Friday, January 27, 2017

Chinese New Year, 2017

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

This January New Moon marks the beginning of Chinese New Year, which this year is the Year of the  (the rooster or chicken-fowl in general, the tenth animal in the Chinese zodiac).

The observance of traditions tied to the cycles of the heavens and the alignment of our "motions" here on earth with the motions of the sun, moon, stars and planets is a way of acknowledging our connection with the cosmos around us and the truth of the dictum, "As above, so below."

And, because the heavens above (and the motions of the sun, moon, stars and planets) function as an analogue for the Invisible or Infinite Realm in virtually all of the ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories found in virtually every culture on our planet, the observance of traditions tied to the cycles of the heavens and the alignment of our motions here below with those cycles is a way of acknowledging our connection with -- and dependence upon -- that Invisible or Infinite Realm.

In fact, the ancient myths can be seen to teach very clearly that everything in the material realm originates and flows from the Invisible Realm, the realm of the gods -- and that when we forget that fact or invert that order, disaster always ensues.

As I have written in previous posts, the Lakota holy man Black Elk, who grew up in a culture that was still connected with and patterned upon the ancient wisdom given to his people (before it was violently disrupted), explained that the immaterial realm was in fact "the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world."

Hence, not only does Chinese New Year traditionally mark a tremendous movement of people returning to their family home to celebrate with relatives, it also has strong traditions associated with good fortune, with activities and symbols designed to invite good fortune, and with burning incense to honor one's ancestors.

This article describing some traditions associated with Chinese New Year even notes that it is considered inauspicious to cut one's hair during the fifteen days which begin at the lunar New Year (New Moon), or even for the entire month (just in case), which implies some perceived connection between hair and the spirit world as well (discussed in some previous posts such as this one, and made fairly explicit in some ancient myths such as those surrounding Samson in the Hebrew Scriptures and Dionysos in ancient Greece, among others, possibly including Rapunzel as well).

The observance of Chinese New Year traditionally lasts for fifteen days, culminating in the Lantern Festival. The fact that it culminates in the Lantern Festival, which has numerous symbols and traditions connecting it with the Full Moon, shows that the fifteen-day period in this case is almost certainly lunar in nature. Fifteen days after a New Moon will bring us to the night of Full Moon. For some discussion of the significance of the Lantern Festival -- and for a famous and beautiful poem involving the Lantern Festival -- see this previous post.

I would like to wish all who are reading this blog a very happy, prosperous, and healthy New Year: the Year of the Rooster!