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The Twelve Animals of Tibetan Astrology: The Pig

Tibetan astrological chart and symbols

In Tibetan astrology, there is a twelve-year cycle.  Each of these years is characterized by a different animal and associated with one of the five elements.  Therefore, a full cycle of the twelve animals being associated with each of the five elements is sixty years.  The twelve animals according to the Yungdrung Bön texts are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog and Pig.  Each animal is associated with a specific element for its life-force as well as a specific direction which is determined by the life-force element.  Not only are these twelve animals associated with specific years, they are also associated with specific months, days and hours.

Feb 05, 2019 begins the Tibetan New Year, or Losar, and the year of the Earth Pig.  People born during a Pig year will have an emphasis of the specific qualities associated with the symbol of the Pig.  (These years correspond with the Tibetan lunar calendar and begin sometime between late January and early April.)   According to Tibetan astrology, the element which governs the life-force of the Pig is Water and its positive direction is North.  So, if a Pig person wanted to strengthen their life-force, they would focus upon strengthening the element of Water internally and externally.  Because the positive direction is North, facing this direction while meditating, engaging in healing practices or just relaxing and taking deep breaths is beneficial.

In general as an astrological symbol, the Pig person is honest and uncomplicated. A Pig person is straight-forward, but not in an aggressive way. They are often seen as “good, down-to-earth” people by others. This is because the Pig person does not harbor hidden agendas. They can be trusted and relied upon. In general, they have many friends to whom they are generous and jovial, and are always willing to be helpful. However, the Pig person can have difficulty setting boundaries and saying ‘no.’ And because they tend to be naive, it is possible for them to be taken advantage of by others. Although the Pig person is generous, they also enjoy having money for themselves and living in leisure and comfort. For this reason, the pursuit of pleasure and entertainment can become imbalanced and lead to excess.

The Pig’s soul day is Wednesday and its life-force day is Tuesday.  These are the best days for beginning new projects and activities that are meant to increase or develop something.  The obstacle day is Saturday.  This day is best for purification and letting things go.  It is not a favorable day for beginning new activities or risky activities.

Pig years include: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, and 2019

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The Twelve Animals of Tibetan Astrology: The Dog

Tibetan astrological chart and symbols

In Tibetan astrology, there is a twelve-year cycle.  Each of these years is characterized by a different animal and associated with one of the five elements.  Therefore, a full cycle of the twelve animals being associated with each of the five elements is sixty years.  The twelve animals according to the Yungdrung Bön texts are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog and Pig.  Each animal is associated with a specific element for its life-force as well as a specific direction which is determined by the life-force element.  Not only are these twelve animals associated with a particular year, they are also associated with particular months, days and hours.

Feb 16, 2018 begins the Tibetan New Year, or Losar, and the year of the Earth Dog.  People born during a Dog year will have an emphasis of the specific qualities associated with the symbol of the Dog.  (These years correspond with the Tibetan lunar calendar and begin sometime between late January and early April.)   In astrology, the element which governs the life-force of the Dog is Earth and its positive direction is Northwest.  So, if a Dog person wanted to strengthen their life-force, they would focus upon strengthening the element of Earth internally and externally.  Because the positive direction is Northwest, facing this direction while meditating, engaging in healing practices or just relaxing and taking deep breaths is beneficial.

In general as an astrological symbol, the Dog person is loyal, straightforward, and honest. Because of their desire to offer their help and support, they are diligent and responsible with tasks. The Dog person takes great care in all that they do and is methodical and precise. Because of this, they do not like to be rushed in completing tasks or making decisions. Others can become frustrated at the Dog person’s seeming inertia when actually they are diligently analyzing the situation in order to be certain in making the correct decision. This tendency towards analysis and judgement can be in excess and lead the Dog person to overly analyze situations and consequently fall into despair or pessimism. For this reason, the Dog person can be seen as quite serious. However, they do not take their loved ones for granted and their relationships are long-lasting.

The Dog’s soul day is Monday and its life-force day is Wednesday.  These are the best days for beginning new projects and activities that are meant to increase or develop something.  The obstacle day is Thursday.  This day is best for purification and letting things go.  It is not a favorable day for beginning new activities.

Dog years include: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018

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The Twelve Animals of Tibetan Astrology: The Garuda

Tibetan astrological chart and symbols

In Tibetan astrology, there is a twelve year cycle.  Each of these years is characterized by a different animal and associated with one of the five elements.  Therefore, a full cycle of the twelve animals being associated with each of the five elements is sixty years.  The twelve animals according to the Yungdrung Bön texts are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog and Pig.  Each animal is associated with a specific element for its life-force as well as a specific direction which is determined by the life-force element.  Not only are these twelve animals associated with a particular year, they are also associated with particular months, days and hours.

A bronze image of a Garuda

Feb 27, 2017 begins the Tibetan New Year and the year of the Fire Garuda.  (For the Yungdrung Bön, it is the year of the Garuda.  Others use the symbol of the rooster.)  The Garuda is a bird both historical and mythical in scope similar to the Thunderbird.  It is intricately associated with Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché and the ancient kingdom of Zhang Zhung and Mount Tisé a.k.a. Mount Kailash. People born during a Garuda year will have an emphasis of the specific qualities associated with Garuda.  (These years correspond with the Tibetan lunar calendar and begin sometime between late January and early April.)   In astrology, the element which governs the life-force of the Garuda is Metal (space) and its direction is West.  So, if a Garuda person wanted to strengthen their life-force, they would focus upon strengthening the element of Metal internally and externally.  Because the positive direction is West, facing this direction while meditating, engaging in healing practices or just relaxing and taking deep breaths is beneficial.

In general as an astrological symbol, the Garuda person has a zest for life and is uncomfortable with the limitations of tradition and convention.  The Garuda has confidence in itself and is ambitious with goals that can often seem unrealistic to others.  However, it is a perfectionist and a master of organization that is able to find a way to accomplish difficult tasks.  The Garuda‘s joy and charisma attracts many friends who benefit from its spontaneous generosity.  Its flair for life and confidence in itself also attracts the attention of powerful people who help the completion of its goals.  In some, this unshakable confidence might lend itself to conceit and self-centeredness.  The Garuda finds the most joy when it remains balanced rather than caught in a cycle of highs and lows.

The Garuda‘s soul day is Friday and its life-force day is Thursday.  These are the best days for beginning new projects and activities that are meant to increase or develop something.  The obstacle day is Tuesday.  This day is best for purification and letting things go.  It is not a favorable day for beginning new activities.

Garuda years include: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, and 2017

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The Twelve Animals of Tibetan Astrology: The Snake

Tibetan astrological chart and symbols

In Tibetan astrology, there is a twelve year cycle.  Each of these years is characterized by a different animal and associated with one of the five elements.  Therefore, a full cycle of the twelve animals being associated with each of the five elements takes sixty years.  The twelve animals according to the Yungdrung Bön texts are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog and Pig.  Each animal is associated with a specific element for its life-force as well as a specific direction which is determined by the life-force element.  Not only are these twelve animals associated with a particular year, they are also associated with particular months, days and hours.

snake image

People born during the year of the Snake  will have an emphasis of the specific qualities associated with Snake.  (These years correspond with the Tibetan lunar calendar and begin sometime between late January and early April.)  The element which governs the life-force of the Snake is Fire and its direction is South.  So, if a Snake person wanted to strengthen their life-force, they would focus upon strengthening the element of Fire internally and externally.  The positive direction is South.  Therefore, facing this direction while meditating, doing healing rituals or just relaxing and taking deep breaths is beneficial.

In general, the Snake is can see the depth of things and spends a lot of time thinking and processing.  The Snake can recognize the underlying motivation of others even if they do not recognize it within themselves.  The Snake can use this to their advantage and can be underhanded at times.  The Snake enjoys the good things of life and loves to be in elegant and beautiful surroundings.  The Snake can have an intolerance for hardship or discomfort.  The Snake can be magnetic and charming but can also be vengeful when angered.  The Snake has a good sense of humor, is socially graceful and often surrounded by admirers.  The Snake could benefit from the practice of tolerance and openness.

The Snake‘s soul day is Tuesday and its life-force day is Friday.  These are the best days for beginning new projects and activities that are meant to increase or develop something.  The obstacle day is Wednesday.  This day is best for purification and letting things go.  It is not a favorable day for beginning new activities.

Snake years include: 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, & 2013

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The Twelve Animals of Tibetan Astrology: The Monkey

Tibetan astrological chart and symbols

In Tibetan astrology, there is a twelve year cycle.  Each of these years is characterized by a different animal and associated with one of the five elements.  Therefore, a full cycle of the twelve animals being associated with each of the five elements takes sixty years.  The twelve animals according to the Yungdrung Bön texts are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog and Pig.  Each animal is associated with a specific element for its life-force as well as a specific direction which is determined by the life-force element.  Not only are these twelve animals associated with a particular year, they are also associated with particular months, days and hours.

monkey astrology

2016 will be the year of the Monkey. Therefore, people born during this year will be a Monkey and will have an emphasis of the specific qualities associated with Monkey.  (This year corresponds with the Tibetan lunar calendar and begins February 08, 2016.)  The element which governs the life-force of the Monkey is Metal (space) and its direction is West.  So, if a Monkey person wanted to strengthen their life-force, they would focus upon strengthening the element of Metal internally and externally.  The positive direction West.  Therefore, facing this direction while meditating, doing healing rituals or just relaxing and taking deep breaths is beneficial.

In general, the Monkey is friendly, adaptable, playful and thinks outside of the box.  The Monkey does not like to be trapped in any way and can use its ingenuity and keen sense of strategy to keep itself free.  Although the Monkey has a good sense of humor and a sharp mind, too often it is tempted to use these qualities to elevate itself while lowering others.  The Monkey is skilled at finding ways to benefit from an opportunity.  Even when faced with difficulty, the Monkey most often lands on its feet.  The Monkey has an insatiable desire for knowledge and study, but can grow bored once it has reached a level of mastery.

The Monkey‘s soul day is Friday and its life-force day is Thursday.  These are the best days for beginning new projects and activities that are meant to increase or develop something.  The obstacle day is Tuesday.  This day is best for cleansing and letting things go.  It is not a favorable day for beginning new things.

Monkey years include: 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

The Twelve Animals of Tibetan Astrology: The Dragon

Tibetan astrological chart and symbols

In Tibetan astrology, there is a twelve year cycle.  Each of these years is characterized by a different animal and associated with one of the five elements.  Therefore, a full cycle of the twelve animals being associated with each of the five elements takes sixty years.  The twelve animals according to the Yungdrung Bön texts are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog and Pig.  Each animal is associated with a specific element for its life-force as well as a specific direction which is determined by the life-force element.  Not only are these twelve animals associated with a particular year, they are also associated with particular months, days and hours.

dragon

2012 was the year of the DragonTherefore, people born during this year would be a Dragon and would have an emphasis of the specific qualities associated with Dragon.  (This year corresponds with the Tibetan lunar calendar and began February 22, 2012.)  The element which governs the life-force of the Dragon is Earth and its direction is Southeast.  So, if a Dragon person wanted to strengthen their life-force, they would focus upon strengthening the element of Earth internally and externally.  The positive direction Southeast.  Therefore, facing this direction while meditating, doing healing rituals or just relaxing and taking deep breaths is beneficial.

In general, the Dragon is flamboyant and impulsive.  It has a fiery disposition whose energy and drive seem unending.  Convinced of its superiority of destiny and vision, it wants to live life to its fullest and is often frustrated and impatient with the perceived limitations of others and circumstances.  The Dragon always wants more.  The Dragon has much charisma, wit, and enthusiasm which is admired by others and they are often placed in leadership positions.  The Dragon can also be unrealistic in its demands and become angry to the point of deeply wounding others due to its lack of tact.  However, the Dragon easily forgives, and is sincere and generous in its relationships.  Whatever it is feeling is difficult to conceal.

The Dragon’s soul day is Sunday and its life-force day is Wednesday.  These are the best days for beginning new projects and activities that are meant to increase or develop something.  The obstacle day is Thursday.  This day is best for cleansing and letting things go.  It is not a favorable day for beginning new things.

Dragon years include: 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, & 2024

The Twelve Animals of Tibetan Astrology: The Sheep

 astrology sheep green

 

 

In Tibetan astrology, there is a twelve year cycle.  Each of these years is characterized by a different animal and associated with one of the five elements.  Therefore, a full cycle of the twelve animals being associated with each of the five elements takes sixty years.  The twelve animals according to the Yungdrung Bön texts are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog and Pig.  Each animal is associated with a specific element for its life-force as well as a specific direction which is determined by the life-force element.  Not only are these twelve animals associated with a particular year, they are also associated with particular months, days and hours.

2015 is the year of the SheepTherefore, people born during this year would be a Sheep and would have an emphasis of the specific qualities associated with Sheep.  (This year corresponds with the Tibetan lunar calendar and began February 19, 2015.)  2015 is also governed by the element of Wood and is a female year.  So, people born during this year would be a Female Wood Sheep.  The element which governs the life-force of the Sheep is Earth and its direction is Southwest.  So, if a Sheep person wanted to strengthen their life-force, they would focus upon strengthening the element of Earth internally and externally.  The positive direction Southwest.  So, facing this direction while meditating, doing healing rituals or just relaxing and taking deep breaths is beneficial.

In general, the Sheep is considered to be a friendly and kind-hearted person who is gentle and easy-going.  Although they have a strong sense of fairness and right behavior, they are quick to forgive.  They prefer an uncomplicated life that is harmonious.  However, in the face of danger, they can be ferocious in their attempt to protect themselves or others.  They are independent thinkers but often work best as part of a team.  Sheep are often religious and can be interested in the supernatural.  Although they tend to be very creative, the creativity must have a practical purpose.  They thrive within a stable and loving relationship.

The Sheep’s soul day is Friday and the life-force day is Monday.  These are the best days for beginning new projects and activities that are meant to increase or develop something.  The obstacle day is Thursday.  This day is best for cleansing and letting things go.  It is not a favorable day for beginning new things.

Sheep years include: 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, & 2003

Consecration of the Great Wheel & Namchu Wangden of Yungdrung Bon in Amdo, Tibet

Gangru Dargye gompa in Tibet

The Great Prayer Wheel of Yungdrung Bon in Amdo, Tibet

In November 2014 in the Zinchu village of Amdo, Tibet, a large copper and gold prayer wheel was installed along with a unique image of the Namchu Wangden of Yungdrung Bön.  Both were consecrated during a ceremony that was attended by many Yungdrung Bön lamas who had traveled to the area for the occasion.

རྣམ་བཅུ་དབང་ལྡན་ཆེན་མོར་རབ་གནས་གནང་བཞིན་པ། 2

Yungdrung Bon lamas performing the consecration ritual for the Namchu Wangden

Lamas attending the ceremony included the great abbot Sherap Yungdrung Wangyal Rinpoche, the tulku of Nangzhik Sherap Özer Gyaltsen Rinpoche, the tulku Rikdzin Nyima, the abbot Khenpo Tsering Norbu, the esteemed teacher Rakshi Künsal Nyingpo, Lama Drebu Bönzin, Geshe Tenzin Drukdak and others.

Namchu Wanden rabne

Yungdrung Bon lamas perform the consecration ritual for the Namchu Wangden image erected in Amdo, Tibet

The Namchu Wangden of Yungdrung Bön is a symbol of great protection and contains the seed syllables of the 720 deities.  Displaying this image protects from destruction by the five elements as well as protecting the life-force, health, personal power and lungta.  It gives protection from the Eight Classes of Beings as well as astrologically negative events.

The original article related to this consecration ceremony appeared on the Tibetan language website http://himalayabon.com/news/2014-11-16/486.html#jtss-fb.  You can find the complete article and more photos by following the link.

 

 

 

Sounds of Space

Tibetan ltrs assoc with space element     Each of the letters of the Tibetan alphabet are associated with one of the five elements according to their inherent sound.  The letters associated with the space element are AH, KA, KHA, GA NGA, and HA.

The Twelve Animals of Tibetan Astrology: The Rabbit

rabbit

 

 

 

In Tibetan astrology, there is a twelve year cycle.  Each of these years is characterized by a different animal and associated with one of the five elements.  Therefore, a full cycle of the twelve animals being associated with each of the five elements takes sixty years.  The twelve animals according to the Yungdrung Bön texts are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog and Pig.  Each animal is associated with a specific element for its life-force as well as a specific direction which is determined by the life-force element.  Not only are these twelve animals associated with a particular year, they are also associated with particular months, days and hours.

2011 was the year of the RabbitTherefore, people born during this year would be a Rabbit and would have an emphasis of the specific qualities associated with Rabbit.  (It is important to remember that this year corresponds with the Tibetan lunar calendar which begins somewhere between February and mid-March each year.)  2011 was also governed by the element of Metal and was a female year.  So, people born during this year would be a Female Metal Rabbit.  The element which governs the life-force of the Rabbit is Wood and its direction is East.  So, if a Rabbit person wanted to strengthen their life-force, they would focus upon strengthening the element of Wood internally and externally.  Although called ‘Wood’ in the astrological context, the element of Wood corresponds to the element Wind.  The positive direction is East.  So, facing this direction while meditating, doing healing rituals or just relaxing and taking deep breaths is beneficial.

In general, the Rabbit is considered to be peaceful and calm, virtuous and sensible.  The Rabbit has a natural skill for diplomacy and is kind and polite in its interactions.  The Rabbit enjoys elegance and comfort and will protect its peaceful environment from disruption.   Preferring harmony, it will make an effort to avoid conflict and confusion perhaps giving the impression of indifference and aloofness. However, if the Rabbit feels directly threatened, its anger is expressed through subtlety and cleverness rather than outbursts.

The Rabbit’s soul day is Thursday and the life-force day is Saturday.  These are the best days for beginning new projects and activities that are meant to increase or develop something.  The obstacle day is Friday.  This day is best for cleansing and letting things go.  It is not a favorable day for beginning new things.

Rabbit years include: 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, and 2011

The Twelve Animals of Tibetan Astrology: The Tiger

Tiger sketchIn Tibetan astrology, there is a twelve year cycle.  Each of these years is characterized by a different animal and associated with one of the five elements.  Therefore, a full cycle of the twelve animals being associated with each of the five elements takes sixty years.  The twelve animals according to the Yungdrung Bön texts are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog and Pig.  Each animal has an associated element for its life-force and a direction which is determined by the life-force element.  Not only are these twelve animals associated with a particular year, they are also associated with particular months, days and hours.

2010 was the year of the Tiger.  Therefore, people born during this year would be a Tiger and would have an emphasis of the specific qualities associated with Tiger.  (It is important to remember that this year corresponds with the Tibetan lunar calendar which begins somewhere between February and mid-March each year.)  2010 was also governed by the element of Metal and was a male year.  So, people born during this year would be Male Metal Tigers.  The element which governs the life-force of the Tiger is Wood and its direction is East.  So, if a Tiger person wanted to strengthen their life-force, they would focus upon strengthening the element of Wood internally and externally.  Their positive direction is East.  So, facing this direction while meditating, doing healing rituals or just relaxing and taking deep breaths is beneficial.

In general, the Tiger is considered to be courageous, independent, unpredictable, artistic and passionate.  The Tiger tends to go after life with passion and daring.  Making its own path, it tends to gravitate towards unconventional lifestyles and avoids following traditions or social conventions simply because they are ‘supposed to’.  The Tiger is a fierce and determined leader that can be quick-tempered and protective of its ego.  The Tiger wants to live life to the fullest in its own way, and without being told what to do.

The Tiger‘s soul day is Thursday and the life-force day is Saturday.  These are the best days for beginning new projects and activities that are meant to increase or develop something.  The obstacle day is Friday.  This day is best for cleansing and letting things go.  It is not a favorable day for beginning new things.

Tiger years include: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, and 2010

 

The Twelve Animals of Tibetan Astrology: The Elephant

elephantThe twelve animals of Tibetan astrology according to the Yungdrung Bön texts are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog and Pig.  Each animal has an associated element for its life-force and a direction which is determined by the life-force element.  Not only are these twelve animals associated with a particular year, they are also associated with particular months, days and hours.

For example, 2009 was the year of the Elephant.  Therefore, people born during this year would be a Elephant and would have an emphasis of the specific qualities associated with the Elephant.  (It is important to remember that this year corresponds with the Tibetan lunar calendar which begins somewhere between February and mid-March each year.)  2009 was also governed by the element of Earth and was a female year.  So, people born during this year would be Female Earth Elephants.  The element which governs the life-force of the Elephant is Earth and its direction is Northeast.  So, if an Elephant person wanted to strengthen their life-force, they would focus upon strengthening the element of Earth internally and externally.  Their positive direction is Northeast.  So, facing this direction while meditating, doing healing rituals or just relaxing and taking deep breaths is beneficial.

In general, the Elephant is stable, steadfast, and practical.  It can express itself well and is rather independent.  It prefers to approach things logically and without the cloud of emotion.  It is competent and trustworthy, preferring to lead rather than to follow.  It values tradition but can be resistant to change, rigid and authoritarian.  Although it can have a temper, the elephant is generally patient and loyal.

The Elephant’s soul day is Saturday and the life-force day is Wednesday.  These are the best days for beginning new projects and activities that are meant to grow and increase.  The obstacle day is Thursday.  This day is best for cleansing and letting things go.  It is not a favorable day for beginning new things.

Elephant years include: 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, and 2021

The Twelve Animals of Tibetan Astrology: The Horse

horse image

The twelve animals of Tibetan astrology according to the Yungdrung Bön texts are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog and Pig.  Each animal has an associated element for its life-force and a direction which is determined by the life-force element.  Not only are these twelve animals associated with a particular year, they are also associated with particular months, days and hours.

The year 2014 is the year of the Wood Horse.  Therefore, all people born on or after March 2, 2014 until the next lunar Tibetan New Year are Wood Horse people.  These individuals will have a vitality that is governed by the element Fire, a physical body that is governed by the element Metal (which corresponds with the element of Space), personal power that is governed by the element of Wood (which corresponds to the element of Air), Lungta or luck that is governed by the element of Metal and soul energy that is governed by the element of Wood.

In general, the Horse is very energetic with an active mind.  It is inspired, motivated and charming.  It wants adventure and exploration rather than to stay at home.  It is always on the move and in excess this can become a kind of instability or an inability to stick with things long enough to complete them.  This life of excitement can sometimes give way to impatience.  The Horse can be quite charming, likes to talk, and therefore finds it difficult to keep secrets.  Although it appears independent, because of the fear of failure the Horse relies upon the validation and support of friends and family. 

The Horse’s direction is South.

The Horse’s soul day is Tuesday and the life-force day is Friday.  These are the best days for beginning new projects and activities that are meant to grow and increase.  The obstacle day is Wednesday.  This day is best for cleansing and letting things go.  It is not a favorable day for beginning new things.

Horse years include: 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, and 2002

The Twelve Animals of Tibetan Astrology: The Rat

RatIn Tibetan astrology, there is a twelve year cycle.  Each of these years is characterized by a different animal and associated with one of the five elements.  Therefore, a full cycle of the twelve animals being associated with each of the five elements takes sixty years.  The twelve animals according to the Yungdrung Bön texts are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog and Pig.  Each animal has an associated element for its life-force and a direction which is determined by the life-force element.  Not only are these twelve animals associated with a particular year, they are also associated with particular months, days and hours.

2008 was the year of the Rat.  Therefore, people born during this year would be a Rat and would have an emphasis of the specific qualities associated with Rat.  (It is important to remember that this year corresponds with the Tibetan lunar calendar which begins somewhere between February and mid-March each year.)  2008 was also governed by the element of Earth and was a male year.  So, people born during this year would be Male Earth Rats.  The element which governs the life-force of the Rat is water and its direction is North.  So, if a Rat person wanted to strengthen their life-force, they would focus upon strengthening the element of water internally and externally.  Their positive direction is North.  So, facing this direction while meditating, doing healing rituals or just relaxing and taking deep breaths is beneficial.

In general, the Rat is considered to be charming, extroverted, friendly and generous.  The Rat is attracted to money, luxury, and success and often uses its extensive social contacts as a way to further these interests.  Because it is independent, clever, discreet and potentially selfish, it finds ways to turn situations to its advantage.  Therefore, the Rat often finds success in its endeavors as long as it does not over extend and become scattered.  Although a Rat who feels betrayed in some way can become manipulative, vengeful, and aggressive, they are generally sentimental and generous to their loved ones.

The Rat’s soul day is Wednesday and the life-force day is Tuesday.  These are the best days for beginning new projects and activities that are meant to increase or develop something.  The obstacle day is Saturday.  This day is best for cleansing and letting things go.  It is not a favorable day for beginning new things.

Rat years include: 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, and 2020

The Five Elements: Space

ah-w-watermark  The element of Space is called namkha in Tibetan.  It is symbolized by the shape of a circle and the color white.  The unique vibration of this element is the sound ‘AH’.  It is associated with the center.  In general, Space allows  for the many varied manifestations of the other elements without interfering or being damaged in any way.

Environmentally, the sky allows the manifestation of many types of weather, planets, stars, animals, etc.  Everything that exists, exists within Space.  Everything that has ever happened, that is happening right now, or that will happen in the future, happens within the element of Space.  Among the five elements, Space is the strongest because it is indestructible.  Although anything can happen in Space, nothing diminishes or damages it in any way.

Within our bodies, the element of Space is associated with our awareness.   It is also associated with the heart.  When the element of Space is balanced within us, we are aware of ourselves and our surroundings without losing ourselves or being overwhelmed by events or experiences.  Even in the midst of difficult circumstances, we do not lose ourselves or feel constricted with worry.  We are open to experience without being vulnerable to it.

However, if the element of Space is in excess, we are literally ‘spacey’.  Rather than being grounded in Space, we drift from one thing to another without connecting to anything.  We lose track of ourselves and our purpose.  We become lost in Space and easily distracted.

If the Space element is deficient, we feel as if we are being suffocated by life.  We feel as though there are too many demands, too many obligations, too much ‘out there’ and not enough of ‘us’.  We begin to say to ourselves and to others, “I need some space!”  We have lost contact with the Space within ourselves.

In order to bring the element of Space back into balance, there are specific yogic exercises within the Yungdrung Bön tradition which use the focus of the mind together with the breath and movement of the physical body to balance and strengthen each of the elements within us.  To learn more about these yogic exercises see Healing with Form, Energy and Light by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.

As the other four elements are brought into balance, the Space element naturally becomes balanced as well.  Allowing Space for experiences rather than struggling with them develops the relationship with the indestructible quality of the element of Space.

In the more advanced teachings of Yungdrung Bön, Space is the most important element.  Recognizing and becoming familiar with the pure, luminous, boundless Space of the mind is the practice of wisdom.  This Space is the basis for all things that arise, including all of the phenomena of the other four elements.  Many people are uncomfortable with too much Space.  This is clear by the seemingly endless things that we use to distract and entertain ourselves.  However, we can develop more comfort and familiarity with the Space element by minimizing these distractions and developing our capacity to relax into the stillness of our body, the silence of not talking, and the spaciousness of our mind that has taken a break from worry and emotional upset.  This kind of taking a break from constant movement and thought is the best medicine for physical, emotional and spiritual well being.

Lifting Our Energies with Prayer Flags

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Prayer flags are made of colored cloth using one of the five colors of the five elements.  There are many kinds of prayer flags each with their own prayers, mantras and images.  Some prayer flags have a central image of an enlightened Being with prayers and mantras specific to that deity.  Also common is the image of the wind-horse in the center and the animals of the four directions.  The prayers and mantras are activated when the flag is moved by the wind.  Although there are certain auspicious days during the year when prayer flags are traditionally raised, they can be put up at anytime in order to bring benefit.  Generally, they are first consecrated and then raised in the morning outside at a sacred place or a place that is high such as a mountain.

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The Five Elements: Wind

yang-w-watermark         The element of Wind or Air is called lung in Tibetan.  It is symbolized by the shape of a rectangle and the color green.  The unique vibration of this element is the sound ‘YANG’.  It is associated with the direction North.  In general, Wind gives the ability to move, change, and transform.  Even within popular culture, the phrase ‘Winds of Change’ is commonly used in songs, poems, and even political speeches to express a time of change and transformation.

Historically, Wind has played a large part in affecting the course of events by determining the ability of war ships to attack, or not.  By allowing explorers to reach their destinations, or not.  And through calm or violent weather, determining the success or failure of many ventures.

Environmentally, Wind has often been seen as an expression of the supernatural or the divine.  In many cultures, a gentle Wind that arises at the conclusion of  a ceremony is a sign of its success.   In Greek mythology, there are twelve different gods associated with each of the winds of the twelve directions. Ecologically, the Wind’s quality of movement is important as a source of seed and pollen dispersal for plants as well as having a profound effect upon weather and climate.   It can be beneficial such as being used as a power source for transportation, energy or recreational activities.  Or it can be indescribably destructive through the force of tornadoes and hurricanes.

Within our bodies, the element of Wind is associated with our breath and is responsible for providing the ability for things to move.   It is specifically associated with the lungs.  When the element of Wind is balanced within us, we can be flexible.  We move from worry and anxiety to a solution.  We are able to let go of our point of view and see the perspective of others.  If the Wind element is developed, we easily move from anger to love, fear to peacefulness and from feeling blocked to feeling unblocked.  Even in the midst of a problem, we remain aware of all of the things that are going right.  Wind is also associated with communication and verbal expression.  Well developed Wind can also give the ability to communicate or receive information psychically and to perform acts that are beyond the limitations of the physical world.

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, it is believed that the mind is effected by the movement of subtle wind.  Therefore, if the element of Wind is in excess, one of the effects is that the mind is unable to concentrate because it is constantly moving from one thing to another.  We are impatient.  There is an almost constant need to talk or ask questions.  But this kind of talking has little depth and we are thinking of our next question even before the first one is answered.  We are unable to meditate because of the constant movement of the mind which often prompts the body to begin moving.  To the extreme, an excess of Wind can cause severe headaches or even madness.

If the Wind element is deficient, we feel blocked.  There is an inability to progress in our outward activities or our inner growth and spiritual practice.  We are stuck.  Things become stagnant and stale.  There is no freshness.  Our mind is still, but there is no clarity or sharpness to our awareness.

In order to bring the element of Wind back into balance, there are specific yogic exercises within the Yungdrung Bön tradition which use the focus of the mind together with the breath and movement of the physical body to balance and strengthen each of the elements within us.  To learn more about these yogic exercises see Healing with Form, Energy and Light by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.

Also, the simple act of inhaling and exhaling with awareness can be quite helpful.  Imagine inhaling pure, fresh Wind or Air and then exhaling all impure, stale Wind.  Imagine this Wind traveling throughout the body.  Similarly, imagine a ‘Wind of Change’ gently blowing into any area of your life that feels stuck.  If the Wind Element feels disturbed and there is too much erratic movement, then focus more on the Element of Earth and imagine the Wind becoming calm and stable.

A Time for Increasing Luck

raising lungta with flags and paper

The Full Moon is a time when energies are naturally rising.  This is an auspicious time to perform virtue such as spiritual practice, making sacred offerings, visiting sacred places, giving to charity, or protecting the lives of other beings.  It is also an ideal time to engage in activities that will strengthen and increase one’s positive qualities and good luck such as raising prayer flags, bringing sacred or precious things into the home, or performing smoke offerings.  Here, a group in Tibet uses wind-horse papers which are printed with mantra and prayers for good luck and good health.  By tossing them into the sky, it is believed that the energy of the mantras and prayers are activated and will lift one’s energy of luck, vitality, personal power and prosperity.

Flag of the Yungdrung Bon

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The flag of the Yungdrung Bön with each of the colors of the five elements and the golden chakshing with 2 turquoise-colored yungdrungs as held by Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche

The Five Elements: Fire

ram-w-watermarkThe element of Fire is called mé in Tibetan.  It is symbolized by the shape of a triangle and the color red.  The unique vibration of this element is the sound ‘RAM’.  It is associated with the direction West.  In general, Fire provides enthusiasm, creativity and intuition.

Environmentally, our dependence upon the element of Fire is clear by the importance of the sun for life on the planet.  The inner core of the earth is dominated by the element of Fire and it is believed to be about the same temperature as that of the surface of the sun.  Fire has enabled us to cook, which greatly increases the amount of food available to us.  And it has also allowed us to live in climates which would ordinarily be too cold.

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, spiritual realization and the perfection of wisdom are associated with inner heat.  There is a spiritual practice, called Tummo, which is specifically develops and increases this inner heat which naturally ripens our positive qualities and burns away our negative qualities. This practice involves a very detailed visualization of Fire.

Within our bodies, the element of Fire rules the warmth of our bodies and the heat of digestion.  More specifically, it is associated with the liver.  When the element of Fire is balanced within us, we are engaged with activities that inspire us and bring us the joy of accomplishment.  We are enthusiastic about life and feel joy.  A balanced Fire element gives us the energy and drive to accomplish our goals and find creative solutions for any obstacles that might arise.

If the Fire element is in excess, we can be quick to become agitated, frustrated and angry.  We can overreact with our actions or words.  We find many things intolerable and can view others as our opponents.  There is constant movement and instability.  Our thoughts are incessant.  Physiologically, we can experience fevers and skin symptoms.

If the Fire element is deficient, we lack energy and inspiration.  Nothing excites us.  We don’t feel motivated or feel that we lack the energy necessary to manifest our goals.  We lack curiosity and life can feel like a boring routine.  Physiologically, our metabolism can slow and we have difficulty digesting our food.

In order to bring the element of Fire back into balance, there are methods such as Tibetan medicine, ritual and meditation practices such as Tummo.  There are specific yogic exercises within the Yungdrung Bön tradition which use the focus of the mind together with the breath and movement of the physical body to balance and strengthen the elements within us.  To learn more about these yogic exercises see Healing with Form, Energy and Light by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.

Additionally, if the Fire element has become weakened, spend more time being active with things that bring you joy.  Spend time with extroverted, enthusiastic people.  Go to an unfamiliar environment and learn about it.  Greet strangers with a smile or begin a conversation with someone about a subject that interests you.  You can also spend time near an open fire such as in a fireplace or with a candle and meditate upon the energy and quality of the fire existing inside of you.  If the Fire element is in excess, spend more time with earthy people who have a grounding effect upon you.  Slow down.  Be mindful of rising agitation and take deep breaths to release or practice patience with yourself and others.  Take time to finish and enjoy the accomplishment of one project before beginning another.  Spiritually, balanced Fire gives us the motivation and joyful effort needed to be diligent with our practice.  It also gives the ability to progress more quickly in our development.

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