The Year of the Fire Dog
One quarter of the world's population celebrates the Chinese New Year, a 60-year astrological cycle of animals and elements that represents the characteristics of each year.
Chinese astrology is composed of two cycles -- 12 annual animal cycles and five two-year element cycles. The 12 annual animals are Dog, Pig, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey and Rooster. The five element cycles, each lasting two years, are fire, earth, metal, water and wood.
On Feb. 4, 2006, the Year of the Wood Rooster ended and the Year of the Fire Dog was ushered in.
In Chinese astrology, the dog represents the principles of loyalty, faithfulness, honesty and unselfishness. The dog is very active and forever on guard to look after his property. He's appreciated by his superiors and by those under him because his priority is in the collective interests of all rather than his own.
A person born this year will be born in the Year of the Dog. More than any other animal in the Chinese zodiac, a dog-born person is always wondering what they are doing on earth and about the purpose of life.
Other dog-born people were born in 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982 and 1994. Included in this group are Albert Einstein (physicist), Benjamin Franklin (inventor), Vladimir Lenin (political leader), Robert Lewis Stevenson (writer), Sophia Loren (actress), Bridgitte Bardot (actress) and Elvis Presley (entertainer).
The Fire Dog is very socially conscious. There will be a strong focus on the injustices in the world in 2006. Public debate about national policy and international relations will be particularly prominent this year.
The last Year of the Fire Dog, a year of harmony and optimism, was 1946. It was the first year of peace and recovery after the end of World War II, the United Nations General Assembly had its first meeting, the Atomic Energy Commission was formed, and the first electronic computer was created in the USA.
Each Chinese New Year is accompanied by changes in the ancient Chinese philosophy of feng shui, the study of energy from Heaven and Earth that affects the lives of people. It deals with geographical features and a basic understanding of our relationship with nature so that people can live in harmony within their environment.
The feng shui energy patterns change from year to year. According to feng shui lore, the numbers 8 and 9 have prosperous energies in the Year of the Dog, while numbers 5 and 2 will be associated with illness.
If your front door is facing north, you will be blessed with a positive flow of success energy in 2006.
However, if your front door is facing the west or the southeast, you will need to take precautions. For example, all red, pink, yellow and purple items should be removed from the southeast sector of the house this year. To avoid conflict or loss of possessions, you should place a sheet of red paper in the center of the house.
Since my front door faces the north, I'm already in good shape for the Year of the Fire Dog. Plus, I don't even own anything that is red, pink, yellow or purple, except for a red toolbox and a purple sweatshirt, neither of which is stored in the southeast section of my abode. Unfortunately, I don't have a sheet of red paper to place in the center of my living quarters so I'll just have to deal with whatever conflict heads my way this year.
I also have a dog, a handy item to have in the Year of the Dog. I don't know if he's a Fire Dog or a Wood Dog or whatever. If I had to guess, I'd say he's a two-speed dog -- he's either going full blast or taking a nap. My dog has taught me many things, including persistence, courage and to turn around three times before lying down.
In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, it's the dog that guides souls on their journeys into the next world.
In this world, it's the dog that gives us everlasting love, devotion and protection.
The Year of the Fire Dog should be a very good year, unless you're a cat.
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Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels, which are available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at email@example.com.