Among the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, the ox is probably the hardest working. Oxen are bred to put in day after day after day of manual labor – plowing, pulling carts, towing water, threshing grain, and more. Without the ox, countless humans would have died of starvation over the past few millennia. They have been incredible allies in human development.
What that means in Chinese astrology is that the coming year (beginning on February 11th) is one in which hard work, honesty, and discipline will be rewarded. Just think of a vast agricultural field – row after perfect row plowed in steady, unwavering lines. 2021 is a good year to emulate such a steady and methodical approach to life. In return, it’s said that we can expect a year that’s much more harmonious, calm, and predictable than 2020.
Given the ox’s power, stamina, and purpose, the year of the Metal Ox is also predicted to be one of reconstruction and order, when much of the conflict and confusion of the previous year can be healed. A strong, new foundation can be built. Work is required, and it may be harder work than we’re accustomed to. Also, like beasts of burden, we may feel the weight of our responsibilities more heavily than usual. However, we can rest assured that if we stay the course, it will pay off. Finances will return, family and social order will return, and like the ox, we’ll feel perpetually grounded in the solid earth beneath our feet.
It’s a great year to be organized and follow a consistent routine. One way is to commit to a structured practice for the work you need to do in your life. I recommend our Sacred Expansion course. Sacred expansion is an eight-week journey of personal growth that’s empowering, supportive, and filled with so much heart. During this course, you’ll receive a video lesson emailed every other day for eight weeks. Each lesson will be accompanied by reflective questions to journal, meditation practices or other exercises to help you clear baggage and tune into your inner compass. Having these instructions every other day allows you to turn this into a devotional practice. If you’ve had trouble creating discipline for yourself, this is a really helpful and pleasurable way to make space for it.
It’s hard work, and its also the best kind of work. Work that will transform you.
Some of my favorite words on work come from Kalil Gibran. I can barely decide which ones to share, but here are a few:
When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music . . . .
Always you have been told that work is a curse and labor a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of the earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.
So don’t be daunted by the promise of work ahead. We can do it and we’ll all be the better for it.
A last word from my friend Karim: another way to look at OX is that it represents hugs (O) and kisses (X), so let’s all intend to be sharing many of both with our friends, family, teachers, mail carriers, baristas, bus drivers, garbage collectors, etc., very soon.