Year of the Yang Earth Dog

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When we talk about the “Chinese Year Of …”, we are referring to one dimension of Chinese astrology. We have entered the Chinese year of the Yang Earth Dog, also known as the Mountain Dog. Transitions between cycles of time are great opportunities to slow down and feel into what is expressing through and around us. Read this free article by Claudia Anfuso to learn more about 2018 and what it may bring for you…

2018 Mountain Dog
February 16, 2018 – February 4, 2019
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  • Cover art by Pietro Sirianni @pietrosirianni

Happy Chinese New Year!

We have entered the Chinese year of the Yang Earth Dog, also known as the Mountain Dog. Transitions between cycles of time are great opportunities to slow down and feel into what is expressing through and around us. What impulse is present, what are the opportunities of this new period, what are the disadvantages?

This is not about determination of what happens, but about how we can digest the Qi (energy) that is available. My wonderful teacher Liu Ming used to refer to “the year’s buffet of energy”. As we all have different digestive systems dictated by our own personal character, we will react to the year’s buffet differently. Maybe this year’s buffet serves only deserts and you dislike sweets, maybe you are gluten-intolerant and it’s a gluten-free menu.

So What is Chinese Astrology?

When we talk about the “Chinese Year Of …”, we are referring to one dimension of Chinese astrology traditionally referred to as the Celestial Stems and Earthly Branches. While the origin of this system is relatively unknown, we do have traces of it being recorded for at least the past 5,000 years. This system of the expression of cycles of time allows every hour, day, month, and year to have two indicators assigned to it.

One is elemental, also known as the Celestial Stems (wood, fire, earth, metal, water). The
other, the one we are most familiar with, is that of the 12 animals, also known as Earthly Branches. The animals describe the potential qualities of the energy of a cycle. We look at the characteristics available in the upcoming cycle to best place ourselves in the fabric of unfolding of time. This is not about whether we are going to enjoy the year ahead.

Classical traditions consider the hunt for happiness “impure motive”. Wanting to feel good is trivial and meaningless compared to knowing the truth of our being. This search for truth could not unfold without the element of self-reflection. Self-reflection about the nature of our experience, the capacity for open contemplation about the fundamental reality of our life, of what we are and why we are here. Astrological insight can support this process of contemplation as we become sensitive to the energy
available in the moment.

Chinese astrology is actually misnamed astrology – it is not about watching the movements of stars and constellations. What it is, is a way to look at the sequence of time to tell us something. To reveal something – because we are the sequence of time.

We are the evidence that there is a sequence of time. If we go and sit on the top of a mountain for a year, nothing actually stops in the rest of the world. In our actual experience, 3pm comes before 4pm. Being that sequence, the natural unfolding of the way things exactly are, is what is referred to as Dao, as Dharma.

Fate, Freedom and Destiny

In our contemplations, we notice that there is a predisposition to our experience which we can call fate. This predisposition is due to various precedents referred to in various ways by different traditions: the opportunities or obstacles we inherit from our ancestors, the Buddhist or Indian concept of karma, our genetic predispositions, etc. When we experience fate, what we are experiencing is a fixed quality. “The bitter edge of fate” as Ming calls it, that sticky “I’ll never do it again..” and then we do it again quality.
Alongside fate, there is the expression of freedom: the always present option to respond to circumstances as they arise, as an expression of our true nature. Responding to the moment in ever fresh and appropriate ways.

We could say destiny is a conversation between these two, between fate and freedom. How we exercise our freedom can untangle fate, unravel it. It can also further entangle us. This conversation, this relational quality between fate and freedom that we call destiny, is the dance of our everyday lives.

Ultimately, we are here to resolve the sharper edges of our fate and be encouraged to express our freedom to help others, because we are all others.

Part of how we negotiate this dance, this capacity to use destiny, is characterized by our animal – by which of the Chinese Years we are born into. Character gives us a kind of shape, or style. This shape is going to be more or less compatible with the energyavailable in any particular year.

What’s on the Menu?

So what is available in the banquet of the year to come?

Let’s take a step back to the year that is concluding – the Year of the Fire Rooster. Oh my! Winter of Rooster year is a time of recovery, and if we look around us many seem to be in this recovery state. It is a time to get over how volatile the past year was. This volatility is slowly coming into focus. We are asking ourselves now deeper than ever what constitutes value. What is it worth fighting for? Breathing for? Living for? What dowe want to defend?

Enter Dog Year.

Yang Earth Dog. Earth is the native element of the Dog, which means we can count on the stable and supportive qualities of the Dog – its loyalty, helpfulness, caring, insight, calmness, expansiveness, and intuition.

Art by Thailan When


Let’s look at Dog Qi closer. In China, the dog talked about when we talk about the Dog branch is the Chow, a bear-like dog that is actually one of the oldest breed of dogs and the most continuously bred dog on earth. The chow was bred as a war animal to run with soldiers and chariots, defending them and viciously attacking the legs of the enemy’s horses. This was a very aggressive animal, and simultaneously an extremely loyal companion. If the charioteer got killed, the dog would stand above his master, protecting the body and not letting anything happen to the horses. It would ultimately sacrifice its life for its agenda of keeping the enemy from mutilating its owner… now that is fierce loyalty.

Dog Qi loyalty is loyalty that is beyond a fact, loyalty that transcends the notion of someone being worthy of it, or having earned it. Your dog is happy to see you at the end of the day no matter what you have been up to before you return home. This strong feeling of support or allegiance, this devotion and fidelity, is a capacity that all humans have. It is one of the energies we can tap into, and one that is easily cultivated this year. It expresses in friendships, family relations, our communities, and even national

This human capacity for loyalty is not dependent on whether the other or situation merits it. It is not something you hand out as a reward because a person or situation is deserving it. It is an element of your very nature, and the extent to which the year will unfold for you is going to depend on the ability you have to ground into this energy and cultivate it.

Another image associated with Dog Qi, before the current dog image, is that of the Foo Dog. A Foo Dog is what would come from a lion mating with a dog. They are mythical lion dogs found in China as protectors and guardians of temple and house gates. Again, this mythical creature is known for its defensive ferociousness.

Coming Together

Dog Qi, when flowing constructively, is about this loyalty. It is caring, helpful and protecting. It is inclusive and harmonious. Think dog pack. This is a domestic qi pattern that expresses love through helping. This makes the Dog Year a wonderful time for alliances of all sorts. This is a year of partnership, groups, coming together to uphold what we value. If you already have alliances, cultivate them right away and continue them. If you don’t, keep in mind that 1 this year gives the result of 1, but 2 coming together gives the result of 10, 3 the results of 50, and many coming together gives infinite results. Build alliances with confidence in the power of small to give the results of big.

Individualism, and signs that depend on strong individuality, falter this year (and also next Pig year). Anyone who likes groups, knows how to join them, or knows how to lead them is going to be at an advantage. Count on your friends, count on your family, count on the people around you. Do not allow the subtle quality of nervousness of the year to compromise your relationships.

Your Tribes

In China, Dog (and Pig) years are considered great years to go back home and visit family, or to travel with family. Go on a pilgrimage to visit the land of your ancestors. Reconnect with the past that you are an expression of.

The natural expression of Dog Qi in relationships makes it so that committment and marriage are really enhanced this year. After the hurdles of needing space (Monkey Year), and wandering partners (Rooster Year) of the past few years, the Dog comes home to cuddle. Everyone comes home to rest and nourish. Finding new partners should be easy to do. Expressing your true feelings of love and affection is supported this year. Building connection by telling someone how much you care for them will give you tremendous amounts of energy. Be kind. And if this does not come natural for you, pretend – fake it ‘till you make it!

This year’s Earth element nature enhances support, stability and solidity. If the volatility of Fire Rooster year left you dissatisfied, punchy and angry, remember that the sooner you give up your grudges the more energy you will have available this year to put into cultivating something new and supportive for yourself and others. It’s time to forgive and forget. Love and be loved. There is strength available through putting oneself in a position that is supportive of others. Think samurai.


As far as spirituality and religion are concerned, the Year of the Dog offers new opportunities. This is a year in which your own spiritual path might be less strong and available than organized and conventional opportunities. The big streams get a lot of the energy. Group retreats, meditations, and rituals are very powerful scenarios this year. The power of sangha is that you are no longer seen as a separate person. Any insincerity in your practice will be weeded out this year. Your deep desire for connection can lead you all way through the illusion of separation into an embodied awareness of
Oneness. Great year to surrender into non-duality.


The expression of your path will be demonstrated by how much you have worked generosity into your everyday activity. The more giving you are, the more inclusive you are, the more caring you are, the better. Acting charitably will be greatly beneficial.

Dog Shadow

To understand this deeper, lets look at the shadow side of Dog Qi – its excessive criticism, its stubborn, argumentative, and spiteful streak. Dog Qi is the quickest to form connection. When the Dog values something, it is forever. But that same intelligence can as quickly take the form of ruthlessness if something is deemed to lack value, turning into blind aggression.

Dog Qi’s simplified value system (the editing critical power of the Rooster is now transforming), that quick “this person is in or out” can rapidly become prejudice. Beware of prejudice this year. Challenge your notion of inclusivity to ever widening circles. Become the black Labrador that wags its tail at everyone, work with the crowd and not the individual, like the group and not the single person.

Being critical is no longer in fashion. Recognize how polarity is actually sustained by taking sides. Stop pathologizing others and find the golden thread that connects us all as the expression of one conscious being. That deep desire for connection is in everybody -look for it and explore it.

Digestive Capacity of the 12 Animals

So … what is the digestive capacity that the 12 Earthly Branches bring to this year’s Qi banquet? How will our predisposition interact with the energy that is available? Let’s take a brief tour through the animals. Remember that we are all composites, compounds of the cycles of nature. This is just a starting point, not an ending point. The particular element of the year you are born in also modifies the auspices, along with the hour your were born at, and your individual natal astrology and your unique transits for this year. There is much subtlety and depth that can’t be contained in the generic outlines below.

For those signs for which Dog Qi is less favorable, this does not spell disaster for the year ahead. Remember this is not personal. It is more about energy and appetite than individual experience. There is a cycle coming… do you take it on? are you afraid of it? should you duck and cover? How can you enhance the advantageous aspects and how would the advantageous aspects be diminished? All an inauspicious year means is that it might be a good year to coast and not do anything big.

For more insight into your unique cycle of time, consider getting a reading contact Claudia directly:

Birth years listed under each animal so you can to find your sign. Note if your birthday is in January or February go here to be sure of your sign since the zodiac new years does not coincide with the Gregorian new year.


Born in: 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008

Mixed year. Although you take easily to the group and alliances quality of the year, you are invited to negotiate carefully with the increased productivity quality of the year. Your health can be compromised if you say yes to everything. Don’t overdo it, pick your projects carefully, and all should be well.


Born in: 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009

Unfavorable year. This is a good year to coast and not make any big changes to your life. Your capacity for being thick-skinned can easily pass off as insensitivity this year, which will be out of alignment. The year might be more complicated than your strong character thinks. Good year to maintain, although knowing you, you will take the challenge full on.


Born in: 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010

Relatively favorable year. Your striped energy that alternates between outgoing courageousness and reclusiveness is back in sync. Especially if you are in leadership because the group with gather. The alliances and plans you have been working on for a while will finally make sense. You can reinvent yourself which is a favorite activity for Tigers. The catch is not to lurch too soon and to admit that there have been some errors in judgement – fix them and move ahead with elegance.


Born in: 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011

Favorable year. For the first time in many years it feels safe for you to come out. Trust this shift and trust your inner circle. Whatever groups you are in will appreciate you and the work will be fruitful. Inspire others as they will be listening. Reinvent yourself.


Born in: 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012

This is your diametric year, your year of contrast. Generally unfavorable but you won’t care because… you are a Dragon! Lay back, reference backwards, and dream about the future. Unfavorable for you is almost not unfavorable. The contrast is that you are always different in a year that values the continuity of things and being always the same and dependable. Loyalty this year is not tied to integrity – keep that in mind. It just is, and you might find this naïve. Remember that your value lies in turning away from selfishness, through self-reflection, and dedicating yourself to the benefit of others.


Born in: 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

Mixed year. This is good year to ride on past momentum. Look back at past decisions to feel how to move forward. Reference back. Rely on past alliances. Let your unique quality of patience train you to next year’s pullback, but let long term investments pay off. Get out there and do something.


Born in: 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

Favorable year. You are back on track. Enhance the year by cooperating with others – yoke up. And work generosity into your activities – acting charitably will unfold opportunities.


Born in: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

Generally unfavorable year. While you do well in groups, the quality of affiliations this year is not easily digestible – you’ll feel the Dog bite your ankles and bark at you. Good year to lay back and stick with the known. Take the year off from telling everyone how they should think.


Born in: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

Generally unfavorable year because of its conventionality and stability. The energy of the year is in contrast with your impulse to act out alone. You get qi from magical improvising and that is not in style this year. Don’t show off, and put your mimicking to use – pretend you are happy like everybody else.


Born in: 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

Mixed year ahead. The opportunities from last year still have momentum, yet this year you will be asked to bring your clarity down to the heart. Think from your heart, act generously rather than just practically.


Born in: 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

Generally a good year. Your digestive system matches the year. Get out of the house, meet new people – allow yourself to be appreciated. Adventure works out for you this year. The auspices of the year are directly linked to how completely you let go of the grudges you are holding onto. Let go of those that betrayed you and get your energy back. Stop growling at the gate. Get out of your own way, let it all go, and you can tap into the freedom available for you this year.


Born in: 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007

Moderately favorable. Prime yourself for favorable next year by dreaming up new schemes. The year will get easier as it unfolds as dogs and pigs get along. Dog Qi is more disciplined than Pig self-indulgence, but the shared domesticity is supportive this year.

May all beings have an auspicious Dog Year!

Claudia Anfuso has been dancing with the stars as a Vedic and Chinese Polestar Astrologer since 2006. She revels in sharing these timeless teachings so that we can all align with the patterns of the cosmos and find our unique place and expression in time and space. TRU recommends her as a allied resource for exploring your personal astrology with a clear mind steeped in nondual traditions, practices, and view.

For more, visit her