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February 12, 2024

Year of the Wood Dragon: Astrology as a Cultural Medicine

Chinese dragon statue outside, lanterns hanging in the background
The Lunar New Year is upon us. Starting February 10th people in China, Tibet, Mongolia, Vietnam, Korea – and across diasporic communities – gather to eat, gift, and set the stage for the oncoming cycle in community. This is a time to call in prosperity, abundance, and good health under a shared new moon.

Our oncoming year is the year of the Wood Dragon, which happens once every 60 years. There are 12 zodiac animals and 5 elements that layer over each other to produce 60 unique combinations of energetic predisposition. This year carries affiliation of yang, toward processing our anger, healing the liver, and the color green.

As held in ancient myth, the twelve animals and their order in the Zodiac were set by a race called for by the Jade Emperor. The elemental order follows the generating cycle of Chinese philosophy, which characterizes a cycle of nourishment through evolving elemental stages. Wood feeds Fire, Fire enriches Earth, Earth forms Metal (Mineral), Metal (Mineral) enforces Water. Each element gets two years in a row to honor the transitional rising of yang and subduing of yin.

bronze landscape, dragon above clouds and mountians


Dragons are the only mythologic creature to appear in the Chinese zodiac. They are an auspicious symbol through many Asian cultures associated with honor, success, and ambition. Their luck carries the new year with a ruthlessness towards growth and creative innovation. Through this cycle, hold your visions and dreams with high esteem. The spiritual connection of the Dragon cradles the world building of revolutionary motion, and the depth of our capacities to break down and break through. May we all fly free, unbound, and borderless, like the proud dragon.

Yang solidifies the strength and power of this Dragon year as a momentum builder. New beginnings progress with the dragon’s type-cast charismatic invitation and develop with a mighty courage. As shifts happen, build favor within your chances by grounding enthusiasm with strategy. This directive is a tool of more refined agency. The discernment towards skill, craft, and tact will accentuate harvest yields later. May we show care to our resourcefulness, and bear humble witness to eachother’s learning of evolution.

Moving out of two water years – Tiger and Rabbit – and into two wood years – Dragon and Snake – is a prepared maturation. From the slow paced emotional tuning, we’ve kindled an eager readiness to surges of more qualified generation.

The Wood element harmonizes yang energetics by bringing in the support necessary to fulfill desired growth. This helps our momentum continue, paced out naturally amidst our environmental partners. Our actions, our people and our lands are share responsibility for our vital qi. Wood potentiates expression and expansion. With flexibility and cooperation we can give generously to our communities as solidarity efforts build urgency, potency, and preparedness. May we give thanks to the cultural and ecosystemic bridges that ensure our growth and resilience.

With the wood elemental association, our corresponding organs are the Liver and Gallbladder. Take as an this invitation to support any existing deficiencies within these organs. For this year, minimizing stressors and harboring confidence and competency through strain will bring ease to the Earth element. Processing though anger or fear to better decision making. Learn with what has stagnated your qi and begin this new year with an unstifled spirit. May we rise form roots of rest and clarity.

feng shui compass


The drive for auspicious beginnings leads to many families eating symbolic foods like “long life” noodles, sticky rice balls (for family unity), and classically mandarin oranges – homonymic to good luck in Mandarin (“ju”) and to gold in Cantonese (“gan”). Care in Chinese cultural practices plays out in these home rituals and public performances – like the well-known lion dance or the lighting of fire crackers to ward off unlucky folkloric spirits. Customs like avoiding cutting one’s hair, sweeping your home, or taking out rubbish through the New Year’s threshold work to retain the good spirit embedded in the turning of season.

The symbolic reverence around participating this way reflects generations of systematized feng shui practice – “energy work” to navigate health and balance amongst our surrounding environments. However deep you may hold this fortune-telling, superstition, advanced reading of fatedness, prophecies of yin and yang finding balancing through inter-transformation echo through the logic of Chinese society.

Beyond the totemized associations this astrology acts as a cultural medicine, distilling protocols for responsible living alive in the same framework as clinical Chinese medicine. Through TCM we philosophize care and navigate the illness-wellness spectrum through a web of interconnected stimuli. Just as our physical bodies are impacted by climactic factors – pollution, darkness, heat – observations of the Tao meaningfully connect the design of our spaces, extending to cycles of the sky, with our quality and condition, inclusive of spiritual and emotional development. To impart this wisdom is to extend a profound responsibility on our interconnectedness.

stone dragon fence posts with sun rising in the distance

About the Author

Wana holding a potted squash

Wana is a second year master’s student at AIMC with groundwork practice in reproductive and public health. They connect to East Asian Medicine through an ancestral root, and believe that land-based indigenous medicines deserve the privilege to supplement or substitute western care practices as conduits of more intimate contemporary healing.

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