Just say baa! Today (Feb. 18, 2015) kicks off the Year of the Sheep (or Goat) in Chinese astrology. Bid adieu to the prancing, pompous Horse and all its 2014 fanfare. Instead of galloping hooves and in-your-face flair, we have the contemplative and indirect Sheep ruling the cosmic vibes.
New to Chinese astrology? Here's the bottom line: In addition to your Western-based Sun sign, you also have a Chinese astrology sign. Based on a completely different system (which includes lunar calculations), the Chinese astrological calendar changes annually each January/February at the Aquarius new moon.
This is also the second Aquarius new moon in a row this year (the first, a supermoon, was on Jan. 20). Normally there is only one new moon per zodiac sign each year, so dial back a month to see what seeds you may have planted then. You could experience a second round of developments as those seeds begin to bear fruit.
In Chinese astrology, the year of your birth can tell you a lot about your personality, interests and life path.
The last Sheep Year was in 2003, so look back to that time for clues — you may see some recurring themes in your life. Meantime, here are eight ways to make the most of this new lunar year:
1. Watch for passive-aggressiveness.
The Sheep can be a "woolly bully," dominating others with mood swings and brooding. It's associated with the Western sign of Cancer, which also exhibits these traits. Take extra pains to say what you mean and mean what you say, but still approach everything with kindness.
2. Nurture a creative talent.
The Sheep Year can be a richly artistic time. If you can't beat the overall sensitive mood, roll with it. Dive into your imagination and dreamy inner landscape. See what kind of gorgeous creations come of it. Pick up Julia Cameron's self-study guide, The Artist's Way (or join a creative workshop) to get the ball rolling. Or, try journaling or even photography to let your right brain lead the way.
3. Healer, heal thyself.
Got baaaaaaggage? (Sorry, couldn't resist another Sheep pun!) The Sheep Year can foster emotional and spiritual breakthroughs. While your emotions are this raw, you might as well examine and process them.
4. Don't be afraid to take risks.
Superstitious lore in China, which is taken rather seriously there, considers this an "unlucky" year. Legend has it that Sheep are unlucky in business, marriage and love. Yikes!
Perhaps a more refined interpretation is that Sheep are incredibly sensitive, not steeped in the same material-world concerns as others. And when they follow that dreamy instinct, they can be pretty damn successful. After all, both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were born in Sheep Years, and well, they both did OK financially, didn't they?
5. Hire an agent.
Another superstition is that Sheep are self-sabotaging, failing to protect themselves properly in business. So if during the Year of the Sheep, you feel overwhelmed by legal or professional regulations, team up with a pro to represent you.
6. Kick an addiction for good.
Escapism falls under the Sheep's traits, and at the far end of the spectrum, this zodiac sign CAN be prone to addiction. (Kurt Cobain and Whitney Houston were both born under the Sheep sign.) If you self-soothe through an unhealthy vice or dependency, the Sheep Year is a good time to seek treatment.
7. Find your flock.
As Mother Teresa said, "The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved."
While Sheep have earned a negative reputation as followers, let's question this. Human beings have a basic drive to belong. No, we shouldn't mindlessly conform to the status quo. But our culture of rugged individualism has also maligned the basic human need to commune. In the Sheep Year, indulge in the urge to rub woolly shoulders with like-minded peeps.
8. Do … nothing. Seriously.
Laziness — another big no-no in our uber-productive world — might be underrated, too. If you've gotten caught in the overscheduled, success-driven trap, it might be time to scale back.
Doing "nothing" (meditating, getting proper sleep, resetting, etc.) can actually create more positive results than being on the non-stop treadmill of life.