What to expect in the Year of the Tiger
Astrologers say the tiger denotes strength, vitality and growth — qualities that will hopefully stand us in good stead as we look to move past the uncertainty that COVID-19 has wrought
The past two years have brought more tigers than usual to our screens, with the rise to fame of Netflix documentary “Tiger King” and its subsequent spinoffs, and 2022 is set to bring the big cat front and center once again.
Early February will see the Year of the Ox draw to a close and the Year of the Tiger begin. The slow, gentle and hardworking nature of the ox, which manifested the mood of 2021, will be replaced by the speed, strength and power of the tiger in 2022.
According to the ancient Chinese philosophy of yin and yang, whereby opposite forces come together in harmony, the transition from a yin ox to a yang tiger should be palpable.
The active and motivated tiger is “very different” from the slow, soft and passive ox, says Hong Kong-based Chinese and Western astrologer Jupiter Lai. The overall energy level of 2022 will therefore be higher than it was in 2021.
“This year, people are gaining back some vitality and strength,” Lai says. “They are more determined to achieve their goals.”
Much like how a tiger responds to the world, the upcoming 12 months can be expected to evoke self-confidence and enthusiasm as well as competence and courage in the face of challenges.
The tiger is characterized as being tough when facing adversity, with a strong sense of justice and a commitment to the greater good, again generating a positive imagery for 2022. However, Lai notes that the animal’s fierce hunting instinct may also generate competition and conflict among people.
Looking deeper, following the Chinese calendar that rotates in 60-year cycles based on 12 earthly branches, each represented by an animal year, and five element years — wood, fire, earth, metal and water — 2022 is the Year of the Water Tiger. While the Year of the Metal Ox’s element was earth, representing stability and nourishment, 2022’s element is wood, specifically yang wood.
“Wood is the only element that will grow, which signifies this is a year for growth and improvement,” Lai says. “The virtues signified by wood are benevolence and generosity, so these are the virtues we can manifest this year.”
The combination of wood and water — again, a yang force — in this Year of the Tiger is significant as “the water nourishes the wood, allowing it to grow,” Lai says. This indicates there “will be more support and resources for the Wood (Tiger) to grow, so people can look for help whenever they need it.”
In short, the alignment of this zodiac year’s components is auspicious in delivering fortitude and restoration in 2022. Furthermore, the tiger alone has long conjured positive images of power in East Asia, making it a particularly significant year for some.
“There have never been tigers living in Japan, but Japan inherited the Chinese concept of the tiger as the king of all beasts,” says Sylvain Jolivalt, an author specializing in Japanese history and legends. For this reason, he adds, the tiger tends to be associated with warriors and depicted with stripes on his head forming the Chinese character for king.
According to Chinese legend, after the Jade Emperor’s race to determine the order of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, the monkey put these stripes on the tiger to appease him for being only the third-fastest animal to win the contest.
The East Asian concept of the brave tiger as a champion or protector has been prevalent since ancient times. Japanese stories about the tiger can even be found in some of the country’s oldest works, including the “Chronicles of Japan,” or “Nihon Shoki,” which date from the eighth century.
Similarly, the tiger and the dragon have long been regarded as auspicious creatures with great power. Viewed as the ultimate pair, they are frequently depicted alongside each other in Chinese Buddhism, feng shui, art and philosophy. While the tiger is considered master of the beasts, the dragon is considered master of the skies.
According to an ancient Chinese proverb, dragons control the clouds while tigers control the wind. This natural harmony is thought to create fertility and peace.
Evidence of these beliefs can be found in verses of Chinese classics, such as Yi Qing, which state that “dragon growls, clouds arise; tiger roars, winds form.” When these texts reached Japan, they influenced Japanese society and culture, Jolivalt says.
One example is the practice of people praying to the tiger or performing dances to the tiger (tora-mai or tora-odori) in an effort to prevent natural disasters. This custom was particularly common along the Pacific coast of Tohoku, and many areas continue to hold tiger-related festivals to this day.
In Kami, Miyagi Prefecture, local residents have been performing the Fire Protection Tiger Dance Festival for more than 650 years. The event began due to the prevalence of strong winds that rushed down the Ou mountains in the dry spring and summer months, causing wildfires.
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