The Chinese Lunisolar Calendar
The movement of the earth around the sun is called the ecliptic path and is known in all astrology. It is the way that agrarian societies would track the movement of the seasons and the changes in the earth, so the farmers could work in harmony with the land.
The path of the ecliptic is broken up into 15° segments which mark our movement. A degree of movement roughly correlates to a day, and the year is broken up into 24 segments, approximately 15 days each.
These segments show the position of the sun as it moves between each solstice and equinox. Known as the 24 Jie Qi, these segments are made up of 12 Jie 節 and 12 Qi 氣. Jie means rhythm or segment, and indicates the beginning energy of a month. Qi means energy and refers to the energy of the middle of a month.
The moon is crucial to understanding the cyclical movement of our planet’s energetics. We can feel the growing and ebbing force of energy,as it’s reflected in the full and new moon. Generally speaking, the energy of the new moon occurs around the beginning of the month and the full moon comes in around the middle of the month.
My teacher, Zhong Xianwu, often mentions the true name of the calendar: “Yin Yang Li” which means, “moon and sun calendar.”
The whole system of the solar terms connects us to the location of the yin earth in relation with the yang sun and the “subtle” yang within yin or yin within yang energies of the moon as it rises and falls within the month.
The sun is pure activation. It is the embodiment of the transformational energy of life in the universe. It is the pure yang hexagram of the Yi Jing which translates to the “creative,” and represents vibrant change and new life energy.
The earth is yin energy. It is filled with potential life waiting to be activated. In particular, we think of water as the coursing precreation element within the earth. The meeting of the earth and sun creates a rare harmony of forces that, when put together, creates life of all forms.
The moon is a pure yin object that reflects the light of the sun and expresses, in its reflection, the natural rhythmic rise and fall of yin and yang energy in a single month.
The Jie Qi connect us to our dance with the sun over the year, and the moon cycles allow us a more intimate and condensed link to the ebb and flow of the energy available to us.
Similarly the 24-hour cycle of a day connects us to these same rhythms, in an even more condensed way. In chinese astrology, people often know the year they were born and its correlation with the animal sign that connects to it, but true astrologers use the calculations of the stars to create a map of yin and yang as it has moved, and will move, throughout your life. Each person has an animal connected to their year, month, day, and hour, and each one has a significant and powerful meaning.
As a simple practice see if you can feel the sun with every inhale and the moon with every exhale.
Love and Qi,