2024: Year of the Yang Wood Dragon
Forward momentum, new beginnings & taking action
As we all turn a new leaf and venture into the new Lunar Year, many of you might be wondering what is in store for this chapter of our lives. What should we expect in the year of the Dragon? How does this relate to health? There are many frameworks for understanding the world around us and one such idea, is that of Chinese cosmology; dating back to ancient China. Interestingly, it is interlinked with some of the key theories that Chinese Medicine draws from as well. Perhaps you already know, or would be interested to know that Yin-Yang theory, as well as the Five-Element theory are quintessential understandings within the Chinese Medicine modality. When it comes to the ticking over of the new Lunar Year on the tenth of February 2024, it is an exciting time with much to be discussed; especially in regards to health and wellbeing.
The year of the Dragon– in Chinese cosmology there are 12 animals all arranged in a cyclical fashion. Years of our birth are associated with an animal which informs certain personality traits, strengths and challenges. This year is the year of the earth dragon. Dragons are auspicious in Chinese culture and carry with them a great amount of luck. They are trustworthy, reliable and have a grounded approach to life. Dragons symbolise transformation, beginnings, optimism, creativity, adventure and challenges. The dragon gifts us with a makeover that shifts our being ‘like a revolutionary power about to change the entire world.’ (Wu and Wu 2014, p.122).
The year of the Wood Element– The wood element in Chinese Medicine is associated with springtime and is represented in the body by two organs. The liver (yin) and the gallbladder (yang). The wood element is a magnificent planner and has excellent foresight into the future; able to make decisions clearly and practical plans for moving forward. The wood element is strongly motivated and driven especially by ethics and justice. Quick and ambitious movement could potentially bring about impatience at times. For some, there may also be the challenge of timidity and powerlessness.
A Yang Year– 2024 is marked by yang energy. When combined with both the dragon and the wood element, it can be interpreted as extremely yang. Yang is expansive, growing, moving, warm, light and moves upwards. This year is particularly important for momentum and action. If you’ve been waiting for the right time to do something or take action on something- this is absolutely the moment.
Yang-Wood-Dragon & Health
The liver plays the imperative role of ensuring the smooth flow of qi throughout the body. All of the organs in our body rely on the liver supporting the correct qi dynamic. One example is the flow of the qi though the stomach, which is downwards in direction. If the qi dynamic is disturbed by the liver qi becoming stuck, the qi would inevitably move upwards causing symptoms such as nausea or reflux. In Chinese Medicine, we know when the liver qi becomes stuck, because is causes a pattern of symptoms. Some of these include (but not limited to) sighing frequently, frustration, reflux, headaches, frustration, painful periods (especially in the lead up to the period), waking up between 1am-3am and problems with digestion. Our body is truly extraordinary and these symptoms can be thought of as sign posts, alerting us to pay attention so that we can make changes to optimise our health.
Emotionally, it is important that we are able to accept ourselves fully this year. As the dragon has just been born (imagine a baby dragon), the start of the year is marked with play, creativity and learning. As the dragon matures throughout the year, we gain the ability to put our goals into action. With the high volume of yang and wood energy during the year, it is essential that we consider what is truly important to us and direct our energy into our goals with care and consistency. Starting too many new things at once and too early can result in a burning up of energy, leaving us exhausted as the year progresses. In Chinese Medicine we often discuss the concepts of feeding the soil, nourishing the roots and preserving the yin. This helps us nourish our mind and spirit, laying down the foundations for expansion and helping us blossom with our endeavours later in the year. Given this year is fueled by the wood element, there is the potential that we can become ‘stuck’ at times. This may lead to frustration, anger or potentially even outbursts of emotion as we suddenly release our qi. Be mindful of moments marked by a feeling of being ‘bogged down’ or ‘stuck in mud’ with no way out and difficulty with future planning. From an emotional perspective, the yang is associated with the father figure; who plays an important role when it comes to encouragement and instilling belief to present ourselves to the world with confidence.
In the spirit of a year marked with so much action and doing, perhaps you might consider some of the practices below to help guide & keep the qi free flowing:
1). Plenty of root vegetables to nourish the earth and greens to support the liver.
2). Consistency with timing of meals. The liver loves regularity.
3). Regular exercise- this helps us to keep qi moving and stay inspired rather than overwhelmed and bogged down. Make achievable and realistic goals.
4). Spend time in nature.
5). Consider incorporating sour flavours due to its properties of helping the qi move and help us calm our minds when stressed or irritated.
6). Sit with emotions and let them pass through. Harness the nature of this fast-moving, yang orientated year and know that whatever you are feeling will come and go. Close chapters that aren’t serving you and keep moving forward.
7). Have confidence that the decisions you make for yourself this year are good ones, as the dragon has the ability to lay out all the options and choose the right one at the right time.
8). Consider incorporating creativity to help you to keep your qi flowing this year.
I invite you all to welcome yourself to the year of the Yang-Wood-Dragon. Together we will be learning, growing and evolving; propelled along by the momentum of mother earth. I for one am feeling very inspired about the year to come and have been feeling the energy of the Yang-Wood-Dragon building over the last few months. If you have any reflections or goals, I would absolutely love to hear from you. With gratitude and thanks to the writings offered by Sonya Tan & CT Holman, for the preparation of this piece.
Chinese Medicine Practitioner- Cocoon Acupuncture
Wu, Master Z. and Wu, K. (2014) Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches Tian Gan Di Zhi, The Heart of Chinese Wisdom Traditions. London: Singing Dragon
Holman, CT. (2024). The Academy of Integrative Medicine. The Yang Wood Dragon 2024: A Forecast. TCM Academy
Tan, S. (2024). 2024 – Jiǎ Chén 甲 辰 Wood Dragon Chinese Astrology Outlook Musings. Eastern Currents