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Sign of the Bear

Next week will be a new year according to the Chinese calendar, the year of the Ox. The second sign is grounded, loyal and trustworthy. The story goes that the Jade Emperor was having a party and he decided the order in which his guests arrived would determine the order of the Chinese zodiac. Ox, ever considerate and prepared, was on his way to the party in a timely manner, when Rat bummed a ride. Compared to Ox’s easy-does-it manner, Rat is a spaz, and he jumped down and arrived first at the party. I take this to mean the upcoming year will be yang to last year’s yin— or vice versa. Whichever one means calm after the storm…

As long as we have been spinning through space, we have been trying to make sense of this party we call life. Tyrants come and go, but the stars remain a constant buoy to help us keep our bearings. They are especially helpful whenever we’re in a tailspin of self-absorption and greed. When the stock market plummets and politicians proselytize, we can always look up to the stars to orient ourselves and realize universal truth.

It’s funny how scientists admit that we all come from the stars, but then completely discount astrology as a scientific theory. As if all the other theories we’ve been working on that pertain to life on our little planet are rock-solid, but the theory that actually follows the patterns of the stars should be relegated to the comic page next to Dear Abby. I love reading my horoscope, and I’m on the cusp, so I must read two (which, of course, feeds right into my Leo personality.) I think it makes sense that a baby born in the harsh of winter under the constellation of the goat should turn out stubborn and hardy, while a baby born in the hottest month under the stars of the lion should be brave and warm to others quickly.

I would like us to go back to thirteen signs, though. Thirteen is a much more magical number (and it’s a prime, so the scientists will like that.) Twelve reeks of the human desire to wrest the power from Nature and keep it in a little cage. And I think it should be a bear sign, as in Ursa Major. Bear seems the natural— yet overlooked, choice. There was a thirteenth sign, back in the Babylonians’ day; Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer. But we already have plenty of human-esque signs in the Greek zodiac: Aquarius, Gemini, Virgo, Libra, Sagittarius.

I especially like how bears are similar to humans in their day-to-day adventures, yet they still have a strong tie to the magic of life, a quality that humans take for granted or have forgotten entirely. That feeling when we walk into the woods and sense the things we cannot see. We are so focused on the two-dimensional these days, screens that keep our societal rules intact — especially the Golden Rule; the one with the gold makes the rule. The rich do get richer, but the natural force that exists all around us all the time eventually brings life back to balance.

The stock market is a man-made example of this energy seesaw. The Bull market, raring to go, encourages all to hit the legalized gambling table and ante up, until the Bear market brings the inevitable plummet. Oh- except when Mortimer and Randolph Duke shut the whole thing down. My understanding of recent events is that some of the denim-clad riffraff (regular people like you and me) started winning big at the craps table (the Dow) and taking chips (real money) away from the seasoned gamblers (Wall Street) at an alarming rate. These ordinary Joes used Reddit (new-fangled social media platform) to beat them at their own game and suddenly the cronies are crying like a baby calling for its mother in the middle of the night.

The game is rigged for the 1% to stay on top and watch the rest of us scramble. They even place bets on whether we’ll stock up enough nuts and berries to get through the winter… But every party comes to an end.

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