The Lunar New Year 2016: The Year of the Monkey for Pagans

2016 the Year of the Monkey
2016, the Year of the Monkey

The Lunar New Year was on February 8, 2016 this year, though technically, this is the 4,713th Lunar Year. As a Monkey (metal) myself I welcome all the new Monkeys (fire) born this year. Many pagans don’t know much about the Lunar New Year (also called the Chinese New Year), even though so many of us follow a Lunar cycle. I believe that there are lessons for us in it regardless, and as an eclectic Pagan-Taoist, it’s a holiday that is especially important to me.

Monkeys are a sign of laughter, goofiness, intelligence, and a lack of self-control. For me, some of it seems to make no sense because it am not indulgent in vices and I work hard, but if you look closer you’ll notice I have lots of hobbies and interests which removes the ability to focus on just one. I am a very sarcastic person, always joking, and was the class clown in High School, but I’m also finishing my MA in English Literature. As with all signs balance is key, so this is not necessarily going to be an easy year for us Monkeys, as we are the ones whose issues come to the forefront. That being said it has the potential to be amazing because happily our strengths are here as well! Physical health, good communication, and temperance must be kept in mind this lunar year. It is a year of activity, creativity, and harnessing those things, if you can make them work to your benefit, is a very good thing. Monkeys are smart but they can also be dishonest, so spend the year experimenting with honesty, it can be freeing (see Pamela Meyer’s “How to Spot a Liar” TED Talk). The Tao says not to try and eliminate your weaknesses, but to make them into your strengths, excellent advice for this lunar year.

Monkey’s complimentary signs, Rat and Dragon, will have especially good years, since the Lunar zodiac is very focused on balance. Like with tarot, I do not believe in negative readings in astrology, only challenges that we will be given the chance to overcome, and never-ending chances to work on our karma.

Ideas for Witches

If you are a witch who is interested in adding some Lunar New Year magick to your practice here are some suggestions.

New Moon Ritual – Adding Lunar New Year elements to your February 8/9 New Moon Ritual is an excellent way to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Set an intention related to creativity, physical health, education, or temperance.

Auspices – Creating and searching for auspices on the Lunar New Year is a long-held tradition. Wearing a lucky color like red is one way to celebrate the New Year even if you’re in the broom closet. Mandarins, tangerines, or oranges are excellent for eating and bringing as gifts for co-workers or class mates as they symbolize abundant happiness.

Imbolc – The Lunar New Year is closely associated with Imbloc as it is a time to completely clean your house and an excellent time to plant seeds and/or bring flowers or small plants inside. The Lunar New Year is also a candle festival (plus fireworks), and you can even consider adding the Legend of the Guo Nian to your Imbolc celebration if it resonates with you.

Divination – If you keep a divination journal recording dreams is important, even if they don’t make sense immediately. Looking at them again at your year-in-review almost certainly will make their meaning clear. If you keep an animal journal remember to write down every animal that you see today, they can have meanings for the entire year to come. In my tradition, New Year’s Day is used to symbolically represent the entire year. Depending on your tradition this could be Samhain, Yule, the Solar New Year, or the Lunar New Year. Try recording the events of the New Year’s Day in a diary/journal and reviewing them at the end of this year for accuracy. If you aren’t sure which is right for you, record and review for all four; the right answer will reveal itself to you. Also, and this is important, do not stress about a “bad day,” I’ve had a number of bad New Year’s Days and those years, while challenging, were ultimately very necessary for happiness.

Lai See Envelopes – Even if you’ve never heard the name, you’ve probably seen red Lai See envelopes somewhere before. I have Hello Kitty ones that I got at the Sanrio store, so trust me when I say they’re pervasive. It is traditional to give these envelopes down the ladder, meaning, not to superiors. For example, if you are a parent you would give an envelope to children, however, you would never give envelopes to your parents. If you’re a manager you would give them to your employees, but not your boss. If you are a school teacher your students would receive envelopes, but not the principal. Traditionally the envelopes contain money, but you could include lucky Feng Shui coins, joss paper (aka Hell Bank Notes or ghost money) that can be burned to deceased ancestors, or a heartfelt letter of appreciation.

Continuing Education – If you are interested in adding Lunar New Year traditions to your pagan practice then this is an excellent time to expand your knowledge of these traditions and see if they are right for you and your craft. Learn more about Feng Shui, read Eastern fables and fairy tales such as Ancient Fables and Folklore of Japan or The Kojiki, or research Eastern gods and goddesses. You might just find something that works brilliantly for you, and at worst, you will learn something new. Perfect for the Year of the Monkey!

In conclusion, I hope that you found my write up for the Lunar New Year, the new Year of the Monkey, to be interesting and informative. Please let me know if you have any questions, anything to add, anecdotes about your own experiences, or anything at all!

Here’s to an auspicious Year of the Monkey!

Further reading/resources:

Astrology Club – 2016 Year of the Monkey
Flower and Fruit Meanings for Lunar New Year
Wei Terng Tong’s Predictions for the Lunar New Year

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