2023 - Year of the Water Rabbit
Author: Wendy S. Goldman, L.Ac.
Happy New Year!
2023 is the Year of the Yin Water Rabbit, following the Yang Water Tiger Year in 2022. The energy of the two years is in some ways similar, and in some ways opposite. Both years share the energy of Water and Wood.
The biggest difference is that last year was a Yang year and this year is a Yin year. Yin and Yang are opposites, and we really see the difference in these two years. Look at the contrast between the two animals representing the energy of Wood: the Tiger and the Rabbit. They’re pretty extreme opposites. One is a top of the food chain aggressive predator, and the other is a shy prey animal. That’s a pretty extreme contrast.
Let’s start by looking at the nature of these two animals to give us a sense of the year to come.
Tigers are fast and aggressive when they have bursts of energy and are not sleeping. Interestingly, Rabbits also tend to sleep and sit still a lot, and also have bursts of energy. Because they are prey animals, rabbits can move fast when they need to, but they don’t do it too much because that attracts the attention of potential predators.
I have good friends with a pet rabbit, and have had lots of opportunities to observe its behavior. Observing animals and their behavior is the best way to learn about their nature and thus learn about the nature of the animal energy of the year.
Rabbits are very sweet, gentle animals; the opposite of Tigers. So that’s our first clue about the energy of 2023. Being prey animals, they also tend to hide, and stay very quiet and calm. But they can also get nervous very quickly. Think about it: rabbits are prey for land hunters and large birds, so they’re vulnerable from land and air. That’s why they can get nervous easily and tend to stay quiet and hide.
So, does that mean you need to hide in 2023? No! We’re analyzing the nature of the animal to understand the nature of the year’s energy. The main characteristics are quiet, calm, and gentle. After the craziness of the last three years, that’ll be a welcome change!
It will be a good year to get some quiet and gentleness back in our lives. To stay in harmony with the Qi of the year, make sure to take time to be quiet and get and/or keep your life in balance.
After all the negative emotions of the last few years, it looks like 2023 will be a year where finally people may become kinder and gentler with each other. Gentleness is one of the main characteristics of Rabbits. Focus on being kind and gentle with others and it will probably be rewarded.
One could also say that Rabbits are productive, since they’re known for producing large litters quickly - you know the saying about “breeding like rabbits”? That means they’re producing, so it should be a very productive year!
Lunar New Year 2023 arrives on January 22nd and brings us the Year of the Yin Water Rabbit. You may also see it referred to as the Black Rabbit, since black is the color of Water.
Let’s dive in and analyze on a deeper level.
According to Chinese philosophy, we have the concepts of Yin and Yang, and Heaven, Earth and Humanity. The way these elements combine determines the energy for the year.
Every year is either Yin or Yang, plus the energy of Heaven and the energy of Earth. We’re the Humanity that lives between Heaven and Earth.
Heaven and Earth
Yin and Yang alternate, so there will never be two Yin or two Yang years in a row.
Last year was a Yang Water year, so we know 2023 must be a Yin year. There can, however, be the same elements two years in a row because of the cyclical nature of the Stems and Branches. Because there are 10 Heavenly Stems and 12 Earthly Branches they don’t usually match up, but they do for 2022 and 2023.
As it happens, this year we have the same Heaven and Earth energies as last year: Water and Wood.
The Heaven energy is Water. In the Chinese Zodiac, which represents the 12 Earthly Branches, or the Earth Energy, the Rabbit follows the Tiger, and represents Yin Wood.
Combined, that gives us the Yin Water Rabbit.
The Heavenly Stem this year is Water, and the Earthly Branch is the Rabbit, which represents the Wood element. Notice that there are two animals for Wood, the Tiger and the Rabbit, which represent the Yang and Yin aspects of the Wood Earthly Branch energy.
In the cosmology of “Heaven, Earth and Humanity," we the people, being “Humanity,” live in between Heaven and Earth, and are affected by their energies and the energy of the year.
Parents and Children
Let’s first consider the relationship between the Heaven and Earth energies of Water and Wood. According to the Yi Jing (AKA the I Ching or Book of Changes), Yang gives birth to Yin, meaning Heaven gives birth to Earth. This year, the Heaven energy is Water and the Earth energy is Wood.
In the five Elements creation/production cycle, Water gives birth to Wood, or is the parent of Wood. Since our elements in 2023 are Water and Wood, we have a parent-child relationship, which is the natural and harmonious flow of Qi.
The parent “gives birth to” and supports the child. This is the natural relationship between the elements and there is no conflict between them.
We have the correct order of flow between Heaven and Earth, and within the Five Elements cycle, with no conflicts or counter-flow between them. This is harmonious.
What Does This Mean?
Since Heaven is “above us” (the sky and heavens are up above us), it relates to things and/or people “above” us, or that have power over us. This can mean parents, bosses or entities such as the government that generally have some sort of power or control over us.
The last few years have not been harmonious, but 2023 bodes well for improved relationships between those “above” us and those “below.” The natural flow of energy in the relationship between these two elements means there should be more support from those above to those below, just like a parent supports a child.
In 2023, we should expect more gentle support and the “parents and children” getting along well. Since the nature of the Rabbit is shy and gentle, we can hope for less aggressive relationships between governments and citizens, employers and employees, and parents and children.
Tigers are big, bad and proud apex predators that may huff and puff about how big and bad they are. We should see a different attitude this year. This year we should see more of an attitude like “I’m a soft cuddly Rabbit, aren’t I nice? Please don’t eat me.” Taking that approach with people will serve much better overall this year. That's not to say you need to act scared or like prey. It just means that a gentle approach should work better this year than huffing and puffing and roaring.
Nature of the Elements
The Nature of Wood / Rabbit
The Rabbit should be quiet for the most part. Make sure to take time to be at peace and keep life in balance, and advise your patients to do the same.
Next, let’s consider the nature of the Yin Wood element represented by the Rabbit. Yin Wood is like flowers, bushes, grass and small trees or bamboo. They’re flexible, yielding and bending, unlike Yang Wood which represents big, sturdy, unbending trees.
Yin plants are calm unless something external affects them, like a storm. Because they’re Yin Wood, they can be flexible and not break under pressure. Be flexible and be prepared for changes and new opportunities.
Between the calming influence of the Rabbit and its Yin Wood nature, overall, it should be a quiet, productive year. But Rabbits, being prey, can be startled easily and run to hide. Remember to be flexible. Any startling events shouldn’t be too bad because there is so much harmonious energy this year.
Nature of Water
The Water energy in 2023 is Yin water. The nature of Water is cold, and also represents actual water. In the case of Yin Water, it represents clouds, dew and mist, rather than bodies of water like oceans, rivers, etc.
When we look at the Water and Wood together, because of the harmonious parent-child relationship, they should get along well.
Water gives birth to Wood. We water plants to feed and nourish them so they’ll grow. Wood needs Water to grow and thrive. This is harmonious.
Wood also is the start of Spring and the beginning of the new year’s energy cycle. This year will be a good year to start new things, so if you’re thinking of beginning a project or business, or planting a garden, this is a good year to do it. There is good support for them to grow and thrive.
Whereas the Tiger was good for big, audacious goals, the Rabbit nature favors smaller projects that can be incubated and completed quickly, like rabbits having fast, frequent litters of babies.
That doesn’t mean avoiding big projects or goals. Break them down into small manageable steps this year.
Wood also represents kindness, compassion, healing, and medicine. The Rabbit nature favors gentle medicine like herbal medicine, rather than the dramatics of the Tiger. It should be a good year for businesses in these industries, and any other industry related to wood or working with wood, trees, and/or plants, like food or farming.
Water industries like plumbing and shipping should be strong, although there could be problems from storms. If they are affected by storms, it will be milder than last year.
Metal is again the weakest element this year, so industries associated with metal, metal-working, and/or that use metal may suffer. Metal is also associated with truth and justice, so it may not be a good year for progress in those areas. That doesn’t mean we won’t see any truth or justice, just that they’ll have a harder time this year because the element is weak.
According to the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen, the atmospheric nature of Wood is wind. The Earth element is in charge of clouds and rain. But because Yin Water is more like clouds, mist and dew, the weather will be more like an Earth year, even though Water’s nature is cold. It may or may not be in the form of rain. More likely we’ll have mist, fog and humidity, with cold and wind.
Expect temperatures to be on the cool side all year, and very cold in winter.
There is potential for big winter storms, because the Water element is cold and associated with winter. Tornadoes could also be frequent because of the wind, and because it’s a Yin year, they should be less severe than last year.
Storms like hurricanes and typhoons that combine wind and water could be particularly damaging. But overall, they should be less damaging than last year because of the milder Yin nature of the Rabbit.
Spring is associated with the Wood element and wind, so there could also be bad storms involving wind, or damage from wind, without the water involved. Again, these should be milder due to the Yin nature of the year.
Caveat: Global warming has noticeably affected the weather the last several years. We see the effects of this as unseasonal weather that is out of character for the year.
However, the predictions are still fairly accurate overall so we can use them as guide. This is what the weather should be like in general, but any excessive weather that is out of character like severe hurricanes or very hot weather can be attributed to global warming, rather than the energy of the year.
According to the Su Wen, Wood’s negative state of mind is anger, and Water’s is fear. People with Liver and Kidney excesses may be more prone to these emotions, while those with deficiencies in these organs should benefit.
However, since it’s a Yin year, the negative emotions should be more benign, and we should see less extreme anger and fear than the last several years.
Water (fear) gives birth to Wood (anger). We may see some anger this year, especially if people are scared. Rabbits are timid creatures and if scared will sit very still or run and hide. They will bite, but it takes a lot to get them this upset. Any anger we do see should be short and fairly mild due to the Yin year and the nature of the Rabbit.
It’s unlikely to be a violent year overall, since Metal, which is associated with violence, is weak this year.
Wood’s nature is wind. Wind represents change, because wind is always moving and never stays in one place. Unlike the big changes we saw last year (e.g., post-pandemic opening, many lifestyle aspects changed), the changes should be more subtle. Since it’s a Rabbit year, we could hop from one small change to another, rather than the dramatic Yang changes of last year.
Wood’s positive mental state is kindness and compassion, and Water’s is wisdom. I’m not sure how much of that we saw last year, but we should continue in the same direction this year.
Rabbits are still and quiet a lot of their time. Continue practices like meditation, Qigong, Yoga, etc., that help calm the mind and develop stillness, compassion and wisdom.
If you teach any of these disciplines, it’s a good year to share them and help others. There is strong support for these practices again this year.
The strongest organs this year will be the Liver (Wood) and Kidneys (Water). Those prone to excess in these organs could have problems, especially when Wind and/or Cold are part of the pathology.
There is the possibility of strokes and conditions associated with Liver Wind this year, especially in people with excess Liver conditions. Be cautious with those patients who tend to have a lot of anger, because this could be a more dangerous year for them. These people will need calming and relaxing herbs and treatments.
According to the Su Wen, the Wood element is associated with falling down; like a tree might fall. So, people whose balance is not good should be extra careful. The strong Water energy this year should help those with weak bones (Kidneys), but they should still be careful to avoid falling.
People with Yang deficiencies and/or cold in the body will need warming herbs this year, and we may also see more Bi syndromes and joint problems due to Wind, Cold, and/or Damp.
There may also be problems with Dampness due to the Yin Water nature of mist and dew. This should benefit people with problems due to Dryness. It could be a problem though, for those with Dampness, especially combined with Wind and or Cold. This refers to dampness in general, including, but not necessarily Bi Syndromes. Any organs affected by the dampness and/or cold could be affected.
We shouldn’t see damp-heat because of the cold nature of the year. For those with pre-existing damp-heat, the dampness could be worse, but the heat may be less severe.
The weakest organ this year will be the Lungs (Metal) because both Water and Wood weaken the Metal element. Those with weak Lungs will continue to benefit from Lung tonic herbs.
It’s a Water year, so we should see more patterns featuring Cold rather than Dampness because the Earth element, associated with Dampness, is weak. But due to the nature of Yin Water, we’re likely to see external Wind-Cold attacks with Dampness and coughing.
Cold should be the bigger issue. The dampness is potentially an issue because it’s a Yin Water year. We would see dampness, rather than dryness, because of the Water energy. Remember, Water’s nature is cold, but because it also refers to water in the form of clouds and mist, there is the possibility of dampness.
The Earth element is weak this year because both Water and Wood weaken Earth. The Earth organs may need some support, especially in people with weak digestion and improper diet. Counseling patients about correct diet is important, as well as strengthening Spleen, Stomach and digestion.
The Heart/ Small Intestine (Fire organs) are fairly neutral this year, so we shouldn’t see anything out of the ordinary with those organs.
The Yin Wood Rabbit is much gentler than the dramatics of the Tiger, so focus on balance and maintaining health. It will be a good year to help patients focus on gentle health maintenance.
In general, it looks like we’ve got an even better year ahead and may start to see more positive changes happen.
The advantage of forecasts is to know what to expect and how to prepare ourselves and our patients each year, so we can stay in harmony with the year and avoid problems.
Note, because it’s a big misconception: if you were born in a Rabbit year, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good year for you. Or a bad one. How the energy of the year affects each individual depends on their Ba Zi /Chinese Astrology chart. Most years for most people are a mixed bag.
The universal energies of Heaven and Earth affect us all. We can change the world for the better by creating positive change in our little corner of the world and then it ripples outward. We can all help by being sources of wisdom, kindness, gentleness and compassion in the world. There is great support from the universe for it this year.
I wish you good health, long life, peace, prosperity and happiness.
| Bio: Wendy S. Goldman, L.Ac.
Wendy has been in private practice in San Diego for over 20 years. She is also a 14th generation Master in the 800-year old of Emei Qigong lineage. Wendy can be reached at info@GoldmanWellnessCenter.com