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Cock-a-doodle-doo: Time to Wake Up

This Saturday is the beginning of the Chinese New Year. One year ago, I remember thinking about the approaching Year of the Fire Monkey and wondering how it would play out. The monkey, much like Curious George, is known for causing havoc. And given the particular elemental qualities at play, experts of feng shui and the Chinese zodiac predicted a year of strong personalities, violent clashes, craziness, trickery, and turning convention on its head. Just picture a couple of monkeys on fire running around in your house.

I don’t put a tremendous amount of stock into these predictions. In fact, I usually forget about them a few weeks into the year. But in 2016, I often found myself distracted by the political theatrics despite myself. It reminded me of the time a monkey jumped on me in Mexico and firmly latched onto my ear with its sharp little teeth. Not only was it uncomfortable, it was quite difficult for me to extract myself from the situation.

Of course, there’s no way to prove that the events of 2016 were caused by its Chinese zodiac attributes, but if the Fire Monkey helps us frame our understanding of the year in a useful way, I think it has served its purpose. Or at least it makes us curious about the next animal.

On January 28th, we enter the Year of the Fire Rooster. Each of the different animals is a symbol for a natural dynamic; some of the interpretations are intuitive and others are a bit of a stretch. In the case of the rooster, let’s start with the one thing everyone knows about roosters by the time they’re three years old. When they see the sun rise, they yell, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” I believe this translates roughly to, “Wake up!”

Second, they roost. That is, they sit up on something high and watch over several nests. From their roosting spot, they have a position of vision. In numerous spiritual traditions, the rooster is regarded as an intermediary of communication with the Divine; perhaps this notion comes from the high and watchful position the rooster occupies. When the roosting rooster sees something he doesn’t like (such as another rooster moving in), he yells some more.

Third, they fight. Roosters are naturally aggressive toward other roosters, a fact exploited around the world in cockfighting. Roosters are groomed and modified – sometimes with blades attached to their legs – where this blood sport is popular. In Bali, cockfighting is actually a religious ritual (“tabuh rah”) – the losing bird is considered a sacrifice to appease evil spirits – performed at every temple.

The element of the year combines with the animal to color its influence. This year it’s fire, and I think that’s a good sign. Fire’s nature is to illuminate. Its ability to shed light into the darkest corners heralds a time of transparency and clarity.

So, how can we interpret these characteristics as we look hopefully toward the coming year? Well, as I see it, there are two kinds of roosters: the evolved rooster and the base rooster. One proclaims the return of the light and tells everyone to wake up. The other sees only enemies and opportunities to assert his dominance. One roosts up high and views the big picture. The other struts around on the ground looking for a fight.

Each of us has the potential to embody the qualities of an evolved rooster or a base rooster, and I’m betting that we’re going to lean more toward evolution this year. It’s time to wake up.

One thought on “Cock-a-doodle-doo: Time to Wake Up

  1. I love the two paths for the year: evolution when you have a chance to spread the light & lead; and basic fight for survival & for important personal values.

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