With the start of the Chinese New Year, we are entering the year of the Goat -- one of the 12 animal signs of the Chinese zodiac. But it's not just any old goat. It's a Wood Goat.
In Chinese Astrology the 5 elements of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth also play and important role. Depending on the year of your birth, you might be a Wood Goat while someone else is a Fire Goat, and so on. Two different personalities and approaches to life, because of the element involved.
Because of translation issues, we see this year being called the year of the Sheep, and sometimes even the year of the Ram. As far as astrology is concerned it's all the same critter. But here's why I especially like using Goat as the English term for this sign -- and why I'm thinking of the mountain goat pictured above, rather than the farm yard billy goat.
A mountain goat has an amazing reserve of inner courage and determination to get where he wants to go, and is sure-footed in getting there. He will tackle the tallest, most rocky landscape, showing sheer resolve to not be stopped by degree of difficulty or effort.
There is deep, innate trust in his own abilities to achieve his goal, and a perfect optimistic attitude in relying on his skills and judgment to reach the end of a journey.
Now the big horned sheep I've witnessed in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park have many of these qualities as well, and perhaps to some may look a bit more elegant, and maybe a little more mystical as they scamper up the mountain trails. But I think the goat has the edge on being more tenacious, and somewhat less combattive for position.
There is a story about two mountain goats meeting on a treacherous ledge, going in different directions, with no room to go around each other. Observers expected them to fight over who would "own the road". But an incredible thing happened.
The goat on its way up laid down so that the goat on its way down could climb over his back and continue on its way. And the goat on its way down cross over, then waited patiently for the goat on the way up to rise carefully to the delicate balance needed to proceed.
It's such a great metaphor for those with ambition to remember to pay a little respect to those who have already made it to the top, and for those who are competing for the same spot to cooperate instead, for the benefit of both.
Now, what's that got to do with astrology, you might ask. Well, it is a charactertistic of the people born in the year of the Chinese goat to be forgiving, understanding, compassionate, and generous of spirit. and that's not a bad way to be, even if the tendency for a fair amount of people-pleasing can also make them one of the more co-dependent signs of the Chinese astrological system.