February 12 begins a new Chinese New Year with the 2nd sign of the Chinese zodiac-the Ox. The animal signs also have an element attached to them with this year being the Metal Ox. The Ox denotes hard work, positivity and honesty. The Metal Ox is associated with its metal element of stability and yin nature of nourishment and rest. It will also be the year of ox qualities of strength and fortitude. The ox in an agricultural society was seen as a great asset to the family to help cultivate the land to provide food.

Today we look at the ox as a collection of attributes that we want to see in our selves. After one of the most difficult years behind us, we can look forward to a year of positivity and productivity. On a more spiritual note according to Mikael Bauer, an assistant professor of Japanese religions at McGill University, the ox presented in Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism (two different types) represents “Buddha nature,” the fundamental nature of all beings able to gain enlightenment.

Some of the more recent Ox years are 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009 and of course 2021. I am a metal ox, so I have the dubious distinction of being honest, stable, diligent and also quite stubborn at times. Some say it will be the year of hard work to overcome obstacles. Let us hope that this will be a year of less fear and confinement This can be a year to reap rewards of our hard work and dive deeper into our spiritual connections.

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