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Released: November 04, 2019

Welcome to the Year of the Metal Rat!

About the Chinese Calendar

The Chinese calendar is commonly known as the Farmer’s Calendar or the Hsia Calendar. It is a fascinatingly accurate system that not only records the passage of time, but is also used as a tool for Chinese fortune-telling. One of the most famous fortune-telling systems used today by professionals is called The Four Pillars of Destiny (BaZi). The Hsia calendar always begins on February 4 and lists the year, month, day, and hour in a series of Elements (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth). As such, the system of the Four Pillars of Destiny means you can take the person’s birth data and convert them into Elements. From there, you can analyze a person’s destiny based on his or her birth date and better understand and accurately predict the cycles of a person’s fortune. In so doing, you can learn how to multiply the good luck or minimize the bad luck in life.


Additionally, the relationships of the Chinese Five Elements are believed to be the basic components of everything in the universe, from sounds, colors, shapes, directions, numbers, emotions, organs, and the list goes on. Hence, when you learn the sophisticated relationships of the Five Elements, you can say that you have a greater understanding of the theory of life.

The Year of the Metal Rat

In the Hsia calendar, 2020 is symbolized by two Chinese characters: Yang Metal and Rat. Yang Metal is the Heavenly Stem (character on the top) and the Rat is the Earthly Branch (character on the bottom). The Rat is also a Water Element. In the Five Element cycle, Metal births Water. Because the Heavenly Stem (Metal) supports the Earthly Branch (Water), you can say that this combination represents a more harmonious relationship. Therefore, you might expect 2020 to be a more peaceful year.


In a way, you can use the Hsia calendar and the framework of the Five Element cycles (birth and destruction) to understand the theme of the year. For example, 2018 was Yang Earth Dog (Earth). The Elements are the same. As such, we experienced some harmony. In particular, you can see that the U.S. and North Korea came to a temporary and peaceful agreement to halt nuclear testing. But 2019 was Yin Earth Pig. This was Earth over Water, in a destructive relationship. Thus, the peace talks between the U.S. and North Korea broke down, and hostility between the U.S. and Iran intensified.


Qualities of Yang Metal

Before we dive into the details of my forecast, let’s explore the nature of this year’s Heavenly Stem and Earthly Branch. Though they do come together in a more harmonious relationship, don’t be fooled, because the characteristic of Yang Metal is more destructive. Also, the Rat is considered to mimic the energy of aggressive ocean water.


For example, if you were born on a Yang Metal day, you embody the qualities of a warrior or military commander. Yang Metal is often associated with a destructive weapon like a big sword, so sometimes it can appear to be careless and harsh. Metal is also associated with loyalty; Metal Day Master people are honest and reliable. Many are military commanders, emperors, kings, politicians, lawyers, and social advocates. You exhibit strong leadership skills and often behave like a hero because of your deep desire for fairness and justice in the world. However, your fierce and resolute personality create the tendency to fight. Therefore, this kind of character can bring war and brutal killing.


While I was researching, I noticed an interesting Yang Metal person: actress Emilia Clarke, who played Dragon Queen Daenerys on the popular television show Game of Thrones. She was born on October 23, 1986. In the show, she portrays a charismatic leader in command of a massive army—who is also a ruthless and brutal killer, riding her Dragon to destroy the city King’s Landing. This character aptly matches the Yang Metal image; coincidentally, this show was Emilia’s most popular achievement to-date, essentially portraying her own true nature.


Another famous Yang Metal person is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who always plays the hero in movies.  Even in Terminator, he eventually turned out to be a good and loyal robot.


Other examples of famous Yang Metal people include: Alexander the Great, Queen Elizabeth II, General George S. Patton, Emperor Qianlong, Martin Luther King, Jr., Edward Snowden, Isaac Newton, Gianni Versace, Jeremy Lin, Tiger Woods, and Mohammad Ali.


What’s more, both the Metal and Water Elements are cold Elements (because they represent the Yin seasons of autumn and winter, respectively). Hence, the atmosphere this year is that people will feel more apt to resort to violence in achieving their ideology, creating more conflict and turbulence. There will be more impassioned protests, angry demonstrations, and riots over issues of social injustice and inequality.


However, since Yang Metal sitting on the Water Element lacks support from Earth, it is actually weak and unstable. This means that the aggressive image is fake and lacks a solid foundation. However, Yang Metal will come to full strength in the autumn season when Metal is strongest; then the aggression will become more real and fierce.


An interesting characteristic of Yang Metal arises if you were also born on the day of the Dog or Dragon—in other words, if your Day Master is Yang Metal Dog or Yang Metal Dragon. In Four Pillars of Destiny, this is called “Fai Kong.” People who were born on this kind of day exhibit a very tough character. They have a tremendous will to survive and refuse to surrender no matter how difficult circumstances are. Fai Kong people often become famous athletes, such as Tiger Woods, Jeremy Lin, and Li Na.


Additionally, because Yang Metal is like a giant piece of steel, you can say that Yang Metal also symbolizes ships. Since Yang Metal has no Earth support and sits on Water, there will be the danger of sinking ships and disasters related to building collapse due to unstable foundations (lack of Earth).


Qualities of the Rat

In the Hsia calendar, the Rat is the first of the 12 zodiac or celestial animals. The Rat is also the first hour of the clock to begin a new day (2300 to 0100). Because there are 24 hours in a day and 12 animals, that means every animal sign consists of two hours. The Rat is particularly more unique because the Rat can be referenced as “Late Rat” and “Early Rat.” Late Rat means it covers 2300 to 0000. As the day changes at 0001, Early Rat begins and lasts until 0100. As such, the Rat sign covers two different days—half on a Yang day and half on a Yin day. Interestingly enough, if you study the sequence of the animals, you’ll understand that the order of the animals is lined up based on the number of the animal’s toes (or fingers). Odd numbered toes is Yang and even numbered toes is Yin. While all other animals have exact numbers, the Rat’s front leg consists of four fingers (Yin) and hind leg consists of five toes (Yang). This exactly matches the idea that the Rat represents both Yin and Yang!


But because the Fire Element is totally absent to control the strong Water energy, we can expect to see water- and fire-related disasters, including sea and air accidents. Examples of water disasters include flooding, heavy rainstorm, and tsunami. Furthermore, because the Fire Element is totally absent and both the Metal and Water Elements are weakening the Earth Element, there will also be more serious earth-related disasters such as landslides, sink holes, avalanches, mining accidents, building collapses, and earthquakes.


The Sexagenary Cycle

As you learn more about the Hsia calendar and the system of the Four Pillars of Destiny, you’ll understand that everything is in a repeating pattern in 60-year cycle (120, 180, 240, etc.). All you have to do is simply look back and revisit history to learn about the future. For example, 60 years ago, 1960 was also a Yang Metal Rat year. One of the most serious earthquakes occurred on May 22, 1960 in Valdivia, Chile, with a magnitude of 9.5 that triggered a giant tsunami, killing more than 1,600 people and leaving 2 million people homeless. Another major earthquake was on February 29, 1960 in Agadir, Morocco, with a magnitude of 5.7. An estimated 12,000-15,000 people (about a third of the city’s population of the time) were killed with at least 35,000 people left homeless, making it the most destructive and deadly earthquake in Moroccan history.


Additionally, the Rat will be in a direct clash with the Horse (another strong Fire celestial animal). The intensity of the fight between these two Elements will be brutal and unforgiving. As mentioned earlier, the Fire Element is related to airlines and airplanes; this clash can cause airline accidents. On February 26, 1960, an Alitalia airplane crashed in Ireland, killing 34 people onboard. March 17, 1960, a Northwest Orient Airline crashed in Indiana, killing 63. October 24, 1960, there was a setback in U.S.S.R. space exploration when a rocket exploded in Nedelin and killed 92 people. On December 16, 1960, an air collision near New York killed 134 people. January 3, 1961 (still a Yang Metal Rat year), a Finnish airline crashed. On January 24, 1961, a B-52 bomber with two nuclear bombs crashed in North Carolina. And the list of airplane accidents goes on.


You can use this same logic to understand the energy of people and between countries by following the elements of the Hsia calendar. For example, 1960 was a significant year when 17 African countries, including Cameron, Congo, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Somalia, and Madagascar all declared independence. Cyprus also gained independence from Britain that same year. In the U.S., the Greensboro sit-ins were a series of protests in North Carolina that led to the Woolworth department store chain removing its policy of racial segregation in the Southern United States. While not the first sit-in of the Civil Rights Movement, the Greensboro sit-ins were an instrumental action, and also the most well-known sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement. They are considered a catalyst to the subsequent sit-in movement.


1960 also saw lots of tension between countries. For example, the strain between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. escalated when the U.S. U-2 spy plane  was shot down by Soviet Air Defense Forces on May 1. The American pilot Francis Gary Powers was captured, convicted of espionage, and sentenced to three years of imprisonment plus seven years of hard labor. Another one occurred in Tokyo University when mass demonstrations against the United States-Japan Security Treaty turned violent, resulting in 182 people arrested and 589 injured. Also, on March 21, police in Sharpville, South Africa opened fire at demonstrators, killing 69 and injuring 180. 


Going back 120 years, in 1900, also a Yang Metal Rat year, it was a very turbulent time in Chinese history. It was the peak of the Boxer Rebellion supported by the Qing government in China with many fierce fighting and brutal killings. From June 10 to August 14, the Eight-Nation Alliance invaded Beijing. This was a multi-national military coalition set up in the name of humanitarian intervention to defend their respective nations’ citizens. The eight nations were Japan, Russia, Britain, France, the United States, Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary.


Four hundred and twenty years ago, Year 1600 (also the Year of Yang Metal Rat) saw aggressive invasion by the Russians into Manchuria. This was also an important year in Japanese history, with the famous battle of Sekigahara when Tokugawa’s Eastern army defeated the Western army of Ishida and gained control of Japan.


It is no wonder that Hong Kong is now experiencing massive demonstrations against the passing of the Extradition Law. The clashes between police and demonstrators occurred on June 12, 2019, a Yang Metal Day in a Yang Metal Month, and the fight broke out during the Hour of the Monkey, which is also a Yang Metal Element.


Symbolic Meaning of the Rat

The Rat is a Peach Blossom (or Flower of Romance) star and it will stimulate plenty of sex and romance. Because the Metal Element also represents the skin, teeth, and bones, it will also enhance the theme around beauty and grace. We can see significant contributions or a boom in the beauty and entertainment industries. For example, in 1960, the Beatles began their music career in the Indra Club in Hamburg on August 17. That same year, Hollywood released iconic movies like Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz.


Four Pillars of Destiny

People born in the year of Rat (1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008) is said to be “Offending the Grand Duke.” It means, you are offending the energy of the year. Therefore, it is recommended to carry a jade pendant of the Ox to reduce the negative influence. Some examples of famous people born in the Rat year include Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Scarlett Johansson, and Mark Zuckerberg.


People born in the year of the Rabbit (1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011) will have a penalty relationship with the Rat. This will cause trouble in relationships with people such as friends, family, and colleagues, including sex scandals, extramarital affairs, and betrayals. Therefore, it is recommended to carry a jade pendant amulet of the Ox. Examples of famous people born in the Rabbit year include Donnie Yang, Jet Li, Tiger Woods, Angelina Jolie, Bradley Cooper, and David Beckham.


The animal sign that is most unfavorable to the Rat is the Horse. If you were born in the Year of the Horse (1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014), you are in direct clash with the year. Clashes will bring turbulence, movements, accidents, or big changes. You can anticipate more traveling opportunities and it is a good year to change jobs or move offices or houses. You must carry the Ox pendant for protection. Though traveling is ideal to satisfy the clash, it is not recommended to travel directly in the direction of the Grand Duke, which is in the North this year. And you must also take extreme care and refrain from participating in risky sports such as driving fast cars, piloting airplanes, skydiving, parachuting, etc.


The celestial animals that combine with the Rat is the Ox as well as the Monkey and Dragon. These animals are in a year of harmony. However, I do not recommend relying on this kind of astrological scheme because it is not based on the formal fortune-telling system. For a more reliable assessment of one’s fortune, it is best to use the full system of the Four Pillars of Destiny so that the entire birth chart is analyzed as a whole. Because animal signs can appear anywhere within the Four Pillars of a person’s chart, the clash and penalty commentaries is not just confined to the Year Pillar alone. As such, you must also assess how the clash and penalty will impact the person’s Month, Day, and Hour Pillars as well. Examples of famous people under clash this year include Paul McCartney, Kristen Stewart, Angela Merkel, Harrison Ford, Jennifer Lawrence, John Travolta, Shinzo Abe, Kiefer Sutherland, Jackie Chan, Condoleezza Rice, etc.


Also, you can be under clash even if you were not born in the Horse Year, particularly if you were born on the Horse Day—the clash is even more severe and you can face a challenging year ahead. This clash can also adversely impact your relationship area with a spouse or member of the opposite sex. Take extra care. Natalie Portman and Paul Simon were born on the Horse Day.


If you were born on the Rabbit Day, 2020 will create a penalty called “2 Penalty” and you may suffer from worries and irritation related to your relationship with a spouse or family member. This kind of penalty is mostly related to people-trouble, because both the Rat and Rabbit animal signs are Peach Blossom stars. Nicole Kidman and Stephen King were born on a Rabbit Day.


Finally, the Rat is a Nobleman year for those born on the Day or Year of Yin Earth or Yin Wood or if you were born in years ending in 5 and 9, such as 1955, 1959, 1965, 1969, 1975, 1979, etc. Nobleman means angels are coming from Heaven to offer rescue and support. The Nobleman star often brings a solution to obstacles and dangers, helping to make the year feel more comfortable and smooth. If 2020 is your Nobleman year, go ahead and take the chance to develop new projects.



In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Metal Element represents the breathing organs including the lung, nose, and skin. The Rat, a Water Element, is related to the kidney, urinary system, and sex organs. Excessive amount of the Water Element this year can cause problems in these areas. Also, because both the Fire and Earth Elements are totally absent, this can contribute to weakness in the stomach area including digestive problems, the pancreas (diabetes), immune system, and issues with the heart, blood circulation, and overall vitality.


The Rabbit animal sign is a Yin Wood Element and is related to the small bones in the body. So much moisture and wetness from the Water year (and the lack of Fire to balance) can cause rheumatism and other bone diseases.


In order to support the weaknesses of the Fire and Earth this year, the most suitable health supplements to take are an anti-oxidant for regulating the Earth Element, and COQ10 for enhancing the Fire Element.


Because the total absence of Fire also means the sensation is cold and dark without the warmth of Yang qi, the powerful Yin energy will also contribute to mental illnesses, the rise of cold-blooded and senseless psycho killers, and strange demonic happenings. For instance, on June 5, 1960, there was a mysterious murder case in Lake Bodom, Finland that remains one of the most famous unresolved homicide cases in Finnish criminal history.


Global Outlook

In the Five Elements system, the Fire Element is happiness and optimism. Fire years prevailed from 2013 to 2017. The presence of Fire can boost people’s confidence about the economy and therefore promote good performance in the stock market. This has been the main driving force behind the stock market boom in those years. However, the cycle of the Fire Element ended in 2017 with Yin Fire Rooster. When the Dog year arrived in 2018, the Fire entered the grave, resulting in setbacks in the economic atmosphere and creating a lackluster, zero-sum year. 2019, Year of the Pig, represented the termination of the Fire Element. The pessimistic energy of Water—also the symbolic emotion related to fear— has begun. Hence, the world economy has been greatly affected by the trade war talks between the U.S. and China, which generated a lot of fear and uncertainty for global investors.


These upcoming years 2019, 2020, and 2021 all belong to the Water cycle, and the Fire Element will not return until the Year of the Snake in 2025. Because the Pig Year represents the termination of Fire, 2020 the Rat means the Fire is in the embryo stage. Therefore, the general economic atmosphere is entering a bearish cycle and the pace of growth will slow significantly. With December also representing the Rat sign—and the peak of the Water Element in the winter season—it will generate a lot of fear and anxiety. Looking back to 2008 (also a Rat Year), Wall Street was in turmoil after the financial tsunami of the mortgage industry that lead to the recession that lasted from 2008 to 2013.


Stock Market and Economic Outlook

The fearful energy of the Water Element cycle is going to take over and prevail for the next four to five years. Pessimism, cynicism, and despair will set in and contribute to the economic decline. Any activities will also lead to longer-term setback and more economic crises will arise.


But which industries can still thrive in a bearish market?


Industries belonging to the Fire Element can expect prosperity because Fire conquers Metal, and Metal is Fire’s money. Fire industries include energy, power generating, restaurants, and entertainment.


Next belongs to the Earth Element because Earth conquers Water, and Water is Earth’s money. Earth industries belong to real estate, land development, mining, insurance, computer software, and technology.


Finally, the third-most prosperous industry belongs to the Metal Element. Though Metal does not see Money this year, because Metal sees Water, this industry is active and productive. These industries include automobiles, engineering, banking, and machinery.


The industries in bad luck this year are Water and Wood. Water industries will suffer because they will face strong competition. These include shipping, transportation, and communication. Also, Fire is Water’s money and Fire is totally absent; hence, this is not a prosperous year whatsoever. Wood industries such as fashion, media, books, and environment will also face an uphill climb, because Wood’s money is Earth and Earth is also absent.


Feng Shui

The energy of your home and office change from year to year. Therefore, it is necessary to take care of the shifts.


This year, the bad energy called “Five Yellow” (or Star 5) that symbolizes obstacles and misfortune will reside in the East sector. It’s best to hang a 6-metal rod wind chime to dissolve this bad star. The worst months will be in March, June, and December, when the Month Stars irritate Annual Star 5.


The next bad star is 2, which brings sickness and worry; it will be in the South. The traditional method is to use a string of six metal coins.


The Grand Duke is in the North this year, so it’s best not to “move earth” or make substantial construction work in this direction this year. Also, it is not recommended for one to sit with his or her back to the South. Otherwise, you will be sitting against the unfavorable energy called “Three Shars” or “Three Killings” and this can bring bad luck. Furthermore, the South is also the clash position (the Horse).


Star 3 is related to conflict and robbery and it resides in the North. Use a piece of red colored paper to minimize this negative influence. Also, 6 and 7 can create legal problems and scandal, respectively. The traditional solution is to place 3 bamboo stems in a clear glass vase in the Southeast and Center positions, respectively.



A few interesting things to point out about today’s world leaders. Year 2020 is a favorable year for U.S. President Donald Trump, so his chance for a successful year and the likelihood of a second presidential win in the upcoming election is high.


This is also a favorable year for Russia President Vladimir Putin, so his power remains very strong.


Yang Metal year is considered a Power Element for Prince William. Will he succeed Queen Elizabeth in 2020? We shall see.


The Rat is North Korea President Kim Jong-un’s Aggressive Intelligence Element, so his actions are more forceful, careless, and less peaceful.


Last year China President Xi Jinping was under clash with the Pig. This year, the clash continues because the Rat Year will clash against the Horse in his Month Pillar. As such, China could very well continue to be under pressure with its economic relationship with the U.S. and the Western world.


Thank you for reading. I wish you all a healthy and prosperous year!

*This article also appears in the Feng Shui Journal Volume 4 December 2019.


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