10 FEB 13

© Malvin Artley

  Date/Time: 10 Feb 2013, 3:20 pm (CCT -8:00)

  Lunar New Year: 10 Feb 2013 3:05 pm (LMT -7:45:40)



     Wood: 2 - Creative, literary, compassionate

     Fire: 3 - Active, stimulating

     Earth: 2 - Reliable, practical

     Metal: 0 - Gentle, indecisive

     Water: 5 - Loquacious, intellectual

10 Feb (Daytime):

In the depths of Yin, the seeds of all things are found. Is this not the Great Secret?


Gong Hei Fat Choi, and Happy Losar, Everyone!

Can you keep a secret? Do you love a good story or bit of intrigue, or perhaps a good mystery? If you do, then this is the year when secrets will be whispered and mysteries will be revealed! Welcome to the year of the Black Snake, the ‘Snake in the Field’, or the Water Snake, however you would like to name it. Historically ‘Black Snake’ years are ones of financial milestones, when countries change leaders, when shadowy figures put play to their plans and when civil disobedience moves people to greatness and into the annals of history. The Snake is subtle, yet refined; subdued, yet shrewd; calculating, but full of grace; reserved, yet powerfully sensual, but wherever they move, the Snake adds flair and makes for a memorable experience. History has been written large when we have seen the ‘Snake in the Field’ as lord of the year. Previous Black Snake years were 1953, 1893, 1833, 1773 and 1713, etc.

The Snake in Chinese astrology and mysticism finds itself in the company of special cases of animals. Along with porcupines (or hedgehogs), foxes, weasels and rats, they are classed as one of the ‘five calamity animals’. Paying homage and respect to these animals brings good fortune. They are thus classed because they are said to lie in the way of people and stepping on them causes an attack from the animal or a nasty fall. Then again, along with martens (or badgers), weasels, hedgehogs and small deer, they are classed among ‘the five seers’. Great respect is to be afforded them, or misfortune will follow, and they are said to keep diseases off of farmland. On the whole, though, the Snake has generally been associated with wisdom, and it has always held a special place in the Eastern zodiacs. Being disrespectful in Snake years brings its own sort of calamity, especially to the ruling classes and, as we will see, Snake years have brought their share of  misfortune. Ah! – but herein is the point and the question: misfortune to whom? - to the rulers or to the masses? One person’s misfortunes can be seen as another’s gains, and with that point in mind we really begin to get into the psychology of the Snake. The Snake is both seer and agent of retribution, and proper respect must be paid to both aspects if one wants to get the most out of Snake years.

What do we know about the Snake in the Field? Well, we know the Snake, as well as all the other signs, best by its works, and this particular Snake has produced some pretty unusual people in all walks of life – people such as Tony Blair (speaking of Ugly Rumours, he spent three years of his early life in Adelaide - did you know? – in Dulwich), Alex Van Halen (Hot for Teacher, Runnin’ With the Devil, and an ordained minister, too. Go figure), Pierce Brosnan (Mamma Mia, Bond!), Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan and the world are sadder and meaner places without you), Cyndi Lauper  (‘recovering Catholic’ and still having fun!), Yahoo Serious(I’m serious), Geddy Lee (what a Rush!), Amy Irving (actress in ‘The Fury’ and ‘Carrie’), Kim Basinger, (Confidentially, Elvis Left the Building, 9 ½ Weeks ago), Ben Bernanke (you can bank on that), Howard Stern (meditating on the indecency of life), Trevor Rabin (Yes, please), Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (master falconer and avid whitewater rafter among his other callings), Oprah Winfrey (can we talk about this?), Christie Brinkley (that ‘Uptown Girl’), Andres Segovia (arguably, our first ‘guitar god’), Allen Dulles (now, he could keep a secret!), Mississippi John Hurt (got them ‘Avalon Blues’, ‘John Henry’), Mae West, (mais, oui!), Norman Rockwell (dismissed by his peers, but an iconic painter), Johannes Brahms (play us a lullaby, perfectionist Johannes), and Alfred Nobel (dynamite for peace!), to name but a few. 

There is usually a twist in the life of Snakes and there is always something mysterious or unknown about them. If you want to know how to add that touch of class to an idea, find that line or hue that is the difference between crassness or art, how to make those financial books look the best in order to ensure that promotion or bonus goes through, or even how to deal with the big dogs with finesse and maybe without them even knowing it, then seek advice from your friend and confidant, the Snake. When the Snake is coupled with Water, then the qualities of the Snake produce amazing results. Water is the element that guides a Snake to greatness (Water is the ‘money’ element for Fire in the five element system, Fire being the natural element of the Snake) and it makes our Snake friends more open, communicative, powerfully psychic, the most careful of planners and the best of confidants. In short, the Black Snake is outstanding in whatever field of life they choose, and this year of the Black Snake looks set to be a most memorable year indeed.

Of the Year Snake in general (when the Snake is found in the year pillar of the four pillars, as it is for this year), we have the following from my book on the Four Pillars, whenever I get a chance to finish it:

Year Snakes produce champions along their chosen line, whether in sports (Mohammed Ali), art (Henri Matisse/Pablo Picasso), literature (Lord Tennyson), multimedia (Richard Burton/Grace Kelly) or politics (Mohandas Gandhi/John F. Kennedy). All of the aforementioned people were legends of their time and long afterwards, all had a huge mystique surrounding them, few of them were immune from scandal and all set a high benchmark for those to follow in their line. The Year Snake tends to produce the statesman rather than the military leader. Even if the military/revolutionary aspect is strong in the nature, as in the case of Mao Tse Tung, the Year Snake seems to have a way of winning the hearts and minds of their followers and detractors. Year Snakes really excel in the arts and media, though. They are famous for their sayings and catch-phrases. It is said of Tennyson, for instance, that he is the second-most quoted author in the English language after Shakespeare, with phrases such as, “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved before.”, “Theirs not to wonder why. Theirs but to do and die.”, “My strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure.” and so on. The Animal Sign always reveals itself, as evidenced by Tennyson’s words or the likes of “The emancipation of women has made them lose their mystery.” from Grace Kelly.


Snakes have a tendency toward moroseness or dark subtlety in their work. It is perhaps because they recognize the frailty of human life, the seamier side of the human psyche or the fact that people often choose shadow over light in life, in spite of their inherent good nature. Snakes produce work of a variable nature, but always grand or special. The very essence of life itself fascinates them, as does the purpose of living, and many of them have been given over to more existential thinking and questioning of the very purpose of existence. Who gives or controls life? Who is the master of one’s destiny? Why do we as people endlessly do and repeat the same things over and again? – endless questions, often without clear answers. This is the domain of Snake types – the shade and hue of life - and they thrive on it. Snakes in art are humanist with respect to the fact that their work reflects the realities of human life or the recesses of the human psyche, and especially with all its failings and victories. To the Snake, every victory is grand, every loss a philosophical interlude. The preceding points are especially true of Year and Month Snakes, primarily because the world and their immediate environment in youth conditioned them in that way.

As humans, our speech reveals our character as much as do our actions, and of Snakes we have the following little examples:

“What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course.”


 “I have too many fantasies to be a housewife. I guess I am a fantasy.”

                                                   Marilyn Monroe (Month Snake)


He is the true enchanter, whose spell operates, not upon the senses, but upon the imagination and the heart.”

                                                  Washington Irving (Day Snake)


Like the Dragon, the Snake is an individualist. They are the natural psychologists of the Chinese zodiac.

Given all these points, what have we seen from past Years of the Black Snake? In 1773 we saw the Tea Act, the resulting Boston Tea Party, America’s first Chamber of Commerce and the first mental asylum in the US. In 1833 we saw, among other things, the Factory Act (England) which limited child labour, the birth of biochemistry, the founding of the St. Vincent DePaul Society (St. Vinnies), and the birth of programmable machines (Charles Babbage). In 1893 we saw the first motion picture studio (Edison), the patent for the diesel engine, the Panic of 1893 (financial crisis), Gandhi’s first act of civil disobedience, the development of cultured pearls and the first gasoline-powered motor car. Then, in 1953, we had the first widely publicized gender reassignment, the first Corvette, the announcement of the discovery of DNA, the polio vaccine, the discovery of REM sleep, the first climbing of Mt. Everest, the first commercial use of RAM memory, the first widespread use of LSD (MKUltra), the launch of the Nautilus (1st nuclear-powered sub), the first meeting of the European Economic Community, the first issue of “Playboy” and the first color TV sales.

From the preceding, what can we see for this year? To do that, let’s see how last year panned out with regard to what was predicted, and then I will make a forecast. Of science and technology, I had the following:

In technology I look for projects of daring and of excellence to show forth. I look for major advances in solid state and nuclear physics. Perhaps we find the elusive Higgs boson this year – a sort of holy grail for nuclear physicists.[done] We have found thousands of extra-solar planets. I expect there to be more named minor planets in our own solar system this year. That will give astrologers something to chew on for a pretty good while. [Ongoing. There are more planetary bodies found every week] There are sought-after things in science, theoretical now, but strongly evidenced, that could very well become real this year – the unification of forces in particle physics [not yet, but the discovery of the boson leads the way to it], irrefutable evidence of extra-terrestrial life,…

To interrupt, what has happened in recent months is nothing short of astounding in this regard, even though on the surface it may not seem to be as such. In short, astronomers have inferred from mounting evidence that virtually every star in the galaxy has planets around them, and that quite a number of them are in the ‘habitable zones’ of those solar systems. This leaves the question wide open: If there are a trillion planets (that’s the estimate) in habitable zones of the galaxy, why would there not be life on those worlds, and why would some of those lives not be in advance of ours? Our efforts at contact are embryonic at best, given our present technology. Even still, it is as if a door has been opened for the mainstream admission of the possibility of ETs. Continuing:

…commercially available computers that run at speeds beyond our dreams at the moment, commercial computers that can think for themselves [done, again], an end to the need for organ donation [we now have the ability to print – yes, you heard correctly – organic structures from stem cells. Organs are just around the corner], the discovery of new elements (there should be another noble gas associated with the lanthanides, for instance, though it would be extremely rare) [This one is a dream of mine, but I think it will be some years yet], cures for cancer, HIV and the like in the mainstream, commercially viable space flight for the upper-middle class consumer, a cheap and safe way to pull CO2 from the atmosphere aside from planting millions of trees [This one is fast becoming a reality with the development of certain plastics], batteries that would make electric cars a viable proposition – and on and on.

All the above is marvelous in and of itself, but we need to add a few more amazing feats of human inventiveness. To begin with, remember all the wonderful dream-like technology we used to marvel at on Star Trek – the communicator, tricorder, transporter, food generators, etc.? Except for the communicator (cell/mobile phone) all of that has had its beginnings or been given a platform for its development in this past year. The Dragon and the Snake form a pair in Chinese astrology -  the pair of Magic. The Dragon in the pair is the doer, with the Snake as the thinker. What the Dragon comes up with and manifests, the Snake finesses and brings to fruit. With these latter points in mind, what has the Dragon manifested in 2012?

The technologies about to be listed are only in their very early stages, but the promises they hold will likely revolutionise our society. As of this writing, we can now store digital memory on DNA, meaning we can store billions of books in a memory the size of a test tube, or millions of hours of video in a coffee cup[i]. The medical ‘tricorder’[ii] and a touch screen that can read DNA[iii] are a reality, though in their infancy. We saw the apparent first public performance of a classical composition written solely by a cluster of computers[iv], and a computer has actually won a game quiz show[v]. Artificial intelligence is only set to grow at an astounding rate. We can now print items and structures using stem cells[vi]. A viable artificial muscle has been developed[vii]. Replacement organs are only a few years or decades away. We have had the first direct detection of ‘dark matter’ filaments in the universe[viii]. The technology now exists for the eventual development of pocket-sized nuclear reactors, using photonic crystals[ix]. We have found a fifth moon for Pluto[x]. Why do I want to say ‘misery loves company’? I say it in jest, but we are fast realizing just how complicated our solar system actually is. And, not that it is last or least by any means, but a young woman, an Egyptian physics student, has developed a means of propulsion that could someday lead to interstellar space flight[xi]. All this makes me happy indeed to be incarnate in these days and times. The human heart will never long be constrained. The Rain Dragon has fulfilled my expectations and then some.

It is said that in the spiritual community of this planet there is a department that deals with the development of human culture – the Mahachohan - and that includes finances, art, media and all the things that produce, well, the cultures of the world. This is the more ‘human’ department and its primary means of advancement is through education and finance. In other words, we are talking about the development of the human mind and communities throughout the world. Snake Years really resonate with this department. We can see readily what the human mind has wrought with regard to science and technology, but what about arts and letters? Last year I would have thought there would be some iconic films and books to come out, and indeed there were – films such as The Avengers, Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, The Amazing Spider Man, the Twilight Saga final installment, Lincoln, Argo – to name but a few. It was a big year in film, and there are more and more films coming out in 3D now. In literature there are too many books to mention, but there were discoveries made of lost fairy tales (in Regensburg) and of a lost story by Hans Christian Andersen (The Tallow Candle) in the bottom of a box in Denmark, as well as the first printing of James Joyce’s The Cats of Copenhagen. I expect more discoveries to come in this area this year.

In the last Black Snake year (1953) we saw iconic films like Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, Salome, From Here to Eternity, Shane, How to Marry a Millionaire, Mogambo, Julius Caesar, Roman Holiday and The Robe. Expect to see more sensuality and subtlety in film this year, as well as some brilliant animation. These will be films that will stir our imagination. An animated film was the highest-grossing film of the year in 1953 by a large margin – Walt Disney’s Peter Pan. The first major public movie show took place in a Black Snake year, after all, at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. I expect this year to produce some real landmarks in film. So, we are starting to take a look at what I see coming for the year ahead.

In politics I expect to see legislation that reflects more the will of the people. It will be a year of statesmanship rather than brinkmanship and brute force. In these days we live under the overriding influence of the multinationals and the military-industrial complex. This will be the year when revolutions are begun in earnest – underground at first with a few public demonstrations, but gathering in force over the next few years. Wars will end, but revolutions will start, especially against financial tyranny. “No taxation without representation!” Corporate greed and legislation supporting it has gutted the middle classes, largely under the blessing of conservative forces in politics. The conservatives in politics are seeing a backlash now. The Tea Party in the US, for instance, is losing its voice. It is of interest that in the 1700s ‘Tea Party’ was a revolutionary act and statement. Now the term is synonymous with reactionary politics in the US. Conservatives are having a big wake-up call in the US, while in the Middle East they are gaining in strength through the revolutions of the Arab Spring. However, the peoples of those lands do not necessarily agree with the return to stricter Islamic law. I think it is going to be a while yet before things settle in those lands, and we will see more and more unrest over the policies that have enabled the monarchies and conservatism of the Middle East.

In religion, it will be fascinating to see what happens with the Catholic Church, now that the Pope is resigning. Will the prophecy of St. Malachy be fulfilled? Will we see the first black Pope? Will ‘Petrus Romanus’ spell the ‘end of Rome’ – in other words, the end of the reign of Catholicism over the hearts of a billion-and-a-half Catholics? Will Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana be the next Pope? We will soon know. As for the other world religions and Catholicism as well, we will see increasing factionalism in the lead-up to the coming crises that will usher in the new world religion(s), eventually, but this will take decades to manifest. The crises are coming swiftly, though. Let us meditate strongly for peace to prevail among the world religions, because there is still a real possibility that a wider conflagration can erupt over religious differences, especially in the Middle East, and especially since the hawkish forces of the world are generally more fundamentalist in their thinking. This threat will persist for some years to come.

Now, the biggest revolutions I see will come in the form science and technology, as well as economic legislation. This is a yin year, too, so the power of women will be increased, and this will be a necessary counterbalance, given that next year is a Horse year, the Horse being the most yang of all the animal signs. In science I expect to see some cures for some of our more dreaded diseases, like cancer and aids. There is ample anecdotal evidence that cures for these diseases already exist, especially natural cures. We may well see the beginning of the waning of influence in ‘big pharma’ with a resultant lessening of the health care burden we face in the West, especially in the US. Again, this too will take years, but a beginning will be made this year – something that will moderate the political influence of the pharmaceutical companies. Information is our biggest asset in that regard, so if you know of things that will help and heal people, circulate them widely.

We need to bear in mind that the Snake is subtle, and that the Black Snake thrives on communication. We will see many beginnings this year, but starts that will lead to big things in years to come. The Dragon loves to plant seeds and the Snake tends them so they grow into something of use. The phrases associated with our Black Snake are as follows:

Keep your secrets close to your heart. There are those who would only scorn you for you insights. It is better to confide in trusted friends than to broadcast your views afar. There is much to be gained by careful and patient work.

This last phrase is of particular importance and shows why the Black Snake can be so influential. The major advances in technology will come through the realm of media (computing, information technology, film and writing) and in medicine. Information is power, and we have so much at our fingertips now. The technologies that will reshape our world in the decades to follow were broken through last year. Now we need to build on them, although we will still see some amazing things this year – mysteries revealed. The Snake loves a good mystery, and we can expect to see the solving of mysteries this year, like: What really happened with 9/11? What was the true scope of the ancient land of Atlantis? (It has been revealed under the Atlantic Ocean.[xii]) What are the names of all those dwarf planets that lie in the outer reaches of the solar system and what qualities do they conceal? What treasures lie at the bottom of all those dusty boxes in the attic or basement? Whose bones lie interred under the parking lot of your local convenience store? Whatever happened to that missing sock? These things and more will be revealed under the watchful eye of the Black Snake. So, keep your insights close and foster your friendships. They are important. A simple, clear thought can move mountains, literally. Guard your thoughts wisely and be ready to act when the time comes.

In concluding, this year perhaps you might like a little goss and biscuits with your Boston Tea Party, or maybe find a vaccine for a dreaded disease while you go through the recipe books, or conjure plans for a starship engine while you change the oil in your car, or even hatch a plan with your banker to save the world from financial collapse when you go for that home loan. It’s possible, you know? When the Black Snake comes calling there is an epic story in the making, and this year will be when the stories we tell our grandchildren will have their beginnings. So, dust off those old plans you have had stashed away in the cupboards of your mind. It will be a year for careful and patient work, but when it is time to launch your ideas, people will marvel at the artistry of your efforts. That idea some people may have thought was crazy or would never work may well write you into the next great chapter in the history books!

Stay well, my friends, and Happy Valentine’s Day!


11 Feb 13

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[xii] There are other websites as well describing discoveries at other locations, but the tsunami theory points to the ‘great flood’ that submerged the land all those millennia ago.