Tuesday 8 October 2013

Dragons in Journey to the West

The Dragons in Journey to the West

Journey to the West is one of the Four Major Classical Novels of Chinese literature written in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty. Its authorship was attributed to Wu Cheng'en. The novel is a fictionalized account of the legendary pilgrimage to the "Western Regions" by the Buddhist monk Xuanzang to obtain sacred Buddhist texts called sūtras.

In real life, Xuanzang (c. 602 – 664) was a monk at Jingtu who actually travelled to India during the Tang Dynasty. He left Chang’an in 629, seeking to attain better transcripts of Buddhist scriptures despite the fact that the borders were closed because of the ongoing war with the Göktürks. Xuanzang’s determination and persistence paid off and, helped by sympathetic Buddhists, he travelled via Gansu and Qinghai to Kumul (Hami), then onto Tian Shan Mountains to Turpan. His journey led him across to what are today Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Gandhara and finally (in 630) to India.

Sha Wujing, Sun Wukong, Xuanzang and Zhu Bajie
In the fictional version pilgrimage took about fourteen years to complete, the actual records however provides an evidence of only nine years. After reaching his destination during the subsequent thirteen years Xuanzang travelled throughout the Indian subcontinent visiting important Buddhist pilgrimage sites and studying at the ancient university at Nalanda. Xuanzang left India in 643 and arrived back in Chang'an in 646 to a warm reception by Emperor Taizong of Tang. He joined Da Ci'en, where he led the building of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in order to store the scriptures and icons he had brought back from India. In the following years he recorded his journey in the book Great Tang Records of the Western Regions. With the support of the emperor he also established an institute at Yuhua Gong monastery dedicated to translating the scriptures he had brought back into Chinese. His translation and commentary work established him as the founder of the Dharma character school of Buddhism. Xuanzang died on March 7, 664. In 669 the Xingjiao Monastery was established to house his ashes.

Sun Wukong

Suffice to say popular stories of Xuanzang's journey were in existence long before Journey to the West was written. In these versions, dating as far back as the Southern Song Dynasty, a monkey character was already a primary protagonist. Before the Yuan and early Ming dynasties, elements of the Monkey story were already in existence.

This enduringly popular epic adventure story is full of spiritual insight and an extended allegory in which the group of pilgrims journeying toward India represented individuals journeying towards enlightenment.

The bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin)

The brief account of the story is this: The bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin), on instruction from the Buddha, gave this task to the monk and his three protectors in the form of disciples — namely Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing — together with a dragon prince who became as Xuanzang's steed, a white horse. The four disciples agreed to do this in order to atone for past sins.

Sha Wujing, Yulong, Zhu Bajie andSun Wukong

Sun Wukong, the first disciple is the most interesting character, taking equal billing to Xuanzang. 

The first disciple of the Monk, Sun Wukong, was born from a stone and nourished by the Five Elements. Earlier on he’d learned the art of the Tao, 72 polymorphic transformations, combat, and secrets of immortality and through guile and force made a name for himself, "Great Sage Equal to Heaven". Sun Wukong’s had in his possession the greatest of weapons, a staff called, "Ruyi Jingu Bang".

 This, as well as his previous consumption of the peaches of immortality, three jars of elixir, and his time spent being tempered in Laozi's Eight-Trigram Furnace (that far from being burned to death, gave him a steel-hard body and fiery golden eyes that could detect from then on any demon or disguise) made Wukong a most powerful protector.

 Besides these abilities, he could also pluck hairs from his body and blow on them to convert them into whatever he wished (usually clones of himself to gain a numerical advantage in battle). Although he was master of the 72 methods of transformation into animals such as a bee, fly, or bird, which would give him the ability to fly, he could use his "somersault cloud" to travel vast distances in a single leap. The Monkey, nimble and quick-witted, used these skills to defeat all but the most powerful of demons on the journey. Sun Wukong's childlike playfulness was a huge contrast to his cunning mind. This, coupled with his great power, made him a trickster hero. His antics presented a lighter side in what proposed to be a long and dangerous trip into the unknown. Such a being would be impossible to handle but Sun's behavior was checked by a band placed around his head by Guanyin, which could not be removed by Sun Wukong himself until the journey's end. Xuanzang was given the ability to tighten this band by chanting the "Ring Tightening Mantra" (taught to him by Guanyin) whenever he needed to chastise Wukong. The spell was referred to by Xuanzang's disciples as the "Headache Sutra", which was the Buddhist mantra "oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ". Xuanzang speaks this mantra quickly in repetition.

In Journey to the West, the events and adventures are both imaginative and colourful, set against the impassably wide rivers, flaming mountains, various magical kingdoms, a nation of females, a lair of seductive spider spirits just to mention a few. Throughout the epic story, Xuanzang and his disciples were forced to fend off attacks from monsters targeting Xuanzang, often wanting to devour him in order to attain immortality. These manifest monsters occasionally turned out to be an escaped celestial beasts belonging to bodhisattvas or Taoist sages and deities. Then there were the calamities that were either due to obstructive fate or were a test of Buddha.

At the conclusion, each disciple was rewarded in the form of posts in the bureaucracy of the heavens. Sun Wukong and Xuanzang for instance achieved Buddhahood, Sha Wujing became an Arhat, the dragon horse was made a nāga, and Zhu Bajie, whose good deeds had always been tempered by his greed, was promoted to an altar cleanser (the eater of excess offerings left at altars).

Draagon King
In Journey to The West, there were also many exciting and colourful references to Dragons. Water Dragons in general were believed to be the rulers of moving bodies of water, such as waterfalls, rivers, or seas. They sometimes showed themselves as water spouts (tornados or waterspouts). As divine rulers of water and weather they were more anthropomorphic in form and were often depicted as a humanoid, dressed in a king's costume, with a dragon head and wearing a king's headdress.

Dragon Kings of the Four Seas
They had also the ability to shape shift entirely into human form. In this epic story the Dragon Kings were periodically depicted as living underwater in magnificent crystal palaces. They had of course their own royal court and commanded an army comprising various marine creatures. Apart from presiding over aquatic life, the Dragon Kings could also manipulate the weather and bring rainfall. In this fiction the four Dragon Kings of the Four Seas are: Ao Guang- The Dragon King of the South Sea; Ao Qin, Dragon King of the South Sea; Ao Run, Dragon King of the West Sea and Ao Shun, Dragon King of the North Sea.


Here are the examples of three such incidences where Dragons had manifested:

First Incident: Obtaining the Magic Staff:

This staff was Wukong’s primary weapon, the "Ruyi Jingu Bang", which he could shrink down to the size of a needle and keep in his ear or, when warranted, be expanded to gigantic proportions.

Needing a powerful weapon befitting his strength and skill, Wukong visited the Dragon palace and accosted the Dragon King Ao Guang. It is here the Monkey king obtained Ruyi JIngu Bang, his powerful, magically-expanding, gold ringed iron cudgel after trying and rejecting many other heavenly weapons. According to the legend, Ruyi JIngu Bang had once been a pole used for measuring sea water depth by Da Yu in his flood control and treatment efforts. After Da Yu left, it remained in the sea and became the stabilizer known as "Pillar Holding Down the Sea". As soon as Wukong neared this massive pillar it began to glow, signifying that the monkey king was its true owner. The 18,000 pound rod obediently listened to Wukong’s command and shrunk to a manageable size to be wielded easily. In addition to the magic staff, Wukong also obtained a golden chain mail, a phoenix-feather cap, and cloud-walking boots from Ao Guang. 

Second Incident: Introduction to Fourth Disciple Yulong:

Yulong is the white horse that Buddhist Monk Xuanzang rides. Yulong, the son of the Dragon King of the West Sea, was sentenced to death for setting fire to his father's great pearl. Like Sun Wukon he too was saved by Guanyin from execution and became the fourth disciple, protecting the Monk Xuanzang. Aside from being a white horse, Yulong also makes appearances as a White dragon and a young man in human form.

Third Incident: Is the contest for making rain:

For good measure we shall mention the time when the skill of Monk Xuanzang is pitted against evil spirits posing as Taoist monks. The nation he passed through had long suffered a severe drought. In order to obtain safe passage through this nation Xuanzang engaged in a contest to summon rain. In order to bring this about Sun Wukong utilizes the Dragons of the sky to assist his master.

The End.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Dragons from the Game of Thrones Exhibit

We all have the bug….Yes; many of us, regardless of age, creed or gender, love dragons. This despite the fact that some have done their best to portray these celestial beings in literary or in visual form as fierce, horrifying and deadly monsters that swoop from the sky to tear apart and incinerate all in their path.  Modern times have been kinder to Dragons however and the lover of dragons, or dare I call us the Dragonets, have multiplied in numbers.  We are enthralled with the episodes containing a dragon or dragons such as those in the Merlin series.  Now a popular series satiates our dragon craving as it ventures to its third season on HBO and also starts on Showcase for the wider viewing audience.
For one week from March 11th to the 15th The Game of Thrones was featured in an exhibit at the Design Exchange on Bay St. in Toronto. One of the best parts of the show was getting up close to the Dragons of Westeros.

Dragons eggs presented to Daenerys Targaryen by Illyrio at her wedding to Khal Drogo.
There was one egg, the green one, missing from the exhibit. It had been presented to George RR Martin after the filming as a memento. Here is the scene from the wedding:

The Dragons hatched from the eggs after being burned in the funeral pyre of Khal Drogo, a fire that Daenerys walked into and magically survived. This earned her the title of Mother of Dragons.

Daenerys and the baby Dragon

You can see this scene here, but be warned: it is not safe for underage viewing or viewing at work. I am not going to put it up in this blog because of that.

The young dragons grow rapidly.

And soon are quite fearsome:

Under the guidance of their mother Daenerys they begin to show the inklings of the formidable weapons they will become when they are full grown.

Later shows will no doubt show more of the three dragons Viserion, Rhaegal and Drogon. Keep watching on HBO.

You can see more pictues from The Game of Thrones Event in Toronto at BoSt Notable Inklings blog post:
The Game of Thrones Exhibit

Here's a collection of the Dragon scenes in Game of Thrones from Season 1-4

In Season 5 Episode 9- We see Drogon all grown up and coming to the rescue of his mother.

"Drogon." Relive the moment. (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD)
Posted by Game of Thrones on Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Friday 15 February 2013

2013- The Year of the Water Snake Horoscopes

2013- Year of the Water Snake Horoscopes
On February 10th 2013 (year 4711 in the Chinese calendar) we entered the year of the Yin Water Snake (Gui Si). The last time we had a Yin Water Snake year was back in 1953 and this is the cycle of 60 years which will be found in a traditional “ten thousand year” calendar.

General Predictions for 2013: the Year of the Water Snake
The year of the water Snake will be another year of variation, for the Snake year normally brings good and bad consequences as well as new power structures in various countries.
Once more there will be many transformations in the Middle East. New regimes in some areas will initially seem very good but there is long struggle ahead to cement these advancements for the better.
Regrettably 2013 will mean that finances will be tight again and the slightest problems could bring stock markets the world over tumbling down. 
2013 could be a year of conflict for people born in the year of the Tiger or the Pig, particularly those aged 66, born in the year of the Earth Tiger, 1938. If this is you, in this year of the Snake look after your health and do not overexert yourself.

Predictions for the Rat in 2013
The year of the Snake, starting on the 10th of Feb. 2013, should be another positive year for the Rat.  Rats will find that things in their career and business will go rather well this year. There is also a good chance for promotion throughout the year. However, they should guard against being overconfident and slack off or be remiss in their efforts, as Rats still have to work for their benefits. Rats that are looking for employment in 2013 may find that their luck will take a turn for the better as long as they are persistent and are affable when dealing with future employers.
For the Rat 2013 should be deemed as the year of saving for future pay offs. Naturally, you can still treat yourself in 2013 but try to resist over-extravagant ventures, the fancy car on finance or expensive jewellery, unless it is well within your means. Also remember to check the terms and conditions of any contract or legal documents before signing it in this year.
Rats, being quite active, need to stay as healthy and fit as possible throughout 2013. This could be achieved by reserving some time for relaxation and adapting a good regimen of healthy exercise and a proper, nutritious diet.  Rats born in 1972 should take a steady approach in 2013 and should remember to take a break whenever possible throughout the year. A regular respite is important as stress can be an issue this year along with some depression. Whatever is on your mind right now however, know that it will pass and you are on or soon will be on the right path. Meanwhile enjoy your year and remember things are not as bad as you think; leave a little leeway on your side, too. If you don’t know what I am talking about you will soon.
With their outgoing and curious nature, Rats can look forward to some enjoyable social occasions this year.  It will be a productive year for the Rat native and they should also spend a lot of time in planning and character building. The Rat will find that they have the ability to set a good foundation and get far in 2013 if they reserve some time to securing their future. Younger Rats born in 1996 should allocate as much time as possible to studying, as the amount of effort expanded now will benefit them in later life.
 Remember; March, May, August and December could be particularly active months. In April Rats could see some interesting developments but, as a rule, the second half of the year starting with mid-September to early December will be more positive time for them.
The Rat’s home life is important and during the year they will come to value the support and advice of those around them.  They need only to be more communicative, more open and attentive and be mindful of the feelings of those closest to them.   When under pressure or making what could be an important decision, the insights of their loved ones will be both reassuring and invaluable.  Domestically the year favors good planning, that is: setting aside time for mutual interests and special occasions. The closing months of the year could see some additional travel opportunities and memorable, joyous family occasions.
Single Rats, especially those born in 1948, can expect steady times for romance this year and can even expect wedding plans. If the Rat is married or committed, they should be prepared to spend a lot of time with their partner throughout this year and show affection when needed. Make lots of time to spoil them.
Overall, for the Rat, 2013 will be a great year but they must be careful with finances and do not splurge with their spending unless they are certain that it will be well reciprocated or is a good deal. The Rat must always make sure to read the small print. Keep in mind that this year favours carefully considered actions instead of haste.
As a Rat you are in affinity with the Ox. For protection, have a key chain pendant of an Ox with you at all times throughout the year of 2013.

Predictions for the Ox in 2013
2013 is to be a year of progress and fresh start for the Ox, with much advancement in the workplace and with relationships. With regards to employment many Oxen will find that they are progressing well in 2013 and there is a great chance of advancement in the workplace this year.  Oxen can expect good news in 2013 but they must be careful with paperwork and work matters throughout the year. Oxen born in 1985 must try to make the most of the situation when given the chance to prove themselves, as this will pay off. This will also be a great year for the Ox to learn new skills, especially young Oxen born in 1997.  Money luck will be good. This year will also be a good year to finance hobbies able to do so but please be sure to avoid impulse purchases as the Ox still needs to be save for bills and financial commitments and, of course, for the great social year awaiting them. In particular, Oxen will find themselves climbing the social ladder this year, especially with work related events and groups of new friends. Please be careful with spending in 2013 as the increase in social events can lead to overspending. Only spend what you can afford.
 Indeed, 2013 offers good opportunities for the Ox, who can expect new relationships and even a rekindling of existing ones. With an increased social life in 2012, it is imperative to find a good balance between home and social life. Be careful not to neglect loved ones and make sure to spend a lot of time with close and extended family as well as friends all throughout the year. The year will be busy but leave some time for play and make sure you take plenty of rest.
Your busy lifestyle can cause your diet to go a bit wild in 2013 so please make sure to eat sensibly, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Get plenty of exercise throughout the year.
It may be a mixed year but whatever has been unresolved in the last few years will come to a head in 2013 and I’m sure you will like the news.
As an Ox you are in affinity with the Rat. For protection have a key chain pendant of a Rat with you at all times throughout the year.

Predictions for the Tiger  in 2013
The Snake year can slow down the Tiger’s progress during 2013 but they should not let this deter them as this year can still be very rewarding one if the Tiger knows what to expect and plan for the year ahead. All the same, Tigers should start 2013 with a steady approach and not jump in to any big projects or expenses.
If the Tiger is looking to advance in their career it would be a good idea to consider all the different options that are available in the workplace as this will help to learn new skills and, by taking on new projects, prove yourself at work. Moreover, it will set the foundations for the upcoming years as this will work to Tiger’s advantage later on in the year or during the early months of 2014. Young Earth Tigers born 1998 should spend the time studying throughout the year as this will greatly benefit them in the next few years!
For Tigers seeking employment, be sure to keep your head up, as great things will come to those who wait. Keep in mind also that it may seem very hard finding work during this year but there are a lot of new employment opportunities waiting just around the bend for the Tiger native.
For Tigers that are in a relationship or ones that are married, they need to spend lot of time with the family and friends. Their social calendar should be very full in 2013 despite the risk of personality clashes in this year.  During such times Tigers must be prepared to keep the peace.
Single Tigers will discover new love in the most unexpected of places during 2013. Its best to try avoiding arguments or disagreements in order to ensure a long lasting relationship with any potential new romances. Also, the Tiger must be sure to take things slow and not jump straight into a relationship in 2013 as this could burn out quite fast if they mix arguments and quick commitment.
Tigers born in 1950 should make time to relax and spend time on their hobbies in 2013 as this can bring a great deal of pleasure to the Metal Tiger this year.
The Tiger is in affinity with the Pig/Boar. For protection, be sure to carry a key chain pendant of a Pig.

Predictions For the Rabbit/Hare in 2013
This is a great year and a time for advancement in a lot of aspects in the Rabbit’s life. It is a good year for learning and self-development as the Rabbit will find study and learning a lot easier to take in, especially Rabbits born in 1999. This is therefore the perfect time to learn new skills, acquire hobbies and take exams as it can lead to a change in career that the Rabbit will benefit from.
In the workplace the employer may be putting a lot more trust in the Rabbit; there is also a lot of luck on their side should they wish to change careers. Expectantly, finances will be good, particularly if a promotion comes their way. For advance at work, March, May, June and November are the best months to go for a new position. Money luck is very good for the Rabbit this year. When making big purchases comparison shop so as not to waste money. The Rabbit will notice a great deal of social events over the year with a lot of chances to meet new people, especially during April and August. The Rabbit’s rise in social interaction will help single Rabbits tremendously in finding new love; these new relationships will have strong chances of being long lasting.
Those Rabbits in relationships or married will enjoy a great home life with their partner and family with a happy and home throughout the year. 2013 has the opportunity to be a great year for the Rabbit. Rabbits born in 1963 should take action this year with anything they wish to achieve.
You are in affinity with the Dog. For protection, have a key chain pendant of a Dog.

Predictions for the Dragon in 2013
The fortunate Dragon has another good year to look forward to in 2013.  If the Dragon native is keen to do well in 2013, and initiate plans fairly early in the year, then they can get a great deal accomplished. There will be many opportunities for the Dragon to work their way up in their profession this year and this has the possibility of big advancements in the work place especially if they are able to act on their ideas and plan well. There is the possibility that doors they thought had closed a long time ago will open. The most important thing for the Dragon to remember is do not overlook the small print of any offer and spot a good opportunity when it arrives.
Dragons seeking work should look forward to opportunities to secure a good job this year as long as they aren’t afraid to start somewhere small then work their way up.  Keep in mind that every artist was once an amateur. The best times to search for work this year are February, April, May and November. The Snake year is famous for study and new aptitudes, therefore the Dragon should seize this opportunity to strengthen their forte by acquiring a new ability as well as some training. The end result could be an accumulation of good finances and money rewards in the way of a bonus at work. That is so long as the Dragon does not slack off, sit back, and let things slide. Dragons should also keep an eye on their finances this year as the Snake year is a very fast paced on and overspending can easily happen.
Dragons can look forward to a good and rewarding year with many new friends coming to them in 2013. This year Dragon should strengthen existing friendships and be mindful not to neglect loved ones when their social circle vastly increases. Dragons already in relationships can anticipate rather good progress in their affiliations. For those Dragons that are still unattached, their enlarged social life could foster a new love this year, though they need to maintain their composure and not rush in to relationships too fast.
Dragons born in 1940 should try to stay as active as possible and be sure to get together with family whenever possible. Dragons born in 1964 should take opportunity whenever it arises but be careful to know the conditions attached.
The Dragon’s lucky sector is the Southeast (112.5º – 127.5º) of the home or office. Nevertheless they need to be wary if a main door, bedroom or office or any other important room is located in the southwest, east, or west in 2013, especially during the months of February, April & August 2013.  It will help in these months to remedy some of the ill effects, particularly if they are not in good health or very stressed, if the Dragon places a golden Wu Lou and set of six Chinese coins tied in a row with red ribbon in these rooms.
Romance can be improved in the northeast, north and southeast of the Dragon’s home although they have to be careful in the southeast. Having a door in the southeast can bring in new opportunities and lots of travel. To enhance Dragon romance and career in 2013 place some dark blue objects in the southeast and the north Introduce these colours with a doormat, rug, cushion cover, sofa throw, curtains or similar material. To dissipate the negative effects in 2013, hang a set of six Chinese coins tied with red ribbon and place a salt water cure in the southwest and centre of your home or office.
It is imperative not to undertake any form of noisy renovations or re-decorative work in the east part of the house or office between February 3rd 2013 and February 3rd 2014. Nor should the Dragon disturb the ground in the east by digging holes, building foundations or conduct any maintenance work with any noisy equipment in this area inside or outside their property or garden. Once disturbed, it can bring three types of misfortunes: financial loss, sickness and arguments. If they have to carry out work or emergency repairs in the east, the Dragon should place a six hollow metal rod wind chime between the buildings and the direction where the work is being carried out. It may be of some help.
Apart from not disturbing its ground, there are two other rules to follow: if the Dragon is moving a desk around this year, never place it to sit with their back to the east; it is far better to face towards the east. If the front door of the Dragon’s home or business faces east in 2013 they should place a pair of Fu Dogs just inside looking outwards to act as protective guardians for the year. Also place a golden coloured Pi Yao in the west looking towards the east.
There are also two other directions that the Dragon needs to be wary of. These being the Southeast and Northwest, avoid these at all cost: do not disturb the ground, no renovations, or any noisy activity here. When disturbed this area can, and normally will, cause immediate health problems especially for the elderly or sick; so please be very careful. Suffice it to say if you have to carry out work or emergency repairs in the northwest you may place a six hollow metal rod wind chime between your building and the area where the work is being carried out.         Southeast facing properties with front doors to the southeast must be careful not to allow the doors to slam and do not renovate or dig in this part for 2013.
Dragons are in affinity with the Rooster; for enhancement keep a key chain pendant of a Rooster.

Predictions for the Snake in 2013
2013 will be a great year for the Snake and they should start the year off with a fresh, positive attitude! It would be to the Snake’s advantage to forget any prior problems that may have occurred during 2012 and forgive the people for their wrong doings.
The Snake furthers quite a bit in all aspects of life this year. There are plenty of opportunities for success in the workplace during 2013 with the Snakes’ efforts being recognised for their input and hard work. If a Snake native feels as though they have been stifled or stuck in the same job for too long, well, 2013 is a good year to make that move to different departments or a different job. 2013 is also a good year for Snakes to become self-employed, especially if they do so during the months of March, June, July and September.
Snakes seeking work will have a great deal of luck this year with many positions being opened to them although they should still be alert and search rather than wait for something to come to them.
Finances will be good in 2013 for the Snake so long as they are careful with their money and not be too frivolous in their spending. Snakes should be sure to put money in to savings whenever possible and always be sure to check the terms and conditions.
This will be a busy year and whilst all should go well with career and finance the Snake native can easily overlook their partner's needs. They should make sure, therefore, to allocate some time for loved ones whether it is a wife, boyfriend, Mother, Sister or best friend.  Snakes should also reserve some time for themselves and try to relax more, as stress can be an issue this year and the Snake may feel down and depressed at times. Whatever is on the Snake’s mind right now however, it will pass.
Overall, the Snakes year can be very good with many social outings and a great home life. Snakes born in 1941 and 2001 should be open to new possibilities and embrace change with a positive attitude. Snakes born in 1989 will accomplish a lot this year and should try to remain as active as possible.
Snakes are in affinity with the Monkey. For protection have a key chain pendant of a Monkey.

Predictions for the Horse in 2013
For the Horse native the forecast for the 2013 is very similar to last year. Once more it will be a mixed year and all Horses need to be careful throughout 2013. There is one variation however; along with all the downs, there are upsides to 2013 for the Horse.
Horses that have recently changed jobs or are in the process of doing so will benefit from 2013 by becoming quickly settled in their new environment. This also applies for schools. If any Horse is striving to advance in the workplace, they should do so with a calm pace and should not rush in to anything.
Horses seeking a new job or wishing to change their profession should try to do so early on in the year as, even though the Horse is endowed with strong will and persistent character, there will be a lot of competition this year.
Horses need to be very careful with their finances in 2013 as there is a risk of overspending by not checking contracts or filling forms in properly. Therefore they need to be extra careful, double check everything and avoid large purchases unless they are necessary or a good value. This is a year for saving rather than acquiring.
This is a year for caution for Horses; avoid risks both physically and financially. In March, May, October and December, the Horse native will notice their social life increasing and they will enjoy a great number of social events. Even so, the Horse needs to periodically make sure to reserve some time for relaxation with their family at home. The Horse needs to make the most of the good times as there are some months they will need to stay strong and persevere.  They needs to stay focused this year; there is nothing for the Horse to worry about, just be cautious and mindful of all their actions. Horse born in 1942 and 1990 should try to stay as focused as possible during 2013 as their efforts will pay off.
Horses are in affinity with the Sheep/Goat. For their protection, they should have a key chain pendant of a Goat.

Predictions for the Goat/ Ram/ Sheep in 2013
2013 will be a year of financial increases for the Sheep but they should still try to save when possible throughout this year. If the Sheep follows this advice and work hard and smart, he or she could accumulate large sums of money.
Work wise, there could be a lot of activity this year. Sheep will find that a project that has previously caused them a lot of stress and taken up a lot of their time will bring out many of their positive qualities to the attention to persons around them. If the Sheep is bent on taking on a new responsibility they should be forewarned that they will need to learn new skills at a fast speed.  This will end up being very beneficial to the Sheep, however, especially if they are given the chance to go on a training course. Sheep will definitely benefit from learning new skills in the Snake year. This could be anything from reading a new book to studying a new talent. 2013 is a great time for using initiative and going ahead with new opportunities.
The Sheep consistently likes to take a lot of pride in their material objects. This year they will have an ample opportunity to add to their collection but they should remember to not make too many impulsive purchases and should not rush into buying something, as it may turn out somewhat disappointing That the new convertible is not the best investment they could make.
Sheep will find themselves meeting a lot of new people in 2013 and they will find that they win a lot of them over with their ability to relate to others. Sheep could build strong friendships including a romantic relationship that could lead to a serious commitment. Single Sheep may see new relationships blooming this year with possibilities of a good future relationship. There is a very strong possibility of marriage for Sheep that have been in a long relationship this year. At home this year, Sheep will have a happy and calm life and will receive a great deal of support from family for their efforts.
If possible, Sheep should take a holiday with a loved one this year. They will benefit from the change of scenery even if they do not go very far. Those born in 1967 should remain alert for opportunities and act on them. Those born in 1979 should keep a close eye on their spending during 2013.
Sheep are in affinity with the Horse. For protection, they should have a key chain pendant of a Horse.

Predictions for the Monkey in 2013
The Year of the Snake can be a rewarding time for the Monkey so long as they are prepared to take things slow this year, apply themselves to work in earnest,  plan things out in advance and assess the benefits and risks of all their actions. It sounds daunting but following these steps will reward the Monkey with a very positive year in 2013. The Monkey’s success at work this year chiefly depends on staying focused, avoiding being sidetracked and employing their tenacity by staying with tasks until their completion.
It will be most advantageous for the Monkey to make sure that they are constantly in the know of recent developments, so as to utilize their skill in assuring greater gains and procuring future promotions. Unemployed Monkeys may find themselves in a position where they are struggling to find a job although if they stay determined and keep a positive attitude they could end up in a strong new position in a job especially during April, June, July and September.
Even though finances are very good for the Monkey this year, they still need to be cautious. It is a good idea perhaps to put some money aside in an interest bearing account to assure good returns.
Romance and relationships are very good for single and the committed Monkeys this year. One thing to remember however, the Monkey should not be neglectful and reserve ample quality time with their partner.
Monkey’s may have felt that the last few years had been somewhat difficult, with so many ups and downs but remember “smooth seas do not make skillful sailors”. Monkeys should take heart, for these past experiences have been the building blocks of the person they are today.  
Monkeys born in 1968 should find that swift action is very rewarding this year.
Monkeys are in affinity with the Snake. For their protection, they should have a key chain pendant of a Snake.

Predictions for the Rooster in 2013
2013 will be a very positive and pleasing year for The Rooster as an increased social life and new finances await them throughout the year. This is a favorable time for the Rooster to aim for a promotion and advancement in the workplace where great many opportunities will be available. Consider it well, Rooster, and if overwhelmed, consult with a trusted friend or partner for an appropriate guidance. Those already employed should try to maintain close relations with work mates as much as possible. March, April, July and October are the months that could bring a promotion the Rooster.
Though luck is with the Rooster, they still need to take good care of their health for there is a tendency to overwork themselves in 2013. They should reserve some time for well earned respite. Perhaps the Rooster should look into some lifestyle changes, for health always seems much more valuable after it is lost.  Remember also that the well being of an individual depends on the healthy state of the mind as well as the body.  As the mind plays a huge part, Roosters should keep their composure and maintain state of tranquility particularly in moments of stress. They should take up walking, exercise; anything that is different to what they’ve been doing. The Rooster needs to be careful with their diet this year, making sure to eat sensibly and not to neglect the proper amount of physical exercise.  This may also be a good year for the Rooster to learn how to meditate. The Message for the Rooster in 2013 is: “Don’t worry all will be well with that problem”.  
Roosters should also try spending a lot of time with family and friends throughout the year as their busy schedule could cause them to become neglectful.  Those born in 1945 should be very careful when making large purchases and always be sure to check the small print this year.
Roosters are in affinity with the Dragon. For their protection, they should have a key chain pendant of a Dragon.

Predictions for the Dog in 2013
The year of the Snake has great prospects for the Dog and can be a very good year. With regards to wealth, business and career, 2013 can be a year where which Dogs reap the benefits of seeds they’ve sown over the previous few years.  So make the most of this year as the wind is behind the Dog native with regards to wealth. They must not think, however, that they can now just sit back and let the good times happen, for hard work is still required of the Dog.
Dog should avoid risky investments however, and definitely avoid lending money to anyone. A good advice for the Dogs this year is for them to take it easy and look before they leap, especially with large purchases.
On the other hand the Dog should be more chartable and make some donations to a good cause for good gestures and deeds will not go unrewarded.
Single or unattached Dogs can expect new relationships on the horizon or the rekindling of an existing one. Dogs need to be careful in relationships, however, especially if they are married.  They should spend more time with their spouse, as the potential success of the year could cause them to be negligent with the people that are most important to them; with disastrous results.
Work may be over stressful and Dogs need to take extra care with their health by eating sensibly and getting plenty of exercise.  Avoid the easy options and take-out food, particularly on those late nights, when mired in a heavy workload.  The Dog must watch what they eat and if their lifestyle is quick TV dinners, they must allow for this and eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Dogs are in affinity with the Rabbit. For their protection, they should have a key chain pendant of a Rabbit.

Predictions for Boar/Pig in 2013
Some websites or books are predicting that 2013 would be a very bad and unfortunate year for the Pig, but this is not necessarily so. Of course there will be some things the Pig needs to be forewarned of:  for instance, the amount of work Pig puts in at work will not be proportional to the results they will get, so they need to  think things through before they go ahead with them. Furthermore, if the Pig keeps a positive attitude and puts in that extra effort into their work they could make 2013 a much more pleasant year.
Pigs need to be careful with their finances this year, especially towards the middle of the year. The secret for all Pigs this year is “money will come in”, but they will have to make sure they can keep hold of it. They may find the year brings a few challenges but they will overcome them and the problems they had in 2012 will be resolved even though new problems may take their place. Then the Pig will look at the year in November 2013 and say, “it really wasn’t that bad”. They must also, remember to say “thank you”; these are two small words but have such a big impact on people’s lives.
During the summer months, Pigs must exercise caution and avoid taking too many risks such as extreme sports or dangerous activities. The Pig’s health will be average throughout 2013, although they could suffer from minor illnesses or accidents. That is why Pig is being forewarned to avoid dangerous sports and activities. Do take extra care with health by eating sensibly and getting plenty of sedate exercise. Watch the diet and if quick TV dinners or takeout cannot be avoided, incorporate a good dose of fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet. Another thing to remember is that Pigs should moderate their intake of alcohol and avoid excessive gambling. A glass of wine or two with their dinner shouldn’t hurt!
The Pig’s romantic life will have its setbacks if they are looking for long term relationships; they will go on many dates but will find it difficult to develop a strong bond with a partner. Arguments will take place with married couples this year so try and keep peace around the home.
Pigs are in affinity with the Tiger. For their protection, they should have a key chain pendant of a Tiger.

Good luck to you all.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

The Feathered Serpent

The Aztec religion believed there were four previous cycles since the creation event. At the beginning of the Fifth Sun Quetzacoatl, the Feathered Serpent, descended into the underworld to gather the bones of the humans who previously existed on the Earth in order to make the new population of humans which continues to populate the world today. As he returned to the world he tripped, breaking the bones he carried. This accounts for the different sizes of humans in the world. By adding his own blood to the bones of the previous men Quetzacoatl brought the people of the world to life.
Other names which Quetzacoatl is known are ‘Gucumatz’ among the Quiche Maya, and at Chichen Itza, which was settled by a mixture of Toltec and Mayans, he was known as ‘Kukulkan’. All names, including Quetzacoatl, translate into roughly the same phrase; ‘Plumed/Feathered Serpent’. The Feathered Serpent was a god of two natures represented by the feathers that enabled it to fly, and the serpent shape that tied it to the ground.
by el_grimlock Deviant Art

In remote antiquity the deity Quetzacoatl/Kukulkan sailed across the Eastern Sea to Mexico in a boat without paddles, bringing to the Maya the use of fire as well as the skill of writing, of advanced mathematics and astronomical knowledge on which they based their calendar and religion. He also brought with him the corn plant and taught the people the practice of agriculture. Quetzacoatl was described as having white skin, a strong body, broad forehead, large eyes and flowing, rounded red beard over a long, flowing white robe. He showed people how to use fire, build a house around that fire, taught couples to live together as husband and wife and taught the people of the world to live together in peace. He founded cities and gave laws to the people. After bringing these benefits to mankind, Quetzalcoatl sailed back the way he came on a raft of serpents. The Feathered Serpent was the bringer of civilization to mankind and was so concerned with human affairs that it has been postulated that he was, indeed, an actual historical character, of a combination of a dynasty of rulers whose memory lasted beyond his death, leading to his deification.
painting by Susanne Isles
The stories of Kukulkan are very specific, citing that his group was called the “People of the Serpent” and included twenty others, two who became gods of fish, two gods of agriculture and a god of thunder. They described them wearing long robes open in front, cut low at the neck and three-quarter length sleeves. They were said to have stayed ten years and then to have returned back across the sea after the attendants changed into ‘bright birds’. Before taking his leave, Quetzacoatl promised to return and re-establish an era where the gods stopped their quest for human blood and accepted sacrifices of flowers instead.
by gureiduson Deviant Art

The historical figure of Quetzacoatl forbade the practice of human sacrifice and ushered in a Golden Age of peace and culture. In legend Quetzacoal was overcome and driven away by the malevolent god Tezcatilpoca (Smoking Mirror) who is associated with night, darkness and the sacred jaguar. Sometimes Tezcatilpoca appeared as a shadow or monster and he carried an obsidian scrying stone mirror. The victory at Tula of the dark forces over the Feathered Serpent brought back the human sacrifices in an effort to delay the impending end of the Fifth incarnation of the world.
painting by Dan Staten
The End.