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New Moon Tiger

When I was little, big cats were my favorite.
I liked nature programs on PBS, picture books
Depicting lions, tigers, cheetahs, and ocelots.
Once, a panther prowled through our yard
We looked out through the windows (my cat,
And I, safely inside) at the predator, whose
Shoulder blades worked like perfect gears.

Now I keep dreaming of tigers, the great
Healers of the animal kingdom. My dream
Dictionary tells me tigers represent innate
Feminine power, raw emotions, intuition,
The ‘shadow part’ of me, and sensuality,
My will-power, courage and strength.
She symbolizes ‘yin’ and moon energy.

In my dream, I walk beside her, this bengal
Tigress, black-striped, electric-wiry orange
Fur swallows my fingers as I pet the beast.
She chuffs, ears pricked and muscles flexed
We are hunting –primal instincts act fast.
Our taut muscles hold quiet power; in tune
With the mangrove, the dream-jungle forest,
Nature’s rhythms, my lineage, acute senses.

According to Chinese wisdom, the female tiger
Comes to the mystic dreamer on a vision quest
She casts dark moon spells and augers fertile
Desires in a ferocious-hearted breast; a spirit
Animal like this, gnashes her teeth, a vital
Sign, secretive and solidified—these truths
Tell a deeper story—how to trust, how to fight.

I was born the wintry month of water tigers,
The daring daughters of the zodiac, often
Found among extremely prolific writers.
She remains calm, swims through calamities
An appetite for life and a long polished tail,
Her coping mechanism, and it’s a good one
Triggers hidden aggression, coaxes the male
Rolls around for three days of mating rituals.

When I wake from the recurring dream, I realize
There was no danger; I was unafraid of the tiger,
Unpredictable she may be, I know she personifies
My spontaneity and super-adventurous vigor;
Sure enough, it takes guts, I crouch beside her,
My dream-deity, subterranean patient part of me,
Tigers don’t walk for exercise; we are hunting.

We are hunting for the dragon, the ‘yang,’
Sun and fire chi, that waits, hot-winged,
Smoke-mouthed with gleaming fangs;
The solitary tigress—in dreams,
Shows the way to sanctuary.  

Leah C. Stetson

Poet’s note: This is a work-in-progress and part of the Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Poetry Challenge to raise funds for the nonprofit literary press. Please mention my name when you make a donation. Thank you for reading and following my blog. I also encourage you to read the fine work of my fellow poets on the Tupelo Press’s 30/30 blog page here. TP Donate

In the trend of the Eat-Pray-Love readers’ take on “what’s your word” for the new year, I’ve been thinking of my word. At first, I thought of “regeneration.” But I shortened it.

Lena-Sokol-Water-SnakeLena-Sokol-Water-Snake2013 is the Year of the Black Water Snake.  When looking for images of the Water Snake Year, my favorite is on Mystic Medusa’s blog, depicting a snake with blue scales (at left, Lena Sokol illustration).  In Chinese astrology, the color black is sometimes expressed in blues (usually dark or deep hues), which is sometimes missed by graphic designers working on tee shirt ideas.  That’s why wearing black or blue clothing in 2013 is considered favorable for some of the animal signs, including those of us born in snake years.  Just as 2012 was marked as both “black,” the color that symbolizes unpredictability and mystery, and the element of water, we are entering a new year of deep transformation. Water snake years have historically been associated with revolutions and uprisings, such as the 9/11 attacks, during a water snake year (2001). The unpredictability of a “black” year and the changes associated with water snake years also include accidents, oil spills, plane and train crashes/accidents and tragedies. Geomancer Paul Ng breaks down predictions for different regions of the world, the economy, health and industries/business, as well as individual horoscopes for everyone’s Chinese animal sign, in his predictions for the Year of the Black Water Snake. Ng predicts it will be a year of conservation. And of course, there will be an emphasis on water.

Ever since the 6th grade, I’ve looked forward to my 36th year. As an adolescent, I got attached to the idea of all of the wonderful things I imagined myself doing at the age of 36. I’m not sure why I picked 36. A child of the ‘70s Star Wars generation, I was born during the Year of the Fire Snake. Over the past few years, I’ve learned a few things about Chinese astrology. For instance, I’ve learned that Snake was a goddess and a healer, who had the ability to transform into a beautiful woman. This Snake goddess icon in ancient Chinese mythology was charming, well-loved and popular, not at all demonized as serpents have been depicted in western folklore. Snake, in the form of a woman, fell in love with a scholar, and married him. Apparently, the snake’s natural element is fire, but it also contains the element of earth. Water snake years are yin female years, which gives them a gentle quality. Fire snake years are more confrontational, and those born in fire snake years, more argumentative. (I can’t argue with that.)

My step-dad, Michael, would have turned 60 this year. Like me, he was a Snake in the Chinese zodiac, but he was a water snake. (My mother is a water dragon. They say that people fall in love with another whose element blends well with one’s own.) In reading about the water snake years, the law and legal profession come into the mix, and my step-dad was a regulatory lawyer. He was also a gentle person, a musician, gardener and athletic swimmer. He passed away in 2011. I miss him. He and I shared an interest in astrology, feng shui, mysticism and poetry, and of course, a shared love for swimming in lakes, rivers, the ocean. He was born under the water sign of Scorpio; I’m a Pisces. Transformation is a favorite theme among Scorpios. One year in college, after taking (and bombing) a class on Goddesses, for which I wrote a paper on the role of poetry in goddess worship (and apparently did not make a compelling argument), I remember talking with Michael about transcendentalists and transformation. I think I passed along my text book to him…a book on enlightenment. (He was also a Buddhist.)yearofsnake

2013 is not only the Year of the Snake, but also contains the “wooden tiger,” which sets up some tension because there is usually conflict between Snake and Tiger. However, from what I’ve gleaned in reading about it, those with Tiger as one of their Four Pillars of Destiny may see some extraordinary events this year. In my case, I was born in a tiger month. You can get your Four Pillars of Destiny chart (for free) at this website easily. There are plenty of alternatives, such as Astrology.com, that also provide this information for free, and some of them offer more of an explanation than others. Once you know those four animal signs, it’s more fun (and helpful) to read predictions for the coming year. Another fun website I found defines the all-important “Day Master,” part of the Four Pillars chart. In my case, my “Day Master” is the metal pig. Oddly enough, when I was a child, I had a collection of small pig and cat figurines. (The Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac is alternatively called the Cat.)

Pillars of Destiny Sample

Pillars of Destiny Sample

There’s a lot more to it, if you’re interested. For example, if you’re curious about your financial fortunes for 2013, you’d have to learn your “money star,” which is determined based on the element conquered by your “Day Master.” (Is it just me, or does this sound like convoluted video game rules?) Metal overcomes wood, as in the image of an axe chopping through a tree branch. So the element of wood ties to my so-called money star. Those interested in feng shui may already be familiar with this notion. If I wanted to improve my money luck, I’d strengthen the wood elements within my home. Good feng shui:  I have hardwood floors and a healthy flow of chi. Bad feng shui:  rotten wood on my porch and two dying houseplants. See more on feng shui and improving money luck in the home.

Among the predictions for the Year of the Black Water Snake, most of the astrologers recommend going at a “snake’s pace,” and given the water influence, adopting a “go with the flow” attitude.  Water snake years are associated with long-distance travel, especially by train and sea.  Any industry that deals with water resources or earth (think environmental sciences, wetlands management) should do well, especially in areas that deal with science, research, scholars/study and technology.  Seeking wisdom, introspection and delving into serious study, or any type of education, are characteristic of snake years.  (See a typical overview for the Year of the Water Snake.)  Those working in the entertainment industry should do well, too, since the Snake is an entertainer. Unfortunately, “black water” presents us again with possible disasters, akin to what we saw in 2012, also a black water year.  Hopefully the female yin nature of the Snake will be gentle, and the disasters will be on a much smaller scale, and fewer!  In the Chinese zodiac, the Snake is also known as “Little Dragon,” so the effects of a snake year tend to be smaller than those experienced during a dragon year.  That’s a relief! At a deeper level, for those born in the year of the Snake, transformation will be a strong theme. It’s time to shed one’s skin.

Thus, my word for 2013 is regenerate. 

The Chinese New Year is in early February. Technically speaking, the Chinese calendar begins on February 4th but the celebrations won’t be until later. February always marks the start of a new year for me because it’s my birthday month. I expect those born in other months may feel similarly about their birthday months signaling a new beginning. Now off to do something about those sad plants in the kitchen…

It’s the Year of the Black Water Dragon, nicknamed the year of the “Water Dam” because of the strong water influence. I blogged about the symbolism of the black water dragon on my Strange Wetlands blog. We last had a water dragon year 60 years ago in 1952, the year my parents were born, two of the most intense people I know. Water dragon years—and the people born during those years—are stormy. I have affectionately referred to my mother as “StormCenter” because she often calls me with the weather forecast for a blizzard, a hurricane or even—heavy rains—in case I am not aware of the prevailing precipitation and its possible impact on my life. By contrast, my father taught me how to build a lean-to for shelter if I ever got caught in the woods overnight during a rainstorm; I was seven. It seemed that both my parents were ever-concerned with storms and protecting us from them. My mother is often asking if I need a new raincoat, even though I have 3 or 4 varieties—the pauncho, the full-bodied rain jacket and pants suit, the rain trench, a waterproof windbreaker—and recently said she’d like to give me a “pretty raincoat” from Coldwater Creek for my birthday.  I think I’m going to ask for a pair of Bogs, the funky waterproof boots, instead of a fifth raincoat.

In Chinese astrology, the dragon is considered the luckiest animal sign in the zodiac. A closely related animal sign in the Chinese zodiac is the snake.  I was born the year of the fire snake, and the snake is considered a form of dragon that is limited to the ground. (Snake is called “little dragon.”) True dragons can fly (or swim) and the Chinese snake is land-based. According to Chinese astrologers, 2012—the year of the Black Water Dragon, is also the Year of the Lonely Snake. It seems that in water dragon years, those born during snake years are more independent, spend more time alone and may be less likely to begin a new romantic relationship if they are currently single at the start of the year, which began in late January. This also means that as a “Snake” person, I will play a more supportive role to “Dragons,” like my mother, and I’m already anticipating this. This year is “All About Dragons.” It’s the new “all about me.”

Supposedly, female “Snake” year people, tend to feel more lonely than other members of the animal zodiac. I’ve never identified myself as “lonely” –more likely to say, “alone but not lonely,” or “independent” and “living on my own.” As an extrovert, this is sometimes hard, as I gain a lot by being around the energy of others, but I also relish my alone time. Sure, I’m single, but have been pretty happy-go-lucky living in my house with my rescue dog and concentrating on my career and writing projects. No bluesy anti-Valentine’s day moping for this gal. (I’m even making homemade Valentines.) In other words, I propose that instead of the Lonely Snake Year, we think of this as the Year of the Lone Snake, like a lone ranger, or superhero, saving wetlands and solving (shedding?) little problems here and there, supporting friends and family, especially dragons.

The Black Water Dragon year contains the elements of earth, water and wood. If your “lucky element” is one of those, then you’ll have a lucky year in 2012. In my case, my lucky element is earth (even though I’m a fire snake), so I may look forward to good luck during the change of seasons. (This is sort of a grey area for Maine, which has muddy hard-to-tell what’s going on in-between seasons.) Since my “day master” is the metal pig (based on my birthday), then in 2012 my outlook and expression will relate to the public – performance, speech, behavior, writing, freedom and fame. My social life may increase and people might talk about me (or my writing). And again, it will be a year that somehow ties me to my parents and their support of me, or my support for them because Dragon years contain the element of earth.

Getting even more specific, 2012 is a male water dragon year (as opposed to a female water dragon). My birth month (Feb.) in the year I was born was a male water month and the color, black – same as this year – male water and black. This is apparently favorable because I’m a female red fire snake – a good contrast indicating good social relationships with the opposite gender. (Yin and yang.) Well, that’s something.  

Leah

Poet. Artist. Ecoheroine. Human ecologist. Spiritual mermaid and Mystic. I write about literary ecology, wetlands, water, Romantic ecology, and quirky adventures with my dog.

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