The Significance of the Chinese Zodiac
This year, the year of the Dragon, is one of the most desired Chinese zodiac signs. Dragons are believed to be powerful, confident and talented.
In the west, there are astrological associations with personality types as well, matched to a cycle of one year rather than revolutions of twelve. Correlation with a constellation or animal’s personality is not meant to be esoteric or magical. It is simply the astute recognition of relationships between human and nature. Depending on what zodiac year or constellation you were born into both systems recognize underlying tendencies which reflect the year of your birth, the season, and influence of the moon and stars. Whatever relevance you feel the zodiac plays in your life, the point of knowing astrological correlations was not designed as blind doctrine in either east or the west. A sign neither defines one’s qualities nor excuses one’s behaviour, but rather, informs what we may need to temper or awaken in ourselves to cultivate our greatest health and balance. Zodiac correlations could thus be considered a mirror to inspect one’s strengths, weaknesses and propensities. A zodiac sign with predilection to stubbornness or jealously, for example, encourages one to be aware of and manage the tendency rather than give in to it as if preordained. A zodiac sign encourages us to ‘tune our instruments’, make conscious choices and observe our actions.
While on the surface the Chinese zodiac is a correlation with the personality traits of an animal, in actuality, it is a method to mark the cycles of nature in small and large revolutions. This reminds us that the timing of our choices and actions lends to luck or misfortune, encouraging us to be conscious of the changes inside and outside of us to live each cycle in harmony.
The ancient Chinese were constantly searching for patterns and repetitions to understand the world around them and predict and prepare for coming years. Calendaring the movements of sun, moon, and stars was one of the highest mandates in ancient China. Through incredible observation, they recognized patterns in the sun and moon, the stars and seasons, and repetition in a 12 year cycle. Thus, the zodiac has 12 animals. The ancients noted recurrent changes through 5 cycles of 12 years, as well as 10 revolutions of 12. Thus, to achieve the greatest longevity is to cultivate balance within oneself, to live through 10 cycles of 12 and achieve the ripe age of 120!
Changes for us in 2024
As Andrew and I personally look at whether we are making the choices to age ‘successfully’ in our 5th cycle of 12, we recognize the important balance between self cultivation and our clinic’s not for profit mission to pass on the medicine we learned from our teachers. We thus gently begin to shift away from teaching to large groups around the world, and focus on deeply training select individuals at our clinic in Asheville.
2024 is our first year to welcome long-term residents, and are excited to introduce Loren Stiteler and Tonia Scharpantgen. Both have trained with us for many years, and were selected for an in-depth year long mentorship program. Their mission is not just to learn from us, but to take exceptional medicine back to their home clinics and become the next generation of scholar-practitioners. We are excited to have them with us as they give back to our community through practice sessions and increased availability for wellness treatments. We hope you will support their development by booking treatments, giving feedback and helping them hone skills. This, we feel, is the capstone to our mission to continue our teacher’s legacy of great medicine.
Foot Massages Now Available!
With Tonia and Loren on board, I am ecstatic to announce we now have foot massages available. If you haven’t experienced a Chinese foot massage, please treat yourself to this fantastic service! Foot massage is truly what I miss the most since returning from China. Andrew and I, with our children Ian and Niame (28 and 25 years old this year), enjoyed foot massages every week when we lived in Beijing, admittedly a much more affordable treatment compared to massage in the west. In China, rows of reclining armchairs in large open rooms allow business men and groups of friends to relax and chat away over a cup of tea. Foot massage is not only common for all walks of life, it is a crucial component of successful business deals! As a culture that recognizes the importance of longevity, Chinese foot massage utilizes bodywork and pressing points on the feet to relax feet and legs, improve circulation, stimulate internal organs and enhance the immune system.
While our clinic cannot re-create the vibrant social experience of a foot massage in China, it is the wellness treatment I am most excited to offer. I will be receiving a foot massage as often as I can, and hope to reverse some of the aging my body is humbly revealing!
As New Year holidays, east and west, encourage us to demarcate a moment of time, it is a wonderful excuse to reflect, and return to being conscious of our actions and our choices. If each day is deemed anew, we have each new day to enjoy as the gift it is. I wish all of you a wonderful year to come.
JulieAnn, Asheville February 2024