31 Jan 2014
© Malvin Artley

Lunar New Year: 31 Jan 2014 5:38 am (CCT -8:00)

Li Ch'un (Start of the Chinese Solar Year): 4 Feb 2013 0:13 am (CCT -8:00)

The Horse in the Clouds - All things are possible under the Sun, and the Sun warms the hearts of your detractors. With sufficient and determined action all things can become realities. Wealth is achieved through hard work.

Wood: 4 - Inventive, very creative, very artistic
Fire: 3 - Active, stimulating
Earth: 0 - Too flexible, yielding
Metal: 3 - Sportive, astute
Water: 2 - Talkative, clear, bright
31 Jan (Nighttime):  Wrong starts bring with them a winding path.

Gong Hey Fat Choy, Everyone!

It takes a remarkable person to change the course of world events. To be first, to be daring, to have a superlative vision, and to have the energy needed to push changes through to their fulfillment—these are the marks of the noble and valiant Wood Horse, or ‘Horse in the Clouds’. The Horse is one of the most respected of the Chinese animal signs, notable for their persistence, strength, indomitable spirit and their ability to inspire others, rallying them to the Horse’s cause. Wood Horses are especially notable for their flair and bold expression in all types of media, especially in the visual arts. While other types of Horses are noted for their political and military abilities and persuasions, the Wood Horse changes the trends of the times through the media. They write large the stories that shape society’s perception. And of all the five types of Horses, the Wood Horse is in many ways the most beloved, because they have a way of touching the hearts of people that stirs one to action, inspires reflection and creates an impression that does not fade as does the passing fad or latest trend. The Wood Horse carves the paths that set the benchmarks toward which others aspire.

It has been quite a year, and so many things have taken place, often behind the scenes—what else would we expect from a Snake year?—that I have found it necessary to write this letter in two parts. In this first installment we will look at the general qualities of the Horse, and in the second, we will have a look at the year that was and the year to come, as well as a look at the list of accomplishments upon which we will build this year. The sixty year cycle of the Chinese zodiac appears to be particularly linked with social movements, and the sign of the year in which we are born makes a unique statement both about the society in which we live and to how we are linked to that society through the action of the other Pillars in our chart. Horse years mark high  points in the 60 year cycle, and thus times of shifting public awareness, as well the public display of what we have done in the years preceding. The Horse marks culminations. Before we get into what to expect from this year, it would pay us to get a feel for what the Horse represents. In considering the general qualities of the Horse, then, the following paragraphs will eventually appear in book form, and are representative of my observations of Horses through the years.


 “I think we’re going to the moon because it’s in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It’s by the nature of his deep inner soul... we’re required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream.”

“This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
“Yeah, I wasn’t chosen to be first. I was just chosen to command that flight. Circumstance put me in that particular role. That wasn’t planned by anyone.”

Neil Armstrong, Astonaut, Year Horse

There is something always strong and uncompromising about the Horse, wherever it is found in a chart. Usually possessed of a powerful persona, especially in the outer Pillars (Month and Year), the Horse is a natural leader and probably one of the expressive types for leadership material (at least on the face of things) in the Chinese zodiac. For all their presence and commanding qualities, the Horse is generally an affable soul, full of good fun and humor unless faced by a challenge, sociable, friendly and large-minded. They are naturals as organizers, especially female Horses, and one can always depend upon the Horse to see a project through to the end. They are independent and able to take the rein of situations and people in order to get things done. Horses are self-starters and you do not have to ask twice if they sense a good challenge and they know they are needed.
The Horse likes to range far and wide. They hate feeling restricted in any way and this is one of the keys to successful relations with Horses – treat them with an ‘open hand’. If you are in a group situation with a Horse you are in their element and they will be the first to step up if something is needed. If you are a strong persona yourself, expect the Horse to have a go at you—to challenge you in some way. It is likely to start off friendly enough, but the Horse is one of the signs that will not back down in a power play and they generally come out on top unless their opponent is a strong Ox type. The Ox will win by attrition in such a contest, generally speaking, or by their gift of careful, patient, methodical planning. (Oxen are great strategists. Barack Obama is an Ox by year.)

Horses do well in any sort of outdoor activity and the military and sports are their playground. The Horse is a team player and does especially well with people of their own gender. They are quite competitive, though with members of their own team or squad they will form lasting associations, alliances and many friendships. They are the ones one wants on the front line, as it were, spearheading an attack, business deal, sports strategy or organization. Leave them alone and they will produce works of greatness. Try to control them and they are a disaster waiting to happen, largely for the person trying to exert the control over the Horse.

At work the Horse is conscientious, independent, motivated and goal-oriented – an admirable sort of employee to have and a demanding, though fair, boss. Above all, though, the one thing a Horse must feel in order to succeed in any occupation is a sense of inspiration and movement forward, otherwise they will either leave or wither. The Horse suffers if there is nothing to inspire them. Fire, being its native Element, is an Element in constant motion and ‘moves upward’. As a result, the Horse is ‘upwardly mobile’. All spiritual pursuits also have a great appeal to the Horse’s nature, though it tends to come out mainly in being able to inspire people around them, but it also shows through in their art. The Horse can be deeply spiritual in their own way. The Horse makes a good chief executive and has produced many statesmen throughout the world as well as many US presidents. The Horse has also produced some despots, though not to the degree that some works on Chinese astrology might lead one to believe. I have not found dictators any more prevalent among Horses than I have with any other sign and, by Year, the sign that seems to produce the most of them is the Ox.

In love and family the male Horse holds to traditional and clearly defined gender roles - the woman’s place is the home as mother of his children and keeper of the house and the man is the breadwinner. The female Horse has other ideas, though. To the female Horse, gender roles and household chores are to be shared equally, with women getting equal remuneration and recognition to men. The male partner to a female Horse is often made to toe the line and is told, often in no uncertain terms, what the roles in the relationship are to be. For this reason, prospective in-laws of a potential Horse bride-to-be in China would warn the son away from such a match because she would tend to undermine the traditional male role in the house. Female Horses as partners are the epitome of the old statement ‘Behind every great man is a great woman’, and female Horses are champions of their gender. Horses can be very bossy, especially in the home.

Horse children are often born into family circumstances where a great deal of the cares of the world are removed from them. Horse style tends toward staying current with fashion trends but without making too much of a statement. The lines and colors lean toward the more conservative, though they can be bold if the Dragon or Monkey appears in one of the other Pillars. Horses are not slaves to fashion, though they will always put on a good presentation when stepping out. Around the home or with friends they will be much more casual. Children of Horse parents will be well-presented and well-mannered. Partners of Horses will, in some manner, bear the stamp of the Horse and female Horses especially  are known to ‘dress’ their partners. Horse homes tend to be spacious, either with large grounds or open plan. Horses need their space in the home, and they claim the home as their space. The garden will often be a feature and Horses like to get their hands dirty with gardening and work around the house, especially Wood and Earth Horses. There will always be some project on the go, either at home or at work. You can always tell when a Horse is unhappy or bored at work. They will make changes around the house.
Horses are basically conservative in their views, tending to the center/right politically. The same is true in their personal relations. It takes a Pillar like the Snake, Dragon or Monkey to take them out of their conservatism, although the Horse Pillar can produce enduring, strongly expressive and authentic work when teamed with those other Pillars. As an artist, the Horse tends toward ‘manual art’ – print-making, woodcuts and sculptures although as painters their technique is very sound and makes quite an impact on the viewer. As a writer the Horse is confronting. Most writers with Horse Pillars are pioneers of the genre in some fashion or they tend to be social critics, or both. Jules Verne, said to be the pioneer of science fiction writing, was a double Horse (Day and Hour) and he is said to be the second-most translated author of all time behind Agatha Christie (Tiger).

In finances the Horse is usually careful with money, but under the impress of stress or other factors they can spend rashly and foolishly, marking the one lesson that all Horses need to learn – to act calmly and decisively in times of stress instead of under the impress of panic, peer pressure or ‘flutters of the heart’. The Horse has a big heart and can be magnanimous and giving to a fault, but that trait often works against them in affairs of the heart and they can give themselves over to people who are less than deserving or who know how to play on their affections. The Horse can be heedless of advice when they are put under pressure, in the thrall of a relationship or under the perceived loss of a loved one and they rival Dragons in the way they can bolt and engage in self-destructive behavior when impatience takes over or under the influence of some prejudice, for which the Horse is sometimes known.

For all their bossiness and occasional contrary behavior, the Horse is still a lovable sort and they have a way about them that wins people around. Whether an ‘old lug’ (for the Horse is also known as that at times) or a hero, it is hard to go past a Horse for a faithful and stalwart companion. They are amiable traveling mates, true to the bitter end (and it often is a bitter end if it comes to that). They can be very forgiving and giving and will motivate those close to them to be the best they can be. If you want to get moving on a project or just simply want to get out of a funk, call on your Horse friends and family. You will soon be out and about, free of the troubles that had beset you and renewed with the zest for living that only a Horse can convey.

With this year we are in the domain of the Wood Horse. The Wood Horse inclines itself especially to the following areas: exploration and entrepreneurship, media and art, and the establishment of new initiatives, and the quest for freedom. It produces iconic people in media and art, especially, and can indeed in any area of life. Yang produces structure and gives an intimate understanding of form and its uses. Horses understand very well the nature and structure of space, excel in the science of astronomy, and in general, have a real love of space and all that populates it. Albert Einstein was a ‘Horse in the Clouds’ in his hour Pillar, same as this year. His mind certainly ranged far and wide, and he was a great exponent of the use of imagination. Isaac Newton was a Horse by year (what I call a ‘Year Horse’). In addition, Fred Hoyle (Month Horse), Alexander Friedmann (Month and Day), Giovanni Cassini (Month), Charles Messier (Month), William Herschel (Year), Giuseppe Piazzi (Month) and Karl Jansky (Day) were all either astronomers or astrophysicists or contributed greatly to the advancement of astronomy, and all of them profoundly influenced our understanding of the materials that make up the universe and the very nature of space itself.

This love of structure lends itself to the arts as well as science, and the Horse can produce excellent painters and workers in visual media. The Wood Horse is particularly inclined to artistic expression. As artists all Year Horses can be eccentric, though the general conservative characteristics of the Horse still show through. Rockwell Kent (Black Horse) illustrates the typical Horse artist—independent, holding strong opinions, traveling to progress the art, living in natural settings, possessed of superior and bold technique. The artist Edgar Degas (Wood Horse) was profoundly conservative in his views and opposed all social reforms. He kept to himself and deliberately cultivated the image of himself as a misanthropic bachelor. He was also intensely anti-Semitic. Yet, the work of those two men is acknowledged as some of the finest in the world. It is particularly noted for its superb line and meticulous attention to detail. Horse art tends either to depict movement, as with Degas, a love of the outdoors, as with Kent, or both. Both men were superb draftsmen. The Horse produces excellent illustrators and draftsmen. They will be quite manual with their art and they lean toward sculpture and printmaking when they are not painting. Their work has boldness to it, often with strong use of colors and daring brush strokes, with Kent’s brush style being described as ‘athletic’.

In music the Year Horse wields wide influence and changes the scenery, as it were. In classical music they will lean toward conducting, although they are very fine performers, too. The Horse has to lead in some capacity and they will take the lead on stage. In popular music they are trendsetters and icons. As with the visual artists, their work makes a big statement and they are usually particularly technically gifted, especially if the Monkey appears in one of the other Pillars. If the Dragon appears in one of the other Pillars their lives can be the subject of much controversy (Leonard Bernstein, Barbra Streisand, Janis Joplin—all of whom had the ‘Dragon in the Whirlpool’ as one of their Pillars, as well as being Year Horses) but that Dragon ‘edge’ makes their performances all the more unforgettable. The usual love of the outdoors is tempered in Horse musicians because an artist’s life tends to be sequestered for much of the day, but the love of travel the Horse has is amply fed in the road life of most professional musicians.

Year Horses are imposing presences and, as a result, quite unforgettable. On the stage they leave an indelible mark. The Horse, said to be the most yang of all the Animals, has to set firm boundaries and create space or constructs for itself. All Year Horse actors are notable either for the power of their performances or for the unique quality of their characters. Many of them are also noted for their love of the outdoors and sport. Sean Connery (White Horse) was a footballer. James Dean (White Horse) was active in motor racing and had an interest in bullfighting, which is particularly interesting because he had the Ox in two of his four Pillars. William Holden (Yellow Horse) was heavily involved in wildlife conservation and was a managing partner of a wildlife preserve in Kenya. Bela Lugosi (Black Horse) was a captain in the ski patrol of the Austro-Hungarian army before he started acting.

The Wood Horse, in distinction to the other four Horses, does not incline itself particularly to politics, although it has produced a few famous politicians and military leaders (see the listing at the end of the letter). Politically, the Horse ranges from the center to the conservative.  Horses can be deeply religious when they are in politics. They can also display deep-seated prejudices, for which Horses can occasionally be known. Cronyism is often a problem in Horse administrations. The Grant and Hayes (both Black Horses) presidencies in the US were strongly tinged with it, with Grant’s administration being particularly rocked with scandals linked to nepotism. This cronyism goes back to the Horse’s penchant for preferring the company of their own kind. This trait was strongly marked in J. Edgar Hoover (Wood Horse and long-time director of the FBI) who spent his entire life as a bachelor and nearly all of his spare time with his associate director and heir, Clyde Tolson. A marked suspicion can arise in Horses who are at the top politically. As commanders in the field they make fine strategists and are known for their strength, determination and unbending will. Consider the following:

A Few Famous Wood Horses: [1954] Ron Howard (TV star and film producer), the Rev. Al Sharpton, Stevie Ray Vaughan (guitarist), Gina Reinhart and Clive Palmer (Australian mining magnates), Jackie Chan (talk about movement!), Dennis Quaid (actor), Jerry Seinfeld (comedian), Pauline Hanson (Australian political figure), Jim Belushi, Kathleen Turner (actors), Matt Groening (cartoonist), Angela Merkel, Hugo Chavez (politicians), Pat Metheny (jazz guitarist), Gen. Stanley McChrystal (during the recent US wars), Elvis Costello (angels want to wear your red shoes), David Lee Roth (lead singer for Van Halen), Condoleezza Rice (political figure), Adam Ant (singer), Yanni (singer), Bruce Hornsby (singer) Annie Lennox (singer) and Denzel Washington (actor). [1894] J. Edgar Hoover (FBI director), Aldous Huxley (author), EE Cummings (poet), George Meany (1st president of the AFL-CIO union), John Ford (one of Hollywood’s greatest film producers), Jack Benny (one of America’s best-loved entertainers), Meher Baba (spiritual leader), ‘Moms’ Mabley (first black comedienne of renown), Bessie Smith (the great jazz singer), Nikita Kruschev, Alfred Kinsey (sex researcher), Baron von Richtofen (WWI German flying ace), James Thurber (author), Arthur Fiedler (conductor for the Boston Pops orchestra), Robert Menzies (Australian PM) [1834] Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (sculptor, Statue of Liberty), Edgar Degas (painter), Dmitri Mendeleev (known for the periodic table of the elements), James Whistler and William Morris (painters) [1774] Meriwether Lewis (explorer), Kaspar David Friedrich (painter), Matthew Flinders (explorer) and ‘Johnny Appleseed’ (John Chapman—missionary and pioneer nurseryman).

Keeping the preceding in mind, let us have a look at the year that was, the year to come, and what we can expect from the Wood Horse—a year that has produced giants in art and media, a year that has expanded our horizons and stirred our imaginations.
Horse Years: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942, 1930, 1918, 1906
Wood Horse Years: 2014, 1954, 1894, 1834, 1774, 1714, 1654, 1594, 1534
End Part I