distracted especially if the previous year was especially difficult. Also, Rabbit years are often times of population growth.
In general, the Rabbit is kind and polite, and enjoys elegance and comfort. It protects its peaceful environment and will make an effort to avoid conflict and confusion which can give others the impression of being indifferent or aloof. If the Rabbit feels directly threatened, it will express its anger through subtlety and cleverness rather than outbursts.
The element which governs the lifeforce of the Rabbit is Wood and its positive direction is East. So, if a Rabbit person wanted to strengthen their lifeforce, they would focus upon strengthening the element of Wood internally and externally. This could be as simple as wearing the color green which is associated with the element Wood. The Rabbit’s positive direction is East. So, facing this direction while meditating, reciting prayers, or just relaxing and taking deep breaths is beneficial. The negative direction is West. This is the direction from which danger or obstacles are most likely to arise and it is the direction towards which to release and let go of negativity or for ritual offerings to pacify negative forces.
The Rabbit’s soul day is Thursday and the life-force day is Saturday. These are the best days for beginning new projects, activities to increase or develop something, or meeting new people. The obstacle day is Friday. This day is best for cleansing and letting things go. It is an unfavorable day for beginning new projects or taking risks.
Rabbit years include: 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, and 2011
According to Tibetan astrology, there are five factors associated with each year that have a corresponding element. These five factors are lifeforce, health, personal power, lungta or the force of good luck, and soul. The elements associated with these five factors change each year. For the Water Rabbit year of 2023, these five factors and their associated elements are:
- Lifeforce: Wood
- Health: Metal
- Personal Power: Water
- Lungta: Fire
- Soul: Water
Although the associated elements to the five factors change each year, the element associated with the lifeforce is determined by the animal sign. Therefore, it is possible to calculate the influence of the year of the Water Rabbit upon the lifeforce of each of the other natal animal signs without having knowledge of the respective birth year. This influence is calculated by the relationship of the five elements to one another. For example, the element of Wood is considered the Mother of the element of Fire. Thus, a Wood to Fire relationship is considered Excellent. However, a Fire to Wood relationship is considered Neutral. There are six possible types of combinations that result in a relationship that is either Excellent, Very Good, Good, Neutral, Bad, or Very Bad. The influence of the Water Rabbit year on the lifeforce of each of the astrological signs is as follows:
- Rat: Neutral
- Elephant: Very Bad
- Tiger: Bad
- Rabbit: Bad
- Dragon: Very Bad
- Snake: Excellent
- Horse: Excellent
- Sheep: Very Bad
- Monkey: Very Good
- Garuda: Very Good
- Dog: Very Bad
- Pig: Neutral
Because these are calculations regarding the lifeforce, if the prediction is negative it would be particularly beneficial for those individuals to protect the lifeforce of other beings, to perform or sponsor the performance of a Life Release ritual which frees those animals that would be otherwise killed, or to contribute to the care of homeless people and/or stray animals. Also, it would be very beneficial to perform longevity practices such as The Longevity Practice of Tsewang Rikdzin (https://www.lulu.com/shop/raven-cypress-wood/indestructible-the-longevity-practice-of-tsewang-rikdzin/hardcover/product-23499207.html?page=1&pageSize=4), and to recite many longevity mantras. These activities specifically protect and strengthen the lifeforce.
This calculation concerns only one factor among five and is only a partial view of the totality of the possible influence of the year. Tibetan astrology includes calculations based upon the influence of both the five elements as well as calculations based upon the influence of the constellations. In order to have a complete prediction of possible influences or events, it is necessary to look at a complete astrological calculation based upon an individual’s date and time of birth.
However, especially if a person was born during a previous year of the Rabbit, this year is considered a specific time of vulnerability to obstacles and illness. Therefore, it is recommended that those individuals take preventive measures to reverse or at least diminish the potential for any problems or obstacles to arise. It is important for them to avoid any risky behavior and take extra care with their health and safety. Making an effort to engage more with virtuous activities of body, speech, and mind and engaging less with non-virtuous activities as well as encouraging this behavior in others is a method to eliminate obstacles. Additionally, spiritual activities that support merit, good fortune, and health such as hanging prayer flags, donating to spiritual practitioners or any kind of charitable work, repairing damaged or broken spiritual commitments with one’s lama, spiritual community, or enlightened beings, connecting with the protectors and meditational deities, having a soul and life-force retrieval ritual performed, and regularly performing prayers and/or rituals to remove obstacles are skillful methods to reverse potential negativity. According to the words of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché, the practice of developing sincere, unbiased and unlimited compassion is the greatest of all protections.
A common prayer within the Yungdrung Bön tradition that is used to remove obstacles is the Bar Che Lam Sel, The Spontaneous Wish-fulfillment of Removing Obstacles from the Path. The English, Spanish, and Portuguese translations of this prayer are offered free for personal use on the Nine Ways Website. Click on the Publications tab above and scroll down to find the download link for the prayer.
“By reciting this Spontaneous Wish-fulfillment of Removing Obstacles from the Path a single time, obstacles of an entire year are pacified. By reciting it one hundred times, obstacles of one lifetime are pacified.
Furthermore, by merely reciting it, it has the ability to protect from fear or injury from gods, demons, and humans, fear of not having food, wild animals, the five elements, etc. It pacifies illness and negative spirits, and reverses all negative predictions or divinations.”— Excerpt from Spontaneous Wish-fulfillment of Removing Obstacles from the Path
For those interested in a traditional Tibetan astrological horoscope to calculate the influence of 2023 on each of their natal factors of lifeforce, health, personal power, lungta, and soul, Geshe Yongdong Losar of Sherab Chamma Ling in British Columbia, Canada offers Tibetan astrological horoscopes through his website. Follow this link for more information about Geshe Yongdong and his astrological calculations: https://sherabchammaling.com/product/astrology-reading/
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Thank you ! Great article. To know more about each animal sign and their years, what source do you recommend ?
Best regards, Juli
A reliable resource is the book Tibetan Astrology by Phillippe Cornu. Although it is based on Buddhist astrology rather than Yungdrung Bon, most things are the same. Raven Cypress Wood
Great ! I’ll look for it. Than you