Thursday, March 12, 2015

2015 Year of the Wood Goat


As we have for many years, to celebrate the Chinese New Year, we enjoyed a Chinese lunch then spent the afternoon listening to Liu Ming, a learned Westerner who has studied and translated ancient Chinese texts.

One of Larry and Eszter's (our neighbors') goats

In Chinese writing the character is the same for goat, sheep and ram. Liu Ming, of the Da Yuan Circle located in Oakland, choses the young female goat (kid or lamb) since she most closely embodies the qi (life force energy which is of the subtle energy nature) this year. The Chinese Astrology system Liu Ming bases his annual talk on includes a 60 year cycle with 5 elements, yin/yang and 12 animals.

Liu Ming suggests, "to understand the 'qi profile' of the Goat year, it is useful to look at the image of the Goat in Chinese Astrology and ancient culture. Remember that the Goat is only a paradigmatic image for the qi available this year. . . .The Goat talked about in Chinese Astrology is the domesticated mountain goat. . . .The Goat's artistic character (aesthetic is the key word for the Goat) is the basic instinct to communicate beyond words - to make the world beautiful. This art is designed to remind us not only of a pleasant surface, but also of a common spirit. Happy in egalitarian small herds, 

These Kiko Goats at Salmon Creek Ranch, Bodega, California,
are protected by a Anatolian Shepherd.
The family in this picture is a wonderful example of
the Goat's ability to create "family."
the Goat is a very adaptable sign, sure-footed in steep and rough terrain and interested in cooperations on all levels. . . . Wood Goats are industrious, sincere and disciplined characters. They mature quickly, attract helpers, and work diligently towards great success." 

This Year of the "Respected" Wood Goat's qi, which is both soft and smart simultaneously, is a welcome energy for this time on Planet Earth so shrouded in darkness and chaos deeply affecting us all. This year is an opportunity rather like a visionary makeover since "the Wood Goat offers a fresh start . . . . Fresh and inspired must replace tired and oppressive" which can be polarizing, piting "we have always done it this way" or entrenched tradition against embracing an innovatively nontraditional way. This year offers up the qi for breaking down artificial boundaries and focusing on miniscle issues in the grand scheme of things, such as petty self interest/self entitlement. For each of us embued with Wood Goat qi compromise and harmony are operant. 

Considering the available qi this year one can see that this is a spectacular year for each of us to fully develop our individual humanity. BEing human filled with goodness in the highest sense, aka authentic, can be embraced by anyone irregardless of one's religious and/or spiritual beliefs. Rather than watching and/or participating in the demise of the human race as we know it on Planet Earth, each of us can BE visionary with forward thinking inclusiveness where we experience connection with all living creatures including Mother Earth with finite resouces.

If one's life is simple,
contentment has to come.
Simplicity is extremely important . . .
Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have,
is very vital: satisfaction with just enough
food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements.
And finally, there is an intense delight in 
abandoning faulty states of mind
and in cultivating helpful ones . . ."
- Dali Lama

Kiko goats, including one youngster having a snack from mom,
atop a hillside at Salmon Creek Ranch living a simple life with "just enough".
Perhaps here is as good a place as any to insert a bit of well heeded advice I have repeatedly received, and experienced with self observation: taking care of oneself by self remembering is essential to BEing able to utilize the qi available this year. If one is rested and fully qi-charged, then one can BE "easy going, artistic both in the visual and musical realms, cooperative, persuasive, quiet, charming, kind, encouraging, generous, compromising and supportive. When one has pushed oneself to the max, so to speak, then one is qi-depleted: "fussy, worrisome, anxious, nervous, impatient, perfectionist, intolerant, cranky, incommunicative when flustered, fearful of confrontation, and stubborn." 

Further utilizing the qi now available to each and every one of us this Year of the Wood Goat, humans can spend some time and energy each day making our world more beautiful. Beautification this Springtime at MuRefuge is happening with planting many packages of Larner Seeds native annual wild flowers purchased with a last year's birthday gift certificate. Since I noted on one of the blogs that I regularly read the acronym NICE (Natives Instead of Common Exotics) . . . lovely, yes? . . . I am more committed than ever to filling MuRefuge with beautiful natives. A number of years ago I was shopping at the local coop in Port Townsend, Washington with a friend who was looking at the array of plants including a Butterfly Bush, available for purchase, when a woman approached us saying, "That plant is terribly invasive," and walked away. And I am ever so happy that I took in her message and removed awhile ago the some 2 dozen Butterfly Bushes (these bushes, too, told me in a variety of ways that they were not happy at MuRefuge, nor the truth be known, was I happy with these high maintenance bushes). Native bushes and perennials replaced this common exotic. I love the native bushes and perennials chosen! Also, the chosen species flower sequentially throughout the entire year providing food (nectar and berries) and shelter for others that also call MuRefuge home.

Each morning when I sit a pair of Spotted Towhees hop about beneath the tray bird feeder. This colorfully marked bird is the one that got me interested in birdwatching. When I lived in Cupertino, I saw this gorgeous bird and just had to know what it was.

Three, yes three, badgers crossed the field to the South of our property early one morning past.

A fox the following morning traveled Southwest to Northeast, almost the identical route of the badgers.

And three, yes three, Steller's Jays came visiting one morning. Every day there are Scrub Jays at MuRefuge but the gorgeous Stellar's Jays come erratically, usually living further South in the pine trees on the ridge.

One of the Steller's Jays perched atop the Goldfinches' nyger seed feeder.
Another one of the three Steller's Jays at the Datura (or Jimson Weed)
leaved birdbath, a Dwight creation.
As you embrace recovering  your humanity and beautify your surroundings, may you


  1. 3 badgers? Talk about an embarrassment of riches! Thank for the terrific post and photos. Happy Year of the Wood Goat! Kathy (Earth Dog)

  2. An email from a friend who lives in Tempe, AZ. but is on "Spring Break": Hi Cathie. I'm reading your enjoyable musings having just watched numerous jays flirting in the snow in Teton Valley. And laughing at the exuberance of the snow patrol dogs at the ski hill. This morning being no different as they jump and play all over the snowy plaza before boarding the lift with the ski patrol. They then reside in a cabin at the top of the main lift all day until down the hill again riding in the arms of one of the ski patrol. What a joyful life! Love -Shannon"