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winter forest sky

Walking in Seward Park you can smell the burgeoning fertility of the earth. The ground is wet and springy silencing your steps so you can hear the bossy blue jay in the distance. The fog makes sounds carry strangely so that it’s not clear where they are coming from or how far away they are. The fog has been thick enough that other walkers, the sound of their steps muffled and misdirected, seem to appear suddenly out of the mist.

All of this reminds me that we are at the energetic low of the year. This is the time when we are most open to and influenced by yin energy. The hours and days are haunted by memories, roads taken and not taken, those who have gone before us, and a sense of something just slightly out of range of your five senses.* The effect of this energy will be stronger for those who have Ox in their chart, especially if it’s in the day pillar.

morning crows 2

January carries with it the yin earth energy of the Ox branch. The location of the Ox branch on the compass is northeast. The Ox branch is also known as the Ghost Gate and some would avoid living in a house that faces northeast by reasoning it is more likely to be haunted. January or Ox month is the most yin time of the year; the interval right before the tide turns from ebb to flow so to speak.

For purposes of feng shui and Chinese astrology, the first month of the new year of the Wood Sheep arrives at the beginning of the Earth Tiger month which begins on February 4th. If you know how to keep track, you will realize this means we have already passed through the month of the Fire Rat (December 7th 2014-January 4th 2015) and are coming up on the end of the Fire Ox month (January 5-February 3). The elements in the month stem run in a productive cycle, so earth naturally comes after fire.

Some feng shui people say that the fire in these last two months of the Wood Horse year has extended the fiery energy of 2014. Others mark the shift in energy somewhere back in December. Some mark the year change by the Lunar New Year which is on February 19th in 2015. I think all three must be taken into account. If there’s nothing else I’ve learned from studying Chinese metaphysics it is that although we can identify patterns in time, time itself is a slippery concept. Think of analyzing new patterns found within familiar patterns if that helps. There are really big time cycles such as evolution, and then there are small ones such as minutes and seconds.

In the Garden


It’s somewhere around 60° F in Seattle as I write this. It’s been a dream winter for gardeners where the blooms never seem to end. The air is fragrant with the tiny flowers of daphne and sarcococca, robins are feasting on a bumper crop of juniper berries, hummingbirds are right outside my window and bees are buzzing around the rosemary. The always reliable Helleborus orientalis “Mardi Gras” double is loaded with buds.

helleborus orientalis mardi gras double

helleborus orientalis mardi gras double 3

Daphne odora “Zuiko Nishiki” will be next to scent the air now that the Daphne bholua is peaking.

daphne zuiko nishiki

I’m wondering now if my Camellia sasanqua “Yuletide” could really keep blooming well into February, even though it started blooming somewhere back in November.

camellia sasanqua yuletide 2

camellia sasanqua yuleide

All of the flowering quinces are getting an early start this year with Chaenomeles x Hollandia in the lead as usual.

chaenomeles x hollandia

January 2015 in Seattle has been foggy, smelly, warm, icy, sunny, rainy and windy. We’re getting a full range of seasons in one month it seems. Time is slippery.

*Although it is not exactly what I’m describing, a similar phenomenon is described in the works of Stephen King. See “thinny“.

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