The Year of the Yin Metal Ox

by Tahnee McCrossin February 15, 2021 4 mins read

The Year of the Yin Metal Ox


How’s 2021 been treating you so far? After the hugely interesting year that was 2020, it’s exciting to usher in a new Chinese year.

Fun fact: Did you know the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, based off the transitions of the moon around the Earth (29.5 ish days) AND the Earth around the sun, as opposed to the Gregorian calendar which is based purely on our Earth’s rotation around the sun (which takes approx 365ish days). This means Chinese New Year moves every year - between Jan 21 and Feb 21. Chinese New Year falls on the second new moon after the Northern Hemisphere’s Winter Solstice. This year it’s on Feb 12 and we usher in the Year of the Yin Metal Ox. 

In Chinese folklore, the story of the Ox is that she was a star, removed from the heavens by the gods and goddesses to help humans. The gods and goddesses told Ox to help humans cultivate enough food to eat every three days - but Ox got muddled and told the humans she was here to help them eat three times a day - oops! For that reason, Ox has been helping humans by working all day long to ensure we produce enough food to eat regular meals.

Ox embodies the work ethic, discipline and diligence required to show up every day to produce food (an endless task as long as one lives!). It’s also the energy of workaholism and slogging it out, which might not be the best omen for the year ahead, but the Ox does represent a nice “chop wood, carry water” energy if we can keep the workaholism in check.

For the collective, an Ox year represents the slow, steady plod away from the madness of 2020 (a Metal Rat year) - a stabilising of the energy, thankfully, but not a lot of speedy transformation. That is maybe not great news for those of you waiting for the world to change or “go back to normal”! This is a year to keep your head down, and to work hard for the world we want to create in the future. 

Oxen represent Earth, the substance of our bodies and our lives. They aren’t ones for innovation and creation, more for maintenance and business as usual. Add in the energy of Yin Metal, which represents the Lungs and the energy of the soul in the body, and we have an invitation to preserve our energy and spirit and to move forth steadily and carefully. To reassess, refine and mature. And to examine what is valuable and precious and meaningful in life. 

The Metal element (or the Metal phase of Qi to be more accurate) rules the Lungs and Large Intestine organs and the season of Autumn. It’s a good idea to stay vigilant about your health - this will be a year of possible respiratory illness (are we surprised to hear that?). I don’t want to overcomplicate this but Metal is the mother of Water, the element that represents the Kidneys, and it’s possible the consequences of stress will continue to be felt and will be affecting people’s Kidneys this year. 

Let’s just say it’s going to be a good year to take care of your lungs, spring clean your space, rest a lot, reassess your priorities and look after yourself. Metal is also the energy of poignancy, letting go, the bittersweet and poetic aspect of life that acknowledges that everything that lives must die, that everything we create must also be destroyed, that everything begun must at some point end, that Nature, while beautiful, is also terrible. Think of a knife, carving away what is not needed to reveal the beauty underneath, chopping and refining our food so we can digest it, and also capable of delivering the death blow.

Metal is hard and strong as well as beautiful and precious - but we’re talking more about the preciousness of the now, and the defeating of the inner monsters in the quest for (inner) treasure. By cultivating discernment and exactitude, Metal helps us to develop the wisdom and insight required to complete the slow process of self and collective evolution.. We could interpret the Metal Ox year as being a time to let go of what we don’t need and to discern what we want to carry forward. It’s unlikely this year will be one of innovation or creation; more likely it will be a time of consolidation and stabilisation. 

Metal also teaches us about acceptance and non-attachment. About the acknowledgement of ours and others efforts, and of valuing that which is less tangible - our freedom, our relationships, our personal and collective evolution. It reminds us of the need to find balance between the sacred and mundane (Metal holds the spirit Po, the spirit that grounds us in the body. It’s important to stay grounded, people). 

Whether or not you subscribe to these ideas, hopefully you find some wisdom in this email to help bolster your year.

Yours in gratitude,


PS I didn’t want to go too deep here, but if you want to read more detail about the predictions for 2021 this is a good site that breaks down the Stems and Branches. As the author notes, it’s a ‘mixed bag year’...worth a read.

Some of the resources I used in the writing of this piece that you may enjoy looking into are:

The Way of the Five Seasons: Living with the Five Elements for Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Harmony by John Kirkwood

Chinese Mythology by Anthony Christie

A Practitioner's Perspective: Year of the Metal Ox by Christian Saint-Pierre, R.Ac. Medicinal Roots magazine, accessed here.

And many thanks to my teachers. ️

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