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Lunar New Year 2021 – Contemplations for the Year of the Feminine Metal Ox

February 10, 2021

The Year of the Female Metal Ox starts February 12th, 2021.

The lunar New Year is upon us, and we are saying good bye to the Year of the Masculine Metal Rat. If you are sorry to see it go, you are amongst the lucky few. This is my annual symbolic ‘riff’ on the lunar New Year symbolism – exploring the Year of the Feminine Metal Ox. Although in these posts I do offer a little of the traditional astrological reading for the associated animal sign each year, really they are meant to be a fun way of exploring the symbol beyond its traditional interpretation, by looking at how the animal is represented in cultures and tales. Which is to say, it’s not predictive so much as offering gentle contemplations you can consider as part of deciding what this year means for you.

Oxen were instrumental in the development of agricultural society worldwide, and still are crucial to many farmers around the world.

First and foremost, the Ox is NOT a bull. So the symbolism of Taurus, or Zeus as a bull, or any sacred bull stories from around the world that focus on masculine bull energy are not what is represented by this symbol (especially because this year we switch to a feminine or yin energy as well – more on that in a bit.) The word ‘Ox’ is most often used to refer to domesticated female or neutered male cows used in farming. And while the sight of yoked oxen may not be a very inspiring image to many of our modern minds, oxen were crucial all around the world for the development of agricultural society – one of the strongest forces that led to humans shifting from nomadic or hunter/gatherer cultures to settled agricultural communities. Therefore within eastern astrology they are associated with stability, hard work, diligence, loyalty and financial security. On the heels of 2020, I think this is a welcome energetic shift. These are the qualities said to pay off in an Ox year, so your first contemplation is: What do I want to accomplish or create this year, and what are the concrete, grounded steps I can realistically take? And how can I create routines and habits that empower my discipline and work ethic as  I do so?

Cows of all types are sacred in Hinduism. In Bangalore, oxen that are no longer able to farm are converted to ‘Gangireddu’ – decorated oxen that worshippers make offerings to.

Cows are sacred in Hinduism, and revered in many other cultures as well. They represent life, and are linked to the mother of all gods, Aditi. They are associated with nurturing, kindness, and creation. One of the big shifts occurring within this lunar new year is we are shifting from a masculine/yang year to a feminine/yin one, and yin energy is receptive and fluid. So balance the hard work with self care, and compassion for yourself and others. As you are working towards your goals be sure to allow for flow and change – allow the universe to bring in something new and unexpected and receive it as possibility, rather than obstructive. Ask yourself ‘In what ways have I been rigid, and how can I allow for more space and fluidity?’ It’s important not to become passive though (a danger of yin energy) – finding a balance is key.


Sometimes called Chinese Valentine’s Day, the Double Seven Festival celebrates the story of a loyal ox who helps his master and twin sons visit heaven to visit their deceased and much loved wife and mother.

The Ox is also known for its loyalty and sacrifice. This is depicted in a Chinese tale about a farmer who loses his beloved wife, and his loyal Ox tells him when he dies he can use his hide to travel to heaven to see her with their two young sons. This tale has come to be associated with romantic love, and the holiday some call Chinese Valentine’s Day. In terms of the Ox though, this is really about sacrifice and helping others. We have all had to sacrifice something in the last year for the sake of others, and we may be asked to do more. Can we do this with love? Can we focus on our role in the collective good over our individual needs? This is a part of the messaging this year for sure, and we will be asked to continue to find this balance.

A famous Zen Buddhist 10 picture series features a man gradually taming and befriending a wild ox, representing his taming of his own mind and desires as part of his enlightenment process.

The peacefulness of oxen are also a strong association in many cultures. In a Zen Buddhist series called 10 Oxen, a man tames a wild ox to become his faithful and helpful companion. The Ox in the story represents the taming of our own mind and emotions as part of the personal growth and awakening process. What aspects of yourself are you working to heal, empower, transform or awaken this year? What does it mean to tame and befriend rather than overpower and dominate? Can you work with yourself gently but firmly? What support do you need to do so?

Musk Oxen, found in some of the coldest climates of the world, are amongst the hardiest animals alive. This is actually a baby!

As I mentioned, oxen are not bulls, and don’t carry aggressive bull energy. Nevertheless they are associated with strength, resilience and endurance. We will likely still need plenty of these in 2021. So what are true strength, resilience  and endurance to you? How can you cultivate these more within yourself? Resilience became one of my favorite words in 2020. From a chakra perspective I like to associate resilience with a balance of the lower two chakras – the stability and sense of grounding and safety that comes from a strong root chakra, combined with the fluidity, adaptability, and creativity associated with the sacral. In many ways the combination of these two are mirrored in the symbolism of the year, because the Ox is considered an ‘earth’ animal in the Chinese zodiac, but we are in a Yin year. So another contemplation to consider is ‘how can I balance stability and fluidity, focused action with fluid space for adapting to change?’

The Ancient Egyptian goddess of Hathor was often represented as an ox with a sun crown, and associated with the sky, women, fertility, and love.

Returning to the Yin themes of this year, the Ancient Egyptian goddess of Hathor is an example of a goddess linked to a cow/ox, and is associated with the sky, women, fertility, and love. In various forms she was also associated with creativity and the arts (very sacral chakra.) Consider how you might bring more of this into your life as a balance to the hard work and diligence represented by the Ox. Could you use a new hobby, that is just for joy? Is there a creative spark you haven’t been tending? You can drawn on the shift from Yang to Yin this year to nurture this side of yourself.

A diagram representing the relationship of the 5 Chinese elements, which can be summarized as: Wood starts a Fire, Fire creates Earth, Earth holds Metal, Metal carries Water, Water feeds Wood. Fire melts Metal, Metal chops Wood, Wood separates the Earth, Earth absorbs Water, Water puts out Fire.

While we are shifting from Yang to Yin this year, the element in the Chinese system is not changing – we are still in a Metal year. Metal represents firmness, rigidity, persistence, strength, and determination – some of the same qualities as Ox, though Metal is also said to have a ‘lesser Yin’ expression, as it does have the power to transform (for example in the element relationships listed in the caption above, fire melts metal, and through this forging metal can be adapted to serve many purposes.) This continued Metal aspect reinforces the importance of structure and routine in anything we are attempting to accomplish. Do you need to make changes to your life structure to support you more? What social structures do you want to play a part of transforming in 2021 (a big theme of 2020 that will continue this year)? This is a year for real structural, not superficial, change, both collectively and individually.


Paul Bunyan and his faithful Blue Ox Babe – featured in a popular U.S. midwestern lumberjack folktale. While the tale represents strength, considering the cost of the lumber industry over time, it perhaps also offers a warning about where the ‘rigid’ side of Ox energy can lead.

With relatives in Minnesota, one of the folk tales I grew up with is that of the giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his equally giant blue ox Babe. Statues such as these used to populate the upper midwest, though many have now been removed due to the lumber industries’ devastating impact on forests and lands sacred to the native peoples of these areas. At his best Paul Bunyan and Babe represent hard work and honesty in the tales told of them – qualities mirroring that of the Ox in Chinese symbolism – but I think the toll of over-cutting and destruction of sacred native lands also provides a warning re: the Year of the Ox. Structure that becomes stubbornness or dominating rigidity, and hard work fueled by greed, take a heavy toll and do not bring forth the long term abundance that an Ox year is meant to build. So consider this in your contemplations too – ‘Am I working in integrity? Is what I’m seeking to create sustainable? Is it in alignment with a greater good?’

Wishing you peace, safety, light, health, and abundance in the Year of the Female Metal Ox.

I welcome your thoughts on and predictions for the Year of the Feminine Metal Ox in the comments, and wish you much peace, safety, light, health and abundance.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Pam permalink
    February 11, 2021 2:12 pm

    Always look forward to these xo

  2. Roberta Haines permalink
    February 11, 2021 10:51 pm

    I am so grateful, Lisa, that you do this. I feel a sense of relief that we’re moving out of the Year of the Rat. I just read what you wrote about last year and felt really satisfied that all I had gone through fit right in with the forces of energy of the year. It was a time of very hard work where my energy was corralled and I had so much searching, reaching out, and changing to do. There were moments of crisis that I didn’t think I could survive. Now I’m settling in to a Buddhist path, I began clearing my chakra’s with you after finding your book and courses, and I’ve begun a new food plan, Bright Lines Eating, to regain my right size body. This year is blossoming. I have been very lazy in some aspects of my life and appreciate the warning to avoid the impulses in that direction. with fondness, Roberta

  3. February 12, 2021 12:20 am

    Glad you like it Pam.

  4. February 12, 2021 6:04 pm

    Hi Roberta, It sounds like you are putting all the new structures in place you need to bring forth the changes you seek. That is exactly what I feel this year is about on many levels for most of us – it’s like the ox helping to plant the fields, and then to harvest them once they are ready. So with your new Buddhist path and eating plan, and chakra work, you have these new ‘containers’ and tools to support you – wonderful! Lisa

  5. February 19, 2021 1:19 pm

    This is such a great reminder “oxen are not bulls, and don’t carry aggressive bull energy. Nevertheless they are associated with strength, resilience and endurance.”

  6. February 20, 2021 9:35 pm

    Glad it resonates Angelica – I definitely went into my prep readings for this thinking in terms of the bull, and many people have been calling this the year of the bull, but as I researched what it means astrologically, the message of the plodding, steadfast, reliable ox became more clear – a very different (and right now needed!) energy.


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